« 上一頁繼續 »
THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.
'Tis the sunset of life gives me mystical lore,
LADY! If for the cold and cloudy clime Where I was born, but where I would not die,
Of the great Poet-Sire of Italy
I dare to build the imitative rhyme,
Are one; but only in the sunny South
in our language, except it may be by Mr. Hayley, of whose translation I never saw but one extract, quoted in the notes to Caliph Vathek; so that if I do not err-this poem may be considered as a metrical experiment. The cantos are short, and about the same
length of those of the poet whose name I have borrowed, and most probably taken in vain.
Amongst the inconveniences of authors in the present day, it is difficult for who have a name, good or bad, to escape trans
lation. I have had the fortune to see the fourth canto of Childe Harold translated
into Italian versi sciolti-that is, a poem written in the Spenserean stanza into blank So sweet a language from so fair a mouth-verse, without regard to the natural diAh! to what effort would it not persuade?
Ravenna, June 21, 1819. :
P R E F A С Б.
In the course of a visit to the city of Ravenna, in the summer of 1819, it was suggested to the author that, having composed something on the subject of Tasso's confinement, he should do the same on Dante's exile-the tomb of the poet forming one of the principal objects of interest in that city, both to the native and to the stranger.
If visions of the stanza, or of the sense. the present poem, being on a national topic, should chance to undergo the same fate, I would request the Italian reader to remember, that when I have failed in the imitation of his great "Padre Alighier," I have failed in imitating that which all study and few understand, since to this very day it is not yet settled what was the meaning of the allegory in the first canto of the Inferno, unless Count Marchetti's ingenious and probable conjecture may be considered as having decided the question.
He may also pardon my failure the more, as I am not quite sure that he would be pleased with my success, since the Italians, “On this hint I spake," and the result with a pardonable nationality, are partihas been the following four cantos, in tersa cularly jealous of all that is left them as rima, now offered to the reader. If they a nation-their literature; and, in the preare understood and approved, it is my pur- sent bitterness of the classic and romantic pose to continue the poem in various other war, are but ill disposed to permit a foreigncantos to its natural conclusion in the pre-er even to approve or imitate them, without sent age. The reader is requested to sup- finding some fault with his ultramontane pose that Dante addresses him in the inter- presumption. I can easily enter into all val between the conclusion of the Divina this, knowing what would be thought in Commedia and his death, and shortly before | England of an Italian imitator of Milton, the latter event, foretelling the fortunes of or if a translation of Monti, or Pindemonte, Italy in general in the ensuing centuries. or Arici, should be held up to the rising In adopting this plan I have had in my generation as a model for their future poetmind the Cassandra of Lycophron, and the ical essays. But I perceive that I am Prophecy of Nereus by Horace, as well as deviating into an address to the Italian the Prophecies of Holy Writ. The measure reader, when my business is with the Engadopted is the terza rima of Dante, which lish one, and be they few or many, I must I am not aware to have seen hitherto tried | take my leave of both.
ONCE more in man's frail world! which I had left
So long that 'twas forgotten; and I feel The weight of clay again,—too soon bereft Of the immortal vision which could heal My earthly sorrows, and to God's own skies Lift me from that deep gulf without repeal, Where late my ears rung with the damned cries
Of souls in hopeless bale; and from that place
Of lesser torment, whence men may arise Pure from the fire to join the angelic race; Midst whom my own bright Beatrice bless'd
My spirit with her light; and to the base Of the Eternal Triad! first, last, best,
Mysterious, three, sole, infinite,great God! Soul universal! led the mortal guest, Unblasted by the glory, though he trod From star to star to reach the almighty throne.
May form a monument not all obseure, Though such was not my ambition's end or aim,
To add to the vain-glorious list of those Who dabble in the pettiness of fame, And make men's fickle breath the wind that blows Their sail, and deem it glory to be class'd With conquerors, and Virtue's other foes, In bloody chronicles of ages past.
