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FROM A VENETIAN CALLE 



Companion Volume 

FROM A 
VENETIAN BALCONY 



jfrom a 
Denetian Calie 



pen Sfcetcbe0 b^ 

Clara dfeontalba 




ftegan |paul t arencb, ITru&ner & Co,, 
1908 



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4f 

14SF7 




1148168 



"Venczia btla fabricata in mare, 
Chi no te vede no te pol stimare." 

A Venetian saying. 







PREFACE 

THE author, in answer to various enquiries, 
<>sires to state that the poems in this volume 
(similarly to those contained in her former 
volume " From a Venetian Balcony ") are all 
absolutely original, though of course they are 
whenever treating of legends -founded on the 
ancient legends of Venice and other parts of 
Italy. The only translation is the lullaby 
"Nanna Ninna" of which the Italian original 
is therewith given. " March and the Shepherd" 
is a shortened and metrical adaptation of the 
narrative given in Signor NierVs " Racconti 
Popolari Lucchesi? It should be said that 
"Maria Robusti" and "To a Fire-Fly" have 
already been published in " Poems of Love and 
Death " by Lady Lindsay. 



CONTENTS 



FROM A VENETIAN CALLE 13 

CASA DELL' ANGELO 15 

MORNING SONG AT VENICE 19 

CASA DE' SPIRITI 21 

MARIA ROBUSTI 24 

THE PIGEONS OF ALTINO 26 

MASSARIOL 28 

A DAUGHTER OF VENICE 30 

AN ISLAND NEAR VENICE 31 

GIOVANNI TO MARIANINA 32 

THOUGHTS OF NINA 33 

GONDOLIER'S SONG 34 

LOVE SONG 35 

NEAR VERONA 37 

JUNE SONG 38 

IN-COMING BOATS 39 

GAROFANO 40 

To A FIRE-FLY 41 

MARCH AND THE SHEPHERD 44 

"NANNA NINNA." Lullaby 48 

THE MESSAGE OF VENICE 50 

NOTES . . . 53 



LIST OF PLATES 



A VENETIAN CALLE Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

CASA DELL' ANGELO 15 



CASA DE' SPIRITI ... . . .21 



IN-COMING BOATS 39 



FROM A VENETIAN CALLE 

SWIFT flows the tide of life along the 
narrow street, 

In cool and grateful shade, 
And on our ear there falls an ever-surging 

beat 

The tramp of hurrying steps and tap of slippered 
feet, 

As figures pass or fade. 

The women flaunt gay hues in simplest poorest 
dress ; 

Now here some fellow bears 
Great paniers filled to brim with garden 

loveliness : 

White lilies, purple peas, and roses in a 
tress 

And chaffers for his wares. 



14 FROM A VENETIAN CALLE 

Upon the scorching bridge the barefoot babies 
play; 

One, older, throws a line. 
Yon gondola flits by, nor will a moment stay 
" Preml, preml I " the cry so glides out on 
the way 

Where wider waters shine.* 



* (A calle is a narrow street or wynd. It is possible to 
walk over all Venice by means of the calli and innumerable 
connecting bridges. ) 




&M$ 

*t \l ' 




CASA DELL' ANGELO 

THIS is the story, true as day, 

Of the House of the Angel over the way. 

'Twas there dwelt a miser old and grim ; 

No one was ever acquaint with him. 

No creature went in, no creature came out, 

The shutters were closed, no soul was about. 

The doors were tight locked, the lights burned 

dim ; 

As a sepulchre hushed was the house alway, 
And nigh to that calk none chose to stray. 

For the Doge and the saints the miser cared 

naught, 

To the church and the priests he never gave 
aught. 

'Twas murmured that he 
From morn until late alone would be, 
With for servant an ape 
Of appalling shape 
A thing that was crippled and loathly to see. 



1 6 CASA DELL' ANGELO 

He was hard, he was cruel, 
His deeds were dark. 
He owned many a jewel 
And ducat and mark, 
But the widows he spurned, 
And to orphans a cold deaf ear he turned. 

Till one day at last 

This chanced to befall : 

As a holy man pass'd, 

He heard a shrill call, 

And so was let in 

To the harbour of sin, 

And stayed with the miser to speak and dine, 
And ate of his food and tasted his wine. 

'Twas a strange, strange sight the ape stood by, 
And changed the dishes and waited a-nigh ; 
The holy man, as he saw it, shook, 
And scarce of the viands a mouthful took. 
But, when that evening was well-nigh spent, 

On the monster he bent 

A steadfast look, 
And muttered some words as he crossed 

himself, 
For a full exorcising of devil and elf. 



CASA DELL' ANGELO 17 

Behold then ! the ape leaped forth from the 

room, 

With a wild weird yell, and a thunderous boom ; 
Nor door nor window it sought, but crashed 
Through the wall of stone that shivered and 
smashed. 

Away it sped ; 

Out to the tenebrous night it dashed, 
And none knew whither it flew or fled ; 

If haply it there 

Made a path through the air, 
Or deep in the narrow canal down fell. 
But this is certain it ne'er came back, 

And with rout and wrack 
Was the sudden end of that fearsome spell. 

