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The master-mould of Nature's heavenly hand,
Wherein were cast the heroic and the free ,
The beautiful, the brave-the lords of earth and sea,
The commonwealth of kings , the men of Rome !
And even since, and now, fair Italy ?
Thou art the garden of the world, the home
Of all Art yields, and, Nature can decree;
Even in thy desert, what is like to thee ?
Thy very weeds are beautiful, thy waste
More rich than other climes' fertility ;
Thy wreck a glory , and thy ruin graced
With an immaculate charm, which cannot be defaced.
The Moon is up, and yet it is not night-
Sun-set divides the sky with her-a sea
Of glory streams along the Alpine height
Of blue Friuli's mountains; Heaven is free
From clouds, but of all colours seems to be
Melted to one vast Iris of the West,
Where the Day joins the past Eternity;
While, on the other hand, meek Dian's crest Floats through the azure air-an island of the blest!
XXVIII. A single star is at her side, and reigns With her o'er half the lovely heaven ; but still 11
Yon sunny sea heaves brightly, and remains
Rolld o'er the peak of the far Rhætian hill,
As Day and Night contending were, until
Nature reclaim'd her order :-gently flows
The deep-dyed Brenta, where their hues instil
The odorous purple of a new-born rose ,
Which streams upon her stream, and glass'd within it glows,
Filld with the face of heaven, which , from afar,
Comes down upon the waters ; all its hues,
From the rich sun-set to the rising star,
Their magical variety diffuse :
And now they change ; a paler shadow strews
Its mantle o'er the mountains ; parting day
Dies like the Dolphin, whom each pang imbues
With a new colour as it gasps away,
The last still loveliest, till—'tis gone—and all is grey.
There is a tomb in Arqua;-rear'd in air,
Pillar'd in their sarcophagus, repose
The bones of Laura's lover: here repair
Many familiar with his well-sung woes,
The pilgrims of his genius. He arose
To raise a language, and his land reclaim
From the dull yoke of her barbaric foes :
Watering the tree which bears his lady's name 12
With his melodious tears, he gave himself to fame.
*XXI. They keep his dust in Arqua, where he died; 13 The mountain-village where his latter days Went down the vale of years, and 'tis their pride An honest pride and let it be their praise, To offer to the passing stranger's gaze His mansion and his sepulchre; both plain And venerably simple, such as raise
A feeling more accordant with his strain
Than if a pyramid form’d, his monumental fane.
And the soft quiet hamlet where he dwelt
Is one of that complexion which seems made
For those who their mortality have felt,
And sought a refuge from their hopes decay'd
In the deep umbrage of a green hill's shade,
Which shows a distant prospect far away
Of busy cities, now in vain display'd,
For they can lure no further; and the ray
Of a bright sun, can make sufficient holiday
XXXIII. Developing the mountains, leaves, and flowers, And shining in the brawling brook, where-by, Clear as its current, glide the sauntering hours With a calm languor , which, though to the eye Idles it seems, hath its morality,
If from society we learn to live,
'Tis solitude should teach us how to die;
It hath no flatlerers; vanity can give
No hollow aid; alone-man with his God must strive :
Or, it may be, with demons, who impair 14
The strength of better thoughts, and seek their prey
In melancholy bosoms, such as were
Of moody texture from their earliest day;
And loved to dwell in darkness and dismay,
Deeming themselves predestin'd to a doom
Which is not of the pangs that pass away;
Making the sun like blood , the earth a tomb,
The tomb a hell, and hell itself a murkier gloom.
FERRARA ! in thy wide and grass-grown streets,
Whose symmetry was not for solitude,
There seems as 'twere a curse upon the seats
Of former sovereigns, and the antique brood
Of Este, which for many an age made good
Its strength within thy walls, and was of yore
Patron or tyrant, as the changing mood
Of petty power impelld, of those who wore :
The wreath which Dante's, brow alone had worn before.
And Tasso is their glory and their shame..
Hark to his strain ! and then survey his cell!
And see how dearly earn’d Torquato's fame,
And where Alfonso bade his poet dwell:
The miserable despot could not quell
The insulted mind he sought to quench , and blend
With the surrounding maniacs, in the hell
Where he had plung’d it. Glory without end
Scatter'd the clouds away-and on that name attend
The tears and praises of all time; while thine
Would rot in its oblivion-in the sink
Of worthless dust, which from thy boasted line
Is shaken into nothing; but the link
Thou formest in his fortunes, bids us think
Of thy poor malice , naming thee with scorn-
Alfonso ! how thy ducal pageants shrink :
From thee ! if in another station born,
Scarce fit to be the slave, Of him thou mad'st to mourn:
XXXVIII. .. Thou ! form’d to eat, and be despis’d and die, Even as the beasts that perish , save that thou Hadst a more splendid trough and wider sty: He: with a glory round his furrow'd brow, Which emanated then, and dazzles now In face of all his foes, thee Cruscan quire ; And Boileau, whose rash envy could allow 15 No strain which shamed his country's creaking lyre, That whetstone of the teeth—monotony in wire !