Dark hour, last moment of that fatal day! Stars which to beggar me of bliss combined! O faithful glance, too well which seem'dst to say Farewell to me, farewell to peace of mind! Awaken'd now, my losses I survey: Alas! I fondly thought—thoughts weak and blind!— That absence would take part, not all, away; How many hopes it scatter'd to the wind. Heaven had already doom'd it otherwise, To quench for ever my life's genial light, And in her sad sweet face 'twas written so. Surely a veil was placed around mine eyes, That blinded me to all before my sight, And sank at once my life in deepest woe.
Quel vago, dolce, caro, onesto sguardo.
HE SHOULD HAVE FORESEEN HIS LOSS IN THE UNUSUAL LUSTRE OF HER EYES.
That glance of hers, pure, tender, clear, and sweet, Methought it said, "Take what thou canst while nigh; For here no more thou'lt see me, till on high From earth have mounted thy slow-moving feet." O intellect than forest pard more fleet! Yet slow and dull thy sorrow to descry, How didst thou fail to see in her bright eye What since befell, whence I my ruin meet. Silently shining with a fire sublime, They said, "O friendly lights, which long have been Mirrors to us where gladly we were seen, Heaven waits for you, as ye shall know in time; Who bound us to the earth dissolves our bond, But wills in your despite that you shall live beyond."
Solea dalla fontana di mia vita.
MEMORY IS HIS ONLY SOLACE AND SUPPORT.
I who was wont from life's best fountain far So long to wander, searching land and sea, Pursuing not my pleasure, but my star, And alway, as Love knows who strengthen'd me, Ready in bitter exile to depart, For hope and memory both then fed my heart; Alas! now wring my hands, and to unkind And angry Fortune, which away has reft That so sweet hope, my armour have resign'd; And, memory only left, I feed my great desire on that alone, Whence frail and famish'd is my spirit grown.
As haply by the way, if want of food Compel the traveller to relax his speed, Losing that strength which first his steps endued, So feeling, for my weary life, the need Of that dear nourishment Death rudely stole, Leaving the world all bare, and sad my soul, From time to time fair pleasures pall, my sweet To bitter turns, fear rises, and hopes fail, My course, though brief, that I shall e'er complete: Cloudlike before the gale, To win some resting-place from rest I flee, —If such indeed my doom, so let it be.
Never to mortal life could I incline, —Be witness, Love, with whom I parley oft— Except for her who was its light and mine. And since, below extinguish'd, shines aloft The life in which I lived, if lawful 'twere, My chief desire would be to follow her: But mine is ample cause of grief, for I To see my future fate was ill supplied; This Love reveal'd within her beauteous eye Elsewhere my hopes to guide: Too late he dies, disconsolate and sad, Whom death a little earlier had made glad.
In those bright eyes, where wont my heart to dwell, Until by envy my hard fortune stirr'd Rose from so rich a temple to expel, Love with his proper hand had character'd In lines of pity what, ere long, I ween The issue of my old desire had been. Dying alone, and not my life with me, Comely and sweet it then had been to die, Leaving my life's best part unscathed and free; But now my fond hopes lie Dead in her silent dust: a secret chill Shoots through me when I think that I live still.
If my poor intellect had but the force To help my need, and if no other lure Had led it from the plain and proper course, Upon my lady's brow 'twere easy sure To have read this truth, "Here all thy pleasure dies, And hence thy lifelong trial dates its rise." My spirit then had gently pass'd away In her dear presence from all mortal care; Freed from this troublesome and heavy clay, Mounting, before her, where Angels and saints prepared on high her place, Whom I but follow now with slow sad pace.
My song! if one there be Who in his love finds happiness and rest, Tell him this truth from me, "Die, while thou still art bless'd, For death betimes is comfort, not dismay, And who can rightly die needs no delay."
Mia benigna fortuna e 'l viver lieto.
IN HIS MISERY HE DESIRES DEATH THE MORE HE REMEMBERS HIS PAST CONTENTMENT AND COMFORT.
My favouring fortune and my life of joy, My days so cloudless, and my tranquil nights, The tender sigh, the pleasing power of song, Which gently wont to sound in verse and rhyme, Suddenly darken'd into grief and tears, Make me hate life and inly pray for death!
O cruel, grim, inexorable Death! How hast thou dried my every source of joy, And left me to drag on a life of tears, Through darkling days and melancholy nights. My heavy sighs no longer meet in rhyme, And my hard martyrdom exceeds all song!
Where now is vanish'd my once amorous song? To talk of anger and to treat with death; Where the fond verses, where the happy rhyme Welcomed by gentle hearts with pensive joy? Where now Love's communings that cheer'd my nights? My sole theme, my one thought, is now but tears!
Erewhile to my desire so sweet were tears Their tenderness refined my else rude song, And made me wake and watch the livelong nights; But sorrow now to me is worse than death, Since lost for aye that look of modest joy, The lofty subject of my lowly rhyme!
Love in those bright eyes to my ready rhyme Gave a fair theme, now changed, alas! to tears; With grief remembering that time of joy, My changed thoughts issue find in other song, Evermore thee beseeching, pallid Death, To snatch and save me from these painful nights!
Sleep has departed from my anguish'd nights, Music is absent from my rugged rhyme, Which knows not now to sound of aught but death; Its notes, so thrilling once, all turn'd to tears, Love knows not in his reign such varied song, As full of sadness now as then of joy!
Man lived not then so crown'd as I with joy, Man lives not now such wretched days and nights; And my full festering grief but swells the song Which from my bosom draws the mournful rhyme; I lived in hope, who now live but in tears, Nor against death have other hope save death!
Me Death in her has kill'd; and only Death Can to my sight restore that face of joy, Which pleasant made to me e'en sighs and tears, Balmy the air, and dewy soft the nights, Wherein my choicest thoughts I gave to rhyme While Love inspirited my feeble song!
Would that such power as erst graced Orpheus' song Were mine to win my Laura back from death, As he Eurydice without a rhyme; Then would I live in best excess of joy; Or, that denied me, soon may some sad night Close for me ever these twin founts of tears!
Love! I have told with late and early tears, My grievous injuries in doleful song; Not that I hope from thee less cruel nights; And therefore am I urged to pray for death, Which hence would take me but to crown with joy, Where lives she whom I sing in this sad rhyme!
If so high may aspire my weary rhyme, To her now shelter'd safe from rage and tears, Whose beauties fill e'en heaven with livelier joy, Well would she recognise my alter'd song, Which haply pleased her once, ere yet by death Her days were cloudless made and dark my nights!
O ye, who fondly sigh for better nights, Who listen to love's will, or sing in rhyme, Pray that for me be no delay in death, The port of misery, the goal of tears, But let him change for me his ancient song, Since what makes others sad fills me with joy!
Ay! for such joy, in one or in few nights, I pray in rude song and in anguish'd rhyme, That soon my tears may ended be in death!
Ite, rime dolenti, al duro sasso.
HE PRAYS THAT SHE WILL BE NEAR HIM AT HIS DEATH, WHICH HE FEELS APPROACHING.
Go, plaintive verse, to the cold marble go, Which hides in earth my treasure from these eyes; There call on her who answers from yon skies, Although the mortal part dwells dark and low. Of life how I am wearied make her know, Of stemming these dread waves that round me rise: But, copying all her virtues I so prize, Her track I follow, yet my steps are slow. I sing of her, living, or dead, alone; (Dead, did I say? She is immortal made!) That by the world she should be loved, and known. Oh! in my passage hence may she be near, To greet my coming that's not long delay'd; And may I hold in heaven the rank herself holds there!
Go, melancholy rhymes! your tribute bring To that cold stone, which holds the dear remains Of all that earth held precious;—uttering, If heaven should deign to hear them, earthly strains. Tell her, that sport of tempests, fit no more To stem the troublous ocean,—here at last Her votary treads the solitary shore; His only pleasure to recall the past. Tell her, that she who living ruled his fate, In death still holds her empire: all his care, So grant the Muse her aid,—to celebrate Her every word, and thought, and action fair. Be this my meed, that in the hour of death Her kindred spirit may hail, and bless my parting breath!
S' onesto amor puo meritar mercede.
HE PRAYS THAT, IN REWARD FOR HIS LONG AND VIRTUOUS ATTACHMENT, SHE WILL VISIT HIM IN DEATH.
If Mercy e'er rewardeth virtuous love, If Pity still can do, as she has done, I shall have rest, for clearer than the sun My lady and the world my faith approve. Who fear'd me once, now knows, yet scarce believes I am the same who wont her love to seek, Who seek it still; where she but heard me speak, Or saw my face, she now my soul perceives. Wherefore I hope that e'en in heaven she mourns My heavy anguish, and on me the while Her sweet face eloquent of pity turns, And that when shuffled off this mortal coil, Her way to me with that fair band she'll wend, True follower of Christ and virtue's friend.
If virtuous love doth merit recompense— If pity still maintain its wonted sway— I that reward shall win, for bright as day To earth and Laura breathes my faith's incense. She fear'd me once—now heavenly confidence Reveals my heart's first hope's unchanging stay; A word, a look, could this alone convey, My heart she reads now, stripp'd of earth's defence. And thus I hope, she for my heavy sighs To heaven complains, to me she pity shows By sympathetic visits in my dream: And when this mortal temple breathless lies, Oh! may she greet my soul, enclosed by those Whom heaven and virtue love—our friends supreme.
Vidi fra mille donne una gia tale.
BEAUTY SHOWED ITSELF IN, AND DISAPPEARED WITH, LAURA.
'Mid many fair one such by me was seen That amorous fears my heart did instant seize, Beholding her—nor false the images— Equal to angels in her heavenly mien. Nothing in her was mortal or terrene, As one whom nothing short of heaven can please; My soul well train'd for her to burn and freeze Sought in her wake to mount the blue serene. But ah! too high for earthly wings to rise Her pitch, and soon she wholly pass'd from sight: The very thought still makes me cold and numb; O beautiful and high and lustrous eyes, Where Death, who fills the world with grief and fright, Found entrance in so fair a form to come.
Tornami a mente, anzi v' e dentro quella.
SHE IS SO FIXED IN HIS HEART THAT AT TIMES HE BELIEVES HER STILL ALIVE, AND IS FORCED TO RECALL THE DATE OF HER DEATH.
Oh! to my soul for ever she returns; Or rather Lethe could not blot her thence, Such as she was when first she struck my sense, In that bright blushing age when beauty burns: So still I see her, bashful as she turns Retired into herself, as from offence: I cry—"'Tis she! she still has life and sense: Oh, speak to me, my love!"—Sometimes she spurns My call; sometimes she seems to answer straight: Then, starting from my waking dream, I say,— "Alas! poor wretch, thou art of mind bereft! Forget'st thou the first hour of the sixth day Of April, the three hundred, forty eight, And thousandth year,—when she her earthly mansion left?"
