Quel tempo della tua vita mortale,
Quando beltà splendea
Negli occhi tuoi ridenti e fuggitivi,
E tu, lieta e pensosa, il limitare
Di gioventù salivi?
Stanze, e le vie dintorno,
Al tuo perpetuo canto,
Allor che all'opre femminili intenta
Sedevi, assai contenta
Di quel vago avvenir che in mente avevi.
Era il maggio odoroso: e tu solevi
Così menare il giorno.
Talor lasciando e le sudate carte,
Ove il tempo mio primo
E di me si spendea la miglior parte,
D'in su i veroni del paterno ostello
Porgea gli orecchi al suon della tua voce,
Ed alla man veloce
Che percorrea la faticosa tela.
Mirava il ciel sereno,
Le vie dorate e gli orti,
E quinci il mar da lungi, e quindi il monte.
Lingua mortal non dice
Quel ch'io sentiva in seno.
Che speranze, che cori, o Silvia mia!
Quale allor ci apparia
La vita umana e il fato!
Quando sovviemmi di cotanta speme,
Un affetto mi preme
Acerbo e sconsolato,
E tornami a doler di mia sventura.
O natura, o natura,
Perchè non rendi poi
Quel che prometti allor? perchè di tanto
Inganni i figli tuoi?
Da chiuso morbo combattuta e vinta,
Perivi, o tenerella. E non vedevi
Il fior degli anni tuoi;
Non ti molceva il core
La dolce lode or delle negre chiome,
Or degli sguardi innamorati e schivi;
Nè teco le compagne ai dì festivi
La speranza mia dolce: agli anni miei
Anche negaro i fati
La giovanezza. Ahi come,
Come passata sei,
Cara compagna dell'età mia nova,
Mia lacrimata speme!
Questo è quel mondo? questi
I diletti, l'amor, l'opre, gli eventi
Onde cotanto ragionammo insieme?
Questa la sorte dell'umane genti?
All'apparir del vero
Tu, misera, cadesti: e con la mano
La fredda morte ed una tomba ignuda
Mostravi di lontano.
the moments, in your mortal life,
when beauty still shone
in your sidelong, laughing eyes,
and you, light and thoughtful, went
beyond girlhood’s limits?
around you, sounded
to your endless singing,
when you sat, happily content,
intent, on that woman’s work,
the vague future, arriving alive in your mind.
It was the scented May, and that’s how
you spent your day.
and the turned-down pages,
where my young life,
the best of me, was left,
and from the balcony of my father’s house
strain to catch the sound of your voice,
and your hand, quick,
running over the loom.
I would look at the serene sky,
the gold lit gardens and paths,
that side the mountains, this side the far-off sea.
And human tongue cannot say
what I felt then.
what hopes, what hearts, O Silvia mia!
How it appeared to us then,
all human life and fate!
When I recall that hope
such feelings pain me,
I brood on my own destiny.
Oh Nature, Nature
why do you not give now
what you promised then? Why
do you so deceive your children?
by secret disease, you died,
my tenderest one, and did not
see your years flower,
or feel your heart moved,
by sweet praise of your black hair
your shy, loving looks.
No friends talked with you,
on holidays, about love.
little by little: to me too
Fate has denied those years. Oh,
how you have passed me by,
dear friend of my new life,
my saddened hope!
Is this the world, the dreams,
the loves, events, delights,
we spoke about so much together?
Is this our human life?
At the advance of Truth
you fell, unhappy one,
and from the distance,
with your hand, you pointed
towards death’s coldness and the silent grave.
To The Moon
Oh lovely moon, as I remember
A year that’s turned, I come to gaze
Upon this hill, full of anguish:
And you’ve hung above the forest
Since then, as now, illuminating all.
But clouded by trembling and tears
Rising on my lashes, by my lights
Your face appeared, though suffering
Was my life: and is my life, never changing,
Oh dear moon. And yet I gain
From the memories, while time grows the range
Of my pain. Oh how grateful I am
Of that youthful time, when hope is still
Long and memory’s course is brief,
Of the remembrance of things past,
Even the sad, and the hard distress!
