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The fool with Time, I should perhaps reserve Soft music came as from Armida's palace,
Breathing enchantment o'er the woods, the waters;
Forms such as hers were flitting, lost among
Such as adorn the triumphs and the feasts
Painted by Cagliari; where the world danced
Can I forget-no, never, such a scene
So full of witchery! Night linger'd still, And now appear as on a phosphor se
When, with a dying breeze, I left Bellaggio ;
Thy voice-once and again bidding adieu.
The song was one that I had heard before,
But where I knew not. It inclined to sadness; After so long a sojourn in the wild,
And, turning round from the delicious fare
Two boys of lively aspect. Peasant-like
With their small voices and an old guitar
Winning their mazy progress to my heart Filling their baskets of green wickerwork, In that, the only universal language. While many a canzonet and frolic laugh
But soon they changed the measure, entering on Come through the leaves; the vines in light festoons A pleasant dialogue of sweet and sour, From tree to tree, the trees in avenues,
A war of words, and waged with looks and gestures, And every avenue a cover'd walk,
Between Trappanti and his ancient dame,
While many a titter on the stairs was heard,
And Barbara's among them. While up and down the cliffs, over the lake,
When 'twas done, Wains oxen-drawn, and pannier'd mules are seen, Their dark eyes flash'd no longer, yet, methought, Laden with grapes, and dropping rosy wine. In many a glance as from the soul, express
Here I received from thee, Filippo Mori, More than enough to serve them. Far or near, One of those courtesies so sweet, so rare !
Few let them pass unnoticed ; and there was not When, as I rambled through thy vineyard ground A mother round about for many a league, On the hill-side, thou sent'st thy little son, But could repeat their story. Twins they were, Charged with a bunch almost as big as he,
And orphans, as I learnt, cast on the world; To press it on the stranger.
The parents lost in the old ferry-boat
May thy vats That, three years since, last Martinmas, went down O’erflow, and he, thy willing gift-bearer,
Crossing the rough Penacus.* Live to become ere long himself a giver ;
May they live
Like him who, in the days of minstrelsy,
Came in a beggar's weeds to Petrarch's door,
Crying without, “Give me a lay to sing !"
Descending from the Tyrol, as night fell,
Knock'd at a city gate near the hill foot, ('Twas by a little boat that gave me chase
The gate that bore so long, sculptured in stone, With oar and sail, as homeward-bound I cross'd
An eagle on a ladder, and at once
Found welcome-nightly in the banner'd ball
* Lago di Garda.
Before the great Mastino, and his guests,
Godlike example, Echoes that have slept The three-and-twenty, by some adverse fortune, Since Athens, Lacedæmon, were themselves, By war or treason or domestic malice,
Since men invoked “By those in Marathon!” Reft of their kingly crowns, reft of their all, Awake along the Ægean; and the dead, And living on his bounty.
They of that sacred shore, have heard the call, But who now
And through the ranks, from wing to wing, are seen Enters the chamber, flourishing a scroll
Moving as once they were-instead of rage In his right hand, his left at every step
Breathing deliberate valour. Brushing the floor with what was once a hat
Of massive silver serves to testify
What led to many sorrows. From that time "I am a poet, signor :-give me leave
The bat came hither for a sleeping place ; To bid you welcome. Though you shrink from And he, who cursed another in his heart, notice,
Said, “ Be thy dwelling through the day, the night, The splendour of your name has gone before you ; Shunn'd like Coll'alto.” 'Twas in that old castle, And Italy from sea to sea rejoices,
Which flanks the cliff with its gray battlements As well indeed she may! But I transgress : Flung here and there, and, like an eagle's nest, I too have known the weight of praise, and ought Hangs in the Trevisan, that thus the steward, To spare another.”
Shaking his locks, the few that time had left him, Saying so, he laid
Address'd me, as we enter'd what was call'd His sonnet, an impromptu, on my table,
“My lady's chamber.” On the walls, the chairs, And bow'd and left me ; in his hollow hand Much yet remains of the rich tapestry Receiving my small tribute, a zecchino,
Much of the adventures of Sir Lancelot Unconsciously, as doctors do their fees.
In the green glades of some enchanted forest. My omelet, and a flagon of hill-wine,
The toilet table was of massive silver, “The very best in Bergamo !” had long
Florentine art, when Florence was renown'd; Fled from all eyes; or, like the young Gil Blas A gay confusion of the elements, De Santillane, I had perhaps been seen
Dolphins and boys, and shells and fruits and flowers; Bartering my bread and salt for empty praise. And from the ceiling, in his gilded cage,
Hung a small bird of curious workmanship,
That, when his mistress bade him, would unfold
(So said at least the babbling dame, tradition) Am I in Italy? Is this the Mincius ?
His emerald wings, and sing and sing again Are those the distant turrets of Verona?
