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POEMS BEFORE CONGRESS 




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POEMS BEFORE CONGRESS. 



POEMS BEFORE CONGRESS 



BY 



ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING. 



LONDON : 
CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY. 

I860. 



& . A. }>avy for reading, £ 

**" LONDON : v. 

BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WIIITEFEIARS. 



ILL 



PREFACE. 



These poems were written under the pressure of 
the events they indicate, after a residence in Italy 
of so many years, that the present triumph of great 
principles is heightened to the writer's feelings by 
the disastrous issue of the last movement, witnessed 
from " Casa Guidi Windows " in 1849. Yet, if the 
verses should appear to English readers too pun- 
gently rendered to admit of a patriotic respect to 
the English sense of things, I will not excuse 
myself on such grounds, nor on the ground of my 
attachment to the Italian people, and my admiration 
of their heroic constancy and union. What I have 
written has simply been written because I love truth 
and justice quancl meme, — " more than Plato " and 
Plato's country, more than Dante and Dante's 
country, more even than Shakespeare and Shake- 
speare's country. 



VI PREFACE. 

And if patriotism means the flattery of one's 
nation in every case, then the patriot, take it as 
you please, is merely a courtier ; which I am not, 
though I have written " Napoleon III. in Italy." 
It is time to limit the significance of certain terms, 
or to enlarge the significance of certain things. 
Nationality is excellent in its place ; and the 
instinct of self-love is the root of a man, which 
will develope into sacrificial virtues. But all the 
virtues are means and uses ; and, if we hinder their 
tendency to growth and expansion, we "both destroy 
them as virtues, and degrade them to that rankest 
species of corruption reserved for the most noble 
organisations. For instance, — non-intervention in 
the affairs of neighbouring states is a high political 
virtue ; but non-intervention does not mean, passing 
by on the other side when your neighbour falls 
among thieves, — or Phariseeism would recover it from 
Christianity. Freedom itself is virtue, as well as 
privilege ; but freedom of the seas does not mean 
piracy, nor freedom of the land, brigandage ; nor 
freedom of the senate, freedom to cudgel a dissident 
member, nor freedom of the press, freedom to 
calumniate and lie. So, if patriotism be a virtue 



PREFACE. Vll 

indeed, it cannot mean an exclusive devotion to 
one's country's interests, — for that is only another 
form of devotion to personal interests, family 
interests, or provincial interests, all of which, if 
not driven past themselves, are vulgar and immoral 
objects. Let us put away the little Pedlingtonism 
unworthy of a great nation, and too prevalent 
among us. If the man who does not look beyond 
this natural life is of a somewhat narrow order, 
what must be the man who does not look bej-ond 
his own frontier or his own sea ? 

I confess that I dream of the clay when an 
Enolish statesman shall arise with a heart too 
large for England, having courage in the face of 
his countrymen to assert of some suggested policy, 
— " This is good for your trade : this is neces- 
sary for your domination ; but it will vex a people 
hard by; it will hurt a people farther off ; it will 
profit nothing to the general humanity : therefore, 
away with it ! — it is not for you or for me." 
When a British minister dares speak so, and 
when a British public applauds him speaking, 
then shall the nation be so glorious, that her 



Vlll PREFACE. 

praise, instead of exploding from within, from loud 
civic mouths, shall come to her from without, as 
all worthy praise must, from the alliances she has 
fostered, and from the populations she has saved. 

And poets who write of the events of that time, 
shall not need to justify themselves in prefaces, for 
ever so little jarring of the national sentiment, 
imputable to their rhymes. 



Rome, February, 1860. 



CONTENTS. 



Page 

Xapoleon III in Italy . 1 

The Dance 21 

A Tale of Yillafranca 26 

A Court Lady 32 

Ax August Voice 39 

Christmas Gifts 46 

Italy and the World 50 

A Curse for a Nation 59 



POEMS BEFOKE CONGRESS. 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 



i. 



Emperor, Emperor ! 
From tlie centre to the shore, 
From the Seine back to the Rhine, 
Stood eight millions up and swore 
By their manhood's right divine 

So to elect and legislate, 
This man should renew the line 
Broken in a strain of fate 
And leagued kings at Waterloo, 
When the people's hands let go. 

Emperor 

Evermore. 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

II. 

With a universal shout 
They took the old regalia out 
From an open grave that day ; 
From a grave that would not close, 
Where the first N" apoleon lay 

Expectant, in repose, 
As still as Merlin, with his conquering face 
Turned up in its unquenchable appeal 
To men and heroes of the advancing race, — 

Prepared to set the seal 
Of what has been on what shall be. 
Emperor 
Evermore. 

in. 

The thinkers stood aside 

To let the nation act. 
Some hated the new-constituted fact 
Of empire, as pride treading on their pride. 
Some quailed, lest what was poisonous in the past 
Should graft itself in that Druidic bough 
On this green now. 

Some cursed, because at last 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. O 

The open heavens to which they had look'd in vain 
For many a golden fall of marvellous rain 

Were closed in brass ; and some 
Wept on because a gone thing could not come ; 
And some were silent, doubting all things for 

That popular conviction, — evermore 

Emperor. 

IV. 

That day I did not hate 

Nor doubt, nor quail nor curse. 

I, reverencing the people, did not bate 

My reverence of their deed and oracle, 

Nor vainly prate 

Of better and of worse 
Against the great conclusion of their will. 

And yet, voice and verse, 
Which God set in me to acclaim and sing 
Conviction, exaltation, aspiration, 
We gave no music to the patent thing, 
Nor spared a holy rhythm to throb and swim 

About the name of him 
Translated to the sphere of domination 

By democratic passion ! 

B 2 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

I was not used, at least, 
Nor can be, now or then, 
To stroke the ermine beast 
On any kind of throne, 
(Though builded by a nation for its own), 
And swell the surging choir for kings of men- 
' Emperor 
Evermore.' 



v. 



