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Though the barr'd windows, barr'd against the wolf, Which, where it comes, makes Summer; and in
Are always open!
Oft am I sitting on the bench beneath
Their garden-plot, where all that vegetates
Is but some scanty lettuce, to observe
Those from the South ascending, every step
As though it were their last-and instantly
Restored, renew'd, advancing as with songs,
Soon as they see, turning a lofty crag,
That plain, that modest structure, promising
Bread to the hungry, (9) to the weary rest.
My mule refresh'd-and, let the truth be told,
He was not of that vile, that scurvy race,
From sire to son lovers of controversy,
But patient, diligent, and sure of foot,
Shunning the loose stone on the precipice,
Snorting suspicion while with sight, smell, touch,
Examining the wet and spongy moss,
And on his haunches sitting to slide down
The steep, the smooth-my mule refresh'd, his bells
Gingled once more, the signal to depart,
And we set out in the grey light of dawn,
Fast-frozen, and among huge blocks of ice
Descending rapidly-by waterfalls
That in their long career had stopt mid-way,
At length, uncheck'd, unbidden, he stood still;
And all his bells were muffled. Then my Guide,
Lowering his voice, address'd me: "Through this
But the Bise blew cold; (6)
And, bidden to a spare but cheerful meal,
I sate among the holy brotherhood
At their long board. The fare indeed was such
As is prescribed on days of abstinence,
Theirs Time as yet
But might have pleased a nicer taste than mine;
And through the floor came up, an ancient matron
Serving unseen below; while from the roof
(The roof, the floor, the walls of native fir),
A lamp hung flickering, such as loves to fling
Its partial light on Apostolic heads,
And sheds a grace on all.
Had changed not. Some were almost in the prime;
Nor was a brow o'ercast. Seen as I saw them,
Ranged round their ample hearth-stone in an hour
Of rest, they were as gay, as free from guile,
As children; answering, and at once, to all
The gentler impulses, to pleasure, mirth;
Mingling, at intervals, with rational talk
Music; and gathering news from them that came,
As of some other world. But when the storm
Rose, and the snow roll'd on in ocean-billows,
When on his face the experienced traveller fell,
Sheltering his lips and nostrils with his hands,
Then all was changed; and, sallying with their pack
Into that blank of nature, they became
Unearthly beings. 'Anselm, higher up,
Just where it drifts, a dog howls loud and long,
And now, as guided by a voice from Heaven,
Digs with his feet. That noble vehemence
Whose can it be, but his who never err'd?
Let us to work! there is no time to lose!
But who descends Mont Velan? "Tis La Croix.
Away, away! if not, alas, too late.
Homeward he drags an old man and a boy,
Faltering and falling, and but half awaken'd,
Asking to sleep again." Such their discourse.
On and say nothing-for a word, a breath,
Stirring the air, may loosen and bring down
A winter's snow-enough to overwhelm
The horse and foot that, night and day, defiled
Along this path to conquer at Marengo.
Well I remember how I met them here,
As the light died away, and how Napoleon,
Wrapt in his cloak-I could not be deceived-
Rein'd in his horse, and ask'd me, as I pass'd,
Oft has a venerable roof received me;
St. Bruno's once' (7)—where, when the winds were How far 't was to St. Remi. Where the rock
Nor from the cataract the voice came up,
You might have heard the mole work underground,
So great the stillness of that place; none seen,
Save when from rock to rock a hermit cross'd
By some rude bridge-or one at midnight toll'd
To matins, and white habits, issuing forth,
Glided along those aisles interminable,
All, all observant of the sacred law
Of Silence. Nor is that sequester'd spot,
Once called Sweet Waters," now "The Shady
To me unknown; that house so rich of old,
So courteous, (8) and by two, that pass'd that way,'
Amply requited with immortal verse,
The Poet's payment.
