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Sun-girt City! thou hast been
Those who alone thy towers behold
Perish ! let there only be
O'er a mighty thunder-fit,
Chastening terror: what though yet
Poesy's unfailing river,
Which through Albion winds for ever,
Lashing with melodious wave
Many a sacred poet's grave,
Mourn its latest nursling fled!
What though thou with all thy dead
Scarce can for this fame repay
Aught thine own,—oh, rather say,
Though thy sins and slaveries foul
Overcloud a sunlike soul!
As the ghost of Homer clings
Row d Scamander's wasting springs;
As divinest Shakspeare's might
Fills Avon and the world with light,
Like omniscient power, which he
Imaged 'mid mortality;
As the love from Petrarch's urn,
Yet amid yon hills doth burn,
A quenchless lamp, by which the heart
Sees things unearthly ; so thou art,
Mighty spirit: so shall be
The city that did refuge thee.
Lo, the sun floats up the sky,
Padua, thou within whose walls
Sin smiled so as Sin only can,
In thine halls the lamp of learning,
Padua, now no more is burning;
Like a meteor, whose wild way
Is lost over the grave of day,
It gleams betrayed and to betray:
Once remotest nations came
To adore that sacred flame,
When it lit not many a hearth
On this cold and gloomy earth;
Now new fires from Antique light
Spring beneath the wide world's might;
But their spark lies dead in thee,
Trampled out by tyranny.
As the Norway woodman quells,
In the depth of piny dells,
One light flame among the brakes,
While the boundless forest shakes,
And its mighty trunks are torn
By the fire thus lowly born;
The spark beneath his feet is dead,
He starts to see the flames it fed
Howling through the darkened sky
With myriad tongues victoriously,
And sinks down in fear: so thou,
O tyranny! beholdest now
Light around thee, and thou hearest
The loud flames ascend, and fearvst:
Grovel on the earth ; ay, hide
In the dust thy purple pride!
Noon descends around me now:
And my spirit, which so long
Darkened this swift stream of song,
By the glory of the sky;
Be it love, light, harmony,
Odour, or the soul of all
Which from heaven like dew doth fall,
Or the mind which feeds this verse
Peopling the lone universe.
Noon descends, and after noon
Autumn's evening meets me soon,
Leading the infantine moon,
And that one star, which to her
Almost seems to minister
Half the crimson light she brings
From the sunset's radiant springs:
And the soft dreams of the morn
(Which like winged winds had borne
To that silent isle, which lies
'Mid remembered agonies,
The frail bark of this lone being),
Pass, to other sufferers fleeing,
And its ancient pilot, Pain,
Sits beside the helm again.
Other flowering isles must be
In the sea of life and agony:
Other spirits float and flee
O'er that gulf: even now, perhaps,
On some rock the wild wave wraps,
With folding wings they waiting sit
For my bark, to pilot it
To some calm and blooming cove,
Where for me, and those I love,
May a windless bower be built,
Far from passion, pain, and guilt,
In a dell 'mid lawny hills,
Which the wild sea-murmur fills,
And soft sunshine, and the sound
Of old forests echoing round,
And the light and smell divine
Of all flowers that breathe and shine.
We may live so happy there,
That the spirits of the air,
Envying us, may even entice
To our healing paradise
The polluting multitude;
But their rage would be subdued
By that clime divine and calm,
And the winds whose wings rain balm
On the uplifted soul, and leaves
Under which the bright sea heaves;
While each breathless interval
In their whisperings musical
The inspired soul supplies
With its own deep melodies;
And the love which heals all strife
Circling, like the breath of life,
All things in that sweet abode
With its own mild brotherhood.
They, not it, would change ; and soon
Every sprite beneath the moon
Would repent its envy vain,
And the earth grow young again.
JULIAN AND MADDALO:
The meadows with fresh Btreams, the beea with thyme,
Count Maddalo is a Venetian nobleman of ancient family and of great fortune, who, without mixing much in the society of his countrymen, resides chiefly at his magnificent palace in that city. He is a person of the most consummate genius; and capable, if he would direct his energies to such an end, of becoming the redeemer of his degraded country. But it is his weakness to be proud: he derives, from a comparison of his own extraordinary mind with the dwarfish intellects that surround him, an intense apprehension of the nothingness of human life. His passions and his powers are incomparably greater than those of other men, and, instead of the latter having been employed in curbing the former, they have mutually lent each other strength. His ambition preys upon itself, for want of objects which it can consider worthy of exertion. I say that Maddalo is proud, because I can find no other word to express the concentered and impatient feelings which consume him; but it is on his own hopes and affections only that he seems to trample, for in social life no human being can be more gentle, patient, and unassuming than Maddalo. He is cheerful, frank, and witty. His more serious conversation is a sort of intoxication; men are held by it as by a spell. He has travelled much; and there is
an inexpressible charm in his relation of his adventures in different countries.
Julian is an Englishman of good family, passionately attached to those philosophical notions which assert the power of man over his own mind, and the immense improvements of which, by the extinction of certain moral superstitions, human society may yet be susceptible. Without concealing the evil in the wi?r!d, he is for ever speculating how good may be made superior. He is a complete infidel, and a scoffer at all things reputed holy; and Maddalo takes a wicked pleasure in drawing out his tauuts against religion. What Maddalo thinks on these matters is not exactly known. Julian, in spite of his heterodox opinions, is conjectured by his friends to possess eome good qualities. How far this is possible the pious reader will determine. Julian is rather serious.
