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The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Part 31 out of 31

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But for this once the village seer
Wears a countenance severe,
And from beneath her eyebrows thin and white
Her two eyes flash like cannons bright
Aimed at the bridegroom in waistcoat blue,
Who, like a statue, stands in view;
Changing color as well he might,
When the beldame wrinkled and gray
Takes the young bride by the hand,
And, with the tip of her reedy wand
Making the sign of the cross, doth say:--
"Thoughtless Angela, beware!
Lest, when thou weddest this false bridegroom,
Thou diggest for thyself a tomb!"
And she was silent; and the maidens fair
Saw from each eye escape a swollen tear;
But on a little streamlet silver-clear,
What are two drops of turbid rain?
Saddened a moment, the bridal train
Resumed the dance and song again;
The bridegroom only was pale with fear;--
And down green alleys
Of verdurous valleys,
With merry sallies,
They sang the refrain:--

"The roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,
So fair a bride shall leave her home!
Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
So fair a bride shall pass to-day!"


And by suffering worn and weary,
But beautiful as some fair angel yet,
Thus lamented Margaret,
In her cottage lone and dreary;--

"He has arrived! arrived at last!
Yet Jane has named him not these three days past;
Arrived! yet keeps aloof so far!
And knows that of my night he is the star!
Knows that long months I wait alone, benighted,
And count the moments since he went away!
Come! keep the promise of that happier day,
That I may keep the faith to thee I plighted!
What joy have I without thee? what delight?
Grief wastes my life, and makes it misery;
Day for the others ever, but for me
Forever night! forever night!
When he is gone 't is dark! my soul is sad!
I suffer! O my God! come, make me glad.
When he is near, no thoughts of day intrude;
Day has blue heavens, but Baptiste has blue eyes!
Within them shines for me a heaven of love,
A heaven all happiness, like that above,
No more of grief! no more of lassitude!
Earth I forget,--and heaven, and all distresses,
When seated by my side my hand he presses;
But when alone, remember all!
Where is Baptiste? he hears not when I call!
A branch of ivy, dying on the ground,
I need some bough to twine around!
In pity come! be to my suffering kind!
True love, they say, in grief doth more abound!
What then--when one is blind?

"Who knows? perhaps I am forsaken!
Ah! woe is me! then bear me to my grave!
O God! what thoughts within me waken!
Away! he will return! I do but rave!
He will return! I need not fear!
He swore it by our Saviour dear;
He could not come at his own will;
Is weary, or perhaps is ill!
Perhaps his heart, in this disguise,
Prepares for me some sweet surprise!
But some one comes! Though blind, my heart can see!
And that deceives me not! 't is he! 't is he!"

And the door ajar is set,
And poor, confiding Margaret
Rises, with outstretched arms, but sightless eyes;
'T is only Paul, her brother, who thus cries:--
"Angela the bride has passed!
I saw the wedding guests go by;
Tell me, my sister, why were we not asked?
For all are there but you and I!"

"Angela married! and not send
To tell her secret unto me!
O, speak! who may the bridegroom be?"
"My sister, 't is Baptiste, thy friend!"

A cry the blind girl gave, but nothing said;
A milky whiteness spreads upon her cheeks;
An icy hand, as heavy as lead,
Descending, as her brother speaks,
Upon her heart, that has ceased to beat,
Suspends awhile its life and heat.
She stands beside the boy, now sore distressed,
A wax Madonna as a peasant dressed.

At length, the bridal song again
Brings her back to her sorrow and pain.

"Hark! the joyous airs are ringing!
Sister, dost thou hear them singing?
How merrily they laugh and jest!
Would we were bidden with the rest!
I would don my hose of homespun gray,
And my doublet of linen striped and gay;
Perhaps they will come; for they do not wed
Till to-morrow at seven o'clock, it is said!"

"I know it!" answered Margaret;
Whom the vision, with aspect black as jet,
Mastered again; and its hand of ice
Held her heart crushed, as in a vice!
"Paul, be not sad! 'T is a holiday;
To-morrow put on thy doublet gay!
But leave me now for a while alone."
Away, with a hop and a jump, went Paul,
And, as he whistled along the hall,
Entered Jane, the crippled crone.

"Holy Virgin! what dreadful heat!
I am faint, and weary, and out of breath!
But thou art cold,--art chill as death;
My little friend! what ails thee, sweet?"
"Nothing! I heard them singing home the bride;
And, as I listened to the song,
I thought my turn would come erelong,
Thou knowest it is at Whitsuntide.
Thy cards forsooth can never lie,
To me such joy they prophesy,
Thy skill shall be vaunted far and wide
When they behold him at my side.
And poor Baptiste, what sayest thou?
It must seem long to him;--methinks I see him now!"
Jane, shuddering, her hand doth press:
"Thy love I cannot all approve;
We must not trust too much to happiness;--
Go, pray to God, that thou mayst love him less!"
"The more I pray, the more I love!
It is no sin, for God is on my side!"
It was enough; and Jane no more replied.

Now to all hope her heart is barred and cold;
But to deceive the beldame old
She takes a sweet, contented air;
Speak of foul weather or of fair,
At every word the maiden smiles!
Thus the beguiler she beguiles;
So that, departing at the evening's close,
She says, "She may be saved! she nothing knows!"

Poor Jane, the cunning sorceress!
Now that thou wouldst, thou art no prophetess!
This morning, in the fulness of thy heart,
Thou wast so, far beyond thine art!


Now rings the bell, nine times reverberating,
And the white daybreak, stealing up the sky,
Sees in two cottages two maidens waiting,
How differently!

Queen of a day, by flatterers caressed,
The one puts on her cross and crown,
Decks with a huge bouquet her breast,
And flaunting, fluttering up and down,
Looks at herself, and cannot rest,
The other, blind, within her little room,
Has neither crown nor flower's perfume;
But in their stead for something gropes apart,
That in a drawer's recess doth lie,
And, 'neath her bodice of bright scarlet dye,
Convulsive clasps it to her heart.

The one, fantastic, light as air,
'Mid kisses ringing,
And joyous singing,
Forgets to say her morning prayer!

