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Lombards, barbarians broke from ev'ry land, -
How many a ruffian form hast thou beheld !
What horrid jargons heard, where rage alone
Was all thy frighted ear could comprehend !
How frequent by the red inhuman hand,
Yet warm with brother's, husband's, father's blood,
Hast thou thy matrons and thy virgins seen
To violation dragg’d, and mingled death!
What conflagrations, earthquakes, ravage, floods,
Have turn’d thy cities into stony wilds ;
And, succourless and bare, the poor remains
Of wretches forth to Nature's common cast!
Added to these, the still continu'd waste
Of inbred foes, that on thy vitals prey,
And, double tyrants, seize the very soul.
Where hadst thou treasures for this rapine all,
These hungry myriads, that thy bowels tore,
Heap'd sack on sack, and buried in their rage
Wonders of art ? whence this grey scene a mine
Of more than gold becomes and orient gems,
Where Egypt, Greece, and Rome united glow.
“ Here Sculpture, Painting, Architecture, bent From ancient models to restore their arts, Remain’d. A little trace we how they rose.
“ Amid the hoary ruins, Sculpture first, Deep-digging, from the cavern dark and damp, Their
ages, bid her marble race
Spring to new light. Joy sparkled in her eyes,
And old remembrance thrill'd in every thought,
As she the pleasing resurrection saw.
In leaning site, respiring from his toils,
The well-known Hero 2 who deliver'd Greece,
His ample chest, all tempested with force,
Unconquerable rear'd. She saw the head,
Breathing the hero, small, of Grecian size,
Scarce more extensive than the sinewy neck;
The spreading shoulders, muscular and broad ;
The whole a mass of swelling sinews, touch'd
Into harmonious shape; she saw, and joy'd.
The yellow hunter, Meleager, rais'd
His beauteous front, and through the finish'd whole 150
Shows what ideas smil'd of old in Greece.
Of raging aspect, rush'd impetuous forth
The Gladiator. 1 Pitiless his look,
And each keen sinew brac'd, the storm of war,
Ruffling, o'er all his nervous body frowns.
The Dying other from the gloom she drew :
Supported on his shorten’d arm he leans,
Prone, agonizing; with incumbent fate
Heavy declines his head ; yet dark beneath
The suff'ring feature sullen vengeance lours,
Shame, indignation, unaccomplish'd rage :
And still the cheated eye expects his fall.
All conquest-flush'd, from prostrate Python, came
The Quiver'd God.3 In graceful act he stands,
His arm extended with the slacken'd bow.
Light flows his easy robe, and fair displays
A manly-soften’d form. The bloom of gods
Seems youthful o'er the beardless cheek to wave :
His features yet heroic ardour warms;
And sweet subsiding to a native smile,
Mix'd with the joy elating conquest gives,
A scatter'd frown exalts his matchless air.
On Flora mov’d; her full-proportion'd limbs
Rise through the mantle fluttering in the breeze.
The Queen of Lovel arose, as from the deep
She sprung in all the melting pomp of charms.
Bashful she bends, her well-taught look aside
Turns in enchanting guise, where dubious mix
Vain conscious beauty, a dissembled sense
Of modest shame, and slippery looks of love.
The gazer grows enamour'd; and the stone,
As if exulting in its conquest, smiles.
So turn'd each limb, so swelld with softening art
That the deluded eye the marble doubts.
At last her utmost Masterpiece2 she found,
That Maro3 fir'd,—the miserable sire,
Wrapp'd with his sons in Fate's severest grasp.
The serpents, twisting round, their stringent folds
Inextricable tie. Such passion here,
Such agonies, such bitterness of pain,
Seem so to tremble through the tortur'd stone,
That the touch'd heart engrosses all the view.
Almost unmark'd the best proportions pass
That ever Greece beheld ; and, seen alone,
On the rapt eye th' imperious passions seize ;-
The father's double pangs, both for himself
And sons convuls'd; to Heaven his rueful look,
Imploring aid, and half-accusing, cast;
His fell despair, with indignation mix'd,
As the strong-curling monsters from his side
His full-extended fury cannot tear.
More tender touch'd, with varied art, his sons
All the soft rage of younger passions show.
In a boy's helpless fate one sinks oppress'd ;
While, yet unpierc'd, the frighted other tries
His foot to steal out of the horrid twine.
“ She bore no more, but straight from Gothic rust.207
Her chisel clear'd, and dust1 and fragments drove
Impetuous round. Successive as it went
From son to son, with more enlivening touch,
From the brute rock it call’d the breathing form;
Till, in a legislator's awful grace
Dress'd, Buonarotti bid a Moses rise,
And, looking love immense, a Saviour-God.
“Of these observant, Painting felt the fire
Burn inward. Then ecstatic she diffus'd
The canvas, seiz’d the palette, with quick hand
The colours brew'd, and on the void expanse
Her gay creation pour’d, her mimic world.
Poor was the manner of her eldest race,
Barren, and dry; just struggling from the taste
That had for ages scar’d in cloisters dim
The superstitious herd : yet glorious then
Were deem'd their works ; where undevelop'd lay
The future wonders that enrich'd mankind,
And a new light and grace o'er Europe cast.
Arts gradual gather streams. Enlarging this,
To each his portion of her various gifts
The Goddess dealt, to none indulging all ;
No, not to Raphael. At kind distance still
Perfection stands, like Happiness, to tempt
Th' eternal chase. In elegant design,
Improving Nature ; in ideas fair,
Or great, extracted from the fine antique ;
In attitude, expression, airs divine ;
Her sons of Rome and Florence bore the prize.
To those of Venice she the magic art
Of colours melting into colours gave.
Theirs, too, it was, by one embracing mass
Referring to Michael Angelo's mode of working in the fury of enthusiasm.
Of light and shade, that settles round the whole,
Or varies tremulous from part to part,
O'er all a binding harmony to throw,
To raise the picture, and repose the sight.
The Lombard school? succeeding, mingled both.
“ Meantime dread fanes and palaces around
Rear'd the magnific front. Music again
Her universal language of the heart
Renew'd ; and, rising from the plaintive vale,
To the full concert spread, and solemn quire.
“ Even bigots smil'd; to their protection took
Arts not their own, and from them borrow'd pomp:
For in a tyrant's garden these a while
May bloom, though Freedom be their parent soil.
“ And now confess'd, with gently-growing gleam,
The morning shone, and westward stream'd its light.
The Muse awoke. Not sooner on the wing
Is the gay bird of dawn. Artless her voice,
Untaught and wild, yet warbling through the woods
Romantic lays. But as her northern course
She, with her tutor, Science, in my train,
Ardent pursued, her strains more noble grew :
While Reason drew the plan, the Ileart inform’d
The moral page, and Fancy lent it grace.
“ Rome and her circling desarts cast behind, I pass'd not idle to my great sojourn.
On Arno's fertile plain, where the rich vine
Luxuriant o'cr Etrurian mountains roves,
Safe in the lap repos’d of private bliss,
I small republics? rais ’d. Thrice happy they,
Had social Freedom bound their peace, and Arts,
12 Small republics :' the
1 Lombard school:' the school of the Caracci. republics of Florence, Pisa, Lucca, and Sienna.