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NEW THOUGHTS ON OLD SUBJECTS.
Whate'er it was, it is no longer so;
Though heart be lonesome, hope laid low,
Yet, lady! deem him not unblest :
The certainty that struck hope dead,
Hath left contentment in her stead:
And that is next to best !
Of late, in one of those most weary hours,
When life seems emptied of all genial powers,
A dreary mood, which he who ne'er has known
May bless his happy lot, I sate alone ;
And, from the numbing spell to win relief,
Calld on the past for thought of glee or grief.
In vain! bereft alike of grief and glee,
I sate and cowered o'er my own vacancy!
And as I watch'd the dull continuous ache,
Which, all else slumbering, seemed alone to wake;
O friend ! long wont to notice yet conceal,
And soothe by silence what words cannot heal,
I but half saw that quiet hand of thine
Place on my desk this exquisite design,
Boccaccio's Garden and its faery,
The love, the joyance, and the gallantry!
An Idyll, with Boccaccio's spirit warm,
Framed in the silent poesy of form ;
Like flocks adown a newly-bathed steep
Emerging from a mist; or like a stream
Of music soft that not dispels the sleep,
But casts in happier moulds the slumberer's dream, Gazed by an idle eye with silent might The picture stole upon my inward sight. A tremulous warmth crept gradual o'er my chest, As though an infant's finger touch'd my breast;
And one by one (I knew not whence) were brought
All spirits of power that most had stirr'd my thought
In selfless boyhood, on a new world tost
Of wonder, and in its own fancies lost;
Or charmed my youth, that, kindled from above,
Loved ere it loved, and sought a form for love;
Or lent a lustre to the earnest
Of manhood, musing what and whence is man!
Wild strain of Scalds, that in the sea-worn caves
Rehearsed their war-spell to the winds and waves;
Or fateful hymn of those prophetic maids,
That callid on Hertha in deep forest glades;
Or minstrel lay, that cheer'd the baron's feast ;
Or rhyme of city pomp, of monk and priest,
Judge, mayor, and many a guild in long array,
To high-church pacing on the great saint's day;
And many a verse which to myself I sang,
Tbat woke the tear yet stole away the pang,
Of hopes which in lamenting I renew'd.
And last, a matron now, of sober mien,
Yet radiant still and with no earthly sheen,
Whom as a faery child my childhood woo'd
Even in my dawn of thought-Philosophy ;
Though then unconscious of herself, pardie,
She bore no other name than Poesy;
And, like a gift from heaven, in lifeful glee,
That had but newly left a mother's knee,
Prattled and play'd with bird and flower, and stone,
As if with elfin playfellows well known,
And life revealed to innocence alone.
Thanks, gentle artist ! now I can descry
Thy fair creation with a mastering eye,
And all awake! And now in fix'd gaze stand,
Now wander through the Eden of thy hand;
Praise the green arches, on the fountain clear
See fragment shadows of the crossing deer;
And with that serviceable nymph I stoop
The crystal from its restless pool to scoop.
I see no longer! I myself am there,
Sit on the ground-sward, and the banquet share.
'Tis I, that sweep that lute's love-echoing strings,
And gaze upon the maid who gazing sings:
Or pause and listen to the tinkling bells
From the high tower, and think that there she dwells.
With old Boccaccio's soul I stand possest,
And breathe an air like life that swells
The brightness of the world, O thou once free,
And always fair, rare land of courtesy !
O Florence! with the Tuscan fields and hills,
And famous Arno, fed with all their rills;
Thou brightest star of star-bright Italy !
Rich, ornate, populous, all treasures thine,
The golden corn, the olive, and the vine.
Fair cities, gallant mansions, castles old,
And forests, where, beside his leafy hold
The sullen boar hath heard the distant horn,
And whets his tusks against the gnarled thorn;
Palladian palace with its storied halls;
Fountains, where Love lies listening to their falls ;
Gardens, where flings the bridge its airy span,
And Nature makes her happy home with man;
Where many a gorgeous flower is duly fed
With its own rill, on its own spangled bed,
And wreathes the marble urn, or leans its head,
A mimic mourner, that with veil withdrawn
Weeps liquid gems, the presents of the dawn ;-
Thine all delights, and every muse is thine;
And more than all, the embrace and intertwine
Of all with all in gay and twinkling dance !
Mid gods of Greece and warriors of romance,
See! Boccace sits, unfolding on his knees
The new-found roll of old Mæonides ;'
But from his mantle's fold, and near the heart,
Peers Ovid's holy book of Love's sweet smart!
O all-enjoying and all-blending sage,
Long be it mine to con thy mazy page,
i Boccaccio claimed for himself the glory of having first introduced the works of Homer to his countrymen.
2 I know few more striking or more interesting proofs of the overwhelming influence which the study of the Greek and Roman classics exercised on the judgments, feelings, and imaginations of the literati of Europe at the commencement of the restoration of literature, than the passage in the Filocopo of Boccaccio: where the sage instructer, Racheo, as soon as the young prince and the beautiful girl Biancofiore had learned their letters, sets them to study the Holy Book, Ovid's Art of Love. 66 Incominciò Racheo a mettere il suo officio in esecuzione con intera sollecitudine. E loro, in breve tempo, insegnato a conoscer le lettere, fece leggere il