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Yet what so gay as Venice? Every gale But broken by a cloud. The wind was hush’d, Breathed heavenly music! and who flock'd not thither And the sea mirror-like. A single zephyr To celebrate her Nuptials with the Sea ?
Play'd with her tresses, and drew more and more To wear the mask, and mingle in the crowd Her veil across her bosom. With Greek, Armenian, Persjan-night and day
Long I lay (There, and there only, did the hour stand still) Contemplating that face so beautiful, Pursuing through her thousand labyrinths
That rosy mouth, that cheek dimpled with smiles, The Enchantress Pleasure; realizing dreams That neck but half-concealed, whiter than snow. The earliest, happiest--for a tale to catch
'T was the sweet slumber of her early age. Credulous ears, and hold young hearts in chains, I look'd and look'd, and felt a flush of joy Had only to begin, “ There lived in Venice "- I would express, but cannot.
Oft I wish'd “Who were the Six we supp'd with yesternight?"'(44) Gently—by stealth—10 drop asleep myself, “Kings, one and all! Thou couldst not but remark And to incline yet lower that sleep might come; The style and manner of the Six that served them.” Of closed my eyes as in forgetfulness.
"T was all in vain. Love would not let me rest. “Who answer'd me just now?(45) Who, when I said, • "T is nine,' turn'd round and said so solemnly, But how delightful when at length she waked! • Signor, he died at nine!' "_" 'T was the Armenian; When, her light hair adjusting, and her veil The mask that follows thee, go where thou wilt.” So rudely scatler'd, she resumed her place
Beside me ; and, as gaily as before, “But who stands there, alone among them all ?"(46) Sitting unconsciously nearer and nearer, " The Cypriot. Ministers from foreign courts Pour'd out her innocent mind! Beset his doors, long ere his hour of rising;
So, nor long since, His the Great Secret! Not the golden house Sung a Venetian: and his lay of love, (48) Of Nero, or those fabled in the East,
Dangerous and sweet, charm'd Venice. As for me As wrought by magic, half so rich as his!
|(Less fortunate, if Love be Happiness)
Glittering, and frost-like, and as day drew on,
Those porches (49) pass'd through which the water-
Plays, though no longer on the noble forms And universal as the air they breathed;
That moved there, sable-vested—and the Quay, A Power that never slumber'd, never pardon'd, Silent, grass-grown-adventurer-like I launch'd All eye, all ear, nowhere and everywhere, (47) Into the deep, ere-long discovering Entering the closet and the sanctuary,
Isles such as cluster in the Southern seas, No place of refuge for the Doge himself;
All verdure. Everywhere, from bush and brake, Most present when least thought of-nothing dropt The musky odor of the serpents came; in secret, when the heart was on the lips,
Their slimy track across the woodman's path Nothing in feverish sleep, but instantly
Bright in the moonshine: and, as round I went, Observed and judged—a Power, that if but glanced at Dreaming of Greece, whither the waves were gliding. In casual converse, be it where it might,
I listen'd to the venerable pinos The speaker lower'd at once his eyes, his voice, Then in close con verse; (50) and, if right I guess'd, And pointed upward, as to God in Heaven- Delivering many a message to the Winds What though that Power was there, he who lived thus, In secrel, for their kindred on Mount Ida. Pursuing Pleasure, lived as if it were not, But let him in the midnight-air indulge
Nor when again in Venice, when again A word, a thought against the laws of Venice, In that strange place, so stirring and so still, And in that hour he vanish'd from the earth! Where nothing comes to drown the human voice
But music, or the dashing of the tide,
Ceased I to wander. Now a Jessica
Sung to her lute, her signal as she sate
At her half-open window. Then, methought,
A serenade broke silence, breathing hope
Through walls of stone, and torturing the proud heart Boy, call the Gondola ; the sun is set.
Of some Priuli. Onre, we could not err, 't came, and we embark'd; but instantly,
(It was before an old Palladian house, l'hough she had stept on board so light of foot, As between night and day we floated by), Svo light of heart, laughing she knew not why, A Gondolier lay singing; and he sung, Bleep overcame her; on my arm she slept.
As in the time when Venice was herself, (51)
! Sve Note
We rested; and the verse was verse divine ! Fell from beneath a starry diadem;
A jewell'd chain, in many a winding wreath,
Before the Church, The moon went down ; and nothing now was seen That venerable Pile on the sea-brink, (56) Save here and there the lamp of a Madonna, Another train they met, no strangers to them, Glimmering-or heard, but when he spoke, who Brothers to some, and to the rest still dearer; stood
Each in his hand bearing his cap and plume, Over the lantern at the prow, and cried,
And, as he walk'd, with modest dignity
Folding his scarlet mantle, his tabarro.
