« AnteriorContinuar »
To celebrate her nuptials with the sea ?
That rosy mouth, that cheek dimpled with smiles, To wear the mask, and mingle in the crowd That neck but half concealed, whiter than snow. With Greek, Armenian, Persian-night and day 'Twas the sweet slumber of her early age. (There, and there only, did the hour stand still) I look'd and look'd, and felt a flush of joy Pursuing through her thousand labyrinths
I would express, but cannot. The enchantress Pleasure; realizing dreams
Oft I wish'd The earliest, happiest-for a tale to catch Gently—by stealth-to drop asleep myself, Credulous ears, and hold young hearts in chains, And to incline yet lower that sleep might come; Had only to begin,“ There lived in Venice”— Oft closed my eyes as in forgetfulness.
" Who were the six we supp'd with yesternight?” 'Twas all in vain. Love would not let me rest. “ Kings, one and all! Thou couldst not but remark But how delightful when at length she waked ! The style and manner of the six that served them.” When, her light hair adjusting, and her veil
“Who answer'd me just now? Who, when I said, So rudely scatter'd, she resumed her place * 'Tis nine,' turn'd round, and said so solemnly, Beside me; and, as gayly as before, "Signor, he died at nine !'”—'Twas the Armenian; Sitting unconsciously nearer and nearer, The mask that follows thee, go where thou wilt.” Pour'd out her innocent mind! “But who stands there, alone among them all?”
So, nor long since, « The Cypriot. Ministers from foreign courts Sung a Venetian: and his lay of love, Beset his doors, long ere his hour of rising ; Dangerous and sweet, charm'd Venice. As for me His the great secret! Not the golden house (Less fortunate, if love be happiness) Of Nero, or those fabled in the East,
No curtain drawn, no pulse beating alarm, As wrought by magic, half so rich as his !
I went alone under the silent moon; Two dogs, coal black, in collars of pure gold, Thy place, St. Mark, thy churches, palaces, Walk in his footsteps_who but his familiars? Glittering, and frost-like, and as day drew on, He casts no shadow, nor is seen to smile!” Melting away, an emblem of themselves. Such their discourse. Assembling in St. Mark's, Those porches pass'd through which the waterAll nations met as on enchanted ground !
breeze What though a strange, mysterious power was Plays, though no longer on the noble forms there,
That moved there, sable-vested—and the quay Moving throughout, subtle, invisible,
Silent, grass-grown-adventurer-like I launch'd And universal as the air they breathed;
Into the deep, ere long discovering
all ear, nowhere and everywhere, All verdure. Everywhere, from bush and brake, Entering the closet and the sanctuary,
The musky odour of the serpents came ; No place of refuge for the doge himself;
Their slimy track across the woodman's path Most present when least thought of-nothing dropt Bright in the moonshine: and, as round I went, In secret, when the heart was on the lips,
Dreaming of Greece, whither the waves were Nothing in feverish sleep, but instantly
gliding, Observed and judged a power, that if but glanced at I listend to the venerable pines In casual converse, be it where it might,
Then in close converse ; and, if right I guess'd, The speaker lower'd at once his eyes, his voice, Delivering many a message to the winds And pointed upward, as to God in heaven
In secret, for their kindred on Mount Ida. What though that power was there, he who lived Nor when again in Venice, when again thus,
In that strange place, so stirring and so still, Pursuing pleasure, lived as if it were not ; Where nothing comes to drown the human voice But let him in the midnight air indulge
But music, or the dashing of the tide,
At her half-open window. Then, methought,
A serenade broke silence, breathing hope
Through walls of stone, and torturing the proud THE GONDOLA.
heart Boy, call the gondola ; the sun is set.
Of some Priuli. Once, we could not err, It came, and we embark'd; but instantly,
(It was before an old Palladian house,
We rested; and the verse was verse divine !
