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by Robert Browning


I: The Ring and the Book

DO YOU see this Ring?

'Tis Rome-workmade to match

(By Castellani's imitative craft)

Etrurian circlets foundsome happy morn

After a dropping April; found alive

Spark-like 'mid unearthed slope-side figtree-roots

That roof old tombs at Chiusi: softyou see

Yet crisp as jewel-cutting. There's one trick

(Craftsmen instruct me) one approved device

And but onefits such slivers of pure gold

As this was- such mere oozings from the mine

Virgin as oval tawny pendent tear

At beehive-edge when ripened combs o'erflow-

To bear the file's tooth and the hammer's tap:

Since hammer needs must widen out the round

And file emboss it fine with lily-flowers

Ere the stuff grow a ring-thing right to wear.

That trick isthe artificer melts up wax

With honeyso to speak; he mingles gold

With gold's alloyandduly tempering both

Effects a manageable massthen works.

But his work endedonce the thing a ring

Ohthere's repristination! Just a spirt

O' the proper fiery acid o'er its face

And forth the alloy unfastened flies in fume;

Whileself-sufficient nowthe shape remains

The rondure bravethe lilied loveliness

Gold as it wasisshall be evermore:

Prime nature with an added artistry-

No carat lostand you have gained a ring.

What of it? 'Tis a figurea symbolsay;

A thing's sign: now for the thing signified.

DO YOU see this square old yellow BookI toss

I' the airand catch againand twirl about

By the crumpled vellum covers- pure crude fact

Secreted from man's life when hearts beat hard

And brainshigh-bloodedticked two centuries since?

Examine it yourselves! I found this book

Gave a lira for iteightpence English just

(Mark the predestination!) when a Hand

Always above my shoulderpushed me once

One day still fierce 'mid many a day struck calm

Across a Square in Florencecrammed with booths

Buzzing and blazenoontide and market-time;

Toward Baccio's marble- aythe basement-ledge

O' the pedestal where sits and menaces

John of the Black Bands with the upright spear

'Twixt palace and church- Riccardi where they lived

His raceand San Lorenzo where they lie.

This book- precisely on that palace-step

Whichmeant for lounging knaves o' the Medici

Now serves re-venders to display their ware-

'Mongst odds and ends of ravagepicture-frames

White through the worn giltmirror-sconces chipped

Bronze angel-heads once knobs attached to chests

(Handled when ancient dames chose forth brocade)

Modern chalk drawingsstudies from the nude

Samples of stonejetbrecciaporphyry

Polished and roughsundry amazing busts

In baked earth(brokenProvidence be praised!)

A wreck of tapestryproudly-purposed web

When reds and blues were indeed red and blue

Now offered as a mat to save bare feet

(Since carpets constitute a cruel cost)

Treading the chill scagliola bedward: then

A pile of brown-etched printstwo crazie each

Stopped by a conch a-top from fluttering forth

-Sowing the Square with works of one and the same

Masterthe imaginative Sienese

Great in the scenic backgrounds- (name and fame

None of you knownor does he fare the worse:)

From these... Ohwith a Lionard going cheap

If it should proveas promisedthat Joconde

Whereof a copy contents the Louvre!- these

I picked this book from. Five compeers in flank

Stood left and right of it as tempting more-

A dog's-eared Spicilegiumthe fond tale

O' the Frail One of the Flowerby young Dumas

Vulgarized Horace for the use of schools

The LifeDeathMiracles of Saint Somebody

Saint Somebody Elsehis MiraclesDeath and Life-

With thisone glance at the lettered back of which

And 'Stall!' cried I: a lira made it mine.

HERE it isthis I toss and take again;

Small-quarto sizepart print part manuscript:

A book in shape butreallypure crude fact

Secreted from man's life when hearts beat hard

And brainshigh-bloodedticked two centuries since.

Give it me back! The thing's restorative

I' the touch and sight.

That memorable day

(June was the monthLorenzo named the Square)

I leaned a little and overlooked my prize

By the low railing round the fountain-source

Close to the statuewhere a step descends:

While clinked the cans of copperas stooped and rose

Thick-ankled girls who brimmed themand made place

For marketmen glad to pitch basket downDip a broad melon-leaf that holds thewet

And whisk their faded fresh. And on I read

Presentlythough my path grew perilous

Between the outspread straw-workpiles of plait

Soon to be flappingeach o'er two black eyes

And swathe of Tuscan hairon festas fine:

Through fire-ironstribes of tongsshovels in sheaves

Skeleton bedsteadswardrobe-drawers agape

Rows of tall slim brass lamps with dangling gear-

And worsecast clothes a-sweetening in the sun:

None of them took my eye from off my prize.

Still read I onfrom written title-page

To written indexonthrough street and street

At the Strozziat the Pillarat the Bridge;

Tillby the time I stood at home again

In Casa Guidi by Felice Church

Under the doorway where the black begins

With the first stone-slab of the staircase cold

I had mastered the contentsknew the whole truth

Gathered togetherbound up in this book

Print three-fifthswritten supplement the rest.

'Romana Homicidiorum' - nay

Better translate- 'A Roman murder-case:

Position of the entire criminal cause

Of Guido Franceschininobleman

With certain Four the cutthroats in his pay

Triedall fiveand found guilty and put to death

By heading or hanging as befitted ranks

At Rome on February Twenty Two

Since our salvation Sixteen Ninety Eight:

Wherein it is disputed ifand when

Husbands may kill adulterous wivesyet 'scape

The customary forfeit.'

Word for word

So ran the title-page: murderor else

Legitimate punishment of the other crime

Accounted murder by mistake- just that

And no morein a Latin cramp enough

When the law had her eloquence to launch

But interfilleted with Italian streaks

When testimony stooped to mother-tongue-

Thatwas this old square yellow book about.

NOWas the ingotere the ring was forged

Lay gold(beseech youhold that figure fast!)

Soin this book lay absolutely truth

Fanciless factthe documents indeed

Primary lawyer-pleadings foragainst

The aforesaid Five; real summed-up circumstance

Adduced in proof of these on either side

Put forth and printedas the practice was

At Romein the Apostolic Chamber's type

And so submitted to the eye o' the Court

Presided over by His Reverence

Rome's Governor and Criminal Judge- the trial

Itselfto all intentsbeing then as now

Here in the book and nowise out of it;

Seeingthere properly was no judgment-bar

No bringing of accuser and accused

And whoso judged both partiesface to face

Before some courtas we conceive of courts.

There was a Hall of Justice; that came last:

For justice had a chamber by the hall

Where she took evidence firstsummed up the same

Then sent accuser and accused alike

In person of the advocate of each

To weigh that evidence' wortharrangearray

The battle. 'Twas the so-styled Fisc began

Pleaded (and since he only spoke in print

The printed voice of him lives now as then)

The public Prosecutor- 'Murder's proved;

With five... what we call qualities of bad

Worseworstand yet worse stilland still worse yet;

Crest over crest crowning the cockatrice

That beggar hell's regalia to enrich

Count Guido Franceschini: punish him!'

Thus was the paper put before the court

In the next stage(no noisy work at all)

To study at ease. In due time like reply

Came from the so-styled Patron of the Poor

Official mouthpiece of the five accused

Too poor to fee a better- Guido's luck

Or else his fellows'whichI hardly know-

An outbreak as of wonder at the world

A fury-fit of outraged innocence

A passion of betrayed simplicity:

'Punish Count Guido? For what crimewhat hint

O' the colour of a crimeinform us first!

Reward him rather! Recognizewe say

In the deed donea righteous judgment dealt!

All conscience and all courage- there's our Count

Charactered in a word; andwhat's more strange

He had companionship in privilege

Found four courageous conscientious friends:

Absolveapplaud all fiveas props of law

Sustainers of society!- perchance

A trifle over-hasty with the hand

To hold her tottering arkhad tumbled else;

But that's a splendid fault whereat we wink

Wishing your cold correctness sparkled so!'

Thus paper second followed paper first

Thus did the two join issue- naythe four

Each pleader having an adjunct. 'Truehe killed

-So to speak- in a certain sort- his wife

But laudablysince thus it happed!' quoth one:

Whereatmore witness and the case postponed.

'Thus it happed notsince thus he did the deed

And proved himself thereby portentousest

Of cutthroats and a prodigy of crime

As the woman that he slaughtered was a saint

Martyr and miracle!' quoth the other to match:

Againmore witnessand the case postponed.

'A miracleay- of lust and impudence;

Hear my new reasons!' interposed the first:

'-Coupled with more of mine!' pursued his peer.

'Besidethe precedentsthe authorities!'

From both at once a cry with an echothat!

That was a firebrand at each fox's tail

Unleashed in a cornfield: soon spread flare enough

As hurtled thither and there heaped themselvesFrom earth's four cornersallauthority

And precedent for putting wives to death

Or letting wives livesinful as they seem.

How legislatednowin this respect

Solon and his Athenians? Quote the code

Of Romulus and Rome! Justinian speak!

Nor modern BaldoBartolo be dumb!

The Roman voice was potentplentiful;

Cornelia de Sicariis hurried to help

Pompeia de Parricidiis; Julia de

Something-or-other jostled Lex this-and-that

King Solomon confirmed Apostle Paul:

That nice decision of Dolabellaeh?

That pregnant instance of Theodoricoh!

Down to that choice example AElian gives

(An instance I find much insisted on)

Of the elephant whobrute-beast though he were

Yet understood and punished on the spot

His master's naughty spouse and faithless friend;

A true tale which has edified each child

Much more shall flourish favoured by our court!

Pages of proof this wayand that way proof

And always- once again the case postponed.

THUS wrangledbrangledjangled they a month

-Only on paperpleadings all in print

Nor ever wasexcept i' the brains of men

More noise by word of mouth than you hear now-

Till the court cut all short with 'Judgedyour cause.

Receive our sentence! Praise God! We pronounce

Count Guido devilish and damnable:

His wife Pompilia in thoughtword and deed

Was perfect purehe murdered her for that:

As for the Four who helped the Oneall Five-

Whylet employer and hirelings share alike

In guilt and guilt's rewardthe death their due!'

SO WAS the trial at enddo you suppose?

'Guilty you find himdeath you doom him to?

Aywere not Guidomore than needsa priest

Priest and to spare!'- this was a shot reserved;

I learn this from epistles which begin

Here where the print ends- see the pen and ink

Of the advocatethe ready at a pinch!-

'My client boasts the clerkly privilege

Has taken minor orders many enough

Shows still sufficient chrism upon his pate

To neutralize a blood-stain: presbyter

Primae tonsuraesubdiaconus

Sacerdosso he slips from underneath

Your powerthe temporalslides inside the robe

Of mother Church: to her we make appeal

By the Popethe Church's head!'

A parlous plea

Put in with noticeable effectit seems;

'Since straight'- resumes the zealous orator

Making a friend acquainted with the facts-

'Once the word "clericality" let fall

Procedure stopped and freer breath was drawn

By all considerate and responsible Rome.'

Quality took the decent partof course;

Held by the husbandwho was noble too:

Orfor the matter of thata churl would side

With too-refined susceptibility

And honour whichtender in the extreme

Stung to the quickmust roughly right itself

At all risksnot sit still and whine for law

As a Jew wouldif you squeezed him to the wall

Brisk-trotting through the Ghetto. Nayit seems

Even the Emperor's Envoy had his say

To say on the subject; might not seeunmoved

Civility menaced throughout Christendom

By too harsh measure dealt her champion here.

Lastlywhat made all safethe Pope was kind

From his youth upreluctant to take life

If mercy might be just and yet show grace;

Much more unlikely thenin extreme age

To take a life the general sense bade spare.

'Twas plain that Guido would go scatheless yet.

BUT human promiseohhow short of shine!

How topple down the piles of hope we rear!

Now history proves... nayread Herodotus!

Suddenly starting from a napas it were

A dog-sleep with one shutone open orb

Cried the Pope's great self- Innocent by name

And nature tooand eighty-six years old

Antonio Pignatelli of NaplesPope

Who had trod many landsknown many deeds

Probed many heartsbeginning with his own

And now was far in readiness for God-

'Twas he who first bade leave those souls in peace

Those Jansenistsre-nicknamed Molinists

('Gainst whom the cry wentlike a frowsy tune

Tickling men's ears- the sect for a quarter of an hour

I' the teeth of the world whichclown-likeloves to chew

Be it but a straw 'twixt work and whistling-while

Taste some vituperationbite away

Whether at marjoram-sprig or garlic-clove

Aught it may sport withspoiland then spit forth)

'Leave them alone' bade he'those Molinists!

Who may have other light than we perceive

Or why is it the whole world hates them thus?'

Also he peeled off that last scandal-rag

Of Nepotism; and so observed the poor

That men would merrily say'Haltdeaf and blind

Who feed on fat thingsleave the master's self

To gather up the fragments of his feast

These be the nephews of Pope Innocent!-

His own meal costs but five carlines a day

Poor-priest's allowancefor he claims no more.'

-He cried of a suddenthis great good old Pope

When they appealed in last resort to him

'I have mastered the whole matter: I nothing doubt.

