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There is a tomb in Arqua ;-rear'd in air,
Pillar'd in their sarcophagus, repose
The bones of Laura's lover: here repair
Many familiar with his well-sung woes,
The pilgrims of his genius. He arose
To raise a language, and his land reclaim
From the dull yoke of her barbaric foes :
Watering the tree which bears his lady's name
With his melodious tears, he gave himself to fame.
They keep his dust in Arqua, where he died;
The mountain-village where his latter days
Went down the vale of years; and 't is their pride
An honest pride—and let it be their praise,
To offer to the passing stranger's gaze
His mansion and his sepulchre ; both plain
And venerably simple, such as raise
A feeling more accordant with his strain
Than if a pyramid form’d his monumental fane.
And the soft quiet hamlet where he dwelt
Is one of that complexion which seems made
For those who their mortality have felt,
And sought a refuge from their hopes decay'd
In the deep umbrage of a green hill's shade,
Which shows a distant prospect far away
Of busy cities, now in vain displayed,
For they can lure no further; and the ray
Of a bright sun can make sufficient holiday,
Developing the mountains, leaves, and flowers,
And shining in the brawling brook, where-by,
Clear as its current, glide the sauntering hours
With a calm languour, which, though to the eye
Idlesse it seem, hath its morality.
If from society we learn to live,
"Tis solitude should teach us how to die;
It hath no flatterers ; vanity can give
No hollow aid ; alone-man with his God must strive:
XXXIV. Or, it may be, with demons, who impair The strength of better thoughts, and seek their prey In melancholy bosoms, such as were Of moody texture from their earliest day, And loved to dwell in darkness and dismay, Deeming themselves predestined to a doom Which is not of the pangs that pass away;
Making the sun like blood, the earth a tomb, The tomb a hell, and hell itself a murkier gloom.
Ferrara! in thy wide and grass-grown streets,
Whose symmetry was not for solitude,
There seem as 't were a curse upon the seats
Of former sovereigns, and the antique brood
Of Este, which for many an age made good
Its strength within thy walls, and was of yore
Patron or tyrant, as the changing mood
Of petty power impelld, of those who wore
The wreath which Dante's brow alone had worn before.
And Tasso is their glory and their shame.
Hark to his strain ! and then survey his cell !
And see how dearly earn'd Torquato's fame,
And where Alfonso bade his poet dwell :
The miserable despot could not quell
The insulted mind he sought to quench, and blend
With the surrounding maniacs, in the hell
Where he had plunged it. Glory without end
Scatter'd the clouds away—and on that name attend
The tears and praises of all time ; while thine
Would rot in its oblivion—in the sink
Of worthless dust, which from thy boasted line
Is shaken into nothing; but the link
Thou formest in his fortunes bids us think
Of thy poor malice, naming thee with scorn-
Alfonso ! how thy ducal pageants shrink
From thee! if in another station born,
Scarce fit to be the slaves of him thou mad'st to mourn:
Thou! form'd to eat, and be despised, and die,
Even as the beasts that perish, save that thou
Hadst a more splendid trough and wider sty :
He! with a glory round his furrow'd brow,
Which emanated then, and dazzles now,
In face of all his foes, the Cruscan quire,
And Boileau, whose rash envy could allow
No strain which shamed his country's creaking lyre, That whetstone of the teeth—monotony in wire !
Peace to Torquato's injured shade! 't was his
In life and death to be the mark where Wrong
Aim'd with her poison'd arrows; but to miss.
Oh, victor unsurpass'd in modern song !
Each year brings forth its millions ; but how long
The tide of generation shall roll on,
And not the whole combined and countless throng
Compose a mind like thine? though all in one Condensed their scatter'd rays, they would not form a sun.
Great as thou art, yet parallel'd by those,
Thy countrymen, before thee born to shine,
The Bards of Hell and Chivalry: first rose
The Tuscan father's comedy divine;
Then, not unequal to the Florentine,
The southern Scott, the minstrel who call'd forth
A new creation with his magic line,
And, like the Ariosto of the North,
Sang ladye-love and war, romance and knightly worth.
The lightning rent from Ariosto's bust
The iron crown of laurel's mimick'd leaves ;
Nor was the ominous element unjust,
For the true laurel-wreath which Glory weaves
Is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves,
And the false semblance but disgraced his brow;
Yet still, if fondly Superstition grieves,
Know, that the lightning sanctifies below
Whate'er it strikes ;—yon head is doubly sacred now.
XLII. Italia! oh Italia! thou who hast The fatal gift of beauty, which became A funeral dower of present woes and past, On thy sweet brow is sorrow plough'd by shame, And annals graved in characters of flame. Oh, God! that thou wert in thy nakedness Less lovely or more powerful, and couldst claim
Thy right, and awe the robbers back, who press To shed thy blood, and drink the tears of thy distress;
XLIII. Then might'st thou more appal ; or, less desired, Be homely and be peaceful, undeplored For thy destructive charms; then, still untired, Would not be seen the armed torrents pour'd Down the deep Alps; nor would the hostile horde Of many-nation'd spoilers from the Po Quaff blood and water; nor the stranger's sword
Be thy sad weapon of defence, and so, Victor or vanquish’d, thou the slave of friend or foe.
Wandering in youth, I traced the path of him,
The Roman friend of Rome's least-mortal mind,
The friend of Tully: as my bark did skim
The bright blue waters with a fanning wind,
Came Megara before me, and behind
Ægina lay, Piræus on the right,
And Corinth on the left; I lay reclined
Along the prow, and saw all these unite
In ruin, even as he had seen the desolate sight ;