We could not err-perhaps he was the last-
The moon went down; and nothing now was
Long I lay Contemplating that face so beautiful,
Save here and there the lamp of a madonna,
Glimmering—or heard, but when he spoke, who Each in his hand bearing his cap and plume, stood
And, as he walk'd, with modest dignity Over the lantern at the prow, and cried,
Folding his scarlet mantle, his tabarro. Turning the corner of some reverend pile,
They join, they enter in, and, up the aisle, Some school or hospital of old renown,
Led by the full-voiced choir in bright procession, Though haply none were coming, none were near, Range round the altar. In his vestments there “ Hasten or slacken.""*
The patriarch stands; and, while the anthem flows, But at length night fled ; Who can look on unmoved ?-mothers in secret And with her led, scattering, the sons of pleasure. Rejoicing in the beauty of their daughters, Star after star shot by, or meteor-like,
Sons in the thought of making them their own; Cross'd me and vanish'd-lost at once among And they, array'd in youth and innocence, Those hundred isles that tower majestically, Their beauty heightend by their hopes and fears. That rise abruptly from the water mark,
At length the rite is ending. All fall down Not with rough crag, but marble, and the work In earnest prayer, all of all ranks together; Of noblest architects. I linger'd still;
And, stretching out his hands, the holy man Nor struck my threshold, till the hour was come Proceeds to give the general benediction ; And past, when, flitting home in the gray light, When hark, a din of voices from without, The young Bianca found her father's door, And shrieks, and groans, and outcries as in battle; That door so often with a trembling hand, And lo, the door is burst, the curtain rent, So often—then so lately left ajar,
And armed ruffians, robbers from the deep, Shut; and, all terror, all perplexity,
Savage, uncouth, led on by Barbarigo, Now by her lover urged, now by her love,
And his six brothers in their coats of steel, Fled o'er the waters to return no more.
Are standing on the threshold! Statue-like,
A while they gaze on the fallen multitude,
Each with his sabre up, in act to strike;
Then, as at once recovering from the spell,
Rush forward to the altar, and as soon is to some grand solemnity. The fisher
Are gone again-amid no clash of arms Came from his islet, bringing o'er the waves
Bearing away the maidens and the treasures. His wife and little one; the husbandman
Where are they now ?--ploughing the distant From the firm land, along the Po, the Brenta,
waves, Crowding the common ferry. All arrived ; Their sails all set, and they upon the deck And in his straw the prisoner turn'd and listen'd, Standing triumphant. To the east they go, So great the stir in Venice. Old and young Steering for Istria ; their accursed barks Throng'd her three hundred bridges; the grave Turk, (Well are they known, the galliot and the galley) Turban'd, long vested, and the cozening Jew, Freighted with all that gives to life its value ! In yellow hat and threadbare gaberdine,
The richest argosies were poor to them! Hurrying along. For, as the custom was,
Now might you see the matrons running wild The noblest sons and daughters of the state, Along the beach; the men half arm’d and arming, They of patrician birth, the flower of Venice, One with a shield, one with a casque and spear; Whose names are written in the book of gold, One with an axe hewing the mooring-chain Were on that day to solemnize their nuptials. Of some old pinnace. Not a raft, a plank,
At noon, a distant murmur through the crowd, But on that day was drifting. In an hour Rising and rolling on, announced their coming;
Half Venice was afloat. But long before,
Frantic with grief and scorning all control,
And from the tower
Ha, 'tis the same, 'tis theirs ! from stern to prow Fell from beneath a starry diadem;
Hung with green boughs, she comes, she comes, reAnd on her dazzling neck a jewel shone,
storing Ruby, or diamond, or dark amethyst;
All that was lost. A jewell'd chain, in many a winding wreath,
Coasting, with narrow search, Wreathing her gold brocade.
Friuli-like a tiger in his spring,
Before the church, They had surprised the corsairs where they lay That venerable pile on the sea brink,
Sharing the spoil in blind security Another train they met, no strangers to them, And casting lots-had slain them, one and all, Brothers to some, and to the rest still dearer ;
All to the last, and sung them far and wide
Into the sea, their proper element;
Him first, as first in rank, whose name so long
Had hush'd the babes of Venice, and who yet,
Must sit and look on a beloved son Breathing a little, in his look retain'd
Suffering the Question. The fierceness of his soul.