My mind recalls her; nay, her home is there, Nor can Lethean draught drive thence her form, I see that star's pure ray her spirit warm, Whose grace and spring-time beauty she doth wear. As thus my vision paints her charms so rare, That none to such perfection may conform, I cry, "'Tis she! death doth to life transform!" And then to hear that voice, I wake my prayer. She now replies, and now doth mute appear, Like one whose tottering mind regains its power; I speak my heart: "Thou must this cheat resign; The thirteen hundred, eight and fortieth year, The sixth of April's suns, his first bright hour, Thou know'st that soul celestial fled its shrine!"
Questo nostro caduco e fragil bene.
NATURE DISPLAYED IN HER EVERY CHARM, BUT SOON WITHDREW HER FROM SIGHT.
This gift of beauty which a good men name, Frail, fleeting, fancied, false, a wind, a shade, Ne'er yet with all its spells one fair array'd, Save in this age when for my cost it came. Not such is Nature's duty, nor her aim, One to enrich if others poor are made, But now on one is all her wealth display'd, —Ladies, your pardon let my boldness claim. Like loveliness ne'er lived, or old or new, Nor ever shall, I ween, but hid so strange, Scarce did our erring world its marvel view, So soon it fled; thus too my soul must change The little light vouchsafed me from the skies Only for pleasure of her sainted eyes.
O tempo, o ciel volubil che fuggendo.
HE NO LONGER CONTEMPLATES THE MORTAL, BUT THE IMMORTAL BEAUTIES OF LAURA.
O Time! O heavens! whose flying changes frame Errors and snares for mortals poor and blind; O days more swift than arrows or the wind, Experienced now, I know your treacherous aim. You I excuse, myself alone I blame, For Nature for your flight who wings design'd To me gave eyes which still I have inclined To mine own ill, whence follow grief and shame. An hour will come, haply e'en now is pass'd, Their sight to turn on my diviner part And so this infinite anguish end at last. Rejects not your long yoke, O Love, my heart, But its own ill by study, sufferings vast: Virtue is not of chance, but painful art.
O Time! O circling heavens! in your flight Us mortals ye deceive—so poor and blind; O days! more fleeting than the shaft or wind, Experience brings your treachery to my sight! But mine the error—ye yourselves are right; Your flight fulfils but that your wings design'd: My eyes were Nature's gift, yet ne'er could find But one blest light—and hence their present blight. It now is time (perchance the hour is pass'd) That they a safer dwelling should select, And thus repose might soothe my grief acute: Love's yoke the spirit may not from it cast, (With oh what pain!) it may its ill eject; But virtue is attain'd but by pursuit!
Quel, che d' odore e di color vincea.
THE LAUREL, IN WHOM HE PLACED ALL HIS JOY HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM HIM TO ADORN HEAVEN.
That which in fragrance and in hue defied The odoriferous and lucid East, Fruits, flowers and herbs and leaves, and whence the West Of all rare excellence obtain'd the prize, My laurel sweet, which every beauty graced, Where every glowing virtue loved to dwell, Beheld beneath its fair and friendly shade My Lord, and by his side my Goddess sit. Still have I placed in that beloved plant My home of choicest thoughts: in fire, in frost Shivering or burning, still I have been bless'd. The world was of her perfect honours full When God, his own bright heaven therewith to grace, Reclaim'd her for Himself, for she was his.
Lasciato hai, Morte, senza sole il mondo.
HER TRUE WORTH WAS KNOWN ONLY TO HIM AND TO HEAVEN.
Death, thou the world, since that dire arrow sped, Sunless and cold hast left; Love weak and blind; Beauty and grace their brilliance have resign'd, And from my heavy heart all joy is fled; Honour is sunk, and softness banished. I weep alone the woes which all my kind Should weep—for virtue's fairest flower has pined Beneath thy touch: what second blooms instead? Let earth, sea, air, with common wail bemoan Man's hapless race; which now, since Laura died, A flowerless mead, a gemless ring appears. The world possess'd, nor knew her worth, till flown! I knew it well, who here in grief abide; And heaven too knows, which decks its forehead with my tears.
Thou, Death, hast left this world's dark cheerless way Without a sun: Love blind and stripp'd of arms; Left mirth despoil'd; beauty bereaved of charms; And me self-wearied, to myself a prey; Left vanish'd, sunk, whate'er was courteous, gay: I only weep, yet all must feel alarms: If beauty's bud the hand of rapine harms It dies, and not a second views the day! Let air, earth, ocean weep for human kind; For human kind, deprived of Laura, seems A flowerless mead, a ring whose gem is lost. None knew her worth while to this orb confined, Save me her bard, whose sorrow ceaseless streams, And heaven, that's made more beauteous at my cost.
Conobbi, quanto il ciel gli occhi m' aperse.
HER PRAISES ARE, COMPARED WITH HER DESERTS, BUT AS A DROP TO THE OCEAN.
So far as to mine eyes its light heaven show'd, So far as love and study train'd my wings, Novel and beautiful but mortal things From every star I found on her bestow'd: So many forms in rare and varied mode Of heavenly beauty from immortal springs My panting intellect before me brings, Sunk my weak sight before their dazzling load. Hence, whatsoe'er I spoke of her or wrote, Who, at God's right, returns me now her prayers, Is in that infinite abyss a mote: For style beyond the genius never dares; Thus, though upon the sun man fix his sight, He seeth less as fiercer burns its light.
Dolce mio caro e prezioso pegno.
HE PRAYS HER TO APPEAR BEFORE HIM IN A VISION.
Dear precious pledge, by Nature snatch'd away, But yet reserved for me in realms undying; O thou on whom my life is aye relying, Why tarry thus, when for thine aid I pray? Time was, when sleep could to mine eyes convey Sweet visions, worthy thee;—why is my sighing Unheeded now?—who keeps thee from replying? Surely contempt in heaven cannot stay: Often on earth the gentlest heart is fain To feed and banquet on another's woe (Thus love is conquer'd in his own domain), But thou, who seest through me, and dost know All that I feel,—thou, who canst soothe my pain, Oh! let thy blessed shade its peace bestow.
Deh qual pieta, qual angel fu si presto.
HIS PRAYER IS HEARD.
What angel of compassion, hovering near, Heard, and to heaven my heart grief instant bore, Whence now I feel descending as of yore My lady, in that bearing chaste and dear, My lone and melancholy heart to cheer, So free from pride, of humbleness such store, In fine, so perfect, though at death's own door, I live, and life no more is dull and drear. Blessed is she who so can others bless With her fair sight, or with that tender speech To whose full meaning love alone can reach. "Dear friend," she says, "thy pangs my soul distress; But for our good I did thy homage shun"— In sweetest tones which might arrest the sun.
Del cibo onde 'l signor mio sempre abbonda.
HE DESCRIBES THE APPARITION OF LAURA.
Food wherewithal my lord is well supplied, With tears and grief my weary heart I've fed; As fears within and paleness o'er me spread, Oft thinking on its fatal wound and wide: But in her time with whom no other vied, Equal or second, to my suffering bed Comes she to look on whom I almost dread, And takes her seat in pity by my side. With that fair hand, so long desired in vain, She check'd my tears, while at her accents crept A sweetness to my soul, intense, divine. "Is this thy wisdom, to parade thy pain? No longer weep! hast thou not amply wept? Would that such life were thine as death is mine!"
With grief and tears (my soul's proud sovereign's food) I ever nourish still my aching heart; I feel my blanching cheek, and oft I start As on Love's sharp engraven wound I brood. But she, who e'er on earth unrivall'd stood, Flits o'er my couch, when prostrate by his dart I lie; and there her presence doth impart. Whilst scarce my eyes dare meet their vision'd good, With that fair hand in life I so desired, She stays my eyes' sad tide; her voice's tone Awakes the balm earth ne'er to man can give: And thus she speaks:—"Oh! vain hath wisdom fired The hopeless mourner's breast; no more bemoan, I am not dead—would thou like me couldst live!"
Ripensando a quel ch' oggi il ciel onora.
HE WOULD DIE OF GRIEF WERE SHE NOT SOMETIMES TO CONSOLE HIM BY HER PRESENCE.
To that soft look which now adorns the skies, The graceful bending of the radiant head, The face, the sweet angelic accents fled, That soothed me once, but now awake my sighs Oh! when to these imagination flies, I wonder that I am not long since dead! 'Tis she supports me, for her heavenly tread Is round my couch when morning visions rise! In every attitude how holy, chaste! How tenderly she seems to hear the tale Of my long woes, and their relief to seek! But when day breaks she then appears in haste The well-known heavenward path again to scale, With moisten'd eye, and soft expressive cheek!
'Tis sweet, though sad, my trembling thoughts to raise, As memory dwells upon that form so dear, And think that now e'en angels join to praise The gentle virtues that adorn'd her here; That face, that look, in fancy to behold— To hear that voice that did with music vie— The bending head, crown'd with its locks of gold— All, all that charm'd, now but sad thoughts supply. How had I lived her bitter loss to weep, If that pure spirit, pitying my woe, Had not appear'd to bless my troubled sleep, Ere memory broke upon the world below? What pure, what gentle greetings then were mine! In what attention wrapt she paused to hear My life's sad course, of which she bade me speak! But as the dawn from forth the East did shine Back to that heaven to which her way was clear, She fled,—while falling tears bedew'd each cheek.
Fu forse un tempo dolce cosa amore.
HE COMPLAINS OF HIS SUFFERINGS, WHICH ADMIT OF NO RELIEF.
Love, haply, was erewhile a sweet relief; I scarce know when; but now it bitter grows Beyond all else. Who learns from life well knows, As I have learnt to know from heavy grief; She, of our age, who was its honour chief, Who now in heaven with brighter lustre glows, Has robb'd my being of the sole repose It knew in life, though that was rare and brief. Pitiless Death my every good has ta'en! Not the great bliss of her fair spirit freed Can aught console the adverse life I lead. I wept and sang; who now can wake no strain, But day and night the pent griefs of my soul From eyes and tongue in tears and verses roll.
Spinse amor e dolor ove ir non debbe.
REFLECTING THAT LAURA IS IN HEAVEN, HE REPENTS HIS EXCESSIVE GRIEF, AND IS CONSOLED.
Sorrow and Love encouraged my poor tongue, Discreet in sadness, where it should not go, To speak of her for whom I burn'd and sung, What, even were it true, 'twere wrong to show. That blessed saint my miserable state Might surely soothe, and ease my spirit's strife, Since she in heaven is now domesticate With Him who ever ruled her heart in life. Wherefore I am contented and consoled, Nor would again in life her form behold; Nay, I prefer to die, and live alone. Fairer than ever to my mental eye, I see her soaring with the angels high, Before our Lord, her maker and my own.