But now, Napoleon, now 
That, leaving far behind the purple throng 

Of vulgar monarchs, thou 

Tread'st higher in thy deed 

Than stair of throne can lead, 

To help in the hour of wrong 
The broken hearts of nations to be strong, — 

JSTow, lifted as thou art 

To the level of pure song, 
We stand to meet thee on these Alpine snows ! 
And while the palpitating peaks break out 
Ecstatic from somnambular repose 
With answers to the presence and the shout, 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. O 

We, poets of the people, who take part 
With, elemental justice, natural right, 

Join in our echoes also, nor refrain. 
We meet thee, Napoleon, at this height 
At last, and find thee great enough to praise. 
Receive the poet's chrism, which smells heyond 

The priest's, and pass thy. ways ; — 
An English poet warns thee to maintain 
God's word, not England's : — let His truth he true 
And all men liars ! with His truth respond 
To all men's lie. Exalt the sword and smite 
On that long anvil of the Apennine 
Where Austria forged the Italian chain in view 
Of seven consenting nations, sparks of fine 

Admonitory light, 
Till men's eyes wink before convictions new. 
Flash in God's justice to the world's amaze, 
Sublime Deliverer ! — after many days 
Found worthy of the deed thou art come to do — 
Emperor 
Evermore. 



VI. 



But Italy, my Italy, 
Can it last, this gleam ? 



6 NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

Can she live and be strong, 

Or is it another dream 

Like the rest we have dreamed so long ? 

And shall it, must it be, 
That after the battle-cloud has broken 
She will die off again 
Like the rain, 
Or like a poet's song 
Sung of her, sad at the end 
Because her name is Italy, — 
Die and count no friend ? 
Is it true, — may it be spoken, — 
That she who has lain so still, 
With a wound in her breast, 
And a flower in her hand, 
And a grave-stone under her head. 
While every nation at will 
Beside her has dared to stand 
And flout her with pity and scorn ? 
Saying, ' She is at rest, 
She is fair, she is dead, 
And, leaving room in her stead 
To Us who are later born, 
This is certainly best I ' 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

Saying, ' Alas, she is fair, 

Very fair, but dead, 

And so we have room for the race.' 

— Can it be true, be true, 

That she lives anew ? 

That she rises up at the shout of her sons, 

At the trumpet of France, 

And lives anew ? — is it true 

That she has not moved in a trance, 

As in Forty- eight ? 

When her eyes were troubled with blood 

Till she knew not friend from foe, 

Till her hand was caught in a strait 

Of her cerement and baffled so 

From doing the deed she would ; 

And her weak foot stumbled across 

The grave of a king, 

And down she dropt at heavy loss, 

And we gloomily covered her face and said, 

' We have dreamed the thing ; 

She is not alive, but dead.' 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 



VII. 



Now, shall we say 

Our Italy lives indeed ? 

And if it were not for the beat and bray 

Of drum and trump of martial men, 

Should we feel the underground heave and strain, 

Where heroes left their dust as a seed 

Sure to emerge one day ? 
And if it were not for the rhythmic march 
Of France and Piedmont's double hosts, 

Should we hear the ghosts 
Thrill through ruined aisle and arch, 
Throb along the frescoed wall, 
Whisper an oath by that divine 
They left in picture, book, and stone, 
That Italy is not dead at all ? 
Ay, if it were not for the tears in our eyes, 
These tears of a sudden passionate joy, 

Should we see her arise 
From the place where the wicked are overthrown, 

Italy, Italy ? loosed at length 

From the tyrants thrall, 
Pale and calm in her strength ? 
Pale as the silver cross of Savoy 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

When the hand that bears the flag is brave, 
And not a breath is stirring, save 

What is blown 
Over the war-trump's lip of brass, 
Ere Garibaldi forces the pass ! 



VIII. 



Ay, it is so, even so. 

Ay, and it shall be so. 
Each broken stone that long ago 
She flung behind her as she went 
In discouragement and bewilderment 
Through the cairns of Time, and missed her way 

Between to-day and yesterday, 

Up springs a living man. 
And each man stands with his face in the light 

Of his own drawn sword, 
Ready to do what a hero can. 
Wall to sap, or river to ford, 
Cannon to front, or foe to pursue, 
Still ready to do, and sworn to be true, 

As a man and a patriot can. 
Piedmontese, Neapolitan, 



10 NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

Lombard, Tuscan, Homagnole, 

Each man's body having a soul, — 

Count how many they stand, 

All of them sons of the land, 

Every live man there 

Allied to a dead man below, 

And the deadest with blood to spare 

To quicken a living hand 

In case it should ever be slow. 

Count how many they come 

To the beat of Piedmont's drum, 

"With faces keener and grayer 

Than swords of the Austrian slayer, 

All set against the foe. 

' Emperor 

Evermore.' 



IX. 



Out of the dust, where they ground them, 
Out of the holes, where thev do^sred them, 
Out of the hulks, where they wound them 
In iron, tortured and flogged them ; 
Out of the streets, where they chased them, 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 11 

Taxed them and then bayonetted them, — 
Out of the homes, where they spied on them, 
(Using their daughters and wives), 
Out of the church, where they fretted them, 
Rotted their souls and debased them, 
Trained them to answer with knives, 
Then cursed them all at their prayers ! — 
Out of cold lands, not theirs, 
Where they exiled them, starved them, lied on them ; 
Back they come like a wind, in vain 
Cramped up in the hills, that roars its road 
The stronger into the open plain ; 
Or like a fire that burns the hotter 
And longer for the crust of cinder, 
Serving better the ends of the potter ; 
Or like a restrained word of God, 
Fulfilling itself by what seems to hinder. 
' Emperor 
Evermore.' 