Twice, to die in peace Thus were the brides To save a falling house, and turn the hearts Lost and recover'd; and what now remain'd Of his fell adversaries, those who now, But to give thanks ? Twelve breast-plates and Like hell-hounds in full cry, are running down twelve crowns,
His last of four, twice did he ask their leave Flaming with gems and gold, the votive offerings To lay aside the crown, and they refused him, of the young victors to their patron saint, An oath exacting, never more to ask it; Vow'd on the field of battle, were ere long And there he sits, a spectacle of wo, Laid at his feet; and to preserve for ever
By them, his rivals in the state, compellid, The memory of a day so full of change,
Such the refinement of their cruelty, From joy to grief, from grief to joy again, To keep the place he sigh'd for. Through many an age, as oft as it came round,
Once again 'Twas held religiously with all observance. The screw is turn'd; and, as it turns, the son The doge resign'd his crimson for pure ermine; Looks up, and, in a faint and broken accent, And through the city in a stately barge
Murmurs “My father !” the old man shrinks back, Of gold, were borne, with songs and symphonies, And in his mantle muffles up his face. Twelve ladies young and noble. Clad they were “ Art thou not guilty ?” says a voice, that once In bridal white with bridal ornaments,
Would greet the sufferer long before they met, Each in her glittering veil; and on the deck, And on his ear strike like a pleasant musicAs on a burnish'd throne, they glided by;
“ Art thou not guilty ?”—“No! indeed I am not !" No window or balcony but adorn'd
But all is unavailing. In that court With hangings of rich texture, not a roof
Groans are confessions ; patience, fortitude, But cover'd with beholders, and the air
The work of magic; and, released, upheld Vocal with joy. Onward they went, their oars For condemnation, from his father's lips dioving in concert with the harmony,
He hears the sentence,“ Banishment to Candia : Through the Rialto to the ducal palace ;
Death, if he leaves it.” And at a banquet there, served with due honour,
And the bark sets sail; Sate representing, in the eyes of all,
And he is gone from all he loves—for ever! Eyes not unwet, I ween, with grateful tears, His wife, his boys, and his disconsolate parents ! Their lovely ancestors, the brides of Venice. Gone in the dead of night-unseen of anyXVI.
Without a word, a look of tenderness,
To be call'd up, when, in his lonely hours,
He would indulge in weeping.
Like a ghost, What passes in that chamber. Now a sigh, Day after day, year after year he haunts And now a groan is heard. Then all is still. An ancient rampart, that o'erhangs the sea; Twenty are sitting as in judgment there;
Gazing on vacancy, and hourly starting Men who have served their country, and grown To answer to the watch—Alas, how changed gray
From him, the mirror of the youth of Venice, In governments and distant embassies,
In whom the slightest thing, or whim, or chance, Men eminent alike in war and peace ;
Did he but wear his doublet so and so, Such as in effigy shall long adorn
All follow'd ; at whose nuptials, when at length The walls of Venice—to show what she has been! He won that maid at once the fairest, noblest, Their garb is black, and black the arras is, A daughter of the house of Contarini, And sad the general aspect. Yet their looks That house as old as Venice, now among Are calm, are cheerful; nothing there like grief, Its ancestors in monumental brass Nothing or harsh or cruel. Still that noise, Numbering eight doges—to convey her home That low and dismal moaning.
The bàcentaur went forth; and thrice the sun
Half withdrawn, Shone on the chivalry, that, front to front, A little to the left, sits one in crimson,
And blaze on blaze reflecting, met and ranged, A venerable man, fourscore and upward.