Though Guido stood forth priest from head to heel

Instead ofas allegeda piece of one-

And furtherwere hefrom the tonsured scalp

To the sandaled sole of himmy son and Christ's

Instead of touching us by finger-tip

As you assertand pressing up so closeOnly to set a blood-smutch on ourrobe-

I and Christ would renounce all right in him.

Am I not Popeand presently to die

And busied how to render my account

And shall I wait a day ere I decide

On doing or not doing justice here?

Cut off his head to-morrow by this time

Hang up his four matestwo on either hand

And end one business more!'

So saidso done-

Rather so writfor the old Pope bade this

I findwith his particular chirograph

His own no such infirm handFriday night;

And next dayFebruary Twenty Two

Since our salvation Sixteen Ninety Eight

-Not at the proper head-and-hanging-place

On bridge-foot close by Castle Angelo

Where custom somewhat staled the spectacle

('Twas not so well i' the way of Romebeside

The noble Romethe Rome of Guido's rank)

But at the city's newer gayer end-

The cavalcading promenading place

Beside the gate and opposite the church

Under the Pincian gardens green with Spring

'Neath the obelisk 'twixt the fountains in the Square

Did Guido and his fellows find their fate

All Rome for witnessand- my writer adds-

Remonstrant in its universal grief

Since Guido had the suffrage of all Rome.

THIS is the bookful; thus far take the truth

The untempered goldthe fact untampered with

The mere ring-metal ere the ring be made!

And what has hitherto come of it? Who preserves

The memory of this Guidoand his wife

Pompiliamore than Ademollo's name

The etcher of those printstwo crazie each

Saved by a stone from snowing broad the Square

With scenic backgrounds? Was this truth of force?

Able to take its own part as truth should

Sufficientself-sustaining? Whyif so-

Yonder's a fireinto it goes my book

As who shall say me nayand what the loss?

You know the tale already: I may ask

Rather than think to tell youmore thereof-

Ask you not merely who were he or she

Husband and wifewhat manner of mankind

But how you hold concerning this and that

Other yet-unnamed actor in the piece.

The young frank handsome courtly Canonnow

The priestdeclared the lover of the wife

He whono questiondid elope with her

For certain bring the tragedy about

Giuseppe Caponsacchi;- his strange course

I' the matterwas it right or wrong or both?

Then the old coupleslaughtered with the wife

By the husband as accomplices in crime

Those CompariniPietro and his spouse-

What say you to the right or wrong of that

Whenat a known name whispered through the door

Of a lone villa on a Christmas night

It opened that the joyous hearts inside

Might welcome as it were an angel-guest

Come in Christ's name to knock and entersup

And satisfy the loving ones he saved;

And so did welcome devils and their death?

I have been silent on that circumstance

Although the couple passed for close of kin

To wife and husbandwere by some accounts

Pompilia's very parents: you know best.

Also that infant the great joy was for

That Gaetanothe wife's two-weeks' babe

The husband's first-born childhis son and heir

Whose birth and being turned his night to day-

Why must the father kill the mother thus

Because she bore his son and saved himself?

WELLBritish Publicye who like me not

(God love you!) and will have your proper laugh

At the dark questionlaugh it! I laugh first.

Truth must prevailthe proverb vows; and truth

-Here is it all i' the book at lastas first

There it was all i' the heads and hearts of Rome

Gentle and simplenever to fall nor fade

Nor be forgotten. Yeta little while

The passage of a century or so

Decads thrice fiveand here's time paid his tax

Oblivion gone home with her harvesting

And all left smooth again as scythe could shave.

Far from beginning with you London folk

I took my book to Rome firsttried truth's power

On likely people. 'Have you met such names?

Is a tradition extant of such facts?

Your law-courts standyour records frown a-row:

What if I rove and rummage?' '-Whyyou'll waste

Your pains and end as wise as you began!'

Everyone snickered: 'names and facts thus old

Are newer much than Europe news we find

Down in to-day's Diario. Recordsquotha?

Whythe French burned themwhat else do the French?

The rap-and-rending nation! And it tells

Against the Churchno doubt- another gird

At the Temporalityyour Trialof course?'

'-Quite otherwise this time' submitted I;

'Clean for the Church and dead against the world

The flesh and the devildoes it tell for once.'

'-The rarer and the happier! All the same

Content you with your treasure of a book

And waive what's wanting! Take a friend's advice!

It's not the custom of the country. Mend

Your ways indeed and we may stretch a point:

Go get you manned by Manning and new-manned

By Newman andmayhapwise-manned to boot

By Wisemanand we'll see or else we won't!

Thanks meantime for the storylong and strong

A pretty piece of narrative enough

Which scarce ought so to drop outone would think

From the more curious annals of our kind.

Do you tell the storynowin oft-hand style

Straight from the book? Or simply here and there(The while you vault itthrough the loose and large)

Hang to a hint? Or is there book at all

And don't you deal in poetrymake-believe

And the white lies it sounds like?'

Yes and no!

From the bookyes; thence bit by bit I dug

The lingot truththat memorable day

Assayed and knew my piecemeal gain was gold-

Yes; but from something else surpassing that

Something of mine which mixed up with the mass

Made it bear hammer and be firm to file.

Fancy with fact is just one falt the more;

To-witthat fancy has informedtranspierced

Thridded and so thrown fast the facts else free

As right through ring and ring runs the djereed

And binds the looseone bar without a break.

I fused my live soul and that inert stuff

Before attempting smithcrafton the night

After the day when- truth thus grasped and gained-

The book was shut and done with and laid by

On the cream-coloured massive agatebroad

'Neath the twin cherubs in the tarnished frame

O' the mirrortall thence to the ceiling-top.

And from the readingand that slab I leant

My elbow onthe while I read and read

I turnedto free myself and find the world

And stepped out on the narrow terracebuilt

Over the street and opposite the church

And paced its lozenge-brickwork sprinkled cool;

Because Felice-church-side stretcheda-glow

Through each square window fringed for festival

Whence came the clear voice of the cloistered ones

Chanting a chant made for midsummer nights-

I know not what particular praise of God

It always came and went with June. Beneath

I' the streetquick shown by openings of the sky

When flame fell silently from cloud to cloud

Richer than that gold snow Jove rained on Rhodes

The townsmen walked by twos and threesand talked

Drinking the blackness in default of air-

A busy human sense beneath my feet:

While in and out the terrace-plantsand round

One branch of tall daturawaxed and waned

The lamp-fly lured therewanting the white flower.

Over the roof o' the lighted church I looked

A bowshot to the street's endnorth away

Out of the Roman gate to the Roman road

By the rivertill I felt the Apennine.

And there would lie Arezzothe man's town

The woman's trap and cage and torture-place

Also the stage where the priest played his part

A spectacle for angels- ayindeed

There lay Arezzo! Farther then I fared

Feeling my way on through the hot and dense

Romewarduntil I found the wayside inn

By Castelnuovo's few mean hut-like homes

Huddled together on the hill-foot bleak

Barebroken only by that tree or two

Against the sudden bloody splendour poured

Cursewise in his departure by the day

On the low house-roof of that squalid inn

Where they threefor the first time and the last

Husband and wife and priestmet face to face.

Whence I went on againthe end was near

Step by stepmissing none and marking all

Till Rome itselfthe ghastly goalI reached.

Whyall the while- how could it otherwise?-

The life in me abolished the death of things

Deep calling unto deep: as then and there

Acted itself over again once more

The tragic piece. I saw with my own eyes

In Florence as I trod the terracebreathed

The beauty and the fearfulness of night

How it had runthis round from Rome to Rome-

Becauseyou are to knowthey lived at Rome

Pompilia's parentsas they thought themselves

Two poor ignoble hearts who did their best

Part God's waypart the other way than God's

To somehow make a shift and scramble through

The world's mudcareless if it splashed and spoiled

Provided they might so hold highkeep clean

Their child's soulone soul white enough for three

And lift it to whatever star should stoop

What possible sphere of purer life than theirs

Should come in aid of whiteness hard to save.

I saw the star stoopthat they strained to touch

And did touch and depose their treasure on

As Guido Franceschini took away

Pompilia to be his for evermore

While they sang 'Now let us depart in peace

Having beheld thy gloryGuido's wife!'

I saw the star supposedbut fog o' the fen

Gilded star-fashion by a glint from hell;

Having been heaved uphaled on its gross way

By hands unguessed beforeinvisible help

From a dark brotherhoodand specially

Two obscure goblin creaturesfox-faced this

Cat-clawed the othercalled his next of kin

By Guido the main monster- cloaked and caped

Making as they were prieststo mock God more-

Abate PaulCanon Girolamo.

These who had rolled the starlike pest to Rome

And stationed it to suck up and absorb

The sweetness of Pompiliarolled again

That bloated bubblewith her soul inside

Back to Arezzo and a palace there-

Or saya fissure in the honest earth

Whence long ago had curled the vapour first

Blown big by nether fires to appal day:

It touched homebrokeand blasted far and wide.

I saw the cheated couple find the cheat

And guess what foul rite they were captured for-

Too fain to follow over hill and dale

That child of theirs caught up thus in the cloud

And carried by the Prince o' the Power of the Air

Whither he wouldto wilderness or sea.

I saw themin the potency of fear

Break somehow through the satyr-family

(For a grey mother with a monkey-mien

Mopping and mowingwas apparent too

Asconfident of captureall took hands

And danced about the captives in a ring)

-Saw them break throughbreathe safeat Rome again

Saved by the selfish instinctlosing so

Their loved one left with haters. These I saw

In recrudescency of baffled hate

Prepare to wring the uttermost revenge

From body and soul thus left them: all was sure

Fire laid and cauldron setthe obscene ring traced

The victim stripped and prostrate: what of God?

The cleaving of a clouda crya crash

Quenched lay their cauldroncowered i' the dust the crew

Asin a glory of armour like Saint George

Out again sprang the young good beauteous priest

Bearing away the lady in his arms

Saved for a splendid minute and no more.

Forwhom i' the path did that priest come upon

He and the poor lost lady borne so brave

-Checking the song of praise in mehad else

Swelled to the full for God's will done on earth-

Whom but a dusk misfeatured messenger

No other than the angel of this life

Whose care is lest men see too much at once.

He made the signsuch God-glimpse must suffice

Nor prejudice the Prince o' the Power of the Air

Whose ministration piles us overhead

What we callfirstearth's roof andlastheaven's floor

Now grate o' the trapthen outlet of the cage:

So took the ladyleft the priest alone

And once more canopied the world with black.

But through the blackness I saw Rome again

And where a solitary villa stood

In a lone garden-quarter: it was eve

The second of the yearand oh so cold!

Ever and anon there flittered through the air

A snow-flakeand a scanty couch of snow

Crusted the grass-walk and the garden-mould.

All was gravesilentsinister- whenha?

Glimmeringly did a pack of were-wolves pad

The snowthose flames were Guido's eyes in front

And all five found and footed itthe track

To where a threshold-streak of warmth and light

Betrayed the villa-door with life inside

While an inch outside were those blood-bright eyes

And black lips wrinkling o'er the flash of teeth

And tongues that lolled- Oh God that madest man!

They parleyed in their language. Then one whined-

That was the policy and master-stroke-

Deep in his throat whispered what seemed a name-

'Open to Caponsacchi!' Guido cried:

'Gabriel!' cried Lucifer at Eden-gate.

Wide as a heartopened the door at once

Showing the joyous coupleand their child

The two-weeks' motherto the wolvesthe wolves

To them. Close eyes! And when the corpses lay

Stark-stretchedand those the wolvestheir wolf-work done

Were safe-embosomed by the night again

I knew a necessary change in things;

As when the worst watch of the night gives way

And there comes dulyto take cognizance

The scrutinizing eye-point of some star-

And who despairs of a new daybreak now?

Lothe first ray protruded on those five!

It reached themand each felon writhed transfixed.

Awhile they palpitated on the spear

Motionless over Tophet: stand or fall?

'I saythe spear should fall- should standI say!'

Cried the world come to judgmentgranting grace

Or dealing doom according to world's wont

Those world's-bystanders grouped on Rome's crossroad

At prick and summons of the primal curse

Which bids man love as well as make a lie.

There prattled theydiscoursed the right and wrong

Turned wrong to rightproved wolves sheep and sheep wolves

So that you scarce distinguished fell from fleece;

Till out spoke a great guardian of the fold

Stood upput forth his hand that held the crook

And motioned that the arrested point decline:

Horribly offthe wriggling dead-weight reeled

Rushed to the bottom and lay ruined there.

Though still at the pit's mouthdespite the smoke

O' the burningtarriers turned again to talk

And trim the balanceand detect at least

A touch of wolf in what showed whitest sheep

A cross of sheep redeeming the whole wolf-

Vex truth a little longer:- less and less

Because years came and wentand more and more

Brought new lies with them to be loved in turn.

Till all at once the memory of the thing-

The fact thatwolves or sheepsuch creatures were-

Which hithertohowever men supposed

Had somehow plain and pillar-like prevailed

I' the midst of themindisputably fact

Granitetime's tooth should grate againstnot graze-

Whythis proved sandstonefriablefast to fly

And give its grain away at wish o' the wind.

