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Shattered, uprooted from its native rock,
Its strength the pride of some heroic age,
Appeared and vanished (many a sturdy steer
Yoked and unyoked) while as in happier days
He poured his spirit forth. The past forgot,
All was enjoyment. Not a cloud obscured
Present or future.
He is now at rest;
And praise and blame fall on his ear alike,
Now dull in death. Yes, BYRON, thou art gone,
Gone like a star that through the firmament
Shot and was lost, in its eccentric course
Dazzling, perplexing. Yet thy heart, methinks,
Was generous, noble noble in its scorn
Of all things low or little ; nothing there
Sordid or servile. If imagined wrongs
Pursued thee, urging thee sometimes to do
Things long regretted, oft, as many know,
None more than I, thy gratitude would build
On slight foundations : and, if in thy life
Not happy, in thy death thou surely wert,
Thy wish accomplished ; dying in the land
Where thy young mind had caught ethereal fire -
Dying in GREECE, and in a cause so glorious !
They in thy train --- ah! little did they think, As round we went, that they so soon should sit Mourning beside thee, while a nation mourned, Changing her festal for her funeral song; That they so soon should hear the minute-gun, As morning gleamed on what remained of thee, Roll o'er the sea, the mountains, numbering Thy years of joy and sorrow.
Thou art gone ; And he who would assail thee in thy grave, 0, let him pause! For who among us all, Tried as thou wert even from thine earliest years, When wandering, yet unspoilt, a highland-boy Tried as thou wert, and with thy soul of flame; Pleasure, while yet the down was on thy cheek, Uplifting, pressing, and to lips like thine, Her charméd cup ah! who among us all Could say he had not erred as much, and more?
OF all the fairest cities of the earth,
None is so fair as FLORENCE. 'Tis a gem
Of purest ray; and what a light broke forth, 13%
When it emerged from darkness ! Search within,
Without; all is enchantment! Tis the Past
Contending with the Present; and in turn
Each has the mastery.
In this chapel wrought
One of the few, Nature's interpreters,
The few, whom genius gives as lights to shine,
MASACCIO ; and he slumbers underneath.
Wouldst thou behold his monument? Look round !
And know that where we stand stood oft and long,
Oft till the day was gone, RAPHAEL himself;
Nor he alone, so great the ardor there,
Such, while it reigned, the generous rivalry ;
He and how many as at once called forth,
Anxious to learn of those who came before,
To steal a spark from their authentic fire,
Theirs who first broke the universal gloom,
Sons of the Morning.
On that ancient seat,
The seat of stone that runs along the wall,138
South of the church, east of the belfry-tower 19
(Thou canst not miss it), in the sultry time
Would DANTE sit conversing, and with those
Who little thought that in his hand he held
The balance, and assigned at his good pleasure
To each his place in the invisible world,
To some an upper region, some a lower ;
Many a transgressor sent to his account, 140
Long ere in FLORENCE numbered with the dead;
The body still as full of life and stir
At home, abroad; still and as oft inclined
To eat, drink, sleep; still clad as others were,
And at noon-day, where men were wont to meet,
Met as continually; when the soul went,
Relinquished to a demon, and by him
(So says the bard, and who can read and doubt ?)
Dwelt in and governed.
Sit thee down a while; 141
Then, by the gates so marvellously wrought,
That they might serve to be the gates of Heaven,142
Enter the Baptistery. That place he loved,
Loved as his own
113 and in his visits there
Well might he take delight! For when a child,
Playing, as many are wont, with venturous feet
Near and yet nearer to the sacred font,
Slipped and fell in, he flew and rescued him,
Flew with an energy, a violence,
That broke the marble - a mishap ascribed
To evil motives; his, alas ! to lead
A life of trouble,14 and ere long to leave
All things most dear to him, ere long to know
How salt another's bread is, and the toil
Of going up and down another's stairs.145
Nor then forget that chamber of the dead, 144
Where the gigantic shapes of Night and Day,
Turned into stone, rest everlastingly;
Yet still are breathing, and shed round at noon
A two-fold influence — only to be felt
A light, a darkness, mingling each with each;
Both and yet neither. There, from age to age,
Two ghosts are sitting on their sepulchres.
That is the Duke LORENZO. Mark him well.14
He meditates, his head upon his hand.
What from beneath his helm-like bonnet scowls ?
Is it a face, or but an eyeless skull ?
'T is lost in shade; yet, like the basilisk,
It fascinates, and is intolerable.
His mien is noble, most majestical!
Then most so, when the distant choir is heard
At morn or eve nor fail thou to attend
On that thrice-hallowed day, when all are there;
When all, propitiating with solemn songs,
Visit the dead. Then wilt thou feel his power!
But let not Sculpture, Painting, Poesy, Or they, the masters of these mighty spells, Detain us.
Our first homage is to Virtue. Where, in what dungeon of the citadel (It must be known - the writing on the wall 149
It was with the blade cut in,
Ere, on his knees to God, he slew himself ),
Did he, the last, the noblest citizen, 150
Breathe out his soul, lest in the torturing hour
He might accuse the guiltless ?
That debt paid,
But with a sigh, a tear for human frailty,
We may return, and once more give a loose
To the delighted spirit — worshipping,
In her small temple of rich workmanship,151
VENUS herself, who, when she left the skies,
AMONG those awful forms, in elder time
Assembled, and through many an after-age
Destined to stand as Genii of the place
Where men most meet in FLORENCE, may be seen
His who first played the tyrant. Clad in mail,
But with his helmet off — in kingly state,
Aloft he sits upon his horse of brass ;
And they, that read the legend underneath,
Go and pronounce him happy. Yet, methinks,
There is a chamber that, if walls could speak,
Would turn their admiration into pity.
Half of what passed died with him; but the rest,
All he discovered when the fit was on,
All that, by those who listened, could be gleaned
From broken sentences and starts in sleep,
Is told, and by an honest chronicler.153
Two of his sons, GIOVANNI and GARZÌA