Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Before the storm because its breath is rough,

To thee, my country! whom before as now I loved and love, devote the mournful lyre

And melancholy gift high powers allow To read the future; and if now my fire Is not as once it shone o'er thee, forgive! I but foretell thy fortunes- - then expire; Think not that I would look on them and live.

30

A spirit forces me to see and speak, And for my guerdon grants not to survive;

My heart shall be pour'd over thee and break.

Yet for a moment, ere I must resume Thy sable web of sorrow, let me take Over the gleams that flash athwart thy gloom

A softer glimpse. Some stars shine through thy night,

And many meteors, and above thy tomb Leans sculptured Beauty, which Death cannot blight;

40

And from thine ashes boundless spirits rise

To give thee honour and the earth delight; Thy soil shall still be pregnant with the wise, The gay, the learn'd, the generous, and the brave,

Native to thee as summer to thy skies, Conquerors on foreign shores and the far

[blocks in formation]

Such as all they must breathe who are debased

60

By servitude and have the mind in prison. Yet through this centuried eclipse of woe Some voices shall be heard, and earth shall listen;

Poets shall follow in the path I show, And make it broader; the same brilliant sky

Which cheers the birds to song shall bid them glow,

And raise their notes as natural and high; Tuneful shall be their numbers; they shall sing

Many of love, and some of liberty, But few shall soar upon that eagle's wing, And look in the sun's face with eagle's

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

462

He sings, as the Athenian spoke, with
pebbles

In 's mouth, lest truth should stammer
through his strain.

But out of the long file of sonneteers
There shall be some who will not sing in
vain,

And he, their prince, shall rank among my
peers,

100

And love shall be his torment; but his
grief

Shall make an immortality of tears,
And Italy shall hail him as the Chief

Of Poet-lovers, and his higher song
Of Freedom wreathe him with as green
a leaf.

But in a farther age shall rise along
The banks of Po two greater still than
he;

The world which smiled on him shall do
them wrong

Till they are ashes and repose with me.
The first will make an epoch with his
lyre,

110

And fill the earth with feats of chivalry:
His fancy like a rainbow, and his fire,
Like that of Heaven, immortal, and his
thought

Borne onward with a wing that cannot
tire:
Pleasure shall, like a butterfly new caught,
Flutter her lovely pinions o'er his theme,
And Art itself seem into Nature wrought
By the transparency of his bright dream.

The second, of a tenderer, sadder mood,
Shall pour his soul out o'er Jerusalem. 120
He, too, shall sing of arms and Christian
blood

Shed where Christ bled for man; and his high harp

Shall, by the willow over Jordan's flood, Revive a song of Sion: and the sharp

Conflict, and final triumph of the brave And pious, and the strife of hell to warp Their hearts from their great purpose, until

wave

The red-cross banners where the first red
Cross

Was crimson'd from his veins who died to save,

Shall be his sacred argument. The loss 130 Of years, of favour, freedom, even of fame

Contested for a time, while the smooth gloss

[blocks in formation]

Torture enough without a living tomb?
Yet it will be so; he and his compeer,
The Bard of Chivalry, will both con-

sume

150

In

penury and pain too many a year, And, dying in despondency, bequeath To the kind world, which scarce will yield a tear,

A heritage enriching all who breathe

With the wealth of a genuine poet's soul, And to their country a redoubled wreath Unmatch'd by time (not Hellas can unroll Through her olympiads two such names, though one

Of hers be mighty);-and is this the whole Of such men's destiny beneath the sun? 160 Must all the finer thoughts, the thrilling

sense,

The electric blood with which their arteries run,

Their body's self turn'd soul with the intense

Feeling of that which is, and fancy of
That which should be, to such a recom-

pense
Conduct? shall their bright plumage on the
rough
Storm be still scatter'd? Yes, and it
must be;

[blocks in formation]

Than those who are degraded by the jars Of passion, and their frailties link'd to fame,

Conquerors of high renown but full of

Their thoughts to meaner beings; they compress'd

The god within them, and rejoin'd the

stars

Unlaurell'd upon earth, but far more bless'd

scars.

Many are poets but without the name,
For what is poesy but to create

From overfeeling good or ill; and aim
At an external life beyond our fate,

And be the new Prometheus of new men, Bestowing fire from heaven, and then, too late,

Finding the pleasure given repaid with pain And vultures to the heart of the bestower, Who, having lavish'd his high gift in vain,

Lies chain'd to his lone rock by the seashore ?

So be it: we can bear. But thus all they

20

Whose intellect is an o'ermastering power Which still recoils from its encumbering clay

Or lightens it to spirit, whatsoe❜er
The form which their creations may es-

10

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Florence! when this lone spirit shall re

turn

To kindred spirits, thou wilt feel my worth,

And seek to honour with an empty urn
The ashes thou shalt ne'er obtain
Alas!
What have I done to thee, my people?'
Stern

Are all thy dealings, but in this they pass
The limits of man's common malice, for
All that a citizen could be I was;
Raised by thy will, all thine in peace or war,
And for this thou hast warr'd with me.
"T is done:

I may not overleap the eternal bar Built up between us, and will die alone, Beholding with the dark eye of a seer The evil days to gifted souls foreshown, Foretelling them to those who will not hear, As in the old time, till the hour be come When Truth shall strike their eyes through many a tear, And make them own the Prophet in his tomb.

151

140

THE MORGANTE MAGGIORE

OF PULCI

ADVERTISEMENT

The Morgante Maggiore, of the first canto of which this translation is offered, divides with the Orlando:Innamorato the honour of having formed and suggested the style and story of Ariosto. The great defects of Boiardo were his treating too seriously the narratives of chivalry, and his harsh style. Ariosto, in his continuation, by a judicious mixture of the gaiety of Pulci, has avoided the one; and Berni, in his reformation of Boiardo's poem, has corrected the other. Pulci may be considered as the precursor and model of Berni altogether, as he has partly been to Ariosto, however inferior to both his copyists. He is no less the founder of England. I allude to that of the ingenious a new style of poetry very lately sprung up in Whistlecraft. The serious poems on Roncesvalles in the same language, and more particularly the excellent one of Mr. Merivale, are to be traced to the same source. It has never yet been decided entirely whether Pulci's intention was or was not to deride the religion which is one of his favourite topics. It appears to me, that such an intention would have been no less hazardous to the poet than to the priest, particularly in that age and country; and the permission to publish the poem, and its reception among the classics of Italy, prove that it neither was nor is so interpreted. That he intended to ridicule the monastic life, and suffered his imagination to play with the simple dulness of his converted giant, seems evident enough; but surely it were as unjust to accuse him of irreligion on this account, as to denounce Fielding for his Parson Adams, Barnabas, Thwackum, Supple, and the Ordinary in Jonathan Wild, - -or Scott, for the exquisite use of his Covenanters in the Tales of my Landlord.

In the following translation I have used the liberty of the original with the proper names; as Pulci uses Gan, Ganellon, or Ganellone; Carlo, Carlomagno, or Carlomano; Rondel, or Rondello, etc., as it suits his convenience; so has the translator. In other respects the version is faithful to the best of the translator's ability in combining his interpretation of the one language with the not very easy task of reducing it to the same versification in the other. The reader, on comparing it with the original, is requested to remember that the antiquated language of Pulci, however pure, is not easy to the generality of Italians themselves, from its great mixture of Tuscan proverbs; and he

« AnteriorContinuar »