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XIV.

[lair

'Twas morn; and Neuha, who by dawn of day
Swam smoothly forth to catch the rising ray,
And watch if aught approach'd the amphibious
Where lay her lover, saw a sail in air :
It flapp'd, it fill'd, and to the growing gale
Bent its broad arch; her breath began to fail
With fluttering fear, her heart beat thick and
high,

But when these vanish'd, she pursued her prow,
Regain'd, and urged to where they found it now:
Nor ever did more love and joy embark,
Than now were wafted in that slender ark.

XV.

Again their own shore rises on the view,
No more polluted with a hostile hue;
[lie: No sullen ship lay bristling o'er the foam,

A floating dungeon :-all was hope and home!
A thousand proas darted o'er the bay,
With sounding shells, and heralded their way;
The chiefs came down, around the people
pour'd,

While yet a doubt sprung where its course might|
But no! it came not; fast and far away
The shadow lessen'd as it clear'd the bay.
She gazed, and flung the sea-foam from her eyes,
To watch as for a rainbow in the skies.
On the horizon verged the distant deck,
And welcomed Torquil as a son restored;
Diminish'd, dwindled to a very speck-
The women thronged, embracing and embraced
Then vanish'd. All was ocean, all was joy! By Neuba, asking where they had been chased,
Down plunged she through the cave to rouse And how escaped? The tale was told; and then
her boy;
[all One acclamation rent the sky again;
Told all she had seen, and all she hoped, and And from that hour a new tradition gave
That happy love could augur or recall;
Their sanctuary the name of 'Neuha's Cave.'
Sprung forth again, with Torquil following free A hundred fires, far flickering from the height,
His bounding nereid over the broad sea; Blazed o'er the general revel of the night,
Swam round the rock, to where a shallow cleftThe feast in honour of the guest, return'd
Hid the canoe that Neuha there had left
To peace and pleasure, perilously earn'd;
Drifting along the tide, without an oar, [shore; A night succeeded by such happy days
That eve the strangers chased them from the As only the yet infant world displays.

THE LAMENT OF TASSO.

1817.

ADVERTISEMENT.

AT Ferrara, in the Library, are preserved the original MSS. of Tasso's Gierusalemme and of Guarini's Pastor Fido, with letters of Tasso, one from Titian to Ariosto, and the inkstand and chair, the tomb and the house, of the latter. But as misfortune has a greater interest for posterity, and little or none for the contemporary, the cell where Tasso was confined in the hospital of St Anna attracts a more fixed attention than the residence or the monument of Ariosto-at least it had this effect on me. There are two inscriptions, one on the outer gate, the second over the cell itself, inviting unnecessarily the wonder and the indignation of the spectator. Ferrara is much decayed and depopulated: the castle still exists entire; and I saw the court where Parisina and Hugo were Leheaded, according to the annal of Gibbon.

I.

Works through the throbbing eyeball to the brain

LONG years! It tries the thrilling frame to With a hot sense of heaviness and pain;
bear,

And eagle-spirit of a child of Song--
Long years of outrage, calumny, and wrong;
Imputed madness, prison'd solitude,
And the mind's canker in its savage mood,
When the impatient thirst of light and air
Parches the heart; and the abhorred grate,
Marring the sunbeams with its hideous shade,

And bare, at once, Captivity display'd
Stands scoffing through the never-open'd gate,
Which nothing through its bars admits, save day,
And tasteless food, which I have eat alone
Till its unsocial bitterness is gone;
And I can banquet like a beast of prey,
Sullen and lonely, couching in the cave
Which is my lair, and-it may be-my grave.

All this hath somewhat worn me, and may wear,
But must be borne. I stoop not to despair;
For I have battled with mine agony,
And made me wings wherewith to overfly
The narrow circus of my dungeon wall,
And freed the Holy Sepulchre from thrall;
And revell'd among men and things divine,
And pour'd my spirit over Palestine
In honour of the sacred war for Him,

The God who was on earth and is in heaven,
For he has strengthen'd me in heart and limb.
That through this sufferance I might be forgiven,
have employ'd my penance to record
How Salem's shrine was won, and how adored.

II.

