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(The eldest had not seen his nineteenth summer),
Went to the chase; but only one returned.
GIOVANNI, when the huntsman blew his horn
O'er the last stag that started from the brake,
And in the heather turned to stand at bay,
Appeared not; and at close of day was found
Bathed in his innocent blood. Too well, alas !
The trembling Cosmo guessed the deed, the doer;
And, having caused the body to be borne
In secret to that chamber
at an hour
When all slept sound, save she who bore them both,154
Who little thought of what was yet to come,
And lived but to be told — he bade GARZIA
Arise and follow him. Holding in one hand
A winking lamp, and in the other a key
Massive and dungeon-like, thither he led;
And, having entered in and locked the door,
The father fixed his eyes upon the son,
And closely questioned him. No change betrayed
Or guilt or fear. Then Cosmo lifted up
The bloody sheet. “Look there! Look there!” he cried.
66 Blood calls for blood and from a father's hand !
- Unless thyself wilt save him that sad office.
What!” he exclaimed, when, shuddering at the sight,
The boy breathed out, “I stood but on my guard !”
“Dar'st thou then blacken one who never wronged thee,
Who would not set his foot upon a worm ?
Yes, thou must die, lest others fall by thee,
And thou shouldst be the slayer of us all.”
Then from GARZÌA's belt he drew the blade,
That fatal one which spilt his brother's blood ;
And, kneeling on the ground, "Great God !” he cried,
“Grant me the strength to do an act of justice.
Thou knowest what it costs me; but, alas !
How can I spare myself, sparing none else ?
Grant me the strength, the will — and, O! forgive
The sinful soul of a most wretched son!
T is a most wretched father who implores it."
Long on GARZÌA's neck he hung and wept,
Long pressed him to his bosom tenderly;
And then, but while he held him by the arm,
Thrusting him backward, turned away his face,
And stabbed him to the heart.
Well might a youth,
Studious of men, anxious to learn and know,
When in the train of some great embassy
He came, a visitant, to Cosmo's court,
Think on the past; and, as he wandered through
The ample spaces of an ancient house,
Silent, deserted — stop a while to dwell
Upon two portraits there, drawn on the wall 157
Together, as of two in bonds of love,
Those of the unhappy brothers, and conclude,
From the sad looks of him who could have told,
The terrible truth.138_ Well might he heave a sigh
For poor humanity, when he beheld
That very Cosmo shaking o'er his fire,
Drowsy and deaf and inarticulate,
Wrapt in his night-gown, o'er a sick man's mess,
In the last stage --death-struck and deadly pale;
His wife, another, not his ELEANOR,
At once his nurse and his interpreter.
THE CAMPAGNA OF FLORENCE.
'Tis morning. Let us wander through the fields,
Where CIMABUÈ 159 found a shepherd-boy
Tracing his idle fancies on the ground;
And let us from the top of FIESOLE,
Whence GALILEO's glass 160 by night observed
The phases of the moon, look round below
On ARNO's vale, where the dove-colored steer
Is ploughing up and down among the vines,
While many a careless note is sung aloud,
Filling the air with sweetness -- and on thee,
Beautiful FLORENCE ! 161 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
By one of old distinguished as The Bride, 162
Let us in thought pursue (what can we better ?)
Those who assembled there at matin-time ;163
Who, when vice revelled and along the street
Tables were set, what time the bearer's bell
Rang to demand the dead at every door,
Came out into the meadows; and, a while
Wandering in idleness, but not in folly,
Sate down in the high grass and in the shade
Of many a tree sun-proof — day after day,
When all was still and nothing to be heard
But the cicala's voice among the olives,
Relating in a ring, to banish care,
Their hundred tales. 161
Round the green hill they went, Round underneath - first to a splendid house, Gherardi, as an old tradition runs, That on the left, just rising from the vale ; A place for luxury — the painted rooms, The open galleries and middle court, Not unprepared, fragrant and gay with flowers. Then westward to another, nobler yet; That on the right, now known as the Palmieri, Where Art with Nature vied — a Paradise With verdurous walls, and many a trellised walk All rose and jasmine, many a twilight-glade Crossed by the deer. Then to the Ladies' Vale; And the clear lake, that as by magic seemed To lift up to the surface every stone Of lustre there, and the diminutive fish Innumerable, dropt with crimson and gold, Now motionless, now glancing to the sun.
Who has not dwelt on their voluptuous day? The morning banquet by the fountain-side,16 While the small birds rejoiced on every bough; The dance that followed, and the noontide slumber; Then the tales told in turn, as round they lay On carpets, the fresh waters murmuring; And the short interval of pleasant talk Till supper-time, when many a siren-voice Sung down the stars; and, as they left the sky, The torches, planted in the sparkling grass, And everywhere among the glowing flowers, Burnt bright and brighter.--He 167 whose dream it was (It was no more) sleeps in a neighboring vale; Sleeps in the church, where, in his ear, I ween,
The friar poured out his wondrous catalogue;
A ray, imprimis, of the star that shone
To the Wise Men; a vial-full of sounds,
The musical chimes of the great bells that hung
In SOLOMON'S Temple; and, though last not least,
A feather from the Angel GABRIEL's wing,
Dropt in the Virgin's chamber. That dark ridge,
Stretching south-east, conceals it from our sight;
Not so his lowly roof and scanty farm,
His copse and rill, if yet a trace be left,
Who lived in Val di Pesa, suffering long
Want and neglect and (far, far worse) reproach,
With calm, unclouded mind.16 The glimmering tower
On the gray rock beneath, his landmark 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 ) 170
Laden with cages from his shoulder slung,
And sallying forth, while yet the morn is gray,
To catch a thrush on every lime-twig there ;
Or in the wood among his wood-cutters;
Or in the tavern by the highway-side
At tric-trac with the miller; or at night,
Doffing his rustic suit, and, duly clad,
Entering his closet, and, among his books,
Among the great of every age and clime, 171
A numerous court, turning to whom he pleased,
Questioning each why he did this or that,
And learning how to overcome the fear
Of poverty and death ?
Nearer we hail
Thy sunny slope, ARCETRI, sung of old