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The foul isle swarms with men who fly the sun : Sell-called the Grecian name of Monks they own, Who choose to live unwitnessed and alone.
Rutilius. Tr. C. A. Elton.
LAS! poor Italy, the home of woe,
Ship without pilot in an ocean wild,
No gentle lady, but a harlot thou !
So eager was that courteous spirit mild, Only for the sweet sound of his own land, To welcome joyfully his country's child :
And now in thee, not without warfare stand Those who are yet alive, and each gnaws each, Of those whom but one wall and ditch defend.
Seek, wretched one, around thy circling beach ;
Then turn thine eyes, within thy bosom gaze,
And see if anywhere sweet peace doth reach.
What boots it that on thee Justinian lays
The bridle, if the saddle be not filled ?
Else were there less of shame and sad amaze.
Ah! ye whose mad dissensions should be stilled
In loyal obedience unto Cæsar's throne,
If thou wouldst understand what God hath willed,
See how this beast is fierce and savage grown, Because she is not governed by the spur, And ye would rule her with the bit alone.
O German Albert, who forsakest her Who all untamed and lawless has become, While thou to ride this steed thy limbs shouldst stir,
On thee and on thy race may righteous doom
Fall from on high, made clearly manifest,
That he may fear who cometh in thy room.
Thou and thy father were in such hot haste
For distant conquest, that ye now permit
The garden of the empire to be waste.
Come look on Montague and Capulet,
Monaldi, Filippeschi, heartless power !
And some do groan, some only fear as yet.
Come, cruel, come, and thou shalt see how sore
The pains and sorrows by thy vassals borne ;
And look how safe it is in Santafior!
Come and behold thy Rome, who now doth mourn, Lonely and widowed; day and night she cries, “My Cæsar, wherefore leav’st thou me forlorn ? "
Come see what love among thy people lies ;
And if naught else can thee to pity move,
At the dishonor of thy name arise !
And (be it said with reverence) God of love,
earth for us was crucified, Dost fix thine eyes but on the realms above ?
Or does there in thy counsels' depths abide Some purpose for our good, by us unknown, And lying from our vision all too wide ?
For the whole land of Italy doth groan Beneath the sway of tyrants; peasants swell With pride, as though Marcellus were each one.
Dante Alighieri. Tr. Mrs. Ramsay.
Unnumbered, that thy beauteous bosom stain,
Yet may it soothe my pain
To sigh forth Tiber's woes,
And Arno's wrongs, as on Po’s saddened shore
Sorrowing I wander, and my numbers pour,
Ruler of Heaven! by the all-pitying love
That could thy Godhead move
To dwell a lowly sojourner on earth,
Turn, Lord, ou this thy chosen land thine eye !
See, God of charity,
From what light cause this cruel war has birth !
And the hard hearts by savage discord steeled,
Thou, Father, from on high,
Touch by my humble voice, that stubborn wrath may
Ye, to whose sovereign hands the Fates confide
Of this fair land the reins,
This land, for which no pity wrings your breast,
Why does the stranger's sword her plains infest ?
That her green fields be dyed,
Hope ye, with blood from the barbarians' veins ?
Beguiled by error weak,
Ye see not, though to pierce so deep ye boast,
Who love or faith in venal bosoms seek :
When thronged your standards most,
Ye are encompassed most by hostile bands.
O bideous deluge gathered in strauge lands,
That, rushing down amain,
O’erwhelms our every native lovely plain !
Alas! if our own hands
Have thus our weal betrayed, who shall our cause
Well did kind Nature, guardian of our state,
Rear her rude Alpine heights,
A lofty ram part against German hate;
But blind Ambition, seeking his own ill,
With ever restless will,
To the pure gales contagion foul invites :
Within the same strait fold
The gentle flocks and wolves relentless throng,
Where still meek innocence must suffer wrong;
And these — shame avowed !
Are of the lawless hordes no tie can hold :
Fame tells how Marius' sword
Erewhile their bosoms gored,
Nor has Time's hand aught blurred the record proud !
When they who, thirsting, stooped to quaff the flood,
With the cool waters mixed, drank of a comrade's blood !
Great Cæsar's name I pass, who o’er our plains
Poured forth the ensanguined tide,
Drawn by our own good swords from out their veins ;
But now — nor know I what ill stars preside
Heaven holds this land in hate!
To you the thanks, whose hands control her belm ! -
You, whose rash feuds despoil
Of all the beauteous earth the fairest realm!
Are ye impelled by judgment, crime, or fate,
To oppress the desolate ?
From broken fortunes and from humble toil
The hard-earned dole to wring,
While from afar ye bring
Dealers in blood, bartering their souls for bire ?
In truth's great cause I sing,
Nor hatred nor disdain my earnest lay inspire.
Nor mark ye yet, confirmed by proof on proof,
Who strikes in mockery, keeping death aloof;
(Shame, worse than aught of loss, in honor's eye !)
While ye with honest rage, devoted pour
Your inmost bosom's gore ?
Yet give one hour to thought,
shall own low little he can hold Another's glory dear, who sets his own at naught. O Latin blood of old, Arise, and wrest from obloquy thy fame, Nor bow before a name Of hollow sound, whose power no laws enforce ! For if barbarians rude Have higher minds subdued, Ours, ours the crime ! — not such wise Nature's course.
Ah! is not this the soil my foot first pressed ?
And here, in cradled rest,