Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]

Nor perish like Heaven's children with man's daugh- Its mother's.-Let the coming chaos chafe



The tempest cometh; heaven and earth unite

For the annihilation of all life.

Unequal is the strife

Between our strength and the eternal might!

With all its elements! Heed not their din!

A brighter world than this, where thou shalt breathe Ethereal life, will we explore:

These darken'd clouds are not the only skies.

[AZAZIEL and SAMIASA fly off, and disapper with ANAH and AHOLIBAMAH.


The corpses of the world of thy young days:

Thy song of praise!

They are gone! They have disappear'd amidst the roar Then to Jehovah raise
Of the forsaken world; and never more,
Whether they live, or die with all earth's life,
Now near its last, can aught restore

Anah unto these eyes.

Chorus of Mortals.

Oh son of Noah! mercy on thy kind!
What, wilt thou leave us all-all-all behind?
While safe amidst the elemental strife,
Thou sit'st within thy guarded ark?

A MOTHER (offering her infant to Japhet).

Oh let this child embark!

I brought him forth in woe,

But thought it joy

To see him to my bosom clinging so.
Why was he born?

What hath he done

My unwean'd son

To move Jehovah's wrath or scorn?

What is there in this milk of mine, that death Should stir all heaven and earth up to destroy

My boy,

And roll the waters o'er his placid breath?
Save him, thou seed of Seth!

Or cursed be-with Him who made

Thee and thy race, for which we are betray'd!


Peace! 'tis no hour for curses, but for prayer!

Chorus of Mortals.

For prayer!!!

And where

Shall prayer ascend,

When the swoln clouds unto the mountains bend

And burst,

And gushing oceans every barrier rend,

Until the very deserts know no thirst?


Be He, who made thee and thy sire!

We deem our curses vain; we must expire;

But, as we know the worst,

Why should our hymns be raised, our knees be bent Before the implacable Omnipotent,

Since we must fall the same?

If He hath made earth, let it be His shame,

To make a world for torture:-Lo! they come,
The loathsome waters in their rage!

And with their roar make wholesome nature dumb!
The forest's trees (coeval with the hour
When paradise upsprung,

Ere Eve gave Adam knowledge for her dower, Or Adam his first hymn of slavery sung),

So massy, vast, yet green in their old age,
Are overtopp'd,

Their summer blossoms by the surges lopp'd,
Which rise, and rise, and rise.

Vainly we look up to the louring skies

They meet the seas,

And shut out God from our beseeching eyes.

Fly, son of Noah, fly, and take thine ease

Lu thine allotted ocean-tent;

And view all floating o'er the element,

A WOMAN. Blessed are the dead

Who die in the Lord!

And though the waters be o'er earth outspread, Yet, as His word,

Be the decree adored!

He gave me life-He taketh but

The breath which is His own:

And though these eyes should be for ever shut, Nor longer this weak voice before His throne Be heard in supplicating tone,

Still blessed be the Lord,

For what is past,

For that which is:

For all are His,

From first to last


The vast known and immeasurable unknown.

He made, and can unmake;

And shall 1, for a little gasp of breath, Blaspheme and groan?

No; let me die, as I have lived, in faith, Nor quiver, though the universe may quake!

[blocks in formation]

The Prophecy of Dante.

'Tis the sunset of life gives me mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadows before.



LADY! if for the cold and cloudy clime
Where I was born, but where I would not die,
Of the great poet-sire of Italy

I dare to build the imitative rhyme,
Harsh Runic copy of the South's sublime,
THOU art the cause; and, howsoe'er I
Fall short of his immortal harmony,
Thy gentle heart will pardon me the crime.
Thou, in the pride of beauty and of youth,

Spakest; and for thee to speak and be obey'd
Are one; but only in the sunny South

Such sounds are utter'd, and such charms display'd,

So sweet a language from so fair a mouth-
Ah! to what effort would it not persuade?
Ravenna, June 21, 1819.


In the course of a visit to the city of Ravenna, in the summer of 1819, it was suggested to the author that, having composed something on the subject of Tasso's confinement, he should do the same on Dante's exile the tomb of the poet forming one of the principal objects of interest in that city, both to the native and to the stranger.