The other, with cold drops upon her brow,
Joins her two hands, and kneels upon the floor,
And whispers, as her brother opes the door,
"O God! forgive me now!"

And then the orphan, young and blind,
Conducted by her brother's hand,
Towards the church, through paths unscanned,
With tranquil air, her way doth wind.
Odors of laurel, making her faint and pale,
Round her at times exhale,
And in the sky as yet no sunny ray,
But brumal vapors gray.

Near that castle, fair to see,
Crowded with sculptures old, in every part,
Marvels of nature and of art,
And proud of its name of high degree,
A little chapel, almost bare
At the base of the rock, is builded there;
All glorious that it lifts aloof,
Above each jealous cottage roof,
Its sacred summit, swept by autumn gales,
And its blackened steeple high in air,
Round which the osprey screams and sails.

"Paul, lay thy noisy rattle by!"
Thus Margaret said. "Where are we? we ascend!"
"Yes; seest thou not our journey's end?
Hearest not the osprey from the belfry cry?
The hideous bird, that brings ill luck, we know!
Dost thou remember when our father said,
The night we watched beside his bed,
'O daughter, I am weak and low;
Take care of Paul; I feel that I am dying!'
And thou, and he, and I, all fell to crying?
Then on the roof the osprey screamed aloud;
And here they brought our father in his shroud.
There is his grave; there stands the cross we set;
Why dost thou clasp me so, dear Margaret?
Come in! The bride will be here soon:
Thou tremblest! O my God! thou art going to swoon!"

She could no more,--the blind girl, weak and weary!
A voice seemed crying from that grave so dreary,
"What wouldst thou do, my daughter?"--and she started,
And quick recoiled, aghast, faint-hearted;
But Paul, impatient, urges evermore
Her steps towards the open door;
And when, beneath her feet, the unhappy maid
Crushes the laurel near the house immortal,
And with her head, as Paul talks on again,
Touches the crown of filigrane
Suspended from the low-arched portal,
No more restrained, no more afraid,
She walks, as for a feast arrayed,
And in the ancient chapel's sombre night
They both are lost to sight.

At length the bell,
With booming sound,
Sends forth, resounding round.
Its hymeneal peal o'er rock and down the dell.
It is broad day, with sunshine and with rain;
And yet the guests delay not long,
For soon arrives the bridal train,
And with it brings the village throng.

In sooth, deceit maketh no mortal gay,
For lo! Baptiste on this triumphant day,
Mute as an idiot, sad as yester-morning,
Thinks only of the beldame's words of warning.

And Angela thinks of her cross, I wis;
To be a bride is all! The pretty lisper
Feels her heart swell to hear all round her whisper,
"How beautiful! how beautiful she is!".

But she must calm that giddy head,
For already the Mass is said;
At the holy table stands the priest;
The wedding ring is blessed; Baptiste receives it;
Ere on the finger of the bride he leaves it,
He must pronounce one word at least!
'T is spoken; and sudden at the grooms-man's side
"'T is he!" a well-known voice has cried.
And while the wedding guests all hold their breath,
Opes the confessional, and the blind girl, see!
"Baptiste," she said, "since thou hast wished my death,
As holy water be my blood for thee!"
And calmly in the air a knife suspended!
Doubtless her guardian angel near attended,
For anguish did its work so well,
That, ere the fatal stroke descended,
Lifeless she fell!

At eve instead of bridal verse,
The De Profundis filled the air;
Decked with flowers a simple hearse
To the churchyard forth they bear;
Village girls in robes of snow
Follow, weeping as they go;
Nowhere was a smile that day,
No, ah no! for each one seemed to say:--

"The road should mourn and be veiled in gloom,
So fair a corpse shall leave its home!
Should mourn and should weep, ah, well-away!
So fair a corpse shall pass to-day!"



I hear along our street
Pass the minstrel throngs;
Hark! they play so sweet,
On their hautboys, Christmas songs!
Let us by the fire
Ever higher
Sing them till the night expire!

In December ring
Every day the chimes;
Loud the gleemen sing
In the streets their merry rhymes.
Let us by the fire
Ever higher
Sing them till the night expire.

Shepherds at the grange,
Where the Babe was born,
Sang, with many a change,
Christmas carols until morn.
Let us by the fire
Ever higher
Sing them till the night expire!

These good people sang
Songs devout and sweet;
While the rafters rang,
There they stood with freezing feet.
Let us by the fire
Ever higher
Sing them till the night expire.

Nuns in frigid veils
At this holy tide,
For want of something else,
Christmas songs at times have tried.
Let us by the fire
Ever higher
Sing them fill the night expire!

Washerwomen old,
To the sound they beat,
Sing by rivers cold,
With uncovered heads and feet.
Let us by the fire
Ever higher
Sing them till the night expire.

Who by the fireside stands
Stamps his feet and sings;
But he who blows his hands
Not so gay a carol brings.
Let us by the fire
Ever higher
Sing them till the night expire!


To M. Duperrier, Gentleman of Aix in Provence, on the
Death of his Daughter.


Will then, Duperrier, thy sorrow be eternal?
And shall the sad discourse
Whispered within thy heart, by tenderness paternal,
Only augment its force?

Thy daughter's mournful fate, into the tomb descending
By death's frequented ways,
Has it become to thee a labyrinth never ending,
Where thy lost reason strays?

I know the charms that made her youth a benediction:
Nor should I be content,
As a censorious friend, to solace thine affliction
By her disparagement.

But she was of the world, which fairest things exposes
To fates the most forlorn;
A rose, she too hath lived as long as live the roses,
The space of one brief morn.

* * * * *

Death has his rigorous laws, unparalleled, unfeeling;
All prayers to him are vain;
Cruel, he stops his ears, and, deaf to our appealing,
He leaves us to complain.

The poor man in his hut, with only thatch for cover,
Unto these laws must bend;
The sentinel that guards the barriers of the Louvre
Cannot our kings defend.

To murmur against death, in petulant defiance,
Is never for the best;
To will what God doth will, that is the only science
That gives us any rest.



Thou mighty Prince of Church and State,
Richelieu! until the hour of death,
Whatever road man chooses, Fate
Still holds him subject to her breath.
Spun of all silks, our days and nights
Have sorrows woven with delights;
And of this intermingled shade
Our various destiny appears,
Even as one sees the course of years
Of summers and of winters made.