My love and grief compell'd me to proclaim My heart's lament, and urged me to convey That, were it true, of her I should not say Who woke alike my song and bosom's flame. For I should comfort find, 'mid this world's shame, To mark her soul's beatified array, To think that He who here had own'd its sway, Doth now within his home its presence claim. And true I comfort find—myself resign'd, I would not woo her back to earthly gloom; Oh! rather let me die, or live still lone! My mental eye, that holds her there enshrined, Now paints her wing'd, bright with celestial bloom, Prostrate beneath our mutual Heaven's throne.
Gli angeli eletti e l' anime beate.
HE DIRECTS ALL HIS THOUGHTS TO HEAVEN, WHERE LAURA AWAITS AND BECKONS HIM.
The chosen angels, and the spirits blest, Celestial tenants, on that glorious day My Lady join'd them, throng'd in bright array Around her, with amaze and awe imprest. "What splendour, what new beauty stands confest Unto our sight?"—among themselves they say; "No soul, in this vile age, from sinful clay To our high realms has risen so fair a guest." Delighted to have changed her mortal state, She ranks amid the purest of her kind; And ever and anon she looks behind, To mark my progress and my coming wait; Now my whole thought, my wish to heaven I cast; 'Tis Laura's voice I hear, and hence she bids me haste.
The chosen angels, and the blest above, Heaven's citizens!—the day when Laura ceased To adorn the world, about her thronging press'd, Replete with wonder and with holy love. "What sight is this?—what will this beauty prove?" Said they; "for sure no form in charms so dress'd, From yonder globe to this high place of rest, In all the latter age, did e'er remove!" She, pleased and happy with her mansion new, Compares herself with the most perfect there; And now and then she casts a glance to view If yet I come, and seems to wish me near. Rise then, my thoughts, to heaven!—vain world, adieu! My Laura calls! her quickening voice I hear!
Donna che lieta col Principio nostro.
HE CONJURES LAURA, BY THE PURE LOVE HE EVER BORE HER, TO OBTAIN FOR HIM A SPEEDY ADMISSION TO HER IN HEAVEN.
Lady, in bliss who, by our Maker's feet, As suited for thine excellent life alone, Art now enthroned in high and glorious seat, Adorn'd with charms nor pearls nor purple own; O model high and rare of ladies sweet! Now in his face to whom all things are known, Look on my love, with that pure faith replete, As long my verse and truest tears have shown, And know at last my heart on earth to thee Was still as now in heaven, nor wish'd in life More than beneath thine eyes' bright sun to be: Wherefore, to recompense the tedious strife, Which turn'd my liege heart from the world away, Pray that I soon may come with thee to stay.
Lady! whose gentle virtues have obtain'd For thee a dwelling with thy Maker blest, To sit enthroned above, in angels' vest (Whose lustre gold nor purple had attain'd): Ah! thou who here the most exalted reign'd, Now through the eyes of Him who knows each breast, That heart's pure faith and love thou canst attest, Which both my pen and tears alike sustain'd. Thou, knowest, too, my heart was thine on earth, As now it is in heaven; no wish was there But to avow thine eyes, its only shrine: Thus to reward the strife which owes its birth To thee, who won my each affection'd care, Pray God to waft me to his home and thine!
Da' piu begli occhi e dal piu chiaro viso.
HIS ONLY COMFORT IS THE EXPECTATION OF MEETING HER AGAIN IN HEAVEN.
The brightest eyes, the most resplendent face That ever shone; and the most radiant hair, With which nor gold nor sunbeam could compare; The sweetest accent, and a smile all grace; Hands, arms, that would e'en motionless abase Those who to Love the most rebellious were; Fine, nimble feet; a form that would appear Like that of her who first did Eden trace; These fann'd life's spark: now heaven, and all its choir Of angel hosts those kindred charms admire; While lone and darkling I on earth remain. Yet is not comfort fled; she, who can read Each secret of my soul, shall intercede; And I her sainted form behold again.
Yes, from those finest eyes, that face most sweet That ever shone, and from that loveliest hair, With which nor gold nor sunbeam may compare, That speech with love, that smile with grace replete, From those soft hands, those white arms which defeat. Themselves unmoved, the stoutest hearts that e'er To Love were rebels; from those feet so fair, From her whole form, for Eden only meet, My spirit took its life—now these delight The King of Heaven and his angelic train, While, blind and naked, I am left in night. One only balm expect I 'mid my pain— That she, mine every thought who now can see, May win this grace—that I with her may be.
E' mi par d' or in ora udire il messo.
HE FEELS THAT THE DAY OF THEIR REUNION IS AT HAND.
Methinks from hour to hour her voice I hear: My Lady calls me! I would fain obey; Within, without, I feel myself decay; And am so alter'd—not with many a year— That to myself a stranger I appear; All my old usual life is put away— Could I but know how long I have to stay! Grant, Heaven, the long-wish'd summons may be near! Oh, blest the day when from this earthly gaol I shall be freed, when burst and broken lies This mortal guise, so heavy yet so frail, When from this black night my saved spirit flies, Soaring up, up, above the bright serene, Where with my Lord my Lady shall be seen.
L' aura mia sacra al mio stanco riposo.
HE TELLS HER IN SLEEP OF HIS SUFFERINGS, AND, OVERCOME BY HER SYMPATHY, AWAKES.
On my oft-troubled sleep my sacred air So softly breathes, at last I courage take, To tell her of my past and present ache, Which never in her life my heart did dare. I first that glance so full of love declare Which served my lifelong torment to awake, Next, how, content and wretched for her sake, Love day by day my tost heart knew to tear. She speaks not, but, with pity's dewy trace, Intently looks on me, and gently sighs, While pure and lustrous tears begem her face; My spirit, which her sorrow fiercely tries, So to behold her weep with anger burns, And freed from slumber to itself returns.
Ogni giorno mi par piu di mill' anni.
FAR FROM FEARING, HE PRAYS FOR DEATH.
Each day to me seems as a thousand years, That I my dear and faithful star pursue, Who guided me on earth, and guides me too By a sure path to life without its tears. For in the world, familiar now, appears No snare to tempt; so rare a light and true Shines e'en from heaven my secret conscience through, Of lost time and loved sin the glass it rears. Not that I need the threats of death to dread, (Which He who loved us bore with greater pain) That, firm and constant, I his path should tread: 'Tis but a brief while since in every vein Of her he enter'd who my fate has been, Yet troubled not the least her brow serene.
Non puo far morte il dolce viso amaro.
SINCE HER DEATH HE HAS CEASED TO LIVE.
Death cannot make that beauteous face less fair, But that sweet face may lend to death a grace; My spirit's guide! from her each good I trace; Who learns to die, may seek his lesson there. That holy one! who not his blood would spare, But did the dark Tartarean bolts unbrace; He, too, doth from my soul death's terrors chase: Then welcome, death! thy impress I would wear. And linger not! 'tis time that I had fled; Alas! my stay hath little here avail'd, Since she, my Laura blest, resign'd her breath: Life's spring in me hath since that hour lain dead, In her I lived, my life in hers exhaled, The hour she died I felt within me death!
Quando il suave mio fido conforto.
SHE APPEARS TO HIM, AND, WITH MORE THAN WONTED AFFECTION, ENDEAVOURS TO CONSOLE HIM.
When she, the faithful soother of my pain, This life's long weary pilgrimage to cheer, Vouchsafes beside my nightly couch to appear, With her sweet speech attempering reason's strain; O'ercome by tenderness, and terror vain, I cry, "Whence comest thou, O spirit blest?" She from her beauteous breast A branch of laurel and of palm displays, And, answering, thus she says. "From th' empyrean seat of holy love Alone thy sorrows to console I move."
In actions, and in words, in humble guise I speak my thanks, and ask, "How may it be That thou shouldst know my wretched state?" and she "Thy floods of tears perpetual, and thy sighs Breathed forth unceasing, to high heaven arise. And there disturb thy blissful state serene; So grievous hath it been, That freed from this poor being, I at last To a better life have pass'd, Which should have joy'd thee hadst thou loved as well As thy sad brow, and sadder numbers tell."
"Oh! not thy ills, I but deplore my own, In darkness, and in grief remaining here, Certain that thou hast reach'd the highest sphere, As of a thing that man hath seen and known. Would God and Nature to the world have shown Such virtue in a young and gentle breast, Were not eternal rest The appointed guerdon of a life so fair? Thou! of the spirits rare, Who, from a course unspotted, pure and high, Are suddenly translated to the sky.
"But I! how can I cease to weep? forlorn, Without thee nothing, wretched, desolate! Oh, in the cradle had I met my fate, Or at the breast! and not to love been born!" And she: "Why by consuming grief thus worn? Were it not better spread aloft thy wings, And now all mortal things, With these thy sweet and idle fantasies, At their just value prize, And follow me, if true thy tender vows, Gathering henceforth with me these honour'd boughs?"
Then answering her:—"Fain would I thou shouldst say What these two verdant branches signify." "Methinks," she says, "thou may'st thyself reply, Whose pen has graced the one by many a lay. The palm shows victory; and in youth's bright day I overcame the world, and my weak heart: The triumph mine in part, Glory to Him who made my weakness strength! And thou, yet turn at length! 'Gainst other powers his gracious aid implore, That we may be with Him thy trial o'er!"
"Are these the crisped locks, and links of gold That bind me still? And these the radiant eyes. To me the Sun?" "Err not with the unwise, Nor think," she says, "as they are wont. Behold In me a spirit, among the blest enroll'd; Thou seek'st what hath long been earth again: Yet to relieve thy pain 'Tis given me thus to appear, ere I resume That beauty from the tomb, More loved, that I, severe in pity, win Thy soul with mine to Heaven, from death and sin."
I weep; and she my cheek, Soft sighing, with her own fair hand will dry; And, gently chiding, speak In tones of power to rive hard rocks in twain; Then vanishing, sleep follows in her train.
Quell' antiquo mio dolce empio signore.
LOVE, SUMMONED BY THE POET TO THE TRIBUNAL OF REASON, PASSES A SPLENDID EULOGIUM ON LAURA.
Long had I suffer'd, till—to combat more In strength, in hope too sunk—at last before Impartial Reason's seat, Whence she presides our nobler nature o'er, I summon'd my old tyrant, stern and sweet; There, groaning 'neath a weary weight of grief, With fear and horror stung, Like one who dreads to die and prays relief, My plea I open'd thus: "When life was young, I, weakly, placed my peace within his power, And nothing from that hour Save wrong I've met; so many and so great The torments I have borne, That my once infinite patience is outworn, And my life worthless grown is held in very hate!