But, among them all,
None can with this compare, the dangerous seat
Of generous, active Virtue. What though Frost
Reign everlastingly, and ice and snow
Thaw not, but gather-there is that within,
1 The Grande Chartreuse.
2 Vallombrosa, formerly called Acqua Bella. 3 Ariosto and Milton.
Juts forward, and the road, crumbling away,
Narrows almost to nothing at its base,
"T was there; and down along the brink he led
To Victory!-Dessaix, who turn'd the scale, (10)
Leaving his life-blood in that famous field
(When the clouds break, we may discern the spot
In the blue haze), sleeps, as you saw at dawn,
Just as you enter'd, in the Hospital-church."
So saying, for awhile he held his peace,
Awe-struck beneath that dreadful Canopy;
But soon, the danger pass'd, launch'd forth again
JORASSE was in his three-and-twentieth year;
Graceful and active as a stag just roused;
Gentle withal, and pleasant in his speech,
Yet seldom seen to smile. He had grown up
Among the Hunters of the Higher Alps;
Had caught their starts and fits of thoughtfulness,
Their haggard looks, and strange soliloquies,
Said to arise by those who dwell below,
From frequent dealings with the Mountain-Spirits.
But other ways had taught him better things;
And now he number'd, marching by my side,
The Savans, Princes, who with him had cross'd
The frozen tract, with him familiarly
Through the rough day and rougher night conversed
In many a chalêt round the Peak of Terror,'
Round Tacul, Tour, Well-horn and Rosenlau,
And Her, whose throne is inaccessible, 2
Who sits, withdrawn, in virgin-majesty,
Nor oft unveils. Anon an Avalanche
Roll'd its long thunder; and a sudden crash,
Sharp and metallic, to the startled ear
Told that far-down a continent of Ice
Had burst in twain. But he had now begun;
And with what transport he recall'd the hour
When to deserve, to win his blooming bride,
Madelaine of Annecy, to his feet he bound
The iron crampons, and, ascending, trod
The Upper realms of Frost; then, by a cord
Let half-way down, enter'd a Grot star-bright,
And gather'd from above, below, around, (11)
The pointed crystals!
Once, nor long before (12) (Thus did his tongue run on, fast as his feet, And with an eloquence that Nature gives To all her children-breaking off by starts Into the harsh and rude, oft as the Mule Drew his displeasure) once, nor long before, Alone at day-break on the Mettenberg, He slipp'd, he fell; and, through a fearful cleft Gliding from ledge to ledge, from deep to deeper, Went to the Under-world! Long-while he lay Upon his rugged bed-then waked like one Wishing to sleep again and sleep for ever! For, looking round, he saw or thought he saw Innumerable branches of a Cavern, Winding beneath a solid crust of ice; With here and there a rent that show'd the stars! What then, alas, was left him but to die? What else in those immeasurable chambers, Strewn with the bones of miserable men, Lost like himself? Yet must he wander on, Till cold and hunger set his spirit free! And, rising, he began his dreary round; When hark, the noise as of some mighty River Working its way to light! Back he withdrew, But soon return'd, and, fearless from despair, Dash'd down the dismal Channel; and all day. If day could be where utter darkness was, Travell'd incessantly, the craggy roof Just over-head, and the impetuous waves, Nor broad nor deep, yet with a giant's strength Lashing him on. At last the water slept In a dead lake-at the third step he took, Unfathomable-and the roof, that long Had threaten'd, suddenly descending, lay Flat on the surface. Statue-like he stood, His journey ended; when a ray divine Shot through his soul. Breathing a prayer to Her Whose ears are never shut, the Blessed Virgin, He plunged, he swam-and in an instant rose, The barrier past, in light, in sunshine! Through A smiling valley, full of cottages, Glittering the river ran; and on the bank The young were dancing ('t was a festival-day)
All in their best attire. There first he saw
His Madelaine. In the crowd she stood to hear,
When all drew round, inquiring; and her face,
Seen behind all, and, varying, as he spoke,
With hope, and fear, and generous sympathy,
Subdued him. From that very hour he loved.
