The following sonnet is remarkable for its last four lines having puzzled all the poet's commentators to explain what he meant by the words "Al man ond' io scrivo e fatta arnica, a questo volta." I agree with De Sade in conjecturing that Laura in receiving some of his verses had touched the hand that presented them, in token of her gratitude.[O]
In solitudes I've ever loved to abide By woods and streams, and shunn'd the evil-hearted, Who from the path of heaven are foully parted; Sweet Tuscany has been to me denied, Whose sunny realms I would have gladly haunted, Yet still the Sorgue his beauteous hills among Has lent auxiliar murmurs to my song, And echoed to the plaints my love has chanted. Here triumph'd, too, the poet's hand that wrote These lines—the power of love has witness'd this. Delicious victory! I know my bliss, She knows it too—the saint on whom I dote.
Of Petrarch's poetry that is not amatory, Ugo Foscolo says with justice, that his three political canzoni, exquisite as they are in versification and style, do not breathe that enthusiasm which opened to Pindar's grasp all the wealth of imagination, all the treasures of historic lore and moral truth, to illustrate and dignify his strain. Yet the vigour, the arrangement, and the perspicuity of the ideas in these canzoni of Petrarch, the tone of conviction and melancholy in which the patriot upbraids and mourns over his country, strike the heart with such force, as to atone for the absence of grand and exuberant imagery, and of the irresistible impetus which peculiarly belongs to the ode.
Petrarch's principal Italian poem that is not thrown into the shape of the sonnet is his Trionfi, or Triumphs, in five parts. Though not consisting of sonnets, however, it has the same amatory and constant allusions to Laura as the greater part of his poetry. Here, as elsewhere, he recurs from time to time to the history of his passion, its rise, its progress, and its end. For this purpose, he describes human life in its successive stages, omitting no opportunity of introducing his mistress and himself.
1. Man in his youthful state is the slave of love. 2. As he advances in age, he feels the inconveniences of his amatory propensities, and endeavours to conquer them by chastity. 3. Amidst the victory which he obtains over himself, Death steps in, and levels alike the victor and the vanquished. 4. But Fame arrives after death, and makes man as it were live again after death, and survive it for ages by his fame. 5. But man even by fame cannot live for ever, if God has not granted him a happy existence throughout eternity. Thus Love triumphs over Man; Chastity triumphs over Love; Death triumphs over both; Fame triumphs over Death; Time triumphs over Fame; and Eternity triumphs over Time.
The subordinate parts and imagery of the Trionfi have a beauty rather arabesque than classical, and resembling the florid tracery of the later oriental Gothic architecture. But the whole effect of the poem is pleasing, from the general grandeur of its design.
In summing up Petrarch's character, moral, political, and poetical, I should not stint myself to the equivocal phrase used by Tacitus respecting Agricola: Bonum virum facile dixeris, magnum libenter, but should at once claim for his memory the title both of great and good. A restorer of ancient learning, a rescuer of its treasures from oblivion, a despiser of many contemporary superstitions, a man, who, though no reformer himself, certainly contributed to the Reformation, an Italian patriot who was above provincial partialities, a poet who still lives in the hearts of his country, and who is shielded from oblivion by more generations than there were hides in the sevenfold shield of Ajax—if this was not a great man, many who are so called must bear the title unworthily. He was a faithful friend, and a devoted lover, and appears to have been one of the most fascinating beings that ever existed. Even when his failings were admitted, it must still be said that even his failings leaned to virtue's side, and, altogether we may pronounce that
His life was gentle, and the elements So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up And say to all the world, "This was a man!"
[Footnote A: Before the publication of De Sade's "Memoires pour la vie de Petrarque" the report was that Petrarch first saw Laura at Vaucluse. The truth of their first meeting in the church of St. Clara depends on the authenticity of the famous note on the M.S. Virgil of Petrarch, which is now in the Ambrosian Library at Milan.]
[Footnote B: Petrarch, in his dialogue with St. Augustine, states that he was older than Laura by a few years.]
[Footnote C: "The Floral games were instituted in France in 1324. They were founded by Clementina Isaure, Countess of Toulouse, and annually celebrated in the month of May. The Countess published an edict, which assembled all the poets of France, in artificial arbours, dressed with flowers; and he that produced the best poem was rewared with a violet of gold. There were, likewise, inferior prizes of flowers made in silver. In the meantime, the conquerors were crowned with natural chaplets of their own respective flowers. During the ceremony degrees were also conferred. He who had won a prize three times was pronounced a doctor 'en gaye science,' the name of the poetry of the Provencal Troubadours. This institution, however fantastic, soon became common, through the whole of France."—Warton's History of English Poetry, vol i. p 467.]
[Footnote D: I have transferred the following anecdote from Levati's Viaggi di Petrarea (vol. i. p. 119 et seq.). It behoves me to confess, however, that I recollect no allusion to it in any of Petrarch's letters, and I have found many things in Levati's book which make me distrust his authority.]
[Footnote E: Quest' anima gentil che si disparte.—Sonnet xxiii.]
[Footnote F: Dated 21st December. 1335.]
[Footnote G: Guido Sette of Luni, in the Genoese territory, studied law together with Petrarch; but took to it with better liking. He devoted himself to the business of the bar at Avignon with much reputation. But the legal and clerical professions were then often united; for Guido rose in the church to be an archbishop. He died in 1368, renowned as a church luminary.]
[Footnote H: Canzoni 8, 9, and 10.]
[Footnote I: Valery, in his "Travels in Italy" gives the following note respecting out poet. I quote from the edition of the work published at Brussels in 1835:—"Petrarque rapporte dans ses lettres latines que le laurier du Capitole lui avait attire une multitude d'envieux; que le jour de son couronnement, au lieu d'eau odorante qu'il etait d'usage de repandre dans ces solennites, il recut sur la tete une eau corrosive, qui le rendit chauve le reste de sa vie. Son historien Dolce raconte meme qu'une vieille lui jetta son pot de chambre rempli d'une acre urine, gardee, peut-etre, pour cela depuis sept semaines."]
[Footnote J: Sonnet cxcvi.]
[Footnote K: Translation.—In the twenty-fifth year of his age, after a short though happy existence, our John departed this life in the year of Christ 1361, on the 10th of July, or rather on the 9th, at the midhour between Friday and Saturday. Sent into the world to my mortification and suffering, he was to me in life the cause of deep and unceasing solicitude, and in death of poignant grief. The news reached me on the evening of the 13th of the same month that he had fallen at Milan, in the general mortality caused by that unwonted scourge which at last discovered and visited so fearfully this hitherto exempted city. On the 8th of August, the same year, a servant of mine returning from Milan brought me a rumour (which on the 18th of the same fatal month was confirmed by a servant of Dominus Theatinus) of the death of my Socrates, my companion, my best of brothers, at Babylon (Avignon, I mean) in the month of May. I have lost my comrade and the solace of my life! Receive, Christ Jesus, these two, and the five that remain, into thy eternal habitations!]
[Footnote L: Petrarch's words are: "civi servare suo;" but he takes the liberty of considering Charles as—adoptively—Italian, though that Prince was born at Prague.]
[Footnote M: Most historians relate that the English, at Poitiers, amounted to no more than eight or ten thousand men; but, whether they consisted of eight thousand or thirty thousand, the result was sufficiently glorious for them, and for their brave leader, the Black Prince.]
[Footnote N: This is the story of the patient Grisel, which is familiar in almost every language.]
[Footnote O: Cercato ho sempre solitaria vita.—Sonnet 221, De Sade, vol. ii. p. 8.]
TO LAURA IN LIFE.
Voi, ch' ascoltate in rime sparse il suono.
HE CONFESSES THE VANITY OF HIS PASSION
Ye who in rhymes dispersed the echoes hear Of those sad sighs with which my heart I fed When early youth my mazy wanderings led, Fondly diverse from what I now appear, Fluttering 'twixt frantic hope and frantic fear, From those by whom my various style is read, I hope, if e'er their hearts for love have bled, Not only pardon, but perhaps a tear. But now I clearly see that of mankind Long time I was the tale: whence bitter thought And self-reproach with frequent blushes teem; While of my frenzy, shame the fruit I find, And sad repentance, and the proof, dear-bought, That the world's joy is but a flitting dream.
O ye, who list in scatter'd verse the sound Of all those sighs with which my heart I fed, When I, by youthful error first misled, Unlike my present self in heart was found; Who list the plaints, the reasonings that abound Throughout my song, by hopes, and vain griefs bred; If e'er true love its influence o'er ye shed, Oh! let your pity be with pardon crown'd. But now full well I see how to the crowd For length of time I proved a public jest: E'en by myself my folly is allow'd: And of my vanity the fruit is shame, Repentance, and a knowledge strong imprest, That worldly pleasure is a passing dream.
Ye, who may listen to each idle strain Bearing those sighs, on which my heart was fed In life's first morn, by youthful error led, (Far other then from what I now remain!) That thus in varying numbers I complain, Numbers of sorrow vain and vain hope bred, If any in love's lore be practised, His pardon,—e'en his pity I may obtain: But now aware that to mankind my name Too long has been a bye-word and a scorn, I blush before my own severer thought; Of my past wanderings the sole fruit is shame, And deep repentance, of the knowledge born That all we value in this world is naught.
Per far una leggiadra sua vendetta.
HOW HE BECAME THE VICTIM OF LOVE.
For many a crime at once to make me smart, And a delicious vengeance to obtain, Love secretly took up his bow again, As one who acts the cunning coward's part; My courage had retired within my heart, There to defend the pass bright eyes might gain; When his dread archery was pour'd amain Where blunted erst had fallen every dart. Scared at the sudden brisk attack, I found Nor time, nor vigour to repel the foe With weapons suited to the direful need; No kind protection of rough rising ground, Where from defeat I might securely speed, Which fain I would e'en now, but ah, no method know!
One sweet and signal vengeance to obtain To punish in a day my life's long crime, As one who, bent on harm, waits place and time, Love craftily took up his bow again. My virtue had retired to watch my heart, Thence of weak eyes the danger to repell, When momently a mortal blow there fell Where blunted hitherto dropt every dart. And thus, o'erpower'd in that first attack, She had nor vigour left enough, nor room Even to arm her for my pressing need, Nor to the steep and painful mountain back To draw me, safe and scathless from that doom, Whence, though alas! too weak, she fain had freed.
Era 'l giorno ch' al sol si scoloraro.
HE BLAMES LOVE FOR WOUNDING HIM ON A HOLY DAY (GOOD FRIDAY).
'Twas on the morn, when heaven its blessed ray In pity to its suffering master veil'd, First did I, Lady, to your beauty yield, Of your victorious eyes th' unguarded prey. Ah! little reck'd I that, on such a day, Needed against Love's arrows any shield; And trod, securely trod, the fatal field: Whence, with the world's, began my heart's dismay. On every side Love found his victim bare, And through mine eyes transfix'd my throbbing heart; Those eyes, which now with constant sorrows flow: But poor the triumph of his boasted art, Who thus could pierce a naked youth, nor dare To you in armour mail'd even to display his bow!