Then the holy man prayed ; 

And, greatly afraid, 
The miser fetched out his golden gains ; 

Then and there, for sure 

For sake of the poor, 

He bestowed them all, 

Both great and small, 

So cleansed his hands of their woful stains. 
Nor rested till, in the gaping space 

Of the palace wall 



1 8 CASA DELL' ANGELO 

Whence the demon had taken its hurried flight, 
Where the stone had been shattered 
As out the thing clattered 
He framed a panel of sweet delight. 
" 'Tis the House of the Angel," in Venice we 
say, 

For still to-day 

A sculptured angel of beauteous face 
Stands yonder, to mark the wondrous place 
Where the wrong made way for the right. 



MORNING SONG AT VENICE 

I SAW the wan and slender moon, 

Ex- Queen in early June, 
Poised high above San Giorgio's tower. 

This was the dawning hour. 
A roseate flush engirdled all the world, 
And coming Day his banners quick unfurled 

To gleam where, on the still lagoon, 
Lay sleeping Venice a white lily flower. 

Let us go forth ! 
The whispering wind creeps hither from the 

north. 
He tells of storm and drifting snows, 

For well he knows 
How on the great peaked Alps are 

piled 

Snow-wreaths and rocks of glaciers wild. 
'Tis there he loves to rave and blow ; 
But here he only mutters low, 






20 MORNING SONG AT VENICE 

And gently fills the red sails wide 
Of boats that on smooth waters ride, 
'Mid weedy tracts and muddy leas, 
Where dusky figures oft are seen, 
Hovering as petrels, bent to glean 
Shelled harvest of these inland seas. 

Far yonder, through the shimmering mist, 
Blue islets rise, uplifted high 
Above the sea-line to the sky, 
By some strange power of mirage kiss'd 
Blue islets, each one tower'd, and set, 
As though some sapphire drops had met, 
'Twixt opal and dim amethyst ; 
While Fancy lilts unto our ear, 
From Palestrina's wave-lapped shore, 
The music that a boy could hear 
And weld to shape long years before 
Soft-echoing to us yet. 



21 



CASA DE J SPIRITI 
(Dedicated to Mrs Humphreys Johnston) 

BY the Casa de' Spiriti 

Wild winds are flying, 
Round the Casa de' Spiriti 

Soft winds are sighing ; 
They are singing strange legends, 

And Echo's replying. 

The winds roam as minstrels 

Grown garrulous, old ; 
The tales that they tell to us 

Oft they've re-told, 
And yon gossip, Dame Echo, 

No secret may hold. 

Yet we comprehend dimly, 
And ask : "Was it so? 



22 CAS A DE' SPIRITI 

The king of the revels, 

In times long ago, 
Was he Titian, whose genius 

And glory we know ? 

" Did he bid painter-comrades 

Come hither to feast, 
Till the blue night grew pale 

As Aurora climbed east, 
Till the day called to labour, 

And the gay laughter ceased ? 

" Or perchance, winds that murmur 

With the inflowing tide, 
Ye be ghosts whose shrill voices 

Fain hitherward ride ? 
Weird wraiths of dead smugglers 
Who their trade darkly plied ? 

" Or mourn ye sad corpses 
Dropt secret, in haste, 

Unavenged of their slaughter, 
To drift o'er the waste, 

From the shade of these ilex 
And bays interlaced ? " 



CASA DE' SPIRITI 23 

By the Casa d Spiriti 

Sweet winds are creeping, 
In the silent rose-garden 

Nymph Echo is sleeping 
The lagoon is alight where 

Warm sun-rays are leaping. 

From the Casa de 1 Spiriti 

Outward we gaze ; 
The mountains lie hidden 

In an opaline haze ; 
The fisher-boats slowly 

Track the still water-ways. 



MARIA ROBUSTI 

" I WILL not leave thee, father ; let no fear 
Of such farewell steal sombre through thy 

mind. 

I will not leave thee ; nay, no gilded court 
Of Maximilian or of Ferdinand, 
Or Philip, king of Spain and Spanish realms, 
Shall tempt me hence. Thy love has plaited 

bonds 

That bind me first to thee through tender- 
ness, 

Next to our Venice for my loyalty. 
What? should I live and count sad morning 

hours, 

Lagging as might my steps, in some far land, 
Remembering how no more I'd haste to thee 
And clasp thee for Aurora, taking this 
My place beside thee, 'mid thy canvases, 
Thy brushes, easels, colours, yea, thy work ? 
Was I not trained thy right hand, ever nigh, 



MARIA ROBUSTI 25 

Doing the will the head commanded it ? 
And shall that hand be parted from its lord ? 
Kiss me again, my father, just as when 
Thy Marieta, clad in boyish dress, 
First leaned, a baby student, at thy knee. 
We women, gladdened by the call of Fame, 
Deem Love yet nobler ; haply thus we lose, 
Oft, ay so oft, the prize each artist seeks 
Bartering our glory for a faithful heart. 

"See, I will bide; I'll fetch my lute and sing 
The very songs that please thy fancy best, 
And win a smile from thy grave lips once 

more; 

While proud Venetian lords and lovely dames 
Shall hasten hither in their gondolas, 
Praying that Tintoretto and his child 
Give to their features immortality. 

" I will not leave thee, father. Let the years 
Pass on ; we'll cling yet closer thou and I." 



26 



THE PIGEONS OF ALTINO 

FOR three long days the people prayed 
" Lord ! whither shall we go ? 

