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Yet what so gay as Venice? Every gale
But broken by a cloud. The wind was hush'd,
Play'd with her tresses, and drew more and more
Her veil across her bosom. With Greek, Armenian, Persian-night and day
Long I lay (There, and there only, did the hour stand still), Contemplating that face so beautiful, Pursuing through her thousand labyrinths
That rosy mouth, that cheek dimpled with smiles, The Enchantress Pleasure; realizing dreams
That neck but half-conceal'd, whiter than snow. The earliest, bappiest-for a tale to catch
'T was the sweet slumber of her early age. Credulous cars, and hold young hearts in chains, I look'd and look'd, and felt a flush of joy Had only to begin, « There lived in Venice:
I would express but cannot.
Oft I wish'd
'T was all in vain. Love would not let me rest.
But how delightful when at length she waked!
When, her light hair adjusting, and her veil “Signor, he died at nine!' ,-,'T was the Armenian; The mask that follows thee, go where thou wilt.»
So rudely scatter'd, she resumed her place
Beside me; and, as gaily as before, « But who stands there, alone among them all?» (46) Pour'd out her innocent mind!
Sitting unconsciously nearer and nearer, • The Cypriot. Ministers from foreign Courts
So, nor long since, Beset his doors, long ere his hour of rising ;
Sung a Venetian : and his lay of love, (48) His the Great Secret! Not the golden house
Dangerous and sweet, charm'd Venice. As for me Of Nero, or those fabled in the East,
(Less fortunate, if Love be Happiness) As wrought by magic, half so rich as his !
No curtain drawn, no pulse beating alarm, Two dogs, coal-black, in collars of pure gold,
I went alone under the silent moon; Walk in his footsteps-Who but his familiars ?
Thy place, St Mark, thy churches, palaces, He casts no shadow, nor is seen to smile!»
Glittering, and frost-like, and as day drew on,
Melting away, an emblem of themselves.
Those Porches (49) pass'd through which the water
That moved there, sable-vested -and the Quay,
Silent, grass-grown-adventurer-like I launch'd
Into the deep, ere-long discovering
Isles such as cluster in the Southern seas,
All verdure. Every where, from bush and brake, No place of refuge for the Doge himself;
The musky odour of the serpents came; Most present when least thought of--nothing dropt
Their slimy track across the woodman's path In secret, when the heart was on the lips,
Bright in the moonshine: and, as round I went, Nothing in feverish sleep, but instantly
Dreaming of Greece, whither the waves were gliding, Observed and judged-a Power, that if but glanced at
I listen'd to the venerable pines In casual converse, be it where it might,
Then in close converse; (50) and, if right I guess'd, The speaker lower'd at once his eyes, his voice, Delivering many a message to the Winds And pointed upward as to God in Heaven
In secret, for their kindred on Mount Ida.
Nor when again in Venice, when again
Jo that strange place, so stirring and so still,
Where nothing comes to drown the human voice A word, a thought against the laws of Venice,
But music, or the dashing of the tide,
Ceased I to wander. Now a Jessica
Sung to her lute, her signal as she sate
At her half-open window. Then, methought,
A serenade broke silence, breathing hope
Through walls of stone, and torturing the proud heart Boy, call the Gondola ; the sun is set.
Of some Priuli. Once, we could not err It came, and we embark'd; but instantly,
(It was before an old Palladian house, Though she had step on board so light of foot,
As between night and day we floated by), So light of heart, laughing she knew not why,
A Gondolier lay singing; and lie sung, Sleep overcame her; on my arm she slept.
As in the time when Venice was herself, (51)
Of Tancred and Erminia. On our oars
1 See Note.
We rested ; and the verse was verse divine !
And on her dazzling neck a jewel shone,
Ruby or diamond or dark amethyst;
Wreathing her gold brocade.
Before the Church,
That venerable Pile on the sea-brink, (56)
Another train they met, no strangers to them,
Brothers to some and to the rest still dearer; Glimmering—or heard, but when he spoke, who stood Each in his hand bearing his cap and plume, Over the lantern at the prow and cried,
And, as he walk'd, with modest dignity
Folding his scarlet mantle, bis tabarro.