Ever and ever more diminutive

Base goneshaft lostonly entablature

Dwindled into no bigger than a book

Lay of the column; and that littleleft

By the roadside 'mid the ordureshards and weeds.

Until I haplywandering that way

Kicked it upturned it overand recognized

For all the crumblementthis abacus

This square old yellow book- could calculate

By this the lost proportions of the style.

THIS was it frommy fancy with those facts

I used to tell the taleturned gay to grave

But lacked a listener seldom; such alloy

Such substance of me interfused the gold

Whichwrought into a shapely ring therewith

Hammered and filedfingered and favouredlast

Lay ready for the renovating wash

O' the water. 'How much of the tale was true?'

I disappeared; the book grew all in all;

The lawyers' pleadings swelled back to their size-

Doubled in twothe crease upon them yet

For more commodity of carriagesee!-

And these are lettersveritable sheets

That brought posthaste the news of Florencewrit

At Rome the day Count Guido diedwe find

To stay the craving of a client there

Who bound the same and so produced my book.

Lovers of dead truthdid ye fare the worse?

Lovers of live truthfound ye false my tale?

WELLnow; there's nothing in nor out o' the world

Good except truth: yet thisthe something else

What's this thenwhich proves good yet seems untrue?

This that I mixed with truthmotions of mine

That quickenedmade the inertness malleolable

O' the gold was not mine- what's your name for this?

Are means to the endthemselves in part the end?

Is fiction which makes fact alivefact too?

The somehow may be thishow.

I find first

Writ down for very A B C of fact

'In the beginning God made heaven and earth;'

From whichno matter with what lispI spell

And speak you out a consequence- that man

Man- as befits the madethe inferior thing-

Purposedsince madeto grownot make in turn

Yet forced to try and makeelse fail to grow-

Formed to risereach atif not grasp and gain

The good beyond him- which attempt is growth-

Repeats God's process in man's due degree

Attaining man's proportionate result-

Createsnobut resuscitatesperhaps.

Inalienablethe arch-prerogative

Which turns thoughtact- conceivesexpresses too!

No lessmanboundedyearning to be free

May so project his surplusage of soul

In search of bodyso add self to self

By owning what lay ownerless before-

So findso fill fullso appropriate forms-

Thatalthough nothing which had never life

Shall get life from himbenot having been

Yetsomething dead may get to live again

Something with too much life or not enough

Whicheither way imperfectended once:

An end whereat man's impulse intervenes

Makes new beginningstarts the dead alive

Completes the incomplete and saves the thing.

Man's breath were vain to light a virgin wick-

Half-burned-outall but quite-quenched wicks o' the lamp

Stationed for temple-service on this earth

These indeed let him breathe on and relume!

For such man's feat isin the due degree

-Mimic creationgalvanism for life

But still a glory portioned in the scale.

Why did the mage say- feeling as we are wont

For truthand stopping midway short of truth

And resting on a lie- 'I raise a ghost'?

'Because' he taught adepts'man makes not man.

Yet by a special giftan art of arts

More insight and more outsight and much more

Will to use both of these than boast my mates

I can detach from mecommission forth

Half of my soul; which in its pilgrimage

O'er old unwandered waste ways of the world

May chance upon some fragment of a whole

Rag of fleshscrap of bone in dim disuse

Smoking flax that fed fire once: prompt therein

I enterspark-likeput old powers to play

Push lines out to the limitlead forth last

(By a moonrise through a ruin of a crypt)

What shall be mistily seenmurmuringly heard

Mistakenly felt: then write my name with Faust's!'

OhFaustwhy Faust? Was not Elisha once?-

Who bade them lay his staff on a corpse-face.

There was no voiceno hearing: he went in

Thereforeand shut the door upon them twain

And prayed unto the Lord: and he went up

And lay upon the corpsedead on the couch

And put his mouth upon its mouthhis eyes

Upon its eyeshis hands upon its hands

And stretched him on the flesh; the flesh waxed warm:

And he returnedwalked to and fro the house

And went upstretched him on the flesh again

And the eyes opened. 'Tis a credible feat

With the right man and way.

Enough of me!

The Book! I turn its medicinable leaves

In London now tillas in Florence erst

A spirit laughs and leaps through every limb

And lights my eyeand lifts me by the hair

Letting me have my will again with these

-How title I the dead alive once more?

COUNT Guido Franceschini the Aretine

Descended of an ancient housethough poor

A beak-nosed bushy-bearded black-haired lord

Leanpallidlow of stature yet robust

Fifty years old- having four years ago

Married Pompilia Compariniyoung

Goodbeautifulat Romewhere she was born

And brought her to Arezzowhere they lived

Unhappy liveswhatever curse the cause-

This husbandtaking four accomplices

Followed this wife to Romewhere she was fled

From their Arezzo to find peace again

In convoyeight months earlierof a priest

Aretine alsoof still nobler birth

Giuseppe Caponsacchi- and caught her there

Quiet in a villa on a Christmas night

With only Pietro and Violante by

Both her putative parents; killed the three

Agedtheyseventy eachand sheseventeen

Andtwo weeks sincethe mother of his babe

First-born and heir to what the style was worth

O' the Guido who determineddared and did

This deed just as he purposed point by point.

Thenbent upon escapebut hotly pressed

And captured with his co-mates that same night

Hebrought to trialstood on this defence-

Injury to his honour caused the act;

That since his wife was false(as manifest

By flight from home in such companionship)

Deathpunishment deserved of the false wife

And faithless parents who abetted her

I' the flight aforesaidwronged nor God nor man.

'Nor false shenor yet faithless they' replied

The accuser; 'cloaked and masked this murder glooms;

True was Pompilialoyal too the pair;

Out of the man's own heart this monster curled

This crime coiled with connivancy at crime

His victim's breasthe tells youhatched and reared;

Uncoil we and stretch stark the worm of hell!'

A month the trial swayed this way and that

Ere judgment settled down on Guido's guilt;

Then was the Popethat good Twelfth Innocent

Appealed to: who well weighed what went before

Affirmed the guilt and gave the guilty doom.

LET this old woe step on the stage again!

Act itself o'er anew for men to judge

Not by the very sense and sight indeed-

(Which take at best imperfect cognizance

Sincehow heart moves brainand how both move hand

What mortal ever in entirety saw?)

-No dose of purer truth than man digests

But truth with falsehoodmilk that feeds him now

Not strong meat he may get to bear some day-

To-witby voices we call evidence

Uproar in the echolive fact deadened down

Talked overbruited abroadwhispered away

Yet helping us to all we seem to hear:

For how else know we save by worth of word?

HERE are the voices presently shall sound

In due succession. Firstthe world's outcry

Around the rush and ripple of any fact

Fallen stonewiseplumb on the smooth face of things;

The world's guessas it crowds the bank o' the pool

At what were figure and substanceby their splash:

Thenby vibrations in the general mind

At depth of deed already out of reach.

This threefold murder of the day before-

SayHalf-Rome's feel after the vanished truth;

Honest enoughas the way is: all the same

Harbouring in the centre of its sense

A hidden germ of failureshy but sure

Should neutralize that honesty and leave

That feel for truth at faultas the way is too.

Some prepossession such as starts amiss

By but a hair's-breadth at the shoulder-blade

The arm o' the feelerdip he ne'er so brave;

And so leads waveringlylets fall wide

O' the mark his finger meant to findand fix

Truth at the bottomthat deceptive speck.

With this Half-Rome- the source of swervingcall

Over-belief in Guido's right and wrong

Rather than in Pompilia's wrong and right:

Who shall say howwho shall say why? 'Tis there-

The instinctive theorizing whence a fact

Looks to the eye as the eye likes the look.

Gossip in a public placea sample-speech.

Some worthywith his previous hint to find

A husband's side the saferand no whit

Aware he is not AEacus the while-

How such an one supposes and states fact

To whosoever of a multitude

Will listenand perhaps prolong thereby

The not-unpleasant flutter at the breast

Born of a certain spectacle shut in

By the church Lorenzo opposite. Sothey lounge

Midway the mouth o' the streeton Corso side

'Twixt palace Fiano and palace Ruspoli

Linger and listen; keeping clear o' the crowd

Yet wishful one could lend that crowd one's eyes

(So universal is its plague of squint)

And make hearts beat our time that flutter false:

-All for the truth's sakemere truthnothing else!

How Half-Rome found for Guido much excuse.

NEXTfrom Rome's other halfthe opposite feel

For truth with a like swervelike unsuccess-

Or if successby no more skill but luck:

This timethrough rather siding with the wife

However the fancy-fit inclined that way

Than with the husband. One wears drabonepink;

Who wears pinkask him 'Which shall win the race

Of coupled runners like as egg and egg?'

'-Whyif I must choosehe with the pink scarf.'

Doubtless for some such reason choice fell here.

A piece of public talk to correspond

At the next stage of the story; just a day

Let pass and new day bring the proper change.

Another sample-speech i' the market-place

O' the Barberini by the Capucins;

Where the old Tritonat his fountain-sport

Bernini's creature plated to the paps

Puffs up steel sleet which breaks to diamond dust

A spray of sparkles snorted from his conch

High over the caritellasout o' the way

O' the motley merchandizing multitude.

Our murder has been done three days ago

The frost is over and gonethe south wind laughs

Andto the very tiles of each red roof

A-smoke i' the sunshineRome lies gold and glad:

Solisten howto the other half of Rome

Pompilia seemed a saint and martyr both!

THENyet another day let come and go

With pause prelusive still of novelty

Hear a fresh speaker!- neither this nor that

Half-Rome aforesaid; something bred of both:

One and one breed the inevitable three.

Such is the personage harangues you next;

The elaborated producttertium quid:

Rome's first commotion in subsidence gives

The curd o' the creamflower o' the wheatas it were

And finer sense o' the city. Is this plain?

You get a reasoned statement of the case

Eventual verdict of the curious few

Who care to sift a business to the bran

Nor coarsely bolt it like the simpler sort.

Hereafter ignoranceinstruction speaks;

Hereclarity of candourhistory's soul

The critical mindin short: no gossip-guess.

What the superior social section thinks

In person of some man of quality

Who- breathing musk from lace-work and brocade

His solitaire amid the flow of frill

Powdered peruke on noseand bag at back

And cane dependent from the ruffled wrist-

Harangues in silvery and selectest phrase

'Neath waxlight in a glorified saloon

Where mirrors multiply the girandole:

Courting the approbation of no mob

But Eminence This and All-Illustrious That

Who take snuff softlyrange in well-bred ring

Card-table-quitters for observance' sake

Around the argumentthe rational word-

Stillspite its weight and wortha sample-speech.

How quality dissertated on the case.

SO MUCH for Rome and rumour; smoke comes first:

Once the smoke risen untroubledwe descry

Clearlier what tongues of flame may spire and spit

To eye and eareach with appropriate tinge

According to its foodpure or impure.

The actorsno mere rumours of the act

Intervene. First you hear Count Guido's voice

In a small chamber that adjoins the court

Where Governor and Judgessummoned thence

TommatiVenturini and the rest

Find the accused ripe for declaring truth.

Soft-cushioned sits he; yet shifts seatshirks touch

Aswith a twitchy brow and wincing lip

And cheek that changes to all kinds of white

He proffers his defencein tones subdued

Near to mock-mildness nowso mournful seems

The obtuser sense truth fails to satisfy;

Nowmovedfrom pathos at the wrong endured

To passion; for the natural man is roused

At fools who first do wrongthen pour the blame

Of their wrong-doingSatan-likeon Job.

Also his tongue at times is hard to curb;

Incisivenigh satiric bites the phrase

Rough-rawyet somehow claiming privilege

-It is so hard for shrewdness to admit

Folly means no harm when she calls black white!

-Eruption momentary at the most

Modified forthwith by a fall o' the fire

Sage acquiescence; for the world's the world

Andwhat it errs inJudges rectify:

He feels he has a fistthen folds his arms

Crosswise and makes his mind up to be meek.

And never once does he detach his eye

From those ranged there to slay him or to save

But does his best man's-service for himself

Despite- what twitches brow and makes lip wince-

His limbs' late taste of what was called the Cord

Or Vigil-torture more facetiously.

Even so; they were wont to tease the truth

Out of loath witness (toyingtrifling time)

By torture: 'twas a tricka vice of the age

Herethere and everywherewhat would you have?

Religion used to tell Humanity

She gave him warrant or denied him course.

And since the course was much to his own mind

Of pinching flesh and pulling bone from bone

To unhusk truth a-hiding in its hulls

Nor whisper of a warning stopped the way

Hein their joint behalfthe burly slave

Bestirred himmauled and maimed all recusants

Whileprim in placeReligion overlooked;

And so had done till doomsdaynever a sign

Nor sound of interference from her mouth

But that at last the burly slave wiped brow

Let eye give notice as if soul were there

Muttered ''Tis a vile trickfoolish more than vile

Should have been counted sin; I make it so:

At any rate no more of it for me-

Nayfor I break the torture-engine thus!'

Then did Religion start upstare amain

Look round for help and see nonesmile and say

'Whatbroken is the rack? Well done of thee!

Did I forget to abrogate its use?

Be the mistake in common with us both!

