Imagens das páginas

Before the great Mastino, and his guests,
The three-and-twenty, by some adverse fortune,
By war or treason or domestic malice,
Reft of their kingly crowns, reft of their all,
And living on his bounty.

But who now
Enters the chamber, flourishing a scroll
In his right hand, his left at every step
Brushing the floor with what was once a hat
Of ceremony? Gliding on he comes,
Slipshod, ungarter'd; his long suit of black
Dingy and threadbare, though renew'd in patches
Till it has almost ceased to be the old one.
At length arrived, and with a shrug that pleads
"Tis my necessity!" he stops and speaks,
Screwing a smile into his dinnerless face.

In this neglected mirror (the broad frame
Of massive silver serves to testify
That many a noble matron of the house
Has sate before it) once, alas! was seen
What led to many sorrows. From that time
The bat came hither for a sleeping place;

"I am a poet, signor :-give me leave

To bid you welcome. Though you shrink from And he, who cursed another in his heart,


The splendour of your name has gone before you;
And Italy from sea to sea rejoices,

As well indeed she may ! But I transgress:

I too have known the weight of praise, and ought
To spare another."

Saying so, he laid
His sonnet, an impromptu, on my table,
And bow'd and left me; in his hollow hand
Receiving my small tribute, a zecchino,
Unconsciously, as doctors do their fees.

My omelet, and a flagon of hill-wine,
"The very best in Bergamo!" had long
Fled from all eyes; or, like the young Gil Blas
De Santillane, I had perhaps been seen
Bartering my bread and salt for empty praise.


Am I in Italy? Is this the Mincius ? Are those the distant turrets of Verona ?

In the green glades of some enchanted forest.
The toilet table was of massive silver,
Florentine art, when Florence was renown'd;
A gay confusion of the elements,

Dolphins and boys, and shells and fruits and flowers;
And from the ceiling, in his gilded cage,
Hung a small bird of curious workmanship,
That, when his mistress bade him, would unfold
(So said at least the babbling dame, tradition)
His emerald wings, and sing and sing again
The song that pleased her. While I stood and

The steward went on.

And shall I sup where Juliet at the mask
Saw her loved Montague, and now sleeps by him? A gleam of day yet lingering in the west,
Such questions hourly do I ask myself;
And not a finger-post by the road side
"To Mantua"-"To Ferrara"-but excites
Surprise, and doubt, and self-congratulation.

Godlike example. Echoes that have slept
Since Athens, Lacedæmon, were themselves,
Since men invoked "By those in Marathon!"
Awake along the Ægean; and the dead,
They of that sacred shore, have heard the call,
And through the ranks, from wing to wing, are seen
Moving as once they were-instead of rage
Breathing deliberate valour.


Thine was a dangerous gift, the gift of beauty.
Would thou hadst less, or wert as once thou wast,
Inspiring awe in those who now enslave thee!
-But why despair? Twice hast thou lived already,
Twice shone among the nations of the world,
As the sun shines among the lesser lights
Of heaven; and shalt again. The hour shall come,
When they who think to bind the ethereal spirit,
Who, like the eagle cowering o'er his prey,
Watch with quick eye, and strike and strike again
If but a sinew vibrate, shall confess

Their wisdom folly. E'en now the flame
Bursts forth where once it burnt so gloriously,
And, dying, left a splendour like the day,
That like the day diffused itself, and still
Blesses the earth-the light of genius, virtue,
Greatness in thought and act, contempt of death,

Said, "Be thy dwelling through the day, the night,
Shunn'd like Coll'alto." "Twas in that old castle,
Which flanks the cliff with its gray battlements
Flung here and there, and, like an eagle's nest,
Hangs in the Trevisan, that thus the steward,
Shaking his locks, the few that time had left him,
Address'd me, as we enter'd what was call'd
"My lady's chamber." On the walls, the chairs,
Much yet remain'd of the rich tapestry
Much of the adventures of Sir Lancelot

"She had ('tis now long since) A gentle serving maid, the fair Cristina. Fair as a lily, and as spotless too;

0 Italy, how beautiful thou art!

None so admired, beloved. They had grown up
As play-fellows; and some there were, who said,

Yet could I weep-for thou art lying, alas!
Low in the dust; and they who come, admire thee Some who knew much, discoursing of Cristina,
As we admire the beautiful in death.

