Obrazy na stronie

As mocks itself, because it cannot scorn
The thoughts it would extinguish :-'t was forlorn,
Yet pleasing ; such as once, so poets tell,
The devils held within the dales of hell,
Concerning God, freewill, and destiny.
Of all that Earth has been, or yet may be ;
All that vain men imagine or believe,
Or hope can paint, or suffering can achieve,
We descanted ; and I o ever still
Is it not wise to make the best of ill )
Argued against despondency; but pride
Made my companion take the darker side.
The sense that he was greater than his kind
Had struck, methinks, his eagle spirit blind
Hygazing on its own exceeding light.
Meanwhile the sun paused ere it should alight
Over the horizon of the mountains—Oh !
How beautiful is sunset, when the glow
Of heaven descends upon a land like thee,
Thou paradise of exiles, Italy |
Thy mountains, seas, and vineyards, and the
Of cities they encircle !—It was ours
To stand on thee, beholding it : and then,
Just where we had dismounted, the Count's men
Were waiting for us with the gondola.
As those who pause on some delightful way,
Though bent on pleasant pilgrimage, we stood
Looking upon the evening and the flood,
Which lay between the city and the shore,
Paved with the image of the sky: the hoar
And airy Alps, towards the north, appeared,
Thro' mist, a heaven-sustaining bulwark, reared
Between the east and west ; and half the sky
Was roofed with clouds of rich emblazonry,
Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew
Down the steep west into a wondrous hue
Brighter than burning gold, even to the rent
Where the swift sun yet paused in his descent
Among the many-folded hills—they were
Those famous Euganean hills, which bear,
As seen from Lido through the harbour piles,
The likeness of a clump of peaked isles—
And then, as if the earth and sea had been
Dissolved into one lake of fire, were seen
Those mountains towering, as from waves of flame,
Around the vaporous sun, from which there came
The inmost purple spirit of light, and made
Their very peaks transparent. “Ere it fade,”
Said my companion, “I will show you soon
A better station.” So, o'er the lagume
We glided ; and from that funereal bark
I leaned, and saw the city, and could mark
How from their many isles, in evening's gleam,

Its temples and its palaces did seem
Like fabrics of enchantment piled to heaven.

I was about to speak, when—“We are even
Now at the point I meant,” said Maddalo,
And bade the gondolieri cease to row.
“Look, Julian, on the west, and listen well
If you hear not a deep and heavy bell.”
I looked, and saw between us and the sun
A building on an island, such a one
As age to age might add, for uses vile,_
A windowless, deformed, and dreary pile ;
And on the top an open tower, where hung
A bell, which in the radiance swayed and swung,
We could just hear its coarse and iron tongue:
The broad sun sank behind it, and it tolled

In strong and black relief--"What we behold

Shall be the madhouse and its belfry tower,”—
Said Maddalo ; “and even at this hour,
Those who may cross the water hear that bell,
Which calls the maniacs, each one from his cell,
To vespers.”—“As much skill as need to pray,
In thanks or hope for their dark lot have they,
To their stern maker,” I replied.—“O, hol
You talk as in years past,” said Maddalo.
“'Tis strange men change not. You were ever still
Among Christ's flock a perilous infidel,
A wolf for the meek lambs : if you can’t swim,
Beware of providence.” I looked on him,
But the gay smile had faded from his eye.
“And such,” he cried, “is our mortality;
And this must be the emblem and the sign
Of what should be eternal and divine ;
And like that black and dreary bell, the soul,
Hung in a heaven-illumined tower, must toll
Our thoughts and our desires to meet below
Round the rent heart, and pray—as madmen do ;
For what they know not, till the night of death,
As sunset that strange vision, severeth
Our memory from itself, and us from all
We sought, and yet were baffled.” I recall
The sense of what he said, although I mar
The force of his expressions. The broad star
Of day meanwhile had sunk behind the hill;
And the black bell became invisible ;
And the red tower looked grey; and all between,
The churches, ships, and palaces, were seen
Huddled in gloom ; into the purple sea
The orange hues of heaven sunk silently.
We hardly spoke, and soon the gondola
Conveyed me to my lodging by the way.