"On this hint I spake," and the result has been the following four cantos, in terza rima, now offered to the

into Italian versi sciolti-that is, a poem written in the | Spenserean stanza into blank verse, without regard to the natural divisions of the stanza, or of the sense. If the present poem, being on a national topic, should chance to undergo the same fate, I would request the Italian reader to remember, that when I have failed in the imitation of his great "Padre Alighier," I have failed in imitating that which all study and few understand, since to this very day it is not yet settled what was the meaning of the allegory in the first canto of the Inferno, unless Count Marchetti's ingenious and probable conjecture may be considered as having decided the question.


not quite sure that he would be pleased with my sucmay also pardon my failure the more, as I am cess, since the Italians, with a pardonable nationality, are particularly jealous of all that is left them as a nation-their literature; and, in the present bitterness of the classic and romantic war, are but ill disposed to permit a foreigner even to approve or imitate them, without finding some fault with his ultramontane presumption. I can easily enter into all this, knowing what would be thought in England of an Italian imitator of Milton, or if a translation of Monti, or Pindemonte, or Arici, should be held up to the rising generation, as a model for their future poetical essays. But I perceive that I am deviating into an address to the Italian reader, when my business is with the English one, and, be they few or many, I must take my leave of both.



reader. If they are understood and approved, it is my PROPHECY OF DANTE. purpose to continue the poem in various other cantos to its natural conclusion in the present age. The reader is requested to suppose that Dante addresses him in the interval between the conclusion of the Divina Commedia and his death, and shortly before the latter event, foretelling the fortunes of Italy in general in the ensuing centuries. In adopting this plan, I have had in my mind the Cassandra of Lycophron, and the Prophecy of Nereus by Horace, as well as the Prophecies of Holy Writ. The measure adopted is the terza rima of Dante, which I am not aware to have seen hitherto tried in our language, except it may be by Mr. Hayley, of whose translation I never saw but one extract, quoted in the notes of Caliph Vathek; so that-if I do not err-this poem may be considered as a metrical experiment. The cantos are short, and about the same length of those of the poet whose name I have borrowed, and most probably taken in vain.

Amongst the inconveniences of authors in the present day, it is difficult for any who have a name, good or bad, to escape translation. I have had the fortune see the fourth canto of Childe Harold translated 63

2 R2

ONCE more in man's frail world! which I had left
So long that 't was forgotten; and I feel
The weight of clay again,-too soon bereft
Of the immortal vision which could heal
My earthly sorrows, and to God's own skies
Lift me from that deep gulf without repeal,
Where late my ears rung with the damned cries
Of souls in hopeless bale; and from that place
Of lesser torment, whence men may arise
Pure from the fire to join the angelic race;
'Midst whom my own bright Beatrice bless'd'
My spirit with her light; and to the base
Of the Eternal Triad! first, last, best,
Mysterious, three, sole, infinite, great God!
Soul universal! led the mortal guest,
Unblasted by the glory, though he trod
From star to star to reach the almighty throne.
Oh Beatrice! whose sweet limbs the sod

So long hath press'd, and the cold marble stone,
Thou sole pure seraph of my earliest love,
Love so ineffable, and so alone,

That nought on earth could more my bosom move,
And meeting thee in heaven was but to meet
That without which my soul, like the arkless dove,
Had wander'd still in search of, nor her feet

Relieved her wing till found; without thy light
My paradise had still been incomplete.2
Since my tenth sun gave summer to my sight
Thou wert my life, the essence of my thought,
Loved ere I knew the name of love, and bright
Still in these dim old eyes, now overwrought

With the world's war, and years, and banishment,
And tears for thee, by other woes untaught;
For mine is not a nature to be bent

By tyrannous faction, and the brawling crowd; And though the long, long conflict hath been spent In vain, and never more, save when the cloud Which overhangs the Apennine, my mind's eye Pierces to fancy Florence, once so proud Of me, can I return, though but to die,

Unto my native soil, they have not yet Quench'd the old exile's spirit, stern and high. But the sun, though not overcast, must set,

And the night cometh; I am old in days, And deeds, and contemplation, and have met Destruction face to face in all his ways.

The world hath left me, what it found me-pure, And if I have not gather'd yet its praise, I sought it not by any baser lure; Man wrongs, and Time avenges, and my name May form a monument not all obscure, Though such was not my ambition's end er aim, To add to the vain-glorious list of those Who dabble in the pettiness of fame, And make men's fickle breath the wind that blows Their sail, and deem it glory to be class'd With conquerors, and virtue's other foes, In bloody chronicles of ages past.

