[The Roman Elegies were written in
the same year as the Venetian
SPEAK, ye stones, I entreat! Oh speak,
ye palaces lofty!
Utter a word, oh ye streets! Wilt
thou not, Genius, awake?
All that thy sacred walls, eternal Rome, hold within them
Teemeth with life; but to me, all
is still silent and dead.
Oh, who will whisper unto me,--when shall I see at the casement
That one beauteous form, which, while
it scorcheth, revives?
Can I as yet not discern the road, on which I for ever
To her and from her shall go, heeding
not time as it flies?
Still do I mark the churches, palaces, ruins, and columns,
As a wise traveller should, would
he his journey improve.
Soon all this will be past; and then will there be but one temple,
Amor's temple alone, where the Initiate
Thou art indeed a world, oh Rome; and yet, were Love absent,
Then would the world be no world,
then would e'en Rome be no Rome.
Do not repent, mine own love, that thou so soon didst surrender
Trust me, I deem thee not bold! reverence
only I feel.
Manifold workings the darts of Amor possess; some but scratching,
Yet with insidious effect, poison
the bosom for years.
Others mightily feather'd, with fresh
and newly-born sharpness
Pierce to the innermost bone, kindle
the blood into flame.
In the heroical times, when loved each god and each goddess,
Longing attended on sight; then with
fruition was bless'd.
Think'st thou the goddess had long been thinking of love and its pleasures
When she, in Ida's retreats, own'd
to Anchises her flame?
Had but Luna delayd to kiss the beautiful sleeper,
Oh, by Aurora, ere long, he had in
envy been rous'd!
Hero Leander espied at the noisy feast, and the lover
Hotly and nimbly, ere long, plunged
in the night-cover'd flood.
Rhea Silvia, virgin princess, roam'd near the Tiber,
Seeking there water to draw, when
by the god she was seiz'd.
Thus were the sons of Mars begotten! The twins did a she-wolf
Suckle and nurture,--and Rome call'd
herself queen of the world,
ALEXANDER, and Caesar, and Henry, and Fred'rick, the mighty,
On me would gladly bestow half of
the glory they earn'd,
Could I but grant unto each one night on the couch where I'm lying;
But they, by Orcus's night, sternly,
alas! are held down.
Therefore rejoice, oh thou living one, blest in thy love-lighted homestead,
Ere the dark Lethe's sad wave wetteth
thy fugitive foot.
THESE few leaves, oh ye Graces, a bard presents, in your honour,
On your altar so pure, adding sweet
rosebuds as well,
And he does it with hope. The artist is glad in his workshop,
When a Pantheon it seems round him
for ever to bring.
Jupiter knits his godlike brow,--her's, Juno up-lifteth;
Phoebus strides on before, shaking
his curly-lock'd head
Calmly and drily Minerva looks down, and Hermes the light one,
Turneth his glances aside, roguish
and tender at once.
But tow'rds Bacchus, the yielding, the dreaming, raiseth Cythere
Looks both longing and sweet, e'en
in the marble yet moist.
Of his embraces she thinks with delight, and seems to be asking
"Should not our glorious son
take up his place by our side?"
AMOR is ever a rogue, and all who believe him are cheated!
To me the hypocrite came: "Trust
me, I pray thee, this once.
Honest is now my intent,--with grateful thanks I acknowledge
That thou thy life and thy works
hast to my worship ordain'd.
See, I have follow'd thee thither, to Rome, with kindly intention,
Hoping to give thee mine aid, e'en
in the foreigner's land.
Every trav'ller complains that the quarters he meets with are wretched
Happily lodged, though, is he, who
is by Amor receiv'd.
Thou dost observe the ruins of ancient buildings with wonder,
Thoughtfully wandering on, over each
Thou dost honour still more the worthy relics created
By the few artists--whom I loved
in their studios to seek.
I 'twas fashion'd those forms! thy pardon,--I boast not at present;
Presently thou shalt confess, that
what I tell thee is true.
Now that thou serv'st me more idly, where are the beauteous figures,
Where are the colours, the light,
which thy creations once fill'd?
Hast thou a mind again to form? The school of the Grecians
Still remains open, my friend; years
have not barr'd up its doors.
I, the teacher, am ever young, and love all the youthful,
Love not the subtle and old; Mother,
observe what I say!
Still was new the Antique, when yonder blest ones were living;
Happily live,--and, in thee, ages
long vanish'd will live!
Food for song, where hop'st thou to find it? I only can give it,
And a more excellent style, love,
and love only can teach."
Thus did the Sophist discourse. What mortal, alas! could resist him?
And when a master commands, I have
been train'd to obey.
Now he deceitfully keeps his word, gives food for my numbers,
But, while he does so, alas! robs
me of time, strength, and mind.
Looks, and pressure of hands, and words of kindness, and kisses,
Syllables teeming with thought, by
a fond pair are exchang'd.
Then becomes whispering, talk,--and stamm'ring, a language enchanting;
Free from all prosody's rules, dies
such a hymn on the ear.
Thee, Aurora, I used to own as the friend of the Muses;
Hath, then, Amor the rogue cheated,
Aurora, e'en thee?
Thou dost appear to me now as his friend, and again dost awake me
Unto a day of delight, while at his
altar I kneel.
All her locks I find on my bosom, her head is reposing,
Pressing with softness the arm, which
round her neck is entwin'd;
Oh! what a joyous awak'ning, ye hours so peaceful, succeeded,
Monument sweet of the bliss which
had first rock'd us to sleep
In her slumber she moves, and sinks, while her face is averted,
Far on the breadth of the couch,
leaving her hand still in mine
Heartfelt love unites us for ever, and yearnings unsullied,
And our cravings alone claim for
themselves the exchange.
One faint touch of the hand, and her eyes so heavenly see I
Once more open. Ah, no! let me still
look on that form!
Closed still remain! Ye make me confused and drunken, ye rob me
Far too soon of the bliss pure contemplation
Mighty, indeed, are these figures! these limbs, how gracefully rounded!
Theseus, could'st thou e'er fly,
whilst Ariadne thus slept?
Only one single kiss on these lips! Oh, Theseus, now leave us!
Gaze on her eyes! she awakes--Firmly
she holds thee embrac'd