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But I forget.-My Pilgrim's shrine is won,
Those waves, we follow'd on till the dark Euxine roll'd
Upon the blue Symplegades: long years
Long, though not very many, since have done Their work on both; some suffering and some tears Have left us nearly where we had begun; Yet not in vain our mortal race hath run; We have had our reward-and it is here; That we can yet feel gladden'd by the sun, And reap from earth, sea, joy almost as dear As if there were no man to trouble what is clear.
Oh! that the desert were my dwelling-place,
With one fair spirit for my minister,
In deeming such inhabit many a spot?
Though with them to converse can rarely be our lot.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean-roll!
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown.
His steps are not upon thy paths,-thy fields
And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies, And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray And howling, to his gods, where haply lies His petty hope in some near port or bay, And dashest him again to earth ;-there let him lay.
The armaments which thunder-strike the walls
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,
Thy shores are empires, changed in all save theeAssyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they? Thy waters wasted them while they were free, And many a tyrant since; their shores obey The stranger, slave, or savage: their decay Has dried up realms to deserts :-not so thou. Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play-Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure browSuch as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Dark-heaving ;-boundless, endless, and sublime—
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime The monsters of the deep are made; each zone Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.
And I have loved thee, ocean! and
my hand upon thy mane-as I do here.
My task is done my song hath ceased-my theme
The spell should break of this protracted dream.
Which in my spirit dwelt is fluttering, faint, and low.
Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been—
He wore his sandal-shoon and scallop-shell: Farewell! with him alone may rest the pain, If such there were-with you, the moral of his strain.
NOTES TO CANTO IV.
Note 1. Stanza i.
I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand.
The communication between the ducal palace and the prisons of Venice is by a gloomy bridge, or covered gallery, high above the water, and divided by a stone wall into a passage and a cell. The state dungeons, called " pozzi," or wells, were sunk in the thick walls of the palace; and the prisoner, when taken out to die, was conducted across the gallery to the other side, and being then led back into the other compartment or cell, upon the bridge, was there strangled. The low portal through which the criminal was taken into this cell is now walled up; but the passage is still open, and is still known by the name of the Bridge of Sighs. The pozzi are under the flooring of the chamber at the foot of the bridge. They were formerly twelve, but on the first arrival of the French, the Venetians hastily blocked or broke up the deeper of these dungeons. You may still, however, descend by a trap-door, and crawl down through holes, half-choked by rubbish, to the depth of two stories below the first range. If you are in want of consolation for the extinction of patrician power, perhaps you may find it there; scarcely a ray of light glimmers into the narrow gallery which leads to the cells, and the places of confinement themselves are totally dark. A small hole in the wall admitted the damp air of the passages, and served for the introduction of the prisoner's food. A wooden pallet, raised a foot from the ground, was the only furniture. The conductors tell you that a light was not allowed. The cells are about five paces in length, two and a half in width, and seven feet in height. They are directly beneath one another, and respiration is somewhat difficult in the lower holes. Only one prisoner was found when the re'publicans descended into these hideous recesses, and he is said to have been confined sixteen years. But the inmates of the dungeons beneath had left traces of their repentance, or of their despair, which are still visible, and may perhaps owe something to recent ingenuity. Some of the detained appear to have offended against, and others to have belonged to, the sacred body, not only from their signatures, but from the churches and belfries which they have scratched upon the walls. The reader may not object to see a specimen of the records prompted by so terrific a solitude. As nearly as they could be copied by more than one pencil, three of them are as follows:
NON TI FIDAR D, ALCUNO, PENSA e TACI
1507. ADI 2. GENARO. FUI RETENTO
DI CHI MI FIDO GUARDAMI DIO
DI CHI NON MI FIDO MI GUARDERO 10
VA. LA. STA. CH. KA. RNA.
The copyist has followed, not corrected the solecisms; some of which are, however, not quite so decided, since the letters were evidently scratched in the dark. It only need be observed, that Bestemmia and Mangiar may be read in the first inscription, which was probably written by a prisoner confined for some act of impiety committed at a funeral: that Cortellarius is the name of a parish on terra firma, near the sea: and that the last initials evidently put for Viva la Santa Chiesa Kattolica Romana.
Note 2. Stanza ii.
She looks a sea Cybele fresh from ocean,
Rising with her tiara of proud towers.
An old writer, describing the appearance of Venice, has made use of the above image, which would not be poetical were it not true:
"Quo fit ut qui superne urbem contempletur, turritam telluris imaginem medio oceano figuratam se putet inspicere." *
Note 3. Stanza iii.
In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more.
The well-known song of the gondoliers, of alternate stanzas, from Tasso's Jerusalem, has died with the independence of Venice. Editions of the poem, with the original on one column, and the Venetian variations on the other, as sung by the boatmen, were once common, and are still to be found. The following extract will serve to show the difference between the Tuscan epic and the "Canta alla Barcariola."
Canto l'arme pietose, e 'l capitano
Che 'I gran sepolcro libero di Cristo.
E in van l'Inferno a lui s'oppose, e in vano
L'arme pietose de cantar gho vogia,
E de Goffredo la immortal braura,
Some of the elder gondoliers will, however, take up, and continue a stanza of their once familiar bard.
On the 7th of last January, the author of Childe Harold, and another Englishman, the writer of this notice, rowed to the Lido with two singers, one of whom was a carpenter, and the other a gondolier. The former placed himself at the prow, the latter at the stern of the boat. A little after leaving the quay of the Piazzetta, they began to sing, and continued their exercise until we arrived at the island. They gave us, amongst other essays, the death of Clorinda, and the palace of Armida; and did not sing the Venetian, but the Tuscan verses. The carpenter, however, who was the cleverer of the two, and was frequently obliged to prompt his companion, told us that he could translate the original. He added, that he could sing almost three hundred stanzas, but had not spirits (morbin was the word he used) to learn any more, or to sing what he already knew a man must have idle time on his hands to acquire or to repeat, and, said the poor fellow, "look at my clothes and at me; I am starving." This speech was more affecting than his performance,
* Marci Antonii Sabelli, de Veneta Urbis situ, narratio, edit. Taur. 1527, lib. 1. fol. 202.