The Rubicon, was of so bold a flight,
That tongue nor pen may follow it. Tow’rds Spain
It wheel’d its bands, then tow’rd Dyrrachium smote,
And on Pharsalia with so fierce a plunge,
E’en the warm Nile was conscious to the pang;
Its native shores Antandros, and the streams
Of Simois revisited, and there
Where Hector lies; then ill for Ptolemy
His pennons shook again; lightning thence fell
On Juba; and the next upon your west,
At sound of the Pompeian trump, return’d.
“What following and in its next bearer’s
It wrought, is now by Cassius and Brutus
Bark’d off in hell, and by Perugia’s sons
And Modena’s was mourn’d. Hence weepeth still
Sad Cleopatra, who, pursued by it,
Took from the adder black and sudden death.
With him it ran e’en to the Red Sea coast;
With him compos’d the world to such a peace,
That of his temple Janus barr’d the door.
“But all the mighty standard yet had wrought,
And was appointed to perform thereafter,
Throughout the mortal kingdom which it sway’d,
Falls in appearance dwindled and obscur’d,
If one with steady eye and perfect thought
On the third Caesar look; for to his hands,
The living Justice, in whose breath I move,
Committed glory, e’en into his hands,
To execute the vengeance of its wrath.
“Hear now and wonder at what next I tell.
After with Titus it was sent to wreak
Vengeance for vengeance of the ancient sin,
And, when the Lombard tooth, with fangs impure,
Did gore the bosom of the holy church,
Under its wings victorious, Charlemagne
Sped to her rescue. Judge then for thyself
Of those, whom I erewhile accus’d to thee,
What they are, and how grievous their offending,
Who are the cause of all your ills. The one
Against the universal ensign rears
The yellow lilies, and with partial aim
That to himself the other arrogates:
So that ’t is hard to see which more offends.
Be yours, ye Ghibellines, to veil your arts
Beneath another standard: ill is this
Follow’d of him, who severs it and justice:
And let not with his Guelphs the new-crown’d Charles
Assail it, but those talons hold in dread,
Which from a lion of more lofty port
Have rent the easing. Many a time ere now
The sons have for the sire’s transgression wail’d;
Nor let him trust the fond belief, that heav’n
Will truck its armour for his lilied shield.
“This little star is furnish’d with good
Whose mortal lives were busied to that end,
That honour and renown might wait on them:
And, when desires thus err in their intention,
True love must needs ascend with slacker beam.
But it is part of our delight, to measure
Our wages with the merit; and admire
The close proportion. Hence doth heav’nly justice
Temper so evenly affection in us,
It ne’er can warp to any wrongfulness.
Of diverse voices is sweet music made:
So in our life the different degrees
Render sweet harmony among these wheels.