To Himself (XXVIII)
Now you’ll rest forever
my weary heart. The last illusion has died
I thought eternal. Died. I feel, in truth,
not only hope, but desire
for dear illusion has vanished.
Rest forever. You’ve laboured
enough. Not a single thing is worth
your beating: the earth’s not worthy
of your sighs. Bitter and tedious,
life is, nothing more: and the world is mud.
Be silent now. Despair
for the last time. To our race Fate
gave only death. Now scorn Nature,
that brute force
that secretly governs the common hurt,
and the infinite emptiness of all.
E questa siepe, che da tanta parte
Dell'ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.
Ma sedendo e mirando, interminati
Spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani
Silenzi, e profondissima quiete
Io nel pensier mi fingo; ove per poco
Il cor non si spaura. E come il vento
Odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello
Infinito silenzio a questa voce
Vo comparando: e mi sovvien l'eterno,
E le morte stagioni, e la presente
E viva, e il suon di lei. Così tra questa
Immensità s'annega il pensier mio:
E il naufragar m'è dolce in questo mare.
And this low hedge, whose potent littleness
Forbids the vast horizon to the eye ;
For, as I sit and muse, my fancy frames
Interminable space beyond its bound,
And silence more than human, and secure
Unutterable and unending rest,
Where even the heart has peace. And as I hear
The faint wind's breath among the trees, my mind
Compares these lispings with the infinite hush
Of that invisible distance, and the dead
And unborn hours of dim Eternity
With this hour, and its voices. Thus my thought
Gulphing Infinity doth swallow up,
And sweet to me is shipwreck in this sea.
en deze hoge heg, die overal
de verre einder aan mijn blik ontzegt.
Doch goed is dromen hier, dan gaat verbeelding
die grens voorbij naar ruimten mateloos,
naar stilten, die de mens niet kent, en rust
oneindig-groot; en vrij blijft daar het hart
van elke vrees. En als ik dan de wind
zo dicht nabij hoor ruisen in het loof,
verbind ik gindse grondeloze stilte
met dit geluid, en denk aan de eeuwigheid
en aan de dode tijden en het uur
van ’t levend heden met zijn vlucht’ge stem.
Zo zinkt mijn mijm’ring weg in de diepe wat’ren.
En zoet is mij de schipbreuk in die zee.
At times thy image to my mind returns,
Aspasia. In the crowded streets it gleams
Upon me, for an instant, as I pass,
In other faces; or in lonely fields,
At noon-tide bright, beneath the silent stars,
With sudden and with startling vividness,
As if awakened by sweet harmony,
The splendid vision rises in my soul.
How worshipped once, ye gods, what a delight
To me, what torture, too! Nor do I e'er
The odor of the flowery fields inhale,
Or perfume of the gardens of the town,
That I recall thee not, as on that day,
When in thy sumptuous rooms, so redolent
Of all the fragrant flowers of the spring,
Arrayed in robe of violet hue, thy form
Angelic I beheld, as it reclined
On dainty cushions languidly, and by
An atmosphere voluptuous surrounded;
When thou, a skilful Syren, didst imprint
Upon thy children's round and rosy lips
Resounding, fervent kisses, stretching forth
Thy neck of snow, and with thy lovely hand,
The little, unsuspecting innocents
Didst to thy hidden, tempting bosom press.
The earth, the heavens transfigured seemed to me,
A ray divine to penetrate my soul.
Then in my side, not unprotected quite,
Deep driven by thy hand, the shaft I bore,
Lamenting sore; and not to be removed,
Till twice the sun his annual round had made.
A ray divine, O lady! to my thought
Thy beauty seemed. A like effect is oft
By beauty caused, and harmony, that seem
The mystery of Elysium to reveal.
The stricken mortal fondly worships, then,
His own ideal, creature of his mind,
Which of his heaven the greater part contains.
Alike in looks, in manners, and in speech,
The real and ideal seem to him,
In his confused and passion-guided soul.
But not the woman, but the dream it is,
That in his fond caresses, he adores.
