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Written among the Euganean Hills North Italy

2006-09-08 12:15

    MANY a green isle needs must be

    In the deep wide sea of Misery

    Or the mariner worn and wan

    Never thus could voyage on

    Day and night and night and day

    Drifting on his dreary way

    With the solid darkness

    Closing round his vessel's track;

    Whilst above the sunless sky

    Big with clouds hangs heavily

    And behind the tempest fleet

    Hurries on with lightning feet

    Riving sail and cord and plank

    Till the ship has almost drank

    Death from the o'er-brimming deep

    And sinks down down like that sleep

    When the dreamer seems to be

    Weltering through eternity;

    And the dim low line before

    Of a dark and distant shore

    Still recedes as ever still

    Longing with divided will

    But no power to seek or shun

    He is ever drifted on

    O'er the unreposing wave

    To the haven of the grave.

    Ay many flowering islands lie

    In the waters of wide Agony:

    To such a one this morn was led

    My bark by soft winds piloted.

    —'Mid the mountains Euganean

    I stood listening to the p?an

    With which the legion'd rooks did hail

    The Sun's uprise majestical:

    Gathering round with wings all hoar

    Through the dewy mist they soar

    Like gray shades till the eastern heaven

    Bursts; and then—as clouds of even

    Fleck'd with fire and azure lie

    In the unfathomable sky—

    So their plumes of purple grain

    Starr'd with drops of golden rain

    Gleam above the sunlight woods

    As in silent multitudes

    On the morning's fitful gale

    Through the broken mist they sail;

    And the vapours cloven and gleaming

    Follow down the dark steep streaming

    Till all is bright and clear and still

    Round the solitary hill.

    Beneath is spread like a green sea

    The waveless plain of Lombardy

    Bounded by the vaporous air

    Islanded by cities fair;

    Underneath day's azure eyes

    Ocean's nursling Venice lies —

    A peopled labyrinth of walls

    Amphitrite's destined halls

    Which her hoary sire now paves

    With his blue and beaming waves.

    Lo! the sun upsprings behind

    Broad red radiant half-reclined

    On the level quivering line

    Of the waters crystalline;

    And before that chasm of light

    As within a furnace bright

    Column tower and dome and spire

    Shine like obelisks of fire

    Pointing with inconstant motion

    From the altar of dark ocean

    To the sapphire-tinted skies;

    As the flames of sacrifice

    From the marble shrines did rise

    As to pierce the dome of gold

    Where Apollo spoke of old.

    Sun-girt City! thou hast been

    Ocean's child and then his queen;

    Now is come a darker day

    And thou soon must be his prey

    If the power that raised thee here

    Hallow so thy watery bier.

    A less drear ruin then than now

    With thy conquest-branded brow

    Stooping to the slave of slaves

    From thy throne among the waves

    Wilt thou be—when the sea-mew

    Flies as once before it flew

    O'er thine isles depopulate

    And all is in its ancient state

    Save where many a palace-gate

    With green sea-flowers overgrown

    Like a rock of ocean's own

    Topples o'er the abandon'd sea

    As the tides change sullenly.

    The fisher on his watery way

    Wandering at the close of day

    Will spread his sail and seize his oar

    Till he pass the gloomy shore

    Lest thy dead should from their sleep

    Bursting o'er the starlight deep

    Lead a rapid masque of death

    O'er the waters of his path.

    Noon descends around me now:

    'Tis the noon of autumn's glow

    When a soft and purple mist

    Like a vaporous amethyst

    Or an air-dissolvèd star

    Mingling light and fragrance far

    From the curved horizon's bound

    To the point of heaven's profound

    Fills the overflowing sky

    And the plains that silent lie

    Underneath; the leaves unsodden

    Where the infant Frost has trodden

    With his morning-wingèd feet

    Whose bright print is gleaming yet;

    And the red and golden vines

    Piercing with their trellised lines

    The rough dark-skirted wilderness;

    The dun and bladed grass no less

    Pointing from this hoary tower

    In the windless air; the flower

    Glimmering at my feet; the line

    Of the olive-sandall'd Apennine

    In the south dimly islanded;

    And the Alps whose snows are spread

    High between the clouds and sun;

    And of living things each one;

    And my spirit which so long

    Darken'd this swift stream of song —

    Interpenetrated lie

    By the glory of the sky;

    Be it love light harmony

    Odour or the soul of all

    Which from heaven like dew doth fall

    Or the mind which feeds this verse

    Peopling the lone universe.

    Noon descends and after noon

    Autumn's evening meets me soon

    Leading the infantine moon

    And that one star which to her

    Almost seems to minister

    Half the crimson light she brings

    From the sunset's radiant springs:

    And the soft dreams of the morn

    (Which like wingèd winds had borne

    To that silent isle which lies

    'Mid remember'd agonies

    The frail bark of this lone being)

    Pass to other sufferers fleeing

    And its ancient pilot Pain

    Sits beside the helm again.

    Other flowering isles must be

    In the sea of Life and Agony:

    Other spirits float and flee

    O'er that gulf: ev'n now perhaps

    On some rock the wild wave wraps

    With folding wings they waiting sit

    For my bark to pilot it

    To some calm and blooming cove

    Where for me and those I love

    May a windless bower be built

    Far from passion pain and guilt

    In a dell 'mid lawny hills

    Which the wild sea-murmur fills

    And soft sunshine and the sound

    Of old forests echoing round

    And the light and smell divine

    Of all flowers that breathe and shine.

    —We may live so happy there

    That the Spirits of the Air

    Envying us may ev'n entice

    To our healing paradise

    The polluting multitude:

    But their rage would be subdued

    By that clime divine and calm

    And the winds whose wings rain balm

    On the uplifted soul and leaves

    Under which the bright sea heaves;

    While each breathless interval

    In their whisperings musical

    The inspirèd soul supplies

    With its own deep melodies;

    And the Love which heals all strife

    Circling like the breath of life

    All things in that sweet abode

    With its own mild brotherhood:—

    They not it would change; and soon

    Every sprite beneath the moon

    Would repent its envy vain

    And the Earth grow young again!

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