'Twas on the blessed morning when the sun In pity to our Maker hid his light, That, unawares, the captive I was won, Lady, of your bright eyes which chain'd me quite; That seem'd to me no time against the blows Of love to make defence, to frame relief: Secure and unsuspecting, thus my woes Date their commencement from the common grief. Love found me feeble then and fenceless all, Open the way and easy to my heart Through eyes, where since my sorrows ebb and flow: But therein was, methinks, his triumph small, On me, in that weak state, to strike his dart, Yet hide from you so strong his very bow.
Quel ch' infinita providenza ed arte.
HE CELEBRATES THE BIRTHPLACE OF LAURA.
He that with wisdom, goodness, power divine, Did ample Nature's perfect book design, Adorn'd this beauteous world, and those above, Kindled fierce Mars, and soften'd milder Jove: When seen on earth the shadows to fulfill Of the less volume which conceal'd his will, Took John and Peter from their homely care, And made them pillars of his temple fair. Nor in imperial Rome would He be born, Whom servile Judah yet received with scorn: E'en Bethlehem could her infant King disown, And the rude manger was his early throne. Victorious sufferings did his pomp display, Nor other chariot or triumphal way. At once by Heaven's example and decree, Such honour waits on such humility.
The High Eternal, in whose works supreme The Master's vast creative power hath spoke: At whose command each circling sphere awoke, Jove mildly rose, and Mars with fiercer beam: To earth He came, to ratify the scheme Reveal'd to us through prophecy's dark cloak, To sound redemption, speak man's fallen yoke: He chose the humblest for that heavenly theme. But He conferr'd not on imperial Rome His birth's renown; He chose a lowlier sky,— To stand, through Him, the proudest spot on earth! And now doth shine within its humble home A star, that doth each other so outvie, That grateful nature hails its lovely birth.
Who show'd such infinite providence and skill In his eternal government divine, Who launch'd the spheres, gave sun and moon to shine, And brightest wonders the dark void to fill; On earth who came the Scriptures to maintain, Which for long years the truth had buried yet, Took John and Peter from the fisher's net And gave to each his part in the heavenly reign. He for his birth fair Rome preferr'd not then, But lowly Bethlehem; thus o'er proudest state He ever loves humility to raise. Now rises from small spot like sun again, Whom Nature hails, the place grows bright and great Which birth so heavenly to our earth displays.
Quand' io movo i sospiri a chiamar voi.
HE PLAYS UPON THE NAME LAURETA OR LAURA.
In sighs when I outbreathe your cherish'd name, That name which love has writ upon my heart, LAUd instantly upon my doting tongue, At the first thought of its sweet sound, is heard; Your REgal state, which I encounter next, Doubles my valour in that high emprize: But TAcit ends the word; your praise to tell Is fitting load for better backs than mine. Thus all who call you, by the name itself, Are taught at once to LAUd and to REvere, O worthy of all reverence and esteem! Save that perchance Apollo may disdain That mortal tongue of his immortal boughs Should ever so presume as e'en to speak.
Si traviato e 'l folle mio desio.
OF HIS FOOLISH PASSION FOR LAURA.
So wayward now my will, and so unwise, To follow her who turns from me in flight, And, from love's fetters free herself and light, Before my slow and shackled motion flies, That less it lists, the more my sighs and cries Would point where passes the safe path and right, Nor aught avails to check or to excite, For Love's own nature curb and spur defies. Thus, when perforce the bridle he has won, And helpless at his mercy I remain, Against my will he speeds me to mine end 'Neath yon cold laurel, whose false boughs upon Hangs the harsh fruit, which, tasted, spreads the pain I sought to stay, and mars where it should mend.
My tameless will doth recklessly pursue Her, who, unshackled by love's heavy chain, Flies swiftly from its chase, whilst I in vain My fetter'd journey pantingly renew; The safer track I offer to its view, But hopeless is my power to restrain, It rides regardless of the spur or rein; Love makes it scorn the hand that would subdue. The triumph won, the bridle all its own, Without one curb I stand within its power, And my destruction helplessly presage: It guides me to that laurel, ever known, To all who seek the healing of its flower, To aggravate the wound it should assuage.
La gola e 'l sonno e l' oziose piume.
TO A FRIEND, ENCOURAGING HIM TO PURSUE POETRY.
Torn is each virtue from its earthly throne By sloth, intemperance, and voluptuous ease; E'en nature deviates from her wonted ways, Too much the slave of vicious custom grown. Far hence is every light celestial gone, That guides mankind through life's perplexing maze; And those, whom Helicon's sweet waters please, From mocking crowds receive contempt alone. Who now would laurel, myrtle-wreaths obtain? Let want, let shame, Philosophy attend! Cries the base world, intent on sordid gain. What though thy favourite path be trod by few; Let it but urge thee more, dear gentle friend! Thy great design of glory to pursue.
Intemperance, slumber, and the slothful down Have chased each virtue from this world away; Hence is our nature nearly led astray From its due course, by habitude o'erthrown; Those kindly lights of heaven so dim are grown, Which shed o'er human life instruction's ray; That him with scornful wonder they survey, Who would draw forth the stream of Helicon. "Whom doth the laurel please, or myrtle now? Naked and poor, Philosophy, art thou!" The worthless crowd, intent on lucre, cries. Few on thy chosen road will thee attend; Yet let it more incite thee, gentle friend, To prosecute thy high-conceived emprize.
A pie de' colli ove la bella vesta.
HE FEIGNS AN ADDRESS FROM SOME BIRDS WHICH HE HAD PRESENTED.
Beneath the verdant hills—where the fair vest Of earthly mould first took the Lady dear, Who him that sends us, feather'd captives, here Awakens often from his tearful rest— Lived we in freedom and in quiet, blest With everything which life below might cheer, No foe suspecting, harass'd by no fear That aught our wanderings ever could molest; But snatch'd from that serener life, and thrown To the low wretched state we here endure, One comfort, short of death, survives alone: Vengeance upon our captor full and sure! Who, slave himself at others' power, remains Pent in worse prison, bound by sterner chains.
Beneath those very hills, where beauty threw Her mantle first o'er that earth-moulded fair, Who oft from sleep, while shedding many a tear, Awakens him that sends us unto you, Our lives in peacefulness and freedom flew, E'en as all creatures wish who hold life dear; Nor deem'd we aught could in its course come near, Whence to our wanderings danger might accrue. But from the wretched state to which we're brought, Leaving another with sereneness fraught, Nay, e'en from death, one comfort we obtain; That vengeance follows him who sent us here; Another's utmost thraldom doomed to bear, Bound he now lies with a still stronger chain.
Quando 'l pianeta che distingue l' ore.
WITH A PRESENT OF FRUIT IN SPRING.
When the great planet which directs the hours To dwell with Taurus from the North is borne, Such virtue rays from each enkindled horn, Rare beauty instantly all nature dowers; Nor this alone, which meets our sight, that flowers Richly the upland and the vale adorn, But Earth's cold womb, else lustreless and lorn, Is quick and warm with vivifying powers, Till herbs and fruits, like these I send, are rife. —So she, a sun amid her fellow fair, Shedding the rays of her bright eyes on me, Thoughts, acts, and words of love wakes into life— But, ah! for me is no new Spring, nor e'er, Smile they on whom she will, again can be.
When Taurus in his house doth Phoebus keep, There pours so bright a virtue from his crest That Nature wakes, and stands in beauty drest, The flow'ring meadows start with joy from sleep: Nor they alone rejoice—earth's bosom deep (Though not one beam illumes her night of rest) Responsive smiles, and from her fruitful breast Gives forth her treasures for her sons to reap. Thus she, who dwells amid her sex a sun, Shedding upon my soul her eyes' full light, Each thought creates, each deed, each word of love: But though my heart's proud mastery she hath won Alas! within me dwells eternal night: My spirit ne'er Spring's genial breath doth prove.
Gloriosa Colonna, in cui s' appoggia.
TO STEFANO COLONNA THE ELDER, INVITING HIM TO THE COUNTRY.
Glorious Colonna! still the strength and stay Of our best hopes, and the great Latin name Whom power could never from the true right way Seduce by flattery or by terror tame: No palace, theatres, nor arches here, But, in their stead, the fir, the beech, and pine On the green sward, with the fair mountain near Paced to and fro by poet friend of thine; Thus unto heaven the soul from earth is caught; While Philomel, who sweetly to the shade The livelong night her desolate lot complains, Fills the soft heart with many an amorous thought: —Ah! why is so rare good imperfect made While severed from us still my lord remains.
Glorious Colonna! thou, the Latins' hope, The proud supporter of our lofty name, Thou hold'st thy path of virtue still the same, Amid the thunderings of Rome's Jove—the Pope. Not here do human structures interlope The fir to rival, or the pine-tree's claim, The soul may revel in poetic flame Upon yon mountain's green and gentle slope. And thus from earth to heaven the spirit soars, Whilst Philomel her tale of woe repeats Amid the sympathising shades of night, Thus through man's breast love's current sweetly pours: Yet still thine absence half the joy defeats,— Alas! my friend, why dim such radiant light?
Lassare il velo o per sole o per ombra.
PERCEIVING HIS PASSION, LAURA'S SEVERITY INCREASES.
Never thy veil, in sun or in the shade, Lady, a moment I have seen Quitted, since of my heart the queen Mine eyes confessing thee my heart betray'd While my enamour'd thoughts I kept conceal'd. Those fond vain hopes by which I die, In thy sweet features kindness beam'd: Changed was the gentle language of thine eye Soon as my foolish heart itself reveal'd; And all that mildness which I changeless deem'd— All, all withdrawn which most my soul esteem'd. Yet still the veil I must obey, Which, whatsoe'er the aspect of the day, Thine eyes' fair radiance hides, my life to overshade.
Wherefore, my unkind fair one, say, Whether the sun fierce darts his ray, Or whether gloom o'erspreads the sky, That envious veil is ne'er thrown by; Though well you read my heart, and knew How much I long'd your charms to view? While I conceal'd each tender thought, That my fond mind's destruction wrought, Your face with pity sweetly shone; But, when love made my passion known, Your sunny locks were seen no more, Nor smiled your eyes as heretofore; Behind a jealous cloud retired Those beauties which I most admired. And shall a veil thus rule my fate? O cruel veil, that whether heat Or cold be felt, art doom'd to prove Fatal to me, shadowing the lights I love!
Se la mia vita dall' aspro tormento.
HE HOPES THAT TIME WILL RENDER HER MORE MERCIFUL.