Sometimes the soft, deceitful hours
Let us enjoy the halcyon wave;
Sometimes impending peril lowers
Beyond the seaman's skill to save,
The Wisdom, infinitely wise,
That gives to human destinies
Their foreordained necessity,
Has made no law more fixed below,
Than the alternate ebb and flow
Of Fortune and Adversity.



An angel with a radiant face,
Above a cradle bent to look,
Seemed his own image there to trace,
As in the waters of a brook.

"Dear child! who me resemblest so,"
It whispered, "come, O come with me!
Happy together let us go,
The earth unworthy is of thee!

"Here none to perfect bliss attain;
The soul in pleasure suffering lies;
Joy hath an undertone of pain,
And even the happiest hours their sighs.

"Fear doth at every portal knock;
Never a day serene and pure
From the o'ershadowing tempest's shock
Hath made the morrow's dawn secure.

"What then, shall sorrows and shall fears
Come to disturb so pure a brow?
And with the bitterness of tears
These eyes of azure troubled grow?

"Ah no! into the fields of space,
Away shalt thou escape with me;
And Providence will grant thee grace
Of all the days that were to be.

"Let no one in thy dwelling cower,
In sombre vestments draped and veiled;
But let them welcome thy last hour,
As thy first moments once they hailed.

"Without a cloud be there each brow;
There let the grave no shadow cast;
When one is pure as thou art now,
The fairest day is still the last."

And waving wide his wings of white,
The angel, at these words, had sped
Towards the eternal realms of light!--
Poor mother! see, thy son is dead!



From this high portal, where upsprings
The rose to touch our hands in play,
We at a glance behold three things--
The Sea, the Town, and the Highway.

And the Sea says: My shipwrecks fear;
I drown my best friends in the deep;
And those who braved icy tempests, here
Among my sea-weeds lie asleep!

The Town says: I am filled and fraught
With tumult and with smoke and care;
My days with toil are overwrought,
And in my nights I gasp for air.

The Highway says: My wheel-tracks guide
To the pale climates of the North;
Where my last milestone stands abide
The people to their death gone forth.

Here, in the shade, this life of ours,
Full of delicious air, glides by
Amid a multitude of flowers
As countless as the stars on high;

These red-tiled roofs, this fruitful soil,
Bathed with an azure all divine,
Where springs the tree that gives us oil,
The grape that giveth us the wine;

Beneath these mountains stripped of trees,
Whose tops with flowers are covered o'er,
Where springtime of the Hesperides
Begins, but endeth nevermore;

Under these leafy vaults and walls,
That unto gentle sleep persuade;
This rainbow of the waterfalls,
Of mingled mist and sunshine made;

Upon these shores, where all invites,
We live our languid life apart;
This air is that of life's delights,
The festival of sense and heart;

This limpid space of time prolong,
Forget to-morrow in to-day,
And leave unto the passing throng
The Sea, the Town, and the Highway.



Thou brooklet, all unknown to song,
Hid in the covert of the wood!
Ah, yes, like thee I fear the throng,
Like thee I love the solitude.

O brooklet, let my sorrows past
Lie all forgotten in their graves,
Till in my thoughts remain at last
Only thy peace, thy flowers, thy waves.

The lily by thy margin waits;--
The nightingale, the marguerite;
In shadow here he meditates
His nest, his love, his music sweet.

Near thee the self-collected soul
Knows naught of error or of crime;
Thy waters, murmuring as they roll,
Transform his musings into rhyme.

Ah, when, on bright autumnal eves,
Pursuing still thy course, shall I
Lisp the soft shudder of the leaves,
And hear the lapwing's plaintive cry?



I leave you, ye cold mountain chains,
Dwelling of warriors stark and frore!
You, may these eyes behold no more,
Rave on the horizon of our plains.

Vanish, ye frightful, gloomy views!
Ye rocks that mount up to the clouds!
Of skies, enwrapped in misty shrouds,
Impracticable avenues!

Ye torrents, that with might and main
Break pathways through the rocky walls,
With your terrific waterfalls
Fatigue no more my weary brain!

Arise, ye landscapes full of charms,
Arise, ye pictures of delight!
Ye brooks, that water in your flight
The flowers and harvests of our farms!

You I perceive, ye meadows green,
Where the Garonne the lowland fills,
Not far from that long chain of hills,
With intermingled vales between.

You wreath of smoke, that mounts so high,
Methinks from my own hearth must come;
With speed, to that beloved home,
Fly, ye too lazy coursers, fly!

And bear me thither, where the soul
In quiet may itself possess,
Where all things soothe the mind's distress,
Where all things teach me and console.


Will ever the dear days come back again,
Those days of June, when lilacs were in bloom,
And bluebirds sang their sonnets in the gloom
Of leaves that roofed them in from sun or rain?
I know not; but a presence will remain
Forever and forever in this room,
Formless, diffused in air, like a perfume,--
A phantom of the heart, and not the brain.
Delicious days! when every spoken word
Was like a foot-fall nearer and more near,
And a mysterious knocking at the gate
Of the heart's secret places, and we heard
In the sweet tumult of delight and fear
A voice that whispered, "Open, I cannot wait!"



At La Chaudeau,--'t is long since then:
I was young,--my years twice ten;
All things smiled on the happy boy,
Dreams of love and songs of joy,
Azure of heaven and wave below,
At La Chaudeau.

At La Chaudeau I come back old:
My head is gray, my blood is cold;
Seeking along the meadow ooze,
Seeking beside the river Seymouse,
The days of my spring-time of long ago
At La Chaudeau.

At La Chaudeau nor heart nor brain
Ever grows old with grief and pain;
A sweet remembrance keeps off age;
A tender friendship doth still assuage
The burden of sorrow that one may know
At La Chaudeau.

At La Chaudeau, had fate decreed
To limit the wandering life I lead,
Peradventure I still, forsooth,
Should have preserved my fresh green youth,
Under the shadows the hill-tops throw
At La Chaudeau.