But this is o'er-my pleasant task is done :-
My long-sustaining friend of many years!
If I do blot thy final page with tears, [none.
Know that my sorrows have wrung from me
But thou, my young creation! my soul's child!
Which ever playing round me came and smiled,
And woo'd me from myself with thy sweet sight,
Thou too art gone-and so is my delight:
And therefore do I weep and inly bleed
With this last bruise upon a broken reed.
Thou too art ended-what is left me now?
For I have anguish yet to bear-and how?
I know not that-but in the innate force
Of my own spirit shall be found resource.
I have not sunk, for I had no remorse,
Nor cause for such: they call'd me mad-and
O Leonora, wilt not thou reply?
I was indeed delirious in my heart
To lift my love so lofty as thou art :

[why?

But still my frenzy was not of the mind;
1 knew my fault, and feel my punishment
Not less because I suffer it unbent.
That thou wert beautiful, and I not blind,
Hath been the sin which shuts me from mankind;
But let them go, or torture as they will,
My heart can multiply thine image still;
Successful love may sate itself away,
The wretched are the faithful; 'tis their fate
To have all feeling save the one decay,
And every passion into one dilate,
As rapid rivers into ocean pour;

And ours is fathomless, and hath no shore.

III.

Above me, hark! the long and maniac cry
Of minds and bodies in captivity.
And hark! the lash and the increasing howl
And the half-inarticulate blasphemy!
There be some here with worse than frenzy foul,
Some who do still goad on the o'erlabour'd mind,
And dim the little light that's left behind
With needless torture, as their tyrant will
Is wound up to the lust of doing ill:
With these and with their victims am I class'd,
'Mid sounds and sights like these long years
have pass'd;

'Mid sights and sounds like these my life may So let it be-for then I shall repose. [close:

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Nor words a language, nor even men mankind;
Where cries reply to curses, shrieks to blows,
And each is tortured in his separate hell-
For we are crowded in our solitudes-
Many, but each divided by the wall,
Which echoes Madness in her babbling moods;-
While all can hear, none heed his neighbour's
call-

None! save that One, the veriest wretch of all,
Who was not made to be the mate of these,
Nor bound between Distraction and Disease.
Feel I not wroth with those who placed me here?
Who have debased me in the minds of men,
Debarring me the usage of my own,
Blighting my life in best of its career,
Branding my thoughts as things to shun and fear?
Would I not pay them back these pangs again,
And teach them inward Sorrow's stifled groan,
The struggle to be calm, and cold distress,
Which undermines our stoical success?
No!-still too proud to be vindictive-I
Have pardon'd princes' insults, and would die.
Yes, Sister of my Sovereign! for thy sake
I weed all bitterness from out my breast,
It hath no business where thou art a guest :
Thy brother hates-but I can not detest;
Thou pitiest not-but I can not forsake.

V.

Look on a love which knows not to despair,
But all unquench'd is still my better part,
Dwelling deep in my shut and silent heart,
As dwells the gather'd lightning in its cloud,
Encompass'd with its dark and rolling shroud,
Till struck-forth flies the all-ethereal dart!
And thus at the collision of thy name
The vivid thought still flashes through my frame,
And for a moment all things as they were
Flit by me-they are gone-I am the same.
And yet my love without ambition grew;
I knew thy state, my station, and I knew
A Princess was no love-mate for a bard:
I told it not, I breathed it not, it was
Sufficient to itself, its own reward:
And if my eyes reveal'd it, they, alas,
Were punish'd by the silentness of thine,
And yet I did not venture to repine.
Thou wert to me a crystal girded shrine,
Worshipp'd at holy distance, and around
Hallow'd and meekly kiss'd the saintly ground:
Not for thou wert a princess, but that Love
Had robed thee with a glory, and array'd
Thy lineaments in beauty that dismay'd-
Oh! not dismay'd-but awed, like One above

And in that sweet severity there was
A something which all softness did surpass-
I know not how-thy genius master'd mine-
My star stood still before thee :-if it were
Presumptuous thus to love without design,
That sad fatality hath cost me dear;
But thou art dearest still, and I should be
Fit for this cell, which wrongs me-but for thee.
The very love which lock'd me to my chain
Hath lighten'd half its weight; and for the rest,
Though heavy, lent me vigour to sustain,
And look to thee with undivided breast,
And foil the ingenuity of Pain.

VI.