Shout for France and Savoy ! 
Shout for the helper and doer. 



12 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

Shout for the good sword's ring, 
Shout for the thought still truer. 
Shout for the spirits at large 
Who passed for the dead this spring, 
Whose living glory is sure. 
Shout for France and Savoy ! 
Shout for the council and charge ! 
Shout for the head of Cavour ; 
And shout for the heart of a King 
That's great with a nation's joy. 
Shout for France and Savoy ! 



XI. 



Take up the child, Macmahon, though 

Thy hand be red 

From Magenta's dead, 

And riding on, in front of the troop, 

In the dust of the whirlwind of war 
Through the gate of the city of Milan, stoop 
And take up the child to thy saddle-bow, 
Nor fear the touch as soft as a flower 

Of his smile as clear as a star ! 
Thou hast a right to the child, we say, 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 13 

Since the women are weeping for joy as those 
Who, by thy help and from this day, 

Shall be happy mothers indeed. 
They are raining flowers from terrace and roof : 

Take up the flower in the child. 
While the shout goes up of a nation freed 

And heroically self-reconciled, 
Till the snow on that peaked Alp aloof 
Starts, as feeling God's finger anew, 
And all those cold white marble fires 
Of mounting saints on the Duomo-spires 

Flicker against the Blue. 
' Emperor 
Evermore.' 



XII. 



Ay, it is He, 
Who rides at the King's right hand ! 
Leave room to his horse and draw to the side, 
Isor press too near in the ecstacy 
Of a newly delivered impassioned land : 
He is moved, you see, 

He who has done it all. 



14 NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

They call it a cold stern face ; 

But this is Italy 
Who rises up to her place ! — 
For this he fought in his youth, 
Of this he dreamed in the past ; 
The lines of the resolute mouth 
Tremble a little at last. 
Cry, he has done it all ! 

' Emperor 

Evermore/ 



xnr. 



It is not strange that he did it, 
Though the deed may seem to strain 
To the wonderful, unpermitted, 
For such as lead and reign. 
But he is strange, this man : 
The people's instinct found him 
(A wind in the dark that ran 
Through a chink where was no door), 
And elected him and crowned him 

Emperor 

Evermore. 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 15 



XIV. 



Autocrat ? let them scoff, 

Who fail to comprehend 
That a ruler incarnate of 

The people, must transcend 
All common king-born kings. 
These subterranean springs 
A sudden outlet winning, 
Have special virtues to spend. 
The people's blood runs through him, 
Dilates from head to foot, 
Creates him absolute, 
And from this great beginning 
Evokes a greater end 
To justify and renew him — 
Emperor 
Evermore. 

XV. 

What ! did any maintain 
That God or the people (think !) 
Could make a marvel in vain ? — 
Out of the water- jar there, 
Draw wine that none could drink ? 



16 NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

Is this a man like the rest, 

This miracle, made unaware 

By a rapture of popular air, 

And caught to the place that was best ? 

You think he could barter and cheat 

As vulgar diplomates use, 

With the people's heart in his breast ? 

Prate a lie into shape 

Lest truth should cumber the road ; 

Play at the fast and loose 

Till the world is strangled with tape ; 

Maim the soul's complete 

To fit the hole of a toad ; 

And filch the dogman's meat 

To feed the offspring of God ? 



XVI. 



Nay, but he, this wonder, 
He cannot palter nor prate, 
Though many around him and under, 
With intellects trained to the curve, 
Distrust him in spirit and nerve 
Because his meaning is straight. 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 



17 



Measure him ere lie depart 
"With those who have governed and led ; 
Larger so much by the heart, 
Larger so much by the head. 

Emperor 

Evermore. 



xvir. 



He holds that, consenting or dissident, 
Nations must move with the time ; 
Assumes that crime with a precedent 

Doubles the guilt of the crime ; 
— Denies that a slaver's bond, 

Or a treaty signed by knaves, 
(Quorum magna pars and beyond 
Was one of an honest name) 
Gives an inexpugnable claim 
To abolishing men into slaves. 
Emperor 
Evermore. 



XVIII. 



He will not swasher nor boast 



o» v 



Of his country's meeds, in a tone 



18 NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

Missuiting a great man most 

If such should speak of his own ; 
Nor will he act, on her side, 

From motives baser, indeed, 
Than a man of a noble pride 

Can avow for himself at need ; 
Never, for lucre or laurels, 

Or custom, though such should be rife, 
Adapting the smaller morals 

To measure the larger life. 
He, though the merchants persuade, 

And the soldiers are eager for strife, 
Finds not his country in quarrels 

Only to find her in trade, — 
While still he accords her such honor 

As never to flinch for her sake 
Where men put service upon her, 

Found heavy to undertake 
And scarcely like to be paid : 

Believing a nation may act 

Unselfishly — shiver a lance 
(As the least of her sons may, in fact) 

And not for a cause of finance. 
Emperor 
Evermore. 



NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 



XIX. 



19 



Great is he, 
Who uses his greatness for all. 
His name shall stand perpetually 

As a name to applaud and cherish, 
Not only within the civic wall 
For the loval, but also without 
For the generous and free. 
Just is he, 
Who is just for the popular due 

As well as the private debt. 
The praise of nations ready to perish 
Fall on him, — crown him in view 
Of tyrants caught in the net, 
And statesmen dizzy with fear and doubt ! 
And though, because they are many, 

And he is merely one, 
And nations selfish and cruel 
Heap up the inquisitor's fuel 
To kill the body of high intents, 
And burn great deeds from their place, 
Till this, the greatest of any, 
May seem imperfectly done ; 

Courage, whoever circumvents ! 

o 2 



20 NAPOLEON III IN ITALY. 

Courage, courage, whoever is base ! 