-One more fault our blind age shall answer for

Down in my book denounced though it must be

Somewhere. Henceforth find truth by milder means!'

Ah butReligiondid we wait for thee

To ope the bookthat serves to sit upon

And pick such place outwe should wait indeed!

That is all history: and what is not now

Was thendefendants found it to their cost.

How Guidoafter being torturedspoke.

ALSO hear Caponsacchi who comes next

Man and priest- could you comprehend the coil!-

In days when that was rife which now is rare.

Howmingling each its multifarious wires

Now heavennow earthnow heaven and earth at once

Had plucked at and perplexed their puppet here

Played off the young frank personable priest;

Sworn fast and tonsured plain heaven's celibate

And yet earth's clear-accepted servitor

A courtly spiritual Cupidsquire of dames

By law of love and mandate of the mode.

The Church's ownor why parade her seal

Wherefore that chrism and consecrative work?

Yet verily the world'sor why go badged

A prince of sonneteers and lutanists

Show colour of each vanity in vogue

Borne with decorum due on blameless breast?

All that is changed nowas he tells the court

How he had played the part excepted at;

Tells itmoreovernow the second time:

Sincefor his cause of scandalhis own share

I' the flight from home and husband of the wife

He has been censuredpunished in a sort

By relegation- exilewe should say

To a short distance for a little time-

Whence he is summoned on a sudden now

Informed that shehe thought to saveis lost

Andin a breathbidden re-tell his tale

Since the first telling somehow missed effect

And then advise in the matter. There stands he

While the same grim black-panelled chamber blinks

As though rubbed shiny with the sins of Rome

Told the same oak for ages- wave-washed wall

Whereto has set a sea of wickedness.

Therewhere you yesterday heard Guido speak

Speaks Caponsacchi; and there face him too

TommatiVenturini and the rest

Whoeight months earlierscarce repressed the smile

Forewent the wink; waived recognition so

Of peccadillos incident to youth

Especially youth high-born; for youth means love

Vows can't change naturepriests are only men

And love needs stratagem and subterfuge:

Which agethat once was youthshould recognize

May blamebut needs not press too hard against.

Here sit the old Judges thenbut with no grace

Of reverend carriagemagisterial port.

For why? The accused of eight months since- the same

Who cut the conscious figure of a fool

Changed countenancedropped bashful gaze to ground

While hesitating for an answer then-

Now is grown judge himselfterrifies now

Thisnow the other culprit called a judge

Whose turn it is to stammer and look strange

As he speaks rapidlyangrilyspeech that smites:

And they keep silencebear blow after blow

Because the seeming-solitary man

Speaking for Godmay have an audience too

Invisibleno discreet judge provokes.

How the priest Caponsacchi said his say.

THEN a soul sighs its lowest and its last

After the loud ones- so much breath remains

Unused by the four-days'-dying; for she lived

Thus longmiraculously long'twas thought

Just that Pompilia might defend herself.

Howwhile the hireling and the alien stoop

Comfortyet question- since the time is brief

And folkallowably inquisitive

Encircle the low pallet where she lies

In the good house that helps the poor to die-

Pompilia tells the story of her life.

For friend and lover- leech and man of law

Do service; busy helpful ministrants

As varied in their calling as their mind

Temper and age: and yet from all of these

About the white bed under the arched roof

Is somehowas it wereevolved a one-

Small separate sympathies combined and large

Nothings that weregrown something very much:

As if the bystanders gave each his straw

All he hadthough a trifle in itself

Whichplaited all togethermade a Cross

Fit to die looking on and praying with

Just as well as if ivory or gold.

Soto the common kindliness she speaks

There being scarce more privacy at the last

For mind than body: but she is used to bear

And only unused to the brotherly look.

How she endeavoured to explain her life.

THENsince a Trial ensueda touch o' the same

To sober usflustered with frothy talk

And teach our common sense its helplessness.

For why deal simply with divining-rod

Scrape where we fancy secret sources flow

And ignore lawthe recognized machine

Elaborate display of pipe and wheel

Framed to unchokepump up and pour apace

Truth in a flowery foam shall wash the world?

The patent truth-extracting process- ha?

Let us make all that mystery turn one wheel

Give you a single grind of law at least!

One oratorof two on either side

Shall teach us the puissance of the tongue

-That iso' the pen which simulated tongue

On paper and saved all except the sound

Which never was. Law's speech beside law's thought?

That were too stunningtoo immense an odds:

That point of vantagelaw let nobly pass.

One lawyer shall admit us to behold

The manner of the making out a case

First fashion of a speech; the chick in egg

And masterpiece law's bosom incubates.

How Don Giacinto of the Arcangeli

Called Procurator of the Poor at Rome

Now advocate for Guido and his mates-

The jolly learned man of middle age

Cheek and jowl all in laps with fat and law

Mirthful as mightyyetas great hearts use

Despite the name and fame that tempt our flesh

Constant to that devotion of the hearth

Still captive in those dear domestic ties!-

How he- having a cause to triumph with

All kind of interests to keep intact

More than one efficacious personage

To tranquillizeconciliate and secure

And above allpublic anxiety

To quietshow its Guido in good hands-

Alsoas if such burdens were too light

A certain family-feast to claim his care

The birthday-banquet for the only son-

Paternity at smiling strife with law-

How he brings both to buckle in one bond;

Andthick at throatwith waterish under-eye

Turns to his task and settles in his seat

And puts his utmost means to practice now:

Wheezes out law and whiffles Latin forth

Andjust as though roast lamb would never be

Makes logic levigate the big crime small:

Rubs palm on palmrakes foot with itchy foot

Conceives and inchoates the argument

Sprinkling each flower appropriate to the time

-Ovidian quip or Ciceronian crank

A-bubble in the larynx while he laughs

As he had fritters deep down frying there.

How he turnstwistsand tries the oily thing

Shall be- first speech for Guido 'gainst the Fisc.

THEN with a skip as it were from heel to head

Leaving yourselves fill up the middle bulk

O' the Trialreconstruct its shape august

From such exordium clap we to the close;

Give youif we dare wing to such a height

The absolute glory in some full-grown speech

On the other sidesome finished butterfly

Some breathing diamond-flake with leaf-gold fans

That takes the airno trace of worm it was

Or cabbage-bed it had production from.

Giovambattista o' the BottiniFisc

Pompilia's patron by the chance of the hour

To-morrow her persecutor- compositehe

As becomes who must meet such various calls-

Odds of age joined in him with ends of youth.

A man of ready smile and facile tear

Improvised hopesdespairs at nod and beck

And language- ahthe gift of eloquence!

Language that goes as easy as a glove

O'er good and evilsmoothens both to one.

Rashness helps caution with himfires the straw

In free enthusiastic careless fit

On the first proper pinnacle of rock

Which happensas reward for all that zeal

To lure some bark to founder and bring gain:

While calm sits Cautionrapt with heavenward eye

A true confessor's gaze amid the glare

Beaconing to the breakerdeath and hell.

'Well donethou good and faithful!' she approves:

'Hadst thou let slip a faggot to the beach

The crew had surely spied thy precipice

And saved their boat; the simple and the slow

Who should have prompt forestalled the wrecker's fee:

Let the next crew be wise and hail in time!'

Just so compounded is the outside man

Blue juvenile pure eye and pippin cheek

And brow all prematurely soiled and seamed

With sudden agebright devastated hair.

Ahbut you miss the very tones o' the voice

The scrannel pipe that screams in heights of head

Asin his modest studioall alone

The tall wight Stands a-tiptoestrives and strains

Both eyes shutlike the cockerel that would crow

Tries to his own self amorously o'er

What never will be uttered else than so-

To the four wallsfor Forum and Mars' Hill

Speaks out the poesy whichpennedturns prose.

Clavecinist debarred his instrument

He yet thrums- shirking neither turn nor trill

With desperate finger on dumb table-edge-

The sovereign rondoshall conclude his Suite

Charm an imaginary audience there

From old Corelli to young Haendelboth

I' the flesh at Romeere he perforce go print

The cold black scoremere music for the mind-

The last speech against Guido and his gang

With special end to prove Pompilia pure.

How the Fisc vindicates Pompilia's fame.

THEN comes the all but endthe ultimate

Judgment save yours. Pope Innocent the Twelfth

Simplesagaciousmild yet resolute

With prudenceprobity and- what beside

From the other world he feels impress at times

Having attained to fourscore years and six-

Howwhen the court found Guido and the rest

Guiltybut law supplied a subterfuge

And passed the final sentence to the Pope

Hebringing his intelligence to bear

This last time on what ball behoves him drop

In the urnor white or blackdoes drop a black

Send five souls more to just precede his own

Stand him in stead and witnessif need were

How he is wont to do God's work on earth.

The manner of his sitting out the dim

Droop of a sombre February day

In the plain closet where he does such work

Withfrom all Peter's treasuryone stool

One table and one lathen crucifix.

There sits the Popehis thoughts for company;

Grave but not sad- naysomething like cheer

Leaves the lips free to be benevolent

Whichall day longdid duty firm and fast.

A cherishing there is of foot and knee

A chafing loose-skinned large-veined hand with hand-

What steward but knows when stewardship earns its wage

May levy praiseanticipate the lord?

He readsnoteslays the papers down at last

Musesthen takes a turn about the room;

Unclasps a huge tome in an antique guise

Primitive print and tongue half obsolete

That stands him in diurnal stead; opes page

Finds place where falls the passage to be conned

According to an order long in use:

Andas he comes upon the evening's chance

Starts somewhatsolemnizes straight his smile

Then reads aloud that portion first to last

And at the end lets flow his own thoughts forth

Likewise aloudfor respite and relief

Till by the dreary relics of the west

Wan through the half-moon windowall his light

He bows the head while the lips move in prayer

Writes some three brief linessigns and seals the same

Tinkles a hand-bellbids the obsequious Sir

Who puts foot presently o' the closet-sill

He watched outside ofbear as superscribed

That mandate to the Governor forthwith:

Then heaves abroad his cares in one good sigh

Traverses corridor with no arm's help

And so to sup as a clear conscience should.

The manner of the judgment of the Pope.

THEN must speak Guido yet a second time

Satan's old saw being apt here- skin for skin

All a man hath that will he give for life.

While life was graspable and gainablefree

To bird-like buzz her wings round Guido's brow

Not much truth stiffened out the web of words

He wove to catch her: when away she flew

And death camedeath's breath rivelled up the lies

Left bare the metal threadthe fibre fine

Of truthi' the spinning: the true words come last.

How Guidoto another purpose quite

Speaks and despairsthe last night of his life

In that New Prison by Castle Angelo

At the bridge-foot: the same mananother voice.

On a Stone bench in a close fetid cell

Where the hot vapour of an agony

Struck into drops on the cold wallruns down

Horrible worms made out of sweat and tears-

There crouchwell nigh to the knees in dungeon-straw

Lit by the sole lamp suffered for their sake

Two awe-struck figuresthis a Cardinal

That an Abateboth of old styled friends

Of the part-man part-monster in the midst

So changed is Franceschini's gentle blood.

The tiger-cat screams nowthat whined before

That pried and tried and trod so gingerly

Till in its silkiness the trap-teeth join;

Then you know how the bristling fury foams.

They listenthis wrapped in his folds of red

While his feet fumble for the filth below;

The otheras beseems a stouter heart

Working his best with beads and cross to ban

The enemy that comes in like a flood

Spite of the standard set upverily

And in no trope at allagainst him there:

For at the prison-gatejust a few steps

Outsidealreadyin the doubtful dawn

Thitherfrom this side and from thatslow sweep

And settle down in silence solidly

Crow-wisethe frightful Brotherhood of Death.

Black-hatted and black-hooded huddle they

Black rosaries a-dangling from each waist;

So take they their grim station at the door

Torches alight and cross-bones-banner spread

And that gigantic Christ with open arms

Grounded. Nor lacks there aught but that the group

Break forthintone the lamentable psalm

'Out of the deepsLordhave I cried to thee!'-

When insidefrom the true profounda sign

Shall bear intelligence that the foe is foiled

Count Guido Franceschini has confessed

And is absolved and reconciled with God.

Then theyintoningmay begin their march

Make by the longest way for the People's Square

Carry the criminal to his crime's award:

A mob to cleavea scaffolding to reach

Two gallows and Mannaia crowning all.

How Guido made defence a second time.

FINALLYeven as thus by step and step

I led you from the level of to-day

Up to the summit of so long ago

Herewhence I point you the wide prospect round-

Let meby like stepsslope you back to smooth

Land you on mother-earthno whit the worse

To feed o' the fat o' the furrow: free to dwell

Taste our time's better things profusely spread

For all who love the levelcorn and wine

Much cattle and the many-folded fleece.

Shall not my friends go feast again on sward

Though cognizant of country in the clouds

Higher than wistful eagle's horny eye

Ever unclosed forMid ancestral crags

When morning broke and Spring was back once more

And he diedheavensave by his heartunreached?

Yet heaven my fancy lifts toladder-like-

As Jack reachedholpen of his beanstalk-rungs!

