From Como’s curving base of blue,
To where the snow lies cold and clear,
Ascends in steps of varied hue
The pageant of the passing year,
As scores of mountain-sides unfold
Their gorgeous robes of red and gold.
Meanwhile, where shore and lake unite,
I see, projected far below,
A counterpart in colors bright,
Of snows that gleam and woods that glow,—
Two pictures of an ideal land,
Divided by a single strand.
O matchless view, thus doubly fair,
Impress thy beauty on my heart,
That, when no longer really there,
I still may see thee as thou art!
Alas, that they should ever go,—
Those steps of light, those thrones of snow!
The day declines, the colors pale,
The peaks will soon be ashen gray;
Yet, though the shades of night prevail,
The darkness hath not come to stay;
And if no leaves of gold remain,
The sun will bring the Spring again.
Painted by Andrea Appiani, in 1803, and at present
in the Villa Melzi,
Brilliant as Lucifer, Son of the Morning,
Rises this reincarnation of Mars!
Youth at its apogee, precedent scorning,
Genius ascending its path toward the stars!
Never was Bonaparte’s Consular glory
Treated by Art so superbly as here;
Never a phase of his marvellous story
Handled more deftly, or rendered more clear.
Italy’s effigy lies ’neath his fingers,
Lombardy rests in the fold of his hand,
While on his lips an expression still lingers,
Stamped by a character born to command.
Hero of history, what art thou scheming,
Spanning thus easily so much of Earth,
Holding tenaciously, too, in thy dreaming
Wave-beaten Corsica, isle of thy birth?
All that thou dreamest of paramount power
Fate shall concede to thee, chieftain sublime!
Yet shall it prove but the joy of an hour;
Fortune avenges her favors ... with time!
Aye, even now, although millions adore thee,
Hailing as godlike thy dominant name,
Nemesis stands in the shadow before thee,
Waiting with Waterloo, exile, and shame.
Waiting is also that island of anguish,
Destined to crush thy proud spirit at last,
Doomed amid pigmy tormentors to languish,
Facing forever its measureless past!
Yet when at length on that rock in mid-ocean
Merciful Death shall have broken thy chain,
Millions will hail thee again with devotion,
Building thy tomb by the banks of the Seine!
Face of Napoleon, nobly recalling
Days of the mythical heroes of yore,
Oft wilt thou haunt me when shadows are falling,—
Beautiful gem of the Larian shore.