The soul of a high intent, be it known, 

Can die no more than any soul 

Which God keeps by him under the throne 

And this, at whatever interim, 

Shall live, and be consummated 

Into the being of deeds made whole. 

Courage, courage ! happy is he, 

Of whom (himself among the dead 

And silent), this word shall be said ; 

— That he might have had the world with him, 

But chose to side with suffering men, 

And had the world against him when 

He came to deliver Italy. 

Emperor 

Evermore. 



21 



THE DANCE. 



i. 



You remember down at Florence onr Cascine, 

Where the people on the feast-days walk and drive, 

And, through the trees, long-drawn in many a green 
way, 
O'er-roofing hum and murmur like a hive, 
The river and the mountains look alive ? 



IL 



You remember the piazzone there, the stand-place 
Of carriages a-brim with Florence B eauties, 

"Who lean and melt to music as the band plays, 
Or smile and chat with some one who a-foot is, 
Or on horseback, in observance of male duties ? 



22 



THE DANCE. 



III. 



*Tis so pretty, in the afternoons of summer, 
So many gracious faces brought together ! 

Call it rout, or call it concert, they have come here, 
In the floating of the fan and of the feather, 
To reciprocate with beauty the fine weather. 



IV. 



While the flower-girls offer nosegays (because they too 
Go with other sweets) at every carriage-door ; 

Here, by shake of a white finger, signed away to 
Some next buyer, who sits buying score on score, 
Piling roses upon roses evermore. 



v. 



And last season, when the French camp had its station 
In the meadow-ground, things quickened and grew 
gayer 

Through the mingling of the liberating nation 

With this people ; groups of Frenchmen everywhere, 
Strolling, gazing, judging lightly . . ' who was fair/ 



THE DANCE. 23 



VI. 



Then the noblest lady present took upon her 
To speak nobly from her carriage for the rest ; 

' Pray these officers from France to do us honour 
By dancing with us straightway/ — The request 
Was gravely apprehended as addressed. 



VII. 



And the men of France bareheaded, bowing lowly, 
Led out each a proud signora to the space 

Which the startled crowd had rounded for them- 
slowly, 
Just a touch of still emotion in his face, 
Not presuming, through the symbol, on the grace. 



VIII. 



There was silence in the people : some lips trembled, 
But none jested. Broke the music, at a glance : 

And the daughters of our princes, thus assembled, 
Stepped the measure with the gallant sons of France. 
Hush ! it might have been a Mass, and not a dance. 



24 THE DANCE. 



IX. 



And they danced there till the blue that overskied us 
Swooned with passion, though the footing seemed 
sedate ; 

And the mountains, heaving mighty hearts beside us, 
Sighed a rapture in a shadow, to dilate, 
And touch the holy stone where Dante sate. 



X. 



Then the sons of France bareheaded, lowly bowing, 
Led the ladies back where kinsmen of the south 
Stood, received them ; — till, with burst of overflowing 
Feeling . . . husbands, brothers, Florence's male 

youth, 
Turned, and kissed the martial strangers mouth to 
mouth. 



XI. 



And a cry went up, a cry from all that people ! 

— You have heard a people cheering, you suppose, 
For the Member, mayor . . with chorus from the 
steeple ? 



THE DANCE. 25 

This was different : scarce as loud perhaps, (who 

knows ?) 
For we saw wet eyes around us ere the close. 

XII. 

And we felt as if a nation, too long borne in 

By hard wrongers, comprehending in such attitude 

That God had spoken somewhere since the morning, 
That men were somehow brothers, by no platitude, 
Cried exultant in great wonder and free gratitude. 



26 



A TALE OF VILLAFRANCA. 



TOLD IN TUSCANY. 



I. 



My little son, my Florentine, 
Sit down beside my knee, 

And I will tell you why the sign 
Of joy which flushed our Italy, 

Has faded since but yesternight ; 

And why your Florence of delight 
Is mourning as you see. 



n. 



A great man (who was crowned one day) 

Imagined a great Deed : 
He shaped it out of cloud and clay, 



A TALE OF VILLAFRANCA. 

lie touched it finely till the seed 
Possessed the flower : from heart and brain 
He fed it with large thoughts humane, 

To help a people's need. 



in. 



He brought it out into the sun — 
They blessed it to his face : 

' great pure Deed, that hast undone 
So many bad and base ! 

generous Deed, heroic Deed, 

Come forth, be perfected, succeed, 
Deliver by God's grace. 



IV 



Then sovereigns, statesmen, north and south, 

Hose up in wrath and fear, 
And cried, protesting by one mouth, 

' What monster have we here ? 
A great Deed at this hour of day ? 
A great just deed — and not for pay ? 

Absurd, — or insincere.' 



28 A TALE OF VILLAFRANCA. 



* And if sincere, the heavier blow 
In that case we shall bear, 

For where *s our blessed ' status quo/ 
Our holy treaties, where, — 

Our rights to sell a race, or buy, 

Protect and pillage, occupy, 
And civilise despair ? ' 



VI. 



Some muttered that the great Deed meant 

A great pretext to sin ; 
And others, the pretext, so lent, 

Was heinous (to begin). 
Volcanic terms of ' great ' and ' just ? ' 
Admit such tongues of flame, the crust 

Of time and law falls in. 



VII. 



A great Deed in this world of ours ? 

Unheard of the pretence is : 
It threatens plainly the great Powers ; 



A TALE OF VILLAFBANCA. 29 

Is fatal in all senses. 
A just deed in the world ? — call out 
The rifles ! be not slack about 

The national defences. 



VIII. 



And many murmured, ' From this source 
What red blood must be poured ! ' 

And some rejoined, ' ? Tis even worse ; 
What red tape is ignored ! ' 

All cursed the Doer for an evil 

Called here, enlarging on the Devil, — 
There, monkeying the Lord ! 



