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The gondolier's, in a Patrician House
Of all the fairest cities of the earth
None are so fair as Florence. "Tis a gem Howling in grief.
of purest ray, a treasure for a casket ! He had just left that place
And what a glorious lustre did it shed, (74) Of old renown, once in the Adrian sea,
When it emerged from darkness! Search within, Ravenna; where, from Dante's sacred tomb
Without, all is enchantment! 'Tis the past
Contending with the present; and in turn
In this chapel wrought (75) Wandering and lost, he had so oft beheld 3
Massaccio; and he slumbers underneath. (What is not visible to a Poet's eye?)
Wouldst thou behold his monument? Look round! The spectre-knight, the hell-hounds, and their prey, And know that where we stand, stood oft and long, The chase, the slaughter, and the festal mirth
Oft till the day was gone, Raphael himself,
He and his haughty Rival-patiently,
To steal a spark from their authentic fire,
Theirs, who first broke the gloom, Sons of the Morning, Appear'd and vanish'd (many a sturdy steer 4 Yoked and unyoked), while as in happier days He pour'd his spirit forth. The past forgot,
There, on the seat that runs along the wall,
South of the Church, east of the belfry-tower All was enjoyment. Not a cloud obscured Present or future.
(Thou canst not miss it), in the sultry time He is now at rest;
Would Dante sit conversing (76), and with those And praise and blame fall on his ear alike,
Who little thought that in his hand he held Now dull in death. Yes, Byron, thou art gone,
The balance, and assign'd at his good pleasure Gone like a star that through the firmament
To each his place in the invisible world, Shot and was lost, in its eccentric course
To some an upper, some a lower region;
Reserving in his secret mind a niche Dazzling, perplexing. Yet thy heart, methinks,
For thee, Saltrello, who with quirks of law Was generous, noble—noble in its scom
Hadst plagued him sore, and carefully requiting (77) Of all things low or little ; nothing there Sordid or servile. If imagined wrongs
Such as ere-long condemn'd his mortal part Pursued thee, urging thee sometimes to do
To fire.(78) Sit down awhile—then by the gates Things long regretted, oft, as many know,
Wondrously wrought, so beautiful, so glorious, None more than I, thy gratitude would build
That they might serve to be the gates of Heaven, On slight foundations : and, if in thy life
Enter the Baptistery. That place he loved, Not happy, in thy death thou surely wert,
Calling it his! And in his visits there Thy wish accomplish'd ; dying in the land
Well might he take delight! For, when a child, Where thy young mind had caught ethereal fire,
Playing, with venturous feet, near and yet nearer Dying in Greece, and in a cause so glorious !
One of the fonts, fell in, he flew and saved him, (79)
That broke the marble-a mishap ascribed
To evil motives ; his, alas! to lead
A life of trouble, and ere-long to leave
All things most dear to him, ere-long to know
How salt another's bread is, and how toilsome That they so soon should hear the minute-gun,
The going up and down another's stairs.
Nor then forget that Chamber of the Dead, (80)
Where the gigantic forms of Night and Day, And he who would assail thee in thy grave,
Turn'd into stone, rest everlastingly, Oh, let him pause! For who among us all,
Yet still are breathing; and shed round at noon Tried as thou wert—even from thine earliest years, A light, a darkness, mingling each with each;
A two-fold influence-only to be felt
Both and yet neither. There, from age to age, Pleasure, while yet the down was on thy cheek,
Two Ghosts are sitting on their sepulcbres. Uplifting, pressing, and to lips like thine
That is the Duke Lorenzo. Mark him well. (81) Her charmed cup-ah, who among us all
He meditates, his head upon his hand.
What scowls beneath his broad and helm-like bonnet?
"T is hid in shade; yet, like the basilisk, 1 Adrianum mare.-Cic. 2 See the Prophecy of Dante.
It fascinates, and is intolerable. 3 See the tale as told by Boccaccio and Dryden.
