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Yes, Sister of my Sovereign! for thy sake
Look on a love which knows not to despair,2
It is no marvel-from my very birth
My soul was drunk with love,-which did pervade
Idols, and out of wild and lonely flowers,
[Not long after his imprisonment, Tasso appealed to the mercy of Alfonso, in a canzone of great beauty, couched in terms so respectful and pathetic, as must have moved, it might be thought, the severest bosom to relent. The heart of Alfonso was, however, impregnable to the appeal; and Tasso, in another ode to the princesses, whose pity he invoked in the name of their own mother, who had herself known, if not the like horrors, the like solitude of imprisonment, and bitterness of soul, made a similar appeal. "Considered merely as poems," says Black, "these canzoni are extremely beautiful; but, if we contemplate them as the productions of a mind diseased, they form important documents in the history of man."-Life of Tasso, vol. ii. p. 408.]
[As to the indifference which the Princess is said to have exhibited for the misfortunes of Tasso, and the little effort she made to obtain his liberty, this is one of the negative arguments founded on an hypothesis that may be easily destroyed by a thousand others equally plausible Was not the Princess anxions to avoid her own ruin? In taking too warm an interest for the poet, did she not risk destroying herself, without saving him?-FoscoLo.]
Where I did lay me down within the shade
I found the thing I sought-and that was thee;
I loved all Solitude--but little thought
Yet do I feel at times my mind decline,"
3 [Tasso's profound and unconquerable love for Leonora, sustaining itself without hope throughout years of darkness and solitude, breathes a moral dignity over all his sentiments, and we feel the strength and power of his noble spirit in the un-upbraiding devotedness of his passion.-WILSON.]
4 ["My mind like theirs adapted to its grave."-MS.]
[" Nor do I lament," wrote Tasso, shortly after his confinement, that my heart is deluged with almost constant misery, that my head is always heavy and often painful, that my sight and hearing are much impaired, and that all my frame is become spare and meager; but, passing all this with a short sigh, what I would bewail is the infirmity of my mind. My mind sleeps, not thinks; my fancy is chill, and forms no pictures; my negligent senses will no longer furnish the images of things; my hand is sluggish in writing, and my pen seems as if it shrunk from the office. I feel as if I were chained in all my operations, and as if I were overcome by an unwonted numbness and oppressive stupor." Opere, t. viii. p. 258.]
Why in this furnace is my spirit proved
I once was quick in feeling-that is o'er ;—
But thou-when all that Birth and Beauty throws
ODE ON VENICES
On Venice Venice! when thy marble walls
A loud lament along the sweeping sea!
1 ["Which nations yet shall visit for my sake.”—MS.] (after
A poet's wreath shall be thine only crown,--
2 [Those who indulge in the dreams of earthly retribution will observe, that the cruelty of Alfonso was not left without its recompense, even in his own person. He survived the affection of his subjects and of his dependants, who deserted him at his death; and suffered his body to be interred without princely or decent honors. His last wishes were neglected; his testament cancelled. His kinsman, Don Cæsar, shrank from the excommunication of the Vatican, and, after a short struggle, or rather suspense, Ferrara passed away forever from the dominion of the house of Este.-HOBHOUSE.]
3 [In July, 1586, after a confinement of more than seven years, Tasso was released from his dungeon. In the hope of receiving his mother's dowry, and of again beholding his sister Cornelia, he shortly after visited Naples, where his presence was welcomed with every demonstration of esteem and admiration. Being on a visit at Mola di Gaeta, he received the following remarkable tribute of respect. Marco di Sciarra, the notorious captain of a numerous troop of banditti, hearing where the great poet was, sent to compliment him, and of fered him not only a free passage, but protection by the way, and assured him that he and his followers would be proud to execute his orders. See Manso, Vita dei Tasso, p. 219.]