The following morn was rainy, cold, and dim : Ere Maddalo arose I called on him, And whilst I waited with his child I played ; A lovelier toy sweet Nature never made ; A serious, subtle, wild, yet gentle being ; Graceful without design, and unforeseeing ; With eyes—Oh ! speak not of her eyes which Twin mirrors of Italian Heaven, yet gleam [seem With such deep meaning as we never see But in the human countenance. With me She was a special favourite : I had nursed Her fine and feeble limbs, when she came first To this bleak world; and yet she seemed to know On second sight her ancient playfellow, Less changed than she was by six months or so. For, after her first shyness was worn out, We sate there, rolling billiard balls about, When the Count entered. Salutations passed : “The words you spoke last night might well have A darkness on my spirit:-if man be [cast The passive thing you say, I should not see Much harm in the religions and old saws, W. I may never own such leaden laws)

hich break a teachless nature to the yoke : Mine is another faith.”—Thus much I spoke, And, noting he replied not, added—“See This lovely child ; blithe, innocent, and free ; She spends a happy time, with little care ; While we to such sick thoughts subjected are, As came on you last night. It is our will Which thus enchains us to permitted ill. We might be otherwise ; we might be all We dream of, happy, high, majestical. Where is the beauty, love, and truth, we seek, But in our minds ! And, if we were not weak,

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As thus I spoke, Servants announced the gondola, and we Through the fast-falling rain and high-wrought sea Sailed to the island where the madhouse stands. We disembarked. The clap of tortured hands, Fierce yells and howlings, and lamentings keen, And laughter where complaint had merrier been, Accosted us. We climbed the oozy stairs Into an old court-yard. I heard on high, Then, fragments of most touching melody, But looking up saw not the singer there.— Thro' the black bars in the tempestuous air I saw, like weeds on a wrecked palace growing, Long tangled locks flung wildly forth and flowing, Of those on a sudden who were beguiled Into strange silence, and looked forth and smiled, Hearing sweet sounds. Then I :

“Methinks there were A cure of these with patience and kind care, If music can thus move. But what is he, Whom we seek here !

“Of his sad history I know but this,” said Maddalo : “he came To Venice a dejected man, and fame Said he was wealthy, or he had been so. Some thought the loss of fortune wrought him woe;

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“I cannot say:

A lady came with him from. France, and when
She left him and returned, he wandered then
About yon lonely isles of desert sand,
Till he grew wild. He had no cash nor land
Remaining :-the police had brought him here—
Some fancy took him, and he would not bear
Removal, so I fitted up for him
Those rooms beside the sea, to please his whim;
And sent him busts, and books, and urns for

Which had adorned his life in happier hours,
And instruments of music. You may guess
A stranger could do little more or less
For one so gentle and unfortunate—
And those are his sweet strains which charm the

weight From madmen's chains, and make this hell appear A heaven of sacred silence, hushed to hear.”

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Having said

These words, we called the keeper, and he led
To an apartment opening on the sea—
There the poor wretch was sitting mournfully
Near a piano, his pale fingers twined
One with the other ; and the ooze and wind
Rushed through an open casement, and did sway
His hair, and starred it with the brackish spray :
His head was leaning on a music-book,
And he was muttering; and his lean limbs shook.
His lips were pressed against a folded leaf,
In hue too beautiful for health, and grief
Smiled in their motions as they lay apart,
As one who wrought from his own servid heart
The eloquence of passion : soon he raised
His sad meek face, and eyes lustrous and glazed,
And spoke, sometimes as one who wrote, and

His words might move some heart that heeded not,
If sent to distant lands;–and then as one
Reproaching deeds never to be undone,
With wondering self-compassion;–then his speech
Was lost in grief, and then his words came each
Unmodulated and expressionless,
But that from one jarred accent you might guess
It was despair made them so uniform :
And all the while the loud and gusty storm
Hissed through the window, and we stood behind,
Stealing his accents from the envious wind,
Unseen. I yet remember what he said
Distinctly, such impression his words made.

