« AnteriorContinuar »
ITALY IN THE MIDDLE AGES.
Yet, when Slavery came,
Worse follow'd. Genius, valour, left the land,
Indignant—all that had from age to age
Adorn'd, ennobled; and headlong they fell,
Tyrant and slave. For deeds of violence,
Done in broad day and more than half redeem'd
By many a great and generous sacrifice
Of self to others, came the unpledged bowl,
The stab of the stiletto. Gliding by
Unnoticed, in slouch'd hat and muffing cloak,
That just discover'd, Caravaggio-like,
A swarthy cheek, black brow, and eye of flame,
The Bravo took his stand, and o'er the shoulder
Plunged to the hilt, or from beneath the ribs
Slanting (a surer path, as some averr’d)
Struck upward—then slunk off; or, if pursued,
Made for the sanctuary, and there along
The glimmering aisle, among the worshippers
Wander'd with restless step and jealous look,
Dropping thick gore.
Misnamed to lull suspicion,
In every palace was The Laboratory,
Where he within brew'd poisons swift and slow,
That scatter'd terror till all things seem'd poisonous,
And brave men trembled if a hand held out
A nosegay or a letter; while the great
Drank from the Venice-glass, that broke, that shiver'd,
If aught malignant, aught of thine, was there,
Cruel Tophana; and pawn'd provinces
For the miraculous gem that to the wearer
Gave signs infallible of coming ill-
That clouded, though the vehicle of death
Were an invisible perfume.
The guest to whom at sleeping-time 'twas said,
But in an under voice (a lady's page
Speaks in no louder), “ Pass not on. That door
Leads to another which awaits your coming,
One in the floor—now left, alas, unbolted,
No eye detects it-lying under-foot,
Just as you enter, at the threshold stone;
Ready to fall and plunge you into darkness,
Darkness and long oblivion!
Where lurk'd not danger? through the fairy-land,
No seat of pleasure glittering half-way down-
No hunting-place—but with some damning spot
That will not be wash'd out! There, at Caïano,
Where, when the hawks were hooded and night came,
Pulci would set the table in a roar
With his wild lay—there, where the sun descends,
And hill and dale are lost, veil'd with his beams,
The fair Venetian died—she and her lord,
Died of a posset drugg'd by him who sate
And saw them suffer, flinging back the charge,
The murderer on the murder'd.
Among the awful forms that stand assembled
In the great square of Florence, may be seen
That Cosmo, not the father of his country,
Not he so styled, but he who play'd the tyrant.
Clad in rich armour like a paladin,
But with his helmet off—in kingly state,
Aloft he sits upon his horse of brass;
And they, who read the legend underneath,
Go and pronounce him happy. Yet there is
A chamber at Grosetto, that, if walls
Could speak, and tell of what is done within,
Would turn your admiration into pity.
Half of what pass’d, died with him ; but the rest,
All he discover'd when the fit was on,
All that, by those who listen'd, could be glean'd
From broken sentences and starts in sleep,
Is told, and by an honest chronicler.
Two of his sons, Giovanni and Garzia
(The eldest had not seen his sixteenth summer),
Went to the chase; but one of them, Giovanni,
His best beloved, the glory of his house,
Return'd not; and at close of day was found
Bathed in his innocent blood. Too well, alas !
The trembling Cosmo guess'd the deed—the doer;
And having caused the body to be borne
In secret to that chamber-at an hour
When all slept sound, save the disconsolate mother.
Who little thought of what was yet to come,
And lived but to be told-he bade Garzìa
Arise and follow him. Holding in one hand
A winking lamp, and in the other a key
Massive and dungeon-like, thither he led;
And, having enter'd in, and lock'd the door,
The father fix'd his eyes upon
And closely question’d him. No change betray'd
Or guilt or fear. Then Cosmo lifted up
The bloody sheet. “Look there! look there!” he cried,
“ Blood calls for blood-and from a father's hand!
-Unless thyself wilt save him that sad office.
What!" he exclaim'd, when, shuddering at the sight,
The boy breathed out, “ I stood but on my guard—”
“Dar'st thou then blacken one who never wrong'd thee,
Who would not set his foot upon a worm ?-
Yes, thou must die, lest others fall by thee,
And thou should'st be the slayer of us all.”
Then from Garzia's side he took the dagger,
That fatal one which spilt his brother's blood;
And, kneeling on the ground, “Great God!” he cried,
“Grant me the strength to do an act of justice.