I would have had my Florence great and free:
Oh Florence! Florence! unto me thou wast Like that Jerusalem which the Almighty He Wept over: "but thou wouldst not;" as the bird Gathers its young, I would have gather'd thee
Oh Beatrice! whose sweet limbs the sod So long hath press'd, and the cold marble-Beneath a parent-pinion, hadst thou heard
Thou sole pure seraph of my earliest love, Love so ineffable, and so alone, That nought on earth could more my bosom
And meeting thee in heaven was but to
That without which my soul, like the arkless dove, Had wander'd still in search of, nor her feet Relieved her wing till found; without thy light
My Paradise had still been incomplete. Since my tenth sun gave summer to my sight Thou wert my life, the essence of my thought,
Loved ere I knew the name of love, and bright Still in these dim old eyes, now overwrought With the world's war, and years, and banishment,
And tears for thee, by other woes untaught; For mine is not a nature to be bent
By tyrannous faction, and the brawling crowd;
And though the long, long conflict hath been spent In vain, and never more,save when the cloud, Which overhangs the Apennine, my mind's eye Pierces to fancy Florence, once so proud Of me, can I return, though but to die, Unto my native soil, they have not yet Quench'd the old exile's spirit, stern and high.
But the sun, though not overcast, must set, And the night cometh; I am old in days, And deeds, and contemplation, and have met
My voice; but as the adder,deaf and fierce, Against the breast that cherish'd thee was stirr'd
Thy venom, and my state thou didst amerce, And doom this body forfeit to the fire. Alas! how bitter is his country's curse To him who for that country would expire, But did not merit to expire by her,
And loves her, loves her even in her ire. The day may come when she will cease to err,
The day may come she would be proud to have The dust she dooms to scatter, and transfer Of him, whom she denied a home, the
grave. But this shall not be granted; let my dust Lie where it falls; nor shall the soil which gave Me breath, but in her sudden fury thrust Me forth to breathe elsewhere, so re
My indignant bones, because her angry gust Forsooth is over, and repeal'd her doom. No, she denied me what was mine-my roof,
And shall not have what is not hers-my tomb.
Too long her armed wrath hath kept aloof The breast which would have bled for
her, the heart That beat, the mind that was temptationproof,
The man who fought, toil'd, travell'd, and each part
Of a true citizen fulfill'd, and saw For his reward the Guelf's ascendant art Pass his destruction even into a law.
These things are not made for forgetful
Florence shall be forgotten first; too raw The wound, too deep the wrong, and the distress
Of such endurance too prolong'd, to make My pardon greater, her injustice less, Though late repented; yet-yet for her sake I feel some fonder yearnings, and for thine, My own Beatrice, I would hardly take Vengeance upon the land which once was mine,
And still is hallow'd by thy dust's return, Which would protect the murderess like a shrine,
And save ten thousand foes by thy sole urn. Though, like old Marius from Minturnæ's marsh
And Carthage ruins, my lone breast may burn At times with evil feelings hot and harsh, And sometimes the last pangs of a vile foe Writhe in a dream before me, and o'erarch My brow with hopes of triumph, them go!
Such are the last infirmities of those Who long have suffer'd more than mortal
And yet being mortal still, have no repose But on the pillow of Revenge-Revenge, Who sleeps to dream of blood, and waking glows
With the oft-baffled, slakeless thirst of change,
When we shall mount again, and they that trod
Be trampled on, while Death and Ate range O'er humbled heads and sever'd necksGreat God!
Take these thoughts from me — to thy hands I yield My many wrongs, and thine almighty rod Will fall on those who smote me,-be my shield!