4 [The "pleasures of imagination" have been explained
And every monument the stranger meets,
Of cheerful creatures, whose most sinful deeds
and justified by Addison in prose, and by Akenside in verse: but there are moments of real life when its miseries and its necessities seem to overpower and destroy them. The history of mankind, however, furnishes proofs that no bodily suffering, no adverse circumstances, operating on our ma terial nature, will extinguish the spirit of imagination. Perhaps there is no instance of this so very affecting and so very sublime as the case of Tasso. They who have seen the dark, horror-striking dungeon-hole at Ferrara, in which he was confined seven years under the imputation of madness, will have had this truth impressed upon their hearts in a manner never to be erased. In this vault, of which the sight makes the hardest heart shudder, the poet employed himself in fiaishing and correcting his immortal epic poem. Lord Byron's "Lament" on this subject is as sublime and profound a les son in morality, and in the pictures of the recesses of the human soul, as it is a production most eloquent, most pathetic, most vigorous, and most elevating among the gifts of the Muse. The bosom which is not touched with itthe fancy which is not warmed, -the understanding which is not enlightened and exalted by it, is not fit for human 10tercourse. If Lord Byron had written nothing but this, to eny him the praise of a grand poet would have been fla grant injustice or gross stupidity.-BRYDGES.]
[This Ode was transmitted from Venice, in 1819, along with "Mazeppa."]
When Vice walks forth with her unsoften'd terrors,
The sick man's lightning half an hour ere death,
Of the cold staggering race which Death is winning,
Yet so relieving the o'er-tortured clay,
To him appears renewal of his breath,
And of the fresher air, which he would seek;
There is no hope for nations!-Search the page
The everlasting to be which hath been,
A blindfold bondage, where your hire is blows. What! do not yet the red-hot ploughshares burn, O'er which you stumble in a false ordeal, And deem this proof of loyalty the real ; Kissing the hand that guides you to your scars, And glorying as you tread the glowing bars? All that your sires have left you, all that Time Bequeaths of free, and History of sublime, Spring from a different theme!-Ye see and read, Admire and sigh, and then succumb and bleed! Save the few spirits, who, despite of all, And worse than all, the sudden crimes engender'd By the down-thundering of the prison-wall, And thirst to swallow the sweet waters tender'd, Gushing from Freedom's fountains-when the crowd, Madden'd with centuries of drought, are loud, And trample on each other to obtain The cup which brings oblivion of a chain Heavy and sore,-in which long yoked they plough'd The sand, or if there sprung the yellow grain, Twas not for them, their necks were too much bow'd, And their dead palates chew'd the cud of pain:Yes! the few spirits-who, despite of deeds Which they abhor, confound not with the cause Those momentary starts from Nature's laws, Which, like the pestilence and earthquake, smite But for a term, then pass, and leave the earth With all her seasons to repair the blight With a few summers, and again put forth
Cities and generations-fair, when free-
Glory and Empire! once upon these towers
With Freedom-godlike Triad! how ye sate! The league of mightiest nations, in those hours When Venice was an envy, might abate, But did not quench, her spirit-in her fate All were enwrapp'd: the feasted monarchs knew And loved their hostess, nor could learn to hate, Although they humbled-with the kingly few The many felt, for from all days and climes She was the voyager's worship;—even her crimes Were of the softer order-born of Love,
She drank no blood, nor fatten'd on the dead,
The name of Commonwealth is pass'd and gone
A sceptre, and endures the purple robe; If the free Switzer yet bestrides alone His chainless mountains, 'tis but for a time, For tyranny of late is cunning grown, And in its own good season tramples down The sparkles of our ashes. One great clime, Whose vigorous offspring by dividing ocean Are kept apart and nursed in the devotion Of Freedom, which their fathers fought for, and Bequeath'd-a heritage of heart and hand, And proud distinction from each other land, Whose sons must bow them at a monarch's motion, As if his senseless sceptre were a wand Full of the magic of exploded scienceStill one great clime, in full and free defiance, Yet rears her crest, unconquer'd and sublime, Above the far Atlantic!-She has taught Her Esau-brethren that the haughty flag, The floating fence of Albion's feebler crag, May strike to those whose red right hands have bought Rights cheaply earn'd with blood.-Still, still, forever Better, though each man's life-blood were a river, That it should flow, and overflow, than creep Through thousand lazy channels in our veins, Damm'd like the dull canal with locks and chains, And moving, as a sick man in his sleep, Three paces, and then faltering :-better be Where the extinguish'd Spartans still are free, In their proud charnel of Thermopyla, Than stagnate in our marsh,-or o'er the deep Fly, and one current to the ocean add, One spirit to the souls our fathers had, One freeman more, America, to thee!
