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It was a harper, wandering with his harp,
His only treasure; a majestic man,
By time and grief ennobled, not subdued;
Though from his height descending, day by day,
And, as his upward look at once betrayed,
Blind as old HOMER. At a fount he sate,
Well-known to many a weary traveller;
His little guide, a boy not seven years old,
But grave, considerate beyond his years,
Sitting beside him. Each had ate his crust
In silence, drinking of the virgin spring;
And now in silence, as their custom was,
The sun's decline awaited.

But the child
Was worn with travel. Heavy sleep weighed down
His eye-lids; and the grandsire, when we came,
Emboldened by his love and by his fear,
His fear lest night o'ertake them on the road,
Humbly besought me to convey them both
A little onward. Such small services
Who can refuse — Not I; and him who can,
Blest though he be with every earthly gift,
I cannot envy. He, if wealth be his,
Knows not its uses. So from noon till night,
Within a crazed and tattered vehicle,
That yet displayed, in rich emblazonry,
A shield as splendid as the BARDI wear,*

* See Note.

We lumbered on together; the old man
Beguiling many a league of half its length,
When questioned the adventures of his life,
And all the dangers he had undergone;
His ship-wrecks on inhospitable coasts,
And his long warfare.

They were bound, he said,
To a great fair at REGGIO ; and the boy,
Believing all the world were to be there,
And I among the rest, let loose his tongue,
And promised me much pleasure. His short trance,
Short as it was, had, like a charmed cup,
Restored his spirit, and, as on we crawled,
Slow as the snail (my muleteer dismounting,
And now his mules addressing, now his pipe,
And now Luigi) he poured out his heart,
Largely repaying me. At length the sun
Departed, setting in a sea of gold;
And, as we gazed, he bade me rest assured
That like the setting would the rising be.

Their harp-it had a voice oracular, And in the desert, in the crowded street, Spoke when consulted. If the treble chord Twanged shrill and clear, o'er hill and dale they went, The grandsire, step by step, led by the child; And not a rain-drop from a passing cloud Fell on their garments. Thus it spoke to-day; Inspiring joy, and, in the young one's mind, Brightening a path already full of sunshine.


DAY glimmered; and beyond the precipice
(Which my mule followed as in love with fear,
Or as in scorn, yet more and more inclining
To tempt the danger where it menaced most)
A sea of vapour rolled. Methought we went
Along the utmost edge of this, our world;
But soon the surges fled, and we descried
Nor dimly, though the lark was silent yet,
Thy gulf, LA SPEZZIA. Ere the morning-gun,
Ere the first day-streak, we alighted there;
And not a breath, a murmur! Every sail
Slept in the offing. Yet along the shore
Great was the stir; as at the noontide hour,
None unemployed. Where from its native rock
A streamlet, clear and full, ran to the sea,
And maidens knelt and sung as they were wont,
Washing their garments. Where it met the tide,
Sparkling, and lost, an ancient pinnace lay
Keel upward, and the faggot blazed, the tar
Fumed from the cauldron; while, beyond the fort,
Whither I wandered, step by step led on,
The fishers dragged their net, the fish within
At every heave fluttering and full of life,
At every heave striking their silver fins
'Gainst the dark meshes. Soon a boatman's shout
Re-echoed; and red bonnets on the beach,
Waving, recalled me. We embarked and left
That noble haven, where, when Genoa reigned,

A hundred galleys sheltered — in the day
When lofty spirits met, and, deck to deck,
DORIA, PISANI fought; that narrow field
Ample encugh for glory. On we went
Ruffling with manj an oar the crystalline sea,
On from the rising to the setting sun
In silence — underneath a mountain-ridge,
Untamed, untameable, reflecting round
The saddest purple; nothing to be seen
Of life or culture, save where, at the foot,
Some village and its church, a scanty line,
Athwart the wave gleamed faintly. Fear of Ill
Narrowed our course, fear of the hurricane,
And that still greater scourge, the crafty Moor,
Who, like a tiger prowling for his prey,
Springs and is gone, and on the adverse coast,
(Where TRIPOLI and Tunis and ALGIERS
Forge fetters, and white turbans on the mole
Gather, whene'er the Crescent comes displayed
Over the Cross) his human merchandise
To many a curious, many a cruel eye
Exposes. Ah, how oft, where now the sun
Slept on the shore, have ruthless scimitars
Flashed through the lattice, and a swarthy crew
Dragged forth, ere long to number them for sale,
Ere long to part them in their agony,
Parent and child! How oft, where now we rode
Over the billow, has a wretched son,
Or yet more wretched sire, grown grey in chains,
Laboured, his hands upon the oar, his eyes
Upon the land- the land, that gave him birth;
And, as he gazed, his homestall through his tears
Fondly imagined; when a Christian ship
Of war appearing in her bravery,
A voice in anger cried, Use all your strength!'

But when, ah when, do they that can, forbear
To crush the unresisting? Strange, that men,
Creatures so frail, so soon, alas, to die,
Should have the power, the will to make this world
A dismal prison-house, and life itself,
Life in its prime, a burden and a curse
To him who never wronged them? Who that breathes
Would not, when first he heard it, turn away
As from a tale monstrous, incredible ?
Surely a sense of our mortality,
A consciousness how soon we shall be gone,
Or, if we linger — but a few short years —
How sure to look upon our brother's grave,
Should of itself incline to pity and love,
And prompt us rather to assist, relieve,
Than aggravate the evils each is heir to.

At length the day departed, and the moon
Rose like another sun, illumining
Waters and woods and cloud-capt promontories,
Glades for a hermit's cell, a lady's bower,
Scenes of Elysium, such as Night alone
Reveals below, nor often - scenes that filed
As at the waving of a wizard's wand,
And left behind them, as their parting gift,
A thousand nameless odours. All was still;
And now the nightingale her song poured forth
In such a torrent of heart-felt delight,
So fast it flowed, her tongue so voluble,
As if she thought her hearers would be gone

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