She is not what she seems.' When unrequired,
She would steal forth; her custom, her delight,
To wander through and through an ancient grove
Self-planted halfway down, losing herself
Like one in love with sadness; and her veil
And vesture white, seen ever in that place,
Ever as surely as the hours came round,
Among those reverend trees, gave her below
The name of the White Lady. But the day
Is gone, and I delay you.

In that chair
The countess, as it might be now, was sitting,
Her gentle serving maid, the fair Cristina,
Combing her golden hair; and through this door
The count, her lord, was hastening, call'd away
By letters of great urgency to Venice ;
When in the glass she saw, as she believed,
('Twas an illusion of the evil spirit-

Some say he came and cross'd it at the instant,)
A smile, a glance at parting, given and answer'd,
That turn'd her blood to gall. That very night
The deed was done. That night, ere yet the moon
Was up on Monte Calvo, and the wolf
Baying as still he does, (oft do I hear him,
An hour and more by the old turret clock,)
They led her forth, th' unhappy, lost Cristina,
Helping her down in her distress-to die.

"No blood was spilt; no instrument of death
Lurk'd-or stood forth, declaring its bad purpose;
Nor was a hair of her unblemish'd head
Hurt in that hour. Fresh as a flower ungather'd,
And warm with life, her youthful pulses playing,
She was wall'd up within the castle wall.
The wall itself was hollow'd to receive her;
Then closed again, and done to line and rule.
Would you descend and see it?"Tis far down;
And many a stair is gone. "Tis in a vault
Under the chapel: and there nightly now,
As in the narrow niche, when smooth and fair,
And as though nothing had been done or thought of,
The stone-work rose before her, till the light
Glimmer'd and went-there, nightly, at that hour,
(You smile, and would it were an idle tale!
Would we could say so!) at that hour she stands
Shuddering her eyes uplifted, and her hands
Join'd as in prayer; then, like a blessed soul
Bursting the tomb, springs forward, and away
Flies o'er the woods, the mountains. Issuing forth,
The hunter meets her in his hunting track;
The shepherd on the heath, starting, exclaims,
(For still she bears the name she bore of old,)
"Tis the White Lady!""



THERE is a glorious city in the sea.
The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets,
Ebbing and flowing; and the salt sea-weed
Clings to the marble of her palaces.
No track of men, no footsteps to and fro,
Lead to her gates. The path lies o'er the sea,
Invisible; and from the land we went,
As to a floating city-steering in,
And gliding up her streets as in a dream,
So smoothly, silently-by many a dome
Mosque-like, and many a stately portico,
The statues ranged along an azure sky;
By many a pile in more than eastern splendour,
Of old the residence of merchant kings;

And could shake long at shadows. They had play'd
Their parts at Padua, and were now returning;
A vagrant crew, and careless of to-morrow,
Careless and full of mirth. Who, in that quaver,
Sings "Caro, caro ?"-"Tis the prima donna,
And to her monkey, smiling in his face,
Who, as transported, cries, "Brava! ancora ?”
"Tis a grave personage, an old macaw,
Perch'd on her shoulder. But mark him who leaps
Ashore, and with a shout urges along

The lagging mules; then runs and climbs a tree
That with its branches overhangs the stream,
And, like an acorn, drops on deck again.

'Tis he who speaks not, stirs not, but we laugh;
That child of fun and frolic, Arlecchino.
And mark their poet-with what emphasis

He prompts the young soubrette, conning her part!
Her tongue plays truant, and he raps his box,
And prompts again; for ever looking round
As if in search of subjects for his wit,
His satire; and as often whispering
Things, though unheard, not unimaginable.

Had I thy pencil, Crabbe, (when thou hast done,—
Late may it be,—it will, like Prospero's staff,
Be buried fifty fathoms in the earth,)

I would portray the Italian-Now I cannot.
Subtle, discerning, eloquent, the slave
Of love, of hate, for ever in extremes;
Gentle when unprovoked, easily won,

But quick in quarrel-through a thousand shades
His spirit flits, chameleon-like; and mocks
The eye of the observer.