THE MORGANTE MAGGIORE
THE Morgante Maggiore, of the first canto of which this translation is offered, divides with the Orlando Innamorato the honor of having formed and suggested the style and story of Ariosto. The great defects of Boiardo were his treating too seriously the
[The following translation was executed at Ravenna in February, 1820, and first saw the light in the pages of the unfortunate journal called "The Liberal." The merit of it, as Lord Byron over and over states in his letters, consists in the wonderful verbum pro verbo closeness of the version. It was, in fact, an exercise of skill in this art, and cannot be fairly estimated, without continuous reference to the original Italian, which the reader will therefore now find placed opposite to the text. Those who want full information, and clear philosophical views, as to the origin of the Romantic Poetry of the Italians, will do well to read at length an article on that subject, from the pen of the late Ugo Foscolo, in the forty-second number of the Quarterly Review. We extract from it the passage in which that learned writer applies himself more particularly to the Morgante of Pulci. After showing that all the poets of this class adopted as the groundwork of their fictions, the old wild materials which had for ages formed the stock in trade of the professed story-tellers,-in those days a class of persons holding the same place in Christendom, and more especially in Italy, which their brothers still maintain all over the East,-Foscolo thus proceeds :
"The customary forms of the narrative all find a place in romantic poetry: such are the sententious reflections suggested by the matters which has related, or arising in he is about to relate, and which the story-teller always opens when he resumes his recitations: his defence of his own merits against the attacks of rivals in trade; and his formal leave-taking when he parts from his audience, and invites them to meet him again on the morrow. This method of winding up each portion of the poem is a favorite among the romantic poets; who constantly nish their cantos with a distich, of which the words may vary, but the sense is uniform.
All'altro canto ve farò sentire,
Se all' altro canto mi verrete a udire.'- Ariosto.
Or at the end of another canto, according to Harrington's translation,
I now cut off abruptly here my rhyme,
"The forms and materials of these popular stories were adopted by writers of a superior clase, who considered the vulgar tales of their predecessors as blocks of marble finely tinted and variegated by the hand of nature, but which might afford a masterpiece, when tastefully worked and polished. The romantic poets treated the traditionary fictions Just as Dante did the legends invented by the monks to maintain their mastery over weak minds. He formed them into a poem, which became the admiration of every age and nation; but Dante and Petrarca were poets, who, though universally celebrated, were not universally understood. The learned found employment in writing comments upon their poems; but the nation, without even excepting the higher ranks, knew them only by name. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, a few obscure authors began to write romances in prose and in rhyme, taking for their subject the wars of Charlemagne and Orlando, or sometimes the adventures of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. These works were so pleasing, that they were rapidly multiplied: but the bards of romance cared little about style or versification,-they sought for adventures, and enchantments, and miracles. We here obtain at least a partial explanation of the rapid decline of Italian poetry, and the amazing corruption of the Italian language, which took place iminediately after the death of Petrarch, and which proceeded from bad to worse until the era of Lorenzo de' Medici.
"It was then that Pulci composed his Morgante for the amusement of Madonna Lucrezia, the mother of Lorenzo; and he used to recite it at table to Ficino, and Politian, and Lorenzo, and the other illustrious characters who then flourished at Florence: yet Pulci adhered strictly to the original plan of the popular story-tellers; and if his successors have embellished them so that they can scarcely be recognised, it is certain that in no other poem can they be found so genuine and native as in the Morgante. Pulci accommodated himself, though sportively, to the genius of his age; classical taste and sound criticism began to prevail, and great endeavors were making by the learned to separate historical truth from the chaos of fable and tradition: so that, though Pulci introduced the most extravagant fables, he affected to complain of the errors of his predecessors. I grieve,' he said, for my emperor Charlemagne: for I see that his history has been badly written and worse understood.'