At last his error finding, and the sad exchange,
He is enraged, and most unjustly, oft,
The woman chides. For rarely does the mind
Of woman to that high ideal rise;
And that which her own beauty oft inspires
In generous lovers, she imagines not,
Nor could she comprehend. Those narrow brows,
Cannot such great conceptions hold. The man,
Deceived, builds false hopes on those lustrous eyes,
And feelings deep, ineffable, nay, more
Than manly, vainly seeks in her, who is
By nature so inferior to man.
For as her limbs more soft and slender are,
So is her mind less capable and strong.
Nor hast thou ever known, Aspasia,
Or couldst thou comprehend the thoughts that once
Thou didst inspire in me. Thou knowest not
What boundless love, what sufferings intense,
What ravings wild, what savage impulses,
Thou didst arouse in me; nor will the time
E'er come when thou could'st understand them. So,
Musicians, too, are often ignorant
Of the effects they with the hand and voice
Produce on him that listens. Dead is _that_
Aspasia, that I so loved, aye, dead
Forever, who was once sole object of
My life; save as a phantom, ever dear,
That comes from time to time, and disappears.
Thou livest still, not only beautiful,
But in thy beauty still surpassing all;
But oh, the flame thou didst enkindle once,
Long since has been extinguished; _thee_, indeed,
I never loved, but that Divinity,
Once living, buried now within my heart.
Her, long time, I adored; and was so pleased
With her celestial beauty, that, although
I from the first thy nature knew full well,
And all thy artful and coquettish ways,
Yet _her_ fair eyes beholding still in _thine_,
I followed thee, delighted, while she lived;
Deceived? Ah, no! But by the pleasure led,
Of that sweet likeness, that allured me so,
A long and heavy servitude to bear.
Now boast; thou can'st! Say, that to thee alone
Of all thy sex, my haughty head I bowed,
To thee alone, of my unconquered heart
An offering made. Say, that thou wast the first--
And surely wast the last--that in my eye
A suppliant look beheld, and me before
Thee stand, timid and trembling (how I blush,
In saying it, with anger and with shame),
Of my own self deprived, thy every wish,
Thy every word submissively observing,
At every proud caprice becoming pale,
At every sign of favor brightening,
And changing color at each look of thine.
The charm is over, and, with it, the yoke
Lies broken, scattered on the ground; and I
Rejoice. 'Tis true my days are laden with
Ennui; yet after such long servitude,
And such infatuation, I am glad
My judgment, freedom to resume. For though
A life bereft of love's illusions sweet,
Is like a starless night, in winter's midst,
Yet some revenge, some comfort can I find
For my hard fate, that here upon the grass,
Outstretched in indolence I lie, and gaze
Upon the earth and sea and sky, and smile.
passero solitario, alla campagna
cantando vai finché non more il giorno;
ed erra l’armonia per questa valle.
brilla nell’aria, e per li campi esulta,
sí ch’a mirarla intenerisce il core.
Odi greggi belar, muggire armenti;
gli altri augelli contenti, a gara insieme
per lo libero ciel fan mille giri,
pur festeggiando il lor tempo migliore:
tu pensoso in disparte il tutto miri;
non compagni, non voli,
non ti cal d’allegria, schivi gli spassi;
canti, e cosí trapassi
dell’anno e di tua vita il piú bel fiore.
al tuo costume il mio! Sollazzo e riso,
della novella etá dolce famiglia,
e te, german di giovinezza, amore,
sospiro acerbo de’ provetti giorni,
non curo, io non so come; anzi da loro
quasi fuggo lontano;
quasi romito, e strano
al mio loco natio,
passo del viver mio la primavera.
Questo giorno, ch’omai cede alla sera,
festeggiar si costuma al nostro borgo.
Odi per lo sereno un suon di squilla,
odi spesso un tonar di ferree canne,
che rimbomba lontan di villa in villa.
Tutta vestita a festa
la gioventú del loco
lascia le case, e per le vie si spande;
mira ed è mirata, e in cor s’allegra.
Io, solitario in questa
rimota parte alla campagna uscendo,
ogni diletto e gioco
indugio in altro tempo; e intanto il guardo
steso nell’aria aprica
mi fère il sol, che tra lontani monti,
dopo il giorno sereno,
cadendo si dilegua, e par che dica
che la beata gioventú vien meno.
del viver che daranno a te le stelle,
certo del tuo costume
non ti dorrai; ché di natura è frutto
ogni vostra vaghezza.