“Month after month,” he cried, “to bear this
And, as a jade urged by the whip and goad,
To drag life on—which like a heavy chain
Lengthens behind with many a link of pain,
And not to speak my grief—0, not to dare
To give a human voice to my despair;
But live, and move, and, wretched thing ! smile on,
As if I never went aside to groan,
And wear this mask of falsehood even to those
Who are most dear—not for my own repose.
Alas! no scorn, nor pain, nor hate, could be
So heavy as that falsehood is to me—
But that I cannot bear more altered faces
Than needs must be, more changed and cold

More misery, disappointment, and mistrust,
To own me for their father. Would the dust
Were covered in upon my body now !
That the life ceased to toil within my brow !
And then these thoughts would at the last be fled:
Let us not fear such pain can vex the dead.

“What Power delights to torture us? That to myself I do not wholly owe What now I suffer, though in part I may. Alas! none strewed fresh flowers upon the way Where, wandering heedlessly, I met pale Pain, My shadow, which will leave me not again. If I have erred, there was no joy in error, But pain, and insult, and unrest, and terror; I have not, as some do, bought penitence With pleasure, and a dark yet sweet offence; For then if love, and tenderness, and truth, Had overlived Hope's momentary youth, My creed should have redeemed me from repenting; But loathed scorn and outrage unrelenting Met love excited by far other seeming Until the end was gained:—as one from dreaming Of sweetest peace, I woke, and found my state Such as it is—

I know

“0 thou, my spirit's mate Who, for thou art compassionate and wise,

Wouldst pity me from thy most gentle eyes

If this sad writing thou shouldst ever see;
My secret groans must be unheard by thee ;
Thou wouldst weep tears, bitter as blood, to know
Thy lost friend's incommunicable woe.
Ye few by whom my nature has been weighed
In friendship, let me not that name degrade,
By placing on your hearts the secret load
Which crushes mine to dust. There is one road
To peace, and that is truth, which follow ye
Love sometimes leads astray to misery.
Yet think not, though subdued (and I may well
Say that I am subdued)—that the full hell
Within me would infect the untainted breast
Of sacred nature with its own unrest ;
As some perverted beings think to find
In scorn or hate a medicine for the mind
Which scorn or hate hath wounded.—0, how vain
The dagger heals not, but may rend again.

Believe that I am ever still the same
In creed as in resolve ; and what may tame
My heart, must leave the understanding free,
Or all would sink under this agony.—
Nor dream that I will join the vulgar eye,
Or with my silence sanction tyranny,
Or seek a moment's shelter from my pain
In any madness which the world calls gain ;
Ambition, or revenge, or thoughts as stern
As those which make me what I am, or turn
To avarice, or misanthropy, or lust:
Heap on me soon, O grave, thy welcome dust 1
Till then the dungeon may demand its prey ;
And Poverty and Shame may meet and say,
Halting beside me in the public way,+
‘That love-devoted youth is ours: let's sit
Beside him: he may live some six months yet."—
Or the red scaffold, as our country bends,
May ask some willing victim; or ye, friends,
May fall under some sorrow, which this heart
Or hand may share, or vanquish, or avert;
I am prepared, in truth, with no proud joy,
To do or suffer aught, as when a boy
I did devote to justice, and to love,
My nature, worthless now.

“I must remove A veil from my pent mind. 'Tis torn asides O! pallid as death's dedicated bride, Thou mockery which art sitting by my side, Am I not wan like thee! At the grave's call I haste, invited to thy wedding-ball, To meet the ghastly paramour, for whom Thou hast deserted me, and made the tomb Thy bridal bed. But I beside thy feet Will lie, and watch ye from my winding-sheet Thus—wideawake though dead—Yet stay, O, stay! Go not so soon—I know not what I say— Hear but my reasons—I am mad, I fear, My fancy is o'erwrought—thou art not here, Pale art thou’tis most true—but thou art gone— Thy work is finished; I am left alone.

“Nay was it I who wood thee to this breast
Which like a serpent thou envenomest
As in repayment of the warmth it lent?
Didst thou not seek me for thine own content?
Did not thy love awaken mine? I thought
That thou wert she who said “You kiss me not
Ever; I fear you do not love me now.’
In truth I loved even to my overthrow
Her who would fain forget these words, but they
Cling to her mind, and cannot pass away.

