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On this hint I spake,' and the result hias been the following four cantos, in terza rima, now offered to the reader. If they are understood and approved, it is my 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 to 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 to see the fourth canto of Childe Harold' translated 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 poein, 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 inay be considered as having decided the question.
He may also pardon my failure the more, as I am not quite sure that he would be pleased with my success, 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 initate 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.
CANTO THE FIRST.
Once more in man's frail world! which I had left Since my tenth sun gave summer to my sight
Thou wert my life, the essence of my thought, The weight of clay again,—too soon bereft
Loved ere I knew the name of love, and bright Of the inmortal vision which could heal
Still in these dim old eyes, now overwrought My earthly sorrows, and to God's own skies With the world's war, and years, and banishment, Lift me froin that deep gulf without repeal,
And tears for thee, by other woes untaught; Where late my ears rung with the damned cries For mine is not a nature to be bent
Of souls in hopeless bale; and from that place By tyrannous faction, and the brawling crowd. Of lesser torment, whence men may arise
And though the long, long conflict hath been spent Pure from the fire to join the angelic race;
In vain,--and never more, save when the cloud Midst whom my own bright Beatrice* bless'd Which overhangs the Apennine my mind's cye My spirit with her light; and to the base
Pierces to fancy Florence, once so proud Of the eternal Triad ! first, last, best,
Of ine, can I return, though but to die, Mysterious, three, sole, infinite, great God!
Unto my native soil--they have not yet Soul universal! led the mortal guest,
Quench'd the old exile's spirit, stern and high. Unblasted by the glory, though he trod
But the sun, though not overcast, must set, From star to star to reach the almighty throne. And the night cometh ; I am old in days, Oh Beatrice ! whose sweet limbs the sod
And deeds, and contemplation, and have met So long hath press'd, and the cold marble stone, Destruction face to face in all his ways, Thou sole pure seraph of my earliest love,
The world hath left me, what it found me, pure, Love so ineffable, and so alone,
And if I have not gather'd yet its praise, That nought on earth could more my bosom more, I sought it not by any baser lure;
And meeting thee in heaven was but to meet Man wrongs, and Time avenges, and my name
That without which my soul, like the arkless dove, May form a momiment not all obscure, Had wander'd still in search of, nor her feet
Though such was not my ainbition's end or ainn, Relieved her wing till found : without thy light To add to the vain-glorious list of those My paradise had still been incomplete.f
Dentro di lui, si crede il Paradiso, * The reader is requested to adopt the Italian pro. Cosi se guardi fiso. nunciation of Beatrice, sounding all the syllables.
Pensar ben dèi ch' ogni terren' piacere. + Che sol per le belle opre
Canzone, in which Dante describes the person et Che fanno in Cielo il sole e l'altre stelle Beatrice, Strophe third.
Who dabble in the pettiness of fame,
Who long have suffer'd more than mortal woc, And make men's fickle breath the wind that blows And yet being mortal still have no repose Their sail, and deem it glory to be class'd
But on the pillow of Revenge--Revenge, With conquerors, and virtue's other foes,
Who sleeps to dream of blood, and waking glows In bloody chronicles of ages past.
With the oft-baffled slakeless thirst of change, I would have had my Florence great and free; When we shall mount again, and they that trod Oh Florence! Florence ! unto me thou wast
Be trampled on, while Death and Até range Like that Jerusalem which the Almighty He
O'er humbled heads and sever'd necks Great Wept over, 'but thou wouldst not ;' as the bird
God! Gathers its young, I would have gather'd thee Take these thoughts from me-to thy hands Beneath a parent pinion, hadst thou heard
yield My voice; but as the adder, deaf and fierce. My many wrongs, and thine almighty rod
Against the breast that cherish d thee was stirr'd Will fall on those who smote me,-be my shield ! Thy venom, and my state thou didst amerce,
As thou hast been in peril, and in pain, And doom this body forfeit to the fire.
In turbulent cities, and the tented field Alas! how bitter is his country's curse
In toil, and many troubles borne in vain To him who, for that country would expire,
For Florence,-I appeal from her to Thee! But did not merit to expire by her,
Thee whom I late saw in thy loftiest reign, And loves her, loves her even in her ire !
Even in that glorious vision, which to see The day may come when she will cease to err,
And live was never granted until now, The day may come she would be proud to have And yet thou hast permitted this to me.
The dust she dooms to scatter, and transfer Alas! with what a weight upon my brow Of him, whom she denied a home, the grave.