A me, se di vecchiezza
la detestata soglia
evitar non impetro,
quando muti questi occhi all’altrui core,
e lor fia vòto il mondo, e il dí futuro
del dí presente piú noioso e tetro,
che parrá di tal voglia?
che di quest’anni miei? che di me stesso?
Ahi! pentirommi, e spesso,
ma sconsolato, volgerommi indietro.
from the crest of the ancient tower
to the landscape, while day dies:
while music wanders the valley.
the air around, exults in the fields,
so the heart is moved to see it.
Flocks are bleating, herds are lowing:
more birds happily make a thousand
circles in the clear sky, all around,
celebrating these happy times:
you gaze pensively, apart, at it all:
no companions, and no flight,
no pleasures call you, no play:
you sing, and so see out
the year, the sweet flowering of your life.
your ways to mine! Pleasure and Joy
youth’s sweet companions,
and, Love, its dear friend,
sighing, bitter at passing days,
I no longer care for them, I don’t know why:
indeed I seem to fly far from them:
seem to wander, a stranger
in my native place,
in the springtime of my life.
This day, yielding to evening now,
is a holiday in our town.
You can hear a bell ring in the clear sky,
you can hear the cannon’s iron thunder,
echoing away, from farm to farm.
Dressed for the festival
young people here
leave the houses, fill the streets,
to see and be seen, with happy hearts.
I go out, alone,
into the distant country,
postpone all delight and joy
to some other day: and meanwhile
my gaze takes in the clear air,
brings me the sun that sinks and vanishes
among the distant mountains,
after the cloudless day, and seems to say,
that the beauty of youth diminishes.
of this life the stars grant you,
truly, cannot regret
your existence: since your every
action is born of nature.
But I, if I can’t
evade through prayer,
the detested threshold of old age,
when these eyes will be dumb to others,
and the world empty, and the future
darker and more irksome than the present,
what will I think of such desires?
Of these years of mine? Of what happened?
Ah I’ll repent, and often,
un-consoled, I’ll gaze behind me.
Del formidabil monte
La qual null'altro allegra arbor nè fiore,
Tuoi cespi solitari intorno spargi,
Contenta dei deserti. Anco ti vidi
De' tuoi steli abbellir l'erme contrade
Che cingon la cittade
La qual fu donna de' mortali un tempo,
E del perduto impero
Par che col grave e taciturno aspetto
Faccian fede e ricordo al passeggero.
Or ti riveggo in questo suol, di tristi
Lochi e dal mondo abbandonati amante,
E d'afflitte fortune ognor compagna.
Questi campi cosparsi
Di ceneri infeconde, e ricoperti
Che sotto i passi al peregrin risona;
Dove s'annida e si contorce al sole
La serpe, e dove al noto
Cavernoso covil torna il coniglio;
Fur liete ville e colti,
E biondeggiàr di spiche, e risonaro
Di muggito d'armenti;
Fur giardini e palagi,
Agli ozi de' potenti
Gradito ospizio; e fur città famose
Che coi torrenti suoi l'altero monte
Dall'ignea bocca fulminando oppresse
Con gli abitanti insieme. Or tutto intorno
Una ruina involve,
Dove tu siedi, o fior gentile, e quasi
I danni altrui commiserando, al cielo Di dolcissimo odor mandi un profumo,
Che il deserto consola. A queste piagge
Venga colui che d'esaltar con lode
Il nostro stato ha in uso, e vegga quanto
E' il gener nostro in cura
All'amante natura. E la possanza
Qui con giusta misura
Anco estimar potrà dell'uman seme,
Cui la dura nutrice, ov'ei men teme,
Con lieve moto in un momento annulla
In parte, e può con moti
Poco men lievi ancor subitamente
Annichilare in tutto.
Dipinte in queste rive
Son dell'umana gente
Le magnifiche sorti e progressive.