I would have had my Florence great and free :3 Oh Florence! Florence! unto me thou wast Like that Jerusalem which the Almighty He Wept over: "but thou wouldst not ;" as the bird Gathers its young, I would have gather'd thee Beneath a parent pinion, hadst thou heard

My voice; but as the adder, deaf and fierce, Against the breast that cherish'd thee was stirr'd Thy venom, and my state thou didst amerce, And doom this body forfeit to the fire. Alas! how bitter is his country's curse To him who for that country would expire, But did not merit to expire by her,

And loves her, loves her even in her ire. The day may come when she will cease to err, The day may come she would be proud to have The dust she dooms to scatter, and transfer Of him, whom she denied a home, the grave. But this shall not be granted; let my dust Lie where it falls; nor shall the soil which gave Me breath, but in her sudden fury thrust

Me forth to breathe elsewhere, so reassume
My indignant bones, because her angry gust
Forsooth is over, and repeal'd her doom.

No, she denied me what was mine-my roof,
And shall not have what is not hers-my tomb.

Toc long her armed wrath hath kept aloof
The breast which would have bled for her, the heart
That beat, the mind that was temptation-proof,
The man who fought, toil'd, travell'd, and each part
Of a true citizen fulfill'd, and saw

For his reward the Gucif's ascendant art
Pass his destruction even into a law.
These things are not made for forgetfulness-
Florence shall be forgotten first; too raw
The wound, too deep the wrong, and the distress
Of such endurance too prolong'd, to make
My pardon greater, her injustice less,
Though late repented; yet-yet for her sake
I feel some fonder yearnings, and for thine,
My own Beatrice, I would hardly take
Vengeance upon the land which once was mine,
And still is hallowed by thy dust's return,
Which would protect the murderess like a shrine,
And save ten thousand foes by thy sole urn.

Though, like old Marius from Minturnæ's marsh And Carthage' ruins, my lone breast may burn At times with evil feelings hot and harsh,

And sometimes the last pangs of a vile foe
Writhe in a dream before me, and o'er-arch
My brow with hopes of triumph,-let them go!
Such are the last infirmities of those
Who long have sufr'd more than mortal woe,
And yet, being morta still, have no repose

But on the pillow of Revenge-Revenge,
Who sleeps to dream of blood, and waking glows
With the oft-baffled, slakeless thirst of change,
When we shall mount again, and they that trod
Be trampled on, while Death and Até range
O'er humbled heads and sever'd necks-Great God!
Take these thoughts from me-to thy hands I yield
My many wrongs, and thine almighty rod
Will fall on those who smote me,-be my shield!
As thou hast been in peril, and in pain,
In turbulent cities, and the tented field-
In toil, and many troubles borne in vain
For Florence.-I appeal from her to Thee!
Thee, whom I late saw in thy loftiest reign,
Even in that glorious vision, which to see
And live was never granted until now,
And yet thou hast permitted this to me.
Alas! with what a weight upon my brow

The sense of earth and earthly things comes back. Corrosive passions, feelings dull and low, The heart's quick throb upon the mental rack, Long day, and dreary night; the retrospect Of half a century bloody and black, And the frail few years I may yet expect Hoary and hopeless, but less hard to bear; For I have been too long and deeply wreck'd

On the lone rock of desolate despair

To lift my eyes more to the passing sail
Which shuns that reef so horrible and bare;

Nor raise my voice-for who would heed my wail?
I am not of this people, nor this age,

And yet my harpings will unfold a tale
Which shall preserve these times, when not a page

Of their perturbed annals could attract
An eye to gaze upon their civil rage,

Did not my verse embalm full many an act
Worthless as they who wrought it: 't is the doom
Of spirits of my order to be rack'd

in life, to wear their hearts out, and consume
Their days in endless strife, and die alone;
Then future thousands crowd around their tomb,
And pilgrims come from climes where they have known
The name of him-who now is but a name.
And wasting homage o'er the sullen stone
Spread his -by him unheard, unheeded-fame;
And mine at least hath cost me dear: to die
Is nothing; but to wither thus-to tame
My mind down from its own infinity-

To live in narrow ways with little men,
A common sight to every common eye,

A wanderer, while even wolves can find a den,
Ripp'd from all kindred, from all home, all things
That make communion sweet, and soften pain—
To feel me in the solitude of kings,

This shalt thou owe to him thou didst so wrong,
Thy Tuscan bard, the banish'd Ghibelline.
Woe! woe! the veil of coming centuries
Is rent, a thousand years, which yet supine
Lie like the ocean waves ere winds arise,
Heaving in dark and sullen undulation,
Float from eternity into these eyes;

The storms yet sleep, the clouds still keep their station,
The unborn earthquake yet is in the womb,
The bloody chaos yet expects creation,

But all things are disposing for thy doom;
The elements await but for the word,

"Let there be darkness!" and thou grow'st a tomb!
Yes! thou, so beautiful, shalt feel the sword,
Thou, Italy! so fair that paradise,

Revived in thee, blooms forth to man restored:

Without the power that makes them bear a crown-Ah! must the sons of Adam lose it twice?