Of the Maniac I can give no information. He seems by his own account to have been disappointed in love. He was evidently a very cultivated and amiable person when in his right senses. His story, told at length, might be like many other stories of the same kind: the unconnected exclamations of his agwiy will perhaps be found a sufficient comment for the text of every heart.
I Rode one evening with Count Maddalo
Upon the bank of land which breaks the flow
Of Adria towards Venice: a bare strand
Of hillocks, heaped from ever-shifting sand,
Matted with thistles and amphibious weeds,
Such as from earth's embrace the salt ooze breeds,
Is this, an uninhabited sea-side,
Which the lone fisher, when his nets are dried,
Abandons ; and no other object breaks
The waste, but one dwarf tree and some few stakes
Broken and unrepaired, and the tide makes
A narrow space of level sand thereon,
Where 'twas our wont to ride while day went down.
This ride was my delight. I love all waste
And solitary places ; where we taste
The pleasure of believing what we see
Is boundless, as we wish our souls to he:
And such was this wide ocean, and this shore
More barren than its billows : and yet more
Than all, with a remembered friend I love
So, as we rode, we talked ; and the swift thought.
As mocks itself, because it cannot scorn
The thoughts it would extinguish :—'twas forlorn,
Vet pleasing ; such as once, so poets tell,
The devils held within the dales of hell,
Concerning God, freewill, and destiny.
Of all that Earth has been, or yet may be;
All that vain men imagine or believe,
Or hope can paint, or suffering can achieve,
We descanted ; and I (for ever still
Is it not wise to make the best of ill i)
Argued against despondency ; but pride
Made my companion take the darker side.
The sense that he was greater than his kind
Had struck, methinks, his eagle spirit blind
Bv gazing on its own exceeding light.
Meanwhile the sun paused ere it should alight
Over the horizon of the mountains—Oh!
How beautiful is sunset, when the glow
Of heaven descends upon a land like thee,
Thou paradise of exiles, Italy!
Thy mountains, seas, and vineyards, and the
towers, Of cities they encircle !—It was ours To stand on thee, beholding it: and then, Just where we had dismounted, the Count's men Were waiting for us with the gondola. As those who pause on some delightful way, Though bent on pleasant pilgrimage, we stood Looking upon the evening, and the flood Which lay between the city and the shore, Paved with the image of the sky : the hoar And airy Alps, towards the north, appeared, Thro' mist, a heaven-sustaining bulwark, reared Between the east and west; and half the sky Was roofed with clouds of rich emblazonry, Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew Down the steep west into a wondrous hue Brighter than burning gold, even to the rent Where the swift sun yet paused in his descent Among the many-folded hills—they were Those famous Euganean hills, which bear, As seen from Lido through the harbour piles, The likeness of a clump of peaked isles— And then, as if the earth and sea had been Dissolved into one lake of fire, were seen Those mountains towering, as from waves of flame, Around the vaporous sun, from which there came The inmost purple spirit of light, and made Their very peaks transparent. "Ere it fade," Said my companion," I will show you soon A better station." So, o'er the lagune We glided ; and from that funereal bark I leaned, and saw the city, and could mark How from their many isles, in evening's gleam, Its temples and its palaces did seem Like fabrics of enchantment piled to heaven. I was about to speak, when—" We are even Now at the point I meant," said Maddalo, And bade the gondolieri cease to row. "Look, Julian, on the west, and listen well If you hear not a deep and heavy bell." I looked, and saw between us and the sun A building on an island, such a one As age to age might add, for uses vile,— A windowless, deformed, and dreary pile; And on the top an open tower, where hung A bell, which in the radiance swayed and swung, We could just hear its coarse and iron tongue: The broad sun sank behind it, and it tolled In strong and black relief—" What we behold
Shall be the madhouse and its belfry tower,"—
The following morn was rainy, cold, and dim:
The passive thing you say, I should not see
"It remains to know,"
"My dear friend,"
"I hope to prove the induction otherwise,
As thus I spoke,
"Methinks there were A cure of these with patience and kind care, If music can thus move. But what is he, Whom we seek here?"
"Of his sad history I know but this," said Maddalo: "he came To Venice a dejected man, and fame Said he was wealthy, or he had been so. Some thought the loss of fortune wrought him woe;
But he was ever talking in such sort
As you do,—but more sadly ;—he seemed hurt,
Even as a man with his peculiar wrong,
To hear but of the oppression of the strong,
Or those absurd deceits (I think with you
In some respects, you know) which carry through
The excellent impostors of this earth
When they outface detection. He had worth,
Poor fellow ! but a humourist in his way."—
—" Alas, what drove him mad!"
"I cannot say: A lady came with him from France, and when She left him and .returned, he wandered then
About yon lonely isles of desert sand,
Till he grew wild. He had no cash nor land
Remaining :—the police had brought him here—
Some fancy took him, and he would not bear
Removal, so I fitted up for him
Those rooms beside the seaj to please his whim;
And sent him busts, and books, and urns for
flowers, Which had adorned his life in happier hours. And instruments of music. You may guess A stranger could do little more or less For one so gentle and unfortunate— And those are his sweet strains which charm the
weight From madmen's chains, and make this hell appear A heaven of sacred silence, hushed to hear."
"Nay, this was kind of you,—he had no claim, As the world says."
"None but the very
thought His words might move some heart that heeded not, If sent to distant lands ;—and then as one Reproaching deeds never to be undone, With wondering self-compassion;—then his speech Was lost in grief, and then his words came each Unmodulated and expressionless,— But that from one jarred accent you might guess