Qui mira e qui ti specchia,
Secol superbo e sciocco,
Che il calle insino allora
Dal risorto pensier segnato innanti
Abbandonasti, e volti addietro i passi,
Del ritornar ti vanti,
E proceder il chiami.
Al tuo pargoleggiar gl'ingegni tutti,
Di cui lor sorte rea padre ti fece,
Vanno adulando, ancora
Ch'a ludibrio talora
T'abbian fra se. Non io
Con tal vergogna scenderò sotterra;
Ma il disprezzo piuttosto che si serra
Di te nel petto mio,
Mostrato avrò quanto si possa aperto:
Ben ch'io sappia che obblio
Preme chi troppo all'età propria increbbe.
Di questo mal, che teco
Mi fia comune, assai finor mi rido.
Libertà vai sognando, e servo a un tempo
Vuoi di novo il pensiero,
Sol per cui risorgemmo
Della barbarie in parte, e per cui solo
Si cresce in civiltà, che sola in meglio
Guida i pubblici fati.
Così ti spiacque il vero
Dell'aspra sorte e del depresso loco
Che natura ci diè. Per questo il tergo
Vigliaccamente rivolgesti al lume
Che il fe palese: e, fuggitivo, appelli
Vil chi lui segue, e solo
Che se schernendo o gli altri, astuto o folle,
Fin sopra gli astri il mortal grado estolle.
content with deserts:
here on the arid slope of Vesuvius,
that formidable mountain, the destroyer,
that no other tree or flower adorns,
you scatter your lonely
bushes all around. I’ve seen before
how you beautify empty places
with your stems, circling the City
once the mistress of the world,
and it seems that with their grave,
silent, aspect they bear witness,
reminding the passer-by
of that lost empire.
Now I see you again on this soil,
a lover of sad places abandoned by the world,
a faithful friend of hostile fortune.
These fields scattered
with barren ash, covered
with solid lava,
that resounds under the traveller’s feet:
where snakes twist, and couple
in the sun, and the rabbits return
to their familiar cavernous burrows:
were once happy, prosperous farms.
They were golden with corn, echoed
to lowing cattle:
there were gardens and palaces,
the welcome leisure retreats
for powerful, famous cities,
which the proud mountain crushed
with all their people, beneath the torrents
from its fiery mouth. Now all around
is one ruin,
where you root, gentle flower, and as though
commiserating with others’ loss, send
a perfume of sweetest fragrance to heaven,
that consoles the desert. Let those
who praise our existence visit
these slopes, to see how carefully
our race is nurtured
by loving Nature. And here
they can justly estimate
and measure the power of humankind,
that the harsh nurse, can with a slight movement,
obliterate one part of, in a moment, when we
least fear it, and with a little less gentle
a motion, suddenly,
The ‘magnificent and progressive fate’
of the human race
is depicted in this place.
Proud, foolish century, look,
and see yourself reflected,
you who’ve abandoned
the path, marked by advancing thought
till now, and reversed your steps,
boasting of this regression
you call progress.
All the intellectuals, whose evil fate
gave them you for a father,
praise your babbling, though
they often make a mockery
of you, among themselves. But I’ll
not vanish into the grave in shame:
As far as I can, I’ll demonstrate,
the scorn for you, openly,
that’s in my heart,
though I know oblivion crushes
those hated by their own time.
I’ve already mocked enough
at that fate I’ll share with you.
You pursue Freedom, yet want thought
to be slave of a single age again:
by thought we’ve risen a little higher
than barbarism, by thought alone civilisation
grows, only thought guides public affairs
towards the good.
The truth of your harsh fate
and the lowly place Nature gave you
displease you so. Because of it
you turn your backs on the light
that illuminated you: and in flight,
you call him who pursues it vile,
and only him great of heart
who foolishly or cunningly mocks himself
or others, praising our human state above the stars.
Calm after storm
The storm hath passed;
I hear the birds rejoice; the hen,
Returned into the road again,
Her cheerful notes repeats. The sky serene
Is, in the west, upon the mountain seen:
The country smiles; bright runs the silver stream.
Each heart is cheered; on every side revive
The sounds, the labors of the busy hive.
