« PrécédentContinuer »
Another scene ere wise Etruria knew
Its second ruin through internal strife,
And tyrants through the breach of discord threw
As death to life,
As winter to fair flowers (though some be poison)
In Pisa's church a cup of sculptured gold
Was brimming with the blood of feuds forsworn
At sacrament: more holy ne'er of old
Etrurians mingled with the shades forlorn Of moon-illumined forests.
And reconciling factions wet their lips
With that dread wine, and swear to keep each spirit Undarkened by their country's last eclipse.
Was Florence the liberticide? that band
Of free and glorious brothers who had planted,
A nation amid slaveries, disenchanted
O foster-nurse of man's abandoned glory
Since Athens, its great mother, sunk in splendour, Thou shadowest forth that mighty shape in story, As ocean its wrecked fanes, severe yet tender. The light-invested angel Poesy
Was drawn from the dim world to welcome thee.
And thou in painting didst transcribe all taught
The sculptor's fearless soul, and, as he wrought,
The grace of his own power and freedom grew.
Yes; and on Pisa's marble walls the twine
A beast of subtler venom now doth make
The sweetest flowers are ever frail and rare,
So that their grapes may oft be plucked together;
No record of his crime remains in story;
From the blind crowd he made secure and free
For, when by sound of trumpet was declared
So much of water with him as might wet
Amid the mountains, like a hunted beast,
And in the roofless huts of vast morasses,
Deserted by the fever-stricken serf,
All overgrown with reeds and long rank grasses, And hillocks heaped of moss-inwoven turf,
And where the huge and speckled aloe made,
He housed himself.-There is a point of strand
Through muddy weeds the shallow sullen sea.
Here the earth's breath is pestilence, and few
The trophies of the clime's victorious strife-
And at the utmost point. . stood there
The relics of a weed-inwoven cot,
Thatched with broad flags. An outlawed murderer
Had lived seven days there: the pursuit was hot When he was cold. The birds that were his grave Fell dead upon their feast in Vado's wave.
There must have lived within Marenghi's heart
(Which to the martyr makes his dungeon . .
More joyous than the heaven's majestic cope
To his oppressor), warring with decay,—
Nor was his state so lone as you might think.
He had tamed every newt and snake and toad, And every seagull which sailed down to drink
Those. . ere the death-mist went abroad. And each one, with peculiar talk and play, Wiled, not untaught, his silent time away.
And the marsh-meteors, like tame beasts, at night
In many entangled figures quaint and sweet
He mocked the stars by grouping on each weed
And many a fresh Spring-morn would he awakenWhile yet the unrisen sun made glow, like iron Quivering in crimson fire, the peaks unshaken
Of mountains and blue isles which did environ With air-clad crags that plain of land and sea,— And feel liberty.
And in the moonless nights, when the dim ocean
Starting from dreams
Communed with the immeasurable world; And felt his life beyond his limbs dilated, Till his mind grew like that it contemplated.
His food was the wild fig and strawberry;
The milky pine-nuts which the autumnal blast Shakes into the tall grass; and such small fry
As from the sea by winter-storms are cast; And the coarse bulbs of iris-flowers he found Knotted in clumps under the spongy ground.
And so were kindled powers and thoughts which made His solitude less dark. When memory came
(For years gone by leave each a deepening shade), His spirit basked in its internal flame,
As, when the black storm hurries round at night,
Yet human hopes and cares and faiths and errors,
Slept in Marenghi still; but that all terrors,
Weakness, and doubt, had withered in his mind. His couch
And, when he saw beneath the sunset's planet
Its sails and ropes all tense and without motion,
The thought of his own kind who made the soul
Which sped that wingèd shape through night and day,— The thought of his own country