To Giacomo Leopardi

COLD was thy thought, O stricken son
Of Italy, cold as the moon
That naked, barren, frozen, on
This fertile earth, the boon
Of silver light
Sheds by night, —
Touching the million shaken leaves
That crown our woods; while every fold
Of buttressed Alp soft charm receives,
Till near things look like lands far sought.
Yes, thy thought ached, it was so cold;
And winsome movement, and choice sound,
In harmonies divinely wrought,
Could they be born of that profound
Despair which they so clearly taught?
Nay, suffering, like a nightmare still,
Turned all thy youth’s warm radiance chill,
As yon dead moon turns the sun’s beams
Aside in cold yet lucid streams,
Whose loveliness from farther came
Than that dead planet’s cratered side ;
A globe of glory all one flame
Is in their brightness still implied.
So in the beauty of thine odes
Man’s glowing eager spirit shines,
While yet its strange deflection loads
With added charm their play, refines
Their luminous force, till they,
Fair as moonlight,
Infuse the night
Of our roused sorrow, sadness, and
Remembered pain, where they expand
Brilliance, both solemn and serene,
Grand as the presence of Night’s queen.