At La Chaudeau, live on, my friends,
Happy to be where God intends;
And sometimes, by the evening fire,
Think of him whose sole desire
Is again to sit in the old chateau
At La Chaudeau.


Let him who will, by force or fraud innate,
Of courtly grandeurs gain the slippery height;
I, leaving not the home of my delight,
Far from the world and noise will meditate.
Then, without pomps or perils of the great,
I shall behold the day succeed the night;
Behold the alternate seasons take their flight,
And in serene repose old age await.
And so, whenever Death shall come to close
The happy moments that my days compose,
I, full of years, shall die, obscure, alone!
How wretched is the man, with honors crowned,
Who, having not the one thing needful found,
Dies, known to all, but to himself unknown.



Little sweet wine of Jurancon,
You are dear to my memory still!
With mine host and his merry song,
Under the rose-tree I drank my fill.

Twenty years after, passing that way,
Under the trellis I found again
Mine host, still sitting there au frais,
And singing still the same refrain.

The Jurancon, so fresh and bold,
Treats me as one it used to know;
Souvenirs of the days of old
Already from the bottle flow,

With glass in hand our glances met;
We pledge, we drink. How sour it is
Never Argenteuil piquette
Was to my palate sour as this!

And yet the vintage was good, in sooth;
The self-same juice, the self-same cask!
It was you, O gayety of my youth,
That failed in the autumnal flask!



To gallop off to town post-haste,
So oft, the times I cannot tell;
To do vile deed, nor feel disgraced,--
Friar Lubin will do it well.
But a sober life to lead,
To honor virtue, and pursue it,
That's a pious, Christian deed,--
Friar Lubin can not do it.

To mingle, with a knowing smile,
The goods of others with his own,
And leave you without cross or pile,
Friar Lubin stands alone.
To say 't is yours is all in vain,
If once he lays his finger to it;
For as to giving back again,
Friar Lubin cannot do it.

With flattering words and gentle tone,
To woo and win some guileless maid,
Cunning pander need you none,--
Friar Lubin knows the trade.
Loud preacheth he sobriety,
But as for water, doth eschew it;
Your dog may drink it,--but not he;
Friar Lubin cannot do it.

When an evil deed 's to do
Friar Lubin is stout and true;
Glimmers a ray of goodness through it,
Friar Lubin cannot do it.



Love, love, what wilt thou with this heart of mine?
Naught see I fixed or sure in thee!
I do not know thee,--nor what deeds are thine:
Love, love, what wilt thou with this heart of mine?
Naught see I fixed or sure in thee!

Shall I be mute, or vows with prayers combine?
Ye who are blessed in loving, tell it me:
Love, love, what wilt thou with this heart of mine?
Naught see I permanent or sure in thee!



My soul its secret has, my life too has its mystery,
A love eternal in a moment's space conceived;
Hopeless the evil is, I have not told its history,
And she who was the cause nor knew it nor believed.
Alas! I shall have passed close by her unperceived,
Forever at her side, and yet forever lonely,
I shall unto the end have made life's journey, only
Daring to ask for naught, and having naught received.
For her, though God has made her gentle and endearing,
She will go on her way distraught and without hearing
These murmurings of love that round her steps ascend,
Piously faithful still unto her austere duty,
Will say, when she shall read these lines full of her beauty,
"Who can this woman be?" and will not comprehend.




And now, behold! as at the approach of morning,
Through the gross vapors, Mars grows fiery red
Down in the west upon the ocean floor
Appeared to me,--may I again behold it!
A light along the sea, so swiftly coming,
Its motion by no flight of wing is equalled.
And when therefrom I had withdrawn a little
Mine eyes, that I might question my conductor,
Again I saw it brighter grown and larger.
Thereafter, on all sides of it, appeared
I knew not what of white, and underneath,
Little by little, there came forth another.
My master yet had uttered not a word,
While the first whiteness into wings unfolded;
But, when he clearly recognized the pilot,
He cried aloud: "Quick, quick, and bow the knee!
Behold the Angel of God! fold up thy hands!
Henceforward shalt thou see such officers!
See, how he scorns all human arguments,
So that no oar he wants, nor other sail
Than his own wings, between so distant shores!
See, how he holds them, pointed straight to heaven,
Fanning the air with the eternal pinions,
That do not moult themselves like mortal hair!"
And then, as nearer and more near us came
The Bird of Heaven, more glorious he appeared,
So that the eye could not sustain his presence,
But down I cast it; and he came to shore
With a small vessel, gliding swift and light,
So that the water swallowed naught thereof.
Upon the stern stood the Celestial Pilot!
Beatitude seemed written in his face!
And more than a hundred spirits sat within.
"In exitu Israel de Aegypto!"
Thus sang they all together in one voice,
With whatso in that Psalm is after written.
Then made he sign of holy rood upon them,
Whereat all cast themselves upon the shore,
And he departed swiftly as he came.



Longing already to search in and round
The heavenly forest, dense and living-green,
Which tempered to the eyes the newborn day,
Withouten more delay I left the bank,
Crossing the level country slowly, slowly,
Over the soil, that everywhere breathed fragrance.
A gently-breathing air, that no mutation
Had in itself, smote me upon the forehead,
No heavier blow, than of a pleasant breeze,
Whereat the tremulous branches readily
Did all of them bow downward towards that side
Where its first shadow casts the Holy Mountain;
Yet not from their upright direction bent
So that the little birds upon their tops
Should cease the practice of their tuneful art;
But with full-throated joy, the hours of prime
Singing received they in the midst of foliage
That made monotonous burden to their rhymes,
Even as from branch to branch it gathering swells,
Through the pine forests on the shore of Chiassi,
When Aeolus unlooses the Sirocco.
Already my slow steps had led me on
Into the ancient wood so far, that I
Could see no more the place where I had entered.
And lo! my further course cut off a river,
Which, tow'rds the left hand, with its little waves,
Bent down the grass, that on its margin sprang.
All waters that on earth most limpid are,
Would seem to have within themselves some mixture,
Compared with that, which nothing doth conceal,
Although it moves on with a brown, brown current,
Under the shade perpetual, that never
Ray of the sun lets in, nor of the moon.


PURGATORIO XXX. 13-33, 85-99, XXXI. 13-21.