They join, they enter in, and, up the aisle * Hasten or slacken."}
Led by the full-voiced choir in bright procession, But at length Night fled ; And with her fled, scattering, the sons of Pleasure. The Patriarch stands; and, while the anthem flows,
Range round the altar. In his vestments there Star after star shot by, or, meteor-like,
Who can look on unmoved ?-mothers in secret Crossd me and vanish'd lost at once among Those hundred Isles that tower majestically,
Rejoicing in the beauty of their daughters,
Sons in the thought of making them their own; That rise abruptly from the water-mark, Not with rough crag, but marble, and the work
And they—array'd in youth and innocence, Of noblest architects. I linger'd still ;
Their beauty heightend by their hopes and fears. Nor suck my threshold, till the hour was come
At length the rite is ending. All fall down
In earnest prayer, all of all ranks together;
And, stretching out his hands, the holy man
Proceeds to give the general benediction; So often—then so lately left ajar,
When hark, a din of voices from without, Shut; and, all terror, all perplexity,
And shricks and groans and outcries as in battle Now by her lover urged, now by her love,
And lo, the door is burst, the curtain rent,
And armed ruffians, robbers from the deep,
Savage, uncouth, led on by Barbarigo,
And his six brothers in their coats of steel,
Are standing on the threshold! Statue-like,
Awhile they gaze on the fallen multitude, As to some grand solemnity. The fisher
Each with his sabre up, in act to strike; Came from his islet, bringing o'er the waves
Then, as at once recovering from the spell,
Rush forward to the altar, and as soon
Are gone again—amid no clash of arms
Bearing away the maidens and the treasures.
Where are they now?-plowing the distant waves Throng d her three hundred bridges ; the grave Standing triumphant. To the east they go,
Their sails all set, and they upon the deck
Steering for Istria ; their accursed barks
(Well are they known, the galliot and the galley),(57)
Freighted with all that gives to life its value! Hurrying along. For, as the custom was, The noblest sons and daughters of the State,
The richest argosies were poor to them! They of Patrician birth, the flower of Venice,
Now might you see the matrons running wild Whose names are written in the Book of Gold, Were on that day to solemnize their nuptials.
Along the beach; the men half-arm'd and arming,
One with a shield, one with a casque and spear; At noon, a distant murmur through the crowd,
One with an axe hewing the mooring-chain Rising and rolling on, announced their coming ;
Of some old pinnace. Not a raft, a plank, And never from the first was to be seen
But on that day was drifting. In an hour Such splendor or such beauty. (54) Two and two
Half Venice was afloat. But long before, (The richest tapestry unroll'd before them),
Frantic with grief and scorning all control,
Each having sworn, and by the holy rood,
And from the tower
Her flag St. Mark's.-And now she turns the point,
Over the waters like a sea-bird flying!
Hung with green boughs, she comes, she comes, re- 'T is Foscari, the Doge. And there is one, storing
A young man, lying at his feet, stretchid uut All that was lost.
In torture. "Tis his son, his only one; Coasting, with narrow seareh, "T is Giacomo, the blessing of his age, Friuli-like a tiger in his spring,
(Say, has he lived for this ?) accused of murder, They had surprised the Corsairs where they lay The murder of the Senator Donato. Sharing the spoil in blind security
Last night the proofs, if proofs they are, were drops
Must sit and look on a beloved Son
Twice, to die in peace Breathing a little, in his look retain'd
To save a falling house, and turn the hearts The fierceness of his soul.