Shew us Thy will, grant us Thine aid, 
And save us from the foe ! " 

Uprose the pigeons then in flight 

The people all among ; 
The parent birds held safe and tight, 

Clasped by their beaks, their young. 

Those brave wings quickly cleft the air 

Across the blue lagoon ; 
They sped unto an island bare, 

A lonely sandy dune. 

" 'Tis there, for sure," the people cried, 
" That God our home has willed ; 

'Tis there, the birds have testified ; 
There let us plant and build." 



THE PIGEONS OF ALTINO 27 

A-many towers were builded there, 

To guard yon island shore ; 
The birds, that earned both love and care, 

Are sacred evermore. 



28 



MASSARIOL 

KNAVISH imp in cot and castle, 

Sometimes angered, sometimes droll, 
Bogie, fairy, goblin, sprite, 
Mischief-fraught for pure delight 
Where's that elf Massariolt 

All the tricks that tease the household 

Are the doing of that troll ; 
He it is who steals the cream, 
Roughly shakes the babe in dream 
Where's that elf MassarioH 

When for fish or fruit at market 

You've to pay some extra toll ; 
When your purse you cannot find, 
No good fortune to your mind 
Where's that elf MassarioH 



MASSARIOL 



29 



Sure 'twas he that yester-evening 
From the pan the pasti stole ; 
In the dusk the villain flew 
Many a narrow calk through 
Where's that elf Massariolt 



A DAUGHTER OF VENICE 

Marianda^ 
Maria bela, 

Walks by her sisters amid the crowd. 
She is young, she is fair, 

With red-gold hair ; 

Her eyes are lustrous, her presence is proud. 
She hies to the Piassa to hear the band, 
And flutters a fan in her sun-brown'd hand. 
Her head is bare of kerchiefs or veils, 
But down to her ankles her black shawl trails, 
And her gown is pink as Aurora's wing. 

Her slip-shod feet 

Go tap, tap, tap, on the stone-paved street. 
There shines on her finger a golden ring, 
And there shines a smile on her merry mouth 
Marianela 
Maria beta, 

Many a youth a song would sing 
Unto thee, fair child of the South ! 



3 1 



AN ISLAND NEAR VENICE 

ON either side the broad lagoon, 
And overhead the part-veil'd moon ; 
Here, long low buildings lying sheer 
Where shallow water glistens clear. 

And one tall tower uprises dark, 

The heart of it a golden spark ; 

A boat moored where the grass creeps thin, 

And all the world that's you therein. 



GIOVANNI TO MARIANINA 

You in a gondola, 
I at your side, 
Who shall my happiness 
Dare to deride ? 

You with a red rose 
'Twixt finger and thumb, 
I, lips a-trembling, 
Timid and dumb. 

You with the heart of me 
Breaking at touch, 
I with the heart of me 
Aching overmuch ! 



33 



THOUGHTS OF NINA 

RED-BROWN sails on an opal sea, 
Bear my heart where it longs to be. 

Swallows encircling the belfry high, 
Haste and twitter her window nigh. 

Vines that wreathe at her garden-gate, 
Bid her the evening hour to wait. 

Drop at her feet, O moaning dove ! 
And croon to her of my constant love. 



34 



GONDOLIER'S SONG 

NINA, Nina, come to me soon, 

Come with the sun, or come with the moon. 

Come when the stars gleam bright on high, 
Come when the rain-cloud goes rolling by. 

Come to me out of the shimmering deep, 
Come when I'm waking, come when I sleep. 

Nina, Nina, come to me soon, 
Swift as a bird o'er the wide lagoon. 

Nina, Morosa, hearken my song 

Flower o' my heart, I have loved thee so long ! 



35 



LOVE SONG 

{In Imitation of many Popular Venetian 
Songs) 

IN the midst of yon blue sea 
Stands a beauteous golden tree, 
And a golden bird sings on it, Nina, just for 
you and me. 

There the leaves are richly gilded, 
And the boughs are strongly builded, 
And the mellow fruit is ripened, Nina, ripe for 
you and me. 

We will make our dainty nest 
Where the wild waves lie at rest, 
We will make a dainty nest, Nina, just for you 
and me. 



36 , LOVE SONG 

On that golden tree a-swinging, 
While our love is scarce beginning 
But the years are golden fruit, Nina, ripe i 
you and me. 



37 



NEAR VERONA 

GREY clouds lie low on yonder Apennines ; 
The mulberry boughs are heavy-drenched with 

rain ; 

Across the red earth of the Lombard plain 
A-many runnels draw their watery lines : 

While vine-wreaths, garlanding from tree to tree, 
Seem poor of strength their glistening leaves to 

lift; 
And ghost-like, 'mid dank fields, white oxen 

drift, 
Patient where'er their quiet labours be. 



JUNE SONG 

IN the plains of Lombardy, 
That's where I would gladly be 
When the mulberry boughs are stript, 
And the young vines, tendril-tipt, 
Fling their wreaths from tree to tree. 
Scarlet poppies wake and peer 
Whence the green wheat bursts to ear- 
That's where I so fain would be, 
In the plains of Lombardy ! 

See beyond, the tender lines 

Of the sunny Apennines ! 

Ne'er a cloud drifts overhead. 

Gay in kirtles blue or red 

From the homestead flock the maids, 

Eager for the green leaf raids. 

Swift and strong, they sit at ease 

Perched on ladders, busy bees 

Nina, would I were with thee 

In the plains of Lombardy ! 



