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Can any sit down idle in the house
And Raffael's canvas, rousing and to rouse ?
Bred Laura, and Vaucluse's fount has stirred The heart of France too strongly, as it lets
Its little stream out, (like a wizard's bird Which bounds upon its emerald wing and wets
The rocks on each side) that she should not gird Her loins with Charlemagne's sword when foes beset
The country of her Petrarch. Spain may well Be minded how from Italy she caught,
To mingle with her tinkling Moorish bell, A fuller cadence and a subtler thought.
And even the New World, the receptacle Of freemen, may send glad men, as it ought,
To greet Vespucci Amerigo's door. While England claims, by trump of poetry,
Verona, Venice, the Ravenna-shore, And dearer holds John Milton's Fiesole
Than Langlande's Malvern with the stars in flower.
And Vallombrosa, we two went to see
Last June, beloved companion,—where sublime The mountains live in holy families,
And the slow pinewoods ever climb and climb Half up their breasts, just stagger as they seize
Some grey crag, drop back with it many a time, And straggle blindly down the precipice.
The Vallombrosan brooks were strewn as thick That June-day, knee-deep with dead beechen leaves,
As Milton saw them ere his heart grew sick And his eyes blind. I think the monks and beeves Are all the same too: scarce have they changed
the wick On good St. Gualbert’s altar which receives
The convent’s pilgrims; and the pool in front (Wherein the hill-stream trout are cast, to wait
The beatific vision and the grunt
To baffle saintly abbots who would count
The measure of their steps. O waterfalls
That leap up peak by peak and catch the palls
With one another, at electric calls Of life in the sunbeams,-till we cannot dare Fix your shapes, count your number! we must
think Your beauty and your glory helped to fill
The cup of Milton's soul so to the brink, He never more was thirsty when God's will
Had shattered to his sense the last chain-link By which he had drawn from Nature's visible
The fresh well-water. Satisfied by this, He sang of Adam's paradise and smiled,
Remembering Vallombrosa. Therefore is
The place divine to English man and child,
And pilgrims leave their souls here in a kiss.
For Italy's the whole earth's treasury, piled
With reveries of gentle ladies, flung
With coins of scholars' fancy, which, being rung On work-day counter, still sound silver-proof;
In short, with all the dreams of dreamers young, Before their heads have time for slipping off
Hope's pillow to the ground. How oft, indeed, We've sent our souls out from the rigid north,
On bare white feet which would not print nor bleed, To climb the Alpine passes and look forth,
Where booming low the Lombard rivers lead To gardens, vineyards, all a dream is worth,
Sights, thou and I, Love, have seen afterward From Tuscan Bellosguardo, wide awake, *
When, standing on the actual blessed sward Where Galileo stood at nights to take
The vision of the stars, we have found it hard, Gazing upon the earth and heaven, to make
A choice of beauty.
Therefore let us all Refreshed in England or in other land,
By visions, with their fountain-rise and fall,
* Galileo's villa, close to Florence, is built on an eminence called Bellosguardo.
Of this earth's darling, -we, who understand
A little how the Tuscan musical
Eternities of separate sweetness, -we,
Or ere in wine-cup we pledged faith or glee,–
Or ere we loved truth's own divinity,-
And Ovid's dreaming tales and Petrarch's song,
The blessing of our souls, (and wish them strong To bear it to the height where prayers arrive,
When faithful spirits pray against a wrong,) To this great cause of southern men who strive
In God's name for man's rights, and shall not fail!
Behold, they shall not fail. The shouts ascend
Above the shrieks, in Naples, and prevail. Rows of shot corpses, waiting for the end
Of burial, seem to smile up straight and pale Into the azure air and apprehend
That final gun-flash from Palermo's coast Which lightens their apocalypse of death.
So let them die! The world shows nothing lost; Therefore, not blood. Above or underneath,
What matter, brothers, if ye keep your post On duty's side ? As sword returns to sheath,
So dust to grave, but souls find place in Heaven,
Heroic daring is the true success,
The eucharistic bread requires no leaven; And though your ends were hopeless, we should bless
Your cause as holy. Strire—and, having striven, Take, for God's recompense, that righteousness!
I WROTE a meditation and a dream,
Hearing a little child sing in the street: I leant upon his music as a theme,
Till it gave way beneath my heart's full beat Which tried at an exultant prophecy
But dropped before the measure was completeA.las, for songs and hearts! O Tuscany,
O Dante's Florence, is the type too plain ? Didst thou, too, only sing of liberty
As little children take up a high strain With unintentioned voices, and break off
To sleep upon their mothers' knees again? Couldst thou not watch one hour? then, sleep enough
That sleep may hasten manhood and sustain The faint pale spirit with some muscular stuff.
But we, who cannot slumber as thou dost, We thinkers, who have thought for thee and failed,
We hopers, who have hoped for thee and lost,