Even as the Blessed, at the final summons,
Shall rise up quickened, each one from his grave,
Wearing again the garments of the flesh,
So, upon that celestial chariot,
A hundred rose ad vocem tanti senis,
Ministers and messengers of life eternal.
They all were saying, "Benedictus qui venis,"
And scattering flowers above and round about,
"Manibus o date lilia plenis."
Oft have I seen, at the approach of day,
The orient sky all stained with roseate hues,
And the other heaven with light serene adorned,
And the sun's face uprising, overshadowed,
So that, by temperate influence of vapors,
The eye sustained his aspect for long while;
Thus in the bosom of a cloud of flowers,
Which from those hands angelic were thrown up,
And down descended inside and without,
With crown of olive o'er a snow-white veil,
Appeared a lady, under a green mantle,
Vested in colors of the living flame.
. . . . . .
Even as the snow, among the living rafters
Upon the back of Italy, congeals,
Blown on and beaten by Sclavonian winds,
And then, dissolving, filters through itself,
Whene'er the land, that loses shadow, breathes,
Like as a taper melts before a fire,
Even such I was, without a sigh or tear,
Before the song of those who chime forever
After the chiming of the eternal spheres;
But, when I heard in those sweet melodies
Compassion for me, more than had they said,
"O wherefore, lady, dost thou thus consume him?"
The ice, that was about my heart congealed,
To air and water changed, and, in my anguish,
Through lips and eyes came gushing from my breast.
. . . . . .
Confusion and dismay, together mingled,
Forced such a feeble "Yes!" out of my mouth,
To understand it one had need of sight.
Even as a cross-bow breaks, when 't is discharged,
Too tensely drawn the bow-string and the bow,
And with less force the arrow hits the mark;
So I gave way beneath this heavy burden,
Gushing forth into bitter tears and sighs,
And the voice, fainting, flagged upon its passage.



Italy! Italy! thou who'rt doomed to wear
The fatal gift of beauty, and possess
The dower funest of infinite wretchedness
Written upon thy forehead by despair;
Ah! would that thou wert stronger, or less fair.
That they might fear thee more, or love thee less,
Who in the splendor of thy loveliness
Seem wasting, yet to mortal combat dare!
Then from the Alps I should not see descending
Such torrents of armed men, nor Gallic horde
Drinking the wave of Po, distained with gore,
Nor should I see thee girded with a sword
Not thine, and with the stranger's arm contending,
Victor or vanquished, slave forever more.

[The following translations are from the poems of Michael Angelo
as revised by his nephew Michael Angelo the Younger, and were
made before the publication of the original text by Guasti.]



Nothing the greatest artist can conceive
That every marble block doth not confine
Within itself; and only its design
The hand that follows intellect can achieve.
The ill I flee, the good that I believe,
In thee, fair lady, lofty and divine,
Thus hidden lie; and so that death be mine
Art, of desired success, doth me bereave.
Love is not guilty, then, nor thy fair face,
Nor fortune, cruelty, nor great disdain,
Of my disgrace, nor chance, nor destiny,
If in thy heart both death and love find place
At the same time, and if my humble brain,
Burning, can nothing draw but death from thee.



Not without fire can any workman mould
The iron to his preconceived design,
Nor can the artist without fire refine
And purify from all its dross the gold;
Nor can revive the phoenix, we are told,
Except by fire. Hence if such death be mine
I hope to rise again with the divine,
Whom death augments, and time cannot make old.
O sweet, sweet death! O fortunate fire that burns
Within me still to renovate my days,
Though I am almost numbered with the dead!
If by its nature unto heaven returns
This element, me, kindled in its blaze,
Will it bear upward when my life is fled.



Oh give me back the days when loose and free
To my blind passion were the curb and rein,
Oh give me back the angelic face again,
With which all virtue buried seems to be!
Oh give my panting footsteps back to me,
That are in age so slow and fraught with pain,
And fire and moisture in the heart and brain,
If thou wouldst have me burn and weep for thee!
If it be true thou livest alone, Amor,
On the sweet-bitter tears of human hearts,
In an old man thou canst not wake desire;
Souls that have almost reached the other shore
Of a diviner love should feel the darts,
And be as tinder to a holier fire.



The course of my long life hath reached at last,
In fragile bark o'er a tempestuous sea,
The common harbor, where must rendered be
Account of all the actions of the past.
The impassioned phantasy, that, vague and vast,
Made art an idol and a king to me,
Was an illusion, and but vanity
Were the desires that lured me and harassed.
The dreams of love, that were so sweet of yore,
What are they now, when two deaths may be mine,--
One sure, and one forecasting its alarms?
Painting and sculpture satisfy no more
The soul now turning to the Love Divine,
That oped, to embrace us, on the cross its arms.



Lady, how can it chance--yet this we see
In long experience--that will longer last
A living image carved from quarries vast
Than its own maker, who dies presently?
Cause yieldeth to effect if this so be,
And even Nature is by Art at surpassed;
This know I, who to Art have given the past,
But see that Time is breaking faith with me.
Perhaps on both of us long life can I
Either in color or in stone bestow,
By now portraying each in look and mien;
So that a thousand years after we die,
How fair thou wast, and I how full of woe,
And wherefore I so loved thee, may be seen.



When the prime mover of my many sighs
Heaven took through death from out her earthly place,
Nature, that never made so fair a face,
Remained ashamed, and tears were in all eyes.
O fate, unheeding my impassioned cries!
O hopes fallacious! O thou spirit of grace,
Where art thou now? Earth holds in its embrace
Thy lovely limbs, thy holy thoughts the skies.
Vainly did cruel death attempt to stay
The rumor of thy virtuous renown,
That Lethe's waters could not wash away!
A thousand leaves, since he hath stricken thee down,
Speak of thee, nor to thee could Heaven convey,
Except through death, a refuge and a crown.



What should be said of him cannot be said;
By too great splendor is his name attended;
To blame is easier those who him offended,
Than reach the faintest glory round him shed.
This man descended to the doomed and dead
For our instruction; then to God ascended;
Heaven opened wide to him its portals splendid,
Who from his country's, closed against him, fled.
Ungrateful land! To its own prejudice
Nurse of his fortunes; and this showeth well,
That the most perfect most of grief shall see.
Among a thousand proofs let one suffice,
That as his exile hath no parallel,
Ne'er walked the earth a greater man than he.