IX. 



Some said, it could not be explained, 

Some, could not be excused ; 
And others, ' Leave it unrestrained, 

Gehenna's self is loosed/ 
And all cried, ' Crush it, maim it, gag it ! 
Set dog-toothed lies to tear it ragged, 

Truncated and traduced ! ' 



30 A TALE OF VILLAFRANCA. 



But He stood sad before the sun, 
(The peoples felt their fate). 

' The world is many, — I am one ; 
My great Deed was too great. 

God's fruit of justice ripens slow : 

Men's souls are narrow ; let them grow 
My brothers, we must wait.' 



XI. 



The tale is ended, child of mine, 
Turned graver at my knee. 

They say your eyes, my Florentine, 
Are English : it may be : 

And yet I 've marked as blue a pair 

Following the doves across the square 
At Venice by the sea. 



XII. 



Ah, child ! ah, child ! I cannot say 

A word more. You conceive 
The reason now, why just to-day 



A TALE OF VILLAFRANCA. 31 

We see our Florence grieve. 
Ah child, look up into the sky ! 
In this low world, where great Deeds die, 

What matter if we live ? 



32 



A COURT LADY. 



i. 



Her hair was tawny with gold, her eyes with purple 

were dark, 
Her cheeks' pale opal burnt with a red and restless 

spark. 



ii. 



Never was lady of Milan nobler in name and in race ; 
Never was lady of Italy fairer to see in the face. 



in. 



Never was lady on earth more true as woman and 

wife, 
Larger in judgment and instinct, prouder in manners 

and life. 



A COURT LADY. 33 



IV. 



She stood in tlie early morning, and said to her 

maidens, 'Bring 
That silken robe made ready to wear at the court of 

the king. 



' Bring me the clasps of diamond, lucid, clear of the 
mote, 

Clasp me the large at the waist, and clasp me the 
small at the throat. 



VI. 



1 Diamonds to fasten the hair, and diamonds to fasten 

the sleeves, 
Laces to drop from their rays, like a powder of snow 

from the eaves. ' 



VII. 



Gorgeous she entered the sunlight which gathered her 
up in a flame, 

While, straight in her open carriage, she to the hos- 
pital came. 



34 A COURT LADY. 



VIII. 



In she went at the door, and gazing from end to end, 
'Many and low are the pallets, but each is the place of 
a friend.' 



IX. 



Up she passed through the wards, and stood at a 

young man's bed : 
Bloody the band on his brow, and livid the droop of 

his head. 



' Art thou a Lombard, my brother ? Happy art thou/ 

she cried, 
And smiled like Italy on him : he dreamed in her 

face and died. 



XI. 



Pale with his passing soul, she went on still to a 

second : 
He was a grave hard man, whose years by dungeons 

were reckoned. 



A COURT LADY. 35 



XII. 



Wounds in his body were sore, wounds in his life were 

sorer. 
' Art thou a Komagnole ? ' Her eyes drove lightnings 

before her. 



XIII. 



Austrian and priest had joined to double and tighten 

the cord 
Able to bind thee, strong one, — free by the stroke 

of a sword. 



XIV. 



' Now be grave for the rest of us, using the life over- 
cast 

To ripen our wine of the present, (too new,) in glooms 
of the past/ 



XV. 



Down she stepped to a pallet where lay a face like 

a girl's 
Young, and pathetic with dying,— a deep black hole 

in the curls. 

d2 



36 A COURT LADY. 



XVI. 



' Art thou from Tuscany, brother ? and seest thou, 

dreaming in pain, 
Thy mother stand in the piazza, searching the List of 

the slain ? ' 



XVII. 



Kind as a mother herself, she touched his cheeks with 

her hands : 
' Blessed is she who has borne thee, although she 

should weep as she stands.' 



XVIII. 



On she passed to a Frenchman, his arm carried off by 

a ball : 
Kneeling, . . ' more than my brother ! how shall I 

thank thee for all ? 



XIX. 



'Each of the heroes around us has fought for his 

land and line, 
But thou hast fought for a stranger, in hate of a wrong 

not thine. 



A COURT LADY. 37 



XX. 



' Happy are all free peoples, too strong to be dispos- 
sessed. 

But blessed are those among nations, who dare to 
be strong for the rest ! ' 



XXI. 



Ever she passed on her way, and came to a couch 

where pined 
One with a face from Venetia, white with a hope out 

of mind. 

XXIL 

Long she stood and gazed, and twice she tried at the 

name, 
But two great crystal tears were all that faltered and 

came. 

XXIII. 

Only a tear for Venice ? — she turned as in passion 

and loss, 
And stooped to his forehead and kissed it, as if she 

were kissing the cross. 



38 A COURT LADY. 



XXIV. 



Faint with that strain of heart she moved on then to 

another, 
Stern and strong in his death. 'And dost thou suffer, 

my brother ? ' 



XXV. 



Holding his hands in hers : — ' Out of the Piedmont 

lion 
Cometh the sweetness of freedom ! sweetest to live 

or to die on.' 



XXVI. 



Holding his cold rough hands, — ' Well, oh, well have 

ye done 
In noble, noble Piedmont, who would not be noble 

alone.' 



XXVII. 



Back he fell while she spoke. She rose to her feet 

with a spring, — 
' That was a Piedmontese ! and this is the Court of 



the King.' 



39 



AN AUGUST VOICE. 



" Una voce augusta." — 

MONITORE TOSCAKO. 



You'll take back vour Grand Duke ? 

I made the treaty upon it. 
Just venture a quiet rebuke ; 

DalT Ongaro write him a sonnet ; 
Bicasoli gently explain 

Some need of the constitution : 
He'll swear to it over again, 

Providing an ' easy solution.' 
You'll call back the Grand Duke. 



ii. 