If o'er each bitter pang, each hidden throe Sadly triumphant I my years drag on, Till even the radiance of those eyes is gone, Lady, which star-like now illume thy brow; And silver'd are those locks of golden glow, And wreaths and robes of green aside are thrown, And from thy cheek those hues of beauty flown, Which check'd so long the utterance of my woe, Haply my bolder tongue may then reveal The bosom'd annals of my heart's fierce fire, The martyr-throbs that now in night I veil: And should the chill Time frown on young Desire. Still, still some late remorse that breast may feel, And heave a tardy sigh—ere love with life expire.
Lady, if grace to me so long be lent From love's sharp tyranny and trials keen, Ere my last days, in life's far vale, are seen, To know of thy bright eyes the lustre spent, The fine gold of thy hair with silver sprent, Neglected the gay wreaths and robes of green, Pale, too, and thin the face which made me, e'en 'Gainst injury, slow and timid to lament: Then will I, for such boldness love would give, Lay bare my secret heart, in martyr's fire Years, days, and hours that yet has known to live; And, though the time then suit not fair desire, At least there may arrive to my long grief, Too late of tender sighs the poor relief.
Quando fra l' altre donne ad ora ad ora.
THE BEAUTY OF LAURA LEADS HIM TO THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE SUPREME GOOD.
Throned on her angel brow, when Love displays His radiant form among all other fair, Far as eclipsed their choicest charms appear, I feel beyond its wont my passion blaze. And still I bless the day, the hour, the place, When first so high mine eyes I dared to rear; And say, "Fond heart, thy gratitude declare, That then thou had'st the privilege to gaze. 'Twas she inspired the tender thought of love, Which points to heaven, and teaches to despise The earthly vanities that others prize: She gave the soul's light grace, which to the skies Bids thee straight onward in the right path move; Whence buoy'd by hope e'en, now I soar to worlds above."
When Love, whose proper throne is that sweet face, At times escorts her 'mid the sisters fair, As their each beauty is than hers less rare, So swells in me the fond desire apace. I bless the hour, the season and the place, So high and heavenward when my eyes could dare; And say: "My heart! in grateful memory bear This lofty honour and surpassing grace: From her descends the tender truthful thought, Which follow'd, bliss supreme shall thee repay, Who spurn'st the vanities that win the crowd: From her that gentle graceful love is caught, To heaven which leads thee by the right-hand way, And crowns e'en here with hopes both pure and proud."
Occhi miei lassi, mentre ch' io vi giro.
HE INVITES HIS EYES TO FEAST THEMSELVES ON LAURA.
My wearied eyes! while looking thus On that fair fatal face to us, Be wise, be brief, for—hence my sighs— Already Love our bliss denies. Death only can the amorous track Shut from my thoughts which leads them back To the sweet port of all their weal; But lesser objects may conceal Our light from you, that meaner far In virtue and perfection are. Wherefore, poor eyes! ere yet appears, Already nigh, the time of tears, Now, after long privation past, Look, and some comfort take at last.
Io mi rivolgo indietro a ciascun passo.
ON QUITTING LAURA.
With weary frame which painfully I bear, I look behind me at each onward pace, And then take comfort from your native air, Which following fans my melancholy face; The far way, my frail life, the cherish'd fair Whom thus I leave, as then my thoughts retrace, I fix my feet in silent pale despair, And on the earth my tearful eyes abase. At times a doubt, too, rises on my woes, "How ever can this weak and wasted frame Live from life's spirit and one source afar?" Love's answer soon the truth forgotten shows— "This high pure privilege true lovers claim, Who from mere human feelings franchised are!"
I look behind each step I onward trace, Scarce able to support my wearied frame, Ah, wretched me! I pantingly exclaim, And from her atmosphere new strength embrace; I think on her I leave—my heart's best grace— My lengthen'd journey—life's capricious flame— I pause in withering fear, with purpose tame, Whilst down my cheek tears quick each other chase. My doubting heart thus questions in my grief: "Whence comes it that existence thou canst know When from thy spirit thou dost dwell entire?" Love, holy Love, my heart then answers brief: "Such privilege I do on all bestow Who feed my flame with nought of earthly fire!"
Movesi 'l vecchierel canuto e bianco.
HE COMPARES HIMSELF TO A PILGRIM.
The palmer bent, with locks of silver gray, Quits the sweet spot where he has pass'd his years, Quits his poor family, whose anxious fears Paint the loved father fainting on his way; And trembling, on his aged limbs slow borne, In these last days that close his earthly course, He, in his soul's strong purpose, finds new force, Though weak with age, though by long travel worn: Thus reaching Rome, led on by pious love, He seeks the image of that Saviour Lord Whom soon he hopes to meet in bliss above: So, oft in other forms I seek to trace Some charm, that to my heart may yet afford A faint resemblance of thy matchless grace.
As parts the aged pilgrim, worn and gray, From the dear spot his life where he had spent, From his poor family by sorrow rent, Whose love still fears him fainting in decay: Thence dragging heavily, in life's last day, His suffering frame, on pious journey bent, Pricking with earnest prayers his good intent, Though bow'd with years, and weary with the way, He reaches Rome, still following his desire The likeness of his Lord on earth to see, Whom yet he hopes in heaven above to meet; So I, too, seek, nor in the fond quest tire, Lady, in other fair if aught there be That faintly may recall thy beauties sweet.
Piovonmi amare lagrime dal viso.
HIS STATE WHEN LAURA IS PRESENT, AND WHEN SHE DEPARTS.
Down my cheeks bitter tears incessant rain, And my heart struggles with convulsive sighs, When, Laura, upon you I turn my eyes, For whom the world's allurements I disdain, But when I see that gentle smile again, That modest, sweet, and tender smile, arise, It pours on every sense a blest surprise; Lost in delight is all my torturing pain. Too soon this heavenly transport sinks and dies: When all thy soothing charms my fate removes At thy departure from my ravish'd view. To that sole refuge its firm faith approves My spirit from my ravish'd bosom flies, And wing'd with fond remembrance follows you.
Tears, bitter tears adown my pale cheek rain, Bursts from mine anguish'd breast a storm of sighs, Whene'er on you I turn my passionate eyes, For whom alone this bright world I disdain. True! to my ardent wishes and old pain That mild sweet smile a peaceful balm supplies, Rescues me from the martyr fire that tries, Rapt and intent on you whilst I remain; Thus in your presence—but my spirits freeze When, ushering with fond acts a warm adieu, My fatal stars from life's quench'd heaven decay. My soul released at last with Love's apt keys But issues from my heart to follow you, Nor tears itself without much thought away.
Quand' io son tutto volto in quella parte.
HE FLIES, BUT PASSION PURSUES HIM.
When I reflect and turn me to that part Whence my sweet lady beam'd in purest light, And in my inmost thought remains that light Which burns me and consumes in every part, I, who yet dread lest from my heart it part And see at hand the end of this my light, Go lonely, like a man deprived of light, Ignorant where to go; whence to depart. Thus flee I from the stroke which lays me dead, Yet flee not with such speed but that desire Follows, companion of my flight alone. Silent I go:—but these my words, though dead, Others would cause to weep—this I desire, That I may weep and waste myself alone.
When all my mind I turn to the one part Where sheds my lady's face its beauteous light, And lingers in my loving thought the light That burns and racks within me ev'ry part, I from my heart who fear that it may part, And see the near end of my single light, Go, as a blind man, groping without light, Who knows not where yet presses to depart. Thus from the blows which ever wish me dead I flee, but not so swiftly that desire Ceases to come, as is its wont, with me. Silent I move: for accents of the dead Would melt the general age: and I desire That sighs and tears should only fall from me.
Son animali al mondo di si altera.
HE COMPARES HIMSELF TO A MOTH.
Creatures there are in life of such keen sight That no defence they need from noonday sun, And others dazzled by excess of light Who issue not abroad till day is done, And, with weak fondness, some because 'tis bright, Who in the death-flame for enjoyment run, Thus proving theirs a different virtue quite— Alas! of this last kind myself am one; For, of this fair the splendour to regard, I am but weak and ill—against late hours And darkness gath'ring round—myself to ward. Wherefore, with tearful eyes of failing powers, My destiny condemns me still to turn Where following faster I but fiercer burn.
Vergognando talor ch' ancor si taccia.
THE PRAISES OF LAURA TRANSCEND HIS POETIC POWERS.
Ashamed sometimes thy beauties should remain As yet unsung, sweet lady, in my rhyme; When first I saw thee I recall the time, Pleasing as none shall ever please again. But no fit polish can my verse attain, Not mine is strength to try the task sublime: My genius, measuring its power to climb, From such attempt doth prudently refrain. Full oft I oped my lips to chant thy name; Then in mid utterance the lay was lost: But say what muse can dare so bold a flight? Full oft I strove in measure to indite; But ah, the pen, the hand, the vein I boast, At once were vanquish'd by the mighty theme!
Ashamed at times that I am silent, yet, Lady, though your rare beauties prompt my rhyme, When first I saw thee I recall the time Such as again no other can be met. But, with such burthen on my shoulders set. My mind, its frailty feeling, cannot climb, And shrinks alike from polish'd and sublime, While my vain utterance frozen terrors let. Often already have I sought to sing, But midway in my breast the voice was stay'd, For ah! so high what praise may ever spring? And oft have I the tender verse essay'd, But still in vain; pen, hand, and intellect In the first effort conquer'd are and check'd.
Mille fiate, o dolce mia guerrera.
HIS HEART, REJECTED BY LAURA, WILL PERISH, UNLESS SHE RELENT.
A thousand times, sweet warrior, have I tried, Proffering my heart to thee, some peace to gain From those bright eyes, but still, alas! in vain, To such low level stoops not thy chaste pride. If others seek the love thus thrown aside, Vain were their hopes and labours to obtain; The heart thou spurnest I alike disdain, To thee displeasing, 'tis by me denied. But if, discarded thus, it find not thee Its joyless exile willing to befriend, Alone, untaught at others' will to wend, Soon from life's weary burden will it flee. How heavy then the guilt to both, but more To thee, for thee it did the most adore.
A thousand times, sweet warrior, to obtain Peace with those beauteous eyes I've vainly tried, Proffering my heart; but with that lofty pride To bend your looks so lowly you refrain: Expects a stranger fair that heart to gain, In frail, fallacious hopes will she confide: It never more to me can be allied; Since what you scorn, dear lady, I disdain. In its sad exile if no aid you lend Banish'd by me; and it can neither stay Alone, nor yet another's call obey; Its vital course must hasten to its end: Ah me, how guilty then we both should prove, But guilty you the most, for you it most doth love.
A qualunque animale alberga in terra.
NIGHT BRINGS HIM NO REST. HE IS THE PREY OF DESPAIR.
To every animal that dwells on earth, Except to those which have in hate the sun, Their time of labour is while lasts the day; But when high heaven relumes its thousand stars, This seeks his hut, and that its native wood, Each finds repose, at least until the dawn.
