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Leaves have their time to fall, And flowers to wither at the north-wind's breath,
And stars to set—but all, Thou hast all seasons for thine own, oh ! Death.
THE RELEASE OF TASSO.
THERE came a bard to Rome; he brought a lyre
Of sounds to peal through Rome's triumphant sky,
To mourn a hero on his funeral pyre,
Or greet a conquerer with its war-notes high ;
For on each chord had fallen the gift of fire,
The living breath of Power and Victory-
Yet he, its lord, the sovereign city's guest,
Sigh'd but to flee away, and be at rest.
He brought a spirit whose ethereal birth
Was of the loftiest, and whose haunts had been
Amidst the marvels and the pomps of earth,
Wild fairy-bowers, and groves of deathless green,
And fields, where mail-clad bosoms prove their worth,
When flashing swords light up the stormy scene-
He brought a weary heart, a wasted frame,
The Child of Visions from a dungeon came.
On the blue waters, as in joy they sweep,
With starlight floating o'er their swells and falls,
On the blue waters of the Adrian deep,
His numbers had been sung—and in the halls,
Where, through rich foliage if a sunbeam peep,
It seems Heaven's wakening to the sculptur'd walls,
Had princes listen’d to those lofty strains,
While the high soul they burst from, pin'd in chains.
And in the summer-gardens, where the spray
Of founts, far-glancing from their marble bed,
Rains on the flowering myrtles in its play,
And the sweet limes, and glassy leaves that spread
Round the deep golden citronsmo'er his lay
Dark eyes, dark, soft, Italian eyes had shed
Warm tears, fast-glittering in that sun, whose light
Was a forbidden glory to his sight.
Oh! if it be that wizard sign and spell,
And talisman had power of old to bind,
In the dark chambers of some cavern-cell,
Or knotted oak, the spirits of the wind,
Things of the lightning-pinion, wont to dwell
High o'er the reach of eagles, and to find
Joy in the rush of storms—even such a doom
Was that high minstrel's in his dungeon-gloom.
But he was free at last !—the glorious land
Of the white Alps and pine-crown’d Apennines,
Along whose shore the sapphire seas expand,
And the wastes teem with myrtle, and the shrines
Of long-forgotten gods from Nature's hand
Receive bright offerings still ; with all its vines,
And rocks, and ruins, clear before him lay-
The seal was taken from the founts of day.
The winds came o'er his cheek; the soft winds, blending
All summer-sounds and odors in their sigh;
The orange-groves wav'd round; the hills were sending
Their bright streams down; the free birds darting by,
And the blue festal heavens above him bending,
As if to fold a world where none could die !
And who was he that look'd upon these things ?
-If but of earth, yet one whose thoughts were wings
To bear him o'er creation ! and whose mind
Was as an air-harp, wakening to the sway
Of sunny Nature's breathings unconfin'd,
With all the mystic harmonies that lay
Far in the slumber of its chords enshrin'd,
Till the light breeze went thrilling on its way.
- There was no sound that wander'd through the sky, But told him secrets in its melody.
Was the deep forest lonely unto him
With all its whispering leaves ? Each dell and glade
Teem'd with such forms as on the moss-clad brim
Of fountains, in their sparry grottoes, play'd,
Seen by the Greek of yore through twilight dim,
Or misty noontide in the laurel-shade.
- There is no solitude on earth so deep
As that where man decrees that man should weep!
But oh! the life in Nature's green domains,
The breathing sense of joy! where flowers are springing
By starry thousands, on the slopes and plains,
And the grey rocks—and all the arch'd woods ringing,