Ah me! ah me! when thinking of the years,
The vanished years, alas, I do not find
Among them all one day that was my own!
Fallacious hope; desires of the unknown,
Lamenting, loving, burning, and in tears
(For human passions all have stirred my mind),
Have held me, now I feel and know, confined
Both from the true and good still far away.
I perish day by day;
The sunshine fails, the shadows grow more dreary,
And I am near to fail, infirm and weary.



To noble heart Love doth for shelter fly,
As seeks the bird the forest's leafy shade;
Love was not felt till noble heart beat high,
Nor before love the noble heart was made.
Soon as the sun's broad flame
Was formed, so soon the clear light filled the air;
Yet was not till he came:
So love springs up in noble breasts, and there
Has its appointed space,
As heat in the bright flames finds its allotted place.
Kindles in noble heart the fire of love,
As hidden virtue in the precious stone:
This virtue comes not from the stars above,
Till round it the ennobling sun has shone;
But when his powerful blaze
Has drawn forth what was vile, the stars impart
Strange virtue in their rays;
And thus when Nature doth create the heart
Noble and pure and high,
Like virtue from the star, love comes from woman's eye.




If thou art sleeping, maiden,
Awake and open thy door,
'T is the break of day, and we must away,
O'er meadow, and mount, and moor.

Wait not to find thy slippers,
But come with thy naked feet;
We shall have to pass through the dewy grass,
And waters wide and fleet.





"He is gone to the desert land
I can see the shining mane
Of his horse on the distant plain,
As he rides with his Kossak band!

"Come back, rebellious one!
Let thy proud heart relent;
Come back to my tall, white tent,
Come back, my only son!

"Thy hand in freedom shall
Cast thy hawks, when morning breaks,
On the swans of the Seven Lakes,
On the lakes of Karajal.

"I will give thee leave to stray
And pasture thy hunting steeds
In the long grass and the reeds
Of the meadows of Karaday.

"I will give thee my coat of mail,
Of softest leather made,
With choicest steel inlaid;
Will not all this prevail?"


"This hand no longer shall
Cast my hawks, when morning breaks,
On the swans of the Seven Lakes,
On the lakes of Karajal.

"I will no longer stray
And pasture my hunting steeds
In the long grass and the reeds
Of the meadows of Karaday.

"Though thou give me thy coat of mall,
Of softest leather made,
With choicest steel inlaid,
All this cannot prevail.

"What right hast thou, O Khan,
To me, who am mine own,
Who am slave to God alone,
And not to any man?

"God will appoint the day
When I again shall be
By the blue, shallow sea,
Where the steel-bright sturgeons play.

"God, who doth care for me,
In the barren wilderness,
On unknown hills, no less
Will my companion be.

"When I wander lonely and lost
In the wind; when I watch at night
Like a hungry wolf, and am white
And covered with hoar-frost;

"Yea, wheresoever I be,
In the yellow desert sands,
In mountains or unknown lands,
Allah will care for me!"


Then Sobra, the old, old man,--
Three hundred and sixty years
Had he lived in this land of tears,
Bowed down and said, "O Khan!

"If you bid me, I will speak.
There's no sap in dry grass,
No marrow in dry bones! Alas,
The mind of old men is weak!

"I am old, I am very old:
I have seen the primeval man,
I have seen the great Gengis Khan,
Arrayed in his robes of gold.

"What I say to you is the truth;
And I say to you, O Khan,
Pursue not the star-white man,
Pursue not the beautiful youth.

"Him the Almighty made,
And brought him forth of the light,
At the verge and end of the night,
When men on the mountain prayed.

"He was born at the break of day,
When abroad the angels walk;
He hath listened to their talk,
And he knoweth what they say.

"Gifted with Allah's grace,
Like the moon of Ramazan
When it shines in the skies, O Khan,
Is the light of his beautiful face.

"When first on earth he trod,
The first words that he said
Were these, as he stood and prayed,
There is no God but God!

"And he shall be king of men,
For Allah hath heard his prayer,
And the Archangel in the air,
Gabriel, hath said, Amen!"


Black are the moors before Kazan,
And their stagnant waters smell of blood:
I said in my heart, with horse and man,
I will swim across this shallow flood.

Under the feet of Argamack,
Like new moons were the shoes he bare,
Silken trappings hung on his back,
In a talisman on his neck, a prayer.

My warriors, thought I, are following me;
But when I looked behind, alas!
Not one of all the band could I see,
All had sunk in the black morass!

Where are our shallow fords? and where
The power of Kazan with its fourfold gates?
From the prison windows our maidens fair
Talk of us still through the iron grates.

We cannot hear them; for horse and man
Lie buried deep in the dark abyss!
Ah! the black day hath come down on Kazan!
Ah! was ever a grief like this?


Down from yon distant mountain height
The brooklet flows through the village street;
A boy comes forth to wash his hands,
Washing, yes washing, there he stands,
In the water cool and sweet.

Brook, from what mountain dost thou come,
O my brooklet cool and sweet!
I come from yon mountain high and cold,
Where lieth the new snow on the old,
And melts in the summer heat.

Brook, to what river dost thou go?
O my brooklet cool and sweet!
I go to the river there below
Where in bunches the violets grow,
And sun and shadow meet.

Brook, to what garden dost thou go?
O my brooklet cool and sweet!
I go to the garden in the vale
Where all night long the nightingale
Her love-song doth repeat.

Brook, to what fountain dost thou go?
O my brooklet cool and sweet!
I go to the fountain at whose brink
The maid that loves thee comes to drink,
And whenever she looks therein,
I rise to meet her, and kiss her chin,
And my joy is then complete.


Welcome, O Stork! that dost wing
Thy flight from the far-away!
Thou hast brought us the signs of Spring,
Thou hast made our sad hearts gay.

Descend, O Stork! descend
Upon our roof to rest;
In our ash-tree, O my friend,
My darling, make thy nest.