The sense of earth and earthly things come back, But this shall not be granted ; let my dust
Corrosive passions, feelings dull and low, Lie where it falls ; nor shall the soil which gave The heart's quick throb upon the mental rack, Me breath, but in her sudden fury thrust
Long day, and dreary night; the retrospect Me forth to breathe elsewhere, so reassume
Of half a century bloody and black, My indignant bones, because her angry gust And the frail few years I may yet expect Forsooth is over, and repeal'd her doom ;
Hoary and hopeless, but less hard to bear, No,-she denied me what was mine-my roof, For I have been too long and deeply wreck'd
And shall not have what is not hers-my tomb. On the lone rock of desolate Despair, Too long her armed wrath hath kept aloof
To lift my eyes more to the passing sail The breast which would have bled for her, the Which shuns that reef so horrible and Lare; heart
Nor raise my voice-for who would heed my wail ? That beat, the mind that was temptation proof, I am not of this people, nor this age, The man who fought, toil'd, travelld, and each part And yet my harpings will unfold a tale Of a true citizen fulfill'd, and saw
Which shall preserve these times when not a page For his reward the Guelfs ascendant art
Of their perturbed annals could attract Pass his destruction even into a law.
An eye to gaze upon their civil rage, These things are not made for forgetfulness, Did not my verse embalm full many an act Florence shall be forgotten first; too raw
Worthless as they who wrought it: 'tis the doom The wound, too deep the wrong, and the distress Of spirits of my order to be rack'd Of such endurance too prolong'd to make
In life, to wear their hearts out, and consume My pardon greater, her injustice less,
Their days in endless strife, and die alone; Though late repented; yet-yet for her sake
Then future thousands crowd around their tomb I feel some fonder yearnings, and for thine, And pilgrims come from climes where they have My own Beatrice, I would hardly take
known Vengeance upon the land which once was mine, The name of him-wko now is but a name, And still is hallow'd by thy dust's return,
And wasting homage o'er the sullen stone, Which would protect the murderess like a shrine, Spread his-by him unheard, unlieeded, fame; And save ten thousand foes by thy sole urn.
And mine at least hath cost me dear: to die Though, like old Marius from Minturnæ's marsh Is nothing ; but to wither thus-to tame
And Carthage ruins, my lone breast may burn My mind down from its own infinityAt times with evil feelings hot and harsh,
To live in narrow ways with little men, And sometimes the last pangs of a vile foe
A common sight to every common eye, Writhe in a dream before me, and o'erarch
A wanderer, while even wolves can find a den, My brow with hopes of triumph,-let them go! Ripp'd from all kindred, from all home, all things Such are the last infirmities of those
That make communion sweet, and soften pain
To feel me in the solitude of kings
Without the power that makes them bear a crownCader tra' bouni è pur di lode degno.'
To envy every dove his nest and wings
Sonnet of Dante. Which wast him where the Apennine looks down a which he represents Right, Generosity, and Tem
On Arno, till he perches, it may be, crance as banished from among men, and secking
Within my all inexorable town, fuge from Love, who inhabits his bosom,
Wliere yet my boys are, and that fatal she,*
And feel, and know without repair, hath taught Their inother, the cold partner who hath brought A bitter lesson ; but it leaves me free: Destruction for a dowry-this to see
I have not vilely found, nor basely sought,
They made an Exile-not a slave of me, * His wife, Gemma Donati, sprung from one of the most powerful of the Guelph families.
CANTO THE SECOND.
THE Spirit of the fervent days of Old,
Thou, in whose pleasant places Summer builds When words were things that came to pass, and Her palace, in whose cradle Empire grew, thought
And form'd the Eternal City's ornaments Flash'd o'er the future, bidding men behold
From spoils of kings whom freemen overthrew; Their children's children's doom already brought Birthplace of heroes, sanctuary of saints, Forth froin the abyss of time which is to be,
Where earthly first, then heavenly glory made The chaos of events, where lie half-wrought
Her hoine; thou, all which fondest fancy paints, Shapes that must undergo mortality;
And finds her prior vision but portray'd What the great Seers of Israel wore within,
In feeble colours, when the eye-froin the Alp That spirit was on them, and is on me,
Of horrid snow, and rock, and shaggy shade And if, Cassandra-like, amidst the din
Of desert-loving pine, whose emerald scalp Of conflict none will hear, or hearing heed
Nods to the storm-dilates and dotes o'er thee, This voice from out the wilderness, the sin
And wistfully implores, as 't were for help Be theirs, and my own feelings be my meed,
To see thy sunny fields, my Italy, The only guerdon I have ever known.