39 



IN-COMING BOATS 



SAILS white and yellow, 
Sails brown and red, 

From beyond the Lido, 

On a warm wind sped 

Are ye wild-flow'r petals ? 

Are ye butterflies, 
Hovering where the waters 

Meet the pearly skies ? 

Are ye leaves of Autumn 
Pluckt of classic trees, 

Sent with peaceful message 
By the Hesperides ? 

Sails riding inland, 

Gold, or red, or white, 

Bring as may a poet's thoughts- 
Colour, grace, and light ! 



GAROFANO 

CARNATION at my dear one's ear, 

Whisper some word from me ; 
Some message he would joy to hear 
When he his fisher-boat shall steer 
Upon the open sea. 

But yester-eve at sunset hour 

I plucked thee from the ledge ; 
Behind his ear he placed the flower 
A kiss, and it became my dower, 
Bestowed for lover's pledge. 

Tell him, though sweet the soft winds sigh, 
More sweet are thoughts that yearn, 
And bid thy perfume breathe how I 
Send forth to him no chill goodbye, 
But prayers for swift return. 



41 
TO A FIRE-FLY 

TINY flame of wondrous birth 
Flitting o'er the dusky hedges, 
Glimmering deep in banks and sedges, 
Jewel-like on dark-browed earth : 

Drift thou to my outstretched palm ; 
Give the secret whence thou comest, 
Whither haply now thou homest 
While the night is fair and calm. 

Didst thou sail from near or far ? 
Art perchance a segment, riven, 
Through wide leagues of ether driven, 
From some fiery falling star? 

As by stilly ways we pass, 
Fade San Gimignano's towers, 
Richer floats th$ scent of flowers 
Where thy fellows fleck the grass. 



42 TO A FIRE-FLY 

White upon the broad white road 
Come the oxen, freed from labour, 
Ghostly, slow, each by his neighbour, 
Bearing neither yoke nor load. 



So their peasant lords themselves 
End the work of vine and valley, 
On the quiet paths to dally, 
Where the fire-flies dance with elves. 



Elf-like, art thou magic born ? 
Cased with gold to shine in blueness, 
Stript and swarth at each day's newness, 
Exorcised by touch of morn ? 



Turned to but a squalid thing 
Poor dull insect, small, unsightly. 
Who should guess thy power, that nightly 
Ridest on a radiant wing ? 



Nay, thou seem'st a holy spark 
Dropt from out the lamp of angels, 



TO A FIRE-FLY 43 

Sent to teach of God's evangels : 

How the Light may shine through dark. 



Fire-fly, blaze across the plain ! 
Float upon the breath of summer ! 
Thus to-morrow, saintly comer, 
Tell thy parable again ! 



44 



MARCH AND THE SHEPHERD 
(A Legend of Lucca) 

March 

" WHITHER, shepherd, whither away 
Wilt lead thy flock to pasture to-day ? " 

Shepherd 

" Bound we are to seek the height, 
Where the sun is shining and skies are bright." 
(March raises a tempest on the mountain. 

Later^ he once more accosts the 

shepherd.) 

March 

" Tell me, shepherd, was't warm the air ? 
Was sunshine pleasant ? Were soft winds 
fair ? " 



MARCH AND THE SHEPHERD 45 

Shepherd 

" Yea, we had naught of wind or rain ; 
My flock moved happy across the plain." 

{Next day, March returns?) 



March 

" Whither, shepherd, whither away 
Wilt lead thy flock to pasture to-day ? " 



Shepherd 

" Methinks my sheep content should feed 
Down in the vale in a verdant mead." 

(March drenches the valley with tem- 
pestuous rain. Later, he once more 
accosts the shepherd?) 



March 

" Tell me, shepherd, how fared thy sheep 
Where streams run silver and grass grows 
deep?" 



46 MARCH AND THE SHEPHERD 

Shepherd 

" Nay, 'twas glorious on hill and rock ; 
The pasture is scarce, but sweet to the flock." 
(The shepherd continues the game of 

cross-purposes for some days. 

March becomes furious at last^ and 

seeks out April.) 

March 

" April, April, dear brother mine, 

Lend me a day from that month of thine." 

(April lends March a day, and presently 
March visits the shepherd, who is 
sitting shivering by his lonely 
fireside?) 

March 

" How now fares it, Gammer, with thee ? 
Nor on hill nor dale thy flock can I see." 

Shepherd 

" Peace, I prithee, and hold thy hand 
'Twould seem that Janevier rules the land. 



MARCH AND THE SHEPHERD 47 

My sheep are penned in hut and fold, 
And I am stiffened with wet and cold." 

(Thus it is that March, the rogue, 
counts thirty-one days, having 
borrowed one from April, as 
the saying goes.} 



"NANNA NINNA" 

FIGLIO, dormi, dormi, figlio, 
Figlio bello, mio vermiglio, 
Core caro della Mamma, 
Del mio petto dolce fiamma, 
Mio bambino piccinino, 
Fa' la nanna, figlionino ! 
Ninna la nanna, nanna ninna, 
Dolce e caro, dolce e bello, 
Ninna la nanna, nanna ninna, 
Dolce e caro mio bambino, 
Dolce e bello amorosino. 

(Del sec. XV.) 