Gliding on,

At length we leave the river for the sea.
At length a voice aloft proclaims "Venezia !"
And, as call'd forth, it comes.

A few in fear,
Flying away from him whose boast it was,*
That the grass grew not where his horse had trod,
Gave birth to Venice. Like the waterfowl,
They built their nests among the ocean waves ;
And, where the sands were shifting, as the wind
Blew from the north, the south; where they that


Had to make sure the ground they stood upon,
Rose, like an exhalation, from the deep,
A vast metropolis, with glittering spires,
With theatres, basilicas adorn'd;

A scene of light and glory, a dominion,
That has endured the longest among men.

And whence the talisman by which she rose,

The fronts of some, though time had shatter'd them, Towering? 'Twas found there in the barren sea.
Still glowing with the richest hues of art,
As though the wealth within them had run o'er.
Thither I came, and in a wondrous ark,
(That, long before we slipp'd our cable, rang
As with the voices of all living things,)
From Padua, where the stars are, night by night,
Watch'd from the top of an old dungeon tower,
Whence blood ran once, the tower of Ezzelin-
Not as he watch'd them, when he read his fate
And shudder'd. But of him I thought not then,
Him or his horoscope; far, far from me
The forms of guilt and fear; though some were there, Treasures from unknown climes, away he went,
Sitting among us round the cabin board,

Want led to enterprise; and, far and near,
Who met not the Venetian ?-now in Cairo ;
Ere yet the califa came, listening to hear
Its bells approaching from the Red Sea coast;
Now on the Euxine, on the Sea of Azoph,
In converse with the Persian, with the Russ,
The Tartar; on his lowly deck receiving
Pearls from the Gulf of Ormus, gems from Bagdad;
Eyes brighter yet, that shed the light of love,
From Georgia, from Circassia. Wandering round,
When in the rich bazaar he saw, display'd,

Some who, like him, had cried, "Spill blood enough!"


And, travelling slowly upward, drew cre long From the well-head supplying all below; Making the imperial city of the east,

Herself, his tributary.

If we turn

To the black forests of the Rhine, the Danube,
Where o'er each narrow glen a castle hangs,
And, like the wolf that hunger'd at his door,
The baron lived by rapine-there we meet,
In warlike guise, the caravan from Venice;
When on its march, now lost and now emerging,
A glittering file, the trumpet heard, the scout
Sent and recall'd-but at a city gate
All gayety, and look'd for ere it comes;
Winning its way with all that can attract,
Cages, whence every wild cry of the desert,
Jugglers, stage-dancers. Well might Charlemain,
And his brave peers, each with his visor up,
On their long lances lean and gaze a while,
When the Venetian to their eyes disclosed
The wonders of the east! Well might they then
Sigh for new conquests!

Thus did Venice rise,
Thus flourish, till th' unwelcome tidings came,
That in the Tagus had arrived a fleet
From India, from the region of the sun,
Fragrant with spices-that a way was found,
A channel open'd, and the golden stream
Turn'd to enrich another. Then she felt
Her strength departing, and at last she fell,
Fell in an instant, blotted out and razed;
She who had stood yet longer than the longest
Of the four kingdoms-who, as in an ark,
Had floated down, amid a thousand wrecks,
Uninjured, from the old world to the new,
From the last trace of civilized life- to where
Light shone again, and with unclouded splendour.
Though many an age in the midsea she dwelt,
From her retreat calmly contemplating
The changes of the earth, herself unchanged.
Before her pass'd, as in an awful dream,
The mightiest of the mighty. What are these,
Clothed in their purple? O'er the globe they fling
Their monstrous shadows; and, while yet we speak,
Phantom-like, vanish with a dreadful scream!
What-but the last that styled themselves the

And who in long array (look where they come;
Their gestures menacing so far and wide)
Wear the green turban and the heron's plume?
Who-but the caliphs? follow'd fast by shapes
As new and strange-emperor, and king, and czar,
And soldan, each, with a gigantic stride,
Trampling on all the flourishing works of
To make his greatness greater, and inscribe
His name in blood-some, men of steel, steel-clad;
Others, nor long, alas! the interval,


In light and gay attire, with brow serene
Wielding Jove's thunder, scattering sulphurous fire
Mingled with darkness; and, among the rest,
Lo, one by one, passing continually,

Those who assume a sway beyond them all;
Men gray with age, each in a triple crown,
And in his tremulous hands grasping the keys
That can alone, as he would signify,
Unlock heaven's gate.



