BETA

Dante.


I wait, in patience, and in trembling hope,1
The last sands in my glass ; a few brief grains2
Divide me from the Angel in yon cope,3
Whose studded azure never sheltered pains4
Keener than mine !  But, from my mount of years,5
I look on my past life, as one whose chains6
Have fall’n, saint-touched ; and thro’ the mist of tears7
Sweet glimmerings of the Empyrean come8
Athwart the troubled vale of doubts and fears ;9
And as a child, who, wandered from his home,10
Sees, suddenly, with speechless joy, his cot,11
Thus seems the hour, when I no more shall roam,12
But, in a blessed, and abiding lot,13
Merge my long exile. Florence ! when these eyes,14
So long athirst ! shall gaze upon the spot,15
This atom-earth, in space, with ken more wise16
Than erring nature would permit to clay,17
Methinks that sorrow, for thy destinies,18
Will yet pursue me to the realms of day ;19
For, wert not thou the life-hope of my breast ?20
Altho’, my grief-schooled spirit gave not way21
To its deep yearning, so, at thy behest,22
To tread thy streets once more : I could not bend23
Truth to the shameless compromise ! Unrest,24
Want, banishment, were better, than to lend25
Myself to falsehood !  More thou neededst me26
Than I thee. So, I know, unto the end,27
How hard ’ tis to climb others’ stairs ; to see28
Anarchy’s gory reign ; to beg my bread29
In alien courts, midst lewd society ;30
At times without a shelter for the head31
A price was-set on !  Centuries follow this,32
When thou shalt think upon thy Dante dead,33
And his poor tomb ; which ever the abyss34
Of waves shall moan to :  Yes, my Florence, then,35
When bright Italia, ‘neath the brutal kiss36
Of the barbarian ravishers, shall plain,37
In useless struggles, growing faint to death !38
How shalt thou wish thy Dante back again !39
But, even then, an echo of my breath40
Through the long years, with trumpet inspiration,41
Shall lead thy Best to victory, or death !42
And, if no more they may be called a Nation,43
Shall teach them how to fall with Samson-wrath ;44
Yea ! fall in triumph, midst the desolation45
Of throne, and rostrum, altar, and of hearth !46
Nor, where the blessed corn-crop fail, to leave47
To poisonous weeds the heirship of the earth.48
Oh ! well these tried and aged eyes may grieve,49
To read, in spirit, this fore-acted doom ;50
Which others neither can see, nor believe !51
But laugh upon the threshold of the tomb ;52
As sports the summer-fly, whilst spiders weave53
Their fateful nets !  Well, let the earth resume54
This failing garment of my flesh ; I feel55
My present life has not been without bloom,56
Or fruits : Due time their flavour will reveal !57
And if the Statesman’s sole reward hath been58
Long years of wandering, seeking to conceal59
A forfeit life : If spoken words, like wind60
Have passed away !  My fame seared, in its green :61
I leave, at least, one testament behind,62
Of which my Florence shall not say, I ween63
(However callous, and unjustly blind),64
It dies, along with the old Ghibelline !65
No : with Italia’s land my Book shall live ;66
Her thoughts, and very language be of mine !67
Yes, what my City was too false to give,68
A world will yet award me !  So, I end :69
My strength hath been in patience, whose close sieve,70
Well-used, the Garner’s labour will befriend.71
Florence, my mighty wrongs I can forgive !72
Honour me in my ashes; this thou must !73
Now, Sainted Name, in whose pure memories live74
The all, that shall make glorious my—dust ;75
My sole thoughts turn with speechless love to thee76
Thou wert my Alpha and Omega : First77
And Last !  Let me return to liberty ;78
I found it but in Paradise—with Thee !79