His mien is noble, most majestical! 4 They wait for the traveller's carriage at the foot of every hill. Then most so, when the distant choir is heard,
Thou art gone ;
At morn or evo-nor fail thou to attend
The bloody sheet. “Look there! Look there!” he On that thrice-hallow'd day, (82) when all are there; cried, When all, propitiating with solemn songs,
Blood calls for blood—and from a father's hand! With light, and frankincense, and holy water, -Unless thyself wilt save him that sad office. Visit the Dead. Then wilt thou feel his power! What!” he exclaim'd, when, shuddering at the sight,
The boy breathed out, “ I stood but on my guard.” But let not Sculpture, Painting, Poesy,
Darest thou then blacken one who never wrong'd Or they, the masters of these mighty spells,
thee, Detain us. Our first homage is to Virtue.
Who would not set his foot upon a worm ? Where, in what dungeon of the Citadel (It must be known—the writing on the wall (83)
Yes, thou must die, lest others fall by thee, Cannot be gone't was cut in with his dagger,
And thou shouldst be the slayer of us all."
Then from Garzia's side he took the dagger,
That fatal one which spilt his brother's blood;
And, kneeling on the ground, “Great God!" he cried, Breathe out his soul-lest in his agony,
“Grant me the strength to do an act of Justice.
Thou knowest what it costs me; but, alas, When on the rack and call’d upon to answer,
How can I spare myself, sparing none else He might accuse the guiltless.
That debt paid,
Grant me the strength, the will--and oh forgive
The sinful soul of a most wretched son. But with a sigh, a tear for human frailty,
”Tis a most wretched father who implores it." We may return, and once more give a loose To the delighted spirit-worshipping,
Long on Garzia's neck he hung, and wept In her small temple of rich workmanship,'
Tenderly, long press’d him to his bosom ;
And then, but while he held him by the arm,
Thrusting him backward, tum'd away his face,
And stabb'd him to the heart.
Well might De Thou,
When in his youth he came to Cosmo's court,
Think on the past; and, as he wander'd ihrough AMONG the awful forms that stand assembled The Ancient Palace (87)—through those ample spaces In the great square of Florence, may be seen Silent, deserted-stop awhile to dwell That Cosmo, (84) not the Father of his Country, Upon two portraits there, drawn on the wall (88) Not he so styled, but he who play'd the tyrant. Together, as of two in bonds of love, Clad in rich artaor like a paladin,
One in a Cardinal's habit, one in black, But with his helmet off—in kingly state,
Those of the unhappy brothers, and infer Aloft he sits upon his horse of brass ;
From the deep silence that his questions drew, (89) And they, who read the legend underneath, The terrible truth. Go and pronounce him happy. Yet there is
Well might he heave a sigh A Charber at Grosseto, that, if walls
For poor humanity, when he beheld Could speak, and tell of what is done within, That very Cosmo shaking o'er his fire, Would turn your admiration into pity.
Drowsy and deaf and inarticulate, Half of what pass'd died with him; but the rest, Wrapt in his night-gown, o'er a sick man's mess, All he discover'd when the fit was on,
In the last stage-death-struck and deadly pale; All that, by those who listen'd, could be glean'd His wife, another, not his Eleonora, From broken sentences and starts in sleep,
At once his nurse and his interpreter. Is told, and by an honest Chronicler. (85)
XXII. Two of his sons, Giovanni and Garzia (The eldest had not seen his sixteenth summer),
THE CAMPAGNA OF FLORENCE.
Where Cimabue (90) found a shepherd-boy'
The phases of the moon, look round below
On Arno's vale, where the dove-color'd oxen When all slept sound, save the disconsolate Mo- Are plowing up and down among the vines, ther," (66)
While many a careless note is sung aloud, Who liule thonght of what was yet to come, Filling the air with sweetness and on thee, And lived but to be told-he bade Garzia
Beautiful Florence, (91) all within thy walls, Arise and follow him. Holding in one hand Thy groves and gardens, pinnacles and towers, A winking lamp, and in the other a key
Drawn to our feet. Massive and dungeon-like, thither he led ;
From that small spire, just caught And, having enter'd in and lock'd the door, By the bright ray, that church among the rest (92) The father fix'd his eyes upon the son,
By One of Old distinguish'd as The Bride, And closely questioned him. No change betray'd Let us pursue in thought (what can we better ?) Or guilt or fear. Then Cosmo lifted up
Those who assembled there at matin-prayers;? (93)
I The Tribune
2 Eleonora di Toledo.
2 See the Decameron. First Day.
Who, when Vice revell’d, and along the street To catch a thrush on every lime-twig there;
Or in the tavern by the highway-side
Doffing his rustic suit, and, duly clad,
Among the Great of every age and clime,
Questioning each why he did this or thai, Relating in a ring, to banish care,
And learning how to overcome the fear
Of poverty and death?