E del mio Carlo imperador m' increbbe;
"And whilst he quotes the great historian Leonardo Aretino with respect, he professes to believe the authority of the holy Archbishop Turpin, who is also one of the heroes of the poem. In another passage, where he imitates the apologies of the story-tellers, he makes a neat allusion to the taste of his audience, I know,' he says, that I must proceed straightforward, and not tell a single lie in the course of my tale. This is not a story of mere in
narratives of chivalry, and his harsh style. Ariosto, in his continuation, by a judicious mixture of the gayety of Pulci, has avoided the one; and Berni, in his reformation of Boiardo's poem, has corrected the other. Pulci may be considered as the precursor and model of Berni altogether, as he has partly been to Ariosto, however inferior to both his copyists. He
vention and if I go one step out of the right road, one chastises, another criticises, a third scolds-they try to drive me mad-but in fact they are cut of their senses."
"Pulci's versification is remarkably fluent. Yet he is deficient in melte his language is pure, and his expressions flow naturally; but his phrases are abrupt and unconnected, and he frequendy writes ungrammatically, Vigor degenerates into harshness; and his love of brevity prevents the development of his poetical imagery. He bears all the marks of rude gentus he was capable of delicate pleasantry, yet his saules are usually buter and severe. His humor never arises from points, but from unexpected statima strongly contrasted. The Emperor Charlemagne sentences King Mankom of Spain to be hanged for high treason; and Archbishop Turpin kladly offers his services on the occasion.
"Such scenes may appear somewhat strange; but Caradoro's embaury, and the execution of King Marsilius, are told in strict conformity to the notions of the common people, and as they must still be described of wr wished to imitate the popular story-tellers. If Pulci be occasionally fined and delicate, his snatches of sunenity resulted from the national character of the Florentines, and the revival of letters. But at the same care, we must trace to national character, and to the influence of his daily co panions, the buffoonery which, in the opinion of foreigners, frequently dan graces the poem. M. Ginguéné has criticised Pulci in the usual style of has countrymen. He attributes modern manners to ancient times, and takes it for granted that the individuals of every other nation think and act a modern Frenchmen. On these principles, he concludes that Palti, bath with respect to his subject and to his mode of treating it, intended on y write burlesque poetry; because, as he says, such buffoonery evadest have been introduced into a composition recited to Lorenzo de' Medici au d his enlightened guests, if the author had intended to be in earnest. In the fine portrait of Lorenzo given by Machiavelli at the end of his Firea se history, the historian complains that he took more pleasure in the jo! ? of jesters and buffoons than beseemed such a man. It is a little wings ar that Benedetto Varchi, a contemporary historian, makes the same ca plaint of Machiavelli himself. Indeed, many known anecdotes of Mackinvelli, no less than his fugitive pieces, prove that it was only when he was acting the statesman that he wished to be grave; and that he could laugh like other men when he laid aside his dignity. We do not think he was in the wrong. But, whatever opinion may be formed on the euljer, we shall yet be forced to conclude that great men may be compelled ta bana the manners of their times, without being able to withstand their indvence. In other respects, the poem of Pulci is serious, both in subject and in sum And here we shall repeat a general observation, which we advise our readea to apply to all the romantic poems of the Italians-That their comic. Asazio arises from the contrast between the constant endeavors of the writers to edhere to the forms and subjects of the popular story-tellers, and the ofera made at the same time by the genius of these writers to render such matermilla interesting and sublime.
This simple elucidation of the causes of the poetical character of the Morgante has been overlooked by the critics; and they have there fenc da puted with great earnestness during the last two centuries, whether th☛ Morgante is written in jest or earnest; and whether Puis atheist, who wrote in verse for the express purpose of scoffing at all re Mr. Merivale inclines, in his Orlando in Roncesvalles, to the operibus af M. Ginguéné, that the Morgante is decidedly to be considered as a isto lesque poem, and a satire against the Christian religion. Yet Mr. Meri vale himself acknowledges that it is wound up with a tragical efeci, and dignified by religious sentiment; and is therefore forced to heave question amongst the unexplained, and perhaps inexplicable, phi Thất Sả of the human mind. If a similar question had not been already decoun both in regard to Shakspeare and to Ariosto, it might be soll a skittent of dispute whether the former intended to write tragedies, and whether tha
is no less the founder of a new style of poetry very lately sprung up in England. I allude to that of the ingenious Whistlecraft. The serious poems on Roncesvalles in the same language, and more particularly the excellent one of Mr. Merivale, are to be traced to the same source. It has never yet been decided entirely whether Pulci's intention was or was Bet to deride the religion which is one of his favorite tepies. It appears to me, that such an intention would have been no less hazardous to the poet than to the priest, particularly in that age and country; and the permission to publish the poem, and its reception among the classics of Italy, prove that it neither was ner is so interpreted. That he intended to ridicule the monastic life, and suffered his imagination to play with the simple dulness of his converted giant, seems evident enough; but surely it were as unjust to acense him of irreligion on this account, as to denounce Fielding for his Parson Adams, Barnabas, Thwackum, Supple, and the Ordinary in Jonathan Wild,-or Scott, for the exquisite use of his Covenanters in the "Tales of my Landlord."
