“Men who behold me, praise merely my art,
Never suspecting I too have a heart;
Under the marble the world cannot see
All I am keeping there only for thee;
Secrets of love are of all the most sweet;
Mine I will whisper to thee when we meet.
“Under the wall thou hast bravely assailed,
Under the vines, where thy wavelets have failed,
Passes this fountain; though cradled in snows,
Straight to thy waters it secretly flows;
Leaving my cold, marble counterpart here,
On that swift current I come to thee, dear!”
Hushed is the lover’s importunate call;
Silence and mystery brood over all;
Still my Undine sits facing the dawn;
’Tis but a mask, for her spirit is gone,—
Gone on that crystalline path to the deep,
Lured there to ecstasy, lulled there to sleep.
Day by day,
As if in May,
We sail Azzano’s beautiful bay;
High and low
The mountains show
Luminous fields of stainless snow,
But the air is soft, and the sun is warm,
And the lake is free from wind and storm.
Far and nigh,
Deep and high,
The Alps invade both lake and sky;
Base to base
Their forms we trace,
These in water, those in space,—
Duplicate peaks on single shores,
As shadow sinks, and substance soars.
To and fro
We idly go,
Bidding our oarsmen lightly row;
Here and there
The vision seems supremely fair;
Happy to let our little boat
In a flood of opaline splendor float.
The clamorous world of work and play;
A different creed
From that of the modern god of Speed,
Whose converts suffer such grievous waste
In strenuous labor and feverish haste!
East or west,
A tranquil nest,
When curfew rings, is always best,
A landscape fair,
A volume rare,
And a kindred heart, one’s peace to share,—
What is there better from life to take
In a sweet retreat on the Larian lake?
Wandering minstrel at my gate,
Shivering in the winter gloaming,
How appalling seems your fate,—
Destined to be always roaming,
Singing for a bit of bread
And a shelter for your head!
Your sweet voice is all you own,
Save the poor, thin clothes you’re wearing,
And you are not quite alone,
For a dog your crust is sharing;
Yet o’er many a weary mile
You have brought ... a song and smile!
I, who have abundant land,
Home with comforts beyond measure,
Gardens, loggias, and a strand
Where a boat awaits my pleasure,
Wonder what would be your story,
Were I tramp, and you signore!
Would you weary of control?
Long to slip your gilded tether,
And with Leo once more stroll,
Heedless of the wind and weather?
You could hardly do that all,
Once ensconced behind my wall.