Nearer and nearer yet, and dearer still Hast thou not bled ? and hast thou still to bleed, The more approach'd, and dearest were they free, Italia ? Ah! to me such things, foreshown
Thou-thou must wither to each tyrant's will : With dim sepulchral light, bid me forget
The Goth hath been,--the German, Frank, and In thine irreparable wrongs my own;
Hun We can have but one country, and even yet
Are yet to come, and on the imperial hill Thou'rt mine—my bones shall be within thy breast, Ruin, already proud of the deeds done
My soul within thy language, which once set By the old barbarians, there awaits the new, With our old Roman sway in the wide West;
Throned on the Palatine, while lost and won But I will make another tongue arise
Rome at her feet lies bleeding; and the hue As lofty and more sweet, in which express'd
Of huinan sacrifice and Roman slaughter The hero's ardour, or the lover's sighs,
Troubles the clotted air, of late so blue, Shall find alike such sounds for every theme And deepens into red the saffron water That every word, as brilliant as thy skies,
Of Tiber, thick with dead; the helpless priest, Shall realise a poet's proudest dream,
And still more helpless nor less holy daughter, And make thee Europe's nightingale of song ; Vow'd to their God, have shrieking fled, and ceased
So that all present speech to thine shall seem Their ininistry: the nations take their prey. The note of meaner birds, and every tongue
Iberian, Almain, Lombard, and the beast Confess its barbarism when compared with thine. And bird, wolf, vulture, more humane than they
This shalt thou owe to him thou didst so wrong, Are; these but gorge the flesh and lap the gore Thy Tuscan bard, the banish'd Ghibelline.
Of the departed, and then go their way ; Woel woe! the veil of coming centuries
But those, the human savages, explore Is rent,-a thousand years which yet supine
All paths of torture, and insatiate yet, Lie like the ocean waves ere winds arise,
With Ugolino hunger prowl for more. Heaving in dark and sullen undulation,
Nine moons shall rise o'er scenes like this and set; Float from eternity into these eyes;
The chiefless army of the dead, which late The storms yet sleep, the clouds still keep their Beneath the traitor Prince's banner inet, station,
Hath left its leader's ashes at the gate ; The unborn earthquake yet is in the womb,
Had but the royal Rebel lived, perchance The bloody chaos yet expects creation,
Thou hadst been spared, but his involved thy fale. But all things are disposing for thy doom;
Oh! Rome, the spoiler of the spoil of France, The elements await but for the word,
From Brennus to the Bourbon, never, never Let there be darkness I' and thou grow'st a tomb! Shall foreign standard to thy walls advance, Yes I thou, so beautiful, shalt feel the sword,
But Tiber shall becoine a mournful river. Thou, Italyi so fair that Paradise,
Oh I when the strangers pass the Alps and Po, Revived in thee, blooms forth to man restored : Crush them, ye rocks I foods whelm them, and for Ah I must the sons of Adam lose it twice?
ever 1 Thou, Italy, whose ever golden fields,
Why sleep the idle avalanches so, Plough'd by the sunbeams solely, would suffice For the world'sgranary; thou, whose sky heaven gilds Guicciardini. There is another written by a Jacopo
* See Sacco di Roma,' generally attributed to With brighter stars, and robes with deeper blue ; Buonaparte,
To topple on thic lonely pilgrim's head?
Roll'd over Pharaoh and his thousands,---why,
Their passes more alluring to the view
And leave the march in peace, the passage free!
In a soil where the mothers bring forth men:
For them no fortress can avail,-the den
Of the poor reptile which preserves its sting
Is more secure than walls of adamant, when The hearts of those within are quivering,
Are ye not brave? Yes, yet the Ausonian soil Hath hearts, and hands, and arms, and hosts to
bring Against Oppression; but how vain the toil,
While still Division sows the seeds of woe
And weakness, till the stranger reaps the spoil i Oh ! my own beauteous land ! so long laid low,
So long the grave of thy own children's hopes,
When there is but required a single blow To break the chain, yet--yet the Avenger stops, And Doubt and Discord step 'twixt thine and
thee, And join their strength to that which with the
copes; What is there wanting then to set thee free,
And show thy beauty in its fullest light? To make the Alps impassable; and we, Her sons, may do this with one deed-Unite.
CANTO THE THIRD.