A NOVEL country: I might make it mine

By choosing which one aspect of the year

Suited mood bestand putting solely that

On panel somewhere in the House of Fame

Landscaping what I savednot what I saw:

-Might fix youwhether frost in goblin-time

Startled the moon with his abrupt bright laugh

OrAugust's hair afloat in filmy fire

She fellarms wideface foremost on the world

Swooned there and so singed out the strength of things.

Thus were abolished Spring and Autumn both

The land dwarfed to one likeness of the land

Life cramped corpse-fashion. Rather learn and love

Each facet-flash of the revolving year!-

Redgreen and blue that whirl into a white

The variance nowthe eventual unity

Which make the miracle. See it for yourselves

This man's actchangeable because alive!

Action now shroudsnow shows the informing thought;

Manlike a glass ball with a spark a-top

Out of the magic fire that lurks inside

Shows one tint at a time to take the eye:

Whichlet a finger touch the silent sleep

Shifted a hair's-breadth shoots you dark for bright

Suffuses bright with darkand baffles so

Your sentence absolute for shine or shade.

Once set such orbs- white styledblack stigmatized-

A-rollingsee them once on the other side

Your good men and your bad men every one

From Guido Franceschini to Guy Faux

Oft would you rub your eyes and change your names.

SUCHBritish Publicye who like me not

(God love you!)- whom I yet have laboured for

Perchance more careful whoso runs may read

Than erst when allit seemedcould read who ran-

Perchance more careless whoso reads may praise

Than late when he who praised and read and wrote

Was apt to find himself the self-same me-

Such labour had such issueso I wrought

This arcby furtherance of such alloy

And soby one spirttake away its trace

Tilljustifiably goldenrounds my ring.

A ring without a posyand that ring mine?

O LYRIC Lovehalf-angel and half-bird

And all a wonder and a wild desire-

Boldest of hearts that ever braved the sun

Took sanctuary within the holier blue

And sang a kindred soul out to his face-

Yet human at the red-ripe of the heart-

When the first summons from the darkling earth

Reached thee amid thy chambersblanched their blue

And bared them of the glory- to drop down

To toil for manto suffer or to die-

This is the same voice: can thy soul know change?

Hail thenand hearken from the realms of help!

Never may I commence my songmy due

To God who best taught song by gift of thee

Except with bent head and beseeching hand-

That stilldespite the distance and the dark

What wasagain may be; some interchange

Of gracesome splendour once thy very thought

Some benediction anciently thy smile:

-Never concludebut raising hand and head

Thither where eyesthat cannot reachyet yearn

For all hopeall sustainmentall reward

Their utmost up and on- so blessing back

In those thy realms of helpthat heaven thy home

Some whiteness whichI judgethy face makes proud

Some wanness whereI thinkthy foot may fall!

II: Half_Rome

WHATyouSircome too? (Just the man I'd meet.)

Be ruled by me and have a care o' the crowd:

This waywhile fresh folk go and get their gaze:

I'll tell you like a book and save your shins.

Fiewhat a roaring day we've had! Whose fault?

Lorenzo in Lucina- here's a church

To hold a crowd at needaccommodate

All comers from the Corso! If this crush

Make not its priests ashamed of what they show

For temple-roomdon't prick them to draw purse

And down with bricks and mortareke us out

The beggarly transept with its bit of apse

Into a decent space for Christian ease

Whyto-day's lucky pearl is cast to swine.

Listen and estimate the luck they've had!

(The right manand I hold him.)

Sirdo you see

They laid both bodies in the churchthis morn

The first thingon the chancel two steps up

Behind the little marble balustrade;

Disposed themPietro the old murdered fool

To the right of the altarand his wretched wife

On the other side. In trying to count stabs

People supposed Violante showed the most

Till somebody explained us that mistake;

His wounds had been dealt out indifferent where

But she took all her stabbings in the face

Since punished thus solely for honour's sake

Honoris causathat's the proper term.

A delicacy there isour gallants hold

When you avenge your honour and only then

That you disfigure the subjectfray the face

Not just take life and endin clownish guise.

It was Violante gave the first offence

Got therefore the conspicuous punishment:

While Pietrowho helped merelyhis mere death

Answered the purposeso his face went free.

We fancied evenfree as you pleasethat face

Showed itself still intolerably wronged;

Was wrinkled over with resentment yet

Nor calm at allas murdered faces use

Oncethe worst ended: an indignant air

O' the head there was- 'tis said the body turned

Round and awayrolled from Violante's side

Where they had laid it loving-husband-like.

If soif corpses can be sensitive

Why did not he roll right down altar-step

Roll on through naveroll fairly out of church

Deprive Lorenzo of the spectacle

Pay back thus the succession of affronts

Whereto this church had served as theatre?

For see: at that same altar where he lies

To that same inch of stepwas brought the babe

For blessing after baptismand there styled

Pompiliaand a string of names beside

By his bad wifesome seventeen years ago

Who purchased her simply to palm on him

Flatter his dotage and defraud the heirs.

Wait awhile! Also to this very step

Did this Violantetwelve years afterward

Bringthe mock-motherthat child-cheat full-grown

Pompiliain pursuance of her plot

And there brave God and man a second time

By linking a new victim to the lie.

Therehaving made a match unknown to him

Shestill unknown to Pietrotied the knot

Which nothing cuts except this kind of knife;

Yesmade her daughteras the girl was held

Marry a manand honest man beside

And man of birth to boot- clandestinely

Because of thisbecause of thatbecause

O' the devil's will to work his worst for once-

Confident she could top her part at need

Andwhen her husband must be told in turn

Ply the wife's tradeplay off the sex's trick

Andalternating worry with quiet qualms

Bravado with submissivenessquick fool

Her Pietro into patience: so it proved.

Ay'tis four years since man and wife they grew

This Guido Franceschini and this same

Pompiliafoolishly thoughtfalsely declared

A Comparini and the couple's child:

just at this altar wherebeneath the piece

Of Master Guido ReniChrist on cross

Second to nought observable in Rome

That couple he nowmurdered yestereve.

Even the blind can see a providence here.

FROM dawn till now that it is growing dusk

A multitude has flocked and filled the church

Coming and goingcoming back again

Till to count crazed one. Rome was at the show.

People climbed up the columnsfought for spikes

O' the chapel-rail to perch themselves upon

Jumped over and so broke the wooden work

Painted like porphyry to deceive the eye;

Serve the priests right! The organ-loft was crammed

Women were faintingno few fights ensued

In shortit was a show repaid your pains:

Forthough their room was scant undoubtedly

Yet they did manage mattersto be just

A little at this Lorenzo. Body o' me!

I saw a body exposed once... never mind!

Enough that here the bodies had their due.

No stinginess in waxa row all round

And one big taper at each head and foot.

SOPEOPLE pushed their wayand took their turn

Sawthrew their eyes upcrossed themselvesgave place

To pressure from behindsince all the world

Knew the old paircould talk the tragedy

Over from first to last: Pompilia too

Those who had known her- what 'twas worth to them!

Guido's acquaintance was in less request;

The Count had lounged somewhat too long in Rome

Made himself cheap; with him were hand and glove

Barbers and blear-eyedas the ancient sings.

Also he is alive and like to be:

Had he considerately died- aha!

I jostled Luca Cini on his staff

Mute in the midstthe whole man one amaze

Staring amain and crossing brow and breast.

'How now?' asked I. ''Tis seventy years' quoth he

'Since I first sawholding my father's hand

Bodies set forth: a many have I seen

Yet all was poor to this I live and see.

Here the world's wickedness seals up the sum;

What with Molinos' doctrine and this deed

Antichrist's surely come and doomsday near.

May I depart in peaceI have seen my see.'

'Depart then' I advised'nor block the road

For youngsters still behindhand with such sights!'

'Why no' rejoins the venerable sire

'I know it's horridhideous past belief

Burdensome far beyond what eye can bear;

But they do promisewhen Pompilia dies

I' the course o' the day- and she can't outlive night-

They'll bring her body also to expose

Beside the parentsonetwothree a-breast;

That were indeed a sight whichmight I see

I trust I should not last to see the like!'

Whereat I bade the senior spare his shanks

Since doctors give her till to-night to live

And tell us how the butchery happened. 'Ah

But you can't know!' sighs he'I'll not despair:

Beside I'm useful at explaining things-

Ashow the dagger laid there at the feet

Caused the peculiar cuts; I mind its make

Triangular i' the bladea Genoese

Armed with those little hook-teeth on the edge

To open in the flesh nor shut again:

I like to teach a novice: I shall stay!'

And stay he didand stay be sure he will.

A PERSONAGE came by the private door

At noon to have his look: I name no names:

Well thenHis Eminence the Cardinal

Whose servitor in honourable sort

Guido was oncethe same who made the match

(Will you have the truth?) whereof we see effect.

No sooner whisper ran he was arrived

Than up pops Curate Carloa brisk lad

Who never lets a good occasion slip

And volunteers improving the event.

We looked he'd give the history's self some help

Treat us to how the wife's confession went

(This morning she confessed her crimewe know)

Andmay-bethrow in something of the Priest-

If he's not ordered backpunished anew

The gallantCaponsacchiLucifer

I' the garden where PompiliaEve-likelured

Her Adam Guido to his fault and fall.

Think you we got a sprig of speech akin

To this from Carlowith the Cardinal there?

Too waryhe wastoo widely awakeI trow.

He did the murder in a dozen words;

Then said that all such outrages crop forth

I' the course of naturewhen Molinos' tares

Are sown for wheatflourish and choke the Church:

So slid on to the abominable sect

And the philosophic sin- we've heard all that

And the Cardinal too(who book-made on the same)

Butfor the murderleft it where he found.

Oh but he's quickthe Curateminds his game!

Andafter allwe have the main o' the fact:

Case could not well be simpler- mappedas it were

We follow the murder's maze from source to sea

By the red linepast mistake: one sees indeed

Not only how all was and must have been

But cannot other than be to the end of time.

Turn out here by the Ruspoli! Do you hold

Guido was so prodigiously to blame?

A certain cousin of yours has told you so?

Exactly! Here's a friend shall set you right

Let him but have the handsel of your ear.

THESE Wretched Comparini were once gay

And galiardof the modest middle class:

Born in this quarter seventy years ago

And married youngthey lived the accustomed life

Citizens as they were of good repute:

Andchildlessnaturally took their ease

With only their two selves to care about

And use the wealth for: wealthy is the word

Since Pietro was possessed of house and land-

And specially one housewhen good days were

In Via Vittoriathe aspectable street

Where he lived mainly; but another house

Of less pretension did he buy betimes

The villameant for jaunts and jollity

I' the Pauline districtto be private there-

Just what puts murder in an enemy's head.

Moreover- and here's the worm i' the corethe germ

O' the rottenness and ruin which arrived-

He owned some usufructhad moneys' use

Lifelongbut to determine with his life

In heirs' default: soPietro craved an heir

(The story always old and always new)

Shut his fool's-eyes fast on the visible good

And wealth for certainopened them owl-wide

On fortune's sole piece of forgetfulness

The child that should have been and would not be.

HENCEseventeen years agoconceive his glee

When first Violante'twixt a smile and a blush

With touch of agitation proper too

Announced thatspite of her unpromising age

The miracle would in time be manifest

An heir's birth was to happen: and it did.

Somehow or other- howall in good time!

By a tricka sleight of hand you are to hear-

A child was bornPompiliafor his joy

Plaything at once and propa fairy-gift

A saints' grace orsaygrant of the good God-

A fiddle-pin's end! What imbeciles are we!

Look now: if some one could have prophesied

'For love of youfor liking to your wife

I undertake to crush a snake I spy

Settling itself i' the soft of both your breasts.

Give me yon babe to strangle painlessly!

She'll soar to the safe: you'll have your crying out

Then sleepthen wakethen sleepthen end your days

In peace and plentymixed with mild regret

Thirty years hence when Christmas takes old folk'-

How had old Pietro sprung upcrossed himself

And kicked the conjuror! Whereas you and I

Being wise with after-withad clapped our hands;

Nayaddedin the old fool's interest

'Strangle the black-eyed babeso far so good

But on condition you relieve the man

O' the wife and throttle him Violante too-

She is the mischief!'

We had hit the mark.

Shewhose trick brought the babe into the world

She it waswhen the babe was grown a girl

Judged a new trick should reinforce the old

Send vigour to the lie now somewhat spent

By twelve years' service; lest Eve's rule decline

Over this Adam of herswhose cabbage-plot

Throve dubiously since turned fools'-paradise

Spite of a nightingale on every stump.

Pietro's estate was dwindling day by day

While herapt far above such mundane care

Crawled all-fours with his baby pick-a-back

Sat at serene cats'-cradle with his child

Or took the measured tallnesstop to toe

Of what was grown a great girl twelve years old:

Till sudden at the door a tap discreet

A visitor's premonitory cough

And poverty had reached him in her rounds.

THIS came when he was past the working-time

Had learned to dandle and forgot to dig

And who must but Violante cast about

Contrive and task that head of hers again?

She who had caught one fishcould make that catch

A bigger stillin angler's policy:

Sowith an angler's mercy for the bait

Her minnow was set wriggling on its barb

And tossed to the mid-stream; that isthis grown girl

With the great eyes and bounty of black hair

And first crisp youth that tempts a jaded taste

Was whisked i' the way of a certain manwho snapped.