Of his fell Adversaries, those who now,
Thus were the Brides Like hell-hounds in full cry, are running down Lost and recover'd; and what now remain'd His last of four, twice did he ask their leave But to give thanks? Twelve breast-plates and twelve To lay aside the Crown, and they refused him, crowns,
An oath exacting, never more to ask it; Flaming with gems and gold, the votive offerings And there he sils, a spectacle of woe, Of the young victors to their Palron-Saint,
By them, his rivals in the State, compell’d,
Such the refinement of their cruelty,
The screw is turn'd; and, as it turns, the Son Through many an age, as oft as it came round, Looks up, and, in a faint and broken accent, "T' was held religiously with all observance. Murmurs “ My Father!" The old man shrinks back The Doge resign'd his crimson for pure ermine; And in his mantle muffles up his face. And through the city in a stately barge (59) “ Art thou not guilty ?" says a voice, that once Of gold, were borne, with songs and symphonies, Would greet the Sufferer long before they met, Twelve ladies young and noble. Clad they were And on his ear strike like a pleasant music, In bridal white with bridal ornaments,
“Art thou not guilty?”—“No! Indeed I am not!" Each in her glittering veil ; and on the deck, But all is unavailing. In that Court As on a burnish'd throne, they glided by ;
Groans are confessions; Patience, Fortitude, No window or balcony but adorn'd
The work of Magic; and, released, upheld, Wiih hangings of rich texture, not a roof
For Condemnation, from his Father's lips But cover'd with beholders, and the air
lle hears the sentence, “ Banishment to Candia: Vocal with joy. Onward they went, their oars Death, if he leaves it." Moving in concert with the harmony,
And the bark sets sail;
Gone in the dead of night-unseen of any-
He would indulge in weeping.
Like a ghost,
Day after day, year after year, he haunts
An ancient rampart, that o'erhangs the sea; LET us lift up the curtain, and observe, Gazing on vacancy, and hourly starting What passes in that chamber. Now a sigh, To answer to the watch- -Alas, how changed And now a groan, is heard. Then all is still. From him, the mirror of the Youth of Venice, Twenty are sitting as in judgment there ; (61) In whom the slightest thing, or whim or chance, Men who have served their country, and grown grey Did he but wear his doublet so and so, In governments and distant embassies,
All follow'd ; at whose nuptials, when at length Men eminent alike in war and peace ;
He won that maid at once the fairest, noblest, (62) Such as in effigy shall long adorn
A daughter of the House of Contarini, The walls of Venice-to show what she has been! That House as old as Venice, now among Their garb is black, and black the arras is,
Its ancestors in monumental brass And sad the general aspect. Yet their looks Numbering eight Doges--to convey her home, Are calm, are cheerful; nothing there like grief, The Bucentaur went forth; and thrice the Sun Nothing or harsh or cruel. Still that noise, Shone on the Chivalry, that, front to front, That low and dismal moaning.
And blaze on blaze refleeting, met and ranged
Half withdrawn, To tournay in St. Mark's. A little to the left, sits one in crimson,
But lo, at last, A venerable man, fourscore and upward.
Messengers come. He is recallid : his heart Cold drops of sweat stand on his forrow'd brow. Leaps at the tidings. He embarks : the boat His hands are clench'd; his eyes hall shut and glazed ; Springs to the oar, and back again he goes His shrunk and wither'd limbs rigid as marble. Into that very Chamber! there to lie
In his old resting-place, the bed of torture;
Affection, kindness, the sweet offices
Bringing a stain on those who gave him life,
On those, alas, now worse than fatherlessBut now he comes, convicted of a crime To be proclaim'd a ruffian, a night-stabber, Great by the laws of Venice. Night and day, He on whom none before had breathed reproachBrooding on what he had been, what he was, He lived but to disprove it. That hope lost, T was more than he could bear. His longing fits Death follow'd. From the hour he went, he spoko Thickend upon him. His desire for home
not; Became a madness; and, resolved to go,
And in his dungeon, when he laid him down, If but to die, in his despair he writes
He sunk to rise no more. Oh, if there be A letter to Francesco, Duke of Milan,
Justice in Heaven, and we are assured there is, Soliciting his influence with the State,
A day must come of ample Retribution!
Then was thy cup, old Man, full to o'erflowing. And am prepared to suffer as I ought.
But thou wert yet alive; and there was one, But let me, let me, if but for an instant
The soul and spring of all that Enmity, (Ye must consent—for all of you are sons,
Who would not leave thee; fastening on thy flank, Most of you husbands, fathers), let me first Hungering and thirsting, still unsatisfied; Indulge the natural feelings of a man,
One of a name illustrious as thine own! And, ere I die, if such my sentence be,
One of the Ten! one of the Invisible Three! (64) Press to my heart ('t is all I ask of you)
| ’T was Loredano. My wife, my children—and my aged mother
When the whelps were gone, Say, is she yet alive !"
He would dislodge the Lion from his den;
And, leading on the pack he long had led,
His incapacity and nothingness ;
In a hall Calling a Father's sorrows in his chamber
He was deposed,
His robes stript off, his ring, that ancient symbol, To meet him, and to part with him for ever! Broken before him. But now nothing moved
The meekness of his soul. All things alike! Time and their heavy wrongs had changed them all; Among the six that came with the decree, Him most! Yet when the Wife, the Mother look'd Foscari saw one he knew not, and inquired Again, 't was he himself, 't was Giacomo
“I am the son of Marco Memmo." Their only hope, and trust, and consolation ! “Ah,” he replied, “ thy father was my friend." And all clung round him, weeping bitterly; Weeping the more, because they wept in vain. And now he goes.