HE who is on his travels and loves ease, Ease and companionship, should hire a youth, Such as thou wert, Luigi. Thee I found, Playing at mora on the cabin roof

With Pulcinella, crying, as in wrath,
"Tre! Quattro! Cinque !"-'tis a game to strike
Fire from the coldest heart. What then from

And, ere the twentieth throw, I had resolved,
Won by thy looks. Thou wert an honest lad;
Wert generous, grateful, not without ambition.
Had it depended on thy will and pleasure,
Thou wouldst have number'd in thy family
At least six doges and twelve procurators.
But that was not to be. In thee I saw
The last of a long line of Carbonari,
Who in their forest, for three hundred years,
Had lived and labour'd, cutting, charring wood;
Discovering where they were, to those astray,
By the re-echoing stroke, the crash, the fall,
Or the blue wreath that travell'd slowly up
Into the sky. Thy nobler destinies
Led thee away to jostle in the crowd;
And there I found thee-by thy own prescription
Crossing the sea to try once more a change
Of air and diet, landing, and as gayly
Near the Dogano-on the great canal,

As though thou knewest where to dine and sleep.
First didst thou practise patience in Bologna,
Serving behind a cardinal's gouty chair,
Laughing at jests that were no laughing matter;
Then teach the art to others in Ferrara,
-At the Three Moors-as guide, as cicerone-
Dealing out largely in exchange for pence
Thy scraps of knowledge--through the grassy
Leading, explaining-pointing to the bars
Of Tasso's dungeon, and the Latin verse
Graven in the stone, that yet denotes the door
Of Ariosto.

Many a year is gone


Since on the Rhine we parted; yet, methinks
I can recall thee to the life, Luigi,
In our long journey ever by my side,
O'er rough and smooth, o'er Apennine, Maremma;
Thy locks jet black, and clustering round a face
Open as day, and full of manly daring.

Thou hadst a hand, a heart for all that came,
Herdsman or pedlar, monk or muleteer;
And few there were that met thee not with smiles.
Mishap pass'd o'er thee like a summer cloud.
Cares thou hadst none; and they, who stood to hear

Caught the infection, and forgot their own.
Nature conceived thee in her merriest mood,
Her happiest-not a speck was in the sky;
And at thy birth the cricket chirp'd, Luigi,
Thine a perpetual voice-at every turn
A larum to the echo. In a clime
Where all the world was gay, thou wert the gayest,
And, like a babe, hush'd only by thy slumbers,
Up hill and down, morning, and noon, and night,
Singing or talking; singing to thyself
When none gave ear, but to the listener talking.




OVER how many tracts, vast, measureless,
Nothing from day to day, from year to year,
Passes, save now and then a cloud, a meteor,
A famish'd eagle ranging for his prey;
While on this spot of earth, the work of man,
How much has been transacted! Emperors, popes,
Warriors, from far and wide, laden with spoil,
Landing, have here perform'd their several parts,
Then left the stage to others. Not a stone
In the broad pavement, but to him who has
An eye, an ear for the inanimate world,
Tells of past ages.
In that temple porch
(The brass is gone, the porphyry remains,)
Did Barbarossa fling his mantle off

And kneeling, on his neck receive the foot
Of the proud pontiff-thus at last consoled
For flight, disguise, and many an anguish shake
On his stone pillow. In that temple porch
Old as he was, so near his hundredth year,
And blind-his eyes put out-did Dandolo
Stand forth, displaying on his ducal crown
The cross just then assumed at the high altar.
There did he stand, erect, invincible,

Though wan his cheeks, and wet with many tears,
For in his prayers he had been weeping much;
And now the pilgrims and the people wept
With admiration, saying in their hearts,
"Surely those aged limbs have need of rest!"
-There did he stand, with his old armour on,
Ere, gonfalon in hand, that stream'd aloft,
As conscious of its glorious destiny,
So soon to float o'er mosque and minaret,
He sail'd away, five hundred gallant ships,
Their lofty sides hung with emblazon'd shields,
Following his track to glory. He returned not;
But of his trophies four arrived ere long,
Snatch'd from destruction-the four steeds divine,
That strike the ground, resounding with their feet,
And from their nostrils snort ethereal flame
Over that very portal-in the place
Where in an after-time Petrarch was seen
Sitting beside the doge, on his right hand,
Amid the ladies of the court of Venice,
Their beauty shaded from the setting sun
By many-colour'd hangings; while, beneath,
Knights of all nations, some from merry England,
Their lances in the rest, charged for the prize.