To tournay in St. Mark's. Cold drops of sweat stand on his furrow'd brow,
But lo, at last, His hands are clench'd; his eyes half shut and Messengers come. He is recall’d: his heart glazed ;
Leaps at the tidings. He embarks: the boat His shrunk and wither'd limbs rigid as marble. Springs to the oar, and back again he goes-Tis Foscari, the doge. And there is one,
Into that very chamber! there to lie
And thence look up (five long, long years of grief 'Tis Giacomo, the blessing of his age,
Have not kill'd either) on his wretched sire, (Say, has he lived for this ?) accused of murder, Still in that seat—as though he had not left it, The murder of the senator Donato.
Immovable, enveloped in his mantle.
Great by the laws of Venice. Night and day, That gapes and gorges ; and the doge himself Brooding on what he had been, what he was
"Twas more than he could bear. His longing fits Death follow'd. From the hour he went, he spoke Thicken'd upon him. His desire for home Became a madness; and, resolved to go,
And in his dungeon, when he laid him down, If but to die, in his despair he writes
He sunk to rise no more. O, if there be A letter to Francesco, Duke of Milan,
Justice in heaven, and we are assured there is, Soliciting his influence with the state,
A day must come of ample retribution ! And drops it to be found. Would ye know all ? Then was thy cup, old man, full to o'erflowing. I have transgress'd, offended wilfully ;
But thou wert yet alive ; and there was one, And am prepared to suffer as I ought.
The soul and spring of all that enmity, But let me, let me, if but for an instant,
Who would not leave thee ; fastening on thy flank, (Ye must consent-for all of you are sons Hungering and thirsting, still unsatisfied Most of you husbands, fathers,) let me first One of a name illustrious as thine own! Indulge the natural feelings of a man,
One of the Ten! one of the Invisible Three! And, ere I die, if such my sentence be,
'Twas Loredano. Press to my heart ('tis all I ask of you)
When the whelps were gone,
And, leading on the pack he long had led,
The miserable pack that ever howl'd
Against fallen greatness, moved that Foscari A banish'd man-and for a year to breathe Be doge no longer ; urging his great age, The vapour of a dungeon.-But his prayer
His incapacity and nothingness; (What could they less ?) is granted.
Calling a father's sorrows in his chamber
In a hall Neglect of duty, anger, contumacy.
He was deposed,
Broken before him. But now nothing moved To meet him, and to part with him for ever! The meekness of his soul. All things alike! Time and their heavy wrongs had changed them | Among the six that came with the decree,
Foscari saw one he knew not, and inquired Him most! Yet when the wife, the mother look’a | His name. “I am the son of Marco Memmo." Again, 'twas he himself, 'twas Giacomo,
“ Ah,” he replied, “ thy father was my friend.” Their only hope, and trust, and consolation ! And now he goes. “It is the hour and past. And all clung round him, weeping bitterly ; I have no business here.”_" But wilt thou not Weeping the more, because they wept in vain. Avoid the gazing crowd? That way is private."
Unnerved, unsettled in his mind from long “ No! as I enter'd, so will I retire." And exquisite pain, he sobs aloud and cries, And leaning on his staff, he left the palace, Kissing the old man's cheek, “ Help me, my father! | His residence for four-and-thirty years, Let me, I pray thee, live once more among you : By the same staircase he came up in splendour, Let me go home.”_" My son," returns the doge, The staircase of the Giants. Turning round, Mastering a while his grief, “ if I may still When in the court below, he stopt and said, Call thee my son, if thou art innocent,
“My merits brought me hither. I depart, As I would fain believe,” but, as he speaks, Driven by the malice of my enemies.” He falls, “submit without a murmur.”