"Thus sadly has my time till now dragg'd by In flames and anguish: I have left each way Of honour, use, and joy, This my most cruel flatterer to obey. What wit so rare such language to employ That yet may free me from this wretched thrall. Or even my complaint, So great and just, against this ingrate paint? O little sweet! much bitterness and gall! How have you changed my life, so tranquil, ere With the false witchery blind, That alone lured me to his amorous snare! If right I judge, a mind I boasted once with higher feelings rife, —But he destroy'd my peace, he plunged me in this strife!
"Less for myself to care, through him I've grown. And less my God to honour than I ought: Through him my every thought On a frail beauty blindly have I thrown; In this my counsellor he stood alone, Still prompt with cruel aid so to provoke My young desire, that I Hoped respite from his harsh and heavy yoke. But, ah! what boots—though changing time sweep by, If from this changeless passion nought can save— A genius proud and high? Or what Heaven's other envied gifts to have, If still I groan the slave Of the fierce despot whom I here accuse, Who turns e'en my sad life to his triumphant use?
"'Twas he who made me desert countries seek, Wild tribes and nations dangerous, manners rude, My path with thorns he strew'd, And every error that betrays the weak. Valley and mountain, marsh, and stream, and sea, On every side his snares were set for me. In June December came, With present peril and sharp toil the same; Alone they left me never, neither he, Nor she, whom I so fled, my other foe: Untimely in my tomb, If by some painful death not yet laid low. My safety from such doom Heaven's gracious pity, not this tyrant, deigns, Who feeds upon my grief, and profits in my pains!
"No quiet hour, since first I own'd his reign, I've known, nor hope to know: repose is fled From my unfriendly bed, Nor herb nor spells can bring it back again. By fraud and force he gain'd and guards his power O'er every sense; soundeth from steeple near, By day, by night, the hour, I feel his hand in every stroke I hear. Never did cankerworm fair tree devour, As he my heart, wherein he, gnawing, lurks, And, there, my ruin works. Hence my past martyrdom and tears arise, My present speech, these sighs, Which tear and tire myself, and haply thee, —Judge then between us both, thou knowest him and me!"
With fierce reproach my adversary rose: "Lady," he spoke, "the rebel to a close Is heard at last, the truth Receive from me which he has shrunk to tell: Big words to bandy, specious lies to sell, He plies right well the vile trade of his youth, Freed from whose shame, to share My easy pleasures, by my friendly care, From each false passion which had work'd him ill, Kept safe and pure, laments he, graceless, still The sweet life he has gain'd? And, blindly, thus his fortune dares he blame, Who owes his very fame To me, his genius who sublimed, sustain'd, In the proud flight to which he, else, had dared not aim?
"Well knows he how, in history's every page, The laurell'd chief, the monarch on his throne, The poet and the sage, Favourites of fortune, or for virtue known, Were cursed by evil stars, in loves debased, Soulless and vile, their hearts, their fame, to waste: While I, for him alone, From all the lovely ladies of the earth, Chose one, so graced with beauty and with worth, The eternal sun her equal ne'er beheld. Such charm was in her life, Such virtue in her speech with music rife, Their wondrous power dispell'd Each vain and vicious fancy from his heart, —A foe I am indeed, if this a foeman's part!
"Such was my anger, these my hate and slights, Than all which others could bestow more sweet; Evil for good I meet, If thus ingratitude my grace requites. So high, upon my wings, he soar'd in fame, To hear his song, fair dames and gentle knights In throngs delighted came. Among the gifted spirits of our time His name conspicuous shines; in every clime Admired, approved, his strains an echo find. Such is he, but for me A mere court flatterer who was doom'd to be, Unmark'd amid his kind, Till, in my school, exalted and made known By her, who, of her sex, stood peerless and alone!
"If my great service more there need to tell, I have so fenced and fortified him well, That his pure mind on nought Of gross or grovelling now can brook to dwell; Modest and sensitive, in deed, word, thought, Her captive from his youth, she so her fair And virtuous image press'd Upon his heart, it left its likeness there: Whate'er his life has shown of good or great, In aim or action, he from us possess'd. Never was midnight dream So full of error as to us his hate! For Heaven's and man's esteem If still he keep, the praise is due to us, Whom in its thankless pride his blind rage censures thus!
"In fine, 'twas I, my past love to exceed, Who heavenward fix'd his hope, who gave him wings To fly from mortal things, Which to eternal bliss the path impede; With his own sense, that, seeing how in her Virtues and charms so great and rare combined, A holy pride might stir And to the Great First Cause exalt his mind, (In his own verse confess'd this truth we see,) While that dear lady whom I sent to be The grace, the guard, and guide Of his vain life"—But here a heart-deep groan I sudden gave, and cried, "Yes! sent and snatch'd her from me." He replied, "Not I, but Heaven above, which will'd her for its own!"
At length before that high tribunal each— With anxious trembling I, while in his mien Was conscious triumph seen— With earnest prayer concluded thus his speech: "Speak, noble lady! we thy judgment wait." She then with equal air: "It glads me to have heard your keen debate, But in a cause so great, More time and thought it needs just verdict to declare!"
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I cited once t' appear before the noble queen, That ought to guide each mortal life that in this world is seen, That pleasant cruel foe that robbeth hearts of ease, And now doth frown, and then doth fawn, and can both grieve and please; And there, as gold in fire full fined to each intent, Charged with fear, and terror eke I did myself present, As one that doubted death, and yet did justice crave, And thus began t' unfold my cause in hope some help to have.
"Madam, in tender youth I enter'd first this reign, Where other sweet I never felt, than grief and great disdain; And eke so sundry kinds of torments did endure. As life I loathed, and death desired my cursed case to cure; And thus my woeful days unto this hour have pass'd In smoky sighs and scalding tears, my wearied life to waste; O Lord! what graces great I fled, and eke refused To serve this cruel crafty Sire that doubtless trust abused."
"What wit can use such words to argue and debate, What tongue express the full effect of mine unhappy state; What hand with pen can paint t' uncipher this deceit; What heart so hard that would not yield that once hath seen his bate; What great and grievous wrongs, what threats of ill success, What single sweet, mingled with mass of double bitterness. With what unpleasant pangs, with what an hoard of pains, Hath he acquainted my green years by his false pleasant trains."
"Who by resistless power hath forced me sue his dance, That if I be not much abused had found much better And when I most resolved to lead most quiet life, chance; He spoil'd me of discordless state, and thrust me in truceless strife. He hath bewitch'd me so that God the less I served, And due respect unto myself the further from me swerv'd; He hath the love of one so painted in my thought, That other thing I can none mind, nor care for as I ought. And all this comes from him, both counsel and the cause. That whet my young desire so much to th' honour of his laws."
Dicemi spesso il mio fidato speglio.
HE AWAKES TO A CONVICTION OF THE NEAR APPROACH OF DEATH.
My faithful mirror oft to me has told— My weary spirit and my shrivell'd skin My failing powers to prove it all begin— "Deceive thyself no longer, thou art old." Man is in all by Nature best controll'd, And if with her we struggle, time creeps in; At the sad truth, on fire as waters win, A long and heavy sleep is off me roll'd; And I see clearly our vain life depart, That more than once our being cannot be: Her voice sounds ever in my inmost heart. Who now from her fair earthly frame is free: She walk'd the world so peerless and alone, Its fame and lustre all with her are flown.
The mirror'd friend—my changing form hath read. My every power's incipient decay— My wearied soul—alike, in warning say "Thyself no more deceive, thy youth hath fled." 'Tis ever best to be by Nature led, We strive with her, and Death makes us his prey; At that dread thought, as flames the waters stay, The dream is gone my life hath sadly fed. I wake to feel how soon existence flies: Once known, 'tis gone, and never to return. Still vibrates in my heart the thrilling tone Of her, who now her beauteous shrine defies: But she, who here to rival, none could learn, Hath robb'd her sex, and with its fame hath flown.
Volo con l' ali de' pensieri al cielo.
HE SEEMS TO BE WITH HER IN HEAVEN.
So often on the wings of thought I fly Up to heaven's blissful seats, that I appear As one of those whose treasure is lodged there, The rent veil of mortality thrown by. A pleasing chillness thrills my heart, while I Listen to her voice, who bids me paleness wear— "Ah! now, my friend, I love thee, now revere, For changed thy face, thy manners," doth she cry. She leads me to her Lord: and then I bow, Preferring humble prayer, He would allow That I his glorious face, and hers might see. Thus He replies: "Thy destiny's secure; To stay some twenty, or some ten years more, Is but a little space, though long it seems to thee."
Morte ha spento quel Sol ch' abbagliar suolmi.
WEARY OF LIFE, NOW THAT SHE IS NO LONGER WITH HIM, HE DEVOTES HIMSELF TO GOD.
Death has the bright sun quench'd which wont to burn; Her pure and constant eyes his dark realms hold: She now is dust, who dealt me heat and cold; To common trees my chosen laurels turn; Hence I at once my bliss and bane discern. None now there is my feelings who can mould From fire to frost, from timorous to bold, In grief to languish or with hope to yearn. Out of his tyrant hands who harms and heals, Erewhile who made in it such havoc sore, My heart the bitter-sweet of freedom feels. And to the Lord whom, thankful, I adore, The heavens who ruleth merely with his brow, I turn life-weary, if not satiate, now.
Tennemi Amor anni ventuno ardendo.
HE CONFESSES AND REGRETS HIS SINS, AND PRAYS GOD TO SAVE HIM FROM ETERNAL DEATH.
Love held me one and twenty years enchain'd, His flame was joy—for hope was in my grief! For ten more years I wept without relief, When Laura with my heart, to heaven attain'd. Now weary grown, my life I had arraign'd That in its error, check'd (to my belief) Blest virtue's seeds—now, in my yellow leaf, I grieve the misspent years, existence stain'd. Alas! it might have sought a brighter goal, In flying troublous thoughts, and winning peace; O Father! I repentant seek thy throne: Thou, in this temple hast enshrined my soul, Oh, bless me yet, and grant its safe release! Unjustified—my sin I humbly own.
I' vo piangendo i miei passati tempi.
HE HUMBLY CONFESSES THE ERRORS OF HIS PAST LIFE, AND PRAYS FOR DIVINE GRACE.
Weeping, I still revolve the seasons flown In vain idolatry of mortal things; Not soaring heavenward; though my soul had wings Which might, perchance, a glorious flight have shown. O Thou, discerner of the guilt I own, Giver of life immortal, King of Kings, Heal Thou the wounded heart which conscience stings: It looks for refuge only to thy throne. Thus, although life was warfare and unrest, Be death the haven of peace; and if my day Was vain—yet make the parting moment blest! Through this brief remnant of my earthly way, And in death's billows, be thy hand confess'd; Full well Thou know'st, this hope is all my stay!
