Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.

•Tie the sunset of life gives me mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadows before.

CAMPBELL

DEDICATION.

in our language, except It may be by Mr. LADY! If for the cold and cloudy clime

Hayley, of whose translation I never saw Where I was born, but where I would but one extract, quoted in the notes to Caliph

not die,

Vathek; so that-if I do not err-this poem Of the great Poet-Sire of Italy

may be considered as a metrical experiment. I dare to build the imitative rhymo,

The cantos are short, and about the same Harsh Runic copy of the South's sublime, length of those of the poet whose name I Thou art the cause; and, howsoever I

have borrowed, and most probably taken Fall short of his immortal harmony,

in vain: Thy gentle heart will pardon me the crime.

Amongst the inconveniences of authors in Thou, in the pride of beauty and of youth, the present day, it is difficult for any who Spak’st; and for thee to speak and be have a name, good or bad, to escape trans

obey'd

lation. I have had the fortune to see the Are one; but only in the sunny South

fourth canto of Childe Harold translated Such sounds are utter'd, and such charms into Italian versi sciolti— that is, a poem

display'd,

written in the Spenserean stanza into blank So sweet a language from so fair a mouth-verse, without regard to the natural diAh! to what effort would it not persuade? visions of the stanza, or of the sense. If Ravenna, June 21, 1819. ;

the present poem, being on a national topic, should chance to undergo the same fate, I would request the Italian reader to remem

ber, that when I have failed in the imitaPREFACE.

tion of his great “Padre Alighier,” I have

failed in imitating that which all study and Ls the course of a visit to the city of few understand, since to this very day it is Ravenna, in the summer of 1819, it was not yet settled what was the meaning of suggested to the author that, having com- the allegory in the first canto of the Inferno, posed something on the subject of T'asso's unless Count Marchetti's ingenious and proconfinement, he should do the same on bable conjecture may be considered as havDante's exile-the tomb of the poet forming ing decided the question. one of the principal objects of interest in He

may also pardon my failure the more, that city, both to the native and to the as I am not quite sure that he would be stranger.

pleased with my success, since the Italians, “On this hint I spake," and the result with a pardonable nationality, are partihas been the following four cantos, in terka cularly jealous of all that is left them as rima, now offered to the reader. If they a nation-their literature; and, in the preare understood and approved, it is my pur- sent bitterness of the classic and romantic pose to continue the poem in various other war, are but ill disposed to permit a foreigncantos to its natural conclusion in the pre- er even to approve or imitate them, without sent age. The reader is requested to sup- finding some fault with his ultramontane pose that Dante addresses him in the inter- presumption. I can easily enter into all val between the conclusion of the Divina this, knowing what would be thought in Commedia and his death, and shortly before England of an Italian imitator of Milton, the latter event, foretelling the fortunes of or if a translation of Monti, or Pindemonte, Italy in general in the ensuing centuries. or Arici, should be held up to the rising In adopting this plan I have had in my generation as a model for their future poetmind the Cassandra of Lycophron, and the ical essays. But I perceive that I am Prophery of Nereus by Horace, as well as deviating into an address to the Italian the Prophecies of Holy Writ. The measure reader, when my business is with the Engadopted is the terza rima of Dante, which lish one, and be they few or many, I must I am not aware to have scen hitherto tried I take my leave of both..

name

CANTO I.

Destruction face to face in all his ways.

The world hath left me, what it found ONCÉ more in man's frail world! which I

me-pure, had left

And if I have not gather'd yet its praise, So long that 'twas forgotten; and I feel I sought it not by any baser lure;

The weight of clay again,--too soon bereft Man wrongs, and Time avenges, and my Of the immortal ision which could heal

My earthly sorrows, and to God's own skies May form a monument not all obseure, List me from that deep gulf without repeal, Though such was not my ambition's end Where late my ears rung with the damned

or aim, cries

To add to the vain-glorious list of those Of souls in hopeless bale; and from that Who dabble in the pettiness of fame,

place

And make men's fickle breath the wind that Of lesser torment, whence men may arise

blows Pure from the fire to join the angelic race; Their sail, and deem it glory to be classid Midst whom my own bright Beatrice With conquerors, and Virtue's other foes,

bless'd

In bloody chronicles of ages past. My spirit with her light; and to the base I would have had my Florence great and Of the Eternal Triad ! first, last, best,

free: Mysterious, three, sole, infinite,great God! Oh Florence ! Florence ! unto me thou wast Soul universal! led the mortal guest,

Like that Jerusalem which the Alınighty He Unblasted by the glory, though he trod Wept over: “but thou wouldst not;" as From star to star to reach the almighty

the bird throne.