COUNT Guido Franceschini the Aretine

Was head of an old noble house enough

Not over-richyou can't have everything

But such a man as riches rub against

Readily stick to- one with a right to them

Born in the blood: 'twas in his very brow

Always to knit itself against the world

So be beforehand when that stinted due

Service and suit: the world ducks and defers.

As such folks dohe had come up to Rome

To better his fortuneandsince many years

Was friend and follower of a cardinal;

Waiting the rather thus on providence

That a shrewd younger poorer brother yet

The Abate Paoloa regular priest

Had long since tried his powers and found he swam

With the deftest on the Galilean pool:

But then he was a web-footfree o' the wave

And no ambiguous dab-chick hatched to strut

Humbled by any fond attempt to swim

When fiercer fowl usurped his dunghill-top-

A whole priestPaolono mere piece of one

Like Guido tacked thus to the Church's tail!

Guido moreoveras the head o' the house

Claiming the main prizenot the lesser luck

The centre lilyno mere chickweed fringe.

HE WAITED and learned waitingthirty years;

Got promisemissed performance- what would you have?

No petty post rewards a nobleman

For spending youth in splendid lackey-work

And there's concurrence for each rarer prize;

When that fallsrougher hand and readier foot

Push aside Guido spite of his black looks.

The end wasGuidowhen the warning showed

The first white hair i' the glassgave up the game

Determined on returning to his town

Making the best of bad incurable

Patching the old palace up and lingering there

The customary life out with his kin

Where honour helps to spice the scanty bread.

JUST as he trimmed his lamp and girt his loins

To go his journey and be wise at home

In the right mood of disappointed worth

Who but Violante sudden spied her prey

(Where was I with that angler-simile?)

And threw her baitPompiliawhere he sulked-

A gleam i' the gloom!

What if he gained thus much

Wrung out this sweet drop from the bitter Past

Bore off this rose-bud from the prickly brake

To justify such torn clothes and scratched hands

Andafter allbrought something back from Rome?

Would not a wife serve at Arezzo well

To light the dark houselend a look of youth

To the mother's face grown meagreleft alone

And famished with the emptiness of hope

Old Donna Beatrice? Wife you want

Would you play family-representative

Carry you elder-brotherlyhigh and right

O'er what may prove the natural petulance

Of the third brotheryoungergreedier still

Girolamoalso a fledgeling priest

Beginning life in turn with callow beak

Agape for luckno luck had stopped and stilled.

Such were the pinks and greys about the bait

Persuaded Guido gulp down hook and all.

WHAT constituted him so choice a catch

You question? Past his prime and poor beside?

Ask that of any she who knows the trade.

Why firsthere was a nobleman with friends

A palace one might run to and be safe

When presently the threatened fate should fall

A big-browed master to block door-way up

Parley with people bent on pushing by

And praying the mild Pietro quick clear scores:

Is birth a privilege and power or no?

Also- but judge of the result desired

By the price paid and manner of the sale.

The Count was made woowin and wed at once:

Askedand was haled for answerlest the heat

Should coolto San Lorenzoone blind eve

And had Pompilia put into his arms

O' the sly thereby a hasty candle-blink

With sanction of some priest-confederate

Properly paid to make short work and sure.

SO DID old Pietro's daughter change her style

For Guido Franceschini's lady-wife

Ere Guido knew it well; and why this haste

And scramble and indecent secrecy?

'Lest Pietroall the while in ignorance

Should get to learngainsay and break the match:

His peevishness had promptly put aside

Such honour and refused the proffered boon

Pleased to become authoritative once.

She remedied the wilful man's mistake-'

Did our discreet Violante. Rather say

Thus did shelest the object of her game

Guido the gulled onegive him but a chance

A moment's respitetime for thinking twice

Might count the cost before he sold himself

And try the clink of coin they paid him with.

BUT passedthe bargain struckthe business done

Once the clandestine marriage over thus

All parties made perforce the best o' the fact;

Pietro could play vast indignation off

Be ignorant and astoundeddupe alike

At needof wifedaughter and son-in-law

While Guido found himself in flagrant fault

Must e'en do suit and servicesoothesubdue

A father not unreasonably chafed

Bring him to terms by paying son's devoir.

Pleasant initiation!

The endthis:

Guido's broad back was saddled to bear all-

PietroViolanteand Pompilia too-

Three lots cast confidently in one lap

Three dead-weights with one arm to lift the three

Out of their limbo up to life again:

The Roman household was to Strike fresh root

In a new soilgraced with a novel name

Gilt with an alien gloryAretine

Henceforth and never Roman any more

By treaty and engagement: thus it ran:

Pompilia's dowry for Pompilia's self

As a thing of course- she paid her own expense;

No loss nor gain there: but the coupleyou see

Theyfor their partturned over first of all

Their fortune in its rags and rottenness

To Guidofusion and confusionhe

And his with them and theirs- whatever rag

With a coin residuary fell on floor

When Brother Paolo's energetic shake

Should do the relics justice: since 'twas thought

Once vulnerable Pietro out of reach

Thatleft at Rome as representative

The Abatebacked by a potent patron here

And otherwise with purple flushing him

Might play a good game with the creditor

Make up a moiety whichgreat or small

Should go to the common stock- if anything

Guido'sso far repayment of the cost

About to be- and ifas looked more like

Nothing- whyall the nobler cost were his

Who guaranteedfor better or for worse

To Pietro and Violantehouse and home

Kith and kinwith the pick of company

And life o' the fat o' the land while life should last.

How say you to the bargain at first blush?

Why did a middle-aged not-silly man

Show himself thus besotted all at once?

Quoth Solomonone black eye does it all.

THEY went to Arezzo- Pietro and his spouse

With just the dusk o' the day of life to spend

Eager to use the twilighttaste a treat

Enjoy for once with neither stay nor stint

The luxury of lord-and-lady-ship

And realize the stuff and nonsense long

A-simmer in their noddles; vent the fume

Born there and bredthe citizen's conceit

How fares nobility while crossing earth

What rampart or invisible body-guard

Keeps off the taint of common life from such.

They had not fed for nothing on the tales

Of grandees who give banquets worthy Jove

Spending gold as if Plutus paid a whim

Served with obeisances as when... what God?

I'm at the end of my tether; 'tis enough

You understand what they came primed to see:

While Guido who should minister the sight

Stay all this qualmish greediness of soul

With apples and with flagons- for his part

Was set on life diverse as pole from pole:

Lust of the fleshlust of the eye- what else

Was he just now awake fromsick and sage

After the very debauch they would begin?-

Suppose such stuff and nonsense really were.

That bubblethey were bent on blowing big

He had blown already till he burst his cheeks

And hence found soapsuds bitter to the tongue.

He hoped now to walk softly all his days

In soberness of spiritif haply so

Pinching and paring he might furnish forth

A frugal boardbare sustenanceno more

Till timesthat could not well grow worseshould mend.

THUS minded thentwo parties mean to meet

And make each other happy. The first week

And fancy strikes fact and explodes in full.

'This' shrieked the Comparini'this the Count

The palacethe signorial privilege

The pomp and pageantry were promised us?

For this have we exchanged our liberty

Our competenceour darling of a child?

To house as spectres in a sepulchre

Under this black stone heapthe street's disgrace

Grimmest as that is of the gruesome town

And here pick garbage on a pewter plate

Or cough at verjuice dripped from earthenware?

Oh Via Vittoriaoh the other place

I' the Paulinedid we give you up for this?

Where's the foregone housekeeping good and gay

The neighbourlinessthe companionship

The treat and feast when holidays came round

The daily feast that seemed no treat at all

Called common by the uncommon fools we were!

Even the sun that used to shine at Rome

Where is it? Robbed and starved and frozen too

We will have justicejustice if there be!'

Did not they shoutdid not the town resound!

Guido's old lady-mother Beatrice

Who since her husbandCount Tommaso's death

Had held sole sway i' the house- the doited crone

Slow to acknowledgecurtsey and abdicate-

Was recognized of true novercal type

Dragon and devil. His brother Girolamo

Came next in order: priest was he? The worse!

No way of winning him to leave his mumps

And help the laugh against old ancestry

And formal habits long since out of date

Letting his youth be patterned on the mode

Approved of where Violante laid down law.

Or did he brighten up by way of change?

Dispose himself for affability?

The malaperttoo complaisant by half

To the alarmed young novice of a bride!

Let him go buzzbetake himself elsewhere

Nor singe his fly-wings in the candle-flame!

FOUR months' probation of this purgatory

Dog-snap and cat-clawcurse and counterblast

The devil's self had been sick of his own din;

And Pietroafter trumpeting huge wrongs

At church and market-placepillar and post

Square's cornerstreet's endnow the palace-step

And now the wine-house bench- whileon her side

Violante up and down was voluble

In whatsoever pair of ears would perk

From goodygossipcater-cousin and sib

Curious to peep at the inside of things

And catch in the act pretentious poverty

At its wits' end to keep appearance up

Make both ends meet- nothing the vulgar loves

Like what this couple pitched them right and left-

Thentheir worst done that waythey struck tentmarched:

-Renounced their share o' the bargainflung what dues

Guido was bound to payin Guido's face

Left their hearts'-darlingtreasure of the twain

And so forththe poor inexperienced bride

To her own devicesbade Arezzo rot

And the life signorialand sought Rome once more.

I SEE the comment ready on your lip

'The better fortuneGuido's- free at least

By this defection of the foolish pair

He could begin make profit in some sort

Of the young bride and the new quietness

Lead his own life nowhenceforth breathe unplagued.'

Could he? You know the sex like Guido's self

Learn the Violante-nature!

Once in Rome

By way of helping Guido lead such life

Her first act to inaugurate return

Wasshe got pricked in conscience: Jubilee

Gave her the hint. Our Popeas kind as just

Attained his eighty yearsannounced a boon

Should make us bless the factheld Jubilee-

Short shriftprompt pardon for the light offence

And no rough dealing with the regular crime

So this occasion were not suffered slip-

Otherwisesins commuted as before

Without the least abatement in the price.

Nowwho had thought it? All this whileit seems

Our sage Violante had a sin of a sort

She must compound for now or not at all:

Now be the ready riddance! She confessed

Pompilia was a fable not a fact:

She never bore a child in her whole life.

Had this child been a changelingthat were grace

In some degreeexchange is hardly theft;

You take your stand on truth ere leap your lie:

Here was all lieno touch of truth at all

All the lie hers-not even Pietro guessed

He was as childless still as twelve years since.

The babe had been a find i' the filth-heapSir

Catch from the kennel! There was found at Rome

Down in the deepest of our social dregs

A woman who professed the wanton's trade

Under the requisite thin coverture

Communis meretrix and washer-wife:

The creature thus conditioned found by chance

Motherhood like a jewel in the muck

And straightway either trafficked with her prize

Or listened to the tempter and let be-

Made pact abolishing her place and part

In womankindbeast-fellowship indeed-

She sold this babe eight months before its birth

To our ViolantePietro's honest spouse

Well-famed and widely-instanced as that crown

To the husbandvirtue in a woman's shape.

She it wasbought and paid forpassed the thing

Off as the flesh and blood and child of her

Despite the flagrant fifty years- and why?

Partly to please old Pietrofill his cup

With wine at the late hour when lees are left

And send him from life's feast rejoicingly-

Partly to cheat the rightful heirsagape

Each uncle's cousin's brother's son of him

For that same principal of the usufruct

It vext him he must die and leave behind.

SUCH was the sin had come to be confessed.

Which of the talesthe first or lastwas true?

Did she so sin onceorconfessing now

Sin for the first time? Either way you win.

One sees a reason for the cheat: one sees

A reason for a cheat in owning cheat

Where no cheat had been. What of the revenge?

What prompted the contrition all at once

Made the avowal easythe shame slight?

Whyprove they but Pompilia not their child

No childno dowry; thissupposed their child

Had claimed what thisshown alien to their blood

Claimed nowise: Guido's claim was through his wife

Null then and void with hers. The biter bit

Do you see! For such repayment of the past

One might conceive the penitential pair

Ready to bring their case before the courts

Publish their infamy to all the world

Andarm in armgo chuckling thence content.

IS THIS your view? 'Twas Guido's anyhow

And colourable: he came forward then

Protested in his very bride's behalf

Against this lie and all it led toleast

Of all the loss o' the dowry; no! From her

And him alike he would expunge the blot

Erase the brand of such a bestial birth

Participate in no hideous heritage

Gathered from the gutter to be garnered up

And glorified in a palace. Peter and Paul!

But that who likes may look upon the pair

Exposed in yonder churchand show his skill

By saying which is eye and which is mouth

Thro' those Stabs thick and threefold- but for that-

A strong word on the liars and their lie

Might crave expression and obtain itSir!

-Though prematurelysince there's more to come

More that will shake your confidence in things

Your cousin tells you- may I be so bold?

THIS makes the first act of the farce- anon

The stealing sombre element comes in

Till all is black or blood-red in the piece.

Guidothus made a laughing-stock abroad

A proverb for the market-place at home

Left alone with Pompilia nowthis graft

So reputable on his ancient stock

This plague-seed set to fester his sound flesh

What did the Count? Revenge him on his wife?