In the following translation I have used the liberty of the original with the proper names; as Pulci uses Gan, Ganellon, or Ganellone; Carlo, Carlomagno, or Carlomano; Rondel, or Rondello, &c., as it suits his convenience; so has the translator. In other respects
ther do not mean to burlesque his heroes. It i a happy thing that, with regard to those two great writers, the war has ended by the fortunate interYent of the general body of readers, who, on such occasions, form their tement with less erudition and with less prejudice than the critics. Paris le read, and his age is little known. We are told by Mr. Mene, that the ports of abstruse theology are discussed in the Morgante with a degree of skeptical freedom which we should imagine to be Ather remote from the spirit of the fifteenth century, Mr. Merivale M. Ginguéné, who follows Voltaire. And the philosopher of Ferney, was always beating up in all quarters for allies against Christianity, colIlected al the scriptural passages of Pulci, upon which he commented in his Ew way. But it is only since the Council of Trent, that any doubt which tight be raned on a religious dogma exposed an author to the charge of prety; whist, in the fifteenth century, a Catholic might be sincerely det, and yet allow himself a certain degree of latitude in theological
As one and the same time the Florentines might well believe in the Gape and laugh at a doctor of divinity: for it was exactly at this bat they had been spectators of the memorable controversies between the representatives of the eastern and western churches. Greek and Latin F Libops from every corner of Christendom had assembled at Florence for The purpose of trying whether they could possibly understand each other; when they separated, they hated each other worse than before. At the time when Pulei was composing his Morgante, the clergy of Florence ted against the excommunications pronounced by Sixtus IV., and With expressions by which his holiness was anathematized in his turn. During thear proceedings, an archbishop, convicted of being a papal emis
, was hanged from one of the windows of the government palace at Prese: the event may have suggested to Pulci the idea of converting ather archbishop into a hangman. The romantic poets substituted rary and seende observations for the trivial digressions of the storyth. This was a great improvement; and although it was not well amaged by Pulci, yet he presents us with much curious incidental matter. Iqming his philosophical friend and contemporary Matteo Palmieri, he In the instinct of brutes by a bold hypothesis-he supposes that they anurated by evil spirits. This idea gave no offence to the theologians of the Eteenth century; but it excited much orthodox indignation when Father Borgeant, a French monk, brought it forward as a new theory of
. Mr. Merivale, after observing that Pulci died before the discovery America by Columbus, quotes a passage which will become a very ineng document for the philosophical historian." We give it in his prose cantation - The water is level through its whole extent, although, like the Pat has the form of a globe. Mankind in those ages were much more grant than now. Herenies would blush at this day for having fixed his Coma. Vexels will soon pass far beyond them. They may soon reach other her uphere, because every thing tends to its centre; in like manner by divine mystery, the earth is suspended in the midst of the stars, here tute are tines and empires, which were ancient. The inhabitants of those ho were called Antipodes. They have plants and animals as well as Ju, and wage wars as well as you.'Morgante, c. xxv. st. 229, &c. *The more we consider the traces of ancient science, which break in ment flashes through the darkness of the middle ages, and which gradayretlemmated the horizon, the more shall we be disposed to adopt the hypothesis suggested by Bailly, and supported by him with seductive ence. He maintained that all the acquirements of the Greeks and Bears had been transmitted to them as the wrecks and fragments of the snowledge once possessed by primeval nations, by empires of sages and jeughers who were afterwards ewept from the face of the globe by ene erwhelming catastrophe. His theory may be considered as exagast; but if the literary productions of the Romans were not yet exand is would seem incredible, that, after the lapse of a few centuries, the Cation of the Angustan age could have been succeeded in Italy by auch Carberry. The Italians were so ignoraut, that they forgot their family Cames and before the eleventh century individuals were known only by The Christian names. They had an indistinct idea, in the middle ages, of the exence of the antipodes; but it was a reminiscence ancient knowedge. Dante has indicated the number and position of the stars composing the polar constellation of the Austral hemisphere. At the same time he tells , that when Lucifer was hurled from the celestial regions, the archdevil tranded the globe; half his body remained an our side of the centre of the