The song that pleased her. While I stood and And shall I sup where Juliet at the mask
look'd, Saw her loved Montague, and now sleeps by him? A gleam of day yet lingering in the west, Such questions hourly do I ask myself ;
The steward went on. And not a finger-post by the road side
“ She had ('tis now long since) To Mantua”_" To Ferrara”—but excites A gentle serving maid, the fair Cristina. Surprise, and doubt, and self-congratulation. Fair as a lily, and as spotless too; 0 Italy, how beautiful thou art !
None so admired, beloved. They had grown up Yet could I weep—for thou art lying, alas ! As play-fellows; and some there were, who said, Low in the dust; and they who come, admire thee Some who knew much, discoursing of Cristina, As we admire the beautiful in death.
• She is not what she seems.' When unrequired,
Ever as surely as the hours came round,
In that chair
The countess, as it might be now, was sitting, Their wisdom folly. E'en now the flame
Her gentle serving maid, the fair Cristina, Bursts forth where once it burnt so gloriously, Combing her golden hair; and through this door And, dying, left a splendour like the day,
The count, her lord, was hastening, call’d away That like the day diffused itself, and still
By letters of great urgency to Venice ; Blesses the earth—the light of genius, virtue, When in the glass she saw, as she believed, Greatness in thought and act, contempt of death, ('Twas an illusion of the evil spirit
Some say he came and cross'd it at the instant,) And could shake long at shadows. They had play'd
Sings “ Caro, caro ?”—'Tis the prima donna,
Perch'd on her shoulder. But mark him who leaps “No blood was spilt; no instrument of death Ashore, and with a shout urges along Lurk’d-or stood forth, declaring its bad purpose ; The lagging mules; then runs and climbs a tree Nor was a hair of her unblemish'd head
That with its branches overhangs the stream, Hurt in that hour. Fresh as a flower ungather'd, And, like an acorn, drops on deck again. And warm with life, her youthful pulses playing, 'Tis he who speaks not, stirs not, but we laugh; She was wall'd up within the castle wall.
That child of fun and frolic, Arlecchino. The wall itself was hollow'd to receive her; And mark their poet-with what emphasis Then closed again, and done to line and rule. He prompts the young soubrette, conning her part! Would you descend and see it?—'Tis far down; Her tongue plays truant, and he raps his box, And many a stair is gone. 'Tis in a vault And prompts again; for ever looking round Under the chapel: and there nightly now, As if in search of subjects for his wit, As in the narrow niche, when smooth and fair, His satire; and as often whispering And as though nothing had been done or thought of, Things, though unheard, not unimaginable. The stone-work rose before her, till the light Had I thy pencil, Crabbe, (when thou hast done,Glimmer'd and went-there, nightly, at that hour, Late may it be,-it will, like Prospero's staff, (You smile, and would it were an idle tale ! Be buried fifty fathoms in the earth,) Would we could say so !) at that hour she stands I would portray the Italian-Now I cannot. Shuddering—her eyes uplifted, and her hands Subtle, discerning, eloquent, the slave Join'd as in prayer ; then, like a blessed soul Of love, of hate, for ever in extremes ; Bursting the tomb, springs forward, and away Gentle when unprovoked, easily won, Flies o'er the woods, the mountains. Issuing forth, But quick in quarrel—through a thousand shades The hunter meets her in his hunting track; His spirit fits, chameleon-like; and mocks The shepherd on the heath, starting, exclaims, The eye of the observer. (For still she bears the name she bore of old,)
Gliding on, • 'Tis the White Lady !!”
At length we leave the river for the sea.
At length a voice aloft proclaims “ Venezia !”
And, as call'd forth, it comes.
A few in fear, There is a glorious city in the sea.
Flying away from him whose boast it was, The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets, That the grass grew not where his horse had trod, Ebbing and flowing; and the salt sea-weed Gave birth to Venice. Like the waterfowl, Clings to the marble of her palaces.