Led by the full-voiced choir in bright procession,
Who can look on unmoved-mothers in secret Cross'd me and vanish'd- lost at once among
Rejoicing in the beauty of their daughters, Those hundred Isles that tower majestically,
Sons in the thought of making them their own; That rise abruptly from the water-mark,
And they-array'd in youth and innocence, Not with rough craç, but marble, and the work Their beauty heighten'd by their hopes and fears. Of noblest architects. I linger'd still; Nor struck my threshold, till the hour was come
At length the rite is ending. All fall down And past, when, flitting home in the grey light, In earnest prayer, all of all ranks together; The
young Bianca found her father's door, (52) And, stretching out his hands, the holy man That door so often with a trembling hand,
Proceeds to give the general benediction ; So often-then so lately left ajar,
When hark, a din of voices from without, Shut; and, all terror, alt perplexity,
And shrieks and groans and outcries as in battle! Now by her lover urged, now by her love,
And lo, the door is burst, the curtain rent, Fled o'er the waters to return no more.
And armed ruffians, robbers from the deep,
Savage, uncouth, led on by Barbarigo,
And his six brothers in their coats of steel,
Are standing on the threshold ! Statue-like,
Awhile they gaze on the fallen multitude,
Each with his sabre up, in act to strike;
Then, as at once recovering from the spell,
Rush forward to the altar, and as soon
Are gone again-amid no elash of arms
Bearing away the maidens and the treasures. And in his straw the prisoner turn'd and listen d,
Where are they now?--ploughing the distant waves, So great the stir in Venice. Old and young
Their sails all set, and they upon the deck Throng'd her three hundred bridges; the grave Turk,
Standing triumphant. To the East they go,
Steering for Istria ; their accursed barks
(Well are they known, the galliot and the galley), (57)
Freighted with all that gives to life its value !
The richest argosies were poor to them!
Now might you see the matrons running wild Were on that day to solemnize their nuptials.
Along the beach ; the men half-arm’d and arming,
One with a shield, one with a casque and spear ; At noon a distant murmur through the crowd,
One with an axe hewing the mooring-chain Rising and rolling on, announced their coming;
Of some old pinnace. Not a raft, a plank, And never from the first was to be seen
But on that day was drifting. In an hour Such splendour or such beauty. (54) Two and two
Half Venice was afloat. But long before, (The richest tapestry unroll'd before them),
Frantic with grief and scorving all control, First came the Brides in all their loveliness;
The Youths were gone in a light brigantine,
Lying at anchor near the Arsenal;
Each having sworn, and by the holy rood,
To slay or to be slain.
And from the lower
The watchman gives the signal. In the East
A ship is seen, and making for the Port ; Fell from beneath a starry diadem;
Her flag St Mark's. And now she turns the point,
Over the waters like a sea-bird flying! 1 Premi o sta.
Ha, 't is the same, 't is theirs ! from stern to prow
Into the sea,
Hung with green boughs, she comes, she comes, restoring A young man, lying at his feet, stretch'd out
In torture. 'T is his son, his only one;
(Say, has he lived for this ?) accused of murder. They had surprised the Corsairs where they lay
The murder of the Senator Donato. Sharing the spoil in blind security
Last night the proofs, if proofs they are, were dropt And casting lots-had slain them, one and all,
Into the lion's mouth, the mouth of brass, All to the last, and flung them far and wide
That gapes and gorges; and the Doge himself
Must sit and look on a beloved Son
Twice, to die in peace, Breathing a little, in his look retain'd
To save a falling house, and turn the hearts The fierceness of his soul.
Of his fell Adversaries, those who now, Thus were the Brides Like hell-hounds in full cry, are running down Lost and recover'd; and what now remain'd
His last of four, twice did he ask their leave But to give Thanks? Twelve breast-plates and twelve To lay aside the Crown, and they refused him, crowns,
An oath exacting, never more to ask it; Flaming with gems and gold, the votive offerings And there he sits, a spectacle of woe, Of the young victors to their Patron-Saint,
By them, his rivals in the State, compellid, Vow'd on the field of battle, were ere-long
Such the refinement of their cruelty, Laid at his feet; (58) and to preserve for ever
To keep the place he sigh'd for. The memory of a day so full of change,
Once again From joy to grief, from grief to joy again,
The screw is turn'd; and, as it turns, the Son Through many an age, as oft as it came round, Looks up, and, in a faint and broken accent, 'T was held religiously with all observance.
