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MANZONI, Alessandro


March 1828

On barren strand they paused to gaze

At the Ticino passed,

And, in new destiny absorbed,

On ancient valour cast

Their faith and swore : " O ne'er again

Between strange banks flow by

This wave, nor on Italian earth

Barriers be raised on high ! "

Such was their oath ; to it replied

Their brothers unafraid ;

Glinted in sunshine the drawn swords

They whetted in the shade ;

Already hand is clasped in hand,

The sacred words are said :

" O brothers on redeemed soil,

Comrades on dying bed ! "

Who Dora's streams, Bormida she

Tanaro's chosen bride,

Ticino, wooded Orba, can

From the Po's waves divide ;

Who lead astray swift Mella's and

The Oglio's mingled tide ;

Who stem the myriad torrents poured

From Adda's mouth so wide ;

Can scatter to their bitter scorn

A risen folk again,

And back through time and hazard thrust

Them unto ancient pain ;

A people liberated or

Enslaved from Alp to sea,

But one in faith and speech and cause.

In race, love, memory !

With humble and discouraged mien,

With fearful, faltering glance,

As tolerated beggar who

In a strange place doth chance,

The Lombard in his homeland bode

Bowed to another's will,

Ignoring fate, his only part

To suffer and be still.

Strangers, Italia takes her own

Once more ; lo, her new birth !

O strangers, strike your tents, for this

Is not your mother earth !

From Cenis unto Scylla's height

Have you not heard the shock ?

Nor underneath barbaric feet

Felt how the ground doth rock ?

O strangers, shame for trust betrayed

Your standard mars to-day ;

The words you proffered go with you

Into the impious fray,

With you who cried aloud : " O God,

The stranger put to flight,

Set all the peoples free, destroy

The sword's iniquitous might ! "

If your oppressors lie beneath

The earth that saw you bound.

If despots' faces in those days

So terrible you found,

Who told you, endless and in vain

Would be Italian grief,

And deaf unto our moans the God

Who granted you relief ? ;

The God who under crimson waves

Drowned Israel's cruel foe.

Who put the hammer into Jael's

Firm grasp and aimed the blow ;

Our Father, whom no Teuton heard

Say : " Where you have not sown.

Go, reap ; put out your claws and take

Italia for your own ! "

O loved Italia, where the cry

Of thy long servitude

Was heard, and where the nations are

With hope and faith endued,

Where liberty is in full flower

Or ripens secretly,

Where tears flow for misfortune, there's

No heart but beats for thee !

How often from the Alps hast sought

A friendly standard raised,

How often on the empty waste

Of the two seas hast gazed !

Behold, sprung from thy womb, ranged round

Thy sacred colours three,

Strong, armed with their own grief, thy sons

Risen to strike for thee !

To-day, O valiant ones, let wrath

Long hidden be displayed.

And for Italia triumph, in

Your hands her fate is laid !

Risen through you we shall behold

Her midst the nations placed,

Or humbled, mocked, enslaved, and 'neath

A bitter rod disgraced.

O days of our redemption, O

Unhappy he alway

Who hears of you from other lips

As stranger, who one day,

Telling his children of you, needs

Must sigh : " I was not there ! ",

Who to the sacred victor-sign

His greeting did not bear !