Gathers its young, I would have gather'd Oh Beatrice! whose sweet limbs the sod

thee So long hath press’d, and the cold marble Beneath a parent-pinion, hadst thou heard

stone,

My voice; but as the adder,dcafand fierce, Thou sole pure seraph of my earliest love, Against the breast that cherish'd thee Love so ineffable, and so alone,

was stirrid That nought on earth could more my bosom Thy venom, and my state thou didat amerce,

move,

And doom this body forfeit to the fire. And meeting thee in heaven was but to Alas! how bitter is his country's curse

meet

To him who for that country would expire, That without which my soul, like the But did not merit to expire by her,

arkless dove, And loves her, loves her even in her ire. Had wander'd still in search of, nor her feet The day may come when she will cease Relieved her wing till found; without

to err, thy light

The day may come she would be proud My Paradise had still been incomplete.

to have Since my tenth sun gave summer to my sight The dust she dooms to scatter, and transfer Thou wert my life, the essence of my Of him, whom she denied a home, the thought,

grave. Loved ere I knew the name of love, and But this shall not be granted ; let my dust

bright

Lie where it falls; nor shall the soil Still in these dim old eyes, now overwrought

which gave With the world's war, and years, and Me breath, but in her sudden fury thrust

banishment, Me forth to breathe elsewhere, so reAnd tears for thee, by other woes untaught; For mine is not a nature to be bent

My indignant bones, because her angry By tyrannous faction, and the brawling

gust crowd ;

Forsooth is over, and repeal'd her doom. And though the long, long conflict hath No,-she denied me what was mine-my been spent

roof, In vain, and never more,save when the cloud, And shall not have what is not hers – sny Which overhangs the Apennine, my

tomb.

Too long her armed wrath hath kept aloof Pierces to fancy Florence, once so proud The breast which would have bled for Of me, can I return, though but to die,

her, the heart Unto my native soil, they have not yet That beat, the mind that was temptationQuench'd the old exile's spirit, stern and

proof, high.

The man who fought, toil'd, travell’d, and But the sun, though not overcast, must set,

each part And the night cometh; I am old in days, Of a true citizen fulfill'd, and saw And deeds, and contemplation, and have For his reward the Guelf's ascendant art

met

Pass his destruction even into a law.

assume

mind's eye

ness

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

my wail ?

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

These things are not made for forgetful To lift my eyes more to the passing sail

Which shuns that reef so horrible and Florence shall be forgotten first; too raw

bare ;
The wound , too deep the wrong, and the Nor raise my voice — for who would heed

distress
Of such endurance too prolong'd, to make I am not of this people, nor this age,
My pardon greater, her injustice less, And yet my harpings will unfold a talo
Though late repented; yet-yet for her sake Which shall preserve these times when not
I feel some fonder yearnings,and for thine,

a page
My own Beatrice, I would hardly take Of their perturbed annals could attract
Vengeance upon the land which once was An eye to gaze upon their civil rage,

mine,

Did not my verse embalm full many an act And still is hallow'd by thy dust's return, Worthless as they who wrought it: 'tis Which would protect the murderess like

the doom
a shrine,

Of spirits of my order to be rack'd
And save ten thousand foes by thy sole urn. lo life to wear their hearts out, and consume
Though, like old Marius from Minturnæ's Their days in endless strife,and die alone;

marsh

Then future thousands crowd around their And Carthage ruins, my lone breast may

tomb, burn

And pilgrims come from climes where At times with evil feelings hot and harsh,

they have known And sometimes the last pangs of a vile foe The name of him—who now is but a name,

Writhe in a dream before me, and o'erarch And wasting homage o'er the sullen stone My brow with hopes of triumph, – let Spread his— by him unheard, unheeded them go!

fame; Such are the last infirunities of those And mine at least hath cost me dcar: Who long have suffer'd more than mortal

to die woe,

Is nothing; but to wither thus- to tame
And yet being mortal still, have no repose My mind down from its own infinity-

But on the pillow of Revenge-Revenge, To live in narrow ways with little men,
Who sleeps to dream of blood, and waking A common sight to every common eye,

glows

A wanderer, while even wolves can find a den, With the oft-baffled, slakeless thirst of Ripp'd from all kindred, from all home, change,

all things
When we shall mount again, and they That make communion sweet, and soften
that trod

pain-
Be trampled on,while Death and Ate range To feel me in the solitude of kings
O'er humbled heads and sever'd necks Without the power that makes them
Great God!

bear a crownTake these thoughts from me - to thy To envy every dove his nest and wings

hands I yield Which waft him where the Apennine looks My many wrongs, and thine almighty rod

down Will fall on those who smote me,-be my On Arno, till he perches, it may be,

shield !

