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DESTINED to war from very infancy
Was I, Roberto Dati, and I took

In Malta the white symbol of the cross:
Nor in life's vigorous season did I shun
Hazard or toil: among the sands was seen
Of Libya; and not seldom, on the banks
Of wide Hungarian Danube, 'twas my lot
To hear the sanguinary trumpet sounded.
So lived I, and repined not at such fate :
This only grieves me, for it seems a wrong,
That stripped of arms I to my end am brought
On the soft down of my paternal home.
Yet haply Arno shall be spared all cause
To blush for me. Thou, loiter not nor halt
In thy appointed way, and bear in mind
How fleeting and how frail is human life.


I SAW an aged beggar in my walk;
And he was seated by the highway side.
On a low structure of rude masonry

Built at the foot of a huge hill, that they
Who lead their horses down the steep rough road
May thence remount at ease. The aged man
Had placed his staff across the broad smooth stone
That overlays the pile; and, from a bag
All white with flour, the dole of village dames,
He drew his scraps and fragments, one by one;
And scanned them with a fixed and serious look
Of idle computation. In the sun,

Upon the second step of that small pile,
Surrounded by those wild, unpeopled hills,
He sat, and ate his food in solitude:
And ever, scattered from his palsied hand,
That, still attempting to prevent the waste,
Was baffled still, the crumbs in little showers
Fell on the ground; and the small mountain birds,
Not venturing yet to peck their destined meal,
Approached within the length of half his staff.

Him from my childhood have I known; and then He was so old, he seems not older now; He travels on, a solitary man,

So helpless in appearance, that for him

The sauntering horseman-traveller does not throw
With careless hand his alms upon the ground,
But stops, that he may safely lodge the coin
Within the old man's hat; nor quits him so,
But still, when he has given his horse the rein,
Towards the aged beggar turns a look
Side-long and half reverted. She who tends
The toll-gate, when in summer at her door
She turns her wheel, if on the road she sees
The aged beggar coming, quits her work,
And lifts the latch for him that he may pass.
The post-boy, when his rattling wheels o'ertake
The aged beggar in the woody lane,

Shouts to him from behind; and, if thus warned
The old man does not change his course, the boy
Turns with less noisy wheels to the road-side,
And passes gently by,—without a curse

Upon his lips, or anger at his heart.

He travels on, a solitary man,


age has no companion.

On the ground

His eyes are turned, and, as he moves along,
They move along the ground; and, evermore,
Instead of common and habitual sight
Of fields with rural works, of hill and dale,
And the blue sky-one little span of earth
Is all his prospect. Thus, from day to day,
Bowbent, his eyes for ever on the ground,
He plies his weary journey; seeing still,
And never knowing that he sees, some straw,

Some scattered leaf, or marks which, in one track,
The nails of cart or chariot-wheel have left
Impressed on the white road,—in the same line,
At distance still the same. Poor traveller !
His staff trails with him; scarcely do his feet
Disturb the summer dust; he is so still
In look and motion that the cottage curs,
Ere he have passed the door, will turn away,
Weary of barking at him. Boys and girls,
The vacant and the busy, maids and youths,
And urchins newly breeched-all pass him by :
Him even the slow-paced waggon leaves behind.

But deem not this man useless. Statesmen! ye Who are so restless in your wisdom,-ye Who have a broom still ready in your hands To rid the world of nuisances; ye proud, Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate Your talents, power, and wisdom, deem him not A burden of the earth. 'Tis Nature's law That none, the meanest of created things, Of forms created the most vile and brute, The dullest are most noxious, should exist Divorced from good-a spirit and pulse of good, A life and soul, to every mode of being Inseparably linked. While thus he creeps From door to door, the villagers in him Behold a record which together binds Past deeds and offices of charity,

Else unremembered, and so keeps alive

The kindly mood in hearts which lapse of years,

And that half wisdom half experience gives,

Make slow to feel, and by sure steps resign

To selfishness and cold oblivious cares.
Among the farms and solitary huts,
Hamlets, and thinly-scattered villages,
Where'er the aged beggar takes his rounds,
The mild necessity of use compels

To acts of love; and habit does the work
Of reason; yet prepares that after joy
Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul,
By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursued
Doth find herself insensibly disposed,

To virtue and true goodness.

Some there are,

By their good works exalted, loft minds

And meditative, authors of delight

And happiness, which to the end of time

Will live and spread, and kindle; even such minds
In childhood, from this solitary being,

This helpless wanderer, haply have received
(A thing more precious far than all that books
Or the solicitudes of love can do!)

That first mild touch of sympathy and thought,
In which they found their kindred with a world
Where want and sorrow were. The easy man
Who sits at his own door,-and, like the pear
Which overhangs his head from the green wall,
Feeds in the sunshine: the robust and young,
The prosperous and unthinking, they who live
Sheltered and flourish in a little grove
Of their own kindred; all behold in him
A silent monitor, which on their minds
Must needs impress a transitory thought
Of self-congratulation, to the heart
Of each recalling his peculiar boons,

His charters and exemptions; and, perchance,

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