Nearer we hail
For its green wine (100)—dearer to me, to most, That on the left, just rising from the vale ;
As dwelt on by that great Astronomer,' A place for Luxury—the painted rooms,
Seven years a prisoner at the city-gate, (101) The open galleries and middle court
Let in but in his grave-clothes. Sacred be Not unprepared, fragrant and gay with flowers. His cottage (justly was it callid The Jewel :) (102) Then westward to another, nobler yet ;
Sacred the vineyard, where, while yet his sight That on the right, now known as the Palmieri, Glimmer'd, at blush of dawn he dress'd his vines, Where Art with Nature vied—a Paradise, Chanting aloud in gaiety of heart With verdurous walls, and many a trellis'd walk Some verse of Ariosto. There, unseen, (103) All rose and jasmine, many a forest-vista
In manly beauty Milton stood before him, Cross'd by the deer. Then to the Ladies' Valley; Gazing with reverent awe-Milton, his guesi, And the clear lake, that seem'd as by enchantment Just then come forth, all life and enterprise ; To lift up to the surface every stone
He in his old age and extremity, Of lustre there, and the diminutive fish
Blind, at noon-day exploring with his staff; Innumerable, dropt with crimson and gold, His eyes upturn'd as to the golden sun, Now motionless, now glancing to the sun. His eye-balls idly rolling. Little then
Did Galileo think whom he bade welcome; Who has not dwelt on their voluptuous day? That in his hand he held the hand of one The morning-banquet by the fountain-side, (96) Who could requite him—who would spread his name The dance that follow'd, and the noon-tide slumber; O'er lands and seas-great as himself, nay greater; Then the tales told in turn, as round they lay
Milton as little that in him he saw, On carpets, the fresh waters murmuring;
As in a glass, what he himself should be, And the short interval fill'd up with games
Destined so soon to fall on evil days or Chess, and talk, and reading old Romances, And evil tonguess0 soon, alas, to live Till supper-time, when many a syren-voice In darkness, and with dangers compass'd round, Sung down the stars, and in the grass the torches And solitude. Burnt brighter for their absence.
Well pleased, could we pursue He,' whose dream The Arno, from his birth-place in the clouds, It was (it was no more) sleeps in Val d'Elsa, So near the yellow Tiber's (104)-springing up Sleeps in the church, where (in his ear I woen) From his four fountains on the Apennine, The Friar pour'd out his catalogue of treasures; (97) That mountain-ridge a sea-mark to the ships A ray, imprimis, of the star that shone
Sailing on either Sea. Downward he runs, To the Wise Men ; a phial-full of sounds, Scattering fresh verdure through the desolate wild, The musical chimes of the great bells that hung Down by the City of Hermits, (105) and, ere-long, In Solomon's Temple ; and, though last not least, The venerable woods of Vallombrosa ; A feather from the Angel Gabriel's wing,
Then through these gardens to the Tuscan sea, Dropt in the Virgin's chamber.
Reflecting castles, convents, villages,
That dark ridge And those great Rivals in an elder day,
His troubled waters. On, alas, were seen,
When flight, pursuit, and hideous rout were there. Exile and want, and the keen shafis of Malice, Hands, clad in gloves of steel, held up imploring ;(106) With an unclouded mind.The glimmering tower The man, the hero, on his foaming steed, On the grey rock beneath, his land-mark once, Borne underneath_already in the realms Now serves for ours, and points out where he ate Of Darkness. His bread with cheerfulness.