To envy every dove his nest and wings
Which waft him where the Apennine looks down
On Arno, till he perches, it may be,
Within my all-inexorable town,

Where yet my boys are, and that fatal she,'

Their mother, the cold partner who hath brought
Destruction for a dowry-this to see
And feel, and know without repair, hath taught
A bitter lesson; but it leaves me free:
I have not vilely found, nor basely sought,-
They made an exile-not a slave of me.


THE spirit of the fervent days of old,

Thou, Italy! whose ever-golden fields,
Plough'd by the sunbeams solely, would suffice
For the world's granary; thou whose sky heaven gilds
With brighter stars, and robes with deeper blue;
Thou, in whose pleasant places summer builds
Her palace, in whose cradle empire grew,

And form'd the eternal city's ornaments
From spoils of kings whom freemen overthrew ;
Birth-place of heroes, sanctuary of saints,

Where earthly first, then heavenly glory made
Her home; thou, all which fondest fancy paints,
And finds her prior vision but portray'd

In feeble colours, when the eye-from the Alp
Of horrid show, and rock and shaggy shade
Of desert-loving pine, whose emerald scalp

Nods to the storm-dilates and dotes o'er thee,
And wistfully implores, as 't were, for help

When words were things that came to pass, and To see thy sunny fields, my Italy,


Flasn'd o'er the future, bidding men behold
Their children's children's doom already brought
Forth from the abyss of time which is to be,
The chaos of events, where lie half-wrought
Shapes that must undergo mortality;

What the great seers of Israel wore within,
That spirit was on them, and is on me,
And if, Cassandra-like, amidst the din

Of conflict none will hear, or hearing heed,
This voice from out the wilderness, the sin
Be theirs, and my own feelings be my meed,
The only guerdon I have ever known.
Hast thou not bled? and hast thou still to bleed,
Italia? Ah! to me such things, foreshown
With dim sepulchral light, bid me forg, t
In thine irreparable wrongs my own;
We can have but one country, and even vet

Thou 'rt mine-my bones shall be wit in thy breast,
My soul within thy language, which cace set
With our old Roman sway in the wide west;

But I will make another tongue arise
As lofty and more sweet, in which exprest
he hero's ardour, or the lover's sighs,
Shall find alike such sounds for every theme
That every word, as brilliant as thy skies,
Shall realize a poet's proudest dream,

And make thee Europe's nightingale of song;
So that all present speech to thine shall seem
The note of meaner birds, and every tongue
Confess its barbarism when compared with thine.

Nearer and nearer yet, and dearer still

The more approach'd, and dearest were they free,
Thou-thou must wither to each tyrant's will:
The Goth hath been,-the German, Frank, and Hun,
Are yet to come,—and on the Imperial hill
Ruin, already proud of the deeds done

By the old barbarians, there awaits the new,
Throned on the Palatine, while, lost and won,
Rome at her fect lies bleeding; and the hue
Of human sacrifice and Roman slaughter
Troubles the clotted air, of late so blue,
And deepens into red the saffron water

Of Tiber, thick with dead; the helpless priest,
And still more helpless nor less holy daughter,
Vow'd to their god, have shrieking fled, and ceased
Their ministry: the nations take their prey,
Iberian, Almain, Lombard, and the beast
And bird, wolf, vulture, more humane than they
Are; these but gorge the flesh and lap the gore
Of the departed, and then go their way;
But those, the human savages, explore

All paths of torture, and insatiate yet
With Ugolino hunger prowl for more.

Nine moons shall rise o'er scenes like this and set;
The chiefless army of the dead, which late
Beneath the traitor prince's banner met,
Hath left its leader's ashes at the gate;

Had but the royal rebel lived, perchance
Thou hadst been spared, but his involved thy fave
Oh! Rome, the spoiler of the spoil of France,
From Brennus to the Bourbon, never, never

« AnteriorContinuar »