Within my all-inexorable town,
As thou hast been in peril, and in pain, Where yet my boys are, and that fatal she,

In turbulent cities, and the tented field Their mother, the cold partner who hath
In toil, and many troubles borne in vain

brought For Florence.--I appeal from her to Thee! Destruction for a dowry-this to see

Thee,whom I late saw in thy loftiest reign, And feel, and know without repair, hath Even in that glorious vision, which to see

taught And live was never granted until now, A bitter lesson ; but it leaves me free:

And yet thou hast permitted this to me. I have not vilely found, nor basely Alas! with what a weight upon my brow

songht,The sense of earth and earthly things They made an Exilo-not a slave of me.

come back,
Corrosive passions, feelings dull and low,
The heart's quick throb upon the mental

rack,
Long day,and dreary night; the retrospect

CAN TO II.
of half a century bloody and black,
And the frail few years I may yet expect The Spirit of the fervent days of Old,

Hoary and hopeless, but less hard to bear, When words were things that came to
For I have been too long and deeply

pass, and thought wreck'd

Flashid o'cr the future, bidding men On the lonc rock of desolate Despair

behold

Their children's children's doom already For the world's granary; thou whose sky brought

heaven gilds Forth from the abyss of time which is to be, With brighter stars, and robes with deeper The chaos of events, where lie half

blue; wrought

Thou, in whose pleasant places Summer Shapes that must undergo mortality;

builds What the great Seers of Israel wore Her palace, in whose cradle Empire grew, within,

And form'd the Eternal City's ornaments That spirit was on them, and is on me, From spoils of kings whom , freemen And if, Cassandra-like, amidst the din

overthrew; Of conflict none will hear or hearing heed Birthplace of heroes, sanctuary of saints, This voice from out the Wilderness, Where earthly first, then heavenly glory the sin

made Be theirs, and my own feelings be my meed, Her home; thou, all which fondest fancy The only guerdon I have ever known.

paints, Hast thou not bled ? and hast thou still And finds her prior vision but portray'd

to bleed,

In feeble colours, when the eye-from Italia ? Ah! to me such things, foreshown

the Alp With dim sepulchral light, bid me forget Ofhorrid snow,and rock and shaggy shade

In thine irreparable wrongs my own; Of desert-loving pine, whose emerald scalp We can have but one country, and even yet Nods to the storm-dilates and dotes o'er Thou'rt mine—my bones shall be within

thee, thy breast,

And wistfully implores, as 'twere, for help My soul within thy language, which To see thy sunny fields, my Italy,

once set

Nearer and nearer yet, and dearer still With our old Roman sway in the wide West; The more approachd, and dearest were But I will make another tongue arise

they free;As lofty and more sweet, in which exprest Thou—Thou must wither to each tyrant's The hero's ardour, or the lover's sighs,

will: Shall find alike such sounds for every The Goth hath been, - the German, theme

Frank, and Hun That every word, as brilliant as thy skies, Are yet to come,- and on the imperial hill Shall realise a poet's proudest drcam, Ruin, already proud of the deeds done And make thee Europe's nightingale of By the old barbarians, there awaits the song;

now, So that all present speech to thine shall Throned on the Palatine, while lost and

seem

won

The note of meaner birds, and every tongue Rome at her feet lies bleeding; and the hue Confess its barbarism when compared Of human sacrifice and Roman slaughter

with thine.

Troubles the clotted air, of late so blue, This shalt thou owe to him thou didst And deepens into red the saffron water

80 wrong

Of Tiber, thick with dead; the helpless Thy Tuscan Bard, the banish'd Ghibelline.

priest, Woe! woe! the veil of coming centuries And still more helpless nor less holy Is rent, – a thousand years which yet

daughter, supine

Vow'd to their God, have shrieking fled, Lic like the ocean-waves ere winds arise,

and ceased Heaving in dark and sullen undulation, Their ministry: the nations take their Float from eternity into these eyes ;

prey, The storms yet sleep, the clouds still keep Iberian, Almain, Lombard, and the beast

their station, And bird, wolf, vulture, more humane Theunborn carthquake yet is in the womb,

than they The bloody chaos yet expects creation, Are; these but gorge the flesh and lap But all things are disposing for thy doom;

The elements await but for the word, Of the departed, and then their way; “Let there be darkness!” and thou growst But those, the human savages, explore

a tomb!