But I, when fresh and fair begins the dawn To chase the lingering shades that cloak'd the earth, Wakening the animals in every wood, No truce to sorrow find while rolls the sun; And, when again I see the glistening stars, Still wander, weeping, wishing for the day.
When sober evening chases the bright day, And this our darkness makes for others dawn, Pensive I look upon the cruel stars Which framed me of such pliant passionate earth, And curse the day that e'er I saw the sun, Which makes me native seem of wildest wood.
And yet methinks was ne'er in any wood, So wild a denizen, by night or day, As she whom thus I blame in shade and sun: Me night's first sleep o'ercomes not, nor the dawn, For though in mortal coil I tread the earth, My firm and fond desire is from the stars.
Ere up to you I turn, O lustrous stars, Or downwards in love's labyrinthine wood, Leaving my fleshly frame in mouldering earth, Could I but pity find in her, one day Would many years redeem, and to the dawn With bliss enrich me from the setting sun!
Oh! might I be with her where sinks the sun, No other eyes upon us but the stars, Alone, one sweet night, ended by no dawn, Nor she again transfigured in green wood, To cheat my clasping arms, as on the day, When Phoebus vainly follow'd her on earth.
I shall lie low in earth, in crumbling wood. And clustering stars shall gem the noon of day, Ere on so sweet a dawn shall rise that sun.
Each creature on whose wakeful eyes The bright sun pours his golden fire, By day a destined toil pursues; And, when heaven's lamps illume the skies, All to some haunt for rest retire, Till a fresh dawn that toil renews. But I, when a new morn doth rise, Chasing from earth its murky shades, While ring the forests with delight, Find no remission of my sighs; And, soon as night her mantle spreads, I weep, and wish returning light Again when eve bids day retreat, O'er other climes to dart its rays; Pensive those cruel stars I view, Which influence thus my amorous fate; And imprecate that beauty's blaze, Which o'er my form such wildness threw. No forest surely in its glooms Nurtures a savage so unkind As she who bids these sorrows flow: Me, nor the dawn nor sleep o'ercomes; For, though of mortal mould, my mind Feels more than passion's mortal glow. Ere up to you, bright orbs, I fly, Or to Love's bower speed down my way, While here my mouldering limbs remain; Let me her pity once espy; Thus, rich in bliss, one little day Shall recompense whole years of pain. Be Laura mine at set of sun; Let heaven's fires only mark our loves, And the day ne'er its light renew; My fond embrace may she not shun; Nor Phoebus-like, through laurel groves, May I a nymph transform'd pursue! But I shall cast this mortal veil on earth, And stars shall gild the noon, ere such bright scenes have birth.
Nel dolce tempo della prima etade.
HIS SUFFERINGS SINCE HE BECAME THE SLAVE OF LOVE.
In the sweet season when my life was new, Which saw the birth, and still the being sees Of the fierce passion for my ill that grew, Fain would I sing—my sorrow to appease— How then I lived, in liberty, at ease, While o'er my heart held slighted Love no sway; And how, at length, by too high scorn, for aye, I sank his slave, and what befell me then, Whereby to all a warning I remain; Although my sharpest pain Be elsewhere written, so that many a pen Is tired already, and, in every vale, The echo of my heavy sighs is rife, Some credence forcing of my anguish'd life; And, as her wont, if here my memory fail, Be my long martyrdom its saving plea, And the one thought which so its torment made, As every feeling else to throw in shade, And make me of myself forgetful be— Ruling life's inmost core, its bare rind left for me.
Long years and many had pass'd o'er my head, Since, in Love's first assault, was dealt my wound, And from my brow its youthful air had fled, While cold and cautious thoughts my heart around Had made it almost adamantine ground, To loosen which hard passion gave no rest: No sorrow yet with tears had bathed my breast, Nor broke my sleep: and what was not in mine A miracle to me in others seem'd. Life's sure test death is deem'd, As cloudless eve best proves the past day fine; Ah me! the tyrant whom I sing, descried Ere long his error, that, till then, his dart Not yet beneath the gown had pierced my heart, And brought a puissant lady as his guide, 'Gainst whom of small or no avail has been Genius, or force, to strive or supplicate. These two transform'd me to my present state, Making of breathing man a laurel green, Which loses not its leaves though wintry blasts be keen.
What my amaze, when first I fully learn'd The wondrous change upon my person done, And saw my thin hairs to those green leaves turn'd (Whence yet for them a crown I might have won); My feet wherewith I stood, and moved, and run— Thus to the soul the subject members bow— Become two roots upon the shore, not now Of fabled Peneus, but a stream as proud, And stiffen'd to a branch my either arm! Nor less was my alarm, When next my frame white down was seen to shroud, While, 'neath the deadly leven, shatter'd lay My first green hope that soar'd, too proud, in air, Because, in sooth, I knew not when nor where I left my latter state; but, night and day, Where it was struck, alone, in tears, I went, Still seeking it alwhere, and in the wave; And, for its fatal fall, while able, gave My tongue no respite from its one lament, For the sad snowy swan both form and language lent.
Thus that loved wave—my mortal speech put by For birdlike song—I track'd with constant feet, Still asking mercy with a stranger cry; But ne'er in tones so tender, nor so sweet, Knew I my amorous sorrow to repeat, As might her hard and cruel bosom melt: Judge, still if memory sting, what then I felt! But ah! not now the past, it rather needs Of her my lovely and inveterate foe The present power to show, Though such she be all language as exceeds. She with a glance who rules us as her own, Opening my breast my heart in hand to take, Thus said to me: "Of this no mention make." I saw her then, in alter'd air, alone, So that I recognised her not—O shame Be on my truant mind and faithless sight! And when the truth I told her in sore fright, She soon resumed her old accustom'd frame, While, desperate and half dead, a hard rock mine became.
As spoke she, o'er her mien such feeling stirr'd, That from the solid rock, with lively fear, "Haply I am not what you deem," I heard; And then methought, "If she but help me here, No life can ever weary be, or drear; To make me weep, return, my banish'd Lord!" I know not how, but thence, the power restored, Blaming no other than myself, I went, And, nor alive, nor dead, the long day past. But, because time flies fast, And the pen answers ill my good intent, Full many a thing long written in my mind I here omit; and only mention such Whereat who hears them now will marvel much. Death so his hand around my vitals twined, Not silence from its grasp my heart could save, Or succour to its outraged virtue bring: As speech to me was a forbidden thing, To paper and to ink my griefs I gave— Life, not my own, is lost through you who dig my grave.
I fondly thought before her eyes, at length, Though low and lost, some mercy to obtain; And this the hope which lent my spirit strength. Sometimes humility o'ercomes disdain, Sometimes inflames it to worse spite again; This knew I, who so long was left in night, That from such prayers had disappear'd my light; Till I, who sought her still, nor found, alas! Even her shade, nor of her feet a sign, Outwearied and supine, As one who midway sleeps, upon the grass Threw me, and there, accusing the brief ray, Of bitter tears I loosed the prison'd flood, To flow and fall, to them as seem'd it good. Ne'er vanish'd snow before the sun away, As then to melt apace it me befell, Till, 'neath a spreading beech a fountain swell'd; Long in that change my humid course I held,— Who ever saw from Man a true fount well? And yet, though strange it sound, things known and sure I tell.
The soul from God its nobler nature gains (For none save He such favour could bestow) And like our Maker its high state retains, To pardon who is never tired, nor slow, If but with humble heart and suppliant show, For mercy for past sins to Him we bend; And if, against his wont, He seem to lend, Awhile, a cold ear to our earnest prayers, 'Tis that right fear the sinner more may fill; For he repents but ill His old crime for another who prepares. Thus, when my lady, while her bosom yearn'd With pity, deign'd to look on me, and knew That equal with my fault its penance grew, To my old state and shape I soon return'd. But nought there is on earth in which the wise May trust, for, wearying braving her afresh, To rugged stone she changed my quivering flesh. So that, in their old strain, my broken cries In vain ask'd death, or told her one name to deaf skies.
A sad and wandering shade, I next recall, Through many a distant and deserted glen, That long I mourn'd my indissoluble thrall. At length my malady seem'd ended, when I to my earthly frame return'd again, Haply but greater grief therein to feel; Still following my desire with such fond zeal That once (beneath the proud sun's fiercest blaze, Returning from the chase, as was my wont) Naked, where gush'd a font, My fair and fatal tyrant met my gaze; I whom nought else could pleasure, paused to look, While, touch'd with shame as natural as intense, Herself to hide or punish my offence, She o'er my face the crystal waters shook —I still speak true, though truth may seem a lie— Instantly from my proper person torn, A solitary stag, I felt me borne In winged terrors the dark forest through, As still of my own dogs the rushing storm I flew My song! I never was that cloud of gold Which once descended in such precious rain, Easing awhile with bliss Jove's amorous pain; I was a flame, kindled by one bright eye, I was the bird which gladly soar'd on high, Exalting her whose praise in song I wake; Nor, for new fancies, knew I to forsake My first fond laurel, 'neath whose welcome shade Ever from my firm heart all meaner pleasures fade.
Se l' onorata fronde, che prescrive.
TO STRAMAZZO OF PERUGIA, WHO INVITED HIM TO WRITE POETRY.
If the world-honour'd leaf, whose green defies The wrath of Heaven when thunders mighty Jove, Had not to me prohibited the crown Which wreathes of wont the gifted poet's brow, I were a friend of these your idols too, Whom our vile age so shamelessly ignores: But that sore insult keeps me now aloof From the first patron of the olive bough: For Ethiop earth beneath its tropic sun Ne'er burn'd with such fierce heat, as I with rage At losing thing so comely and beloved. Resort then to some calmer fuller fount, For of all moisture mine is drain'd and dry, Save that which falleth from mine eyes in tears.
Amor piangeva, ed io con lui talvolta.
HE CONGRATULATES BOCCACCIO ON HIS RETURN TO THE RIGHT PATH.
Love grieved, and I with him at times, to see By what strange practices and cunning art, You still continued from his fetters free, From whom my feet were never far apart. Since to the right way brought by God's decree, Lifting my hands to heaven with pious heart, I thank Him for his love and grace, for He The soul-prayer of the just will never thwart: And if, returning to the amorous strife, Its fair desire to teach us to deny, Hollows and hillocks in thy path abound, 'Tis but to prove to us with thorns how rife The narrow way, the ascent how hard and high, Where with true virtue man at last is crown'd.
Piu di me lieta non si vede a terra.
ON THE SAME SUBJECT.
Than me more joyful never reach'd the shore A vessel, by the winds long tost and tried, Whose crew, late hopeless on the waters wide, To a good God their thanks, now prostrate, pour; Nor captive from his dungeon ever tore, Around whose neck the noose of death was tied, More glad than me, that weapon laid aside Which to my lord hostility long bore. All ye who honour love in poet strain, To the good minstrel of the amorous lay Return due praise, though once he went astray; For greater glory is, in Heaven's blest reign, Over one sinner saved, and higher praise, Than e'en for ninety-nine of perfect ways.
