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THE LOVE-STORY OF LUIGI TANSILLO.
(Translated by RICHARD GARNETT.)
(LUIGI TANSILLO, Italian poet, was born at Venosa in 1510, and died in 1568. He wrote, among other poems, “ The Vintager" (over-sensual, atoned for in later life by “St. Peter's Tears”), “ Balia," and the pastoral “Podere.”]
LADY, the heart that entered through your eyes
Returneth not. Well may he make delay,
For if the very windows that display
What shall be deemed ? If heart forever stay,
Small wonder, dazzled by more radiant day
In firmament above, are these not sign
Rejoice then in thy kingdom, heart of mine,
Nor thou yet exiled for default of thine.
No length of banishment did e'er remove
My heart from you, nor if by Fortune sped
I roam the azure waters, or the Red,
Or by Sun's light or Moon's encompassed,
Another Venus were engendered,
And each were cradled in an amorous thought;
It cannot worship as it would and ought.
Like lightning shining forth from east to west,
Hurled are the happy hours from morn to night,
And leave the spirit steeped in undelight
Slow move sad hours, by thousand curbs opprest,
Wherewith the churlish Fates delay their flight;
Those, impulses of Mercury incite,
My days and nights with equal speed did run:
Or wintry days for brevity of sun.
Now that the Sun hath borne with him the day,
And hailed dark Night from prison subterrene,
Come forth, fair Moon, and, robed in light serene, With thy own loveliness the world array. Heaven's spheres, slow wheeled on their majestic way,
Invoke as they revolve thy orb unseen,
And all the pageant of the starry scene,
Smile at the apparition of thy face,
Yet, while my eye regards thee, thought doth trace
I am not yet estranged from Love's embrace.
That this fair isle with all delight abound,
Clad be it ever in sky's smile serene,
No thundering billow boom from deeps marine, And calm with Neptune and his folk be found. Fast may all winds by Æolus be bound,
Save faintest breath of lispings Zephyrene;
And be the odorous earth with glowing green Of gladsome herbs, bright flowers, quaint foliage crowned. All ire, all tempest, all misfortune be
Heaped on my head, lest aught thy pleasure strain, Nor this disturbed by any thought of me,
So scourged with ills' innumerable train, New grief new tear begetteth not, as sea
Chafes not the more for deluge of the rain.
Wild precipice and earthquake-riven wall;
Bare jagged lava naked to the sky;
Whence densely struggles up and slow floats by Heaven's murky shroud of smoke funereal;
Horror whereby the silent groves inthrall;
Black weedy pit and rifted cavity;
Bleak loneliness whose drear sterility
As passion prompts, companioned or alone;
My cry shall pierce to the Avernian throno.
As one who on uneasy couch bewails
Besetting sickness and Time's tardy courso,
Proving if drug, or gem, or charm have forco
And bankrupt Art stands empty of resource,
Beholds Death in the face, and scorns recourso
That distance, indignation, reason, strife
Frustrate all hopes wherewith my soul was rife, And yield unto my destiny, content
To languish for the little left of life.
So mightily abound the hosts of Pain,
Whom sentries of my bosom Love hath mado,
No space is left to enter or evade,
By the first glimpse of my poor heart dismayed,
Instant he dies, or else, in bondage stayed, Pines languishing, or flies that drear domain. Pale semblances of terror keep the keys,
Of frowning portals they for none displace Save messengers of novel miseries :
All thoughts they scare that wear a gladsomo faco; And, were they anything but Miseries,
Themselves would hasten from the gloomy place.
Cease thy accustomed strain, my mournful lute;
New music find, fit for my lot forlorn;
Henceforth be Wrath and Grief resounded, torn The strings that anciently did Love salute,
Not on my own weak wing irresolute
But on Love's plumes I trusted to be borno,
Chanting him far as that remotest bourne
When free in air my thought was bold to range:
And hope, style, theme, I all alike must change.
If Love was miser of my liberty,
Lo, Scorn is bounteous and benevolent,
Such scope permitting, that, my fetter rent, Not lengthened by my hand, I wander free. The eyes that yielded tears continually
Have now with Lethe's drops my fire besprent,
And more behold, Illusion's glamor spent, Than fabled Argus with his century.
The tyrant of my spirit, left forlorn
As vassal thoughts forsake him, doth remove,
And I my metamorphosis approve,
Will sing as anciently I sang of Love.
All bitter words I spoke of you while yet
My heart was sore, and every virgin scroll
Blackened with ire, now past from my control,
Ties Passion sundered, and again make whole;
With tongue or pen I ever did design;
line How year by year more streamed and towered my flame,
And how I living was and dying thine.
(Italian novelist; translated by Thomas Roscoo.)
It was said of Messer Leandro de' Traversari, canon of Ravenna, that, from the opening to the close of his mortal career, he invariably evinced the most decided enmity to truth. He had such a total disregard for this invaluable quality that if he ever happened to stumble upon the truth, he betrayed as much melancholy and regret as if he had actually sinned against the Holy Ghost. Besides, he was not merely the most notorious asserter of “the thing which is not” himself, but the cause of falsehood in others, compelling his very friends and dependents to confirm his wicked statements, under penalty of incurring his most severe spiritual displeasure.
There was a certain Florentine, who had lately entered into his service, and who, perceiving his master's peculiarity in this respect, resolved not merely to humor him in it, but to add something further on his own part, in order the better to recommend himself to his notice. He one day availed himself of an opportunity, when walking with the good canon in the gardens of the archbishop, near the city, to give his master a specimen of his inventive powers. Observing the gardener employed in planting cauliflowers, the prelate happened to remark, “ These cauliflowers grow to a surprising size; their bulk is quite prodigious ; I believe no one can bring them to such rare perfection as my gardener.” As the latter did not care to contradict this testimony, so favorable to his character, Messer Leandro subjoined to the observation of his superior, “ Yes, my lord; but if you had ever seen those that grow
in Cucagna, you would not think these so very extraordinary in point of size.”
“Why, how large may they grow ? ” inquired the archbishop. “ How large ? ” returned Messer Leandro, “I can scarcely give your lordship an idea of it. In those parts I hear it is no uncommon thing for twenty knights on horseback to take shelter together under their huge cabbage leaves." The archbishop expressing no slight astonishment at these words, the wily Florentine stepped forward to his master's relief, saying: “Your excellency will not be so much surprised,