« PreviousContinue »
When a spring-lock, that lay in ambush there, Fasten'd her down for ever!
It haunts me still, though many a year has fled, Like some wild melody!
Alone it hangs Over a mouldering heir-loom, its companion, An oaken-chest, half-eaten by the worm, But richly carved by Antony of Trent With scripture-stories from the Life of Christ; A chest that came from Venice, and had held The ducal robes of some old AncestorThat by the way-it may be true or falseBut don't forget the picture; and you will not, When you have heard the tale they told me there.
She was an only child-her name Ginevra, The joy, the pride of an indulgent Father; And in her fifteenth year became a bride, Marrying an only son, Francesco Doria, Her playmate from her birth, and her first love.
Just as she looks there in her bridal dress, She was all gentleness, all gaiety, Her pranks the favourite theme of every tongue. But now the day was come, the day, the hour; Now, frowning, smiling, for the hundredth time, The nurse, that ancient lady, preach'd decorum ; And, in the lustre of her youth, she gave Her hand, with her heart in it, to Francesco.
'T was night; the noise and bustle of the day
when hark, the clattering of fleet hoofs;
Much had pass'd Since last we parted; and those five short yearsMuch had they told! His clustering locks were turn'd Grey; nor did aught recall the Youth that swam From Sestos to Abydos. Yet his voice, Still it was sweet; still from his eye the thought Flash'd lightning-like, nor linger'd on the way, Waiting for words. Far, far into the night We sate, conversing-no unwelcome hour, The lour we met; and, when Aurora rose, Rising, we climb'd the rugged Apennine.
Great was the joy; but at the Nuptial feast, When all sate down, the Bride herself was wanting. Nor was she to be found! Her father cried, « 'Tis but to make a trial of our love!, And fill’d his glass to all; but his hand shook, And soon from guest to guest the panic spread. 'T was but that instant she had left Francesco, Laughing and looking back and flying still, Her ivory-tooth imprinted on his finger. But now, alas, she was not to be found; Nor from that hour could any thing be guess'd, But that she was not !
Weary of his life, Francesco flew to Venice, and, embarking, Flung it away in battle with the Turk. Orsini lived-and long might you have seen An old man wandering as in quest of something, Something he could not find- he knew not what. When he was gone, the house remain'd awhile Silent and tenantless-then went to strangers.
Full fifty years were past, and all forgotten, When on an idle day, a day of search 'Mid the old lumber in the Gallery, That mouldering chest was noticed; and 't was said By one as young, as thoughtless as Ginevra, • Why not remove it from its lurking-place?» 'T was done as soon as said; but on the way It burst, it fell; and lo, a skeleton, With here and there a pearl, an emerald-stone, A golden clasp, clasping a shred of gold. All else had perishid-save a wedding-ring, And a small seal, her mother's legacy, Engraven with a name, the name of both, « Ginevra.»
There then had she found a grave! Within that chest had she conceal'd herself, Fluttering with joy, the happiest of the happy;
Well I remember how the golden sun
groves of cork and cistus and wild fig, His motley household came-Not last nor least, Battista, who upon the moonlight-sea Of Venice, had so ably, zealously Served, and, at parting, flung his oar away To follow through the world; who without stain llad worn so long that honourable badge,?
+ See the Cries of Bologna, as drawn by Annibal Carracci. He was of very humble origin; and, to correct his brother's vanity, once sent him a portrait of tbeir father, the tailor, tbreading bis needle.
* The principal gondolier, il fante di poppa, was almost always in the confidence of his master, and employed on occasions that required judgment and address.
In this chapel wrought (55)
The gondolier's, in a Patrician House
He had just left that place
Ile is now at rest;
There, on the seat that runs along the wall, South of the Church, east of the belfry-tower (Thou canst not miss it), in the sultry time Would Dante sit conversing (56), and with those Who little thought that in his hand he held The balance, and assign'd at his good pleasure To each his place in the invisible world, To some an upper, some a lower region; Reserving in his secret mind a niche For thee, Saltrello, who with quirks of law Hadst plagued him sore, and carefully requiting (77) Such as ere-long condemnd his mortal part To fire. (78) Sit down awhile-then by the gates Wondrously wrought, so beautiful, so glorious, That they might serve to be the gates of Heaven, Enter the Baptistery. That place he loved, Calling it his ! And in his visits there Well might he take delight! For, when a child, Playing, with venturous feet, near and yet nearer One of the fonts, fell in, he flew and saved him, (79) Flew with an energy, a violence, 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 The going up and down another's stairs.