49 



LULLABY 

( Translation] 

SLEEP, my son, sleep, sleep, my son, 

Fair my son, my beauteous one ! 

Thou thy mother's dearest heart, 

Sweet flame of my breast thou art. 

Baby mine, my little one, 

Lullaby, my baby son ! 

Lullaby and lullaloo, 

Sweet and dear, O sweet and fair, 

Lullaloo and lullaby, 

Sweet and dear, my baby son, 

Sweet and fair, my lovely one ! 



5 



THE MESSAGE OF VENICE 

COME again and yet again 
Parting grief is wellnigh pain 
Come again and yet again 
He that goes is ever fain 
To return and come again 
Hark ! the bells' melodious strain 
" Come again and yet again ; " 
All thy striving is in vain 
Spell of Venice shall not wane 
" Come again and yet again ! " 



NOTES 



53 



NOTES 

" Casa deW Angelo." Page 15. 

The house yet stands, and the panel with the 
sculptured angel can be easily seen on the outer 
wall above the canal. 



" Morning Song at Venice" Page 19. 

Venice may sometimes hide herself in a cloak of 
grey mist, or weep sullen tears of rain, but when 
she smiles she is again the Queen of Loveliness. 



" Casa ctt Spiriti." Page 21. 

" In punta della Sacca della Misericordia esiste 
il Casino degli Spiriti, cosi detto a cagione degli 
arcani rumori che in esso e fama ascoltarsi, prodotti 
forse dal vento, oppure a cagione dell' eco, il quale 
rimanda distintamente dal casino tutte le voci 
pronunziate all' estremita delle Fondamente Nuove, 
fenomeno ritenuto altre volte dalla superstizione 
popolare come un prestigio diabolico. Vuole 
invece il Zanotto che il casino acquistasse tale 
denominazione perche era il ritrovo de' piii begli 



54 NOTES 

spirit! e talenti del secolo XVI, quali PAretino, il 
Tiziano, ecc. Non sapiamo donde il Zanotto 
abbia tratto la surriferita notizia." Curiosita 
Veneziane. G. Tassini. 



"// Casino degli SpiritL" 

" Sorge all' estremita della cos! detta Sacca della 
Misericordia, ed ora, piu che ad altro, serve a 
deposito di legname. Una certa eleganza di 
struttura e 1' amena sua posizione, che domina la 
laguna coll' isole di S. Michele e di Murano, 
indicano pero che non sempre a tale uso era 
destinato. Vi fu chi disse che qui nel secolo XVI 
si raccoglievano a lieto convegno il piu begli 
spirit! dell' epoca, quali 1' Aretino, Tiziano, Sanso- 
vino, ecc. e que percio Casino degli Spiriti venne 
chiamato. Ma P opinione piu diffusa e che qui in 
tempo di notte s'udissero rumeri infernali, e si 
vedessero comparire spirit! folletti. A tale credenza 
teneva in qualche modo bordone il fatto che la 
voce di chi sta sulla punta estrema delle Fondamente 
Nuove viene ripetuta dal casino, che oltre il canale, 
vi sta di faccia, effetto certamente dell' eco, il quale 
ha pure sempre qualche cosa di misterioso nella 
fantasia popolare. 

Ma chi al giorno d' oggi vorra credere a tali 
freddure? Prescindendo anche dalP idea che 
alcum, pei loro fini, volessero con artificiali rumori, 
e fantastiche dicerie, allontanare il popolo da quei 



NOTES 55 

paraggi, non e cosa naturale che quei rumori 
venissero e vengano tuttora prodotti dal vento, 
solito ad imperversare in laguna ove e posto 
il Casino ? " Aneddoti Storici Veneziani. G. 
Nissati. 

" A famous grammarian from Rome, Priscian by 
name, in the month of August, 1 540, describes such 
a party " (i.e. a party given by Titian), " the convives 
being Aretino, ('a new miracle of nature,') 
Sansovino the architect of San Marco, Nardi the 
Florentine historian, and himself. 'The house,' 
he says, * is situated in the extreme part of Venice 
on the sea, and from it one sees the pretty little 
island of Murano and other beautiful places. This 
part of the sea, as soon as the sun went down, 
swarmed with gondolas, adorned with beautiful 
women, and resounding with the varied harmony 
and music of voices and instruments which till 
midnight accompanied our delightful supper, which 
was no less beautiful and well arranged than 
copious and well provided. Besides the most 
delicate viands and precious wines there were all 
those pleasures and amusements that were suited 
to the season, the guests, and the feast.'" The 
Makers of Venice. Mrs Oliphant. 

In his delightful book "The Sea-charm of 
Venice " Mr Stopford A. Brooke writes as follows 
of the Sacca della Misericordia. 

" I left the square " (S. Pietro) " with this noble 
painting in my mind, and rowed on to the Sacca 



56 NOTES 

della Misericordia beyond the Canal, which leads 
to the Church of SS. John and Paul. This is a 
great square piece of the lagoon, surrounded on 
three sides by sheds and houses, where all the 
wood used for building in Venice is brought from 
the mainland, and left floating on the water. The 
place has always fascinated me, I scarcely know 
why for the view of San Michele and Murano and 
the Alps beyond is seen as well from other points 
but I think it partly is that the great trunks and 
beams, and the sawn planks seasoning in the 
water, bring back to me the mountain valleys, 
torrents and knolls of rock where the trees were 
hewn down, and fill the sea-city with images of the 
wild landscape of the land ; and partly that one 
seems to see in the waiting wood all that human 
hands will make of it houses, roofs, furniture, 
bridges, gondolas, barks that will meet the beating 
of the Adriatic waves, piles that will build founda- 
tions for new buildings. The coming human 
activity moves like a spirit over the floating masses 
in this tract of water." 



