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Yet, Italy! through every other land
Thy wrongs should ring, and shall, from side to side ;
Mother of Arts ! as once of arms; thy hand
Was then our guardian, and is still our guide ;
Parent of our Religion ! whom the wide
Nations have knelt to for the keys of heaven!
Europe, repentant of her parricide,
Shall yet redeem theo, and, all backward driven,
Roll the barbarian tide, and sue to be forgiven.
But Arno wins us to the fair white walls,
Where the Etrurian Athens claims and keeps
A. softer feeling for her fairy halls.
Girt by her theatre of hills, she reaps
Her corn, and wine, and oil, and Plenty leaps
To laughing life, with her redundant horn.
Along the banks where smiling Arno sweeps
Was modern Luxury of Commerce born,
And buried Learning rose, redeem'd to a new morn.
There, too, the Goddess loves in stone, and fills (')
The air around with beauty; we inhale
The ambrosial aspect, which, beheld, instils
Part of its immortality ; the veil
Of heaven is half undrawn ; within the pale
We stand, and in that form and face behold
What mind can make, when Nature's self would fail;
And to the fond idolaters of old
Envy the innate flash which such a soul could mould:
gaze and turn away, and know not where,
Dazzled and drunk with beauty, till the heart
Reels with its fulness; there for ever there -
Chain'd to the chariot of triumphal Art,
We stand as captives, and would not depart.
Away! — there need no words, nor terms precise,
The paltry jargon of the marble mart,
Where Pedantry gulls Folly — we have eyes :
Blood — pulse — and breast, confirm the Dardan Shepherd's
(1) See “ Historical Notes," at the end of this canto, No. XIV.
Appear'dst thou not to Paris in this guise ?
Or to more deeply blest Anchises ? or,
In all thy perfect goddess-ship, when lies
Before thee thy own vanquish'd Lord of War?
And gazing in thy face as toward a star,
Laid on thy lap, his eyes to thee upturn,
Feeding on thy sweet cheek! (') while thy lips are
With lava kisses melting while they burn,
Shower'd on his eyelids, brow, and mouth, as from an urn:
Glowing, and circumfused in speechless love,
Their full divinity inadequate
That feeling to express, or to improve,
The gods become as mortals, and man's fate
Has moments like their brightest ; but the weight
Of earth recoils upon us ;
We can recall such visions, and create,
From what has been, or might be, things which grow
Into thy statue's form, and look like gods below.
I leave to learned fingers, and wise hands,
The artist and his ape, to teach and tell
How well his connoisseurship understands
The graceful bend, and the voluptuous swell :
Let these describe the undescribable :
I would not their vile breath should crisp the stream
Wherein that image shall for ever dwell;
The unruffled mirror of the loveliest dream
That ever left the sky on the deep soul to beam.
In Santa Croce's holy precincts lie (TM)
Ashes which make it holier, dust which is
Even in itself an immortality,
Though there were nothing save the past, and this
The particle of those sublimities
Which have relapsed to chaos : here
Angelo's, Alfieri's bones, and his, (')
The starry Galileo, with his woes ; Here Machiavelli's earth return'd to whence it rose. (*) (1)
'Οφθαλμούς εστιών " Atque oculos paşcat uterque suos.” - Ovid. Amor lib. w. (2, 3, 4) See " Historical Notes," at the end of this canto, Nos. XV. XVI. XVII.
These are four minds, which, like the elements,
Might furnish forth creation :- Italy!
Time, which hath wrong'd thee with ten thousand rents
Of thine imperial garment, shall deny,
And hath denied, to every other sky,
Spirits which soar from ruin : - thy decay
Is still impregnate with divinity,
Which gilds it with revivifying ray;
Such as the great of yore, Canova is to-day.
But where repose the all Etruscan three -
Dante, and Petrarch, and, scarce less than they,
The Bard of Prose, creative spirit! he
Of the Hundred Tales of love where did they lay
Their bones, distinguish'd from our common clay
In death as life ? Are they resolved to dust,
And have their country's marbles nought to say ?
Could not her quarries furnish forth one bust?
Did they not to her breast their filial earth intrust?
Ungrateful Florence ! Dante sleeps afar, (*)
Like Scipio, buried by the upbraiding shore ; (!)