As thou hast been in peril, and in pain, In turbulent cities, and the tented fieldIn toil, and many troubles borne in vain
For Florence. I appeal from her to Thee! Thee, whom I late saw in thy loftiest reign, Even in that glorious vision, which to see And live was never granted until now, And yet thou hast permitted this to me. Alas! with what a weight upon my brow The sense of earth and earthly things come back,
Corrosive passions, feelings dull and low, The heart's quick throb upon the mental rack,
Long day,and dreary night; the retrospect Of half a century bloody and black, And the frail few years I may yet expect Hoary and hopeless, but less hard to bear, For I have been too long and deeply wreck'd
On the lone rock of desolate Despair
To lift my eyes more to the passing sail Which shuns that reef so horrible and bare;
Nor raise my voice for who would heed my wail? I am not of this people, nor this age, And yet my harpings will unfold a tale Which shall preserve these times when not a page
Of their perturbed annals could attract An eye to gaze upon their civil rage, Did not my verse embalm full many an act Worthless as they who wrought it: 'tis the doom
Of spirits of my order to be rack'd In life,to wear their hearts out, and consume Their days in endless strife,and die alone; Then future thousands crowd around their tomb,
And pilgrims come from climes where they have known The name of him-who now is but a name, And wasting homage o'er the sullen stone Spread his-by him unheard, unheededfame;
And mine at least hath cost me dear: to die
Is nothing; but to wither thus-to tame My mind down from its own infinity— To live in narrow ways with little men, A common sight to every common eye, A wanderer, while even wolves can find a den, Ripp'd from all kindred, from all home, all things That make communion sweet, and soften painTo feel me in the solitude of kings Without the power that makes them bear a crown
To envy every dove his nest and wings Which waft him where the Apennine looks down
On Arno, till he perches, it may be, Within my all-inexorable town, Where yet my boys are, and that fatal she, Their mother, the cold partner who hath brought
Destruction for a dowry-this to see And feel, and know without repair, hath taught
A bitter lesson; but it leaves me free: I have not vilely found, nor basely songht,They made an Exile-not a slave of me.
THE Spirit of the fervent days of Old, When words were things that came to pass, and thought Flash'd o'er the future, bidding men behold
Their children's children's doom already | For the world's granary; thou whose sky
Forth from the abyss of time which is to be, The chaos of events, where lie halfwrought
Shapes that must undergo mortality;
Be theirs, and my own feelings be my meed,
Italia? Ah! to me such things, foreshown With dim sepulchral light, bid me forget In thine irreparable wrongs my own; We can have but one country, and even yet Thou'rt mine-my bones shall be within thy breast,
My soul within thy language, which
With our old Roman sway in the wide West; But I will make another tongue arise As lofty and more sweet, in which exprest The hero's ardour, or the lover's sighs, Shall find alike such sounds for every theme
That every word, as brilliant as thy skies, Shall realise a poet's proudest dream, And make thee Europe's nightingale of
So that all present speech to thine shall
The note of meaner birds, and every tongue Confess its barbarism when compared with thine.
This shalt thou owe to him thou didst 80 wrong, Thy Tuscan Bard, the banish'd Ghibelline. Woe! woe! the veil of coming centuries Is rent,- -a thousand years which yet supine
Lie like the ocean-waves ere winds arise,
The unborn earthquake yet is in the womb, The bloody chaos yet expects creation, But all things are disposing for thy doom; The elements await but for the word, "Let there be darkness!" and thou growst a tomb!
Yes! thou, so beautiful, shalt feel the sword, Thou, Italy! so fair that Paradise, Revived in thee, blooms forth to man restored:
Ab! must the sons of Adam lose it twice? Thou Italy! whose ever golden fields, Plough'd by the sunbeams solely, would suffice
With brighter stars, and robes with deeper blue;
Thou, in whose pleasant places Summer builds
Her palace, in whose cradle Empire grew, And form'd the Eternal City's ornaments From spoils of kings whom, freemen overthrew ; Birthplace of heroes, sanctuary of saints, Where earthly first, then heavenly glory made Her home; thou, all which fondest fancy paints,
And finds her prior vision but portray'd In feeble colours, when the eye-from the Alp
Of horrid snow, and rock and shaggy shade Of desert-loving pine, whose emerald scalp Nods to the storm-dilates and dotes o'er thee, And wistfully implores, as 'twere, for help To see thy sunny fields, my Italy,
Nearer and nearer yet, and dearer still The more approach'd, and dearest were they free;Thou-Thou must wither to each tyrant's will:
The Goth hath been, the German, Frank, and Hun
Are yet to come,—and on the imperial hill Ruin, already proud of the deeds done By the old barbarians, there awaits the new,
Throned on the Palatine, while lost and
Rome at her feet lies bleeding; and the hue
And still more helpless nor less holy daughter, Vow'd to their God, have shrieking fled, and ceased
Their ministry: the nations take their
Iberian, Almain, Lombard, and the beast And bird, wolf, vulture, more humane than they
Arc; these but gorge the flesh and lap the gore Of the departed, and then go their way; But those, the human savages, explore All paths of torture, and insatiate yet, With Ugolino-hunger prowl for more. Nine moons shall rise o'er scenes like this and set; The chiefless army of the dead, late Beneath the traitor Prince's banner met, Hath left its leader's ashes at the gate; Had but the royal Rebel lived, perchance
Thou hadst been spared, but his involved | What is there wanting then to set thee free,
Oh! Rome,the spoiler or the spoil of France, From Brennus to the Bourbon,never, never Shall foreign standard to thy walls advance
But Tiber shall become a mournful river. Oh! when the strangers pass the Alps and Po,
Crush them ye rocks! floods, whelm them, and for ever!