" The Pigeons of Altino." Page 26. 

"C'est seulement vers la moitie du Vllme siecle 
que les Altinates, s'enfuyant devant les invasions 
des Huns et des Longobards, s'dtablirent ddfinitive- 
ment dans cette ile (Torcello). . . . 

Un anonyme habitant d'Altino nous fait croire 
que les Altinates, avant de se decider k abandonner 



NOTES 57 

leur ville, avaient jeund trois jours qu'ils auraient 
passes en priere pour que Dieu daignat leur indiquer 
le lieu ou ils auraient pu trouver un sur abri contre 
les incursions des barbares. 

' Et apres le troisieme jour,' disent les chroniques, 
' on put voir les colombes tenant leurs petits dans le 
bee preceder la fuite des hommes et se refugier 
dans les iles de la lagune. 5 

C'est peut-etre a la suite de cette l^gende que les 
colombes ont e"te toujours aimees, respecters, et 
nourries par les Vdnitiens et que Ton en voit encore 
de nos jours toute leur ville peuplee. . . . Torcello 
ou Torricello prit probablement son nom des 
nombreuses tours qu'on y eleva pour la deTendre 
contre les incursions des ennemis." glises et 
' Scuole ' de Venise. V. Alinari. 

" The year 452, the year of the fall of Aquileia, is 
usually given as the birth-year of Venice, though 
such precision is misleading . . . nor was it till the 
Lombard invasion and the building of Torcello in 
568 that all thought of return to the mainland was 
abandoned, and the history of the lagoon com- 
munities which were eventually concentrated at 
Rialto, the Modern Venice, really begins."" The 
Venetian Republic" Horatio Brown. 



" Massariol." Page 28. 

Massariol, the domestic spirit of the Venetians, 
is mentioned in Bernoni's Leggendc Fantastiche as 



58 NOTES 

a " spirito folletto." He plays many pranks, cheats 
the ferrymen, disguises himself as a baker's lad, 
brings a foundling and then, himself unseen, carries 
it away ; he laughs at everyone, and always 
suddenly disappears. 



"Love Song (in imitation of many popular 
Venetian songs}" Page 35. 

Such, for instance, is the following : 

"In mezo il mare ghe xe un persegaro, 

Che fa le fogie de color de rosa. 
E ghe xe un gardelin che fa niaro 

Soto i balconi de la mia morosa." 
Canti del Popolo di Chioggia. A. Dalmedico. 

It may be Englished thus : 

In the midst of the sea is a peach-tree, 

Its petals the colour of rose ; 
And there is a goldfinch that nesteth 

'Neath the balconied home of my love. 

"Near Verona? Page 37. 

Some readers may remember Longfellow's 
beautiful lines : 

" In the furrowed land 
The toilsome and patient oxen stand ; 
Lifting the yoke-encumbered head, 
With their dilated nostrils spread, 



NOTES 59 

They silently inhale 

The clover-scented gale, 

And the vapours that arise 

From the well-watered and smoking soil. 

For this rest in the furrow after toil 

Their large and lustrous eyes 

Seem to thank the Lord, 

More than man's spoken word." 



"June Song." Page 38. 

The mulberry trees are mostly stripped at this 
time of year, to feed the silkworms, silk being 
a great part of the commerce of Lombardy. 
Women, as well as men, take an active share in 
the work of the fields. 



" March and the Shepherd" Page 44. 
An English folk-saying is : 

" March borrows of April 
Three days, and they are ill ; 
April borrows of March again 
Three days of wind and rain." 

And in the North : 

" March borrowed from April 

Three days, and they were ill ; 

The first was frost, the second was snaw, 

The third was cauld as ever't could blaw.' 



60 NOTES 

" The Message of Venice? Page 50. 

" ' The word Venetiaj says Francesco Sansovino, 
' is interpreted by some to mean Veni Etiam^ which 
is to say, Come again and again ; for, how many 
times soever thou shalt come, new things and new 
beauties thou shalt see. 3 " The Story of Venice. 
Thomas Okey. 



// may be of interest to insert here a short account^ 
written at the time^ of the last Cannaregio pro- 
cession allowed to take place, i.e. but a few years 
ago. 

" Six o'clock on a warm June afternoon. As we 
stand on the Cannaregio bridge we can see the 
ringers up aloft, who, armed with iron rods, are 
striking the bells in the high tower of San Geremia. 
Against the pale sky their figures stand out as 
bronzed and dark as do the bells : not a whit less 
mechanical. 

Around us the crowd gathers fast. A sense of 
something important about to come fills the balmy 
air. Everybody hurries to and fro. Innumerable 
talking, laughing, gesticulating, slipshod 
Venetian girls, all wearing that inevitable black 
bombazine shawl which hangs forlornly down to 
their heels but characterizes their nationality, all 
carrying gaily-coloured fans which they flutter and 
flirt, have surely one and all of them had their hair 
dressed, frizzed, curled, and pomatumed, in a 



NOTES 6 i 

manner most rare and unaccustomed ! The sellers 
of "fritelle" and other dainties wax eager and 
insistent. 