Murmurs « My Father!. The old man shrinks back, The Doge resign'd his crimson for pure ermine; And in his mantle muffles up his face. And through the city in a stately barge (59)
· Art thou not guilty?" says a voice, that once Of gold, were borne, with songs and symphonies, Would greet the Sufferer long before they mel, Twelve ladies
And on his ear strike like a pleasant music,
« Art thou not guilty ?»—« No! Indeed I am not', Each in her glittering veil; and on the deck,
But all is unavailing. In that Court As on a burnish'd throne, they glided by;
Groans are confessions; Patience, Fortitude, No window or balcony but adorn'd
The work of Magic; and, released, upheld, With hangings of rich texture, not a roof
For Condemnation, from his Father's lips But cover'd with beholders, and the air
He hears the sentence, « Banishment to Candia. Vocal with joy. Onward they went, their oars
Death, if he leaves it.. Moving in concert with the harmony,
And the bark sets sail; Through the Rialto (60) to the Ducal Palace,
And he is gone from all he loves--for ever! And at a banquet there, served with due honour, His wife, his boys, and his disconsolate parents ! Sate representing, in the
Gone in the dead of night-unseen of anyof all,
eyes Eyes not unwet, I ween, with grateful tears,
Without a word, a look of tenderness, Their lovely ancestors, the Brides of Venice.
To be call’d up, when, in his lonely hours
He would indulge in weeping.
Like a ghost,
Day after day, year after year, he haunts
An ancient rampart, that o'erhangs the sea; What passes in that chamber. Now a sigh,
Gazing on vacancy, and hourly starting And now a groan is heard. Then all is still.
To answer to the watch--Alas, how changed Twenty are sitting as in judgment there; (61)
From him, the mirror of the Youth of Venice, Men who have served their country, and grown grey
In whom the slightest thing, or whim or chance, In governments and distant embassies,
Did he but wear his doublet so and so, Men eminent alike in war and peace;
All follow'd; at whose nuptials, when at length Such as in effigy shall long adorn
He won that maid at once the fairest, noblest, (62) The walls of Venice-to show what she has been! A daughter of the House of Contarini, Their garb is black, and black the arras is,
That House as old as Venice, now among And sad the general aspect. Yet their looks
Its ancestors in monumental brass Are calm, are cheerful ; nothing there like grief, Numbering eight Doges-to convey her home, Nothing or harsh or cruel. Still that noise,
The Bůcentaur went forth; and thrice the Sun That low and dismal moaning.
Shone on the Chivalry, that, front to front,
Half withdrawn, And blaze on blaze reflecting, met and ranged A little to the left, sits one in crimson,
To tourney in St Mark's.
But lo, at last,
Into that very Chamber! there to lie
In his old resting-place, the bed of torture;
Affection, kindness, the sweet offices
As was his daily bread ;--and to become
A by-word in the mcanest mouths of Venice, Immovable, enveloped in his mantle.
Bringing a stain on those who gave him life,
On those, alas, now worse than fatherlessBut now he comes, convicted of a crime
To be proclaim'd a ruffian, a night-stabber, Great by the laws of Venice. Night and day,
He on whom none before had breathed reproachBrooding on what he had been, what he was,
He lived but to disprove it. That hope lost, 'T was more than he could bear. His longing-fits Death follow'd. From the hour he went, he spoke not; Thicken'd upon him. His desire for home
And in his dungeon, when he laid him down, Became a madness; and, resolved to go,
He sunk to rise no more. On, if there be If but to die, in his despair he writes
Justice in Heaven, and we are assured there is, A letter to Francesco, Duke of Milan,
A day must come of ample Retribution! Soliciting his influence with the State, And drops it to be found.—« Would ye know all ? Then was thy cup, old Man, full to o'erflowing. I have transgress'd, offended wilfully; (63)
But thou wert yet alive; and there was one, And am prepared to suffer as I ought.
The soul and spring of all that Enmity, But let me, let me, if but for an instant
Who would not leave thee ; fastening on thy flank, (Ye must consent-for all of you are sons,
Hungering and thirsting, sull unsatisfied; Most of you husbands, fathers), let me first
One of a name illustrious as thine own! Indulge the natural feelings of a man,
One of the Ten! one of the Invisible Three! (64) And, ere I die, if such my sentence be,
'T was Loredano. Press to my heart ('t is all I ask of you)
When the whelps were gone, My wife, my children—and my aged mother
He would dislodge the Lion from his den ;
And, leading on the pack he long had led,
The miserable pack that ever bowla
Against fallen Greatness, moved that Foscari A banish'd man -and for a year to breathe
Be Doge no longer; urging his great age, The vapour of a dungeon.-But his prayer
His incapacity and nothingness; (What could they less ?) is granted.
Calling a Father's sorrows in his chamber
Neglect of duty, anger, contumacy.
· I am most willing to retire, said Foscari: 'T was there a trembling Wife and her four sons But I have sworn, and cannot of myself. Yet young, a Mother, borne along, bedridden,
Do with me as ye please. And an old Doge, mustering up all his strength,
He was deposed, That strength how small! assembled now to meet He, who had reign'd so long and gloriously; One so long lost, long mourn'd, one who for them His ducal bonnet taken from his brow, Had braved so much-death, and yet worse than death— His robes stript off, his ring, that ancient symbol, To meet him, and to part with him for ever!