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 mourn'd, Changing her festal for her funeral song; That they so soon should hear the minute-gun, As morning gleam'd on what remain'd 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, Oh, let him pause! For who among us all, Tried as thou wert--even from thine earliest years, When wandering, yet unspoilt, a highland-boyTried 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 charmed cup-ah, who among us all Could say he had not err'd as much, and more?
Nor then forget that Chamber of the Dead (80), Where the gigantic forms of Night and Day, Turn'd into stone, rest everlastingly, Yet still are breathing; and shed round at noon A twofold influence-only to be feltA 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 (81). He meditates, his head upon his hand. What scowls beneath his broad and helm-like bonnet ? Is it a face, or but an eyeless scull? 'T is hid in shade; yet, like the basilisk, It fascinales, and is intolerable, His mien is noble, most majestical! Then most so, when the distant choir is heard,
I Adrianum mare. --Cic.
* See the Prophecy of Dante. * See the tale as told by Boccaccio and DRYDEN. * They wait for the traveller's carriage at the foot of every bill.
At morn or eve-nor fail thou to attend
ok round! and long,
But let not Sculpture, Painting, Poesy,
That debt paid,
Or guilt or fear. Then Cosmo lifted up
Blood calls for blood--and from a father's hand!
Thrusting him backward, turn'd away his face,
Well might De Thou,
Well might he heave a sigla
those 1 ure
AMONG the awful forms that stand assembled
child, earer nim,(79)
THE CAMPAGNA OF FLORENCE.
Two of his sons, Giovanni and Garzia
'T is morning. Let us wander through the fields,
Tracing his idle fancies on the ground;
And let us from the top of Fiesole,
Whence Galileo's glass by night observed
The phases of the moon, look round below
Are ploughing up and down among the vines,
While many a careless note is sung aloud,
Beautiful Florence, (91) all within thy walls,
Thy groves and gardens, pinnacles and towers,
Drawn to our feet.
From that small spire, just caught
By the bright ray,
that church among the rest (92) And, having enter'd in and lock'd the door,
By One of Old distinguish'd as The Bride,
Let us pursue in thought (what can we better?)
Those who assembled there at matin-prayers;2 (93)
Whio, when Vice revell'd apd along the street
Round the hill they went, (95)
Who has not dwelt on their voluptuous day? The morning-banquet by the fountain-side, (96) The dance that follow'd, and the noon-tide slumber; Then the tales told in turn, as round they lay On carpets, the fresh waters murmuring; And the short interval fill'd up with games Of Chess, and talk, and reading old Romances, Till supper-time, when many a syren-voice Sung down the stars, and in the grass the torches Burnt brighter for their absence.
He,' whose dream It was (it was no more ) sleeps in Val d'Elsa, Sleeps in the church, where (in his ear, I ween) The Friar poured out his catalogue of treasures ; (97) A ray, imprimis, of the star that shone To tlic Wise Men; a phial-full of sounds, The musical chimes of the great bells that liung In Solomon's Temple ; and, though last not least, A feather from the Angel Gabriel's wing, Drop in the Virgin's chamber.
That dark ridge, Stretching away in the South-east, conceals it; Not so his lowly roof and scanty farm, (98) Dis copse and rill, if yet a trace be left, Who lived in Val di Pesa, suffering long Exile and want, and the keen shafts of Malice, With an unclouded mind.2 The glimmering tower On the grey rock beneath, his land-mark once, Now serves for ours, and points out where he ate His bread with cheerfulness.
Who sees him not ('T is his own sketch-he drew it from himself) (99) Playing the bird-catcher, and sallying forth In an autumnal morn, laden with cages,
To catch a thrush on every lime-twig there;
among his wood-cutters; Or in the lavern by the highway-side
Al tric-irac with the miller; or at night,
A numerous court, turning to whom he pleased,
Nearer we hail
Well pleased, could we pursuc The Arno, fronı his birth-place in the clouds, So near the yellow Tiber's (104)-springing up From his four fountains on the Apennine, That mountain-ridge a sea-mark to the ships Sailing on either sea. Downward he runs, Scattering fresh verdure through the desolate wild, Down by the City of Hermits, (105) and, ere-long, The venerable woods of Vallombrosa ; Then through these gardens to the Tuscan sea, Reflecting castles, convenis, villages, And those great Rivals in an eller day, Florence and Pisa–who have given him fame, Fame everlasting, but who stain'd so oft His troubled waters. Oft, alas, were seen, When flight, pursuit, and hideous rout were there, Hands, clad in gloves of steel, held up imploring; (106) The man,
the hero, on his foaming steed, Borne underneath-already in the realms Of Darkness.