The bridge is thronged. The sun pours down 
his hot rays till the stone of the balustrade is 
burning to touch. From the sharp bend of the 
Grand Canal into the narrower water-path shoot 
many gondolas, laden for this one day in the year 
with the gondoliers' own belongings, z>., family 
groups flower-decked, cake and fruit laden, clad 
in Sunday best, and greatly amused to find them- 
selves thus honoured. Grey-haired fathers and 
mothers, pretty girls plump and smiling, babies 
bored and somnolent fill the boats and sit in stiff 
unaccustomed attitudes in the seats of \htforestzeri. 
Each successive boat, as it darts round the angles, 
flies on to join a clustering mass of gondolas, which 
will presently be a fine vantage-ground whence to 
view the procession. For this indeed the Corpus 
Domine is a festa that may not be stayed or 
checked in Venice, planted as it is deep in the 
very hearts of her people, and firmly grafted in the 
centre of the poorest of her districts. Have we not 
been told how once, not long since, it chanced that 
certain officials, seeking to execute the commands 
which they had received from higher quarters and 
thus causing obstruction, were kindly but firmly 
elbowed by the populace into the canal? The 
Venetians are chary of discussing such points, 
yet every one is agreed that this, the most truly 
popular festival of the year, must be allowed 



62 NOTES 

to have its way and go on its course un- 
molested.* 

Hark ! the bells clamour ; other bells answer ; 
they tintillate from afar ; San Geremia retorts more 
loudly. There is great excitement when a white- 
robed white-sandalled chorister comes swiftly by, 
or a baby John the Baptist, scantily draped in 
leopard-skin trimmed with blue ribbons, is carried 
past by its stalwart father himself a bronze- 
cheeked gondolier. 

Presently we follow with the stream of people 
and find ourselves in the Campo San Geremia, 
waiting as eagerly as the rest of onlookers for the 
procession to issue from the doors of the church. 
It comes at last, growing and surging into life. 
First a great crucifix is carried, then huge candles 
wreathed with paper flowers, while banners are 
borne by men of the guild in picturesque dress ; 
then come little girls clad and veiled in white, bear- 
ing sweet lilies, priests with more banners, and 
choristers singing as they go. Tiny children that 
scarce can walk are in the procession baby saints, 
clothed and decked as such, whose live pet lambs 
seem older and more self-possessed than their 
owners. St Francis and St Anthony, whose infant 
heads are tonsured, toddle beside a three-year- 
old S ta - Chiara and a St Joseph whose youthful 
fingers can scarce clasp his staff. Then, when the 

* Yet it did not ! For, however picturesque it might 
be, it was open to the charge of promoting disorder. 



NOTES 63 

long-expected canopy comes in sight, the people 
kneel down on the flag -stones, and uncovered 
heads are bent. 

On goes the procession, swaying away to the 
left, the feeble flame of candles with the gilding 
of poles and banners glimmering in the warm 
daylight, out beyond our ken. We hie to a friend's 
house in a paved street a rio terra which seems 
made up of restaurants, shops, and refreshment 
booths. 

By-and-bye the procession passes us once more, 
this time close under our windows. 

The ground is reddened by the rose-leaves 
which the children strew on the way. Only one 
little St John has altogether given in, and drops, 
fast asleep, on his father's shoulder, still clasping 
a gilt paper cross, his heavy head pillowed by his 
chubby naked arm. 

Banners, gay bunting, carpets and pieces of silk, 
deck the balconies where the joyous folk crowd to 
view the scene. Below, the populace sits and 
drinks beer or red wine at the street tables it is 
to be a night of merriment and carouse. A few 
lights are already twinkling in paper lamps ; the sky 
grows softly, tenderly blue ; a star peers out over- 
head. This is our last night at Venice, and we must 
hasten through the gay crowd back to our hotel. 
The great palaces loom grey in the dusk. The 
myriad faces are blotted out, the murmur of voices 
dies, and the ' Cannaregio festa ' is already a thing 
of the past ' 



FROM A VENETIAN BALCONY 



THIRD EDITION 



PRESS OPINIONS 

Times. "Poems setting in fine verse the spell and magic of Venice; 
with a number of little pen-sketches by Clara Montalba." 

Bookman. " These little poems stand out as glowing gems in a pretty 
setting. There is so much of colour and swaying movement in them, that 
the poetry of the scene lies almost as delicate painting before the eyes as 
well as lingering musically in the ear. The pen sketches, which in execu- 
tion are dainty as the tracery of a shell or flower, are quite in keeping with 
the words. The glamour and opalescent tints of Venice are here, and the 
spell of her starlight and her moonlight, her dawn and her darkness, can 
be realised intensely." 

The Lady. "An exquisite little volume is that entitled 'From a 
Venetian Balcony, 'by Lady Lindsay, so beautifully printed, bound, and 
illustrated that one finds a pure, aesthetic pleasure in merely handling and 
looking at it. The poems, for the most part, are worthy of their dainty 
setting. Lady Lindsay's muse appears to best advantage in graceful lyrics, 
such as the quaint and charming ' Barcarol ' 

' In the June-tide, in the June-tide, 
In the sweet and summer noon-tide,' 

or in ballads like that of 'St Mark's Ring' or 'The Legend of the 
Bocolo,' which is worthy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning in her most 
romantic mood. The many ' pen-pictures ' by Clara Montalba that adorn 
the lovely little book are delightfully done." 