The workman gazes at the watery sky,
As standing at the door he sings,
His work in hand; the little wife goes forth,
And in her pail the gathered rain-drops brings;
The vendor of his wares, from lane to lane,
Begins his daily cry again.
The sun returns, and with his smile illumes
The villas on the neighboring hills;
Through open terraces and balconies,
The genial light pervades the cheerful rooms;
And, on the highway, from afar are heard
The tinkling of the bells, the creaking wheels
Of waggoner, his journey who resumes.
Cheered is each heart.
Whene'er, as now, doth life appear
A thing so pleasant and so dear?
When, with such love,
Does man unto his books or work return?
Or on himself new tasks impose?
When is he less regardful of his woes?
O pleasure, born of pain!
O idle joy, and vain,
Fruit of the fear just passed, which shook
The wretch who life abhorred, yet dreaded death!
With which each neighbor held his breath,
Silent, and cold, and wan,
Affrighted sore to see
The lightnings, clouds, and winds arrayed,
To do us injury!
O Nature courteous!
These are thy boons to us,
These the delights to mortals given!
Escape from pain, best gift of heaven!
Thou scatterest sorrows with a bounteous hand;
Grief springs spontaneous;
If, by some monstrous growth, miraculous,
Pleasure at times is born of pain,
It is a precious gain!
O human race, unto the gods so dear!
Too happy, in a respite brief
From any grief!
Then only blessed,
When Death releases thee unto thy rest!
To His Lady
Beloved beauty who inspires
love in me from afar, your face obscured
except when your celestial image
stirs my heart in sleep, or in the fields
where light and nature's laughter shine more lovely—
was it maybe you who blessed
the innocent age called golden,
and do you now, blithe spirit,
fly among men? Or does that miser fate
who hides you from us save you for the future?
No hope of seeing you alive
remains for me now,
except when, naked and alone,
my soul will go down a new street
to its unknown home. Already at the dawn
of my dark, uncertain day
I imagined you a fellow traveler
on this arid ground. But there's no thing
that resembles you on earth. And if someone
had a face like yours, in act and word she'd be,
though something like you, far less beautiful.
In spite of all the suffering
fate decreed for human time,
if there were anyone on earth
who truly loved you as my thought depicts you,
this life for him would be a blessing.
And I see clearly how your love
would lead me still to strive for praise and virtue,
as I used to in my early years.
Though heaven gave no comfort for our troubles,
yet with you mortal life would be
like what in heaven leads to divinity.
In the valleys, where the song
of the weary farmer sounds,
and when I sit and mourn
the illusions of youth fading,
and on the hills where I recall
and grieve for my lost desires
and my life's lost hope, I think of you
and start to shake. If only I, in this
sad age and unhealthy atmosphere,
could keep hold of your noble look; for since the real thing's
missing I must make do with the image.
Whether you are the only one
of the eternal ideas eternal wisdom
refuses to see arrayed in sensible form
to know the pains of mortal life
in transitory spoils,
or if in the supernal spheres another earth
from among unnumbered worlds receives you
and a near star lovelier than the Sun
warms you and you breathe benigner ether,
from here, where years are both ill-starred and brief,
accept this hymn from your unnoticed lover.
Translation: Jonathan GALASSI
On The Portrait Of A Beautiful Woman, Carved On Her Monument.
Such wast thou: now in earth below,
Dust and a skeleton thou art.
Above thy bones and clay,
Here vainly placed by loving hands,
Sole guardian of memory and woe,
The image of departed beauty stands.
Mute, motionless, it seems with pensive gaze
To watch the flight of the departing days.
That gentle look, that, wheresoe'er it fell,
As now it seems to fall,
Held fast the gazer with its magic spell;
That lip, from which as from some copious urn,
Redundant pleasure seems to overflow;
That neck, on which love once so fondly hung;
That loving hand, whose tender pressure still
The hand it clasped, with trembling joy would thrill;
That bosom, whose transparent loveliness
The color from the gazer's cheek would steal;
All these have been; and now remains alone
A wretched heap of bones and clay,
Concealed from sight by this benignant stone.
To this hath Fate reduced
The form, that, when with life it beamed,
To us heaven's liveliest image seemed.
