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In glad excursions; winding back
Towards the straight and solemn track
Of thy foundations, and around,
With a low mysterious sound,
Nightly, daily, at thy feet
Singing, “liberty is sweet.”
ADY, they told me whilst thou didst sojourn
, Where ocean, earth, air, heaven, make day and night Music together, that thou didst give birth To a dear girl, thine own sweet portraiture ; And there, thy sorrows ended, rising from Thy couch, and from thy lattice leaning forth To drink in renovation from the air, Thine eye glanced o'er the sapphire sea, and fell On the green
island cliff of Nisida. Thy baby was the pilot of thy thoughts: And thy maternal eyes could see no more In things that breathed of freshness and of glory, Than living type of her. Then, half aloud, Thou saidst, “Great Nature prompts me, lovely Isle ; Yes, Nisida I thine own harmonious name My child at the baptismal font shall bear." It was a mother's random thought, conceived And uttered on the instant: but such thoughts,
Like prophecy, from pious germ rise up
In after days : and trust me, gentle Lady,
Thy Nisida, in childhood, youth, and age,
Shall, like her island namesake, be beloved
Of Nature; the blue heavens shall smile above her ;
Fair shall she be, and her horizon fair.
And though nor sea, nor shore, nor any creature,
Is from vicissitude emancipate,
Yet she, thy Nisida, shall stand amidst
The storms of life with peaceful dignity
Upon her brow, and shall with temperance
Of soul abate the fervid joy of days
Too prosperous. The Italian fisher-boy
Nightly shall sing the praises of his Isle ;
But we will sing another Nisida.
“DEAR boy, dost thou remember when we scaled
The Monte Barbaro, volcanic height?"
Thus shall I often ask in days to come;
And thou wilt answer me with conscious smiles,
And words of glad remembrance. And in truth
Within the horizon all was beautiful
As heart could wish, or earth bestow : we saw
A map-like realm of wonders, aye at odds
With fable and reality.
The Monte Nuovo lay the Lucrine, Styx,
Avernus, and Fusaro, and the coasts
Of mystic Cumæ ; Baiæ and its port;
The Mare Morto, and Elysian fields ;
The triple peak of Ischia, fiery once ;
And in the south, Miseno, classic cape,
Dowered through all ages with a lasting name.
Here lay thy ancient mole, Puteoli;
There, in the distance, Capri ; Nisida
Hard by, and Solfatara: o'er the bay
Sorrento, and the snow-clad craggy peaks
Above Castelamare; whence the eye
Passed over mount Astruni, and reposed
On Naples and Vesuvius.
What to thee
Was this array of names, free-hearted boy ?
Or their associations with the lore
Of science, history, books, or old or new ?
Thou hadst not in imagination sailed
With Pliny to Vesuvius ; hadst not conned
The modern theories philosophy
Hath weaved around these coasts; nor tracked in thought
Reverting to the lore of other days,
Tiberius to his loathsome den in Capri ;
Nor learnt what prodigality of wealth
And luxury encompassed like a flood
Imperial Baiæ, gemmed with gorgeous fanes,
And costliest marble palaces, and towers,
Encroaching on the deep; retreats beloved
For sweet oblivion of solicitude,
By men who made a footstool of the world.
Nor through those realms to Maro dedicate,
Heardst thou his harp immortal, thrilling yet
With rise and fall harmonious.
Yet the scene For thee had young delights, that of themselves Came flocking: glanced thine eye from shore to sea,