[vade

It is no marvel-from my very birth
My soul was drunk with love,-which did per-
And mingle with whate'er I saw on earth;
Of objects all inanimate I made
Idols, and out of wild and lonely flowers,
And rocks, whereby they grew, a paradise,
Where I did lay me down within the shade
Of waving trees, and dream'd uncounted hours,
Though I was chid for wandering; and the Wise
Shook their white aged heads o'er me, and said
Of such materials wretched men were made,
And such a truant boy would end in woe,
And that the only lesson was a blow ;-
And then they smote me, and I did not weep,
But cursed them in my heart, and to my haunt
Return'd and wept alone, and dream'd again
The visions which arise without a sleep.
And with my years my soul began to pant
With feelings of strange tumult and soft pain;
And the whole heart exhaled into One Want,
But undefined and wandering, till the day

I found the thing I sought-and that was thee;
And then I lost my being, all to be

With pilfering pranks and petty pains, below
The feeling of the healthful and the free;
But much to One, who long hath suffer'd so,
Sickness of heart, and narrowness of place,
And all that may be borne or can debase.
I thought mine enemies had been but Mar,
But Spirits may be leagued with them;-all
Earth

Abandons-Heaven forgets me in the dearth
[Of such defence the Powers of Evil can,
It may be, tempt me further-and prevail
Against the outworn creature they assail.
Why in this furnace is my spirit proved
Like steel in tempering fire? because I loved?
Because I loved what not to love, and see,
Was more or less than mortal, and than me.

IX.

I once was quick in feeling-that is o'er :
My scars are callous, or I should have dash'd
My brain against these bars, as the sun flash'd
In mockery through them :-if I bear and bore
The much I have recounted, and the more
Which hath no words-'tis that I would not die,
And sanction with self-slaughter the dull lie
Which snared me here, and with the brand of
shame

Stamp Madness deep into my memory,
And woo Compassion to a blighted name,
Sealing the sentence which my foes proclaim.
No-it shall be immortal !—and I make
A future temple of my present cell,
Which nations yet shall visit for my sake.
While thou, Ferrara! when no longer dwell
The ducal chiefs within thee, shalt fall down,
And crumbling piecemeal view thy hearthless
halls,

A poet's wreath shall be thy only crown-
Absorb'd in thine-the world was pass'd away-A poet's dungeon thy most far renown,
Thou didst annihilate the earth to me!

VII.

I loved all Solitude, but little thought
To spend I know not what of life, remote
From all communion with existence, save
The maniac and his tyrant :-had I been
Their fellow, many years ere this had seen
My mind like theirs corrupted to its grave.
But who hath seen me writhe, or heard me rave?
Perchance in such a cell we suffer more
Than the wreck'd sailor on his desert shore:
The world is all before him-mine is here,
Scarce twice the space they must accord my bier.
What though he perish, he may lift his eye,
And with a dying glance upbraid the sky-
I will not raise my own in such reproof,
Although 'tis clouded by my dungeon roof.

VIII.

Yet do I feel at times my mind decline,
But with a sense of its decay ;—I see
Unwonted lights along my prison shine,
And a strange demon, who is vexing me

While strangers wonder o'er thy unpeopled

walls!

And thou, Leonora ! thou-who wert ashamed
That such as I could love-who blush'd to hear
To less than monarchs that thou couldst be dear,
Go! tell thy brother that my heart, untamed
By grief, years, weariness-and it may be
A taint of that he would impute to me-
From long infection of a den like this.
Where the mind rots congenial with the abyss.
Adores thee still;—and add-that when the

towers

And battlements which guard his joyous hours
Of banquet, dance, and revel are forgot,
Or left untended in a dull repose,

This, this, shall be a consecrated spot!
But Thou-when all that Birth and Beauty
throws

Of magic round thee is extinct-shalt have
One half the laurel which o'ershades my grave.
No power in death can tear our names apart,
As none in life could rend thee from my heart.
Yes, Leonora ! it shall be our fate
To be entwined for ever-but too late!

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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 howsoever 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 displa,'d,

So sweet a language from so fair a mouth—

Ah! to what effort would it not persuade?

RAVENNA, June 21, 1819.

PREFACE.

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.

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On this hint I spake,' and the result has 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.

If

Amongst the inconveniences of authors in the present day, it is difficult for any who have a wame, 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. 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.

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 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 iny 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 In vain, and never more, save when the cloud left

So long that 'twas 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 face; 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 Beatricé! 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 And meeting thee in heaven was but to meet That without which my soul, like the arkless dove,

move,

Had wander'd still in search of, nor her feet Relieved her wing till found: without thy light My paradise had still been incomplete.† 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

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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; [name Man wrongs, and Time avenges, and my May form a monument not all obscure, Though such was not my ambition's end or 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 ;* 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.

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