The tale was long, but coming to a close, When his dark eyes flash'd fire, and, stopping short, He listen'd and look'd up. I look'd up too; And twice there came a hiss that through me thrill'd' "T was heard no more. A Chamois on the cliff Had roused his fellows with that cry of fear, And all were gone.
But now the thread was broken Love and its joys had vanish'd from his mind; And he recounted his hair-breadth escapes When with his friend, Hubert of Bionnay, (His ancient carbine from his shoulder slung, His axe to hew a stair-case in the ice) He track'd their footsteps. By a cloud surprised, Upon a crag among the precipices, Where the next step had hurl'd them fifty fathoms, Oft had they stood, lock'd in each other's arms, All the long night under a freezing sky, Each guarding each the while from sleeping, falling. Oh, 't was a sport he loved dearer than life, And only would with life itself relinquish ! "My sire, my grandsire died among these wilds. As for myself," he cried, and he held forth His wallet in his hand, "this do I call My winding-sheet-for I shall have no other!"
And he spoke truth. Within a little month
He lay among these awful solitudes,
(T was on a glacier-half-way up to Heaven)
Taking his final rest. Long did his wife,
Suckling her babe, her only one, look out
The way he went at parting, but he came not!
Long fear to close her eyes, lest in her sleep
(Such their belief) he should appear before her,
Frozen and ghastly pale, or crush'd and bleeding,
To tell her where he lay, and supplicate
For the last rite! At length the dismal news
Came to her ears, and to her eyes his corse.
MARGUERITE DE TOURS.
Now the grey granite, starting through the snow, Discover'd many a variegated moss' That to the pilgrim resting on his staff Shadows out capes and islands; and ere long Numberless flowers, such as disdain to live In lower regions, and delighted drink The clouds before they fall, flowers of all hues, With their diminutive leaves cover'd the ground. "T was then, that, turning by an ancient larch, Shiver'd in two, yet most majestical With its long level branches, we observed A human figure sitting on a stone
Far down by the way-side-just where the rock Is riven asunder, and the Evil One
Has bridged the gulf, a wondrous monument (13)
Built in one night, from which the flood beneath,
Raging along, all foam, is seen not heard,
And seen as motionless!
Nearer we drew, And 't was a woman young and delicate, Wrapt in a russet cloak from head to foot, Her eyes cast down, her cheek upon her hand In deepest thought. Young as she was, she wore The matron-cap; and from her shape we judged, As well we might, that it would not be long Ere she became a mother. Pale she look'd, Yet cheerful; though, methought, once, if not twice, She wiped away a tear that would be coming: And in those moments her small hat of straw, Worn on one side, and garnish'd with a riband Glittering with gold, but ill conceal'd a face Not soon to be forgotten. Rising up On our approach, she journey'd slowly on; And my companion, long before we met, Knew, and ran down to greet her.
She was born (Such was her artless tale, told with fresh tears) In Val d'Aosta; and an Alpine stream, Leaping from crag to crag in its short course To join the Dora, turn'd her father's mill. There did she blossom till a Valaisan, A townsman of Martigny, won her heart, Much to the old man's grief. Long he held out, Unwilling to resign her; and at length, When the third summer came, they stole a match And filed. The act was sudden; and when far Away, her spirit had misgivings. Then She pictured to herself that aged face Sickly and wan, in sorrow, not in anger; And, when at last she heard his hour was near, Went forth unseen, and, burden'd as she was, Cross'd the high Alps on foot to ask forgiveness, And hold him to her heart before he died. Her task was done. She had fulfill'd her wish, And now was on her way, rejoicing, weeping. A frame like hers had suffer'd; but her love Was strong within her; and right on she went, Fearing no ill. May all good Angels guard her! And should I once again, as once I may, Visit Martigny, I will not forget Thy hospitable roof, Marguerite de Tours; Thy sign the silver swan.' Heaven prosper Thee!
