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UP AT A VILLA-DOWN IN THE CITY.
(AS DISTINGUISHED BY AN ITALIAN PERSON
AD I but plenty of money, money enough
and to spare, The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the
city-square. Ah such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window
Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear,
at least ! There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect
While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no
more than a beast.
Well now, look at our villa ! stuck like the horn
of a bull Just on a mountain's edge as bare as the creature's
Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to
pull! I scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair's
But the city, oh the city—the square with the
They are stone-faced, white as a curd, there's some
thing to take the eye! Houses in four straight lines, not a single front
awry! You watch who crosses and gossips, who saunters,
who hurries by : Green blinds, as a matter of course, to draw when
the sun gets high ; And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted
What of a villa ? Though winter be over in March
by rights, Tis May perhaps ere the snow shall have wither'd
well off the heights : You've the brown plough'd land before, where the
oxen steam and wheeze, And the hills over-smoked behind by the faint
grey olive trees.
Is it better in May, I ask you ? you've summer
all at once; In a day he leaps complete with a few strong April
suns! 'Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce risen
three fingers well, The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out its
great red bell Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children
to pick and sell.
Is it ever hot in the square ? There's a fountain
to spout and splash!
In the shade it sings and springs ; in the shine
such foam-bows flash On the horses with curling fish-tails, that prance
and paddle and pash Round the lady atop in the conch-fifty gazers do
not abash, Though all that she wears is some weeds round
her waist in a sort of sash !
All the year long at the villa, nothing's to see
though you linger, Except yon cypress that points like Death's lean
lifted forefinger. Some think fireflies pretty, when they mix in the
corn and mingle, Or thrid the stinking hemp till the stalks of it seem
a-tingle. Late August or early September, the stunning
cicada is shrill, And the bees keep their tiresome whine round the
resinous firs on the hill. Enough of the seasons,—I spare you the months
of the fever and chill.
Ere opening your eyes in the city, the blessed
church-bells begin : No sooner the bells leave off, than the diligence
rattles in : You get the pick of the news, and it costs you
never a pin. By and by there's the travelling doctor gives pills,
lets blood, draws teeth ; Or the Punchinello-trumpet breaks up the market At the post-office such a scene-picture—the new
play, piping hot! And a notice how, only this morning, three liberal
thieves were shot. Above it behold the archbishop's most fatherly of
rebukes, And eath, with his crown and his lion, some
little new law of the Duke's ! Or a sonnet with flowery marge to the Reverend
Don So-and-so, Who is Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Saint Jerome,
and Cicero, “ And moreover,” (the sonnet goes rhyming,)“ the
skirts of Saint Paul has reach'd, Having preach'd us those six Lent-lectures more
unctuous than ever he preach'd." Noon strikes,-here sweeps the procession! our
Lady borne smiling and smart With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven
swords stuck in her heart ! Bang, whang, whang, goes the drum, tootle-te
tootle the fife; No keeping one's haunches still : it's the greatest
pleasure in life.
But bless you, it's dear—it's dear! fowls, wine, at
double the rate. They have clapp'd a new tax upon salt, and what
oil pays passing the gate It's a horror to think of. And so, the villa for
me, not the city! Beggars can scarcely be choosers—but still-ah,
the pity, the pity! Look, two and two go the priests, then the monks
with cowls and sandals,
And the penitents dress'd in white skirts, a-holding
the yellow candles. One, he carries a flag up straight, and another a
cross with handles, And the Duke's guard brings up the rear, for the
better prevention of scandals. Bang, whang, whang, goes the drum, tootle-te
tootle the fife. Oh, a day in the city-square, there is no such pleasure in life!
AST thou named all the birds without a gun;
Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk ; At rich men's tables eaten bread and pulse ; Unarm'd faced danger with a heart of trust; And loved so well a high behaviour In man or maid that thou from speech refrain'd, Nobility more nobly to repay O be my friend, and teach me to be thine!
COME from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally
To bicker down a valley.