Then through the crowd withdrew, poor as he came,
Night, And in his gondola went off, unfollow' That to the world brought revelry, to them But by the sighs of them that dared not speak. Brought only food for sorrow. Giacomo
This journey was his last. When the bell rang, Embark'd—to die ; sent to an early grave
Next day, announcing a new doge to Venice, For thee, Erizzo, whose death-bed confession, It found him on his knees before the altar, “ He is most innocent! 'Twas I who did it!" Clasping his aged hands in earnest prayer; Came when be slept in peace. The ship, that saila And there he died. Ere half its task was done, Swift as the winds with his recall to honour, It
his knell. Bore back a lifeless corse. Generous as brave,
But whence the deadly hate Affection, kindness, the sweet offices
That caused all this—the hate of Loredano! Of love and duty, were to him as needful
It was a legacy his father left him, As was his daily bread ;- and to become
Who, but for Foscari, had reign'd in Venice, A by-word in the meanest mouths of Venice, And, like the venom in the serpent's bag, Bringing a stain on those who gave him life, Gather'd and grew! Nothing but turn'd to venom! On those, alas! now worse than fatherless In vain did Foscari suę for peace, for friendship, To be proclaim'd a ruffian, a night-stabber, Offering in marriage his fair Isabel. He on whom none before had breathed reproach— He changed not; with a dreadful piety, He lived but to disprove it. That hope lost, Studying revenge ! listening alone to those
Who taik'd of vengeance ; grasping by the band When he had done and settled with the world,
Indulged perhaps too long, cherish'd too fondly,
This was his chamber. 'Tis as when he left it; And added, " For the murder of my father.” As if he now were busy in his garden. Leaving a blank-to be fill'd up hereafter.
And this his closet. Here he sate and read. When Foscari's noble heart at length gave way, This was his chair; and in it, unobserved, He took the volume from the shelf again
Reading, or thinking of his absent friends, Calmiy, and with his pen fill'd up the blank, He pass'd away as in a quiet slumber. Inscribing, “ He has paid me.”
Peace to this region! Peace to all who dwell here.
Ye who sit, They know his value-every coming step, Brooding from day to day, from day to day That gathers round the children from their play, Chewing the bitter cud, and starting up
Would tell them if they knew not.—But could aught, As though the hour was come to whet your fangs, Ungentle or ungenerous, spring up And, like the Pisan,* gnaw the hairy scalp
Where he is sleeping; where, and in an age Of him who had offended—if ye must,
Of savage warfare and blind bigotry, Sit and brood on; but 0! forbear to teach
He cultured all that could refine, exalt;
Leading to better things?
Within that reverend tower, the Guirlandina,)
Enter the house-forget it not, I prayHe came to rest there. Nobles of the land, And look a while upon a picture there. Princes, and prelates mingled in his train,
'Tis of a lady in her earliest youth, Anxious by any act, while yet they could,
The last of that illustrious family ;
Done by Zampieri—but by whom I care not.
Gazes his fill, and comes and comes again,
That he may call it up, when far away.
She sits, inclining forward as to speak,
Her lips half open, and her finger up, Its vineyards of such great and old renown,
is though she said “ Beware!” her vest of gold Its castles, each with some romantic tale,
Broider'd with flowers, and clasp'd from head to foot, Vanishing fast-the pilot at the stern,
An emerald stone in every golden clasp;
And on her brow, fairer than alabaster,
But then her face,
So lovely, yet so arch, so full of mirth, Frail and uncouth, launch'd to return no more, The overflowings of an innocent heartSuch as a shipwreck'd man might hope to build, It haunts me still, though many a year has fled, Lrged by the love of home-when I descended Like some wild melody! 'Two long, long days' silence, suspense on board,
Alone it hangs It was to offer at thy fount, Valclusa,
Over a mouldering heir-loom, its companion, Entering the arch'd cave, to wander where An oaken chest, half eaten by the worm, Petrarch had wander'd, in a trance to sit
But richly carved by Antony of Trent Where in his peasant dress he loved to sit, With Scripture stories from the Life of Christ; Musing, reciting-on some rock moss-grown,
A chest that came from Venice, and had held
The ducal robes of some old ancestor
But don't forget the picture ; and you will not, Neglect to visit Arqua, where, at last,
When you have heard the tale they told me there.
She was an only child-her name Ginevra, * Count Ugolino.
The joy, the pride of an indulgent father ;