O Nature's endless mystery!
To-day, of grand and lofty thoughts the source,
And feelings not to be described,
Beauty rules all, and seems,
Like some mysterious splendor from on high
Forth-darted to illuminate
This dreary wilderness;
Of superhuman fate,
Of fortunate realms, and golden worlds,
A token, and a hope secure
To give our mortal state;
To-morrow, for some trivial cause,
Loathsome to sight, abominable, base
Becomes, what but a little time before
Wore such an angel face;
And from our minds, in the same breath,
The grand conception it inspired,
Swift vanishes and leaves no trace.
What infinite desires,
What visions grand and high,
In our exalted thought,
With magic power creates, true harmony!
O'er a delicious and mysterious sea,
The exulting spirit glides,
As some bold swimmer sports in Ocean's tides:
But oh, the mischief that is wrought,
If but one accent out of tune
Assaults the ear! Alas, how soon
Our paradise is turned to naught!
O human nature, why is this?
If frail and vile throughout,
If shadow, dust thou art, say, why
Hast thou such fancies, aspirations high?
And yet, if framed for nobler ends,
Alas, why are we doomed
To see our highest motives, truest thoughts,
By such base causes kindled, and consumed?
The Lonely Sparrow
Thou from the top of yonder antique tower,
O lonely sparrow, wandering, hast gone,
Thy song repeating till the day is done,
And through this valley strays the harmony.
How Spring rejoices in the fields around,
And fills the air with light,
So that the heart is melted at the sight!
Hark to the bleating flocks, the lowing herds!
In sweet content, the other birds
Through the free sky in emulous circles wheel,
In pure enjoyment of their happy time:
Thou, pensive, gazest on the scene apart,
Nor wilt thou join them in the merry round;
Shy playmate, thou for mirth hast little heart;
And with thy plaintive music, dost consume
Both of the year, and of thy life, the bloom.
Alas, how much my ways
Resemble thine! The laughter and the sport,
That fill with glee our youthful days,
And thee, O love, who art youth's brother still,
Too oft the bitter sigh of later years,
I care not for; I know not why,
But from them ever distant fly:
Here in my native place,
As if of alien race,
My spring of life I like a hermit pass.
This day, that to the evening now gives way,
Is in our town an ancient holiday.
Hark, through the air, that voice of festal bell,
While rustic guns in frequent thunders sound,
Reverberated from the hills around.
In festal robes arrayed,
The neighboring youth,
Their houses leaving, o'er the roads are spread;
They pleasant looks exchange, and in their hearts
Rejoice. I, lonely, in this distant spot,
Along the country wandering,
Postpone all pleasure and delight
To some more genial time: meanwhile,
As through the sunny air around I gaze,
My brow is smitten by his rays,
As after such a day serene,
Dropping behind yon distant hills,
He vanishes, and seems to say,
That thus all happy youth must pass away.
Thou, lonely little bird, when thou
Hast reached the evening of the days
Thy stars assign to thee,
Wilt surely not regret thy ways;
For all thy wishes are
Obedient to Nature's law. But ah!
If I, in spite of all my prayers,
Am doomed the hateful threshold of old age
To cross, when these dull eyes will give
No response to another's heart,
The world to them a void will be,
Each day become more full of misery,
How then, will this, my wish appear
In those dark hours, that dungeon drear?
My blighted youth, my sore distress,
Alas, will _then_ seem happiness!
Hymn To The Patriarchs
Illustrious fathers of the human race,
Of you, the song of your afflicted sons
Will chant the praise; of you, more dear, by far,
Unto the Great Disposer of the stars,
Who were not born to wretchedness, like ours.
Immedicable woes, a life of tears,
The silent tomb, eternal night, to find
More sweet, by far, than the ethereal light,
These things were not by heaven's gracious law
Imposed on you. If ancient legends speak
Of sins of yours, that brought calamity
Upon the human race, and fell disease,
Alas, the sins more terrible, by far,
Committed by your children, and their souls
More restless, and with mad ambition fixed,
Against them roused the wrath of angry gods,
The hand of all-sustaining Nature armed,
By them so long neglected and despised.
