ITALY, loved of the sun,
Wooed of the sweet winds and wed by the sea,
When, since the nations begun,
Was other inheritance like unto thee ?
Splendors of sunshine and snows
Flash from thy peaks to thy bath in the brine ;
Thine are the daisy and rose,
The grace of the palm and the strength of the pine:
Orchard and harvested plain ;
Lakes, by the touch of the tempest unstirred ;
Dells where the Dryads remain,
And mountains that rise to a music unheard!
Generous gods, at thy birth,
Heaped on thy cradle with prodigal hand
Gifts, and the darling of earth
Art thou, and wast ever, O ravishing land!
Strength from the Thunderer came,
Pride from the goddess that governs his board;
While, in his forges of flame,
Hephæstus attempered thine armor and sword.
Lo ! Aphrodite her zone,
Winning all love to thy loveliness, gave ;
Leaving her Paphian throne
To breathe on thy mountains and brighten thy wave.
Bacchus the urns of his wine
Gave, and the festivals crowning thy toil;
Ceres, the mother divine,
Bestowed on thee bounties of corn and of oil.
Phœbus the songs that inspire,
Caught from the airs of Olympus, conferred ;
Hermes, the sweetness and fire
That pierce in the charm of the eloquent word.
So were thy graces complete ;
Yea, and, though ruined, they fascinate now :
Beautiful still are thy feet,
And girt with the gold of lost lordship thy brow.
Ah ! but the gods, the malign,
Cruel in bounty and blessing to smite,
Mixed with thy dowries divine
The gifts that dethrone and the beauties that blight.
Thine was the marvellous box,
Filled with the evils let loose in the past:
Thine is the charm that unlocks
The spirits that flatter and cheat us at last.
Life, from thy symmetry fed,
Shrinks from encounter that makes it supreme ;
Gropes in the dust of thy dead
Till Faith is a legend, and Freedom a dream !
Mysteries flow from thy lips,
Subtle to fetter the soul, and betray :
Lieth the world in eclipse
Of thy shadow, and not in the light of thy day !
Thou, that assumest to lead,
Holding the truth and the keys of the skies,
Art the usurpress indeed,
And rulest thy sons with a sceptre of lies.
Spirit of beauty and woe,
Clad with delusions more lovely than truth,
In thy decrepitude show
The ills that were hid in thy splendor of youth.
Teach us thy charms to resist,
Siren, so potent to bind and control:
Stain not the lips thou hast kissed,
But let us enjoy thee in freedom of soul!
Let us accept what thou hast, —
Sovereign beauty, and phantoms of fame, —
Choose from thy Present and Past
The noblest and purest, nor share in thy shame.
Thus shall we yield, and o’ercome ;
Conquer while loving thee, — love, but withstand:
Then, though thy children be dumb,
Our songs shall remember thee, ravishing land !