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Where, through the trellises and corridors,
Soft music came as from ARMIDA's palace,
Breathing enchantment o'er the woods and water:
And through a bright pavilion, bright as day,
Forms such as hers were flitting, lost among
Such as of old in sober pomp swept by,
Such as adorn the triumphs and the feasts
By PAOLO painted; where a fairy-queen,
That night her birth-night, from her throne recei
(Young as she was, no floweret in her crown,
Hyacinth or rose, so fair and fresh as she)
Our willing vows, and by the fountain-side
Led in the dance, disporting as she pleased,
Under a starry sky — while I looked on,
As in a glade of CASHMERE or SHIRAZ,
Reclining, quenching my sherbet in snow,
And reading in the eyes that sparkled round
The thousand love-adventures written there.
Can I forget
no, never, such a scene,
So full of witchery. Night lingered still,
When with a dying breeze I left BELLAGGIO;
But the strain followed me; and still I saw
Thy smile, ANGELICA; and still I heard
Thy voice-once and again bidding adieu.
THE song was one that I had heard before,
But where I knew not. It inclined to sadness;
And, turning round from the delicious fare
My landlord's little daughter BARBARA
Had from her apron just rolled out before me,
Figs and rock-melons at the door I saw
Two boys of lively aspect. Peasant-like
They were, and poorly clad, but not unskilled;
With their small voices and an old guitar
Winning their way to my unguarded heart
In that, the only universal tongue.
But soon they changed the measure, entering on
A pleasant dialogue of sweet and sour,
A war of words, with looks and gestures waged
Between TRAPPANTI and his ancient dame,
MONA LUCILIA. To and fro it went;,
While many a titter on the stairs was heard,
And BARBARA's among them. When it ceased,
Their dark eyes flashed no longer, yet, methought,
In many a glance as from the soul, disclosed
More than enough to serve them. Far or near,
Few looked not for their coming ere they came,
Few, when they went, but looked till they were gone ;
And not a matron, sitting at her wheel,
But could repeat their story. Twins they were,
And orphans, as I learnt, cast on the world;
Their parents lost in an old ferry-boat
That, three years since, last Martinmas, went down,
Crossing the rough BENACUS.-May they live
Blameless and happy-rich they cannot be,
Like him who, in the days of minstrelsy,
Came in a beggar's weeds to PETRARCH's door,
Asking, beseeching for a lay to sing,
And soon in silk (such then the power of song)
Returned to thank him; or like that old man,
Old not in heart, who by the torrent-side
Descending from the TYROL, as night fell,
Knocked at a city-gate near the hill-foot,
The gate that bore so long, sculptured in stone,
An eagle on a ladder, and at once
Found welcome-nightly in the bannered hall
Tuning his harp to tales of chivalry
Before the great MASTINO, and his guests,39
The three-and-twenty kings, by adverse fate,
By war or treason or domestic strife,
Reft of their kingdoms, friendless, shelterless,
And living on his bounty.
Brushing the floor with what was once, methinks,
A hat of ceremony? On he glides,
Slip-shod, ungartered; his long suit of black
Dingy, thread-bare, though, patch by patch, renewed
Till it has almost ceased to be the same.
At length arrived, and with a shrug that pleads
"'T is my necessity!" he stops and speaks,
Screwing a smile into his dinnerless face.
"Blame not a poet, signor, for his zeal-
When all are on the wing, who would be last?
The splendor of thy name has gone before thee;
And ITALY from sea to sea exults,
As well indeed she may! But I transgress.
He, who has known the weight of praise himself,
Should spare another." Saying so, he laid
His sonnet, an impromptu, at my feet
(If his, then PETRARCH must have stolen it from him), And bowed and left me; in his hollow hand
Receiving my small tribute, a zecchine,
Unconsciously, as doctors do their fees.
My omelet, and a flagon of hill-wine,11
Pure as the virgin-spring, had happily
Fled from all eyes; or, in a waking dream,
I might have sat as many a great man has,
And many a small, like him of Santillane,
Bartering my bread and salt for empty praise.12
AM I in ITALY? Is this the Mincius?
Are those the distant turrets of Verona ?
And shall I sup where JULIET at the masque 43
Saw her loved MONTAGUE, and now sleeps by him?
Such questions hourly do I ask myself;
And not a stone, in a cross-way, inscribed
"To Mantua "To Ferrara " 45- but excites
Surprise, and doubt, and self-congratulation.
O ITALY, how beautiful thou art!
Yet I could weep for thou art lying, alas!
Low in the dust; and we admire thee now
As we admire the beautiful in death.
Thine was a dangerous gift, when thou wert born,
The gift of Beauty. Would thou hadst it not;
Or wert as once, awing the caitiffs vile
That now beset thee, making thee their slave!
Would they had loved thee less, or feared thee more 14
But why despair? Twice hast thou lived already; "7
Twice shone among the nations of the world,
As the sun shines among the lesser lights
Of heaven; and shalt again. The hour shall come,
When they who think to bind the ethereal spirit,
Who, like the eagle cowering o'er his prey,
Watch with quick eye, and strike and strike again If but a sinew vibrate, shall confess
Their wisdom folly. Even now the flame
Bursts forth where once it burnt so gloriously,
And, dying, left a splendor like the day,
That like the day diffused itself, and still
Blesses the earth-the light of genius, virtue,
Greatness in thought and act, contempt of death,
Godlike example. Echoes that have slept
Since ATHENS, LACEDEMON, were themselves,
Since men invoked "By those in MARATHON!"
Awake along the GEAN; and the dead,
They of that sacred shore, have heard the call,
And through the ranks, from wing to wing, are seen
Moving as once they were instead of rage
Breathing deliberate valor.
"IN this neglected mirror (the broad frame Of massy silver serves to testify
That many a noble matron of the house
Has sat before it) once, alas! was seen
What led to many sorrows. From that time
The bat came hither for a sleeping place;
And he, who cursed another in his heart,
Said, 'Be thy dwelling, through the day and night,
Shunned like COLL'ALTO.""-'T was in that old pile,
Which flanks the cliff with its gray battlements
Flung here and there, and, like an eagle's nest,