To thee, O Stork, I complain,
O Stork, to thee I impart
The thousand sorrows, the pain
And aching of my heart.

When thou away didst go,
Away from this tree of ours,
The withering winds did blow,
And dried up all the flowers.

Dark grew the brilliant sky,
Cloudy and dark and drear;
They were breaking the snow on high,
And winter was drawing near.

From Varaca's rocky wall,
From the rock of Varaca unrolled,
the snow came and covered all,
And the green meadow was cold.

O Stork, our garden with snow
Was hidden away and lost,
Mid the rose-trees that in it grow
Were withered by snow and frost.



Tityrus, thou in the shade of a spreading beech-tree reclining,
Meditatest, with slender pipe, the Muse of the woodlands.
We our country's bounds and pleasant pastures relinquish,
We our country fly; thou, Tityrus, stretched in the shadow,
Teachest the woods to resound with the name of the fair Amaryllis.

O Meliboeus, a god for us this leisure created,
For he will be unto me a god forever; his altar
Oftentimes shall imbue a tender lamb from our sheepfolds.
He, my heifers to wander at large, and myself, as thou seest,
On my rustic reed to play what I will, hath permitted.

Truly I envy not, I marvel rather; on all sides
In all the fields is such trouble. Behold, my goats I am driving,
Heartsick, further away; this one scarce, Tityrus, lead I;
For having here yeaned twins just now among the dense hazels,
Hope of the flock, ah me! on the naked flint she hath left them.
Often this evil to me, if my mind had not been insensate,
Oak-trees stricken by heaven predicted, as now I remember;
Often the sinister crow from the hollow ilex predicted,
Nevertheless, who this god may be, O Tityrus, tell me.

O Meliboeus, the city that they call Rome, I imagined,
Foolish I! to be like this of ours, where often we shepherds
Wonted are to drive down of our ewes the delicate offspring.
Thus whelps like unto dogs had I known, and kids to their mothers,
Thus to compare great things with small had I been accustomed.
But this among other cities its head as far hath exalted
As the cypresses do among the lissome viburnums.

And what so great occasion of seeing Rome hath possessed thee?

Liberty, which, though late, looked upon me in my inertness,
After the time when my beard fell whiter front me in shaving,--
Yet she looked upon me, and came to me after a long while,
Since Amaryllis possesses and Galatea hath left me.
For I will even confess that while Galatea possessed me
Neither care of my flock nor hope of liberty was there.
Though from my wattled folds there went forth many a victim,
And the unctuous cheese was pressed for the city ungrateful,
Never did my right hand return home heavy with money.

I have wondered why sad thou invokedst the gods, Amaryllis,
And for whom thou didst suffer the apples to hang on the branches!
Tityrus hence was absent! Thee, Tityrus, even the pine-trees,
Thee, the very fountains, the very copses were calling.

What could I do? No power had I to escape from my bondage,
Nor had I power elsewhere to recognize gods so propitious.
Here I beheld that youth, to whom each year, Meliboeus,
During twice six days ascends the smoke of our altars.
Here first gave he response to me soliciting favor:
"Feed as before your heifers, ye boys, and yoke up your bullocks."

Fortunate old man! So then thy fields will be left thee,
And large enough for thee, though naked stone and the marish
All thy pasture-lands with the dreggy rush may encompass.
No unaccustomed food thy gravid ewes shall endanger,
Nor of the neighboring flock the dire contagion inject them.
Fortunate old man! Here among familiar rivers,
And these sacred founts, shalt thou take the shadowy coolness.
On this side, a hedge along the neighboring cross-road,
Where Hyblaean bees ever feed on the flower of the willow,
Often with gentle susurrus to fall asleep shall persuade thee.
Yonder, beneath the high rock, the pruner shall sing to the breezes,
Nor meanwhile shalt thy heart's delight, the hoarse wood-pigeons,
Nor the turtle-dove cease to mourn from aerial elm-trees.

Therefore the agile stags shall sooner feed in the ether,
And the billows leave the fishes bare on the sea-shore.
Sooner, the border-lands of both overpassed, shall the exiled
Parthian drink of the Soane, or the German drink of the Tigris,
Than the face of him shall glide away from my bosom!

But we hence shall go, a part to the thirsty Afries,
Part to Scythia come, and the rapid Cretan Oaxes,
And to the Britons from all the universe utterly sundered.
Ah, shall I ever, a long time hence, the bounds of my country
And the roof of my lowly cottage covered with greensward
Seeing, with wonder behold,--my kingdoms, a handful of wheat-ears!
Shall an impious soldier possess these lands newly cultured,
And these fields of corn a barbarian? Lo, whither discord
Us wretched people hath brought! for whom our fields we have planted!
Graft, Meliboeus, thy pear-trees now, put in order thy vine-yards.
Go, my goats, go hence, my flocks so happy aforetime.
Never again henceforth outstretched in my verdurous cavern
Shall I behold you afar from the bushy precipice hanging.
Songs no more shall I sing; not with me, ye goats, as your shepherd,
Shall ye browse on the bitter willow or blooming laburnum.

Nevertheless, this night together with me canst thou rest thee
Here on the verdant leaves; for us there are mellowing apples,
Chestnuts soft to the touch, and clouted cream in abundance;
And the high roofs now of the villages smoke in the distance,
And from the lofty mountains are falling larger the shadows.



TRISTIA, Book III., Elegy X.

Should any one there in Rome remember Ovid the exile,
And, without me, my name still in the city survive;

Tell him that under stars which never set in the ocean
I am existing still, here in a barbarous land.

Fierce Sarmatians encompass me round, and the Bessi and Getae;
Names how unworthy to be sung by a genius like mine!

Yet when the air is warm, intervening Ister defends us:
He, as he flows, repels inroads of war with his waves.

But when the dismal winter reveals its hideous aspect,
When all the earth becomes white with a marble-like frost;

And when Boreas is loosed, and the snow hurled under Arcturus,
Then these nations, in sooth, shudder and shiver with cold.

Deep lies the snow, and neither the sun nor the rain can dissolve it;
Boreas hardens it still, makes it forever remain.

Hence, ere the first ha-s melted away, another succeeds it,
And two years it is wont, in many places, to lie.