Broken before him. But now nothing moved
The meekness of his soul. All things alike! Time and their heavy wrongs had changed them all; Among the six that came with the decrec, Him most! Yet when the wife, the Mother look'd Foscari saw one he knew not, and inquired Again, 't was he himself,'t was Giacomo,
.I am the son of Marco Memmo.. Their only hope, and trust, and consolation !
• Ah,, he replied, • thy father was my friend.» And all clung round him, weeping bitterly; Weeping the more, because they wept in vain.
And now he
It is the hour and past,
I have no business here,.--. But wilt thou not Unnerved, unsettled in his mind from long
Avoid the gazing crowd? That way is private..
• No! as I enter'd, so will I retire.»
The staircase of the Giants. Turning round,
When in the court below, he stopt and said, As I would fain believe, but, as he speaks,
My merits brought me hither. I depart, He falls, < submit without a murmur..
Driven by the malice of my Enemies."
Night, Then through the crowd withdrew, poor as he came, That to the World brought revelry, to them
And in his gondola went off, un follow'd
But by the sighs of them that dared not speak.
This journey was his last.
When the bell rang, He is most innocent! 'T was I who did it!,
Next day, announcing a new Doge to Venice, Came when he slept in peace. The ship, that saila It found him on his knees before the altar, (65) Swift as the winds with his recall to Honour,
Clasping his aged hands in earnest prayer; Bore back a lifeless corse. Generous as brave,
And there he died. Ere half its task was done,
It rang his knell.
But whence the deadly hate That caused all this, the hate of Loredano? It was a legacy bis Father left him, Who, but for Foscari, had reign'd in Venice, And, like the venom in the serpent's bag, Gathered and grew ! Nothing but turn'd to venom! In vain did Foscari suc for peace, for friendship, Offering in marriage his fair Isabel. He changed not; with a dreadful piety, Studying revenge ; listening alone to those Who talk'd of vengeance; grasping by the hand Those in their zeal (and none, alas, were wanting) Who came to tell him of another Wrong, Done or imagined. When his father died, 'T was whispered in his car, - He died by poison!, He wrote it on the tomb ('t is there in marble) And in his ledger-book-(66) among his debtorsEntered the name, FRANCESCO FOSCARI.» And added, « For the murder of
Ye who sit,
Urged by the love of home-when I descended
Peace to this region! Peace to all who dwell here! They know his value-every coming step, That gathers round the children from their play, Would tell them if they knew not.—But could aught, Ungentle or ungenerous, spring up Where he is sleeping; where, and in an age Of savage warfare and blind bigotry, He cultured all that could refine, exalt; (71) Leading to better things ?
GINEVRA. If ever you should come to Modena, Where among other trophies may be seen, Tassoni's bucket (in its chain it hangs, (72) Within that reverend tower, the Guirlandina), Stop at a Palace near the Reggio-gate, Dwelt in of old by one of the Orsini, Its noble gardens, terrace above terrace, And rich in fountains, statues, cypresses, Will long detain you—but, before you go, Enter the housc-forget it not, I prayAnd look awhile upon a picture there.
ARQUA. There is, within three leagues and less of Padua (The Paduan student knows it, honours il), A lonely lomb-stone in a mountain-churchyard; And I arrived there as the sun declined Low in the west. The gentle airs, that breathe Fragrance at eve, were rising, and the birds Singing their farewell-song-the very song They sung the night that tomb received a tenant; When, as alive, clothed in his Canon's habit, And, slowly winding down the narrow path, lle came to rest there. Nobles of the land, Princes and prelates mingled in his train, Anxious by any act, while yet they could, To catch a ray of glory by reflection; And from that hour have kindred spirits flock'd (67) From distant countries, from the north, the south, To see where he is laid.
'T is of a Lady in her earliest youth, The last of that illustrious family; Done by Zampieri (73)—but by whom I care pot. He, wlio observes it-ere he passes on, Gazes his fill, and comes and comes again, That he
call it up, when far away.
She sits, inclining forward as to speak, Her lips half-open, and her finger up, As though she said « Beware!, hier vest of gold Broider'd with flowers, and clasp'd from head to foot, An emerald-stone in every golden clasp; And on her brow, fairer ihan alabaster, A coronet of pearls.
But then her face, So lovely, yet so arch, so full of mirth, The overflowings of an innocent heart
* Count L'golino.