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With graceful pride three hills of softest green Rear their fair bosoms o'er the sylvan scene; Their sides embroider'd boast the rich array Of flowery shrubs in all the pride of May; The purple lotus and the snowy thorn, And yellow pod-flowers every slope adorn. From the green summits of the leafy hills Descend with murmuring lapse three limpid rills; Beneath the rose-trees loitering slow they glide, Now tumbles o'er some rock their crystal pride ; Sonorous now they roll adown the glade, Now plaintive tinkle in the secret shade; Now from the darkling grove, beneath the beam Of ruddy morn, like melted silver stream, Edging the painted margins of the bowers, And breathing liquid freshness on the flowers. Here bright reflected in the pool below The vermil apples tremble on the bough ; Where o'er the yellow sands the waters sleep, The primrosed banks inverted, dew-drops weep; Where murmuring o'er the pebbles purls the stream, The silver trouts in playful curvings gleam. Long thus and various every riv'let strays, Till closing now their long meand’ring maze, Where in a sinking vale the mountains end, Form'd in a crystal lake the waters blend; Fring'd was the border with a woodland shade, In every leaf of various green array'd, Each yellow-ting'd, each mingling tint between The dark ash verdure and the silvery green. The trees now bending forward, slowly shake Their lofty honors o'er the crystal lake; Now from the flood the graceful boughs retire, With coy reserve, and now again admire Their various liveries by the summer dress'd, Smooth-gloss'd and soften'd in the mirror's breast. So by her glass the wishful virgin strays, And oft retiring steals the lingering gaze.
Wild forest-trees the mountain sides array'd :
With curling foliage and romantic shade;
Here spreads the poplar, to Alcides dear ;
And dear to Phoebus, ever verdant here,
The laurel joins the bowers for ever green,
The myrtle bowers belov'd of beauty's queen.
To Jove the oak his wide-spread branches rears;
And high to heaven the fragrant cedar bears;
Where through the glades appear the cavern'd rocks,
The lofty pine-tree waves her sable locks;
Sacred to Cybele, the whispering pine
Loves the wild grottoes where the white cliffs shine;
Here towers the cypress, preacher to the wise,
Less'ning, from earth, her spiral honors rise,
Till, as a spear-point rear'd, the topmost spray
Points to the Eden of eternal day.
Translation of W. J. MICKLE.
LUIS DE CAMOENS, 1517-1579.
FROM THE ITALIAN OF DANTE.
Longing already to search in and round
The heavenly forest, dense and living-green,
Which to the eyes tempered the new-born day,
Withouten more delay I left the bank,
Crossing the level country slowly, slowly,
Over the soil, that everywhere breathed fragrance.
A gently breathing air, that no mutation
Had in itself, smote me upon the forehead-
No heavier blow than of a pleasant breeze;
Whereat the tremulous branches readily
Did all of them bow downward toward that side
Where its first shadow casts the Holy Mountain;
Yet not from their upright direction bent,
So that the little birds upon their tops
Should cease the practice of their tuneful art;
But, with full-throated joy, the hours of prime
Singing received they in the midst of foliage,
That made monotonous burden to their rhymes;
Even as from branch to branch it gathering swells
Through the pine forests on the shore of Chiassi
When Eolus unlooses the sirocco.
Already my slow steps had led me on
Into the ancient wood so far, that I
Could see no more the place where I had entered;
And, lo! my farther course cut off a river,
Which, toward the left hand, with its little waves,
Bent down the grass that on its margin sprang.
Al waters that on earth most limpid are,
Would seem to have within themselves some mixture,
Compared with that, which nothing doth conceal,
Although it moves with a brown, brown current,
Under the shade perpetual, that never
Ray of sun let in, nor of the moon.
Translation of H. W. LONGFELLOW.
DANTE ALIGHIERI, 1265–1821.
NATURE TEACHING IMMORTALITY.
Nature, thy daughter, ever-changing birth
Of thee, the great Immutable, to man
Speaks wisdom ; is his oracle supreme ;
And he who most consults her is most wise.
Look nature through, 'tis revolution all.
All change, no death. Day follows night, and night
The dying day; stars rise, and set, and rise ;
Earth takes th' example. See the summer gay,
With her green chaplet, and ambrosial flow'rs,
Droops into pallid autumn; winter gray,
Horrid with frost, and turbulent with storm,
Blows autumn and his golden fruits away,
Then melts into the spring ; soft spring, with breath
Favonian, from warm chambers of the south,
Recalls the first. All to re-flourish fades,
As in a wheel all sinks to reascend ;
Emblems of man, who passes, not expires.
With this minute distinction, emblems just,
Nature revolves, but man advances; both
Eternal, that a circle, this a line;
That gravitates, this soars. Th' aspiring soul,
Ardent and tremulous, like flame ascends,
Zeal and humility her wings, to heaven.
The world of matter, with its various forms,
All dies into new life. Life, born from death,
Rolls the vast mass, and shall for ever roll.
No single atom, once in being lost,
With change of counsel charges the Most High.
Matter immortal, and shall spirit die?
Above the nobler shall less noble rise?
Shall man alone, for whom all else revives,
Now resurrection know! shall man alone,
Imperial man! be sown in barren ground,
Less privileg'd than grain on which he feeds?
Is man, in whom alone is power to prize
The bliss of being, or with previous pain
Deplore its period, by the spleen of fate,
Severely doom'd, death's single unredeem'd?
FROM THE GREEK OF SAPPHO.
HE stars that 'round the beauteous moon
Attendant wait, cast into shade