the version is faithful to the best of the translator's ability in combining his interpretation of the one language with the not very easy task of reducing it to the same versification in the other. The reader, on comparing it with the original, is requested to remember that the antiquated language of Pulci, however pure, is not easy to the generality of Italians themselves, from its great mixture of Tuscan proverbs; and he may therefore be more indulgent to the present attempt. How far the translator has succeeded, and whether or no he shall continue the work, are questions which the public will decide. He was induced to make the experiment partly by his love for, and partial intercourse with, the Italian language, of which it is so easy to acquire a slight knowledge, and with which it is so nearly impossible for a foreigner to become accurately conversant. The Italian language is like a capricious beauty, who accords her smiles to all, her favors to few, and sometimes least to those who have courted her longest. The translator wished also to present in an English dress a part at least of a poem never yet rendered into a northern language; at the same time that it has been the original of some of the most celebrated productions on this side of the Alps, as well as of those recent experiments in poetry in England which have been already mentioned.
earth, and half on the other side. The shock given to the earth by his fal! drove a great portion of the waters of the ocean to the southern hemisphere, and only one high mountain remained uncovered, upon which Dante places his purgatory. As the fail of Lucifer happened before the creation of Adam, it is evident that Dante did not admit that the southern hemisphere had ever been inhabited; but, about thirty years afterwards, Petrarch, who was better versed in the ancient writers, ventured to hint that the sun shone upon mortals who were unknown to us.
Nella stagion che il ciel rapido inchina Vers' occidente, e che il di nostro vola A gente che di là forse l' aspetta.'
"In the course of half a century after Petrarch, another step was gained. The existence of the antipodes was fully demonstrated. Pulci raises a devil to announce the fact; but it had been taught to him by his fellow-citizen Paolo Toscanelli, an excellent astronomer and mathematician, who wrote in his old age to Christopher Columbus, exhorting him to undertake his expedition. A few stanzas have been translated by Mr. Merivale, with some slight variations, which do not wrong the original. They may be considered as a specimen of Pulci's poetry, when he writes with imagination and feeling. Orlando bids farewell to his dying horse.
His faithful steed, that long had served him well In peace and war, now closed his languid eye, Kneel'd at his feet, and seem'd to say,Farewell! I've brought thee to the destined port, and die.' Orlando felt anew his sorrows swell When he beheld his Brigliadoro lie Stretch'd on the field, that crystal fount beside, Stiffen'd his limbs, and cold his warlike pride:
And, O my inuch-loved steed, my generous friend, Companion of my better years!" he said; And bave I lived to see so sad an end
Of all thy toils, and thy brave spirit fled.
With hasty wrong that mild and faithful head!-
Just then, his eyes a momentary light
Flash'd quick-then closed again in endless night."
In eritu Israel, cantar, de Egypto, Sentito fu dagli angeli solenne
Che si conobbe al tremolar le penne.'
"Dante has inserted passages from the Vulgate in his Divina Commedia; and Petrarch, the most religious of poets, quotes Scripture even when he is courting. Yet they were not accused of impiety. Neither did Pulci incur the danger of a posthumous excommunication until after the Reformation, when Pius V. (a Dominican, who was turned into a saint by a subsequest pope) promoted the welfare of holy mother church by burning a few wicked books, and hanging a few troublesome authors. The notion that Pulci was in the odor of heresy influenced the opinion of Milton, who only speaks of the Morgante as a sportful romance.' Milton was anxious to prove that