All paths of torture, and insatiate yet, Yes ! thou, so beautiful, shalt feel the sword, With Ugolino-hunger prowl for more.

Thou, Italy! so fair that Paradise, Nine moons shall rise o'er scenes like this Revived in thee, blooms forth to man

and set; restored :

The chiefless army of the dead, which Ab! must the song of Adam lose it twice?

late Thou Italy! whose ever golden fields, Beneath the traitor Prince's banner met, Plough'd by the sunbcams solely, would Hath left its leader's ashes at the gate;

suffice

Had but the royal Rebel lived, perchance

the gore

prey ?

Thou hadst been spared, but his involved | What is there wanting then to set thee frec,

thy fate.

And show thy beauty in its fullest light? Oh! Rome,the spoiler or the spoil of France, To make the Alps impassable; and we,

From Brennus to the Bourbon,never, never Her sons, may do this with ono deed—Unite! Shall foreign standard to thy walls

advance But Tiber shall become a mournful river. Oh! when the strangers pass the Alps and Po,

CANTO III.
Crush them

ye
rocks ! floods, whelm them,

and for ever! From out the mass of never dying ill, Why sleep the idle avalanches so,

The Plague, the Prince, the Stranger, To topple on the lonely pilgrim's head ?

and the Sword, Why doth Eridanus but overflow

Vials of wrath but emptied to refill The peasant's harvest from his turbid bed? And flow again, I cannot all record Were not cach barbarous horde a nobler That crowds on my prophetic eye: the

carth Over Cambyses' host the desert spread And ocean written o'er would not afford Her sandy ocean, and the sea waves' sway Space for the annal, yet it shall go forth; Rolld over Pharaoh and his thousands, Yes, all, though not by human pen, is - why

graven, Mountains and waters do ye not as they! There where the farthest suns and stars And you, ye men ! Romans, who dare not die,

have birth. Sons of the conquerors who overthrew Spread like a banner at the gate of heaven, Those who overthrew proud Xerxes, The bloody scroll of our millennial where yet lie

wrongs The dead whose tomb Oblivion never knew, Waves,and the echo of our groans is driven

Are the Alps weaker than Thermopylæ? Athwart the sound of archangelic songs,

Their passes more alluring to the view And Italy, the martyr'd nation's gore, or an invader? is it they, or ye,

Will not in vain arise to where belongs That to each host the mountain-gate Omnipotence and mercy evermore:

unbar,

Like to a harpstring stricken by the wind, And leave the march in peace, the pas The sound of her lament shall, rising o'er

The seraph-voices,touch the Almighty Mind. Why, Nature's self detains the victor's car Meantime I, humblest of thy sons, and of

And makes your land impregnable, if earth Earth's dust by immortality refined

Could be so; but alone she will not war, To sense and suffering, though the vain may Yet aids the warrior worthy of his birth

scoff, In a soil where the mothers bring forth And tyrants threat, and meeker victims

bow Not so with those whose souls are little Before the storm because its breath is worth;

rough, For them no fortress can avail,—the den To thee, my country! whom before as now, of the poor reptile which preserves its I loved and love,devote the mournfullyro

sting

And melancholy gift high powers allow Is more secure than walls of adamant, To read the future, and if now my fire when

Is not as once it shone o'er thee, forgive! The hearts of those within are quivering. I but foretell thy fortunes—then expire;

Are ye not brave? Yes, yet the Ausonian soil Think not that I would look on them and Hath hearts, and hands, and arms, and

live, hosts to bring A spirit forces me to see and speak, Against Oppression ; but how vain the toil, And for my guerdon grants not to survivc; While still Division sows the seeds of woe My heart shall be pour'd over thee and And weakness, till the stranger reaps

break: the spoil.

Yet for a moment, ere I must resuwe Oh!my own beauteous land! so long laid low, Thy sable web of sorrow, let me take So long the grave of thy own children's Over the gleams that flash athwart thy hopes,

gloom When there is but required a single blow A softer glimpse; some stars shine through To break the chain, yet - yet the Avenger

thy night, stops,

And many meteors, and above thy tomb And Doubt and Discord step 'twixt thine Leans sculptured Beauty, which Death and thee,

cannot blight; And join their strength to that which And from thine ashes boundless spirits rise

with thee copes ;|

To give thee honour and the earth delight;

sage free?

men:

« ZurückWeiter »