Nor did night or burning noon
the bank Those who had stolen an hour to breast the tide,
· Michael Angelo.
And wash from their unharness'd limbs the blood Stood at her door; and, like a sorceress, fung
Her dazzling spell. Subtle she was, and rich,
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, When flocks were feeding, and the shepherd's pipe And paid the penalty, losing his life Gladden'd the valley, when, but not unarm'd, At the bridge-foot ; (111) and hence a world of woe! The sower came forth, and, following him who plough'a, Vengeance for vengeance crying, blood for blood; Threw in the seed- did thy indignant waves
No intermission! Law, that slumbers not,
And, like the Angel with the flaming sword,
Himself the Avenger, went; and every street of Ugolino-closing up for ever
Ran red with mutual slaughter-though sometimes That dismal dungeon henceforth to be named
The young forgot the lessons they had learnt, The Tower of Famine.
And loved when they should hate-like thee, Imelda, Once indeed 't was thine, They and thy Paolo. When last ye met When many a winter-flood, thy tributary,
In that still hout the heat, the glare was gone, Was through its rocky glen rushing, resounding, Not so the splendour-through the cedar-grove And thou wert in thy might, to save, restore
A radiance stream'd like a consuming fire, A charge most precious. To the nearest ford,
As though the glorious orb, in its descent, Hastening, a horseman from Arezzo came,
Had come and rested there) when last ye met, Careless, impatient of delay, a babe
And those relentless brothers dragg'a him forth, Slung in a basket to the knotty staff
It had been well, hadst thou slept on, Imelda, (112) That lay athwari his saddle-bow. He spurs,
Nor from thy trance of fear awaked, as night He enters; and his horse, alarm'd, perplex'd,
Fell on that fatal spot, to wish thee dead, Halts in the midst. Great is the stir, the strife; To track him by his blood, to scarch, to find, And lo, an atom on that dangerous sea, (108)
Then fling thee down to catch a word, a look, The babe is floating! Fast and far he flies;
A sigh, if yet thou couldst (alas, thou couldst not) Now tempest-rock'd, now whirling round and round, And die, unseen, unthought of-from the wound But not to perish. By thy willing waves
Sucking the poison. (113) Borne to the shore, among the bulrushes
Yet, when Slavery came, The ark has rested ; and unhurt, secure,
Worse follow'd. (114) Genius, valour left the land. As on his mother's breast he sleeps within,
Indignant-all that had from age to age All peace! or never had the nations heard
Adorn'd, ennobled; and bead-long they fell, That voice so sweet, which still enchants, inspires; Tyrant and slave. For deeds of violence, That voice, which sung of love, of liberty.
Done in broad day and more than half redeemd Petrarch lay there!--And such the images
By many a great and generous sacrifice
Of self to others, came the unpledged bowl,
Unnoticed, in slouch'd hat and muffling cloak,
The Bravo took his stand, and o'er the shoulder
Slanting (a surer path, as some averr'd) The cry of murder?-Fatal was the day!
Struck upward--then slunk off, or, if pursued, To Florence, when ('t was in a street behind
Made for the Sanctuary, and there along The church and convent of the Holy Cross
The glimmering aisle among the worshippers
Wander'd with restless step and jealous look,
Misnamed to lull suspicion, Below, and still distinguish'd by the rings
In every Palace was The Laboratory, (115) Of brass, that held in war and festival-time
Where he within brew'd poisons swift and slow, Their family-standards) fatal was the day
That scatter'd terror till all things seem'd poisonous, To Florence, when, at morn, at the ninth hour, And brave men trembled if a hand held out A noble Dame in weeds of widowhood,
A nosegay or a letter; while the Great Weeds to be worn hereafter by so many,
Drank from the Venice-glass, that broke, that shiver'd,
If aught malignant, aught of thine was there,
Cruel Tophana ; (116) and pawnd provinces