You'll take back your Grand Duke ? 

I promised the Emperor Francis 
To argue the case by his book, 

And ask you to meet his advances. 



40 . AN AUGUST VOICE. 

The Ducal cause, we know, 

(Whether you or lie be the wronger) 
Has very strong points ; — although 

Your bayonets, there, have stronger. 
You'll call back the Grand Duke. 



in. 



You'll take back your Grand Duke ? 

He is not pure altogether. 
For instance, the oath which he took 

(In the Forty- eight rough weather) 
He'd ' nail your flag to his mast/ 

Then softly scuttled the boat you 
Hoped to escape in at last, 

And both by a ' Proprio motu.' 
You'll call back the Grand Duke. 



IV. 



You'll take back your Grand Duke ? 

The scheme meets nothing to shock it 
In this smart letter, look, 

We found in Radetsky's pocket ; 



AN AUGUST VOICE. 41 

Where his Highness in sprightly style 
Of the flower of his Tuscans wrote, 

' These heads be the hottest in file ; 
Pray shoot them the quickest/ Quote, 

And call back the Grand Duke. 



V. 



You'll take back your Grand Duke ? 

There are some things to object to. 
He cheated, betrayed, and forsook, 

Then called in the foe to protect you. 
He taxed you for wines and for meats 

Throughout that eight years' pastime 
Of Austria's drum in your streets — 

Of course you remember the last time 
You called back your Grand Duke. 



VI. 



You'll take back the Grand Duke ? 

It is not race he is poor in, 
Although he never could brook 

The patriot cousin at Turin. 



42 . AN AUGUST VOICE. 

His love of kin you discern, 

By his hate of your flag and me — 

So decidedly apt to turn 

All colours at sight of the Three.* 

You'll call back the Grand Duke. 

VII. 

You'll take back your Grand Duke ? 

'Twas weak that he fled from the Pitti ; 
But consider how little he shook 

At thought of bombarding your city ! 
And, balancing that with this, 

The Christian rule is plain for us ; 
. . Or the Holy Father's Swiss 

Have shot his Perugians in vain for us. 
You'll call back the Grand Duke. 

VIII. 

Pray take back your Grand Duke. 

— I, too, have suffered persuasion. 
All Europe, raven and rook, 

Screeched at me armed for your nation. 

* The Italian tricolor : red, green, and white. 



AN AUGUST VOICE. 43 

Your cause in my heart struck spurs ; 

I swept such warnings aside for you : 
My very child's eyes, and Hers, 

Grew like my brother's who died for you. 
You'll call back the Grand Duke ? 



IX. 



You'll take back your Grand Duke ? 

My French fought nobly with reason, 
Left many a Lombardy nook 

Red as with wine out of season. 
Little we grudged what was done there, 

Paid freely your ransom of blood : 
Our heroes stark in the sun there, 

We would not recall if we could. 
You'll call back the Grand Duke ? 



You'll take back your Grand Duke ? 

His son rode fast as he got off 
That day on the enemy's hook, 

When I had an epaulette shot off. 



44 AN AUGUST VOICE. 

Though splashed (as I saw him afar, no, 

Near) by those ghastly rains, 
The mark, when you've washed him in Arno, 

Will scarcely he larger than Cain's. 
You'll call hack the Grand Duke. 



xr. 



You'll take hack your Grand Duke ? 

'Twill he so simple, quite beautiful : 
The shepherd recovers his crook, 

. . If you should be sheep, and dutiful. 
I spoke a word worth chalking 

On Milan's wall — but stav, 
Here's Poniatowsky talking, — 

You'll listen to him to-day, 
And call back the Grand Duke. 



XII. 



You'll take back your Grand Duke ? 

Observe, there's no one to force it,- 
Unless the Madonna, St. Luke 

Drew for you, choose to endorse it. 



AN AUGUST VOICE. 45 

i" charge you by great St. Martino 
And prodigies quickened by wrong, 

Remember your Dead on Ticino ; 
Be worthy, be constant, be strong. 

— Bah ! — call back the Grand Duke ! ! 



46 



CHRISTMAS GIFTS. 



a>s fiaaiXei, a>s Oecp, ws ueKpcp. 

GREGORY NAZIANZEN. 



The Pope on Christmas Day 

Sits in St. Peter's chair ; 
But the peoples murmur and say, 

1 Our souls are sick and forlorn, 
And who will show us where 

Is the stable where Christ was born ? ' 



ii. 



The star is lost in the dark ; 

The manger is lost in the straw ; 
The Christ cries faintly . . hark ! . . 

Through bands that swaddle and strangle- 
But the Pope in the chair of awe 

Looks down the great quadrangle. 



CHRISTMAS GIFTS. 47 



III. 



The magi kneel at his foot, 

Kings of the east and west, 
But, instead of the angels, (mute 

Is the ' Peace on earth' of their song), 
The peoples, perplexed and opprest, 

Are sighing, ' How long, how long ? ' 



IV. 



And, instead of the kine, bewilder in 
Shadow of aisle and dome, 

The bear who tore up the children, 
The fox who burnt up the corn, 

And the wolf who suckled at Rome 
Brothers to slay and to scorn. 



v. 



Cardinals left and right of him, 
Worshippers round and beneath, 

The silver trumpets at sight of him 
Thrill with a musical blast : 

But the people say through their teeth, 
' Trumpets ? we wait for the Last ! ' 



48 CHRISTMAS GIFTS. 



VI. 



He sits in the place of the Lord, 
And asks for the gifts of the time ; 

Gold, for the haft of a sword, 
To win back Romagna averse, 

Incense, to sweeten a crime, 
And myrrh, to embitter a curse. 



VII. 