“You say that I am proud; that when I speak,
My lip is tortured with the wrongs, which break
The spirit it expresses.—Never one
Humbled himself before, as I have done;
Even the instinctive worm on which we tread
Turns, though it wound not—then, with prostrate
Sinks in the dist, and writhes like me—and dies:
No:—wears a living death of agonies;
As the slow shadows of the pointed grass
Mark the eternal periods, its pangs pass,
Slow, ever-moving, making moments be
As mine seem,-each an immortality;

- - - - +

“That you had never seen me! never heard
My voice! and more than all had ne'er endured
The deep pollution of my loathed embrace;
That your eyes ne'er had lied love in my face
That, like some maniac monk, I had torn out
The nerves of manhood by their bleeding root
With mine own quivering fingers' so that ne'er
Our hearts had for a moment mingled there,
To disunite in horror! These were not
With theelike some suppressed and hideous thought,
Which flits athwart our musings, but can find
No rest within a pure and gentle mind—
Thou sealedst them with many a bare broad word,
And sear'dst my memory o'er them,-for I heard
And can forget not—they were ministered,
One after one, those curses. Mix them up
Like self-destroying poisons in one cup;
And they will make one blessing, which thou ne'er
Didst imprecate for on me—death!

“It were A cruel punishment for one most cruel, If such can love, to make that love the fuel Of the mind's hell—hate, scorn, remorse, despair: But me, whose heart a stranger's tear might wear As water-drops the sandy fountain stone; Who loved and pitied all things, and could moan For woes which others hear not, and could see The absent with the glass of phantasy, And near the poor and trampled sit and weep, Following the captive to his dungeon deep; Me, who am as a nerve o'er which do creep The else-unfelt oppressions of this earth, And was to thee the flame upon thy hearth, When all beside was cold :—that thou on me Should rain these plagues of blistering agony— Such curses are from lips once eloquent With love's too partial praise! Let none relent Who intend deeds too dreadful for a name Henceforth, if an example for the same They seek:-for thou on me lookedst so and so, And didst speak thus and thus. I live to show How much men bear and die not. | * + -k + - x: “Thou wilt tell, With the grimace of hate, how horrible It was to meet my love when thine grew less; Thou wilt admire how I could e'er address Such features to love's work . . . . This taunt, though true, (For indeed Nature nor in form nor hue Bestowed on me her choicest workmanship) Shall not be thy defence: for since thy life Met mine first, years long past,-since thine eye kindled With soft fire under mine,—I have not dwindled, Nor changed in mind, or body, or in aught But as love changes what it loveth not After long years and many trials.

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Is dim to see that charactered in vain,
On this unfeeling leaf, which burns the brain
And eats into it, blotting all things fair,
And wise and good, which time had written there.
Those who inflict must suffer, for they see
The work of their own hearts, and that must be
Our chastisement or recompense.—O child !
I would that thine were like to be more mild
For both our wretched sakes, for thine the most,
Who feel'st already all that thou hast lost,
Without the power to wish it thine again.
And, as slow years pass, a funereal train,
Each with the ghost of some lost hope or friend
Following it like its shadow, wilt thou bend
No thought on my dead memory !
- - + + - -
“Alas, love!
Fear me not: against thee I’d not move
A finger in despite. Do I not live
That thou mayst have less bitter cause to grieve!
I give thee tears for scorn, and love for hate; |
And, that thy lot may be less desolate
Than his on whom thou tramplest, I refrain
From that sweet sleep which medicines all pain.
Then—when thou speakest of me—never say, ,
“He could forgive not.”—Here I cast away
All human passions, all revenge, all pride;
I think, speak, act no ill; I do but hide
Under these words, like embers, every spark
Of that which has consumed me. Quick and dark
The grave is yawning:—as its roof shall cover
My limbs with dust and worms, under and over,
So let oblivion hide this grief—The air
Closes upon my accents as despair
Upon my heart—let death upon my care!”