Thou knowest what it costs me; but, alas,
How can I spare myself, sparing none else?
Grant me the strength, the will—and oh forgive
The sinful soul of a most wretched son.
'Tis a most wretched father who implores it."
Long on Garzia's neck he hung, and wept
Tenderly, long press'd him to his bosom;
And then, but while he held him by the arm,
Thrusting him backward, turn d away his face,
And stabb'd him to the heart.
Well might De Thou,
When in his youth he came to Cosmo's court,
Think on the past; and, as he wander'd through
The ancient palace-through those ample spaces,
Silent, deserted-stop awhile to dwell
Upon two portraits there, drawn on the wall
Together, as of two in bonds of love,
One in a cardinal's habit, one in black,
Those of the unhappy brothers, and infer
From the deep silence that his questions drew,
The terrible truth.
Well might he heave a sigh
For poor humanity, when he beheld
That very Cosmo, shaking o'er his fire,
Drowsy and deaf and inarticulate,
Wrapt in his night-gown, o'er a sick man's iness,
In the last stage-death-struck and deadly pale;
His wife, another, not his Eleonora,
At once his nurse and his interpreter.
Down by yon hazel copse, at evening blazed The Gipsy's faggotthere we stood and gazed ; Gazed on her sun-burnt face with silent awe, Her tatter'd mantle, and her hood of straw; Her moving lips, her caldron brimming o'er; The drowsy brood that on her back she bore, Imps in the barn with mousing owlet bred, From rifled roost at nightly revel fed; Whose dark eyes flash'd through locks of blackest shade, When in the breeze the distant watch-dog bay'd :And heroes fled the sibyl's mutter'd call, Whose elfin prowess scaled the orchard wall. As o'er my palm the silver piece she drew, And traced the line of life with searching view, How throbb'd my fluttering pulse with hopes and fears, To learn the colour of my future years!
AFFECTIONATE MEMORY OF THE DOG.
Recall the traveller, whose alter'd form
Has borne the buffet of the mountain storm;
And who will first his fond impatience meet?
His faithful dog 's already at his feet !
Yes, though the porter spurn him from the door,
Though all, that knew him, know his face no more,
His faithful dog shall tell his joy to each,
With that mute eloquence which passes specch.-
And see, the master but returns to die!
Yet who shall bid the watchful servant fly?
The blasts of heaven, the drenching dews of earth,
The wanton insults of unfeeling mirth,
These, when to guard misfortune's sacred grare,
Will firm Fidelity exult to brave.
THE RETURN OF THE BEE TO THE HIVE.
Hark! the bee winds her small but mellow horn,
Blithe to salute the sunny smile of morn,
O'er thymy bounds she bends her busy course,
And many a stream allures her to its source.
'Tis noon, 'tis night. That eye so finely wrought,
Beyond the search of sense, the soar of thought,
Now vainly asks the scenes she left behind;
Its orb so full, its vision so confined !
Who guides the patient pilgrim to her cell ?
Who bids her soul with conscious triumph swell?
With conscious truth retrace the mazy clue
Of varied scents, that charm’d her as she flew ?
Hail, Memory, hail! thy universal reign
Guards the least link of Being's glorious chain.
ON THE DEATH OF A SISTER.
Man is born to suffer. On the door
Sickness has set her mark; and now no more
Laughter within we hear, or wood-notes wild
As of a mother singing to her child.
All now in anguish from that room retire,
Where a young cheek glows with consuming fire,
And innocence breathes contagion—all but one,
But she who gave it birth—from her alone
The medicine cup is taken. Through the night,
And through the day, that with its dreary light
Comes unregarded, she sits silent by,
Watching the changes with her anxious eye:
While they without, listening below, above,
(Who but in sorrow know how much they love ?)
From every little noise catch hope and fear,
Exchanging still, still as they turn to hear,
Whispers and sighs, and smiles all tenderness
That would in vain the starting tear repress.
Such grief was ours—it seems but yesterday—
When in thy prime, wishing so much to stay,
'Twas thine, Maria, thine without a sigh
At midnight in a sister's arms to die!
Oh thou wert lovely-lovely was thy frame,
And pure thy spirit as from Heaven it came !
And, when recall’d to join the blest above,
Thou died’st a victim to exceeding love,
Nursing the young to health. In happier hours,
When idle Fancy wove luxuriant flowers,
Once in thy mirth thou bad’st me write on thee;
And now I write—what thou shalt never see!
From Human Life.