Thy factions, in their worse than civil war,
Proscribed the bard whose name for evermore
Their children's children would in vain adore
With the remorse of ages ; and the crown (")
Which Petrarch's laureate brow supremely wore,
Upon a far and foreign soil had grown,
His life, his fame, his grave, though rifled - not thine own.
Boccaccio to his parent earth bequeath'd (*)
His dust, - and lies it not her Great among,
With many a sweet and solemn requiem breathed
O'er him who form'd the Tuscan's siren tongue ?
That music in itself, whose sounds are song,
The poetry of speech ? No; - even his tomb
Uptorn, must bear the hyæna bigot's wrong,
No more amidst the meaner dead find room,
Nor claim a passing sigh, because it told for whom !
(1, 2, 3, 4) See “ Historical Notes," at the end of this canto, Nos. XVIII. XÌX. XX. and XXI,
And Santa Croce wants their mighty dust ; Yet for this want more noted, as of yore The Cæsar's pageant, shorn of Brutus' bust, Did but of Rome's best Son remind her more ; Happier Ravenna! on thy hoary shore, Fortress of falling empire ! honour'd sleeps The immortal exile ; — Arqua, too, her store Of tuneful relics proudly claims and keeps, While Florence vainly begs her banish'd dead and weeps.
What is her pyramid of precious stones? (") Of porphyry, jasper, agute, and all hues Of gem and marble, to encrust the bones Of merchant-dukes? the momentary dews Which, sparkling to the twilight stars, infuse .Freshness in the green turf that wraps the dead, Whose names are mausoleums of the Muse, Are gently prest with far more reverent tread Than ever paced the slab which paves the princely head.
There be more things to greet the heart and eyes
In Arno's dome of Art's most princely shrine,
Where Sculpture with her rainbow sister vies ;
There be more marvels yet but not for mine;
For I have been accustom'd to entwine
My thoughts with Nature rather in the fields,
Than Art in galleries : though a work divine
Calls for my spirit's homage, yet it yields
Less than it feels, because the weapon which it wields
Is of another temper, and I roam
By Thrasimene's lake, in the defiles
Fatal to Roman rashness, more at home;
For there the Carthaginian's warlike wiles
Come back before me, as his skill beguiles
The host between the mountains and the shore,
Where Courage falls in her despairing files,
And torrents, swoln to rivers with their gore,
Reek through the sultry plain, with legions scatter'd o'er.
(1) Sce". Historical Notes," at the end of this Canto, No. XXII.
Like to a forest felld by mountain winds ;
And such the storm of battle on this day,
And such the frenzy, whose convulsion blinds
To all save carnage, that, beneath the fray,
An earthquake reel'd unheededly away! (')
None felt stern Nature rocking at his feet,
And yawning forth a grave for those who lay
Upon their bucklers for a winding sheet ;
Such is the absorbing hate when warring nations meet !
The Earth to them was as a rolling bark
Which bore them to Eternity; they saw
The Ocean round, but had no time to mark
The motions, of their vessel; Nature's law,
In them suspended, reck'd not of the awe
Which reigns when mountains tremble, and the birds
Plunge in the clouds for refuge and withdraw
From their down-toppling nests ; and bellowing herds Stumble o'er heaving plains, and man's dread hath no words
Far other scene is Thrasimene now;
Her lake a sheet of silver, and her plain
Rent by no ravage save the gentle plough ;
Her aged trees rise thick as once the slain
Lay where their roots are ; but a brook hath ta’en -
A little rill of scanty stream and bed
A name of blood from that day's sanguine rain;
And Sanguinetto tells ye where the dead
Made the earth wet, and turn'd the unwilling waters red.
But thou, Clitumnus ! in thy sweetest wave (*)
Of the most living crystal that was e'er
The haunt of river nymph, to gaze and lave
Her limbs where nothing hid them, thou dost rear
Thy grassy banks whereon the milk-white steer
Grazes ; the purest god of gentle waters !
And most serene of aspect, and most clear ;
Surely that stream was unprofaned by slaughters — A mirror and a bath for Beauty's youngest daughters ! (1) Soo" Iistorical Notes," at the end of this Canto, No. XXIII.
(2) No book of travols has omillod to oxpatiato on the templo of the Chituminis between Foligno and Spoloto; and no sito, or scenery, even in Italy, is more worihy a descrip:ion. For an account of the dilapidation of ihis temple, the reader is refor. red to "Historical Illustrations of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold," p. 36.