And so great is the power of the Northwind awakened, it levels
Lofty towers with the ground, roofs uplifted bears off.

Wrapped in skins, and with trousers sewed, they contend with the weather,
And their faces alone of the whole body are seen.

Often their tresses, when shaken, with pendent icicles tinkle,
And their whitened beards shine with the gathering frost.

Wines consolidate stand, preserving the form of the vessels;
No more draughts of wine,--pieces presented they drink.

Why should I tell you how all the rivers are frozen and solid,
And from out of the lake frangible water is dug?

Ister,--no narrower stream than the river that bears the papyrus,--
Which through its many mouths mingles its waves with the deep;

Ister, with hardening winds, congeals its cerulean waters,
Under a roof of ice, winding its way to the sea.

There where ships have sailed, men go on foot; and the billows,
Solid made by the frost, hoof-beats of horses indent.

Over unwonted bridges, with water gliding beneath them,
The Sarmatian steers drag their barbarian carts.

Scarcely shall I be believed; yet when naught is gained by a falsehood,
Absolute credence then should to a witness be given.

I have beheld the vast Black Sea of ice all compacted,
And a slippery crust pressing its motionless tides.

'T is not enough to have seen, I have trodden this indurate ocean;
Dry shod passed my foot over its uppermost wave.

If thou hadst had of old such a sea as this is, Leander!
Then thy death had not been charged as a crime to the Strait.

Nor can the curved dolphins uplift themselves from the water;
All their struggles to rise merciless winter prevents;

And though Boreas sound with roar of wings in commotion,
In the blockaded gulf never a wave will there be;

And the ships will stand hemmed in by the frost, as in marble,
Nor will the oar have power through the stiff waters to cleave.

Fast-bound in the ice have I seen the fishes adhering,
Yet notwithstanding this some of them still were alive.

Hence, if the savage strength of omnipotent Boreas freezes
Whether the salt-sea wave, whether the refluent stream,--

Straightway,--the Ister made level by arid blasts of the North-wind,--
Comes the barbaric foe borne on his swift-footed steed;

Foe, that powerful made by his steed and his far-flying arrows,
All the neighboring land void of inhabitants makes.

Some take flight, and none being left to defend their possessions,
Unprotected, their goods pillage and plunder become;

Cattle and creaking carts, the little wealth of the country,
And what riches beside indigent peasants possess.

Some as captives are driven along, their hands bound behind them,
Looking backward in vain toward their Lares and lands.

Others, transfixed with barbed arrows, in agony perish,
For the swift arrow-heads all have in poison been dipped.

What they cannot carry or lead away they demolish,
And the hostile flames burn up the innocent cots.

Even when there is peace, the fear of war is impending;
None, with the ploughshare pressed, furrows the soil any more.

Either this region sees, or fears a foe that it sees not,
And the sluggish land slumbers in utter neglect.

No sweet grape lies hidden here in the shade of its vine-leaves,
No fermenting must fills and o'erflows the deep vats.

Apples the region denies; nor would Acontius have found here
Aught upon which to write words for his mistress to read.

Naked and barren plains without leaves or trees we behold here,--
Places, alas! unto which no happy man would repair.

Since then this mighty orb lies open so wide upon all sides,
Has this region been found only my prison to be?

TRISTIA, Book III., Elegy XII.

Now the zephyrs diminish the cold, and the year being ended,
Winter Maeotian seems longer than ever before;

And the Ram that bore unsafely the burden of Helle,
Now makes the hours of the day equal with those of the night.

Now the boys and the laughing girls the violet gather,
Which the fields bring forth, nobody sowing the seed.

Now the meadows are blooming with flowers of various colors,
And with untaught throats carol the garrulous birds.

Now the swallow, to shun the crime of her merciless mother,
Under the rafters builds cradles and dear little homes;

And the blade that lay hid, covered up in the furrows of Ceres,
Now from the tepid ground raises its delicate head.

Where there is ever a vine, the bud shoots forth from the tendrils,
But from the Getic shore distant afar is the vine!

Where there is ever a tree, on the tree the branches are swelling,
But from the Getic land distant afar is the tree!

Now it is holiday there in Rome, and to games in due order
Give place the windy wars of the vociferous bar.

Now they are riding the horses; with light arms now they are playing,
Now with the ball, and now round rolls the swift-flying hoop:

Now, when the young athlete with flowing oil is anointed,
He in the Virgin's Fount bathes, over-wearied, his limbs.

Thrives the stage; and applause, with voices at variance, thunders,
And the Theatres three for the three Forums resound.

Four times happy is he, and times without number is happy,
Who the city of Rome, uninterdicted, enjoys.

But all I see is the snow in the vernal sunshine dissolving,
And the waters no more delved from the indurate lake.

Nor is the sea now frozen, nor as before o'er the Ister
Comes the Sarmatian boor driving his stridulous cart.

Hitherward, nevertheless, some keels already are steering,
And on this Pontic shore alien vessels will be.

Eagerly shall I run to the sailor, and, having saluted,
Who he may be, I shall ask; wherefore and whence he hath come.

Strange indeed will it be, if he come not from regions adjacent,
And incautious unless ploughing the neighboring sea.

Rarely a mariner over the deep from Italy passes,
Rarely he comes to these shores, wholly of harbors devoid.

Whether he knoweth Greek, or whether in Latin he speaketh,
Surely on this account he the more welcome will be.

Also perchance from the mouth of the Strait and the waters Propontic,
Unto the steady South-wind, some one is spreading his sails.

Whosoever he is, the news he can faithfully tell me,
Which may become a part and an approach to the truth.

He, I pray, may be able to tell me the triumphs of Caesar,
Which he has heard of, and vows paid to the Latian Jove;

And that thy sorrowful head, Germania, thou, the rebellious,
Under the feet, at last, of the Great Captain hast laid.

Whoso shall tell me these things, that not to have seen will afflict me,
Forthwith unto my house welcomed as guest shall he be.

Woe is me! Is the house of Ovid in Scythian lands now?
And doth punishment now give me its place for a home?

Grant, ye gods, that Caesar make this not my house and my homestead,
But decree it to be only the inn of my pain.

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