Still do I mourn the years for aye gone by, Which on a mortal love I lavished, Nor e'er to soar my pinions balanced, Though wing'd perchance no humble height to fly. Thou, Dread Invisible, who from on high Look'st down upon this suffering erring head, Oh, be thy succour to my frailty sped, And with thy grace my indigence supply! My life in storms and warfare doom'd to spend, Harbour'd in peace that life may I resign: It's course though idle, pious be its end! Oh, for the few brief days, which yet are mine, And for their close, thy guiding hand extend! Thou know'st on Thee alone my heart's firm hopes recline.
Dolci durezze e placide repulse.
HE OWES HIS OWN SALVATION TO THE VIRTUOUS CONDUCT OF LAURA.
O sweet severity, repulses mild, With chasten'd love, and tender pity fraught; Graceful rebukes, that to mad passion taught Becoming mastery o'er its wishes wild; Speech dignified, in which, united, smiled All courtesy, with purity of thought; Virtue and beauty, that uprooted aught Of baser temper had my heart defiled: Eyes, in whose glance man is beatified— Awful, in pride of virtue, to restrain Aspiring hopes that justly are denied, Then prompt the drooping spirit to sustain! These, beautiful in every change, supplied Health to my soul, that else were sought in vain.
Spirto felice, che si dolcemente.
BEHOLDING IN FANCY THE SHADE OF LAURA, HE TELLS HER THE LOSS THAT THE WORLD SUSTAINED IN HER DEPARTURE.
Blest spirit, that with beams so sweetly clear Those eyes didst bend on me, than stars more bright, And sighs didst breathe, and words which could delight Despair; and which in fancy still I hear;— I see thee now, radiant from thy pure sphere O'er the soft grass, and violet's purple light, Move, as an angel to my wondering sight; More present than earth gave thee to appear. Yet to the Cause Supreme thou art return'd: And left, here to dissolve, that beauteous veil In which indulgent Heaven invested thee. Th' impoverish'd world at thy departure mourn'd: For love departed, and the sun grew pale, And death then seem'd our sole felicity.
O blessed Spirit! who those sun-like eyes So sweetly didst inform and brightly fill, Who the apt words didst frame and tender sighs Which in my fond heart have their echo still. Erewhile I saw thee, glowing with chaste flame, Thy feet 'mid violets and verdure set, Moving in angel not in mortal frame, Life-like and light, before me present yet! Her, when returning with thy God to dwell, Thou didst relinquish and that fair veil given For purpose high by fortune's grace to thee: Love at thy parting bade the world farewell; Courtesy died; the sun abandon'd heaven, And Death himself our best friend 'gan to be.
Deh porgi mano all' affannato ingegno.
HE BEGS LOVE TO ASSIST HIM, THAT HE MAY WORTHILY CELEBRATE HER.
Ah, Love! some succour to my weak mind deign, Lend to my frail and weary style thine aid, To sing of her who is immortal made, A citizen of the celestial reign. And grant, Lord, that my verse the height may gain Of her great praises, else in vain essay'd, Whose peer in worth or beauty never stay'd In this our world, unworthy to retain. Love answers: "In myself and Heaven what lay, By conversation pure and counsel wise, All was in her whom death has snatch'd away. Since the first morn when Adam oped his eyes, Like form was ne'er—suffice it this to say, Write down with tears what scarce I tell for sighs."
Vago augelletto che cantando vai.
THE PLAINTIVE SONG OF A BIRD RECALLS TO HIM HIS OWN KEENER SORROW.
Poor solitary bird, that pour'st thy lay; Or haply mournest the sweet season gone: As chilly night and winter hurry on, And day-light fades and summer flies away; If as the cares that swell thy little throat Thou knew'st alike the woes that wound my rest. Ah, thou wouldst house thee in this kindred breast, And mix with mine thy melancholy note. Yet little know I ours are kindred ills: She still may live the object of thy song: Not so for me stern death or Heaven wills! But the sad season, and less grateful hour, And of past joy and sorrow thoughts that throng Prompt my full heart this idle lay to pour.
Sweet bird, that singest on thy airy way, Or else bewailest pleasures that are past; What time the night draws nigh, and wintry blast; Leaving behind each merry month, and day; Oh, couldst thou, as thine own, my state survey, With the same gloom of misery o'ercast; Unto my bosom thou mightst surely haste And, by partaking, my sad griefs allay. Yet would thy share of woe not equal mine, Since the loved mate thou weep'st doth haply live, While death, and heaven, me of my fair deprive: But hours less gay, the season's drear decline; With thoughts on many a sad, and pleasant year, Tempt me to ask thy piteous presence here.
Vergine bella che di sol vestita.
TO THE VIRGIN MARY.
Beautiful Virgin! clothed with the sun, Crown'd with the stars, who so the Eternal Sun Well pleasedst that in thine his light he hid; Love pricks me on to utter speech of thee, And—feeble to commence without thy aid— Of Him who on thy bosom rests in love. Her I invoke who gracious still replies To all who ask in faith, Virgin! if ever yet The misery of man and mortal things To mercy moved thee, to my prayer incline; Help me in this my strife, Though I am but of dust, and thou heaven's radiant Queen!
Wise Virgin! of that lovely number one Of Virgins blest and wise, Even the first and with the brightest lamp: O solid buckler of afflicted hearts! 'Neath which against the blows of Fate and Death, Not mere deliverance but great victory is; Relief from the blind ardour which consumes Vain mortals here below! Virgin! those lustrous eyes, Which tearfully beheld the cruel prints In the fair limbs of thy beloved Son, Ah! turn on my sad doubt, Who friendless, helpless thus, for counsel come to thee!
O Virgin! pure and perfect in each part, Maiden or Mother, from thy honour'd birth, This life to lighten and the next adorn; O bright and lofty gate of open'd heaven! By thee, thy Son and His, the Almighty Sire, In our worst need to save us came below: And, from amid all other earthly seats, Thou only wert elect, Virgin supremely blest! The tears of Eve who turnedst into joy; Make me, thou canst, yet worthy of his grace, O happy without end, Who art in highest heaven a saint immortal shrined.
O holy Virgin! full of every good, Who, in humility most deep and true, To heaven art mounted, thence my prayers to hear, That fountain thou of pity didst produce, That sun of justice light, which calms and clears Our age, else clogg'd with errors dark and foul. Three sweet and precious names in thee combine, Of mother, daughter, wife, Virgin! with glory crown'd, Queen of that King who has unloosed our bonds, And free and happy made the world again, By whose most sacred wounds, I pray my heart to fix where true joys only are!
Virgin! of all unparallel'd, alone, Who with thy beauties hast enamour'd Heaven, Whose like has never been, nor e'er shall be; For holy thoughts with chaste and pious acts To the true God a sacred living shrine In thy fecund virginity have made: By thee, dear Mary, yet my life may be Happy, if to thy prayers, O Virgin meek and mild! Where sin abounded grace shall more abound! With bended knee and broken heart I pray That thou my guide wouldst be, And to such prosperous end direct my faltering way.
Bright Virgin! and immutable as bright, O'er life's tempestuous ocean the sure star Each trusting mariner that truly guides, Look down, and see amid this dreadful storm How I am tost at random and alone, And how already my last shriek is near, Yet still in thee, sinful although and vile, My soul keeps all her trust; Virgin! I thee implore Let not thy foe have triumph in my fall; Remember that our sin made God himself, To free us from its chain, Within thy virgin womb our image on Him take!
Virgin! what tears already have I shed, Cherish'd what dreams and breathed what prayers in vain But for my own worse penance and sure loss; Since first on Arno's shore I saw the light Till now, whate'er I sought, wherever turn'd, My life has pass'd in torment and in tears, For mortal loveliness in air, act, speech, Has seized and soil'd my soul: O Virgin! pure and good, Delay not till I reach my life's last year; Swifter than shaft and shuttle are, my days 'Mid misery and sin Have vanish'd all, and now Death only is behind!
Virgin! She now is dust, who, living, held My heart in grief, and plunged it since in gloom; She knew not of my many ills this one, And had she known, what since befell me still Had been the same, for every other wish Was death to me and ill renown for her; But, Queen of Heaven, our Goddess—if to thee Such homage be not sin— Virgin! of matchless mind, Thou knowest now the whole; and that, which else No other can, is nought to thy great power: Deign then my grief to end, Thus honour shall be thine, and safe my peace at last!
Virgin! in whom I fix my every hope, Who canst and will'st assist me in great need, Forsake me not in this my worst extreme, Regard not me but Him who made me thus; Let his high image stamp'd on my poor worth Towards one so low and lost thy pity move: Medusa spells have made me as a rock Distilling a vain flood; Virgin! my harass'd heart With pure and pious tears do thou fulfil, That its last sigh at least may be devout, And free from earthly taint, As was my earliest vow ere madness fill'd my veins!
Virgin! benevolent, and foe of pride, Ah! let the love of our one Author win, Some mercy for a contrite humble heart: For, if her poor frail mortal dust I loved With loyalty so wonderful and long, Much more my faith and gratitude for thee. From this my present sad and sunken state If by thy help I rise, Virgin! to thy dear name I consecrate and cleanse my thoughts, speech, pen, My mind, and heart with all its tears and sighs; Point then that better path, And with complacence view my changed desires at last.
The day must come, nor distant far its date, Time flies so swift and sure, O peerless and alone! When death my heart, now conscience struck, shall seize: Commend me, Virgin! then to thy dear Son, True God and Very Man, That my last sigh in peace may, in his arms, be breathed!
THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE.
Nel tempo che rinova i miei sospiri.
