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TO A FRIEND IN TOWN.
WRITTEN FROM TOURS.
"Indè iter accelerat Turones festinus in urbem,
Quam geminum nitida flumen circumfluit unda,
Fertilis arboribus, uberrima fruge, superba
Cive, potens clero, populis numerosa, referta
Divitiis, lucis et vitibus undique lucens."
(Francfort, 1596; Phillippide de Guillaume le Breton.)
AGAIN We caught a glimpse of Italy,
In sacred temples of each lesser town,
A wealth of art, elsewhere unknown, is shewn;
Albano, whose sweet thoughts a world embrace
The Incarnate Christ, a Boy-God breathing love;
Scenes to mankind of endless interest,
As if the painter felt that fervour, glows,
Lavish of pictured poesy that warms
The heart, what church boasts not her sculptured forms?
So true to nature, so divine they kneel,
By master-spirits wrought, the sons of light
The Apocalypse reveal'd around us seems
Force triumphs over mind, and Austrians dull
Nor make thy mountains shapeless to the eye,
"Wit walks the streets and music's in the air;"
Thy sons, the voice of genius is not mute;
And there are bards who through the long, long
Of slavery wait return of freedom's light...
When will it reappear? alas! obscured
Is native worth, or exiled, or immured:
Their guerdon is the thick-lipp'd stranger's scorn:
He, the Boeotian, with indifferent gaze
Views their poetic shores and smiling bays;
The beautiful, sublime-such scenes as Claude
Who now dares seize on Ariosto's wand,
Action without confusion mingling? none.
E'en in the theatres, to frighten down
All mirth, with bayonet fixed and well drill'd frown,
Of the parterre a soldier stands, like Pride;
Like death's-heads at Egyptian banquets, joy.
Gorgeous as noonday sun, the ocean-queen,
Glows pleasure by wealth pamper'd as of yore;
Nor wonder-works of Paul *
Art there displays what deeds hath Venice done,
Of strength, the earth o'er-rushing papal power.
How changed her state, she scarcely seems to live; Who dares to hope she may again revive
To wed the Adriatic with her gem,
With strength her robe and wealth her diadem?
To none but gifted beings it belongs
To sing of Italy the charms, the wrongs!
Are men and things, scarce worthy blame or praise.
We see not wooded mountains convent-crown'd;
With overhanging foliage where defaced;
The clear wide Loire flows through the fertile plain, Glittering with splendid châteaux of Touraine. There in the woods of untaxed nobles howl'd
Wolves, in seigneurial protection bold;
They, trooping round the peasant's cottage, scared
As if to mock of mighty man the pride,