Here, among other pageants, and how oft
It came, as if returning to console
The least, instruct the greatest, did the doge,
Himself, go round, borne through the gazing crowd,
Once in a chair of state, once on his bier.
They were his first appearance, and his last.

The sea, that emblem of uncertainty,
Changed not so fast for many and many an age,
As this small spot. To-day 'twas full of maskers;
And lo, the madness of the carnival,
The monk, the nun, the holy legate mask'd!
To-morrow came the scaffold and the headsman;
And he died there by torchlight, bound and gagg'd,
Whose name and crime they knew not.


Where the archangel, turning with the wind,
Blesses the city from the topmost tower,
His arms extended-there continually

Two phantom shapes were sitting side by side,
Or up, and, as in sport, chasing each other;
Horror and Mirth. Both vanish'd in one hour!
But Ocean only, when again he claims

His ancient rule, shall wash away their footsteps.
Enter the palace by the marble stairs*
Down which the grisly head of old Faliero
Roll'd from the block. Pass onward through the

Where, among all drawn in their ducal robes,
But one is wanting-where, thrown off in heat,
A short inscription on the doge's chair
Led to another on the wall yet shorter;
And thou wilt track them-wilt from halls of state
Where kings have feasted, and the festal song
Rung through the fretted roof, cedar and gold,
""Twas here,
Step into darkness; and be told,
Trusting, deceived, assembled but to die,
To take a long embrace and part again,
Carrara and his valiant sons were strangled;
He first-then they, whose only crime had been
Struggling to save their father."-Through that


So soon to cry, smiting his brow, "I'm lost!"
Was shown, and with all courtesy, all honour,
The great and noble captain, Carmagnola.—
That deep descent (thou canst not yet discern
Aught as it is) leads to the dripping vaults
Under the flood, where light and warmth came never,
Leads to a cover'd bridge, the Bridge of Sighs;
And to that fatal closet at the foot,
Lurking for prey, which, when a victim enter'd,
Grew less and less, contracting to a span;
An iron door, urged onward by a screw,
Forcing out life.-But let us to the roof,
And, when thou hast survey'd the sea, the land,
Visit the narrow cells that cluster there,
As in a place of tombs. They had their tenants,
And each supplied with sufferings of his own.
There burning suns beat unrelentingly,
Turning all things to dust, and scorching up
The brain, till reason fled, and the wild yell
And wilder laugh burst out on every side,
Answering each other as in mockery!
-Few houses of the size were better fill'd;
Though many came and left it in an hour.
"Most nights," so said the good old Nicolo,
(For three-and-thirty years his uncle kept
The water gate below, but seldom spoke,
Though much was on his mind,)


"most nights

The prison boat, that boat with many oars,
And bore away as to the lower world,
Disburdening in the canal Orfano,
That drowning-place, were never net was thrown
Summer or winter, death the penalty;
And where a secret, once deposited,
Lay till the waters should give up their dead."
Yet what so gay as Venice? Every gale
Breathed heavenly music! and who flock'd not


Scala de' Giganti.

To celebrate her nuptials with the sea?
To wear the mask, and mingle in the crowd
With Greek, Armenian, Persian-night and day
(There, and there only, did the hour stand still)
Pursuing through her thousand labyrinths
The enchantress Pleasure; realizing dreams
The earliest, happiest-for a tale to catch
Credulous ears, and hold young hearts in chains,
Had only to begin," There lived in Venice”—

"Who were the six we supp'd with yesternight?"
66 Kings, one and all! Thou couldst not but remark
The style and manner of the six that served them."
"Who answer'd me just now? Who, when I said,
"Tis nine,' turn'd round, and said so solemnly,
Signor, he died at nine!" "Twas the Armenian;
The mask that follows thee, go where thou wilt."
"But who stands there, alone among them all?"
"The Cypriot. Ministers from foreign courts
Beset his doors, long ere his hour of rising;
His the great secret! Not the golden house
Of Nero, or those fabled in the East,
As wrought by magic, half so rich as his !
Two dogs, coal black, in collars of pure gold,
Walk in his footsteps-who but his familiars?
He casts no shadow, nor is seen to smile!"
Such their discourse. Assembling in St. Mark's,
All nations met as on enchanted ground!