Unfasten at all risks to rid himself

The noisome lazar-badgefall foul of fate

Andcareless whether the poor rag was ware

O' the part it playedor helped unwittingly

Bid it go burn and leave his frayed flesh free?

Plainlydid Guido open both doors wide

Spurn thence the cur-cast creature and clear scores

As man mighttempted in extreme like this?

Nobirth and breedingand compassion too

Saved her such scandal. She was younghe thought

Not privy to the treasonpunished most

I' the proclamation of it; why make her

A party to the crime she suffered by?

Then the black eyes were now her very own

Not any more Violante's: let her live

Lose in a new airunder a new sun

The taint of the imputed parentage

Truly or falselytake no more the touch

Of Pietro and his partner anyhow!

All might go well yet.

So she thoughtherself

It seemssince what was her first act and deed

When news came how these kindly ones at Rome

Had stripped her naked to amuse the world

With spots herespots there and spots everywhere?

-For I should tell you that they noised abroad

Not merely the main scandal of her birth

But slanders writtenprintedpublished wide

Pamphlets which set forth all the pleasantry

Of how the promised glory was a dream

The power a bubble and the wealth- whydust.

There was a picturepainted to the life

Of those rare doingsthat superlative

Initiation in magnificence

Conferred on a poor Roman family

By favour of Arezzo and her first

And famousestthe Franceschini there.

You had the Countship holding head aloft

Bravely although bespatteredshifts and straits

In keeping out o' the way o' the wheels o' the world

The comic of those home-contrivances

When the old lady-mother's wit was taxed

To find six clamorous mouths in food more real

Than fruit plucked off the cobwebbed family-tree

Or acorns shed from its gilt mouldered frame-

Cold glories served up with three-pauls' worth' sauce.

WhatI ask- when the drunkenness of hate

Hiccuped return for hospitality

Befouled the table they had feasted on

Or say- God knows I'll not prejudge the case-

Grievances thus distortedmagnified

Coloured by quarrel into calumny-

What side did our Pompilia first espouse?

Her first deliberate measure wasshe wrote

Pricked by some loyal impulsestraight to Rome

And her husband's brother the Abate there

Whohaving managed to effect the match

Might take men's censure for its ill success.

She made a clean breast also in her turn;

She qualified the couple handsomely!

Since whose departurehellshe saidwas heaven

And the houselate distracted by their peals

Quiet as Carmel where the lilies live.

Herself had oftentimes complained: but why?

All her complaints had been their promptingtales

Trumped updevices to this very end.

Their game had been to thwart her husband's love

And cross his willmalign his words and ways

So reach this issuefurnish this pretence

For impudent withdrawal from their bond-

Theftindeed murdersince they meant no less

Whose last injunction to her simple self

Had been- what parents'-precept do you think?

That she should follow after with all speed

Fly from her husband's house clandestinely

Join them at Rome againbut first of all

Pick up a fresh companion in her flight

Putting so youth and beauty to fit use

Some gaydare-devilcloak-and-rapier spark

Capable of adventure- helped by whom

Shesome fine eve when lutes were in the air

Having put poison in the posset-cup

Laid hands on moneyjewels and the like

Andto conceal the thing with more effect

By way of parting benediction too

Fired the house- one would finish famously

I' the tumultslip outscurry off and away

And turn up merrily at home once more.

Fact thisand not a dream o' the devilSir!

And more than thisa fact none dare dispute

Word for wordsuch a letter did she write.

And such the Abate readnor simply read

But gave all Rome to ruminate upon

In answer to such charges asI say

The couple sought to be beforehand with.

THE cause thus carried to the courts at Rome

Guido awaythe Abate had no choice

But stand forthtake his absent brother's part

Defend the honour of himself beside.

He made what head he might against the pair

Maintained Pompilia's birth legitimate

And all her rights intact- hersGuido's now-

And so far by his tactics turned their flank

The enemy being beforehand in the place

Thatthough the courts allowed the cheat for fact

Suffered Violante to parade her shame

Publish her infamy to heart's content

And let the tale o' the feigned birth pass for proved-

Yet they stopped thererefused to intervene

And dispossess the innocentsbefooled

By gifts o' the guiltyat guilt's new caprice:

They would not take away the dowry now

Wrongfully given at firstnor bar at all

Succession to the aforesaid usufruct

Established on a fraudnor play the game

Of Pietro's child and now not Pietro's child

As it might suit the gamester's purpose. Thus

Was justice ever ridiculed in Rome:

Such be the double verdicts favoured here

Which send away both parties to a suit

Nor puffed up nor cast down- for each a crumb

Of rightfor neither of them the whole loaf.

Whenceon the Comparini's partappeal-

Counter-appeal on Guido's- that's the game:

And so the matter standseven to this hour

Bandied as balls are in a tennis-court

And so might standunless some heart broke first

Till doomsday.

Leave it thusand now revert

To the old Arezzo whence we moved to Rome.

We've had enough o' the parentsfalse or true

Now for a touch o' the daughter's quality.

The start's fair henceforth- every obstacle

Out of the young wife's footpath- she's alone-

Left to walk warily now: how does she walk?

Whyonce a dwelling's doorpost marked and crossed

In rubric by the enemy on his rounds

As eligibleas fit place of prey

Baffle him henceforthkeep him out who can!

Stop up the door at the first hint of hoof

Presently at the window taps a horn

And Satan's by your firesidenever fear!

Pompilialeft alone nowfound herself;

Found herself young toosprightlyfair enough

Matched with a husband old beyond his age

(Though that was something like four times her own)

Because of cares pastpresent and to come:

Found too the house dull and its inmates dead

Solooked outside for light and life.

And lo

There in a trice did turn up life and light

The man with the aureolesympathy made flesh

The all-consoling CaponsacchiSir!

A priest- what else should the consoler be?

With goodly shoulder-blade and proper leg

A portly make and a symmetric shape

And curls that clustered to the tonsure quite.

This was a bishop in the budand now

A canon full-blown so far: priestand priest

Nowise exorbitantly overworked

The courtly Christiannot so much Saint Paul

As a saint of Caesar's household: there posed he

Sending his god-glance after his shot shaft

Apollos turned Apollowhile the snake

Pompilia writhed transfixed through all her spires.

Henot a visitor at Guido's house

Scarce an acquaintancebut in prime request

With the magnates of Arezzowas seen here

Heard therefelt everywhere in Guido's path

If Guido's wife's path be her husband's too.

Now he threw comfits at the theatre

Into her lap- what harm in Carnival?

Now he pressed close till his foot touched her gown

His hand brushed hers- how help on promenade?

Andever on weighty businessfound his steps

Incline to a certain haunt of doubtful fame

Which fronted Guido's palace by mere chance;

While- how do accidents sometimes combine!

Pompilia chose to cloister up her charms

Just in a chamber that o'erlooked the street

Sat there to prayor peep thence at mankind.

THIS passage of arms and wits amused the town.

At last the husband lifted eyebrow- bent

On day-book and the study how to wring

Half the due vintage from the worn-out vines

At the villatease a quarter the old rent

From the farmsteadtenants swore would tumble soon-

Pricked up his ear a-singing day and night

With 'ruinruin';- and so surprised at last-

Whywhat else but a titter? Up he jumps.

Back to mind come those scratchings at the grange

Prints of the paw about the outhouse; rife

In his head at once again are word and wink

Mum here and budget therethe smell o' the fox

The musk o' the gallant. 'Friendsthere's falseness here!

THE proper help of friends in such a strait

Is waggerythe world over. Laugh him free

O' the regular jealous-fit that's incident

To all old husbands that wed brisk young wives

And he'll go duly docile all his days.

'Somebody courts your wifeCount? Where and when?

How and why? Mere horn-madness: have a care!

Your lady loves her own roomsticks to it

Locks herself in for hoursyou say yourself.

And- whatit's Caponsacchi means you harm?

The Canon? We caress himhe's the world's

A man of such acceptance- never dream

Though he were fifty times the fox you fear

He'd risk his brush for your particular chick

When the wide town's his hen-roost! Fie o' the fool!'

So they dispensed their comfort of a kind.

Guido at last cried'Something is in the air

Under the earthsome plot against my peace:

The trouble of eclipse hangs overhead

How it should come of that officious orb

Your Canon in my systemyou must say:

I say- that from the pressure of this spring

Began the chime and interchange of bells

Ever one whisperand one whisper more

And just one whisper for the silvery last

Till all at once a-row the bronze-throats burst

Into a larum both significant

And sinister: stop it I must and will.

Let Caponsacchi take his hand away

From the wire!- disport himself in other paths

Than lead precisely to my palace-gate-

Look where he likes except one window's way

Wherecheek on handand elbow set on sill

Happens to lean and say her litanies

Every day and all day longjust my wife-

Or wife and Caponsacchi may fare the worse!'

ADMIRE the man's simplicity'I'll do this

I'll not have thatI'll punish and prevent!'-

'Tis easy saying. But to a frayyou see

Two parties go. The badger shows his teeth:

The fox nor lies down sheep-like nor dares fight.

Ohthe wife knew the appropriate warfare well

The way to put suspicion to the blush!

At first hint of remonstranceup and out

I' the face of the worldyou found her: she could speak

State her case- Franceschini was a name

Guido had his full share of foes and friends-

Why should not she call these to arbitrate?

She bade the Governor do governance

Cried out on the Archbishop- whythere now

Take him for sample! Three successive times

Had he to reconduct her by main-force

From where she took her station opposite

His shut door- on the public steps thereto

Wringing her handswhen he came out to see

And shrieking all her wrongs forth at his foot-

Back to the husband and the house she fled:

Judge if that husband warmed him in the face

Of friends or frowned on foes as heretofore!

Judge if he missed the natural grin of folk

Or lacked the customary compliment

Of cap and bellsthe luckless husband's fit!

So it went on and on till- who was right?

One merry April morningGuido woke

After the cuckooso latenear noonday

With an inordinate yawning of the jaws

Ears pluggedeyes gummed togetherpalatetongue

And teeth one mud-paste made of poppy-milk;

And found his wife flownhis scrutoire the worse

For a rummage- jewelry that waswas not

Some money there had made itself wings too-

The door lay wide and yet the servants slept

Sound as the deador dosed which does as well.

In shortPompiliashe whocandid soul

Had not so much as spoken all her life

To the Canonnayso much as peeped at him

Between her fingers while she prayed in church-

This lamb-like innocent of fifteen years

(Such she was grown to by this time of day)

Had simply put an opiate in the drink

Of the whole household overnightand then

Got up and gone about her work secure

Laid hand on this waif and the other stray

Spoiled the Philistine and marched out of doors

In company of the Canon whoLord's love

What with his daily duty at the church

Nightly devoir where ladies congregate

Had something else to mindassure yourself

Beside Pompiliaparagon though she be

Or notice if her nose were sharp or blunt!

Wellanyhowalbeit impossible

Both of them were together jollily

Jaunting it Rome-wardhalf-way there by this

While Guido was left go and get undrugged

Gather his wits upgroaningly give thanks

When neighbours crowded round him to condole.

'Ah' quoth a gossip'well I mind me now

The Count did always say he thought he felt

He feared as if this very chance might fall!

And when a man of fifty finds his corns

Ache and his joints throband foresees a storm

Though neighbours laugh and say the sky is clear

Let us henceforth believe him weatherwise!'

Then was the story toldI'll cut you short:

All neighbours knew: no mystery in the world.

The lovers left at nightfall- over night

Had Caponsacchi come to carry off

Pompilia- not alonea friend of his

One Guillichinithe more conversant

With Guido's housekeeping that he was just

A cousin of Guido's and might play a prank-

(Have not you too a cousin that's a wag?)

-Lord and a Canon also- what would you have?

Such are the red-clothed milk-swollen poppy-heads

That stand and stiffen 'mid the wheat o' the Church!-

This worthy came to aidabet his best.

And so the house was ransackedbooty bagged

The lady led downstairs and out of doors

Guided and guarded tillthe city passed

A carriage lay convenient at the gate.

Good-bye to the friendly Canon; the loving one

Could peradventure do the rest himself.

In jumps Pompiliaafter her the priest

'Whipdriver! Money makes the mare to go

And we've a bagful. Take the Roman road!'

So said the neighbours. This was eight hours since.

GUIDO heard allswore the befitting oaths

Shook off the relics of his poison-drench

Got horsewas fairly started in pursuit

With never a friend to followfound the track

Fast enough'twas the straight Perugia way

Trod soon upon their very heelstoo late

By a minute only at Camosciaat

ChiusiFolignoever the fugitives

Just aheadjust out as he galloped in

Getting the good news ever fresh and fresh

Tillloat the last stage of alllast post

Before Rome- as we sayin sight of Rome

And safety (there's impunity at Rome

For priestsyou know) at- what's the little place?

What some call Castelnuovosome just call

The Osteriabecause o' the post-house inn

Thereat the journey's all but endit seems

Triumph deceived them and undid them both

Secure they might foretaste felicity

Nor fear surprisal: sothey were surprised.