They built their nests among the ocean waves; No track of men, no footsteps to and fro,
And, where the sands were shifting, as the wind Lead to her gates. The path lies o'er the sea, Blew from the north, the south; where they that Invisible; and from the land we went,
came, As to a floating city-steering in,
Had to make sure the ground they stood upon, And gliding up her streets as in a dream,
Rose, like an exhalation, from the deep, So smoothly, silently-by many a dome
A vast metropolis, with glittering spires, Mosque-like, and many a stately portico,
With theatres, basilicas adornd; The statues ranged along an azure sky;
A scene of light and glory, a dominion, By many a pile in more than eastern splendour, That has endured the longest among men. of old the residence of merchant kings ;
And whence the talisman by which she rose, The fronts of some, though time had shatter'd them, Towering? 'Twas found there in the barren sea Still glowing with the richest hues of art,
Want led to enterprise ; and, far and near, As though the wealth within them had run o'er. Who met not the Venetian ?-now in Cairo;
Thither I came, and in a wondrous ark, Ere yet the califa came, listening to hear (That, long before we slipp'd our cable, rang Its bells approaching from the Red Sea coast; As with the voices of all living things,)
Now on the Euxine, on the Sea of Azoph, From Padua, where the stars are, night by night, In converse with the Persian, with the Russ, Watch'd from the top of an old dungeon tower, The Tartar; on his lowly deck receiving Whence blood ran once, the tower of Ezzelin Pearls from the Gulf of Ormus, gems from Bagdad, Not as he watch'd them, when he read his fate Eyes brighter yet, that shed the light of love, And shudder'd. But of him I thought not then, From Georgia, from Circassia. Wandering round, Him or bis horoscope ; far, far from me
When in the rich bazaar he saw, display'd, The forms of guilt and fear; though some were there, Treasures from unknown climes, away he went, Sitting among us round the cabin board, Some who, like him, had cried, “Spill blood enough!”
And, travelling slowly upward, drew ere long
He who is on his travels and loves ease,
Ease and companionship, should hire a youth,
thine ? A glittering file, the trumpet heard, the scout And, ere the twentieth throw, I had resolved, Sent and recall'd—but at a city gate
Won by thy looks. Thou wert an honest lad; All gayety, and look'd for ere it comes ;
Wert generous, grateful, not without ambition. Winning its way with all that can attract, Had it depended on thy will and pleasure, Cages, whence every wild cry of the desert, Thou wouldst have number'd in thy family Jugglers, stage-dancers. Well might Charlemain, At least six doges and twelve procurators. And his brave peers, each with his visor up, But that was not to be. In thee I saw On their long lances lean and gaze a while, The last of a long line of Carbonari, When the Venetian to their eyes disclosed
Who in their forest, for three hundred years, The wonders of the east! Well might they then Had lived and labour'd, cutting, charring wood; Sigh for new conquests!
Discovering where they were, to those astray, Thus did Venice rise, By the re-echoing stroke, the crash, the fall, Thus flourish, till th' unwelcome tidings came, Or the blue wreath that travell’d slowly up That in the Tagus had arrived a fleet
Into the sky. Thy nobler destinics From India, from the region of the sun,
Led thee away to jostle in the crowd ; Fragrant with spices—that a way was found, And there I found thee-by thy own prescription A channel open'd, and the golden stream
Crossing the sea to try once more a change Turn'd to enrich another. Then she felt
Of air and diet, landing, and as gayly Her strength departing, and at last she fell, Near the Dogano-on the great canal, Fell in an instant, blotted out and razed;
As though thou knewest where to dine and sleep. She who had stood yet longer than the longest First didst thou practise patience in Bologna, Of the four kingdoms-who, as in an ark,
Serving behind a cardinal's gouty chair, Had floated down, amid a thousand wrecks, Laughing at jests that were no laughing matter; Uninjured, from the old world to the new,
Then teach the art to others in Ferrara, From the last trace of civilized life- to where -At the Three Moors—as guide, as cicerone Light shone again, and with unclouded splendour. Dealing out largely in exchange for pence
Though many an age in the midsea she dwelt, Thy scraps of knowledge through the grassy street From her retreat calmly contemplating
Leading, explaining-pointing to the bars The changes of the earth, herself unchanged. Of Tasso's dungeon, and the Latin verse Before her pass'd, as in an awful dream,
Graven in the stone, that yet denotes the door The mightiest of the mighty. What are these, Of Ariosto. Clothed in their purple ? O'er the globe they fiing
Many a year is gone Their monstrous shadows; and, while yet we speak, Since on the Rhine we parted; yet, methinks Phantom-like, vanish with a dreadful scream! I can recall thee to the life, Luigi, What—but the last that styled themselves the In our long journey ever by my side, Cæsars?
O'er rough and smooth, o'er Apennine, Maremma; And who in long array (look where they come; Thy locks jet black, and clustering round a face Their gestures menacing so far and wide)
Open as day, and full of manly daring. Wear the green turban and the heron's plume ? Thou hadst a hand, a heart for all that came, Who—but the caliphs ? follow'd fast by shapes Herdsman or pedlar, monk or muleteer ; As new and strange-emperor, and king, and czar, And few there were that met thee not with smiles. And soldan, each, with a gigantic stride,
Mishap pass’d o'er thee like a summer cloud. Trampling on all the flourishing works of peace Cares thou hadst none; and they, who stood to hear To make his greatness greater, and inscribe
thee, His name in blood—some, men of steel, steel-clad ; Caught the infection, and forgot their own. Others, nor long, alas ! the interval,
Nature conceived thee in her merriest mood,
Her happiest-not a speck was in the sky;
A larum to the echo. In a clime
Singing or talking ; singing to thyself Unlock heaven's gate.