WHO first beholds those everlasting clouds,
Seed-time and harvest, morning, noon and night,
Still where they were, stedfast, immovable;
Who first beholds the Alps-that mighty chain
Of Mountains, stretching on from east to west,
So massive, yet so shadowy, so ethereal,
As to belong rather to Heaven than Earth-
But instantly receives into his soul
A sense, a feeling that he loses not,
A something that informs him 't is a moment Whence he may date henceforward and for ever?
To me they seem'd the barriers of a World, Saying, Thus far, no farther! and as o'er
The level plain I travell'd silently,
Nearing them more and more, day after day,
My wandering thoughts my only company,
And they before me still, oft as I look'd,
A strange delight, mingled with fear, came o'er me
A wonder as at things I had not heard of!
look'd, I felt as though it were
For the first time!
Great was the tumult there, Deafening the din, when in barbaric pomp The Carthaginian on his march to Rome Entered their fastnesses. Trampling the snows, The war-horse reared; and the tower'd elephant Upturn'd his trunk into the murky sky, Then tumbled headlong, swallow'd up and lost, He and his rider.
Now the scene is changed; And o'er Mont Cenis, o'er the Simplon winds A path of pleasure. Like a silver zone Flung about carelessly, it shines afar, Catching the eye in many a broken link, In many a turn and traverse as it glides; And oft above and oft below appears, Seen o'er the wall by him who journeys up, As though it were another, not the same, Leading along he knows not whence or whither Yet through its fairy course, go where it will, The torrent stops it not, the rugged rock Opens and lets it in; and on it runs, Winning its easy way from clime to clime Through glens lock'd up before.
Not such my path! Mine but for those, who, like Jean Jacques, delight (14) In dizziness, gazing and shuddering on Till fascination comes and the brain turns! Mine, though I judge but from my ague-fits Over the Drance, just where the Abbot fell, (15) The same as Hannibal's.
But now 't is past, That turbulent Chaos; and the promised land Lies at my feet in all its loveliness!
To him who starts up from a terrible dream,
And lo the sun is shining, and the lark
Singing aloud for joy, to him is not
Such sudden ravishment as now I feel
At the first glimpses of fair Italy.
I LOVE to sail along the Larian Lake Under the shore-though not to visit Pliny, To catch him musing in his plane-tree walk, Or fishing, as he might be, from his window: And, to deal plainly, (may his Shade forgive me!) Could I recall the ages past, and play The fool with Time, I should perhaps reserve My leisure for Catullus on his Lake, Though to fare worse, or Virgil at his farm A little further on the way to Mantua. But such things cannot be. So I sit still, And let the boatman shift his little sail, His sail so forked and so swallow-like, Well-pleased with all that comes. The morning air Plays on my cheek how gently, flinging round A silvery gleam: and now the purple mists
Rise like a curtain; now the sun looks out,
Filling, o'erflowing with his glorious light
This noble amphitheatre of mountains;
And now appear as on a phosphor-sea
Numberless barks, from Milan, from Pavia;
Some sailing up, some down, and some at anchor,
Lading, unlading at that small port-town
Under the promontory-its tall tower
And long flat roofs, just such as Poussin drew,
Caught by a sun-beam slanting through a cloud;
A quay-like scene, glittering and full of life,
And doubled by reflection.
Hung with black clusters. "Tis enough to make
The sad man merry, the benevolent one
Melt into tears so general is the joy!
While up and down the cliffs, over the lake,
Wains oxen-drawn, and pannier'd mules are seen,
Laden with grapes, and dropping rosy wine.
Here I received from thee, Filippo Mori,
One of those courtesies so sweet, so rare!
When, as I rambled through thy vineyard-ground
On the hill-side, thou sent'st thy little son,
Charged with a bunch almost as big as he,
To press it on the stranger.