Nor did night or burning noon Who sees him not Bring respite. Oft, as that great Artist saw," (107) ('T is his own sketch-he drew it from himself)(99) Whose pencil had a voice, the cry "To arms !" Playing the bird-catcher, and sallying forth And the shrill trumpet, hurried up the bank In an autumnal morn, laden with cages,
Those who had stolen an hour to breast the tide,
2 Michael Angelo
And wash from their unharness'd limbs the blood Stood at her door; and, like a sorceress, flung And sweat of battle. Sudden was the rush, Her dazzling spell. Subtle she was, and rich, Violent the tumult; for, already in sight,
Rich in a hidden pearl of heavenly light, Nearer and nearer yet the danger drew;
Her daughter's beauty; and too well she knew Each every sinew straining, every feature,
Its virtue! Patiently she stood and watch'd ; Each snatching up, and girding, buckling on Nor stood alone—but spoke not.-In her breast Morion and greave and shirt of twisted mail, Her purpose lay; and, as a youth pass'd by, As for his life-no more perchance to taste, Clad for the nuptial rite, she smiled and said, Arno, the grateful freshness of thy glades, Lifting a corner of the maiden's veil, Thy waters—where, exulting, he had felt
This had I treasured up in secret for thee. A swimmer`s transport, there, alas, to float
This hast thou lost !" He gazed, and was undone! And welter. Nor between the gusts of War, Forgetting—not forgot—he broke the bond, Wheu flocks were feeding, and the shepherd's pipe And paid the penalty, losing his life Gladden'd the vulley, when, but not unarmd, At the bridge-foot ;(111) and hence a world of woo! The sower came forth, and, following him who Vengeance for vengeance crying, blood for blood; plow'd,
No intermission! Law, that slumbers not, Threw in the seed_did thy indignant waves And, like the Angel with the flaming sword, Escape pollution. Sullen was the splash,
Sits over all, at once chastising, healing, Heavy and swift the plunge, when they received Himself the Avenger, went; and every street The key that just had grated on the ear
Ran red with mutual slaughter—though sometimes Of Ugolino_closing up for ever
The young forgot the lessons they had learnt,
Thee and thy Paolo. When last ye met
In that still hour (the heat, the glare was gone, When many a winter-food, thy tributary,
Not so the splendor--through the cedar-grove Was through its rocky glen rushing, resounding,
A radiance stream'd like a consuming fire, And thou wert in thy might, to save, restore
As though the glorious orb, in its descent, A charge most precious. To the nearest ford,
Had come and rested there) when last ye met, Hastening, a horseman from Arezzo came,
And those relentless brothers dragg’d him forth, Careless, impatient of delay, a babe
It had been well, hadst thou slept on, Imelda, (112) Slang in a basket to the knotty staff
Nor from thy trance of fear awaked, as night That lay athwart his saddle-bow. He spurs,
Fell on that fatal spot, to wish thee dead, He enters; and his horse, alarm'd, perplex’d.
To track him by his blood, to search, to find, Halts in the inidst. Great is the stir, the strife ; Then fling thee down to catch a word, a look, And lo, an atom on that dangerous sea, (108)
A sigh, if yet thou couldst (alas, thou couldst not) The babe is floating! Fast and far he flies;
And die, unseen, unthought of from the wound Now tempest-rock'd, now whirling round and round, Sucking the poison. (113) But not to perish. By thy willing waves
Yet, when Slavery came, Bome to the shore, among the bulrushes
Worse follow'd. (114) Genius, Valor left the land, The ark has rested ; and unhurt, secure,
Indignant-all that had from age to age As on his mother's breast he sleeps within,
Adorn'd, ennobled ; and headlong they fell, All peace! or never had the nations heard
Tyrant and slave. For deeds of violence,
Struck upward—then slunk off, or, if pursued,
Misnamed to lull suspicion, Braving assault-all rugged, all emboss'd
In every Palace was The Laboratory, (115) Below, and still distinguish'd by the rings
Where he within brew'd poisons swift and slow, Of brass, that held in war and festival-time Their family-standards) fatal was the day
That scatter'd terror till all things seem'd poisonous,
And brave men trembled if a hand held out
A nosegay or a letter; while the Great
Drank from the Venice-glass, that broke, that shiver'd,
If aught malignant, aught of thine was there,
For the miraculous gem that to the wearer
It was an hour of universal joy.
