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That feeling to express, or to improve,
The gods become as mortals, and man's fate : ..
Has moments like their brightest, but the weight :
Of earth recoils upon us ;-let it go!
We can recal such visions, and create,
From what has been, or might be, things which grow Into the statue's form, and look like gods below.
LIII. ;. .
I leave to learned fingers, and wise hands,
The artist and his ape , to teach and tell
How well his connoisseurship understands
The graceful bend, and the voluptuous swell :
Let these describe the undescribable : '
I would not their vile breath should crisp the stream
Wherein that image shall for ever dwell; .
The unruffled mirror of the loveliest dream
That ever left the sky, on the deep soul to beam.'
In Santa Croce's holy precincts lie 24
Ashes which make it holier, dust which is ..
Even in itself an immortality,
Though there were nothing save the past, and this,
The particle of those sublimities
Which have relaps’d to chaos :-here repose i. .
Angelo's, Alfieri's bones, and his , 25
The starry Galileo, with his woes; Here Machiavelli's earth , return'd to whence it rose. 26
These are four minds, which the elements,
Might furnish forth creation :-Italy !
Time, which liath wrong'd thee with ten thousands rents
Of thine imperial garment, shall deny,
And hath denied , to every other sky,
Spirits which soar from ruin:-thy decay
Is still impregnate with divinity, .
Which gilds it with revivifying ray;
Such as the great of yore , Canova-is to-day.
But where repose the all Etruscan three-
Dante , and Petrarch , and , scarce less than they,
The Bard of Prose , creative spirit ! he
Of the Hundred Tales of love-where did they lay
Their bones, distinguish’d from our common clay
In death as life ? Are they resolv'd to dust,
And have their country's marbles nought to say ?
Could not her quarries furnish forth one bust?
Did they not to her breast, their filial earth entrust?
Ungrateful Florence ! Dante sleeps afar , 27
Like Scipio, buried by the upbraiding shore; 28
Thy factions, in their worse than civil war,
Proscribed the bard whose name for evermore
Their children's children would in vain adore
With the remorse of ages; and the crown 29
Which Petrarch’s laureate brow supremely wore ,
Upon a far and foreign soil had grown,
His life, his fame , his grave, though rifled---not thine own,
Boccaccio to his parent earth bequeathed 30
His dust ,--and lies it not her Great among,
With many a sweet and solemn requiem breath'd
O’er him who form'd the Tuscan's syren tongue?
That music in itself, whose sounds are song ,
The poetry of speech ? No;—even his tomb
Uptorn, must bear the hyæna bigot's wrong,
No more anidst the meaner dead, find room,
Nor claim a passing sigh, because it told for whom!
And Santa Croce wants their mighty dust;
Yet for this want more noted , as of yore
The Cæsar's pageant, shorn of Brutus' bust,
Did but of Rome's best Son remind her more:
Happier Ravenna! on thy hoary shore,
Fortress of falling empire ! honoured sleeps
The immortal exile ;--Arqua, too, her store
Of tuneful relics proudly claims and keeps ,
While Florence vainly begs, her banish'd dead, and weeps.
What is her pyramid of precious stones ? 31
Of porphyry , jaspar , agate, and all hues
Of gem and marble , to encrust the bones
Of merchant-dukes? the momentary dews
Which , sparkling to the twilight stars , infuse
Freshness in the green turf that wraps the dead,
Whose names are mausoleums of the Muse,
Are gently prest with far more reverent tread
Than ever paced the slab, which paves the princely head.
There be more things to greet the heart and eyes
In Arno's dome of Art's most princely shrine ,
Where Sculpture with her rainbow sister vies;
There be more marvels yet—but not for mine;
For I have been accustomed to entwine
My thoughts with Nature rather in the fields, .
Than Art in galleries : though a work divine
Calls for my spirit's homage, yet it yields
Less than it feels, because the weapon which it wields
Is of another temper, and I roam
By Thrasimene's lake, in the defiles
Fatal to Roman rashness, more at home;
For these the Carthaginian's warlike wiles
Come back before me, as his skill beguiles
The host between the mountains and the shore,
Where Courage falls in her despairing files,
And torrents, swoln to rivers with their gore,
Reek through the sultry plain, with legions scatter'd o'er.
Like to a forest fell’d by mountain winds ;
And such the storm of battle on this day,
And such the phrenzy. whose convulsion blinds
To all save carnage, that, beneath the fray,
An earthquake reeld unheededly away! 32
None felt stern Nature rocking at his feet,
And yawning forth a grave for those who lay
Upon their bucklers for a winding sheet;
Such is the absorbing hate, when warring nations meel!
The Earth to them was as a rolling bark
Which bore them to Eternity; they saw
The Ocean round, but had no time to mark
The motions of their vessel; Nature's law,
In them suspended, reck'd not of the awe
Which reigns when mountains tremble , and the birds
Plunge in the clouds for refuge and withdraw
From their down-topping nests, and bellowing herds Stumble o'er heaving plains, and man's dread hath no words.
Far other scene is Thrasimene now;
Her fake a sheet of silver, and her plain
Rent by no ravage save the gentle plough;
Her aged trees rise thick as once the slain