Then a king of the west said, ' Good ! — 
I bring thee the gifts of the time ; 

Red, for the patriot's blood, 
Green, for the martyr's crown, 

White, for the dew and the rime, 

When the morning of God comes down.' 



VIII. 



— mystic tricolor bright ! 

The Pope's heart qnailed like a man's 
The cardinals froze at the sight, 

Bowing their tonsures hoary : 
And the eyes in the peacock -fans 

Winked at the alien glory. 



CHRISTMAS GIFTS. 49 



IX. 



But the peoples exclaimed in hope, 
* Now hlessed he he who has "brought 

These gifts of the time to the Pope, 
When our souls were sick and forlorn. 

— And here is the star we sought, 
To show us where Christ was born ! ' 



E 



50 



ITALY AND THE WOKLD. 



i. 



Florence, Bologna, Parma, Modena. 

When you named them a year ago, 
So many graves reserved hy God, in a 

Day of judgment, you seemed to know, 
To open and let out the resurrection. 



ii. 



And meantime (you made your reflection 
If you were English), was nought to be done 

But sorting sables, in predilection 
For all those martyrs dead and gone, 

Till the new earth and heaven made ready. 



in. 



And if your politics were not heady, 
Violent, . . ' Good/ you added, ' good 



ITALY AND THE WORLD. 51 

In all tilings ! mourn on sure and steady. 
Churchyard thistles are wholesome food 
For our European wandering asses. 

IV. 

' The date of the resurrection passes 
Human fore -knowledge : men unborn 

Will gain by it (even in the lower classes), 
But none of these. It is not the morn 

Because the cock of France is crowing. 



' Cocks crow at midnight, seldom knowing 
Starlight from dawn-light : 'tis a mad 

Poor creature.' Here you paused, and growing 
Scornful, . . suddenly, let us add, 

The trumpet sounded, the graves were open. 



VI. 



Life and life and life ! agrope in 

The dusk of death, warm hands, stretched out 
For swords, proved more life still to hope in, 

Beyond and behind, Arise with a shout, 
Nation of Italy, slain and buried ! 

E 2 



52 ITALY AND THE WORLD. 



VII. 



Hill to hill and turret to turret 

Flashing the tricolor, — newly created 

Beautiful Italy, calm, unhurried, 
Rise heroic and renovated, 

Rise to the final restitution. 



VIII. 



Rise ; prefigure the grand solution 
Of earth's municipal, insular schisms,- 

Statesmen draping self-love's conclusion 
In cheap, vernacular patriotisms, 

Unable to give up Juda3a for Jesus. 



IX. 



Bring us the higher example ; release us 
Into the larger coming time : 

And into Christ's broad garment piece us 
Rags of virtue as poor as crime, 

National selfishness, civic vaunting. 



x. 



ISTo more Jew nor Greek then, — taunting 

Nor taunted ; — no more England nor France ! 



ITALY AND THE WORLD. 53 

But one confederate brotherhood planting 

One flag only, to mark the advance, 
Onward and upward, of all humanity. 

XL 

For civilisation perfected 

Is fully developed Christianity. 
' Measure the frontier/ shall it be said, 

' Count the ships/ in national vanity ? 
— Count the nation's heart-beats sooner. 

XII. 

For, though behind by a cannon or schooner, 

That nation still is predominant, 
Whose pulse beats quickest in zeal to oppugn or 

Succour another, in wrong or want, 
Passing the frontier in love and abhorrence. 

XIII. 

Modena, Parma, Bologna, Florence, 

Open us out the wider way ! 
Dwarf in that chapel of old St. Lawrence 

Your Michel Angelo's giant Day, 
With the grandeur of this Day breaking o'er us ! 



54 ITALY AND THE WORLD. 



XIV. 



Ye who, restrained as an ancient chorus, 
Mute while the coryphseus spake, 

Hush your separate voices before us, 
Sink your separate lives for the sake 

Of one sole Italy's living for ever ! 



XV. 



Givers of coat and cloak too, — never 

Grudging that purple of yours at the best,- 

By your heroic will and endeavour 
Each sublimely dispossessed, 

That all may inherit what each surrenders ! 



XVI. 



Earth shall bless you, noble emenders 
On egotist nations ! Ye shall lead 

The plough of the world, and sow new splendours 
Into the furrow of things, for seed, — 

Ever the richer for what ye have given. 



XVII. 



Lead us and teach us, till earth and heaven 
Grow larger around us and higher above. 



ITALY AND THE WORLD. 55 

Our sacrament-bread has a bitter leaven ; 

"We bait our traps with, the name of love, 
Till hate itself has a kinder meaning. 

XVIIL 

Oh, this world : this cheating and screening 
Of cheats ! this conscience for candle-wicks, 

Not beacon-fires ! this over- weening 
Of under-hand diplomatical tricks, 

Dared for the country while scorned for the counter ! 

XIX. 

Oh, this envy of those who mount here, 
And oh, this malice to make them trip ! 

Rather quenching the fire there, drying the fount here, 
To frozen body and thirsty lip, 

Than leave to a neighbour their ministration. 

XX. 

I cry aloud in my poet-passion, 

Viewing my England o'er Alp and sea. 

I loved her more in her ancient fashion : 
She carries her rifles too thick for me, 

Who spares them so in the cause of a brother. 



56 ITALY AND THE WORLD. 



XXI. 



Suspicion, panic ? end this pother. 

The sword, kept sheathless at peace-time, rusts. 
None fears for himself while he feels for another : 

The brave man either fights or trusts, 
And wears no mail in his private chamber. 



XXII. 



Beautiful Italy ! golden amber 

Warm with the kisses of lover and traitor ! 
Thou who hast drawn us on to remember, 

Draw us to hope now : let us be greater 
By this new future than that old story. 



XXIII. 



