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Fortè fuit juxtà tumulus, quo cornea summo
ÆNEID, lib. ii. 23.
His hand though stern, his step though sure,
Nay-lends them a tradition more.
Its Gothic porch, and studded door;
Its stain upon the sculptur'd stone,
That peasants say is blood alone,
In hope, in heart, and in desire ;
The embers of the former fire
And bade me still, and still aspire
Of Childhood's rosy-cinctured years
Too spiritualized for human tears !
Of Fancy, and of Feeling's flowers :
Though broken from their parent-bowers :
Approach, Tradition !-give thy hand
Thou stern, old, melancholy seer;
In thought dark Darrel's aspect near :
It haply may awake a tear,
'Tis none of these—the gloomy tale
That slumbers in your silent aisle ;
And tame the lightest-hearted smile :
And crown'd by Parricide the while :
With fierce and unrelenting heart,
Mad actor of a monstrous part!
Of her th’unknown:-yet haply fair
And young too as the smiling morn,
Towards her lovely eldest born:
Rose shrill as bittern's cry forlorn,
Enough:-his victim hath no name,
No record of her beauty, none
No record save her shame!
Here Darrel sleeps: if he can sleep,
Whose crime yet bears th’ Avenger's seal,
And wakeful fiends on tiptoe steal
And ’mid their impious orgies reel !
Sweet Spirit of the Past !—thy song
Hath paus'd in one remember'd note!
From Philomela's throat !
W.G. T. Sept. 18th, 1835.
THOUGHTS ON THE POET TASSO.
BY MRS. CRAWFORD.
“ Con la penna e con la spada
Nessun val quanto Torquato."
Of all the Italian poets, nay, of all poets, Tasso appears to me the most interesting ; inasmuch as that genius, though it form the chief and most attractive charm in others, was in him but a bright jewel, blending with, but never outshining, the splendour of his bosom gems, religion, and morality. That divinity that breathed in the soul of Tasso, seemed to have touched, as with holy fire, every passion of his heart, making it like the genial spring, expand into the glowing promise of a future Eden.
Beyond the two characters, of a poet and a lover, Tasso has been too little appreciated : for when we contemplate the picture truth presents of this great man—when we see his humility in all that regards himself, his noble concedence of the palm to others, his generous forgiveness of enemies, and trusting confidence in friends, to which was added a perfect love of God, and submissive reliance on that allwise Providence that led him on his way to heaven, while yet captive in a cell at Ferrara—when, I say, we contemplate these rare gifts of a rare virtue, do not the great poet and the adoring lover form but bright reflections of his sun of mind, and instead of crowning Tasso, make him to crown them.
Some of the pleasantest excursions my fancy ever took, were to the sunny regions of poetic Italy, to accompany the melancholy Tasso from the myrtle bowers of his boyhood, to the dark precincts of his tomb-like cell. With what delight have we tarried at Sorrento, to witness the baptism of the boy Torquato, in whose fairy lineaments the all-searching eye of maternal love could not read the glory of the future man. When, disdaining ease, he follows the fortunes of his wandering sire, how sweetly do we trace the golden promise of the poet, in that early dedication of genius to nature, in which he so beautifully commemorates his first parting with that first friend, his mother.
“ Ma dal sen de la madre empia fortuna
Pargoletto divelse, ab di' que' baci
Qual' Ascanio, o Camilla il padre errante.”
youthful Scipio Gonzaga, * about his own age, discoursing of abstruse points, or bending an humble and attentive ear to others, older than his dear associate in mental labour. Sometimes his fair and elevated brow relaxes of its philosophic character ; and light, the light of heavenly poesy, puts to fight the logic of the law : and then his deep blue serious eye gathers into laughing sunshine ; and anon into tears, that gush, like healthful springs, cherishing the heart that yields them.
Again, what magic scenes of splendor and of gaiety have I conjured up, in my moonlight rambles to Ferrara! Its lighted halls echoing the music of a thousand dulcet strings, its paradisian gardens, storied temples, delicious fountains, and winding walks of myrtle, and of orange trees, whose golden fruitage realizes the fable of the sweet Hesperides. There Tasso sate, and loved the rosy hours away: there made close fellowship with nature, and whispered to the musky breeze that stole his sighs, the name of Leonora. There we behold him, that “prince of song,” sitting at the feet of his bright lady love, who was to him "a crystal-girded shrine," + yet who, with all her beauty, rank, and learning, owes immortality to Tasso's song. Oh, idle boast of human pride! what are all the proud array, the pageant pomp of meretricious greatness, to simple unattended genius ? The mighty duke, the regal Alphonso, with all the splendour of his state-his costly palaces, gay court, and kingly banquetings-- how inferior to the homeless, fortuneless, and untitled Tasso! who thinks of the prince when Tasso appears ? who listens to the ducal speaker, when the eloquent lips of the bard breathe upon the ear? Or who that could be Tasso, would be the Prince of Ferrara ?
Immortal genius! On thy buoyant wing,
To strains supernal spirits love to sing ! When escaping from his prison at Ferrara, Tasso flies like another Bias," | with what pleasure we renew our pilgrimage; and accompany the fugitive in his flight over rugged plain and mountain steep, sometimes following the dizzy path of the wild chamois, at others travers. ing the rocky vale, where cloistered walls invite the bard to rest !
Afterwards cardinal ; with this nobleman Tasso contracted that early friendship which ended but with bis life. + Byron's “ Lament of Tasso."