Il successor di Carlo, che la chioma.
ON THE MOVEMENT OF THE EMPEROR AGAINST THE INFIDELS, AND THE RETURN OF THE POPE TO ROME.
The high successor of our Charles,[P] whose hair The crown of his great ancestor adorns, Already has ta'en arms, to bruise the horns Of Babylon, and all her name who bear; Christ's holy vicar with the honour'd load Of keys and cloak, returning to his home, Shall see Bologna and our noble Rome, If no ill fortune bar his further road. Best to your meek and high-born lamb belongs To beat the fierce wolf down: so may it be With all who loyalty and love deny. Console at length your waiting country's wrongs, And Rome's, who longs once more her spouse to see, And gird for Christ the good sword on thy thigh.
[Footnote P: Charlemagne.]
O aspettata in ciel, beata e bella.
IN SUPPORT OF THE PROPOSED CRUSADE AGAINST THE INFIDELS.
O spirit wish'd and waited for in heaven, That wearest gracefully our human clay, Not as with loading sin and earthly stain, Who lov'st our Lord's high bidding to obey,— Henceforth to thee the way is plain and even By which from hence to bliss we may attain. To waft o'er yonder main Thy bark, that bids the world adieu for aye To seek a better strand, The western winds their ready wings expand; Which, through the dangers of that dusky way, Where all deplore the first infringed command, Will guide her safe, from primal bondage free, Reckless to stop or stay, To that true East, where she desires to be.
Haply the faithful vows, and zealous prayers, And pious tears by holy mortals shed, Have come before the mercy-seat above: Yet vows of ours but little can bestead, Nor human orison such merit bears As heavenly justice from its course can move. But He, the King whom angels serve and love, His gracious eyes hath turn'd upon the land Where on the cross He died; And a new Charlemagne hath qualified To work the vengeance that on high was plann'd, For whose delay so long hath Europe sigh'd. Such mighty aid He brings his faithful spouse, That at its sound the pride Of Babylon with trembling terror bows.
All dwellers 'twixt the hills and wild Garonne, The Rhodanus, and Rhine, and briny wave, Are banded under red-cross banners brave; And all who honour'd guerdon fain would have From Pyrenees to the utmost west, are gone, Leaving Iberia lorn of warriors keen, And Britain, with the islands that are seen Between the columns and the starry wain, (Even to that land where shone The far-famed lore of sacred Helicon,) Diverse in language, weapon, garb and strain, Of valour true, with pious zeal rush on. What cause, what love, to this compared may be? What spouse, or infant train E'er kindled such a righteous enmity?
There is a portion of the world that lies Far distant from the sun's all-cheering ray, For ever wrapt in ice and gelid snows; There under cloudy skies, in stinted day, A people dwell, whose heart their clime outvies By nature framed stern foemen of repose. Now new devotion in their bosom glows, With Gothic fury now they grasp the sword. Turk, Arab, and Chaldee, With all between us and that sanguine sea, Who trust in idol-gods, and slight the Lord, Thou know'st how soon their feeble strength would yield; A naked race, fearful and indolent, Unused the brand to wield, Whose distant aim upon the wind is sent.
Now is the time to shake the ancient yoke From off our necks, and rend the veil aside That long in darkness hath involved our eyes; Let all whom Heaven with genius hath supplied, And all who great Apollo's name invoke, With fiery eloquence point out the prize, With tongue and pen call on the brave to rise; If Orpheus and Amphion, legends old, No marvel cause in thee, It were small wonder if Ausonia see Collecting at thy call her children bold, Lifting the spear of Jesus joyfully. Nor, if our ancient mother judge aright, Doth her rich page unfold Such noble cause in any former fight.
Thou who hast scann'd, to heap a treasure fair, Story of ancient day and modern time, Soaring with earthly frame to heaven sublime, Thou know'st, from Mars' bold son, her ruler prime, To great Augustus, he whose waving hair Was thrice in triumph wreathed with laurel green, How Rome hath of her blood still lavish been To right the woes of many an injured land; And shall she now be slow, Her gratitude, her piety to show? In Christian zeal to buckle on the brand, For Mary's glorious Son to deal the blow? What ills the impious foeman must betide Who trust in mortal hand, If Christ himself lead on the adverse side!
And turn thy thoughts to Xerxes' rash emprize, Who dared, in haste to tread our Europe's shore, Insult the sea with bridge, and strange caprice; And thou shalt see for husbands then no more The Persian matrons robed in mournful guise, And dyed with blood the seas of Salamis, Nor sole example this: (The ruin of that Eastern king's design), That tells of victory nigh: See Marathon, and stern Thermopylae, Closed by those few, and chieftain leonine, And thousand deeds that blaze in history. Then bow in thankfulness both heart and knee Before his holy shrine, Who such bright guerdon hath reserved for thee.
Thou shalt see Italy and that honour'd shore, O song! a land debarr'd and hid from me By neither flood nor hill! But love alone, whose power hath virtue still To witch, though all his wiles be vanity, Nor Nature to avoid the snare hath skill. Go, bid thy sisters hush their jealous fears, For other loves there be Than that blind boy, who causeth smiles and tears.
MISS * * * (FOSCOLO'S ESSAY).
O thou, in heaven expected, bright and blest, Spirit! who, from the common frailty free Of human kind, in human form art drest, God's handmaid, dutiful and dear to thee Henceforth the pathway easy lies and plain, By which, from earth, we bless eternal gain: Lo! at the wish, to waft thy venturous prore From the blind world it fain would leave behind And seek that better shore, Springs the sweet comfort of the western wind, Which safe amid this dark and dangerous vale, Where we our own, the primal sin deplore, Right on shall guide her, from her old chains freed, And, without let or fail, Where havens her best hope, to the true East shall lead.
Haply the suppliant tears of pious men, Their earnest vows and loving prayers at last Unto the throne of heavenly grace have past; Yet, breathed by human helplessness, ah! when Had purest orison the skill and force To bend eternal justice from its course? But He, heaven's bounteous ruler from on high, On the sad sacred spot, where erst He bled, Will turn his pitying eye, And through the spirit of our new Charles spread Thirst of that vengeance, whose too long delay From general Europe wakes the bitter sigh; To his loved spouse such aid will He convey, That, his dread voice to hear, Proud Babylon shall shrink assail'd with secret fear.
All, by the gay Garonne, the kingly Rhine, Between the blue Rhone and salt sea who dwell, All in whose bosoms worth and honour swell, Eagerly haste the Christian cross to join; Spain of her warlike sons, from the far west Unto the Pyrenee, pours forth her best: Britannia and the Islands, which are found Northward from Calpe, studding Ocean's breast, E'en to that land renown'd In the rich lore of sacred Helicon, Various in arms and language, garb and guise, With pious fury urge the bold emprize. What love was e'er so just, so worthy, known? Or when did holier flame Kindle the mind of man to a more noble aim?
Far in the hardy north a land there lies, Buried in thick-ribb'd ice and constant snows, Where scant the days and clouded are the skies, And seldom the bright sun his glad warmth throws; There, enemy of peace by nature, springs A people to whom death no terror brings; If these, with new devotedness, we see In Gothic fury baring the keen glaive, Turk, Arab, and Chaldee! All, who, between us and the Red Sea wave, To heathen gods bow the idolatrous knee, Arm and advance! we heed not your blind rage; A naked race, timid in act, and slow, Unskill'd the war to wage, Whose far aim on the wind contrives a coward blow.
Now is the hour to free from the old yoke Our galled necks, to rend the veil away Too long permitted our dull sight to cloak: Now too, should all whose breasts the heavenly ray Of genius lights, exert its powers sublime, And or in bold harangue, or burning rhyme, Point the proud prize and fan the generous flame. If Orpheus and Amphion credit claim, Legends of distant time, Less marvel 'twere, if, at thy earnest call, Italia, with her children, should awake, And wield the willing lance for Christ's dear sake. Our ancient mother, read she right, in all Her fortune's history ne'er A cause of combat knew so glorious and so fair!
Thou, whose keen mind has every theme explored, And truest ore from Time's rich treasury won, On earthly pinion who hast heavenward soar'd, Well knowest, from her founder, Mars' bold son, To great Augustus, he, whose brow around Thrice was the laurel green in triumph bound, How Rome was ever lavish of her blood, The right to vindicate, the weak redress; And now, when gratitude, When piety appeal, shall she do less To avenge the injury and end the scorn By blessed Mary's glorious offspring borne? What fear we, while the heathen for success Confide in human powers, If, on the adverse side, be Christ, and his side ours?
Turn, too, when Xerxes our free shores to tread Rush'd in hot haste, and dream'd the perilous main With scourge and fetter to chastise and chain, —What see'st? Wild wailing o'er their husbands dead, Persia's pale matrons wrapt in weeds of woe, And red with gore the gulf of Salamis! To prove our triumph certain, to foreshow The utter ruin of our Eastern foe, No single instance this; Miltiades and Marathon recall, See, with his patriot few, Leonidas Closing, Thermopylae, thy bloody pass! Like them to dare and do, to God let all With heart and knee bow down, Who for our arms and age has kept this great renown.
Thou shalt see Italy, that honour'd land, Which from my eyes, O Song! nor seas, streams, heights, So long have barr'd and bann'd, But love alone, who with his haughty lights The more allures me as he worse excites, Till nature fails against his constant wiles. Go then, and join thy comrades; not alone Beneath fair female zone Dwells Love, who, at his will, moves us to tears or smiles.
Verdi panni, sanguigni, oscuri o persi.
WHETHER OR NOT HE SHOULD CEASE TO LOVE LAURA.
Green robes and red, purple, or brown, or gray No lady ever wore, Nor hair of gold in sunny tresses twined, So beautiful as she, who spoils my mind Of judgment, and from freedom's lofty path So draws me with her that I may not bear Any less heavy yoke.
And if indeed at times—for wisdom fails Where martyrdom breeds doubt— The soul should ever arm it to complain Suddenly from each reinless rude desire Her smile recalls, and razes from my heart Every rash enterprise, while all disdain Is soften'd in her sight.
For all that I have ever borne for love, And still am doom'd to bear, Till she who wounded it shall heal my heart, Rejecting homage e'en while she invites, Be vengeance done! but let not pride nor ire 'Gainst my humility the lovely pass By which I enter'd bar.
The hour and day wherein I oped my eyes On the bright black and white, Which drive me thence where eager love impell'd Where of that life which now my sorrow makes New roots, and she in whom our age is proud, Whom to behold without a tender awe Needs heart of lead or wood.
The tear then from these eyes that frequent falls— HE thus my pale cheek bathes Who planted first within my fenceless flank Love's shaft—diverts me not from my desire; And in just part the proper sentence falls; For her my spirit sighs, and worthy she To staunch its secret wounds.