He ceased, and overcome, leant back awhile; Then rising, with a melancholy smile, Went to a sofa, and lay down, and slept A heavy sleep, and in his dreams he wept, And muttered some familiar name, and we Wept without shame in his society. I think I never was impressed so much The man, who was not, must have lacked a touch Of human nature.—Then we lingered not, Although our argument was quite forgot; | | But, calling the attendants, went to dine At Maddalo's;–yet neither cheer nor wine Could give us spirits, for we talked of him, And nothing else, till daylight made stars dim. And we agreed it was some dreadful ill Wrought on him boldly, yet unspeakable, By a dear friend; some deadly change in love Of one vowed deeply which he dreamed not of; For whose sake he, it seemed, had fixed a blot, Of falsehood in his mind, which flourished not But in the light of all-beholding truth; And having stamped this canker on his youth, She had abandoned him:—and how much more Might be his woe, we guessed not;-he had store Of friends and fortune once, as we could guess From his nice habits and his gentleness: These now were lost—it were a grief indeed If he had Qianged one unsustaining reed For all that such a man might else adorn. The colours of his mind seemed yet unworn; For the wild language of his grief was highSuch as in measure were called poetry. And I remember one remark, which then Maddalo made: he said—“Most wretched men

Are cradled into poetry by wrong:
They learn in suffering what they teach in song.”

If I had been an unconnected man,
I, from the moment, should have formed some

Never to leave sweet Venice: for to me It was delight to ride by the lone sea: | And then the town is silent—one may write Or read in gondolas, by day or night, Having the little brazen lamp alight, Unseen, uninterrupted:—books are there, Pictures, and casts from all those statues fair Which were twin-born with poetry —and all We seek in towns, with little to recall Regret for the green country:-I might sit In Maddalo's great palace, and his wit And subtle talk would cheer the winter night, . And make me know myself:-and the fire light Would flash upon our faces, till the day Might dawn, and make me wonder at my stay. But I had friends in London too. The chief Attraction here was that I sought relief From the deep tenderness that maniac wrought Within me—'twas perhaps an idle thought, But I imagined that if, day by day, I watched him, and seldom went away, And studied all the beatings of his heart | With zeal, as men study some stubborn art For their own good, and could by patience find An entrance to the caverns of his mind, I might reclaim him from his dark estate. In friendships I had been most fortunate, Yet never saw I one whom I would call More willingly my friend :—and this was all Accomplished not;-such dreams of baseless good 0ft come and go, in crowds or solitude, And leave no trace —but what I now designed Made, for long years, impression on my mind. The following morning urged by my affairs, I left bright Venice.


LISTEN, listen, Mary mine, | To the whisper of the Apennine, It bursts on the roof like the thunder's roar, Or like the sea on a northern shore, Heard in its raging ebb and flow By the captives pent in the cave below. | The Apennine in the light of day | Is a mighty mountain dim and grey, | Which between the earth and sky doth lay; But when night comes, a chaos dread | On the dim starlight then is spread,

And the Apennine walks abroad with the storm.

May 4th, 1818.

After many years,

And many changes, I returned: the name
Of Venice, and its aspect was the same ;
But Maddalo was travelling, far away,
Among the mountains of Armenia.
His dog was dead: his child had now become
A woman, such as it has been my doom
To meet with few ; a wonder of this earth,
Where there is little of transcendent worth,
Like one of Shakspeare's women. Kindly she,
And with a manner beyond courtesy,
Received her father's friend; and, when I asked,
Of the lorn maniac, she her memory tasked,
And told, as she had heard, the mournful tale:
“That the poor sufferer's health began to fail
Two years from my departure: but that then
The lady, who had left him, came again,
Her mien had been imperious, but she now
Looked meek; perhaps remorse had brought

her low.
Her coming made him better; and they stayed
Together at my father's, for I played,
As I remember, with the lady's shawl;
I might be six years old:—But, after all,
She left him.”—

“Why her heart must have been tough ; How did it end ?”

“And was not this enough? They met, they parted.”

“Child, is there no more?”

“Something within that interval which bore The stamp of why they parted, how they met;— Yet, if thine aged eyes disdain to wet Those wrinkled cheeks with youth's remembered Ask me no more; but let the silent years [tears, Be closed and cered over their memory, As yon mute marble where their corpses lie.” I urged and questioned still: she told me how All happened—but the cold world shall not know.



Wilt thou forget the happy hours
Which we buried in Love's sweet bowers,
Heaping over their corpses cold
Blossoms and leaves instead of mould
Blossoms which were the joys that fell,
And leaves, the hopes that yet remain.

Forget the dead, the past ! O yet -
There are ghosts that may take revenge for it;
Memories that make the heart a tomb,
Regrets which glide through the spirit's gloom,
And with ghastly whispers tell
That joy, once lost, is pain.


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