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TASSO, Torquato


Nor could he, had he searched the whole world through,

Than this a more delightful country see....

Soft meads, clear streams, and banks affording shade,

Hillocks and plains, by culture fertile made.

Fair thickets of the cedar, palm and no

Less pleasant myrtle, of the laurel sweet,

Of orange trees, where fruit and flow'rs did grow,

And which in various forms, all lovely, meet

With their thick shades against the fervid glow

Of summer days, afforded a retreat;

And nightingales, devoid of fear, among

Those branches fluttered, pouring forth their song.

Amid the lilies white and roses red,

Ever more freshened by the tepid air,

The stag was seen, with his proud lofty head,

And feeling safe, the rabbit and the hare....

Sapphires and rubies, topazes, pearls, gold,

Hyacinths, chrysolites, and diamonds were

Like the night flow'rs, which did their leaves unfold

There on those glad plains, painted by the air

So green the grass, that if we did behold

It here, no emeralds could therewith compare;

As fair the foliage of the trees was, which

With fruit and flow'r eternally were rich.

Amid the boughs, sing yellow, white, and blue,

And red and green small feathered creatures gay;

The crystals less limpidity of hue

Than the still lakes or murmuring brooks display.

A gentle breeze, that seemeth still to woo

And never change from its accustomed way,

Made all around so tremulous the air

That no annoyance was the day's hot glare.

From the hard face of earth the sun's bright hue

Not yet its veil obscure and dark did rend;

The Lycaonian offspring scarcely through

The furrows of the sky his plough did send.
The tender maid is like unto the rose

In the fair garden on its native thorn;

Whilst it alone and safely doth repose,

Nor flock nor shepherd crops it; dewy morn,

Water and earth, the breeze that sweetly blows,

Are gracious to it; lovely dames adorn

With it their bosoms and their beautiful

Brows; it enamoured youths delight to cull.

Only, Alcina fairest was by far

As is the sun more fair than every star....

Milk is the bosom, of luxuriant size,

And the fair neck is round and snowy white;

Two unripe ivory apples fall and rise

Like waves upon the sea-beach when a slight

Breeze stirs the ocean.
So closely doth the ivy not enlace

The tree where firmly rooted it doth stand,

As clasp each other in their warm embrace

These lovers, by each other's sweet breath fanned.

Sweet flower, of which on India's shore no trace

Is, or on the Sabaean odorous sand.
Her fair face the appearance did maintain

That sometimes shewn is by the sky in spring,

When at the very time that falls the rain,

The sun aside his cloudy veil doth fling.

And as the nightingale its pleasant strain

Then on the boughs of the green trees doth sing,

Thus Love doth bathe his pinions at those bright

But tearful eyes, enjoying the clear light.
But as more fickle than the leaf was she,

When it in autumn doth more sapless grow,

And the old wind doth strip it from the tree,

And doth before it in its fury grow.

As when a bark doth the deep ocean plough,

That two winds strike with an alternate blast,

'Tis now sent forward by the one, and now

Back by the other in its first place cast,

And whirled from prow to poop, from poop to prow,

But urged by the most potent wind at last

Philander thus irresolute between

The two thoughts, did to the least wicked lean.
As comes the wave upon the salt sea shore

Which the smooth wind at first in thought hath fanned;

Greater the second is than that before

It, and the third more fiercely follows, and

Each time the humour more abounds, and more

Doth it extend its scourge upon the land:

Against Orlando thus from vales below

And hills above, doth the vile rabble grow.
Behold how lovely blooms the vernal rose

When scarce the leaves her early bud disclose,

When, half unwrapt, and half to view revealed,

She gives new pleasure from her charms concealed.

But when she shews her bosom wide displayed,

How soon her sweets exhale, her beauties fade!

No more she seems the flower so lately loved,

By virgins cherished and by youths approved.

So swiftly fleeting with the transient day

Passes the flower of mortal life away.
The garden then unfolds a beauteous scene,

With flowers adorned and ever living green;

There silver lakes reflect the beaming day,

Here crystal streams in gurgling fountains play.

Cool vales descend and sunny hills arise,

And groves and caves and grottos strike the eyes.

Art showed her utmost power; but art concealed

With greater charm the pleased attention held.

It seemed as Nature played a sportive part

And strove to mock the mimic works of art:

By powerful magic breathes the vernal air,

And fragrant trees eternal blossoms bear:

Eternal fruits on every branch endure,

Those swelling from their buds, and these mature:

The joyous birds, concealed in every grove,

With gentle strife prolong the notes of love.

Soft zephyrs breathe on woods and waters round,

The woods and waters yield a murmuring sound;

When cease the tuneful choir, the wind replies,

But, when they sing, in gentle whisper dies;

By turns they sink, by turns their music raise

And blend, with equal skill, harmonious lays.