The lark was up and at the gate of heaven, Leads to another which awaits your coming,
Singing, as sure to enter when he came; One in the floor—now left, alas, unbolted, (118)
The butterfly was basking in my path, No eye detects it-lying under-foot,
His radiant wings unfolded. From below Just as you enter, at the threshold-stone;
The bell of prayer rose slowly, plaintively: Ready to fall and plunge you into darkness,
And odors, such as welcome in the day, Darkness and long oblivion!”
Such as salute the early traveller,
And come and go, each sweeter than the last,
Were rising. Hill and valley breathed delight;
In every bush and brake there was a voice No hunting-place-but with some damning spot
Responsive! That will not be wash'd out! There, at Caiano, (119)
From the Thrasymene, that now Where, when the hawks were hooded and Night came, Slept in the sun, a lake of molten gold, Pulci would set the table in With his wild lay (120)—there, where the Sun de- Rocked to and fro unfelt, so terrible
And from the shore that once, when armies met, (123) scends,
The rage, the slaughter, I had turn'd away; And hill and dale are lost, veil'd with his beams,
The path, that led me, leading through a wood The fair Venetian' died-she and her lord,
A fairy-wilderness of fruits and flowers, Died of a posset drugg'd by him who sate
And by a brook (124) that, in the day of strife, And saw them suffer, flinging back the charge,
Ran blood, but now runs amber—when a glade, The murderer on the murder'd.
Far, far within, sunnid only at noon-day,
Sobs of Grief, Suddenly open'd. Many a bench was there, Sounds inarticulate—suddenly stopt,
Each round its ancient elm; and many a track, And follow'd by a struggle and a gasp,
Well known to them that from the highway loved A gasp in death, are heard yet in Cerreto,
Awhile to deviate. In the midst a cross Along the marble halls and staircases,
Of mouldering stone as in a temple stood, Nightly at twelve; and, at the self-same hour, Solemn, severe; coeval with the trees Shrieks, such as penetrate the inmost soul, That round it in majestic order rose ; Such as awake the innocent babe to long,
And on the lowest step a Pilgrim knelt, Long wailing, echo through the emptiness Clasping his hands in prayer. He was the first Of that old den far up among the hills, (121) Yet seen by me (save in a midnight-masque, Frowning on him who comes from Pietra-Mala : A revel, where none cares to play his parl, In them, in both, within five days and less, And they, that speak, at once dissolve the charm) Two unsuspecting victims, passing fair,
The first in sober truth, no counterfeit;
And, when his orisons were duly paid,
A traveller's greeting.
Young, and of an age One blaze of glory—What but now we saw
When Youth is most attractive, when a light As though it were not, though it had not been ! Plays round and round, reflected, if I err not, He lingers yet, and, lessening to a point,
From some attendant Spirit, that ere-long Shines like the eye of Heaven—then withdraws; (His charge relinquish'd with a sigh, a lear) And from the zenith to the utmost skirts
Wings his flight upward-with a look be won All is celestial red! The hour is come,
My favor; and, the spell of silence broke, When they that sail along the distant seas
I could not but continue. Languish for home; and they that in the morn
“Whence," I ask'd, Said to sweet friends “ farewell,” melt as at parting; "Whence art thou ?”—“From Mont'alto," he replied, When, journeying on, the pilgrim, if he hears, My native village in the Apennines." As now we hear it, echoing round the hill,
And whither journeying?"" To the holy shrine The bell that seems to mourn the dying day, Of Saint Antonio, in the City of Padua. Slackens his pace and sighs, and those he loved Perhaps, if thou hast ever gone so far, Loves more than ever. But who feels it not? Thou wilt direct my course."—“Most willingly; And well may we, for we are far away.
But thou hast much to do, much to endure,
Ere thou hast enter'd where the silver lamps
Yet ask I must—what could have brought thee forth, 1 Bianca Capello. 2 See Note. Nothing in act or thought to be atoned for!"