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We poets, wandered round by dreams,* who hailed
From this Atrides' roof (with lintel-post Which still drips blood,—the worse part bath prevailed)
The fire-voice of the beacons to declare
A crimson sunset in a misty air,
God's judgments, peradventure, will He bare
From Casa Guidi windows I looked forth, And saw ten thousand eyes of Florentines
Flash back the triumph of the Lombard north, Saw fifty banners, freighted with the signs
And exultations of the awakened earth, Float on above the multitude in lines,
Straight to the Pitti. So, the vision went. And so, between those populous rough bands
Raised in the sun, Duke Leopold outleant,
Among the oaths of perjurers, eminent
Why swear at all, thou false Duke Leopold ? What need to swear? What need to boast thy blood
Unspoilt of Austria, and thy heart unsold Away from Florence ? It was understood
God made thee not too vigorous or too bold; * See the opening passage of the Agamemnon of Æschylus,
And men had patience with thy quiet mood,
And women, pity, as they saw thee pace
We turned the mild dejection of thy face
For ruffling hopes, and called thee weak, not base. Nay, better light the torches for more prayers
And smoke the pale Madonnas at the shrine, Being still our poor Grand-duke, our good Grand-duke,
Who cannot help the Austrian in his line,'Than write an oath upon a nation's book
For men to spit at with scorn's blurring brine! Who dares forgive what none can overlook ?
For me, I do repent me in this dust
I sigh amid the sighs which breathe a gust
Around us on the uneven crater-crust
Absolve me, patriots, of my woman's fault
These sceptred strangers shun the common salt, And, therefore, when the general board's in view
And they stand up to carve for blind and halt, The wise suspect the viands which ensue.
I much repent that, in this time and place Where many corpse-lights of experience burn
From Cæsar's and Lorenzo's festering race,
To enlighten groping reasoners, I could learn
No better counsel for a simple case Than to put faith in princes, in my turn.
Had all the death-piles of the ancient years Flared up in vain before me ? knew I not
What stench arises from some purple gears? And how the sceptres witness whence they got
Their briar-wood, crackling through the atmosphere's Foul smoke, by princely perjuries, kept hot ?
Forgive me, ghosts of patriots,—Brutus, thou, Who trailest downhill into life again
Thy blood-weighed cloak, to indict me with thy slow Reproachful eyes !—for being taught in vain
That, while the illegitimate Cæsars show Of meaner stature than the first full strain,
(Confessed incompetent to conquer Gaul) They swoon as feebly and cross Rubicons
As rashly as any Julius of them all! Forgive, that I forgot the mind which runs
Through absolute races, too unsceptical ! I saw the man among his little sons,
His lips were warm with kisses while he swore; And I, because I am a woman, I,
Who felt my own child's coming life before
I could not bear to think, whoever bore,
From Casa Guidi windows I looked out,
Again looked, and beheld a different sight.
The Duke had filed before the people's shout ‘Long live the Duke! A people, to speak right,
Must speak as soft as courtiers, lest a doubt Should curdle brows of gracious sovereigns, white.
Moreover that same dangerous shouting meant Some gratitude for future favours, which
Were only promised, the Constituent
In 'motu proprios,' very incident
Whereat the people rose up in the dust
And loudly; only, this time, as was just,
But 'Live the People,' who remained and must,
· Long live the people! How they lived ! and boiled And bubbled in the cauldron of the street:
How the young blustered, nor the old recoiled, And what a thunderous stir of tongues and feet
Trod flat the palpitating bells and foiled The joy-guns of their echo, shattering it!
How down they pulled the Duke's arms everywhere! How up they set new café-signs, to show
Where patriots might sip ices in pure air(The fresh paint smelling somewhat)! To and fro
How marched the civic guard, and stopped to stare When boys broke windows in a civic glow!
How rebel songs were sung to loyal tunes, And bishops cursed in ecclesiastic metres :
How all the Circoli grew large as moons, And all the speakers, moonstruck,—thankful greeters
Of prospects which struck poor the ducal boons, A mere free Press, and Chambers !—frank repeaters
Of great Guerazzi's praises—There's a man, The father of the land, who, truly great,
Takes off that national disgrace and ban,
And saves Italia as he only can !'
Because they were most noble,—which being so, How liberals vowed to burn their palaces,
Because free Tuscans were not free to go! How grown men raged at Austria’s wickedness,
And smoked,—while fifty striplings in a row Marched straight to Piedmont for the wrong’s redress!
You say we failed in duty, we who wore Black velvet like Italian democrats,
Who slashed our sleeves like patriots, nor forswore The true republic in the form of hats ?
We chased the archbishop from the Duomo-door, We chalked the walls with bloody caveats
Against all tyrants. If we did not fight Exactly, we fired muskets up the air
To show that victory was ours of right. We met, had free discussion everywhere