« PreviousContinue »
'Tis solitude should teach us how to die;
It hath no flatterers; vanity can give No hollow aid; alone - man with his God must
XXXIV. Or, it may be, with demons, who impair 17) The strength of better thoughts, and seek their
prey In melancholy bosoms, such as were Of moody texture from their earliest day, And loved to dwell in darkness and dismay, Deeming themselves predestined to a doom Which is not of the pangs that pass away; Making the sun like blood, the earth a tomb, The tomb a hell, and hell itself a murkier gloom.
Ferrara! in thy wide and grass - grown streets, Whose summetry was not for solitude, There seems as 'twere a curse upon the seats Of former sovereigns, and the antique brood Of Este, which for many an age made good Its strength within thy walls, and was of yore Patron or tyrant, as the changing mood Of petty power impellid, of those who wore The wreath which Dante's brow alone had worn
XXXVI. And Tasso is their glory and their shame. Hark to his strain! and then survey his coll! And see how dearly earn’d Torquato's fame, And where Alfonso bade his poet dwell: The miserable despot could not quell The insulted mind he sought to quench, and blend With the surrounding maniacs, in the hell
Where he had plunged it. Glory without end Scatter'd the clouds away-and on that name attend
XXXVII. The tears and praises of all time; while thine Would rot in its oblivion - in the sink Of worthless dust, which from thy boasted line
Is shaken into nothing; but the link
From thee! if in another station born,
XXXVIII. Thou! form'd to eat, and be despised, and die, Even as the beasts that perish, save that thou Hadst a more splendid trough and wider sty: He! with a glory round his furrow'd brow, Which emanated then, and dazzles now, In face of all his foes, the Cruscan quire, And Boileau, whose rash envy could allow 18) No strain which shamed his country's creaking
lyre, That whetstone of the teeth
monotony in wire!
Peace to Torquato's injured shade! 'twas his
Compose a mind like thine? though all in one Condensed their scatter'd rays, they would not
form a sun.
XL. Great as thou art, yet paralleld by those, Thy countrymen, before thee born to shine, The Bards of Hell and Chivalry: first rose The Tuscan father's comedy divine; Then, not unequal to the Florentine, The southern Scott, the minstrel who call'd forth A new creation with his magic line,
And, like the Ariosto of the North, Sang ladye- love and war, romance and knightly
XLI. The lightning rent from Ariosto's bust 19 The iron crown of laurel's mimic'd leaves; Nor was the ominous element unjust, For the true laurel-wreath which Glory weaves 20) Is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves, And the false semblance but disgraced his brow; Yet still, if fondly Superstition grieves, Know, that the lightning sanctifies below 21) Whate'er it strikes;- yon head is doubly sacred now.
XLIJ. Italia! oh Italia! thou who hast 22) The fatal gift of beauty, which became A funeral dower of present woes and past, On thy sweet brow is sorrow plough'd by shame, And annals graved in characters of flame. Oh God! that thou wert in thy nakedness Less lovely or more powerful, and couldst claim
Thy right, and awe the robbers back, who press To shed thy blood, and drink the tears of thy distress;
Then might'st thou more appal; or, less desired, Be homely and be peaceful, undeplored For thy destructive charms; then, still untired, Would not be seen the armed torrents pour'd Down the deep Alps; nor would the hostile horde Of many- nation'd spoilers from the Po Quaff blood and water; nor the stranger's sword Be thy sad weapon of defence, and so, Victor or vanquish’d, thou the slave of friend or foe.
XLIV. Wandering in youth, I traced the path of him, 23) The Roman friend of Rome's least-mortal mind, The friend of Tully: as my bark did skim The bright blue waters with a fanning wind, Came Megara before me, and behind Aegina lay, Piraeus on the right, And Corinth on the left; I lay reclined
Along the prow, and saw all these unite In ruin, even as he had seen the desolate sight;
The skeleton of her Titanic form, 24)
XLVII. Yet, Italy! through every other land Thy wrongs should ring,and shall, from side to side; Mother of Arts! as once of arms; thy hand Was then our guardian, and is still our guide; Parent of our Religion! whom the wide Nations have knelt to for the keys of heaven! Europe, repentant of her parricide,
Shall yet redeem thee, and, all backward driven, Roll the barbarian tide, and sue to be forgiven.
XLVIII. But Arno wins us to the fair white walls, Where the Etrurian Athens claims and keeps A softer feeling for her fairy halls. Girt by her theatre of hills, she reaps Her corn, and wine, and oil, and Plenty leaps To laughing life, with her redundant horn. Along the banks where smiling Arno sweeps
Was modern Lnxury of Commerce born, And buried Learning rose, redeem'd to a new morn..
And to the fond idolaters of old Envy the innate flash which such a soul conld mould:
L. We gaze and turn away, and know not where, Dazzled and drunk with beauty, till the heart Reels with its fulness; there – for ever thereChain'd to the chariot of triumphal Art, We stand as captives, and would not depart. Away!- there need no words, nor terms precise, The paltry jargon of the marble mart,
Where Pedantry gulls Folly - we have eyes: Blood - pulse — and breast, confirm the Dardan
Shepherd's prize. Appear'dst thou not to Paris in this guise ? Or to more deeply blest Anchises ? or, In all thy perfect goddess - ship, when lies Before tliee thy own vanquishi'd Lord of War? And gazing in thy face as toward a star, Laid on thy lap, his eyes to thee upturn, Feeding on thy sweet cheek! 26) while thy lips are With lava kisses melting while they burn, Shower'd on his eyelids, brow, and mouth, as from an urn!
LII. Glowing, and circumfused in speechless love, Their full divinity inadequate That feeling to express, or to improve, The gods become as mortals, and man's fate Has moments like their brightest; but the weight Of earth recoils upon us;
- let it go! We can recal such visions, and create,
From what has been,or might be things which grow Into thy statue's form, and look like gods below.