Till truer glory replaces all glory, 

As the torch grows blind at the dawn of day; 
And the nations, rising up, their sorry 

And foolish sins shall put away, 
As children their toys when the teacher enters. 

XXIV. 

Till Love's one centre devour these centres 
Of many self-loves ; and the patriot's trick 



ITALY AND THE WORLD. 57 

To better his land by egotist ventures, 

Defamed from a virtue, shall make men sick, 
As the scalp at the belt of some red hero. 

XXV. 

For certain virtues have dropped to zero, 

Left by the sun on the mountain's dewy side ; 

Churchman's charities, tender as Nero, 
Indian suttee, heathen suicide, 

Service to rights divine, proved hollow : 

XXVI. 

And Heptarchy patriotisms must follow. 

— National voices, distinct yet dependent, 
Ensphering each other, as swallow does swallow, 

With circles still widening and ever ascendant, 
In multiform life to united progression, — 

XXVII. 

These shall remain. And when, in the session 
Of nations, the separate language is heard, 

Each shall aspire, in sublime indiscretion, 
To help with a thought or exalt with a word 

Less her own than her rival's honor. 



58 ITALY AND THE WORLD. 



XXVIII. 



Each Christian nation shall take upon her 
The law of the Christian man in vast : 

The crown of the getter shall fall to the donor, 
And last shall be first while first shall be last, 

And to love best shall still be, to reign unsurpassed. 



59 



A CURSE FOE A NATION. 



PROLOGUE. 

I heard an angel speak last night, 

And he said, ' Write ! 
Write a Nation's curse for me, 
And send it over the Western Sea/ 

I faltered, taking up the word : 

' Not so, my lord ! 
If curses must be, choose another 
To send thy curse against my brother. 

' For I am bound by gratitude, 

By love and blood, 
To brothers of mine across the sea, 
Who stretch out kindly hands to me.' 



60 A CURSE FOR A NATION. 

'Therefore/ the voice said, 'shalt thou write 

My curse to-night. 
From the summits of love a curse is driven, 
As lightning is from the tops of heaven.' 

' Not so/ I answered. ' Evermore 

My heart is sore 
For my own land's sins : for little feet 
Of children bleeding along the street : 

' For parked- up honors that gainsay 

The right of way : 
For almsgiving through a door that is 
Not open enough for two friends to kiss : 

' For love of freedom which abates 

Beyond the Straits : 
For patriot virtue starved to vice on 
Self-praise, self-interest, and suspicion : 

' For an oligarchic parliament, 
And bribes well-meant. 
What curse to another land assign, 
When heavy- souled for the sins of mine ? ' 



A CURSE FOR A NATION. 6] 

' Therefore/ the voice said, ' shalt thou write 

My curse to-night. 
Because thou hast strength to see and hate 
A foul thing done within thy gate/ 

'Not so/ I answered once again. 

' To curse, choose men. 
For I, a woman, have only known 
How the heart melts and the tears run down.' 

' Therefore/ the voice said, ' shalt thou write 

My curse to-night. 
Some women weep and curse, I say, 
(And no one marvels,) night and day. 

' And thou shalt take their part to-night, 

Weep and write. 
A curse from the depths of womanhood 
Is very salt, and bitter, and good/ 

So thus I wrote, and mourned indeed, 

What all may read. 
And thus, as was enjoined on me, 
I send it over the Western Sea. 



62 A CURSE FOR A NATION. 



THE CURSE. 



Because ye have broken your own chain 

"With the strain 
Of brave men climbing a Nation's height, 
Yet thence bear down with brand and thong 
On souls of others, — for this wrong 

This is the curse. Write. 

Because yourselves are standing straight 

In the state 
Of Freedom's foremost acolyte, 
Yet keep calm footing all the time 
On writhing bond-slaves, — for this crime 

This is the curse. Write. 

Because ye prosper in God's name, 

With a claim 
To honor in the old world's sight, 
Yet do the fiend's work perfectly 
In strangling martyrs, — for this lie 

This is the curse. Write. 



A CURSE FOR A NATION. 63 



II. 



Ye shall watch while kings conspire 
Round the people's smouldering fire, 

And, warm for your part, 
Shall never dare — shame ! 
To utter the thought into flame 

Which burns at your heart. 
This is the curse. Write. 

Ye shall watch while nations strive 
With the bloodhounds, die or survive, 

Drop faint from their jaws, 
Or throttle them backward to death, 
And only under your breath 

Shall favor the cause. 

This is the curse. Write. 

Ye shall watch while strong men draw 
The nets of feudal law 

To strangle the weak, 
And, counting the sin for a sin, 
Your soul shall be sadder within 

Than the word ye shall speak. 
This is the curse. Write. 



64 A CURSE FOR A NATION. 

When good men are praying erect 
That Christ may avenge his elect 

And deliver the earth, 
The prayer in your ears, said low, 
Shall sound like the tramp of a foe 

That's driving you forth. 

This is the curse. Write. 



When wise men give you their praise, 
They shall pause in the heat of the phrase, 

As if carried too far. 
When ye hoast your own charters kept true, 
Ye shall hlush ; — for the thing which ye do 

Derides what ye are. 

This is the curse.' Write. 



When fools cast taunts at your gate, 
Your scorn ye shall somewhat ahate 

As ye look o'er the wall, 
For your conscience, tradition, and name 
Explode with a deadlier blame 

Than the worst of them all. 
This is the curse. Write. 



A CURSE FOR A NATION. (J~ 

Go, wherever ill deeds shall be done, 
Go, plant your flag in the sun 

Beside the ill-doers ! 
And recoil from clenching the curse 
Of God's witnessing Universe 

With a curse of yours. 

This is the curse. Write. 



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Sheet. 




Sheet. 




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World on Mercator's Projection 


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Austrian Empire. 




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85, SO. 


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Mexico. 




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f.f.rvn. 


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