Spring from within me these conflicting thoughts, To weary, wound myself, Each a sure sword against its master turn'd: Nor do I pray her to be therefore freed, For less direct to heaven all other paths, And to that glorious kingdom none can soar Certes in sounder bark.
Benignant stars their bright companionship Gave to the fortunate side When came that fair birth on our nether world, Its sole star since, who, as the laurel leaf, The worth of honour fresh and fragrant keeps, Where lightnings play not, nor ungrateful winds Ever o'ersway its head.
Well know I that the hope to paint in verse Her praises would but tire The worthiest hand that e'er put forth its pen: Who, in all Memory's richest cells, e'er saw Such angel virtue so rare beauty shrined, As in those eyes, twin symbols of all worth, Sweet keys of my gone heart?
Lady, wherever shines the sun, than you Love has no dearer pledge.
Giovane donna sott' un verde lauro.
THOUGH DESPAIRING OF PITY, HE VOWS TO LOVE HER UNTO DEATH.
A youthful lady 'neath a laurel green Was seated, fairer, colder than the snow On which no sun has shone for many years: Her sweet speech, her bright face, and flowing hair So pleased, she yet is present to my eyes, And aye must be, whatever fate prevail.
These my fond thoughts of her shall fade and fail When foliage ceases on the laurel green; Nor calm can be my heart, nor check'd these eyes Until the fire shall freeze, or burns the snow: Easier upon my head to count each hair Than, ere that day shall dawn, the parting years.
But, since time flies, and roll the rapid years, And death may, in the midst, of life, assail, With full brown locks, or scant and silver hair, I still the shade of that sweet laurel green Follow, through fiercest sun and deepest snow, Till the last day shall close my weary eyes.
Oh! never sure were seen such brilliant eyes, In this our age or in the older years, Which mould and melt me, as the sun melts snow, Into a stream of tears adown the vale, Watering the hard roots of that laurel green, Whose boughs are diamonds and gold whose hair.
I fear that Time my mien may change and hair, Ere, with true pity touch'd, shall greet my eyes My idol imaged in that laurel green: For, unless memory err, through seven long years Till now, full many a shore has heard my wail, By night, at noon, in summer and in snow.
Thus fire within, without the cold, cold snow, Alone, with these my thoughts and her bright hair, Alway and everywhere I bear my ail, Haply to find some mercy in the eyes Of unborn nations and far future years, If so long flourishes our laurel green.
The gold and topaz of the sun on snow Are shamed by the bright hair above those eyes, Searing the short green of my life's vain years.
Quest' anima gentil che si diparte.
ON LAURA DANGEROUSLY ILL.
That graceful soul, in mercy call'd away Before her time to bid the world farewell, If welcomed as she ought in the realms of day, In heaven's most blessed regions sure shall dwell. There between Mars and Venus if she stay, Her sight the brightness of the sun will quell, Because, her infinite beauty to survey, The spirits of the blest will round her swell. If she decide upon the fourth fair nest Each of the three to dwindle will begin, And she alone the fame of beauty win, Nor e'en in the fifth circle may she rest; Thence higher if she soar, I surely trust Jove with all other stars in darkness will be thrust.
Quanto piu m' avvicino al giorno estremo.
HE CONSOLES HIMSELF THAT HIS LIFE IS ADVANCING TO ITS CLOSE.
Near and more near as life's last period draws, Which oft is hurried on by human woe, I see the passing hours more swiftly flow, And all my hopes in disappointment close. And to my heart I say, amidst its throes, "Not long shall we discourse of love below; For this my earthly load, like new-fall'n snow Fast melting, soon shall leave us to repose. With it will sink in dust each towering hope, Cherish'd so long within my faithful breast; No more shall we resent, fear, smile, complain: Then shall we clearly trace why some are blest, Through deepest misery raised to Fortune's top, And why so many sighs so oft are heaved in vain."
The nearer I approach my life's last day, The certain day that limits human woe, I better mark, in Time's swift silent flow, How the fond hopes he brought all pass'd away. Of love no longer—to myself I say— We now may commune, for, as virgin snow, The hard and heavy load we drag below Dissolves and dies, ere rest in heaven repay. And prostrate with it must each fair hope lie Which here beguiled us and betray'd so long, And joy, grief, fear and pride alike shall cease: And then too shall we see with clearer eye How oft we trod in weary ways and wrong, And why so long in vain we sigh'd for peace.
Gia fiammeggiava l' amorosa stella.
LAURA, WHO IS ILL, APPEARS TO HIM IN A DREAM, AND ASSURES HIM THAT SHE STILL LIVES.
Throughout the orient now began to flame The star of love; while o'er the northern sky That, which has oft raised Juno's jealousy, Pour'd forth its beauteous scintillating beam: Beside her kindled hearth the housewife dame, Half-dress'd, and slipshod, 'gan her distaff ply: And now the wonted hour of woe drew nigh, That wakes to tears the lover from his dream: When my sweet hope unto my mind appear'd, Not in the custom'd way unto my sight; For grief had bathed my lids, and sleep had weigh'd; Ah me, how changed that form by love endear'd! "Why lose thy fortitude?" methought she said, "These eyes not yet from thee withdraw their light."
Already in the east the amorous star Illumined heaven, while from her northern height Great Juno's rival through the dusky night Her beamy radiance shot. Returning care Had roused th' industrious hag, with footstep bare, And loins ungirt, the sleeping fire to light; And lovers thrill'd that season of despight, Which wont renew their tears, and wake despair. When my soul's hope, now on the verge of fate, (Not by th' accustomed way; for that in sleep Was closed, and moist with griefs,) attain'd my heart. Alas, how changed! "Servant, no longer weep," She seem'd to say; "resume thy wonted state: Not yet thine eyes from mine are doom'd to part."
Already, in the east, the star of love Was flaming, and that other in the north, Which Juno's jealousy is wont to move, Its beautiful and lustrous rays shot forth; Barefooted and half clad, the housewife old Had stirr'd her fire, and set herself to weave; Each tender heart the thoughtful time controll'd Which evermore the lover wakes to grieve, When my fond hope, already at life's last, Came to my heart, not by the wonted way, Where sleep its seal, its dew where sorrow cast— Alas! how changed—and said, or seem'd to say, "Sight of these eyes not yet does Heaven refuse, Then wherefore should thy tost heart courage lose?"
Apollo, s' ancor vive il bel desio.
HE COMPARES HER TO A LAUREL, WHICH HE SUPPLICATES APOLLO TO DEFEND.
O Phoebus, if that fond desire remains, Which fired thy breast near the Thessalian wave; If those bright tresses, which such pleasure gave, Through lapse of years thy memory not disdains; From sluggish frosts, from rude inclement rains. Which last the while thy beams our region leave, That honour'd sacred tree from peril save, Whose name of dear accordance waked our pains! And, by that amorous hope which soothed thy care, What time expectant thou wert doom'd to sigh Dispel those vapours which disturb our sky! So shall we both behold our favorite fair With wonder, seated on the grassy mead, And forming with her arms herself a shade.
If live the fair desire, Apollo, yet Which fired thy spirit once on Peneus' shore, And if the bright hair loved so well of yore In lapse of years thou dost not now forget, From the long frost, from seasons rude and keen, Which last while hides itself thy kindling brow, Defend this consecrate and honour'd bough, Which snared thee erst, whose slave I since have been. And, by the virtue of the love so dear Which soothed, sustain'd thee in that early strife, Our air from raw and lowering vapours clear: So shall we see our lady, to new life Restored, her seat upon the greensward take, Where her own graceful arms a sweet shade o'er her make.
Solo e pensoso i piu deserti campi.
HE SEEKS SOLITUDE, BUT LOVE FOLLOWS HIM EVERYWHERE.
Alone, and lost in thought, the desert glade Measuring I roam with ling'ring steps and slow; And still a watchful glance around me throw, Anxious to shun the print of human tread: No other means I find, no surer aid From the world's prying eye to hide my woe: So well my wild disorder'd gestures show, And love lorn looks, the fire within me bred, That well I deem each mountain, wood and plain, And river knows, what I from man conceal, What dreary hues my life's fond prospects dim. Yet whate'er wild or savage paths I've ta'en, Where'er I wander, love attends me still, Soft whisp'ring to my soul, and I to him.
ANON., OX., 1795.
Alone, and pensive, near some desert shore, Far from the haunts of men I love to stray, And, cautiously, my distant path explore Where never human footsteps mark'd the way. Thus from the public gaze I strive to fly, And to the winds alone my griefs impart; While in my hollow cheek and haggard eye Appears the fire that burns my inmost heart. But ah, in vain to distant scenes I go; No solitude my troubled thoughts allays. Methinks e'en things inanimate must know The flame that on my soul in secret preys; Whilst Love, unconquer'd, with resistless sway Still hovers round my path, still meets me on my way.
Alone and pensive, the deserted plain, With tardy pace and sad, I wander by; And mine eyes o'er it rove, intent to fly Where distant shores no trace of man retain; No help save this I find, some cave to gain Where never may intrude man's curious eye, Lest on my brow, a stranger long to joy, He read the secret fire which makes my pain For here, methinks, the mountain and the flood, Valley and forest the strange temper know Of my sad life conceal'd from others' sight— Yet where, where shall I find so wild a wood, A way so rough that there Love cannot go Communing with me the long day and night?
S' io credessi per morte essere scarco.
HE PRAYS FOR DEATH, BUT IN VAIN.
Had I believed that Death could set me free From the anxious amorous thoughts my peace that mar, With these my own hands which yet stainless are, Life had I loosed, long hateful grown to me. Yet, for I fear 'twould but a passage be From grief to grief, from old to other war, Hither the dark shades my escape that bar, I still remain, nor hope relief to see. High time it surely is that he had sped The fatal arrow from his pitiless bow, In others' blood so often bathed and red; And I of Love and Death have pray'd it so— He listens not, but leaves me here half dead. Nor cares to call me to himself below.
Oh! had I deem'd that Death had freed my soul From Love's tormenting, overwhelming thought, To crush its aching burthen I had sought, My wearied life had hasten'd to its goal; My shivering bark yet fear'd another shoal, To find one tempest with another bought, Thus poised 'twixt earth and heaven I dwell as naught, Not daring to assume my life's control. But sure 'tis time that Death's relentless bow Had wing'd that fatal arrow to my heart, So often bathed in life's dark crimson tide: But though I crave he would this boon bestow, He to my cheek his impress doth impart, And yet o'erlooks me in his fearful stride.
Si e debile il filo a cui s' attene.
HE GRIEVES IN ABSENCE FROM LAURA.
The thread on which my weary life depends So fragile is and weak, If none kind succour lends, Soon 'neath the painful burden will it break; Since doom'd to take my sad farewell of her, In whom begins and ends My bliss, one hope, to stir My sinking spirit from its black despair, Whispers, "Though lost awhile That form so dear and fair, Sad soul! the trial bear, For thee e'en yet the sun may brightly shine, And days more happy smile, Once more the lost loved treasure may be thine." This thought awhile sustains me, but again To fail me and forsake in worse excess of pain.