Why sleep the idle avalanches so,
To topple on the lonely pilgrim's head? Why doth Eridanus but overflow The peasant's harvest from his turbid bed? Were not each barbarous horde a nobler prey?
Over Cambyses' host the desert spread Her sandy ocean, and the sea waves' sway Roll'd over Pharaoh and his thousands, - why
Mountains and waters do ye not as they! And you, ye men! Romans, who dare not die, Sons of the conquerors who overthrew Those who overthrew proud Xerxes, where yet lie
The dead whose tomb Oblivion never knew,
And leave the march in peace, the passage free?
Why, Nature's self detains the victor's car And makes your land impregnable,if earth Could be so; but alone she will not war, Yet aids the warrior worthy of his birth In a soil where the mothers bring forth
Not so with those whose souls are little worth; For them no fortress can avail,-the den Of the poor reptile which preserves its sting
Is more secure than walls of adamant, when The hearts of those within are quivering. Are ye not brave? Yes, yet the Ausonian soil Hath hearts, and hands, and arms, and hosts to bring
And show thy beauty in its fullest light? To make the Alps impassable; and we, Her sons, may do this with one deed-Unite!
FROM out the mass of never dying ill, The Plague, the Prince, the Stranger, and the Sword,
Vials of wrath but emptied to refill And flow again, I cannot all record That crowds on my prophetic eye: the earth
And ocean written o'er would not afford Space for the annal, yet it shall go forth; Yes, all, though not by human pen, is graven,
There where the farthest suns and stars have birth.
Spread like a banner at the gate of heaven, The bloody scroll of our millennial wrongs
Waves,and the echo of our groans is driven Athwart the sound of archangelic songs, And Italy, the martyr'd nation's gore, Will not in vain arise to where belongs Omnipotence and mercy evermore:
Like to a harpstring stricken by the wind, The sound of her lament shall, rising o'er The seraph-voices,touch the Almighty Mind. Meantime I, humblest of thy sons, and of Earth's dust by immortality refined To sense and suffering, though the vain may scoff,
And tyrants threat, and meeker victims bow
Before the storm because its breath is rough,
To thee, my country! whom before as now, I loved and love,devote the mournful lyre And melancholy gift high powers allow To read the future; and if now my fire
Is not as once it shone o'er thee, forgive! I but foretell thy fortunes-then expire; Think not that I would look on them and live.
A spirit forces me to see and speak, Against Oppression; but how vain the toil, And for my guerdon grants not to survive; While still Division sows the seeds of woe | My heart shall be pour'd over thee and And weakness, till the stranger reaps the spoil.
Oh! my own beauteous land! so long laid low, So long the grave of thy own children's hopes, When there is but required a single blow To break the chain, yet-yet the Avenger stops, And Doubt and Discord step 'twixt thine and thee, And join their strength to that which with thee copes;
Yet for a moment, ere I must resume Thy sable web of sorrow, let me take Over the gleams that flash athwart thy gloom
A softer glimpse; some stars shine through thy night,
And many meteors, and above thy tomb Leans sculptured Beauty, which Death cannot blight;
And from thine ashes boundless spirits rise To give thee honour and the earth delight;