That rosy mouth, that cheek dimpled with smiles,
That neck but half concealed, whiter than snow.
'Twas the sweet slumber of her early age.
I look'd and look'd, and felt a flush of joy
I would express, but cannot.

Oft I wish'd

Gently-by stealth-to drop asleep myself,
And to incline yet lower that sleep might come;
Oft closed my eyes as in forgetfulness.
"Twas all in vain. Love would not let me rest.

But how delightful when at length she waked!
When, her light hair adjusting, and her veil
So rudely scatter'd, she resumed her place
Beside me; and, as gayly as before,
Sitting unconsciously nearer and nearer,
Pour'd out her innocent mind!

So, nor long since,

As for me

Sung a Venetian: and his lay of love,
Dangerous and sweet, charm'd Venice.
(Less fortunate, if love be happiness)
No curtain drawn, no pulse beating alarm,
I went alone under the silent moon;
Thy place, St. Mark, thy churches, palaces,
Glittering, and frost-like, and as day drew on,
Melting away, an emblem of themselves.

Those porches pass'd through which the water.

What though a strange, mysterious power was Plays, though no longer on the noble forms


Moving throughout, subtle, invisible,
And universal as the air they breathed;

A power that never slumber'd, never pardon'd,
All eye, all ear, nowhere and everywhere,
Entering the closet and the sanctuary,

No place of refuge for the doge himself;

That moved there, sable-vested-and the quay
Silent, grass-grown-adventurer-like I launch'd
Into the deep, ere long discovering

Isles such as cluster in the southern seas,

All verdure. Everywhere, from bush and brake,
The musky odour of the serpents came;
Their slimy track across the woodman's path

Most present when least thought of-nothing dropt Bright in the moonshine: and, as round I went,

In secret, when the heart was on the lips,
Nothing in feverish sleep, but instantly

Dreaming of Greece, whither the waves were gliding,

Observed and judged—a power, that if but glanced at I listen'd to the venerable pines

In casual converse, be it where it might,
The speaker lower'd at once his eyes, his voice,
And pointed upward, as to God in heaven-

What though that power was there, he who lived

Pursuing pleasure, lived as if it were not;
But let him in the midnight air indulge

A word, a thought against the laws of Venice,
And in that hour he vanish'd from the earth!



Boy, call the gondola; the sun is set.-
It came, and we embark'd; but instantly,
Though she had stept on board so light of foot,
So light of heart, laughing she knew not why,
Sleep overcame her; on my arm she slept.
From time to time I waked her; but the boat
Rock'd her to sleep again.

The moon was up,
But broken by a cloud. The wind was hush'd,
And the sea mirror-like. A single zephyr
Play'd with her tresses, and drew more and more

Her veil across her bosom.

Long I lay

Contemplating that face so beautiful,

Then in close converse; and, if right I guess'd,
Delivering many a message to the winds
In secret, for their kindred on Mount Ida.

Nor when again in Venice, when again
In that strange place, so stirring and so still,
Where nothing comes to drown the human voice
But music, or the dashing of the tide,
Ceased I to wander. Now a Jessica
Sung to her lute, her signal as she sate
At her half-open window. Then, methought,
A serenade broke silence, breathing hope
Through walls of stone, and torturing the proud


Of some Priuli. Once, we could not err,
(It was before an old Palladian house,
As between night and day we floated by,)
A gondolier lay singing; and he sung,
As in the time when Venice was herself,
Of Tancred and Erminia. On our oars
We rested; and the verse was verse divine!
We could not err-perhaps he was the last-
For none took up the strain, none answer'd him;
And when he ceased, he left upon my ear
A something like the dying voice of Venice.

The moon went down; and nothing now was


Save here and there the lamp of a madonna,

« AnteriorContinuar »