May thy vats
O'erflow, and he, thy willing gift-bearer,
Live to become ere-long himself a giver;
And in due time, when thou art full of honor,
The staff of thine old age!
After so long a sojourn in the wild,
To hear once more the sounds of cheerful labor!
-But in a clime like this where are they not?
Along the shores, among the hills 't is now
The heyday of the Vintage; all abroad,
But most the young and of the gentler sex,
Busy in gathering; all among the vines,
Some on the ladder, and some underneath,
Filling their baskets of green wicker-work,
While many a canzonet and frolic laugh
Come through the leaves; the vines in light festoons In that, the only universal language.
From tree to tree, the trees in avenues,
And every avenue a cover'd walk,
And reading, in the eyes that sparkled round,
The thousand love-adventures written there.
In a strange land
Such things, however trifling, reach the heart,
And through the heart the head, clearing away
The narrow notions that grow up at home,
And in their place grafting Good-Will to All.
At least I found it so; nor less at eve,
When, bidden as an English traveller
(T was by a little boat that gave me chase
With oar and sail, as homeward-bound I cross'd
The bay of Tramezzine), right readily
I turn'd my prow and follow'd, landing soon
Where steps of purest marble met the wave;
Where, through the trellises and corridors,
Soft music came as from Armida's palace,
Breathing enchantment o'er the woods, the waters;
And through a bright pavilion, bright as day,
Forms such as hers were flitting, lost among
Such as of old in sober pomp swept by,
Such as adorn the triumphs and the feasts
Painted by Cagliari; (16) where the world danced
Under the starry sky, while I look'd on,
Admiring, listening, quaffing gramolata, (17)
Can I forget-no, never, such a scene
So full of witchery! Night linger'd still,
When, with a dying breeze, I left Bellaggio;
But the strain follow'd me; and still I saw
Thy smile, Angelica; and still I heard
Thy voice-once and again bidding adieu.
THE song was one that I had heard before,
But where I knew not. It inclined to sadness;
And, turning round from the delicious fare
My landlord's little daughter, Barbara,
Had from her apron just roll'd out before me,
Figs and rock-melons-at the door I saw
Two boys of lively aspect. Peasant-like
They were, and poorly clad, but not unskill'd;
With their small voices and an old guitar
Winning their mazy progress to my heart
But soon they changed the measure, entering on
A pleasant dialogue of sweet and sour,
A war of words, and waged with looks and gestures,
Between Trappanti and his ancient dame,
Mona Lucilia. To and fro it went;
While many a titter on the stairs was heard,
And Barbara's among them.
When 't was done,
Their dark eyes flash'd no longer, yet, methought,
In many a glance as from the soul, express'd
More than enough to serve them. Far or near,
Few let them pass unnoticed; and there was not
A mother round about for many a league,
But could repeat their story. Twins they were,
And orphans, as I learnt, cast on the world;
Their parents lost in the old ferry-boat
That, three years since, last Martinmas, went down
Crossing the rough Penacus.'
May they live
Blameless and happy-rich they cannot be,
Like him who, in the days of Minstrelsy, (18)
Came in a beggar's weeds to Petrarch's door,
Crying without, "Give me a lay to sing!"
And soon in silk (such then the power of song)
Return'd to thank him; or like him, way worn
And lost, who, by the foaming Adigè
Descending from the Tyrol, as night fell,
Knock'd at a city-gate near the hill-foot,
The gate that bore so long, sculptured in stone,
An eagle on a ladder, and at once
Found welcome-nightly in the banner'd hall
Tuning his harp to tales of Chivalry
Before the great Mastino, (19) and his guests,
The three-and-twenty, by some adverse fortune,
By war or treason or domestic malice,
Reft of their kingly crowns, reft of their all,
And living on his bounty.
But who now
Enters the chamber, flourishing a scroll
In his right hand, his left at every step
1 Lago di Garda.
And shall I sup where Juliet at the Masque (20)
Saw her loved Montague, and now sleeps by him?