It was the time when I do sadly pay My sighs, in tribute to that sweet-sour day, Which first gave being to my tedious woes; The sun now o'er the Bull's horns proudly goes, And Phaeton had renew'd his wonted race; When Love, the season, and my own ill case, Drew me that solitary place to find, In which I oft unload my charged mind: There, tired with raving thoughts and helpless moan, Sleep seal'd my eyes up, and, my senses gone, My waking fancy spied a shining light, In which appear'd long pain, and short delight. A mighty General I then did see, Like one, who, for some glorious victory, Should to the Capitol in triumph go: I (who had not been used to such a show In this soft age, where we no valour have, But pride) admired his habit, strange and brave, And having raised mine eyes, which wearied were, To understand this sight was all my care. Four snowy steeds a fiery chariot drew; There sat the cruel boy; a threatening yew His right hand bore, his quiver arrows held, Against whose force no helm or shield prevail'd. Two party-colour'd wings his shoulders ware; All naked else; and round about his chair Were thousand mortals: some in battle ta'en, Many were hurt with darts, and many slain. Glad to learn news, I rose, and forward press'd So far, that I was one amongst the rest; As if I had been kill'd with loving pain Before my time; and looking through the train Of this tear-thirsty king, I would have spied Some of my old acquaintance, but descried No face I knew: if any such there were, They were transform'd with prison, death, and care. At last one ghost, less sad than th' others, came, Who, near approaching, call'd me by my name, And said: "This comes of Love." "What may you be," I answer'd, wondering much, "that thus know me? For I remember not t' have seen your face." He thus replied: "It is the dusky place That dulls thy sight, and this hard yoke I bear: Else I a Tuscan am; thy friend, and dear To thy remembrance." His wonted phrase And voice did then discover what he was. So we retired aside, and left the throng, When thus he spake: "I have expected long To see you here with us; your face did seem To threaten you no less. I do esteem Your prophesies; but I have seen what care Attends a lover's life; and must beware." "Yet have I oft been beaten in the field, And sometimes hurt," said I, "but scorn'd to yield." He smiled and said: "Alas! thou dost not see, My son, how great a flame's prepared for thee." I knew not then what by his words he meant: But since I find it by the dire event; And in my memory 'tis fix'd so fast, That marble gravings cannot firmer last. Meanwhile my forward youth did thus inquire: "What may these people be? I much desire To know their names; pray, give me leave to ask." "I think ere long 'twill be a needless task," Replied my friend; "thou shalt be of the train, And know them all; this captivating chain Thy neck must bear, (though thou dost little fear,) And sooner change thy comely form and hair, Than be unfetter'd from the cruel tie, Howe'er thou struggle for thy liberty; Yet to fulfil thy wish, I will relate What I have learn'd. The first that keeps such state, By whom our lives and freedoms we forego, The world hath call'd him Love; and he (you know, But shall know better when he comes to be A lord to you, as now he is to me) Is in his childhood mild, fierce in his age; 'Tis best believed of those that feel his rage. The truth of this thou in thyself shalt find, I warn thee now, pray keep it in thy mind. Of idle looseness he is oft the child; With pleasant fancies nourish'd, and is styled Or made a god by vain and foolish men: And for a recompense, some meet their bane; Others, a harder slavery must endure Than many thousand chains and bolts procure. That other gallant lord is conqueror Of conquering Rome, led captive by the fair Egyptian queen, with her persuasive art, Who in his honours claims the greatest part; For binding the world's victor with her charms, His trophies are all hers by right of arms. The next is his adoptive son, whose love May seem more just, but doth no better prove; For though he did his loved Livia wed, She was seduced from her husband's bed. Nero is third, disdainful, wicked, fierce, And yet a woman found a way to pierce His angry soul. Behold, Marcus, the grave Wise emperor, is fair Faustina's slave. These two are tyrants: Dionysius, And Alexander, both suspicious, And yet both loved: the last a just reward Found of his causeless fear. I know y' have heard Of him, who for Creuesa on the rock Antandrus mourn'd so long; whose warlike stroke At once revenged his friend and won his love: And of the youth whom Phaedra could not move T' abuse his father's bed; he left the place, And by his virtue lost his life (for base Unworthy loves to rage do quickly change). It kill'd her too; perhaps in just revenge Of wrong'd Theseus, slain Hippolytus, And poor forsaken Ariadne: thus It often proves that they who falsely blame Another, in one breath themselves condemn: And who have guilty been of treachery, Need not complain, if they deceived be. Behold the brave hero a captive made With all his fame, and twixt these sisters led: Who, as he joy'd the death of th' one to see, His death did ease the other's misery. The next that followeth, though the world admire His strength, Love bound him. Th' other full of ire Is great Achilles, he whose pitied fate Was caused by Love. Demophoon did not hate Impatient Phyllis, yet procured her death. This Jason is, he whom Medea hath Obliged by mischief; she to her father proved False, to her brother cruel; t' him she loved Grew furious, by her merit over-prized. Hypsipyle comes next, mournful, despised, Wounded to see a stranger's love prevail More than her own, a Greek. Here is the frail Fair Helena, with her the shepherd boy, Whose gazing looks hurt Greece, and ruin'd Troy. 'Mongst other weeping souls, you hear the moan Oenone makes, her Paris being gone; And Menelaus, for the woe he had To lose his wife. Hermione is sad, And calls her dear Orestes to her aid. And Laodamia, that hapless maid, Bewails Protesilaus. Argia proved To Polynice more faithful than the loved (But false and covetous) Amphiaraus' wife. The groans and sighs of those who lose their life By this kind lord, in unrelenting flames You hear: I cannot tell you half their names. For they appear not only men that love, The gods themselves do fill this myrtle grove: You see fair Venus caught by Vulcan's art With angry Mars; Proserpina apart From Pluto, jealous Juno, yellow-hair'd Apollo, who the young god's courage dared: And of his trophies proud, laugh'd at the bow Which in Thessalia gave him such a blow. What shall I say?—here, in a word, are all The gods that Varro mentions, great and small; Each with innumerable bonds detain'd, And Jupiter before the chariot chain'd."
Stanci gia di mirar, non sazio ancora.
Wearied, not satisfied, with much delight, Now here, now there, I turn'd my greedy sight, And many things I view'd: to write were long, The time is short, great store of passions throng Within my breast; when lo, a lovely pair, Join'd hand in hand, who kindly talking were, Drew my attention that way: their attire And foreign language quicken'd my desire Of further knowledge, which I soon might gain. My kind interpreter did all explain. When both I knew, I boldly then drew near; He loved our country, though she made it fear. "O Masinissa! I adjure thee by Great Scipio, and her who from thine eye Drew manly tears," said I; "let it not be A trouble, what I must demand of thee." He look'd, and said: "I first desire to know Your name and quality; for well you show Y' have heard the combat in my wounded soul, When Love did Friendship, Friendship Love control." "I am not worth your knowledge, my poor flame Gives little light," said I: "your royal fame Sets hearts on fire, that never see your face: But, pray you, say; are you two led in peace By him?"—(I show'd their guide)—"Your history Deserves record: it seemeth strange to me, That faith and cruelty should come so near." He said: "Thine own expressions witness bear, Thou know'st enough, yet I will all relate To thee; 't will somewhat ease my heavy state. On that brave man my heart was fix'd so much, That Laelius' love to him could be but such; Where'er his colours marched, I was nigh, And Fortune did attend with victory: Yet still his merit call'd for more than she Could give, or any else deserve but he. When to the West the Roman eagles came Myself was also there, and caught a flame, A purer never burnt in lover's breast: But such a joy could not be long possess'd! Our nuptial knot, alas! he soon untied, Who had more power than all the world beside. He cared not for our sighs; and though 't be true That he divided us, his worth I knew: He must be blind that cannot see the sun, But by strict justice Love is quite undone: Counsel from such a friend gave such a stroke To love, it almost split, as on a rock: For as my father I his wrath did fear, And as a son he in my love was dear; Brothers in age we were, him I obey'd, But with a troubled soul and look dismay'd: Thus my dear half had an untimely death, She prized her freedom far above her breath; And I th' unhappy instrument was made; Such force th' intreaty and intreater had! I rather chose myself than him t' offend, And sent the poison brought her to her end: With what sad thoughts I know, and she'll confess And you, if you have sense of love, may guess; No heir she left me, but my tedious moan; And though in her my hopes and joys were gone, She was of lower value than my faith! But now farewell, and try if this troop hath Another wonder; for the time is less Than is the task." I pitied their distress, Whose short joy ended in so sharp a woe: My soft heart melted. As they onward go, "This youth for his part, I perhaps could love," She said; "but nothing can my mind remove From hatred of the nation." He replied, "Good Sophonisba, you may leave this pride; Your city hath by us been three times beat, The last of which, you know, we laid it flat." "Pray use these words t' another, not to me," Said she; "if Africk mourned, Italy Needs not rejoice; search your records, and there See what you gained by the Punic war." He that was friend to both, without reply A little smiling, vanish'd from mine eye Amongst the crowd. As one in doubtful way At every step looks round, and fears to stray (Care stops his journey), so the varied store Of lovers stay'd me, to examine more, And try what kind of fire burnt every breast: When on my left hand strayed from the rest Was one, whose look express'd a ready mind In seeking what he joy'd, yet shamed to find; He freely gave away his dearest wife (A new-found way to save a lover's life); She, though she joy'd, yet blushed at the change. As they recounted their affections strange, And for their Syria mourn'd; I took the way Of these three ghosts, who seem'd their course to stay And take another path: the first I held And bid him turn; he started, and beheld Me with a troubled look, hearing my tongue Was Roman, such a pause he made as sprung From some deep thought; then spake as if inspired, For to my wish, he told what I desired To know: "Seleucus is," said he, "my name, This is Antiochus my son, whose fame Hath reach'd your ear; he warred much with Rome, But reason oft by power is overcome. This woman, once my wife, doth now belong To him; I gave her, and it was no wrong In our religion; it stay'd his death, Threaten'd by Love; Stratonica she hath To name: so now we may enjoy one state, And our fast friendship shall outlast all date. She from her height was willing to descend; I quit my joy; he rather chose his end Than our offence; and in his prime had died, Had not the wise Physician been our guide; Silence in love o'ercame his vital part; His love was force, his silence virtuous art. A father's tender care made me agree To this strange change." This said, he turn'd from me, As changing his design, with such a pace, Ere I could take my leave, he had quit the place After the ghost was carried from mine eye, Amazedly I walk'd; nor could untie My mind from his sad story; till my friend Admonish'd me, and said, "You must not lend Attention thus to everything you meet; You know the number's great, and time is fleet." More naked prisoners this triumph had Than Xerxes soldiers in his army led: And stretched further than my sight could reach; Of several countries, and of differing speech. One of a thousand were not known to me, Yet might those few make a large history. Perseus was one; and well you know the way How he was catched by Andromeda: She was a lovely brownet, black her hair And eyes. Narcissus, too, the foolish fair, Who for his own love did himself destroy; He had so much, he nothing could enjoy. And she, who for his loss, deep sorrow's slave. Changed to a voice, dwells in a hollow cave. Iphis was there, who hasted his own fate, He loved another, but himself did hate; And many more condemn'd like woes to prove, Whose life was made a curse by hapless love. Some modern lovers in my mind remain, But those to reckon here were needless pain: The two, whose constant loves for ever last, On whom the winds wait while they build their nest; For halcyon days poor labouring sailors please. And in rough winter calm the boisterous seas. Far off the thoughtful AEsacus, in quest Of his Hesperia, finds a rocky rest, Then diveth in the floods, then mounts i' th' air; And she who stole old Nisus' purple hair His cruel daughter, I observed to fly: Swift Atalanta ran for victory, But three gold apples, and a lovely face, Slack'd her quick paces, till she lost the race; She brought Hippomanes along, and joy'd That he, as others, had not been destroyed, But of the victory could singly boast. I saw amidst the vain and fabulous host, Fair Galatea lean'd on Acis' breast; Rude Polyphemus' noise disturbs their rest. Glaucus alone swims through the dangerous seas, And missing her who should his fancy please, Curseth the cruel's Love transform'd her shape. Canens laments that Picus could not 'scape The dire enchantress; he in Italy Was once a king, now a pied bird; for she Who made him such, changed not his clothes nor name, His princely habit still appears the same. Egeria, while she wept, became a well: Scylla (a horrid rock by Circe's spell) Hath made infamous the Sicilian strand. Next, she who holdeth in her trembling hand A guilty knife, her right hand writ her name. Pygmalion next, with his live mistress came. Sweet Aganippe, and Castalia have A thousand more; all there sung by the brave And deathless poets, on their fair banks placed; Cydippe by an apple fool'd at last.
Era si pieno il cor di maraviglie.
My heart was fill'd with wonder and amaze, As one struck dumb, in silence stands at gaze Expecting counsel, when my friend drew near, And said: "What do you look? why stay you here? What mean you? know you not that I am one Of these, and must attend? pray, let's be gone." "Dear friend," said I, "consider what desire To learn the rest hath set my heart on fire; My own haste stops me." "I believe 't," said he, "And I will help; 'tis not forbidden me. This noble man, on whom the others wait (You see) is Pompey, justly call'd The Great: Cornelia followeth, weeping his hard fate, And Ptolemy's unworthy causeless hate. You see far off the Grecian general; His base wife, with AEgisthus wrought his fall: Behold them there, and judge if Love be blind. But here are lovers of another kind, And other faith they kept. Lynceus was saved By Hypermnestra: Pyramus bereaved Himself of life, thinking his mistress slain: Thisbe's like end shorten'd her mourning pain. Leander, swimming often, drown'd at last; Hero her fair self from her window cast. Courteous Ulysses his long stay doth mourn; His chaste wife prayeth for his safe return; While Circe's amorous charms her prayers control, And rather vex than please his virtuous soul. Hamilcar's son, who made great Rome afraid, By a mean wench of Spain is captive led. This Hypsicratea is, the virtuous fair, Who for her husband's dear love cut her hair, And served in all his wars: this is the wife Of Brutus, Portia, constant in her life And death: this Julia is, who seems to moan, That Pompey loved best, when she was gone. Look here and see the Patriarch much abused Who twice seven years for his fair Rachel choosed To serve: O powerful love increased by woe! His father this: now see his grandsire go With Sarah from his home. This cruel Love O'ercame good David; so it had power to move His righteous heart to that abhorred crime, For which he sorrow'd all his following time; Just such like error soil'd his wise son's fame, For whose idolatry God's anger came: Here's he who in one hour could love and hate: Here Tamar, full of anguish, wails her state; Her brother Absalom attempts t' appease Her grieved soul. Samson takes care to please His fancy; and appears more strong than wise, Who in a traitress' bosom sleeping lies. Amongst those pikes and spears which guard the place, Love, wine, and sleep, a beauteous widow's face And pleasing art hath Holophernes ta'en; She back again retires, who hath him slain, With her one maid, bearing the horrid head In haste, and thanks God that so well she sped. The next is Sichem, he who found his death In circumcision; his father hath Like mischief felt; the city all did prove The same effect of his rash violent love. You see Ahasuerus how well he bears His loss; a new love soon expels his cares; This cure in this disease doth seldom fail, One nail best driveth out another nail. If you would see love mingled oft with hate, Bitter with sweet, behold fierce Herod's state, Beset with love and cruelty at once: Enraged at first, then late his fault bemoans, And Mariamne calls; those three fair dames (Who in the list of captives write their names) Procris, Deidamia, Artemisia were All good, the other three as wicked are— Semiramis, Byblis, and Myrrha named, Who of their crooked ways are now ashamed Here be the erring knights in ancient scrolls, Lancelot, Tristram, and the vulgar souls That wait on these; Guenever, and the fair Isond, with other lovers; and the pair Who, as they walk together, seem to plain, Their just, but cruel fate, by one hand slain." Thus he discoursed: and as a man that fears Approaching harm, when he a trumpet hears, Starts at the blow ere touch'd, my frighted blood Retired: as one raised from his tomb I stood; When by my side I spied a lovely maid, (No turtle ever purer whiteness had!) And straight was caught (who lately swore I would Defend me from a man at arms), nor could Resist the wounds of words with motion graced: The image yet is in my fancy placed. My friend was willing to increase my woe, And smiling whisper'd,—"You alone may go Confer with whom you please, for now we are All stained with one crime." My sullen care Was like to theirs, who are more grieved to know Another's happiness than their own woe; For seeing her, who had enthrall'd my mind, Live free in peace, and no disturbance find: And seeing that I knew my hurt too late. And that her beauty was my dying fate: Love, jealousy, and envy held my sight So fix'd on that fair face, no other light I could behold; like one who in the rage Of sickness greedily his thirst would 'suage With hurtful drink, which doth his palate please, Thus (blind and deaf t' all other joys are ease) So many doubtful ways I follow'd her, The memory still shakes my soul with fear. Since when mine eyes are moist, and view the ground, My heart is heavy, and my steps have found A solitary dwelling 'mongst the woods, I stray o'er rocks and fountains, hills and floods: Since when such store my scatter'd papers hold Of thoughts, of tears, of ink; which oft I fold, Unfold, and tear: since when I know the scope Of Love, and what they fear, and what they hope; And how they live that in his cloister dwell, The skilful in their face may read it well. Meanwhile I see, how fierce and gallant she Cares not for me, nor for my misery, Proud of her virtue, and my overthrow: And on the other side (if aught I know), This lord, who hath the world in triumph led, She keeps in fear; thus all my hopes are dead, No strength nor courage left, nor can I be Revenged, as I expected once; for he, Who tortures me and others, is abused By her; she'll not be caught, and long hath used (Rebellious as she is!) to shun his wars, And is a sun amidst the lesser stars. Her grace, smiles, slights, her words in order set; Her hair dispersed or in a golden net; Her eyes inflaming with a light divine So burn my heart, I dare no more repine. Ah, who is able fully to express Her pleasing ways, her merit? No excess, No bold hyperboles I need to fear, My humble style cannot enough come near The truth; my words are like a little stream Compared with th' ocean, so large a theme Is that high praise; new worth, not seen before, Is seen in her, and can be seen no more; Therefore all tongues are silenced; and I, Her prisoner now, see her at liberty: And night and day implore (O unjust fate!) She neither hears nor pities my estate: Hard laws of Love! But though a partial lot I plainly see in this, yet must I not Refuse to serve: the gods, as well as men, With like reward of old have felt like pain. Now know I how the mind itself doth part (Now making peace, now war, now truce)—what art Poor lovers use to hide their stinging woe: And how their blood now comes, and now doth go Betwixt their heart and cheeks, by shame or fear: How they be eloquent, yet speechless are; And how they both ways lean, they watch and sleep, Languish to death, yet life and vigour keep: I trod the paths made happy by her feet, And search the foe I am afraid to meet. I know how lovers metamorphosed are To that they love: I know what tedious care I feel; how vain my joy, how oft I change Design and countenance; and (which is strange) I live without a soul: I know the way To cheat myself a thousand times a day: I know to follow while I flee my fire I freeze when present; absent, my desire Is hot: I know what cruel rigour Love Practiseth on the mind, and doth remove All reason thence, and how he racks the heart: And how a soul hath neither strength nor art Without a helper to resist his blows: And how he flees, and how his darts he throws: And how his threats the fearful lover feels: And how he robs by force, and how he steals: How oft his wheels turn round (now high, now low) With how uncertain hope, how certain woe: How all his promises be void of faith, And how a fire hid in our bones he hath: How in our veins he makes a secret wound, Whence open flames and death do soon abound. In sum, I know how giddy and how vain Be lovers' lives; what fear and boldness reign In all their ways; how every sweet is paid. And with a double weight of sour allay'd: I also know their customs, sighs, and songs; Their sudden muteness, and their stammering tongues: How short their joy, how long their pain doth last, How wormwood spoileth all their honey's taste.
Poscia che mia fortuna in forza altrui.
When once my will was captive by my fate, And I had lost the liberty, which late Made my life happy; I, who used before To flee from Love (as fearful deer abhor The following huntsman), suddenly became (Like all my fellow-servants) calm and tame; And view'd the travails, wrestlings, and the smart, The crooked by-paths, and the cozening art That guides the amorous flock: then whilst mine eye I cast in every corner, to espy Some ancient or modern who had proved Famous, I saw him, who had only loved Eurydice, and found out hell, to call Her dear ghost back; he named her in his fall For whom he died. Aleaeus there was known, Skilful in love and verse: Anacreon, Whose muse sung nought but love: Pindarus, he Was also there: there I might Virgil see: Many brave wits I found, some looser rhymes, By others writ, hath pleased the ancient times: Ovid was one: after Catullus came: Propertius next, his elegies the name Of Cynthia bear: Tibullus, and the young Greek poetess, who is received among The noble troop for her rare Sapphic muse. Thus looking here and there (as oft I use), I spied much people on a flowery plain, Amongst themselves disputes of love maintain. Behold Beatrice with Dante; Selvaggia, she Brought her Pistoian Cino; Guitton may be Offended that he is the latter named: Behold both Guidos for their learning famed: Th' honest Bolognian: the Sicilians first Wrote love in rhymes, but wrote their rhymes the worst. Franceschin and Sennuccio (whom all know) Were worthy and humane: after did go A squadron of another garb and phrase, Of whom Arnaldo Daniel hath most praise, Great master in Love's art, his style, as new As sweet, honours his country: next, a few Whom Love did lightly wound: both Peters made Two: one, the less Arnaldo: some have had A harder war; both the Rimbaldos, th' one Sung Beatrice, though her quality was known Too much above his reach in Montferrat. Alvernia's old Piero, and Girault: Folchetto, who from Genoa was estranged And call'd Marsilian, he wisely changed His name, his state, his country, and did gain In all: Jeffray made haste to catch his bane With sails and oars: Guilliam, too, sweetly sung That pleasing art, was cause he died so young. Amarig, Bernard, Hugo, and Anselm Were there, with thousands more, whose tongues were helm, Shield, sword, and spear, all their offensive arms, And their defensive to prevent their harms. From those I turn'd, comparing my own woe, To view my country-folks; and there might know The good Tomasso, who did once adorn Bologna, now Messina holds his urn. Ah, vanish'd joys! Ah, life too full of bane! How wert thou from mine eyes so quickly ta'en! Since without thee nothing is in my power To do, where art thou from me at this hour? What is our life? If aught it bring of ease, A sick man's dream, a fable told to please. Some few there from the common road did stray; Laelius and Socrates, with whom I may A longer progress take: Oh, what a pair Of dear esteemed friends to me they were! 'Tis not my verse, nor prose, may reach thieir praise; Neither of these can naked virtue raise Above her own true place: with them I have Reach'd many heights; one yoke of learning gave Laws to our steps, to them my fester'd wound I oft have show'd; no time or place I found To part from them; and hope, and wish we may Be undivided till my breath decay: With them I used (too early) to adorn My head with th' honour'd branches, only worn For her dear sake I did so deeply love, Who fill'd my thoughts; but ah! I daily prove, No fruit nor leaves from thence can gather'd be: The root hath sharp and bitter been to me. For this I was accustomed much to vex, But I have seen that which my anger checks: (A theme for buskins, not a comic stage) She took the God, adored by the rage Of such dull fools as he had captive led: But first, I'll tell you what of us he made; Then, from her hand what was his own sad fate, Which Orpheus or Homer might relate. His winged coursers o'er the ditches leapt, And we their way as desperately kept, Till he had reached where his mother reigns, Nor would he ever pull or turn the reins; But scour'd o'er woods and mountains; none did care Nor could discern in what strange world they were. Beyond the place, where old AEgeus mourns, An island lies, Phoebus none sweeter burns, Nor Neptune ever bathed a better shore: About the midst a beauteous hill, with store Of shades and pleasing smells, so fresh a spring As drowns all manly thoughts: this place doth bring Venus much joy; 't was given her deity, Ere blind man knew a truer god than she: Of which original it yet retains Too much, so little goodness there remains, That it the vicious doth only please, Is by the virtuous shunn'd as a disease. Here this fine Lord insulteth o'er us all Tied in a chain, from Thule to Ganges' fall. Griefs in our breasts, vanity in our arms; Fleeting delights are there, and weighty harms: Repentance swiftly following to annoy: (Such Tarquin found it, and the bane of Troy) All that whole valley with the echoes rung Of running brooks, and birds that gently sung: The banks were clothed in yellow, purple, green, Scarlet and white, their pleasing springs were seen; And gliding streams amongst the tender grass, Thickets and soft winds to refresh the place. After when winter maketh sharp the air, Warm leaves, and leisure, sports, and gallant cheer Enthrall low minds. Now th' equinox hath made The day t' equal the night; and Progne had With her sweet sister, each their old task ta'en: (Ah! how the faith in fortune placed is vain!) Just in the time, and place, and in the hour When humble tears should earthly joys devour, It pleased him, whom th' vulgar honour so, To triumph over me; and now I know What miserable servitude they prove, What ruin, and what death, that fall in love. Errors, dreams, paleness waiteth on his chair, False fancies o'er the door, and on the stair Are slippery hopes, unprofitable gain, And gainful loss; such steps it doth contain, As who descend, may boast their fortune best; Who most ascend, most fall: a wearied rest, And resting trouble, glorious disgrace; A duskish and obscure illustriousness; Unfaithful loyalty, and cozening faith, That nimble fury, lazy reason hath: A prison, whose wide ways do all receive, Whose narrow paths a hard retiring leave: A steep descent, by which we slide with ease, But find no hold our crawling steps to raise: Within confusion, turbulence, annoy Are mix'd; undoubted woe, and doubtful joy: Vulcano, where the sooty Cyclops dwell; Liparis, Stromboli, nor Mongibel, Nor Ischia, have more horrid noise and smoke: He hates himself that stoops to such a yoke. Thus were we all throng'd in so strait a cage, I changed my looks and hair, before my age, Dreaming on liberty (by strong desire My soul made apt to hope), and did admire Those gallant minds, enslaved to such a woe (My heart within my breast dissolved like snow Before the sun), as one would side-ways cast His eye on pictures, which his feet hath pass'd.
The fatal morning dawn'd that brought again The sad memorial of my ancient pain; That day, the source of long-protracted woe, When I began the plagues of Love to know, Hyperion's throne, along the azure field, Between the splendid horns of Taurus wheel'd; And from her spouse the Queen of Morn withdrew Her sandals, gemm'd with frost-bespangled dew. Sad recollection, rising with the morn, Of my disastrous love, repaid with scorn, Oppressed my sense; till welcome soft repose Gave a short respite from my swelling woes. Then seem'd I in a vision borne away, Where a deep winding vale sequester'd lay; Nor long I rested on the flowery green Ere a soft radiance dawn'd along the scene.— Fallacious sign of hope! for, close behind, Dark shades of coming woe were seen combined. There, on his car, a conqu'ring chief I spied, Like Rome's proud sons, that led the living tide Of vanquished foes, in long triumphal state, To Capitolian Jove's disclosing gate. With little joy I saw the splendid show, Spent and dejected by my lengthen'd woe; Sick of the world, and all its worthless train, That world, where all the hateful passions reign; And yet intent the mystic cause to find, (For knowledge is the banquet of the mind) Languid and slow I turn'd my cheerless eyes On the proud warrior, and his uncouth guise. High on his seat an archer youth was seen, With loaded quiver, and malicious mien Nor plate, nor mail, his cruel shaft can ward, Nor polish'd burganet the temples guard; His burning chariot seem'd by coursers drawn; While, like the snows that clothe the wintry lawn His waving wings with rainbow colour gay On either naked shoulder seem'd to play; And, filing far behind, a countless train In sad procession hid the groaning plain: Some, captive, seem'd in long disastrous strife, Some, in the deadly fray, bereft of life; And freshly wounded some. A viewless hand Led me to mingle with the mornful band, And learn the fortunes of the sentenced crew, Who, pierced by Love, had bid the world adieu. With keen survey I mark'd the ghostly show, To find a shade among the sons of woe To memory known: but every trace was lost In the dim features of the moving host: Oblivion's hand had drawn a dark disguise O'er their wan lineaments and beamless eyes. At length, a pallid face I seem'd to know; Which wore, methought, a lighter mask of woe; He call'd me by my name.—"Behold!" he cried, "What plagues the hapless thralls of Love abide!"— "How am I known by thee?" with new surprise I cried; "no mark recalls thee to my eyes."— "Oh, heavy is my load!" he seem'd to say; "Through this dark medium no detecting ray Assists thy sight; but I, like thee, can boast My birth on famed Etruria's ancient coast."— The secret which his murky mask conceal'd, His well-known voice and Tuscan tongue reveal'd; Thence to a lighter station we repair'd, And thus the phantom spoke, with mild regard:— "We thought to see thy name with ours enroll'd Long since; for oft thy looks this fate foretold."— "True," I replied; "but I survived the strife: His arrows reach'd me, but were short of life."— Pausing, he spoke:—"A spark to flame will rise, And bear thy name in glory to the skies."— His meaning was obscure, but in my breast I felt the substance of his words impress'd, As sculptured stone, or monumental brass, Keeps the firm record, or heroic face. With youthful ardour new, and hope inspired, Quick from my grave companion I required The name and fortunes of the passing train. And why in mournful pomp they trod the plain— "Time," he return'd, "the secret then will show, When thou shalt join the retinue of woe: But years shall sprinkle o'er thy locks with gray, And alter'd looks the signs of age betray, Ere at his powerful touch the fetters fall, Which many a moon thy captive limbs shall gall: Yet will I grant thy suit, and give to view The various fortunes of the captive crew: But mark their leader first, that chief renown'd— The Power of Love! by every nation own'd. His sway thou soon, as well as we, shalt know, Stung to the heart by goads of dulcet woe. In him unthinking youth's misgovern'd rage, Join'd with the cool malignity of age, Is known to mingle with insidious guile, Deep, deep conceal'd beneath an infant's smile. The child of slothful ease, and sensual heat— By sweet delirious thoughts, in dark retreat, Mature in mischief grown—he springs away, A winged god, and thousands own his sway. Some, as thou seest, are number'd with the dead, And some the bitter drops of sorrow shed Through lingering life, by viewless tangles bound, That link the soul, and chain it to the ground. There Caesar walks! of Celtic laurels proud. Nor feels himself in sensual bondage bow'd: He treads the flowery path, nor sees the snare Laid for his honour by the Egyptian fair. Here Love his triumph shows, and leads along The world's great owner in the captive throng; And o'er the master of unscepter'd kings Exulting soars, and claps his purple wings. See his adopted son! he knew her guile, And nobly scorn'd the siren of the Nile; Yet fell by Roman charms and from her spouse The pregnant consort bore, regardless of her vows There, cruel Nero feels his iron heart Lanced by imperious Love's resistless dart; Replete with rage, and scorning human ties, He falls the victim of two conquering eyes; Deep ambush'd there in philosophic spoils, The little tyrant tries his artful wiles: E'en in that hallow'd breast, where, deep enshrined, Lay all the varied treasures of the mind, He lodged his venom'd shaft. The hoary sage, Like meaner mortals, felt the passion rage In boundless fury for a strumpet's charms, And clasp'd the shining mischief in his arms.— See Dionysius link'd with Pherae's lord, Pale doubt and dread on either front abhorr'd. Scowl terrible! yet Love assign'd their doom; A wife and mistress mark'd them for the tomb!— The next is he that on Antandros' coast His fair Creusa mourn'd, for ever lost; Yet cut the bonds of Love on Tyber's shore, And bought a bride with young Evander's gore. Here droop'd the victim of a lawless flame: The amorous frenzy of the Cretan dame He fled abhorrent, and contemn'd her tears, And to the dire suggestion closed his ears. But nought, alas! his purity avail'd— Fate in his flight the hapless youth assail'd, By interdicted Love to Vengeance fired; And by his father's curse the son expired. The stepdame shared his fate, and dearly paid A spouse, a sister, and a son betray'd: Her conscience, by the false impeachment stung, Upon herself return'd the deadly wrong; And he, that broke before his plighted vows, Met his deserts in an adulterous spouse. See! where he droops between the sister dames, And fondly melts—the other scorns his flames,— The mighty slave of Omphale behind Is seen, and he whom Love and fraud combined Sent to the shades of everlasting night; And still he seems to weep his wretched plight.— There, Phyllis mourns Demophoon's broken vows, And fell Medea there pursues her spouse; With impious boast, and shrill upbraiding cries, She tells him how she broke the holy ties Of kindred for his sake; the guilty shore That from her poignard drank a brother's gore; The deep affliction of her royal sire. Who heard her flight with imprecations dire.— See! beauteous Helen, with her Trojan swain— The royal youth that fed his amorous pain, With ardent gaze, on those destructive charms That waken'd half the warring world to arms— Yonder, behold Oenone's wild despair, Who mourns the triumphs of the Spartan fair! The injured husband answers groan for groan, And young Hermione with piteous moan Orestes calls; while Laodamia near Bewails her valiant consort's fate severe.— Adrastus' daughter there laments her spouse Sincere and constant to her nuptial vows; Yet, lured by her, with gold's seductive aid, Her lord, Eriphile, to death betray'd."