Time flies apace: the silent hours and swift So urge his journey on, Short span to me is left Even to think how quick to death I run; Scarce, in the orient heaven, yon mountain crest Smiles in the sun's first ray, When, in the adverse west, His long round run, we see his light decay So small of life the space, So frail and clogg'd with woe, To mortal man below, That, when I find me from that beauteous face Thus torn by fate's decree, Unable at a wish with her to be, So poor the profit that old comforts give, I know not how I brook in such a state to live.
Each place offends, save where alone I see Those eyes so sweet and bright, Which still shall bear the key Of the soft thoughts I hide from other sight; And, though hard exile harder weighs on me, Whatever mood betide, I ask no theme beside, For all is hateful that I since have seen. What rivers and what heights, What shores and seas between Me rise and those twin lights, Which made the storm and blackness of my days One beautiful serene, To which tormented Memory still strays: Free as my life then pass'd from every care, So hard and heavy seems my present lot to bear.
Alas! self-parleying thus, I but renew The warm wish in my mind, Which first within it grew The day I left my better half behind: If by long absence love is quench'd, then who Guides me to the old bait, Whence all my sorrows date? Why rather not my lips in silence seal'd? By finest crystal ne'er Were hidden tints reveal'd So faithfully and fair, As my sad spirit naked lays and bare Its every secret part, And the wild sweetness thrilling in my heart, Through eyes which, restlessly, o'erfraught with tears, Seek her whose sight alone with instant gladness cheers.
Strange pleasure!—yet so often that within The human heart to reign Is found—to woo and win Each new brief toy that men most sigh to gain: And I am one from sadness who relief So draw, as if it still My study were to fill These eyes with softness, and this heart with grief: As weighs with me in chief Nay rather with sole force, The language and the light Of those dear eyes to urge me on that course, So where its fullest source Long sorrow finds, I fix my often sight, And thus my heart and eyes like sufferers be, Which in love's path have been twin pioneers to me.
The golden tresses which should make, I ween, The sun with envy pine; And the sweet look serene, Where love's own rays so bright and burning shine, That, ere its time, they make my strength decline, Each wise and truthful word, Rare in the world, which late She smiling gave, no more are seen or heard. But this of all my fate Is hardest to endure, That here I am denied The gentle greeting, angel-like and pure, Which still to virtue's side Inclined my heart with modest magic lure; So that, in sooth, I nothing hope again Of comfort more than this, how best to bear my pain.
And—with fit ecstacy my loss to mourn— The soft hand's snowy charm, The finely-rounded arm, The winning ways, by turns, that quiet scorn, Chaste anger, proud humility adorn, The fair young breast that shrined Intellect pure and high, Are now all hid the rugged Alp behind. My trust were vain to try And see her ere I die, For, though awhile he dare Such dreams indulge, Hope ne'er can constant be, But falls back in despair Her, whom Heaven honours, there again to see, Where virtue, courtesy in her best mix, And where so oft I pray my future home to fix.
My Song! if thou shalt see, Our common lady in that dear retreat, We both may hope that she Will stretch to thee her fair and fav'ring hand, Whence I so far am bann'd; —Touch, touch it not, but, reverent at her feet, Tell her I will be there with earliest speed, A man of flesh and blood, or else a spirit freed.
Orso, e' non furon mai fiumi ne stagni.
HE COMPLAINS OF THE VEIL AND HAND OF LAURA, THAT THEY DEPRIVE HIM OF THE SIGHT OF HER EYES.
Orso, my friend, was never stream, nor lake, Nor sea in whose broad lap all rivers fall, Nor shadow of high hill, or wood, or wall, Nor heaven-obscuring clouds which torrents make, Nor other obstacles my grief so wake, Whatever most that lovely face may pall, As hiding the bright eyes which me enthrall, That veil which bids my heart "Now burn or break," And, whether by humility or pride, Their glance, extinguishing mine every joy, Conducts me prematurely to my tomb: Also my soul by one fair hand is tried, Cunning and careful ever to annoy, 'Gainst my poor eyes a rock that has become.
Io temo si de' begli occhi l' assalto.
HE EXCUSES HIMSELF FOR HAVING SO LONG DELAYED TO VISIT HER.
So much I fear to encounter her bright eye. Alway in which my death and Love reside, That, as a child the rod, its glance I fly, Though long the time has been since first I tried; And ever since, so wearisome or high, No place has been where strong will has not hied, Her shunning, at whose sight my senses die, And, cold as marble, I am laid aside: Wherefore if I return to see you late, Sure 'tis no fault, unworthy of excuse, That from my death awhile I held aloof: At all to turn to what men shun, their fate, And from such fear my harass'd heart to loose, Of its true faith are ample pledge and proof.
S' amore o morte non da qualche stroppio.
HE ASKS FROM A FRIEND THE LOAN OF THE WORKS OF ST. AUGUSTIN.
If Love or Death no obstacle entwine With the new web which here my fingers fold, And if I 'scape from beauty's tyrant hold While natural truth with truth reveal'd I join, Perchance a work so double will be mine Between our modern style and language old, That (timidly I speak, with hope though bold) Even to Rome its growing fame may shine: But, since, our labour to perfect at last Some of the blessed threads are absent yet Which our dear father plentifully met, Wherefore to me thy hands so close and fast Against their use? Be prompt of aid and free, And rich our harvest of fair things shall be.
Quando dal proprio sito si rimove.
WHEN LAURA DEPARTS, THE HEAVENS GROW DARK WITH STORMS.
When from its proper soil the tree is moved Which Phoebus loved erewhile in human form, Grim Vulcan at his labour sighs and sweats, Renewing ever the dread bolts of Jove, Who thunders now, now speaks in snow and rain, Nor Julius honoureth than Janus more: Earth moans, and far from us the sun retires Since his dear mistress here no more is seen. Then Mars and Saturn, cruel stars, resume Their hostile rage: Orion arm'd with clouds The helm and sails of storm-tost seamen breaks. To Neptune and to Juno and to us Vext AEolus proves his power, and makes us feel How parts the fair face angels long expect.
Ma poi che 'l dolce riso umile e piano.
HER RETURN GLADDENS THE EARTH AND CALMS THE SKY.
But when her sweet smile, modest and benign, No longer hides from us its beauties rare, At the spent forge his stout and sinewy arms Plieth that old Sicilian smith in vain, For from the hands of Jove his bolts are taken Temper'd in AEtna to extremest proof; And his cold sister by degrees grows calm And genial in Apollo's kindling beams. Moves from the rosy west a summer breath, Which safe and easy wafts the seaward bark, And wakes the sweet flowers in each grassy mead. Malignant stars on every side depart, Dispersed before that bright enchanting face, For which already many tears are shed.
Il figliuol di Latona avea gia nove.
THE GRIEF OF PHOEBUS AT THE LOSS OF HIS LOVE.
Nine times already had Latona's son Look'd from the highest balcony of heaven For her, who whilom waked his sighs in vain, And sighs as vain now wakes in other breasts; Then seeking wearily, nor knowing where She dwelt, or far or near, and why delay'd, He show'd himself to us as one, insane For grief, who cannot find some loved lost thing: And thus, for clouds of sorrow held aloof, Saw not the fair face turn, which, if I live, In many a page shall praised and honour'd be, The misery of her loss so changed her mien That her bright eyes were dimm'd, for once, with tears, Thereon its former gloom the air resumed.
Quel che 'n Tessaglia ebbe le man si pronte.
SOME HAVE WEPT FOR THEIR WORST ENEMIES, BUT LAURA DEIGNS HIM NOT A SINGLE TEAR.
He who for empire at Pharsalia threw, Reddening its beauteous plain with civil gore, As Pompey's corse his conquering soldiers bore, Wept when the well-known features met his view: The shepherd youth, who fierce Goliath slew, Had long rebellious children to deplore, And bent, in generous grief, the brave Saul o'er His shame and fall when proud Gilboa knew: But you, whose cheek with pity never paled, Who still have shields at hand to guard you well Against Love's bow, which shoots its darts in vain, Behold me by a thousand deaths assail'd, And yet no tears of thine compassion tell, But in those bright eyes anger and disdain.
Il mio avversario, in cui veder solete.
LAURA AT HER LOOKING-GLASS.
My foe, in whom you see your own bright eyes, Adored by Love and Heaven with honour due, With beauties not its own enamours you, Sweeter and happier than in mortal guise. Me, by its counsel, lady, from your breast, My chosen cherish'd home, your scorn expell'd In wretched banishment, perchance not held Worthy to dwell where you alone should rest. But were I fasten'd there with strongest keys, That mirror should not make you, at my cost, Severe and proud yourself alone to please. Remember how Narcissus erst was lost! His course and thine to one conclusion lead, Of flower so fair though worthless here the mead.
My mirror'd foe reflects, alas! so fair Those eyes which Heaven and Love have honour'd too! Yet not his charms thou dost enamour'd view, But all thine own, and they beyond compare: O lady! thou hast chased me at its prayer From thy heart's throne, where I so fondly grew; O wretched exile! though too well I knew A reign with thee I were unfit to share. But were I ever fix'd thy bosom's mate, A flattering mirror should not me supplant, And make thee scorn me in thy self-delight; Thou surely must recall Narcissus' fate, But if like him thy doom should thee enchant, What mead were worthy of a flower so bright?
L' oro e le perle, e i fior vermigli e i bianchi.
HE INVEIGHS AGAINST LAURA'S MIRROR, BECAUSE IT MAKES HER FORGET HIM.
Those golden tresses, teeth of pearly white, Those cheeks' fair roses blooming to decay, Do in their beauty to my soul convey The poison'd arrows from my aching sight. Thus sad and briefly must my days take flight, For life with woe not long on earth will stay; But more I blame that mirror's flattering sway, Which thou hast wearied with thy self-delight. Its power my bosom's sovereign too hath still'd, Who pray'd thee in my suit—now he is mute, Since thou art captured by thyself alone: Death's seeds it hath within my heart instill'd, For Lethe's stream its form doth constitute, And makes thee lose each image but thine own.
The gold and pearls, the lily and the rose Which weak and dry in winter wont to be, Are rank and poisonous arrow-shafts to me, As my sore-stricken bosom aptly shows: Thus all my days now sadly shortly close, For seldom with great grief long years agree; But in that fatal glass most blame I see, That weary with your oft self-liking grows. It on my lord placed silence, when my suit He would have urged, but, seeing your desire End in yourself alone, he soon was mute. 'Twas fashion'd in hell's wave and o'er its fire, And tinted in eternal Lethe: thence The spring and secret of my death commence.
Io sentia dentr' al cor gia venir meno.
HE DESIRES AGAIN TO GAZE ON THE EYES Of LAURA.