When none gave car, but to the listener talking.
Where the archangel, turning with the wind,
Blesses the city from the topmost tower,
His arms extended-there continually
Two phantom shapes were sitting side by side, OVER how many tracts, vast, measureless, Nothing from day to day, from year to year,
Or up, and, as in sport, chasing each other ;
Horror and Mirth. Both vanish'd in one hour ! Passes, save now and then a cloud, a meteor, A famish'd eagle ranging for his prey ;
But Ocean only, when again he claims
His ancient rule, shall wash away their footsteps.
Enter the palace by the marble stairs *
Roll'd from the block. Pass onward through the
chamber, Then left the stage to others. Not a stone In the broad pavement, but to him who has
Where, among all drawn in their ducal robes, An eye, an ear for the inanimate world,
But one is wanting-where, thrown off in heat, Tells of past ages.
A short inscription on the doge's chair
Led to another on the wall yet shorter ;
And thou wilt track them--wilt from halls of state (The brass is gone, the porphyry remains,) Did Barbarossa fling his mantle off
Where kings have feasted, and the festal song And kneeling, on his neck receive the foot
Rung through the fretted roof, cedar and gold,
6 'Twas here Of the proud pontiff—thus at last consoled For flight, disguise, and many an anguish shake
Trusting, deceived, assembled but to die,
To take a long embrace and part again, On his stone pillow. In that temple porch
Carrara and his valiant sons were strangled; Old as he was, so near his hundredth year, And blind-his eyes put out-did Dandolo
He first—then they, whose only crime had been Stand forth, displaying on his ducal crown
Struggling to save their father.”—Through that
door The cross just then assumed at the high altar. There did he stand, erect, invincible,
So soon to cry, smiting his brow," I'm lost !” Though wan his cheeks, and wet with many tears, Was shown, and with all courtesy, all honour, For in his prayers he had been weeping much;
The great and noble captain, Carmagnola. And now the pilgrims and the people wept
That deep descent (thou canst not yet discern With admiration, saying in their hearts,
Aught as it is) leads to the dripping vaults “ Surely those aged limbs have need of rest!”
Under the flood, where light and warmth came Dever, --There did he stand, with his old armour on,
Leads to a cover'd bridge, the Bridge of Sighs ; Ere, gonfalon in hand, that stream'd aloft,
And to that fatal closet at the foot, As conscious of its glorious destiny,
Lurking for prey, which, when a victim enter'd, So soon to float o'er mosque and minaret,
Grew less and less, contracting to a span; He sail'd away, five hundred gallant ships,
An iron door, urged onward by a screw, Their lofty sides hung with emblazon'd shields,
Forcing out life. But let us to the roof, Following his track to glory. He returned not ;
And, when thou hast survey'd the sea, the land, But of his trophies four arrived ere long,
Visit the narrow cells that cluster there, Snatch'd from destruction—the four steeds divine, As in a place of tombs. They had their tenants, That strike the ground, resounding with their feet, And each supplied with sufferings of his own. And from their nostrils snort ethereal flame
There burning suns beat unrelentingly, Over that very portal in the place
Turning all things to dust, and scorching up Where in an after-time Petrarch was seen
The brain, till reason fled, and the wild yell Sitting beside the doge, on his right hand,
And wilder laugh burst out on every side, Amid the ladies of the court of Venice,
Answering each other as in mockery! Their beauty shaded from the setting sun
-Few houses of the size were better fillid; By many-colour'd hangings; while, beneath,
Though many came and left it in an hour. Knights of all nations, some from merry England,
“ Most nights,” so said the good old Nicolo, Their lances in the rest, charged for the prize.
(For three-and-thirty years his uncle kept Here, among other pageants, and how oft The water gate below, but seldom spoke, It came, as if returning to console
Though much was on his mind,) “ most nights The least, instruct the greatest, did the doge,
arrived Himself, go round, borne through the gazing crowd, The prison boat, that boat with many oars, Once in a chair of state, once on his bier.
And bore away as to the lower world, They were his first appearance, and his last.
Disburdening in the canal Orfano, The sea, that emblem of uncertainty,
That drowning-place, were never net was thrown Changed not so fast for many and many an age,
Summer or winter, death the penalty ; As this small spot. To-day 'twas full of maskers; And where a secret, once deposited, And lo, the madness of the carnival,
Lay till the waters should give up their dead.” The monk, the nun, the holy legate mask'd !
Yet what so gay as Venice ? Every gale To-morrow came the scaffold and the headsman;
Breathed heavenly music! and who flock'd not And he died there by torchlight, bound and gagg’d,
thither Whose name and crime they knew not. Underneath
* Scala de' Giganti.