Download document


A Silvia

Silvia, rimembri ancora

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?

Sonavan le quiete

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.

Io gli studi leggiadri

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 pensieri soavi,

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?

Tu pria che l'erbe inaridisse il verno,

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

Ragionavan d'amore.

Anche peria fra poco

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.

To Silvia

Silvia, do you remember

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?

The quiet rooms and the streets

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.

I would leave my intoxicating studies,

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 sweet thoughts,

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,

harsh, disconsolate,

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?

Attacked, and conquered

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.

My sweet hopes died also

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.


Sempre caro mi fu quest'ermo colle,

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.


Dear to me ever was this lonely hill,

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.

Translation: R. Garnett.

Het oneindige

Voor immer werd mij deze heuvel lief

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.

Vertaling : H.W.J.M. Keuls


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.

Il passero solitario

D’in su la vetta della torre antica,

passero solitario, alla campagna

cantando vai finché non more il giorno;

ed erra l’armonia per questa valle.

Primavera d’intorno

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.

Oimè, quanto somiglia

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.

Tu, solingo augellin, venuto a sera

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.

The solitary bird

Solitary bird, you sing

from the crest of the ancient tower

to the landscape, while day dies:

while music wanders the valley.

Spring brightens

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.

Ah, how like

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.

You, lonely bird, reaching the evening

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.

Translation: A.S KLINE

La Genistra
Qui su l'arida schiena

Del formidabil monte

Sterminator Vesevo,

La qual null'altro allegra arbor nè fiore,

Tuoi cespi solitari intorno spargi,

Odorata ginestra,

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

Dell'impietrata lava,

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

Magnanimo colui

Che se schernendo o gli altri, astuto o folle,

Fin sopra gli astri il mortal grado estolle.

The Broom
Fragrant broom,

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,

annihilate altogether.

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