Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

UP AT A VILLA-DOWN IN THE CITY.

(AS DISTINGUISHED BY AN ITALIAN PERSON

OF QUALITY.)

I.

HAD

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

there!

II.

Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear,

at least ! There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect

feast;

While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no

more than a beast.

III.

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

skull,

Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to

pull! I scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair's

turn'd wool.

IV.

But the city, oh the city—the square with the

houses! Why

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

properly.

V.

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.

VI.

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.

VII.

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 !

VIII.

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.

IX.

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

beneath.

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!

ROBERT BROWNING.

FORBEARANCE.

H

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!

EMERSON.

THE BROOK.

I

COME from haunts of coot and hern,

I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,

To bicker down a valley.

« AnteriorContinuar »