Then life became a burden and a curse,
And every new-born babe a thing abhorred,
And hell and chaos reigned upon the earth.
Thou first the day, and thou the shining lights
Of the revolving stars didst see, the fields,
And their new flocks and herds, O leader old
And father of the human family!
The wandering air that o'er the meadows played,
When smote the rocks, and the deserted vales,
The torrent, rustling headlong from the Alps,
With sound, till then, unheard; and o'er the sites
Of future nations, noisy cities, yet unknown
To fame, a peace profound, mysterious reigned;
And o'er the unploughed hills, in silence, rose
The ray of Phoebus, and the golden moon.
O world, how happy in thy loneliness,
Of crimes and of disasters ignorant!
Oh, how much wretchedness Fate had in store
For thy poor race, unhappy father, what
A series vast of terrible events!
Behold, the fields, scarce tilled, with blood are stained,
A brother's blood, in sudden frenzy shed;
And now, alas, first hears the gentle air
The whirring of the fearful wings of Death.
The trembling fratricide, a fugitive,
The lonely shades avoids; in every blast
That sweeps the groves, a voice of wrath he hears.
_He_ the first city builds, abode and realm
Of wasting cares; repentance desperate,
Heart-sick, and groaning, thus unites and binds
Together blind and sinful souls, and first
A refuge offers unto mutual guilt.
The wicked hand now scorns the crooked plough;
The sweat of honest labor is despised;
Now sloth possession of the threshold takes;
The sluggish frames their native vigor lose;
The minds in hopeless indolence are sunk;
And slavery, the crowning curse of all,
Degrades and crushes poor humanity.
And thou from heaven's wrath, and ocean's waves,
That bellowed round the cloud-capped mountain-tops,
The sinful brood didst save; thou, unto whom,
From the dark air and wave-encumbered hills,
The white dove brought the sign of hope renewed,
And sinking in the west, the shipwrecked sun,
His bright rays darting through the angry clouds,
The dark sky painted with the lovely bow.
The race restored, to earth returned, begins anew
The same career of wickedness and lust,
With their attendant ills. Audacious man
Defies the threats of the avenging sea,
And to new shores and to new stars repeats
The same sad tale of infamy and woe.
And now of thee I think, the just and brave,
The Father of the faithful, and the sons
Thy honored name that bore. Of thee I speak,
Whom, sitting, thoughtful, in the noontide shade,
Before thy humble cottage, near the banks,
That gave thy flocks both rest and nourishment,
The minds ethereal of celestial guests
With blessings greeted; and of thee, O son
Of wise Rebecca, how at eventide,
In Aran's valley sweet, and by the well,
Where happy swains in friendly converse met,
Thou didst with Laban's daughter fall in love;
Love, that to exile long, and suffering,
And to the odious yoke of servitude,
Thy patient soul a willing martyr led.
Oh, surely once,--for not with idle tales
And shadows, the Aonian song, and voice
Of Fame, the eager list'ners feed,--once was
This wretched earth more friendly to our race,
Was more beloved and dear, and golden flew
The days, that now so laden are with care.
Not that the milk, in waves of purest white,
Gushed from the rocks, and flowed along the vales;
Or that the tigers mingled with the sheep,
To the same fold were led; or shepherd-boys
With playful wolves would frolic at the spring;
But of its own lot ignorant, and all
The sufferings that were in store, devoid
Of care it lived: a soft, illusive veil
Of error hid the stern realities,
The cruel laws of heaven and of fate.
Life glided on, with cheerful hope content;
And tranquil, sought the haven of its rest.
So lives, in California's forests vast,
A happy race, whose life-blood is not drained
By pallid care, whose limbs are not by fierce
Disease consumed: the woods their food, their homes
The hollow rock, the streamlet of the vale
Its waters furnishes, and, unforeseen,
Dark death upon them steals. Ah, how unarmed,
Wise Nature's happy votaries, are ye,
Against our impious audacity!
Our fierce, indomitable love of gain
Your shores, your caves, your quiet woods invades;
Your minds corrupts, your bodies enervates;
And happiness, a naked fugitive,
Before it drives, to earth's remotest bounds