And deep within the forest
Are wedded turtles seen,
Their nuptial chambers seeking,
Their chambers close and green.
The rugged trees are mingling
Their flowery sprays in love;
The ivy climbs the laurel,
To clasp the boughs above.
They change—but thou, Lisena,
Art cold while I complain:
Why to thy lover only
Should spring return in vain?
From the German of Uhland.
There sits a lovely maiden,
The ocean murmuring nigh;
She throws the hook, and watches;
The fishes pass it by.
A ring, with a red jewel,
Is sparkling on her hand;
Upon the hook she binds it,
And flings it from the land.
Uprises from the water
A hand like ivory fair.
What gleams upon its finger?
The golden ring is there.
Uprises from the bottom
A young and handsome knight;
In golden scales he rises,
That glitter in the light.
The maid is pale with terror—
“Nay, Knight of Ocean, nay,
It was not thee I wanted;
Let go the ring, I pray.”
“Ah, maiden, not to fishes
The bait of gold is thrown;
The ring shall never leave me,
And thou must be my own.”
* * * * *
* * * * *
TO THE APENNINES.
Your peaks are beautiful, ye Apennines!
In the soft light of these serenest skies;
From the broad highland region, black with pines,
Fair as the hills of Paradise they rise,
Bathed in the tint Peruvian slaves behold
In rosy flushes on the virgin gold.
There, rooted to the aerial shelves that wear
The glory of a brighter world, might spring
Sweet flowers of heaven to scent the unbreathed air,
And heaven’s fleet messengers might rest the wing,
To view the fair earth in its summer sleep,
Silent, and cradled by the glimmering deep.
Below you lie men’s sepulchres, the old
Etrurian tombs, the graves of yesterday;
The herd’s white bones lie mixed with human mould—
Yet up the radiant steeps that I survey
Death never climbed, nor life’s soft breath, with pain,
Was yielded to the elements again.
Ages of war have filled these plains with fear;
How oft the hind has started at the clash
Of spears, and yell of meeting, armies here,
Or seen the lightning of the battle flash
From clouds, that rising with the thunder’s sound,
Hung like an earth-born tempest o’er the ground!
Ah me! what armed nations—Asian horde,
And Libyan host—the Scythian and the Gaul,
Have swept your base and through your passes poured,
Like ocean-tides uprising at the call
Of tyrant winds—against your rocky side
The bloody billows dashed, and howled, and died.