“ It is the hour and past.
I have no business here."- But wilt thou not
His residence for four-and-thirty years,
When in the court below, he stopt and said
My merits brought me hither. I depart, He falls, “subrnit without a murmur."
Driven by the malice of my Enemies."
Night, Then through the crowd withdrew, poor as he camo That to the World brought revelry, to them And in his gondola went off, unfollow'd Brought only food for sorrow. Giacomo
But by the sighs of them that dared not speak. Embark'd_to die; sent to an early grave For thee, Erizzo, whose death-bed confession, This journey was his last. When the bell rang “He is most innocent! 'T was I who did it!" Next day, announcing a new Doge to Venice, Came when he slept in peace. The ship, that sail'd It found him on his knees before the altar, (65) Swift as the winds with his recall to Honor, Clasping his aged hands in earnest prayer; Bore back a lifeless corse. Generous as brave, And there he died. Ere half its task was done,
It rang his knell.
Such as a shipwreck'd man might hope to build, But whence the deadiy bate Urged by the love of home when I descended That caused all this the hate of Loredano? Two long, long days' silence, suspense on board, It was a legacy his Father left him,
It was to offer at thy fount, Valclusa,
Petrarch had wander'd, in a trance to sit
Or the fantastic root of some old fig-tree, He changed not; with a dreadful piety,
That drinks the living waters as they stream Studying revenge! listening alone to those Over their emerald-bed; and could i now Who talk'd of vengeance ; grasping by the hand Neglect to visit Arqua, (69) where, at last, Those in their zeal (and none, alas, were wanting) When he had done and settled with the world, Who came to tell him of another Wrong,
When all the illusions of his Youth were fled, Done or imagined. When his father died,
Indulged perhaps too long, cherish'd too fondly, "T was whisper'd in his ear, “ He died by poison !" He came for the conclusion? Half-way up He wrote it on the tomb ('t is there in marble) He built his house, (70) whence as by stealth he caught And in his ledger-book-(66) among his debtors- Among the hills, a glimpse of busy life, Enter'd the name “ FRANCESCO FOSCARI," That soothed, not stirr’d.—But knock, and enter in. And added, “For the murder of my Father." This was his chamber. 'T is as when he left it; Leaving a blank—to be fill'd up hereafter.
As if he now were busy in his garden. When Foscari's noble heart at leng!h gave way, And this his closet. Here he sate and read. He took the volume from the shelf again
This was his chair; and in it, unobserved, Calmly, and with his pen fill'd up the blank, Reading, or thinking of his absent friends, Inscribing, “He has paid me."
He pass'd away as in a quiet slumber.
Ye who sit, Brooding from day to day, from day to day
Peace to this region! Peace to all who dwell here. Chewing the bitter cud, and starting up
They know his value-every coming step, As though the hour was come to whet your fangs,
That gathers round the children from their play, And, like the Pisan,' gnaw the hairy scalp
Would tell them if they knew not.—But could aught Of him who had offended-if ye must,
Ungentle or ungenerous, spring up Sit and brood on; but oh! forbear to teach
Where he is sleeping; where, and in an age
Of savage warfare and blind bigotry,
Leading to better things?
If ever you should come to Modena,
Tassoni's bucket (in its chain it hangs, (72)
And look awhile upon a picture there.
"Tis of a Lady in her earliest youth, And from that hour have kindred spirits flock'd (67) Done by Zampieri (73)—bul by whom I care not
The last of that illustrious family;
He, who observes il-ere he passes on,
Gazes his fill, and comes and comes again,
That he may call it up, when far away. Its vineyards of such great and old renown, (68) She sits, inclining forward as to speak, Its castles, each with some romantic tale,
Her lips half-open, and her finger up, Vanishing fast—the pilot at the stern,
As though she said “ Beware!” her vest of gold He who had steer'd so long, standing aloft,
Broider'd with flowers, and clasp'd froin head to fool Ilis eyes on the white breakers, and his hands An emerald-stone in every golden clasp; On what at once served him for oar and rudder, And on her brow, fairer than alabaster, A huge misshapen plank—the bark itself
A coronet of pearls. Frail and uncouth, launch'd to return no more,
But then her face,
So lovely, yet so arch, so full of mirth,