Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

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 sepulcher; both plain
And venerably simple, such as raise
A feeling more accordant with his strain
Than if a pyramid formed his monumental fane.

XXXII.

And the soft, quiet hamlet where he dwelt
Is one of that complexion 1 which seems made
For those who their mortality have felt,
And sought a refuge from their hopes decayed
In the deep umbrage of a green hill's shade,
Which shows a distant prospect far away
Of busy cities, now in vain displayed,
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, whereby,
Clear as its current, glide the sauntering hours
With a calm languor, which, though to the eye
Idlesse 2 it seem, hath its morality.

If from society we learn to live,

'Tis solitude should teach us how to die;3

It hath no flatterers; vanity can give

No hollow aid; alone-man with his God must strive:

1 Study the meanings of the word " complexion."

2 Archaic form for " idleness."

3"How blest the Solitary's lot" (ROBERT BUrns).

275

280

285

290

295

XXXIV.

Or, it may be, with demons,1 who impair

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 predestined 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.

XXXV.

XXXVI.

And Tasso is their glory and their shame.
Hark to his strain! and then survey his cell!

300

305

Ferrara! 2 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,3 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 impelled, of those who wore
The wreath which Dante's brow alone had worn before. 315

310

1 "The struggle is to the full as likely to be with demons as with our better thoughts. Satan chose the wilderness for the temptation of our Savior; and our unsullied John Locke preferred the presence of a child to complete solitude" (BYRON). 2 Once an important town. 3 A noble Italian family. (See Browning's Sordello.)

♦ Tasso's great poem is called Jerusalem Delivered. (See Byron's Lament of Tasso.)

And see how dearly earned Torquato's fame,
And where Alfonso 1 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 plunged it. Glory without end
Scattered the clouds away; and on that name attend

XXXVII.

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 madest to mourn :

XXXVIII.

Thou! formed to eat, and be despised, 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 furrowed brow,
Which emanated then, and dazzles now,
In face of all his foes, the Cruscan quire,2
And Boileau, whose rash envy could allow
No strain which shamed his country's creaking lyre,
That whetstone of the teeth-monotony in wire!

320

325

330

33

340

1 Duke of Ferrara, who imprisoned Tasso as being a madman, because the poet dared to love the duke's sister.

""

2 A Florentine literary society, Della Crusca, or
3 A French critic who underrated Tasso's poetry.

Academy of Chaff."

XXXIX.

Peace to Torquato's injured shade! 'twas his
In life and death to be the mark where Wrong
Aimed with her poisoned arrows,—but to miss.
Oh, victor unsurpassed in modern song!
Each year brings forth its millions; but how long
The tide of generations shall roll on,

And not the whole combined and countless throng Compose a mind like thine? though all in one Condensed their scattered rays, they would not form a sun.

350

XL.

Great as thou art, yet paralleled by those,
Thy countrymen, before thee born to shine,
The Bards of Hell and Chivalry:1 first rose
The Tuscan father's comedy divine;

Then, not unequal to the Florentine,

The southern Scott, the minstrel who called forth
A new creation with his magic line,

And, like the Ariosto of the North,

Sang ladye love and war, romance and knightly worth.

XLI.

The lightning rent from Ariosto's bust

The iron crown of laurel's mimicked leaves;
Nor was the ominous element unjust,

For the true laurel wreath which Glory weaves

Is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves,
And the false semblance but disgraced his brow;

345

355

360

365

1 Dante and Ariosto. The first part of Dante's greatest poem is called Inferno. Ariosto's Orlando Furioso is largely a poem of chivalry.

Yet still, if fondly Superstition grieves,

Know, that the lightning sanctifies below

Whate'er it strikes;-yon head is doubly sacred now.1

XLII.2

Italia! O Italia! thou who hast

The fatal gift of beauty, which became
A funeral dower of present woes and past,
On thy sweet brow is sorrow plowed by shame,
And annals graved in characters of flame.
O God! that thou wert in thy nakedness
Less lovely or more powerful, and couldst claim
Thy right, and awe the robbers back, who press
To shed thy blood, and drink the tears of thy distress;

XLIII.

Then mightst thou more appall; or, less desired,
Be homely and be peaceful, undeplored
For thy destructive charms; then, still untired,
Would not be seen the armèd torrents poured
Down the deep Alps; nor would the hostile horde
Of many-nationed spoilers from the Po

Quaff blood and water; nor the stranger's sword
Be thy sad weapon of defense, and so,
Victor or vanquished, thou the slave of friend or foe.

XLIV.

Wandering in youth, I traced the path of him,3
The Roman friend of Rome's least mortal mind,

370

375

380

385

1 "Before the remains of Ariosto were removed from the Benedictine church to the library of Ferrara, his bust, which surmounted the tomb, was struck by lightning, and a crown of iron laurels melted away" (BYRON).

2 This stanza and the next, as Byron tells us in a note, are mainly a translation of a famous sonnet on Italy, by Filicaja, who died in 1707.

3 Servius Sulpicius.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »