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High o'er our heads arose a cloud so vast,
O’er sea and heaven a fearful shade it cast:
Awful, immense, it came! so thïck, so drear,
Its gloomy grandeur chill'd our hearts with fear,
And the dark billow heaved with distant roar,
Hoarse, as if bursting on some rocky shore.
Thrill'd with amaze, I cried, " Supernal Power !
What mean the omens of this threatening hour ?
What the dread mystery of this ocean-clime,
So darkly grand, so fearfully sublime ?”
Scarce had I spoke, when lo! a mighty form,
Towerd through the gathering shadows of the storm ;
Of rude proportions and gigantic size,
Dark features, rugged beard, and deep-sunk eyes ;
Fierce was his gesture, and his tresses flew,
Sable his lips, and earthly pale his hue.
Well may I tell thee, that his limbs and height,
In vast dimensions and stupendous might,
Surpass'd that wonder, once the sculptor's boast,
The proud Colossus of the Rhodian coast.
Deep was his voice, in hollow tones he spoke,
As if from ocean's inmost caves they broke ;
And but that form to view, that voice to hear,
Spread o'er our flesh and hair cold deadly thrills of fear.
“Oh! daring band," he cried, "far, far more bold
Than all whose deeds recording fame has told;
Adventurous spirits! whom no sounds of fear
Can teach one pause in rapine's fierce career;
Since, bursting thus the barriers of the main,
Ye dare to violate my lonely reign,
Where, till this moment, from the birth of time,
No sail e'er broke the solitude sublime :
Since thus ye pierce the veil by Nature thrown
O'er the dark secrets of the deep Unknown,
Ne'er yet revealed to aught of mortal birth,
Howe'er supreme in power, unmatch'd in worth;
Hear from my lips what chastisements of fate,
Rash, bold intruders! on your course await !
What countless perils, woes of darkest hue,
Haunt the vast main and shores your arms must yet subdue !
“Know that o'er every bark, whose fearless helin
Invades, like yours, this wide mysterious realm,
Unmeasured ills my arm in wrath shall pour,
And guard with storms my own terrific shore !
And on the fleet which first presumes to brave
The dangers throned on this tempestuous wave,
Shall vengeance burst, ere yet a warning fear
Have time to prophesy destruction near
Yes, desperate band! if right my hopes divine,
Revenge, fierce, full, unequall'd shall be mine!
Urge your bold prow, pursue your venturous way,
Pain, Havoc, Ruin, wait their destined prey!
And your proud vessels, year by year, shall find,
(If no false dreams delude my prescient mind,)
My wrath so dread in many a fatal storm,
Death shall be deem'd misfortune's mildest form.
“Lo! where my victim comes !-of noble birth,
Of cultured genius, and exalted worth,
With her,* his best beloved, in all her charms,
Pride of his heart, and treasure of his arms!
From foaming waves, from raging winds they fly,
Spared for revenge, reserved for agony!
Oh dark the fate that calls them from their home,
On this rude shore, my savage reign to roam,
And sternly save them from a billowy tomb,
For woes more exquisite, more dreadful doom!
-Yes! he shall see the offspring, loved in vain,
Pierced with keen famine, die in lingering pain;
Shall see fierce Caffres every garment tear
From her, the soft, the idolized, the fair ;
Shall see those limbs of Nature's finest mould,
Bare to the sultry sun, or midnight-cold,
And, in long wanderings o’er a desert land
Those tender feet imprint the scorching sand.
“ Yet more, yet deeper woe, shall those behold,
Who live through toils unequallid and untold !
On the wild shore, beneath the burning sky,
The hapless pair, exhausted, sink to die!
Bedew the rock with tears of pain intense,
Of bitterest anguish, thrilling every sense,
Till in one last embrace, with mortal throes,
Their struggling spirits mount from anguish to repose !"
As the dark phantom sternly thus portray'd
Our future ills, in Horror's deepest shade,
“Who then art thou ?” I cried, “ dread being, tell
Each sense thus bending in amazement's spell ?"
- With fearful shriek, far echoing o'er the tide,
Writhing his lips and eyes, he thus replied
“ Behold the genius of that secret shore,
Where the wind rages, and the billows roar ;
That stormy Cape, for ages mine alone,
To Pompey, Strabo, Pliny, all unknown!
Far to the southern pole my throne extends,
That hidden rock, which Afric's region ends.
Behold that spirit, whose avenging might,
Whose fiercest wrath your daring deeds excite."
Thus having said, with strange, terrific cries,
The giant-spectre vanish'd from our eyes ;
In sable clouds dissolved-while far around,
Dark ocean's heaving realms his parting yells resound!
WEEP for the early lost!-
How many flowers were mingled in the crown
Thus, with the lovely, to the grave gone down,
E'en when life promised most,
How many hopes have wither'd--they that bow
To Heaven's dread will, feel all its inysteries now
Did the young mother's eye,
Behold her child, and close upon the day,
Ere from its glance th' awakening spirit's ray
In sunshine could reply ?
-Then look for clouds to dim ihe fairest morn!
Oh! strong is faith, if woe like this be borne.
For there is hush'd on earth
A voice of gladness—there is veil'd a face,
Whose parting leaves a dark and silent place,
By the once-joyous hearth.
A smile hath pass’d, which fill'd its home with light
A soul, whose beauty made that smile so bright!
But there is power with faith!
Power, e'en though nature, o'er the untimely grave
when God resumes the gem He gave;
For sorrow comes of Death,
And with a yearning heart we linger on,
When they, whose glance unlock'd its founts, are gone!
But glory from the dust,
And praise to Him, the merciful, for those
On whose bright memory love may still repose,
With an immortal trust!
Praise for the dead, who leave us, when they part,
Buch hope as she hath left—“the pure in heart.”
(“NELLO DELLA PIETRA had espoused a lady of noble family at
Sienna, named Madonna Pia. Her beauty was the admiration of Tuscany, and excited in the heart of her husband a jealousy, which, exasperated by false reports and groundless suspicions, at length drove him to the desperate resolution of Othello.' It is difficult to decide whether the lady was quite innocent, but so Dante represents her. Her husband brought her into the Maremma, which, then as now, was a district destructive of health. He never told his unfortunate wife the reason of her banishment to so dangerous a country. He did not deign to utter complaint or accusation. He lived with her alone, in cold silence, without answering her questions, or listening to her remonstrances. He patiently waited till the pestilential air should destroy the health of this young lady. In a few months she died. Some chronicles, indeed, tell us that Nello used the dagger to hasten her death. It is certain that he survived her, plunged in sadness and perpetual silence. Dante had in this incident, all the materials of an ample and very poetical narrative. But he bestows on it only four verses. He meets in Purgatory three spirits. One was a captain who fell fighting on the same side with him in the battle of Campaldino; the second, a gentleman assassinated by the treachery of the House of Este ; the third, was a woman unknown to the poet, and who, after the others had spoken, turned towards him with these words:
* Recorditi di me ; che son la Pia,
Sienna, mi fe, disfecemi Maremma,
Salsi colui che inanellata pria
Disposando m' avea con la sua gemma.'
Purgatorio, cant. 5.
-Edinburgh Review, No. Iviii.]
“ Mais elle etait du monde, ou les plus belles choses,
Ont le pire destin ;
Et Rose elle a vécu ce que vivent les roses,
L'espace d'un Matin."
THERE are bright scenes beneath Italian skies,
Where glowing suns their purest light diffuse,
Uncultured flowers in wild profusion rise,
And nature lavishes her warmest hues;
But trust thou not her smile, her balmy breath,
Away! her charms are but the pomp of Death!
He, in the vine-clad bowers, unseen is dwelling,
Where the cool shade its freshness round thee throws,
His voice, in every perfumed zephyr swelling,
With gentlest whisper lures thee to repose :
And the soft sounds that through the foliage sigh,
But woo thee still to slumber and to die,
Mysterious danger lurks, a syren, there,
Not robed in terrors, or announced in gloom,
But stealing o'er thee in the scented air,
And veil'd in flowers, that smile to deck thy tomb ;
How may we deem, amidst their deep array,
That heaven and earth but flatter to betray?
Sunshine, and bloom, and verdure ? Can it be,
That these but charm us with destructive wiles ?
Where shall we turn, O Nature, if in thee
Danger is mask'd in beauty-death in smiles ?
Oh! still the Circe of that fatal shore,
Where she, the sun's bright daughter, dwelt of yore!
There, year by year, that secret peril spreads,
Disguised in loveliness, its baleful reign,
And viewless blights o'er many a landscape sheds,
Gay with the riches of the south, in vain,
O'er fairy bowers and palaces of state,
Passing unseen to leave them desolate.
And pillar'd halls, whose airy colonades
Were formed to echo music's choral tone,
Are silent now, amidst deserted shades,*
Peopled by sculpture's graceful forms alone ;
And fountains dash unheard, by lone alcoves,
Neglected temples, and forsaken groves.
And there were marble nymphs, in beauty gleaming,
'Midst the deep shades of plane and cypress rise,
By wave or grot might fancy linger, dreaming
of old Arcadia's woodland deities,-
Wild visions !-there no sylvan powers convene,
Death reigns the genius of the Elysian scene.
Ye, too illustrious hills of Rome! that bear
Traces of Mightier beings on your brow,
O’er you that subtle spirit of the air
Extends the desert of his empire now;
Broods o'er the wreck of altar, fane, and dome,
And makes the Cæsars' ruin'd halls his home.
Youth, valor, beauty, oft have felt his power,
His crown'd and chosen victims: o'er their lot
Hath fond affection wept each blighted flower
In turn was loved and mourn'd, and is forgot.
* See Madame de Staël's fine description, in her Corinne, of the Villa Borghese, deserted on account of malaria.