Such questions hourly do I ask myself; (21)
And not a finger-post by the road-side
"To Mantua”—“ To Ferrara "—but excites
Surprise, and doubt, and self-congratulation.
Thine was a dangerous gift, the gift of Beauty.
Would thou hadst less, or wert as once thou wast,
Inspiring awe in those who now enslave thee!
-But why despair? Twice hast thou lived already,
Twice shone among the nations of the world, (22)
As the sun shines among the lesser lights
Of heaven; and shalt again. The hour shall come,
When they who think to bind the ethereal spirit,
Who, like the eagle cowering o'er his prey,
Watch with quick eye, and strike and strike again
If but a sinew vibrate, shall confess
And through the ranks, from wing to wing, are see
Moving as once they were-instead of rage
Breathing deliberate valor.
Their wisdom folly. Even now the flame
Bursts forth where once it burnt so gloriously,
And, dying, left a splendor like the day,
That like the day diffused itself, and still
Blesses the earth-the light of genius, virtue,
Greatness in thought and act, contempt of death,
Godlike example. Echoes that have slept
Since Athens, Lacedæmon, were themselves,
Since men invoked "By Those in Marathon!"
Awake along the Ægean; and the dead,
They of that sacred shore, have heard the call,
In this neglected mirror (23) (the broad frame
Of massive silver serves to testify
That many a noble matron of the house
Has sate before it) once, alas, was seen
What led to many sorrows. From that time
The bat came hither for a sleeping-place;
And he, who cursed another in his heart,
Said, "Be thy dwelling through the day, the night,
Shunn'd like Coil'alto." "T was in that old Castle,
Which flanks the cliff with its grey battlements
Flung here and there, and, like an eagle's nest,
Hangs in the Trevisan, that thus the Steward,
Shaking his locks, the few that Time had left him,
Address'd me, as we enter'd what was call'd
"She had ('t is now long since)
A gentle serving-maid, the fair Cristina,
Fair as a lily, and as spotless too;
None so admired, beloved. They had grown up
As play-fellows; and some there were, who said,
O Italy, how beautiful thou art!
Yet I could weep-for thou art lying, alas!
Low in the dust; and they who come, admire thee Some who knew much, discoursing of Cristina,
As we admire the beautiful in death.
She is not what she seems.' When unrequired,
She would steal forth; her custom, her delight,
To wander through and through an ancient grove
Self-planted half-way down, losing herself
Like one in love with sadness; and her veil
And vesture white, seen ever in that place,
Ever as surely as the hours came round,
Among those reverend trees, gave her below
The name of The White Lady. But the day
Is gone, and I delay you.
'My Lady's Chamber." On the walls, the chairs,
Much yet remain'd of the rich tapestry;
Much of the adventures of Sir Lancelot
In the green glades of some enchanted forest.
The toilet-table was of massive silver,
Florentine Art, when Florence was renown'd;
A gay confusion of the elements,
Dolphins and boys, and shells and fruits and flowers
And from the ceiling, in his gilded cage,
Hung a small bird of curious workmanship,
That, when his Mistress bade him, would unfold
(So said at least the babbling Dame, Tradition)
His emerald-wings, and sing and sing again
The song that pleased her. While I stood and look'd,
A gleam of day yet lingering in the West,
The Steward went on.
In that chair
The Countess, as it might be now, was sitting,
Her gentle serving-maid, the fair Cristina,
Combing her golden hair; and, through this door
The Count, her lord, was hastening, call'd away
By letters of great urgency to Venice;
When in the glass she saw, as she believed,
("T was an illusion of the Evil Spirit-
Some say he came and cross'd it at the instant)
A smile, a glance at parting, given and answer'd,
That turn'd her blood to gall. That very night
The deed was done. That night, ere yet the Moon
Was up on Monte Calvo, and the wolf