I now perceived that from within me fled Those spirits to which you their being lend; And since by nature's dictates to defend Themselves from death all animals are made, The reins I loosed, with which Desire I stay'd, And sent him on his way without a friend; There whither day and night my course he'd bend, Though still from thence by me reluctant led. And me ashamed and slow along he drew To see your eyes their matchless influence shower, Which much I shun, afraid to give you pain. Yet for myself this once I'll live; such power Has o'er this wayward life one look from you:— Then die, unless Desire prevails again.
ANON., OX., 1795.
Because the powers that take their life from you Already had I felt within decay, And because Nature, death to shield or slay, Arms every animal with instinct true, To my long-curb'd desire the rein I threw, And turn'd it in the old forgotten way, Where fondly it invites me night and day, Though 'gainst its will, another I pursue. And thus it led me back, ashamed and slow, To see those eyes with love's own lustre rife Which I am watchful never to offend: Thus may I live perchance awhile below; One glance of yours such power has o'er my life Which sure, if I oppose desire, shall end.
Se mai foco per foco non si spense.
HIS HEART IS ALL IN FLAMES, BUT HIS TONGUE IS MUTE, IN HER PRESENCE.
If fire was never yet by fire subdued, If never flood fell dry by frequent rain, But, like to like, if each by other gain, And contraries are often mutual food; Love, who our thoughts controllest in each mood, Through whom two bodies thus one soul sustain, How, why in her, with such unusual strain Make the want less by wishes long renewed? Perchance, as falleth the broad Nile from high, Deafening with his great voice all nature round, And as the sun still dazzles the fix'd eye, So with itself desire in discord found Loses in its impetuous object force, As the too frequent spur oft checks the course.
Perch' io t' abbia guardato di menzogna.
IN HER PRESENCE HE CAN NEITHER SPEAK, WEEP, NOR SIGH.
Although from falsehood I did thee restrain With all my power, and paid thee honour due, Ungrateful tongue; yet never did accrue Honour from thee, but shame, and fierce disdain: Most art thou cold, when most I want the strain Thy aid should lend while I for pity sue; And all thy utterance is imperfect too, When thou dost speak, and as the dreamer's vain. Ye too, sad tears, throughout each lingering night Upon me wait, when I alone would stay; But, needed by my peace, you take your flight: And, all so prompt anguish and grief t' impart, Ye sighs, then slow, and broken breathe your way: My looks alone truly reveal my heart.
With all my power, lest falsehood should invade, I guarded thee and still thy honour sought, Ungrateful tongue! who honour ne'er hast brought, But still my care with rage and shame repaid: For, though to me most requisite, thine aid, When mercy I would ask, availeth nought, Still cold and mute, and e'en to words if wrought They seem as sounds in sleep by dreamers made. And ye, sad tears, o' nights, when I would fain Be left alone, my sure companions, flow, But, summon'd for my peace, ye soon depart: Ye too, mine anguish'd sighs, so prompt to pain, Then breathe before her brokenly and slow, And my face only speaks my suffering heart.
Nella stagion che 'l ciel rapido inchina.
NIGHT BRINGS REPOSE TO OTHERS, BUT NOT TO HIM.
In that still season, when the rapid sun Drives down the west, and daylight flies to greet Nations that haply wait his kindling flame; In some strange land, alone, her weary feet The time-worn pilgrim finds, with toil fordone, Yet but the more speeds on her languid frame; Her solitude the same, When night has closed around; Yet has the wanderer found A deep though short forgetfulness at last Of every woe, and every labour past. But ah! my grief, that with each moment grows, As fast, and yet more fast, Day urges on, is heaviest at its close.
When Phoebus rolls his everlasting wheels To give night room; and from encircling wood, Broader and broader yet descends the shade; The labourer arms him for his evening trade, And all the weight his burthen'd heart conceals Lightens with glad discourse or descant rude; Then spreads his board with food, Such as the forest hoar To our first fathers bore, By us disdain'd, yet praised in hall and bower, But, let who will the cup of joyance pour, I never knew, I will not say of mirth, But of repose, an hour, When Phoebus leaves, and stars salute the earth.
Yon shepherd, when the mighty star of day He sees descending to its western bed, And the wide Orient all with shade embrown'd, Takes his old crook, and from the fountain head, Green mead, and beechen bower, pursues his way, Calling, with welcome voice, his flocks around; Then far from human sound, Some desert cave he strows With leaves and verdant boughs, And lays him down, without a thought, to sleep. Ah, cruel Love!—then dost thou bid me keep My idle chase, the airy steps pursuing Of her I ever weep, Who flies me still, my endless toil renewing.
E'en the rude seaman, in some cave confined, Pillows his head, as daylight quits the scene, On the hard deck, with vilest mat o'erspread; And when the Sun in orient wave serene Bathes his resplendent front, and leaves behind Those antique pillars of his boundless bed; Forgetfulness has shed O'er man, and beast, and flower, Her mild restoring power: But my determined grief finds no repose; And every day but aggravates the woes Of that remorseless flood, that, ten long years, Flowing, yet ever flows, Nor know I what can check its ceaseless tears.
What time towards the western skies The sun with parting radiance flies, And other climes gilds with expected light, Some aged pilgrim dame who strays Alone, fatigued, through pathless ways, Hastens her step, and dreads the approach of night Then, the day's journey o'er, she'll steep Her sense awhile in grateful sleep; Forgetting all the pain, and peril past; But I, alas! find no repose, Each sun to me brings added woes, While light's eternal orb rolls from us fast.
When the sun's wheels no longer glow, And hills their lengthen'd shadows throw, The hind collects his tools, and carols gay; Then spreads his board with frugal fare, Such as those homely acorns were, Which all revere, yet casting them away, Let those, who pleasure can enjoy, In cheerfulness their hours employ; While I, of all earth's wretches most unblest, Whether the sun fierce darts his beams, Whether the moon more mildly gleams, Taste no delight, no momentary rest!
When the swain views the star of day Quench in the pillowing waves its ray, And scatter darkness o'er the eastern skies Rising, his custom'd crook he takes, The beech-wood, fountain, plain forsakes, As calmly homeward with his flock he hies Remote from man, then on his bed In cot, or cave, with fresh leaves spread, He courts soft slumber, and suspense from care, While thou, fell Love, bidst me pursue That voice, those footsteps which subdue My soul; yet movest not th' obdurate fair!
Lock'd in some bay, to taste repose On the hard deck, the sailor throws His coarse garb o'er him, when the car of light Granada, with Marocco leaves, The Pillars famed, Iberia's waves, And the world's hush'd, and all its race, in night. But never will my sorrows cease, Successive days their sum increase, Though just ten annual suns have mark'd my pain; Say, to this bosom's poignant grief Who shall administer relief? Say, who at length shall free me from my chain?
And, since there's comfort in the strain, I see at eve along each plain. And furrow'd hill, the unyoked team return: Why at that hour will no one stay My sighs, or bear my yoke away? Why bathed in tears must I unceasing mourn? Wretch that I was, to fix my sight First on that face with such delight, Till on my thought its charms were strong imprest, Which force shall not efface, nor art, Ere from this frame my soul dispart! Nor know I then if passion's votaries rest.
O hasty strain, devoid of worth, Sad as the bard who brought thee forth, Show not thyself, be with the world at strife, From nook to nook indulge thy grief; While thy lorn parent seeks relief, Nursing that amorous flame which feeds his life!
Poco era ad appressarsi agli occhi miei.
SUCH ARE HIS SUFFERINGS THAT HE ENVIES THE INSENSIBILITY OF MARBLE.
Had but the light which dazzled them afar Drawn but a little nearer to mine eyes, Methinks I would have wholly changed my form, Even as in Thessaly her form she changed: But if I cannot lose myself in her More than I have—small mercy though it won— I would to-day in aspect thoughtful be, Of harder stone than chisel ever wrought, Of adamant, or marble cold and white, Perchance through terror, or of jasper rare And therefore prized by the blind greedy crowd. Then were I free from this hard heavy yoke Which makes me envy Atlas, old and worn, Who with his shoulders brings Morocco night.
Non al suo amante piu Diana piacque.
ANYTHING THAT REMINDS HIM OF LAURA RENEWS HIS TORMENTS.
Not Dian to her lover was more dear, When fortune 'mid the waters cold and clear, Gave him her naked beauties all to see, Than seem'd the rustic ruddy nymph to me, Who, in yon flashing stream, the light veil laved, Whence Laura's lovely tresses lately waved; I saw, and through me felt an amorous chill, Though summer burn, to tremble and to thrill.
Spirto gentil che quelle membra reggi.
TO RIENZI, BESEECHING HIM TO RESTORE TO ROME HER ANCIENT LIBERTY.
Spirit heroic! who with fire divine Kindlest those limbs, awhile which pilgrim hold On earth a Chieftain, gracious, wise, and bold; Since, rightly, now the rod of state is thine Rome and her wandering children to confine, And yet reclaim her to the old good way: To thee I speak, for elsewhere not a ray Of virtue can I find, extinct below, Nor one who feels of evil deeds the shame. Why Italy still waits, and what her aim I know not, callous to her proper woe, Indolent, aged, slow, Still will she sleep? Is none to rouse her found? Oh! that my wakening hands were through her tresses wound.
So grievous is the spell, the trance so deep, Loud though we call, my hope is faint that e'er She yet will waken from her heavy sleep: But not, methinks, without some better end Was this our Rome entrusted to thy care, Who surest may revive and best defend. Fearlessly then upon that reverend head, 'Mid her dishevell'd locks, thy fingers spread, And lift at length the sluggard from the dust; I, day and night, who her prostration mourn, For this, in thee, have fix'd my certain trust, That, if her sons yet turn. And their eyes ever to true honour raise. The glory is reserved for thy illustrious days!
Her ancient walls, which still with fear and love The world admires, whene'er it calls to mind The days of Eld, and turns to look behind; Her hoar and cavern'd monuments above The dust of men, whose fame, until the world In dissolution sink, can never fail; Her all, that in one ruin now lies hurl'd, Hopes to have heal'd by thee its every ail. O faithful Brutus! noble Scipios dead! To you what triumph, where ye now are blest, If of our worthy choice the fame have spread: And how his laurell'd crest, Will old Fabricius rear, with joy elate, That his own Rome again shall beauteous be and great!
And, if for things of earth its care Heaven show, The souls who dwell above in joy and peace, And their mere mortal frames have left below, Implore thee this long civil strife may cease, Which kills all confidence, nips every good, Which bars the way to many a roof, where men Once holy, hospitable lived, the den Of fearless rapine now and frequent blood, Whose doors to virtue only are denied. While beneath plunder'd Saints, in outraged fanes Plots Faction, and Revenge the altar stains; And, contrast sad and wide, The very bells which sweetly wont to fling Summons to prayer and praise now Battle's tocsin ring!