Month. "'From a Venetian Balcony and other Poems' is Lady 
Lindsay's latest volume, and in its grace of thought and delicacy of 
expression yields to none of its predecessors." 

Queen " ' From a Venetian Balcony, and other Poems of Venice and 
the Near Lands,' by Lady Lindsay, with pen sketches by Clara Montalba, 
is a lovely little book in every way. Its green limp lambskin binding is 
stamped with a Venetian lion ; its marbled end-papers with a linen surface 
are inferior to no marbling that has yet been executed in the fascinating 



new style. Miss Montalba's etchings are wonderfully good. . . . Lady 
Lindsay's position as a poet has long since been realised. She is serious. 
She has very deep feeling. Her local colour is not consciously laid on, but 
the growth of long familiarity. Many of her poems have much lyrical 
charm, but she is best, perhaps, in blank verse, which does not distract the 
reader's attention from the depth of thought. . . . The second edition of 
Lady Lindsay's familiar volume of poems, ' From a Venetian Balcony,' 
has delightful black-and-white etchings by Miss Clara Montalba a whole 
sheaf of them. It is difficult to say which are more Venetian, the etchings 
or the poems. It is a book that every lover of Venice (which means every- 
one who knows Venice) who can read English will want to have on her 
shelves. ' O Venezia benedeta, non ti vogio piu lasar,' says the song. 

Liverpool Post. " Lady Lindsay's ' From a Venetian Balcony ' is a book 
of poems of a luxurious order, and shows the insight and the imagination 
of the author in every stanza. 'A Painted Missal,' though not a novel 
topic, appeals especially to us, and we venture to assign it a higher place 
than anything which Lady Lindsay has yet given us. The pen drawings 
by Miss Montalba are simply exquisite." 

World. "A dainty little volume of poems by Lady Lindsay will be 
widely welcomed, as usual. 'From a Venetian Balcony" is a title to con- 
jure with, and a picture in a line. The refined and musical verse that 
embodies the separate characteristics of Venice, some of the traits of its 
people, but especially the fascination of the City of St Mark for the writer, 
has a charm of its own as distinct as its theme. The tradition of the 
' Povero Fornareto,' the legend of the ' Bocolo,' the legend of St Mark's 
ring, and the story of the 'ancient-house alone,' called Malcontenta, 
because of the unquiet spirit who once dwelt there, are beautiful singly, 
and typical as a group. In the lesser poems, in which the writer's love of 
the city on the sea, of her people, her mystery, her sadness, and her spell, 
attunes the lines, touch the reader to the point of an envious desire to hear 
the Song of the Vineyards and hearken to the murmur of that Sunset 
Shell. . . . The value and grace of Lady Lindsay's poems are enhanced 
by the illustrations with which Miss Clara Montalba has beautified the 
volume. These lovely little drawings localise the legends and seem to 
deepen and prolong the melody of the verse." 

Dundee Advertiser. "There are seventeen pieces, some like poetic 
seed pearls, others like larger and more resplendent gems, and the longest, 
to carry out the simile, big as amethysts, and as full of rich colour. In 
'Venetian Spell' the poet has caught in language the very air, colour, and 
quietude of the city. The ' Barcarol,' is delightfully sunny, fragrant, and 
just touched with love passion; and 'Summer Evening' is a picture in 
words. In its completeness the collection gently demonstrates a gifted 
poetic mind and graceful fancy finding utterance in poetry of an alluring 
and even exquisite kind." 

Morning Post. "Lady Lindsay has already proved abundantly that she 
possesses a very genuine gift of poetry, and her latest volume, 'In a 



Venetian Balcony, and other Poems,' can only enhance her reputation. In 
form her verse is apparently careless, but only those who are themselves in 
the habit of using this medium and of studying for their own improvement 
its use by others will detect the amount of art that is concealed. The 
manner is delicately adapted to the matter ; again and again one feels that 
Lady Lindsay has conveyed to us exactly what she wanted to say, and that 
is surely the highest success which the poet can gain. The whole book 

fives one a definite impression of the regions of which Lady Lindsay writes, 
t is charming in form, and contains many delicate pen sketches by Miss 
Clara Montalba." 

Outlook " Instinct with the artistic temperament and graced with 
many a melodious touch." 

Glasgow Herald. " This is one of the daintiest little volumes of verse of 
the season, for the charm of the authoress's lyrics of Venice is greatly 
enhanced by the sketches from the pen of Clara Montalba. Some half a 
dozen of the poems, and these the best, have already appeared in one or 
other of Lady Lindsay's books ; the rest, song and legend and ballad, 
derive their sweetness from the writer's affection for Venice and things 
Venetian. Their note is essentially minor, the inspiration being more 
tender than passionate, yet every now and again we have a sudden glimpse 
of the city of canals, clear as a vignette, with 

'Gondolas black as the swift that floats o'er an autumn sky 
Gondolas silent and shadowy, wondrously slender of form 
Gliding in close-measured rhythm down where the barges lie,' 
or with 

' Wherries 
Filled with cherries, 
Flaunting sails of russet yellow,' 

and in these touches, wedded to a pleasant sense of agreeable rhymes, lies 
the attraction of the little book." 



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