Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

If he was honoured with lavish panegyric by Francini and Dati at Florence, he was celebrated in a strain of equal though more compressed praise by Salsilli and Selvaggi at Rome; by the former in a Latin tetrastic, and by the latter in a distich in the same language. At his next removal we shall see our traveller distinguished by still more lofty compliment, in the vehicle indeed of still inferior verse: and for that opportunity we shall reserve any observations which may be suggested to us by the subject. At present we will transcribe and, according to our usual practice, translate the two Roman productions for the amusement of our readers.

Cede Meles; cedat depressã Mincius urna,

Sebetus Tassum desinat usque loqui.
At Thamesis victor cunctis ferat altior undas;
Nam per te, Milto, par tribus unus erit.

SALSILLI.

Meles, and Mincius! now more humbly glide:
Tasso's 2 Sebetas! now resign thy pride.
Supreme of rivers Thames henceforth shall be:

His Milton makes him equal to the three.
Græcia Mæonidem, jactet sibi Roma Maronem;
Anglia Miltonum jactat utrique parem.

SeLVAGGI.
Greece! vaunt your Homer's; Rome! your Maro's fame:
England in Milton boasts an equal name.

2 The Sebeto, a small brook near Naples. The Sebethos, as it was anciently called, was in former times a stream of more consequence; and its present diminutive size may be ascribed to the operations of the contiguous volcano.

It was not long before the English bard was supplied with an opportunity of repaying to one of his Roman panegyrists the debt of praise which had been thus contracted. On the occasion of Salsilli's illness, Milton sent to him those scazons, which are rich in poetic imagery though inaccurate in their metrical construction. The concluding part of this short poem is highly beautiful and deserving of insertion.

O dulce divûm munus! O Salus Hebes
Germana! Tuq; Phæbe, morborum terror,
Pythone cæso, sive tu magis Pæan
Libenter audis, hic tuus sacerdos est.
Querceta Fauni, vosq; rore vinoso
Colles benigni, mitis Evandri sedes,
Siquid salubre vallibus frondet vestris,
Levamen ægro ferte certatim vati.
Sic ille, charis redditus rursum Musis,
Vicina dulci prata mulcebit cantu.
Ipse inter atros emirabitur lucos
Numa, ubi beatum degit otium æternum,
Suam reclinis semper Ægeriam spectans.
Tumidusq; et ipse Tibris, hinc delinitus,
Spei favebit annuæ colonorum:
Nec in sepulchris ibit obsessum reges,
Nimium sinistro laxus irruens loro:
Sed fræna melius temperabit undarum,

Adusq; curvi salsa regna Portumni. * In their scazons, the Greeks use a spondee in the fifth place, but the Latins always an iambic. In the poem before

us,

Milton has violated this rule of Roman prosody in no less than twentyone instances, by inserting either a spondee or an anapæst in the place in question. This is to be guilty not of false quantity, but of an erroneous fabric of verse.

O Health," sweet blessing from the empyreal sphere!
Sister of Hebe, deign thy presence here!
Thou Phæbus too, or, if it please thee more,
By Pæan's name thy godhead we implore:
(Since Python fell, the pale diseases fly,
Pierced with thy shafts and shrinking from thine eye:)
Chase sickness hence:-it is thy priest who pines.
Ye groves of Faunus, and ye hills, whose vines
Weep balmy dews, where mild Evander sway'd,
If in your bloomy lawn or fragrant shade
One plant of healing energy be bred,
Haste! bring it to your drooping poet's bed:
That the sweet Muses, on his warbling tongue,
Once more may coart your echoes with their song:
That pensive Numa in his twilight grove,
Where, tranced in endless rest and holy love,
He dwells on his Ægeria's spotless form,
May feel new raptures from the tuneful charm:
That Tiber's self, enamour'd of the lay,
May check his fury in its devious way:
Nor, prone to raze the works of buried pride,
Urge his left bank, but waft a patient tide;
And, faithful to the labours of the swain,
Wed his innoxious waters to the main.

It was probably at the Cardinal Barberini's concert, which we have mentioned, that Milton was first struck with the charms and the

* The classical reader need not be informed that the simplicity and expressive conciseness of the original is unattainable i any, or at least is unattained in this translation. The “ reclinis spectans" forms a beautiful image, which is omitted, or inadequately expressed in the English.

b The left bank of the Tiber at Rome is the lowest, and consequently the most liable to be overflowed. The works of buried pride are the “ monumenta regis" of Horace, the tomb of Numa,

inimitable voice of Leonora Baroni, which had been made the general theme of their praise by the contemporary poets of Italy. Of the three excellent Latin epigrams, in which he has celebrated this fascinating woman,

the second is so admirable that our readers would have cause to complain of us if we were to refer them from our own page to any other for the gratification of perusing it.

AD LEONORAM ROMÆ CANENTEM.

EP. VII.

Altera Torquatum cepit Leonora poëtam,

Cujus ab insano cessit amore furens.
Ah miser! ille tuo quantò felicius ævo

Perditus et propter te, Leonora, foret!
Et te Pieriâ sensisset voce canentem,

Aurea maternæ fila movere lyrze;
Quamvis Dircæo torsisset lumina Pentheo

Sævior, aut totus desipuisset iners;
Tu tamen errantes cæcâ vertigine sensûs

Voce eadem poteras composuisse tuâ ;
Et poteras, ægro spirans sub corde, quietem

Flexanimo cantu restituisse sibi.

TO LEONORA, SINGING AT ROME.

Another Leonora's charms inspired
The love that Tasso's phrensied senses fired.

· Leonora of Este, with whom Tasso was deeply enamoured. The melancholy malady of this great poet is too generally known to make any comment on it necessary. His madness and the name of his mistress have been of admirable service to Milton in this epigram.

More blest had been his fate were this his age;
And you the inspirer of his amorous rage.
Oh! had he heard the wonders of your song,
As leads your voice its liquid maze along:
Or seen you, in your mother'sd right, command
The lyre, while rapture wakes beneath your hand;
By Pentheus' wildness though his brain were tost,
Or his worn sense in sullen slumber lost,
His soul had check'd her wand'rings at the strain :
The soothing charm had lull’d his stormy brain:
Or, breathing with creative power, had driven
Death from his heart, and open'd it to heaven.

This lady is supposed to have been celebrated by Milton in her own language, and to have been the object of his love in his Italian sonnets. Of these effusions of our poet's gallantry I will not hazard an opinion. The purity of their language has been commended by Italian critics; and for any affected and forced thoughts, which may be distinguishable in them, the character of the Italian taste at that time may be admitted as an apology. One of these short pieces, as exhibiting a picture of some of the principal features of the poet's own mind, may deserve to be transcribed. We shall soon see this boasted fortitude demanded for severe trials, and we shall find that it did not shrink.

a Adriana of Mantua, equally celebrated with her daughter for her voice and her lyre.

« AnteriorContinuar »