FROM out the mass of never-dying ill,
is graven, There where the farthest suns and stars have
The sound of her lament shall, rising o'er
Meantime I, humblest of thy sons, and of
A spirit forces me to see and speak,
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: 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 wave,* Discoverers of new worlds, which take their
name;t For thee alone they have no arm to save, And all thy recompense is in their fame,
A noble one to them, but not to thee
Shall they be glorious, and thou still the same! Oh I more than these illustrious far shall be
The being-and even yet he may be born
The mortal saviour who shall set thee free, And see thy diadem, so changed and worn
By fresh barbarians, on thy brow replaced;
And the sweet sun replenishing thy morn, Thy moral morn, too long with clouds defaced,
And noxious vapours from Avernus risen,
Such as all they must breathe who are debased By servitude, and have the mind in prison.
Yet through this centuried eclipse of woe
* Alexander of Parma, Spinola, Pescara, Eugene of Savoy, Montecucco.
+ Columnbus, Americus Vespucius, Sebastian Cabot.
Poets shall follow in the path I show,
By the transparency of his bright dream.And make it broader: the same brilliant sky
The second, of a tenderer, sadder mood, Which cheers the birds to song shall bid them Shall pour his soul out o'er Jerusalem; glow,
He, too, shall sing of arms, and Christian blood And raise their notes as natural and high ;
Shed where Christ bled for man; and his high Tuneful shall be their numbers; they shall sing
harp Many of love, and some of liberty,
Shall, by the willow over Jordan's flood, But few shall soar upon that eagle's wing,
Revive a song of Sion, and the sharp And look in the sun's face with eagle's gaze, Conflict, and final triumph of the brave All free and fearless as the feather'd king,
And pious, and the strife of hell to warp But fly more near the earth; how many a phrase Their hearts from their great purpose, until wave
Sublime shall lavish'd be on some small prince The red-cross banners where the first red Cross In all the prodigality of praise !
Was crimson'd from his veins who died to save, And language, eloquently falsc, evince
Shall be his sacred argument; the loss The harlotry of genius, which, like beauty,
Of years, of favour, freedom, even of fame Too oft forgets its own self-reverence,
Contested for a time, while the smooth gloss And looks on prostitution as a duty.
Of courts would slide o'er his forgotten name He who once enters in a tyrant's hall*
And call captivity a kindness, meant As guest is slave, his thoughts become a booty, To shield him from insanity or shame, And the first day which sees the chain enthral Such shall be his meet guerdon! who was sent A captive, sees his half of manhood gonet
To be Christ's Laureate-they reward him well! The soul's emasculation saddens all
Florence dooms me but death or banishment, His spirit; thus the Bard too near the throne Ferrara hiin a pittance and a cell,
Quails from his inspiration, bound to please, - Harder to bear, and less deserved, for I
Had stung the factions which I strove to quell,
Will look on earth and heaven, and who will Aught save his eulogy, and find, and seize,
deign Or force, or forge fit argument of song!
To embalm with his celestial flattery,
What will he do to merit such a doom !
Yet it will be so-he and his compeer,
And, dying in despondency, bequeath
To the kind world, which scarce will yield a tear,
And love shall be his torment; but his grief And to their country a redoubled wreath,
Unmatch'd by time; not Hellas can unroll
Through her olympiads two such naines, though of Poet-lovers, and his higher song
one of Freedom wreathe him with as green a leaf. Of hers be mighty,--and is this the whole But in a farther age shall rise along
of such men's destiny beneath the sun ? The banks of Po two greater still than he;
Must all the finer thoughts, the thrilling sense, The world which smiled on him shall do them The electric blood with which their arteries run, wrong
Their body's self turned soul with the intense Till they are ashes, and repose with me.
Feeling of that which is, and fancy of The first will make an epoch with his lyre,
That which should be, to such a recompense And fill the earth with feats of chivalry;
Conduct? shall their bright plumage on the rough His fancy like a rainbow, and his fire,
Storm be still scatter'd? Yes, and it must be: Like that of Heaven, immortal, and his thought For, form'd of far too penetrable stuff,
Borne onward with a wing that cannot tire ; These birds of Paradise but long to flee Pleasure shall, like a butterfly new caught,
Back to their native mansion, soon they find Flutter her lovely pinions o'er his theme,
Earth's mist with their pure pinions not agree, And Art itself seem into Nature wrought
And die or are degraded; for the mind
Succumbs to long infection, and despair,
And vulture passions flying close behind, • A verse from the Greek tragedians, with which Await the moment to assail and tear; Poinpey took leave of Cornelia on entering the boat
And when at length the winged wanderers stoon in which he was slain.
Then is the prey-bird's triumph, then they share † The verse and sentiment are taken from Homer. I Petrarch.
The spoil, o'erpower'd at length by one fell skoop