There did they halt at early eveningthere

Did Guido overtake them: 'twas day-break;

He came in time enoughnot time too much

Since in the courtyard stood the Canon's self

Urging the drowsy stable-grooms to haste

Harness the horseshave the journey end

The trifling four-hours'-runningso reach Rome.

And the other runawaythe wife? Upstairs

Still on the couch where she had spent the night

One couch in one roomand one room for both.

So gained they six hoursso were lost thereby.

SIRwhat's the sequel? Lover and beloved

Fall on their knees? No impudence serves here?

They beat their breasts and beg for easy death

Confess thisthat and the other?- anyhow

Confess there wanted not some likelihood

To the supposition so preposterous

ThatO Pompiliathy sequestered eyes

Had noticedstraying o'er the prayerbook's edge

More of the Canon than that black his coat

Buckled his shoes werebroad his hat of brim:

And thatO Canonthy religious care

Had breathed too soft a benedicite

To banish trouble from a lady's breast

So lonely and so lovelynor so lean!

This you expect? Indeedthenmuch you err.

Not to such ordinary end as this

Had Caponsacchi flung the cassock far

Doffed the priestdonned the perfect cavalier;

The die was cast: over shoes over boots:

And just as sheI presently shall show

Pompiliasoon looked Helen to the life

Recumbent upstairs in her pink and white

Soin the inn-yardbold as 'twere Troy-town

There strutted Paris in correct costume

Cloakcap and featherno appointment missed

Even to a wicked-looking sword at side

He seemed to find and feel familiar at.

Nor wanted words as ready and as big

As the part he playedthe bold abashless one.

'I interposed to save your wife from death

Yourself from shamethe true and only shame:

Ask your own conscience else!- orfailing that

What I have done I answeranywhere

Hereif you will; you see I have a sword:

Orsince I have a tonsure as you taunt

At Romeby all means- priests to try a priest.

Onlyspeak where your wife's voice can reply!'

And then he fingered at the sword again.

SoGuido calledin aid and witness both

The Public Force. The Commissary came

Officers also; they secured the priest;

Thenfor his more confusionmounted up

With hima guard on either sidethe stair

To the bed-room where still slept or feigned a sleep

His paramour and Guido's wife; in burst

The company and bade her wake and rise.

HER defence? This. She wokesawsprang upright

I' the midst and stood as terrible as truth

Sprang to her husband's sidecaught at the sword

That hung there uselesssince they held each hand

O' the loverhad disarmed him properly

And in a moment out flew the bright thing

Full in the face of Guido- but for help

O' the guards who held her back and pinioned her

With pains enoughshe had finished you my tale

With a flourish of red all round itpinked her man

Prettily; but she fought them one to six.

They stopped that- but her tongue continued free:

She spat forth such invective at her spouse

O'erfrothed him with such foam of murderer

Thiefpandar- that the popular tide soon turned

The favour of the very sbirristraight

Ebbed from the husbandset toward his wife

People cried 'Hands offpay a priest respect!'

And 'persecuting fiend' and 'martyred saint'

Began to lead a measure from lip to lip.

But facts are facts and flinch not; stubborn things

And the question 'Pritheefriendhow comes my purse

I' the poke of you?'- admits of no reply.

Here was a priest found out in masquerade

A wife caught playing truant if no more;

While the Countmortified in mien enough

Andnose to facean added palm in length

Was plain writ 'husband' every piece of him:

Capture once maderelease could hardly be.

Besidethe prisoners both made appeal

'Take us to Rome!'

Taken to Rome they were;

The husband trooping afterpiteously

Tail between legsno talk of triumph now-

No honour set firm on its feet once more

On two dead bodies of the guilty- nay

No dubious salve to honour's broken pate

From chance thatafter allthe hurt might seem

A skin-deep matterscratch that leaves no scar:

For Guido's first search- ferretingpoor soul

Herethere and everywhere in the vile place

Abandoned to him when their backs were turned

Found- furnishing a last and best regale-

All the love-letters bandied 'twixt the pair

Since the first timid trembling into life

O' the love-star till its stand at fiery full.

Mad prosemad versefearshopestriumphdespair

Avowaldisclaimerplansdatesnames- was nought

Wanting to proveif proof consoles at all

That this had been but the fifth act o' the piece

Whereof the due proemiummonths ago

These playwrights had put forthand ever since

Matured the middleadded 'neath his nose.

He might go cross himself: the case was clear.

THEREFORE to Rome with the clear case; there plead

Each party its bestand leave the law do right

Let her shine forth and showas God in heaven

Vice prostratevirtue pedestalled at last

The triumph of truth! What else shall glad our gaze

When once authority has knit the brow

And set the brain behind it to decide

Between the wolf and sheep turned litigants?

'This is indeed a business!' law shook head:

'A husband charges things hard on a wife

The wife as hard o' the husband: whose fault here?

A wife that flies her husband's housedoes wrong:

The male friend's interference looks amiss

Lends a suspicion: but suppose the wife

On the other handbe jeopardized at home-

Naythat she simply holdill-groundedly

An apprehension she is jeopardized-

And furtherif the friend partake the fear

Andin a commendable charity

Which trusteth alltrust her that she mistrusts-

What do they but obey the natural law?

Pretence may this be and a cloak for sin

And circumstances that concur i' the close

Hint as muchloudly- yet scarce loud enough

To drown the answer "strange may yet be true:"

Innocence often looks like guiltiness.

The accused declare that in thoughtword and deed

Innocent were they both from first to last

As male-babe haply laid by female-babe

At church on edge of the baptismal font

Together for minuteperfect-pure.

Difficult to believeyet possible

As witness Josephthe friend's patron-saint.

The night at the inn- there charity nigh chokes

Ere swallow what they both asseverate;

Though down the gullet faith may feel it go

When mindful of what flight fatigued the flesh

Out of its faculty and fleshliness

Subdued it to the soulas saints assure:

So long a flight necessitates a fall

On the first bedthough in a lion's den

And the first pillowthough the lion's back:

Difficult to believeyet possible.

Last come the letters' bundled beastliness-

Authority repugns give glance to twice

Turns headand almost lets her whip-lash fall;

Yet here a voice cries "Respite!" from the clouds-

The accusedboth in a taleprotestdisclaim

Abominate the horror: "Not my hand"

Asserts the friend- "Nor mine" chimes in the wife

"Seeing I have no handnor write at all."

Illiterate- for she goes on to ask

What if the friend did pen now verse now prose

Commend it to her notice now and then?

'Twas pearls to swine: she read no more than wrote

And kept no more than readfor as they fell

She ever brushed the burr-like things away

Orbetterburned themquenched the fire in smoke.

As for this fardelfilth and foolishness

She sees it now the first time: burn it too!

While for his part the friend vows ignorance

Alike of what bears his name and bears hers:

'Tis forgerya felon's masterpiece

Andas 'tis said the fox still finds the stench

Home-manufacture and the husband's work.

Though he confessesthe ingenuous friend

That certain missivesletters of a sort

Flighty and feeblewhich assigned themselves

To the wifeno less have fallenfar too oft

In his path: wherefrom he understood just this-

That were they verily the lady's own

Whyshe who penned themsince he never saw

Save for one minute the mere face of her

Since never had there been the interchange

Of word with word between them all their life

Whyshe must be the fondest of the frail

And fitshe for the "apage" he flung

Her letters for the flame they went to feed.

Butnow he sees her face and hears her speech

Much he repents him ifin fancy-freak

For a moment the minutest measurable

He coupled her with the first flimsy word

O' the self-spun fabric some mean spider-soul

Furnished forth: stop his films and stamp on him!

Never was such a tangled knottiness

But thus authority cuts the Gordian through

And mark how her decision suits the need!

Here's troublesomenessscandal on both sides

Plenty of fault to findno absolute crime:

Let each side own its fault and make amends!

What does a priest in cavalier's attire

Consorting publicly with vagrant wives

In quarters close as the confessional

Though innocent of harm? 'Tis harm enough:

Let him pay itand be relegate a good

Three yearsto spend in some place not too far

Nor yet too nearmidway 'twixt near and far

Rome and Arezzo- Civita we choose

Where he may lounge away timelive at large

Find out the proper function of a priest

Nowise an exile- that were punishment

But one our love thus keeps out of harm's way

Not more from the husband's anger thanmayhap

His own... sayindiscretionwaywardness

And wanderings when Easter eves grow warm.

For the wife- wellour best step to take with her

On her own showingwere to shift her root

From the old cold shade and unhappy soil

Into a generous ground that fronts the south:

Wheresince her callow soula-shiver late

Craved simply warmth and called mere passers-by

To the rescueshe should have her fill of shine.

Do house and husband hinder and not help?

Why thenforget both and stay here at peace

Come into our communityenroll

Herself along with those good Convertites

Those sinners savedthose Magdalens re-made

Accept their ministrationswell bestow

Her body and patiently possess her soul

Until we see what better can be done.

Last for the husband: if his tale prove true

Well is he rid of two domestic plagues-

The wife that aileddo whatsoever he would

And friend of hers that undertook the cure.

Seewhat a double load we lift from breast!

Off he may goreturnresume old life

Laugh at the priest here and Pompilia there

In limbo each and punished for their pains

And grateful tell the inquiring neighbourhood-

In Romeno wrong but has its remedy.'

The case was closed. Nowam I fair or no

In what I utter? Do I state the facts

Having forechosen a side? I promised you!

THE Canon Caponsacchithenwas sent

To change his garbre-trim his tonsuretie

The clerkly silk roundevery plait correct

Make the impressive entry on his place

Of relegationthrill his Civita

As Ovida like sufferer in the cause

Planted a primrose-patch by Pontus: where

What with much culture of the sonnet-stave

And converse with the aborigines

Soft savagery of eyes unused to roll

And hearts that all awry went pit-a-pat

And wanted setting right in charity

What were a couple of years to while away?

Pompiliaas enjoinedbetook herself

To the aforesaid Convertitesthe sisterhood

In Via Lungarawhere the light ones live

Spinpraythen sing like linnets o'er the flax.

'Anywhereanyhowout of my husband's house

Is heavencried she- was therefore suited so.

But Count Guido Franceschinihe-

The injured man thus righted- found no heaven

I' the house when he returned thereI engage

Was welcomed by the city turned upside down

In a chorus of inquiry. 'Whatback- you?

And no wife? Left her with the Penitents?

Ahbeing young and pretty'twere a shame

To have her whipped in public: leave the job

To the priests who understand! Such priests as yours-

(Pontifex Maximus whipped Vestals once)

Our madcap Caponsacchi: think of him!

Sohe fired upshowed fight and skill of fence?

Ayyou drew alsobut you did not fight!

The wiser'tis a word and a blow with him

True Caponsacchiof old Head-i'-the-Sack

That fought at Fiesole ere Florence was:

He had done enoughto firk you were too much.

And did the little lady menace you

Make at your breast with your own harmless sword?

The spitfire! Wellthank God you're safe and sound

Have kept the sixth commandment whether or no

The lady broke the seventh: I only wish

I were as saint-likecould contain me so.

I am a sinnerI fear I should have left

Sir Priest no nose-tip to turn up at me!'

YouSirwho listen but interpose no word

Ask yourselfhad you borne a baiting thus?

Was it enough to make a wise man mad?

Ohbut I'll have your verdict at the end!

WELLnot enoughit seems: such mere hurt falls

Frets awhileand aches longthen less and less

And so is done with. Such was not the scheme

O' the pleasant Comparini: on Guido's wound

Ever in due successiondrop by drop

Came slow distilment from the alembic here

Set on to simmer by Canidian hate

Corrosives keeping the man's misery raw.

First fire-drop- when he thought to make the best

O' the badto wring from out the sentence passed

Poorpitifulabsurd although it were

Yet what might eke him out result enough

And make it worth his while he had the right

And not the wrong i' the matter judged at Rome.

Inadequate her punishmentno less

Punished in some slight sort his wife had been;

Thenpunished for adulterywhat else?

On such admitted crime he thought to seize

And institute procedure in the courts

Which cut corruption of this kind from man

Cast loose a wife proved loose and castaway:

He claimed in due form a divorce at least.

THIS claim was met now by a counterclaim:

Pompilia sought divorce from bed and board

Of Guidowhose outrageous cruelty

Whose mother's malice and whose brother's hate

Were just the white o' the chargesuch dreadful depths

Blackened its centre- hints of worse than hate

Love from that brotherby that Guido's guile

That mother's prompting. Such reply was made

So was the engine loadedwound upsprung

On Guidowho received the bolt in breast;

But no less bore upgiddily perhaps.

He had the Abate Paolo still in Rome

Brother and friend and fighter on his side:

They rallied in a measuremet the foe

Manlikejoined battle in the public courts

As if to shame supine law from her sloth:

And waiting her awardlet beat the while

Arezzo's banterRome's buffoonery

On this ear and on that eardeaf alike

Safe from worse outrage. Let a scorpion nip

And never mind till he contorts his tail!

But there was sting i' the creature; thus it struck.

Guido had thought in his simplicity-

That lying declaration of remorse

That story of the child which was no child

And motherhood no motherhood at all

-That even this sin might have its sort of good

Inasmuch as no question could be more

Call it falsecall the story trueno claim

Of further parentage pretended now:

The parents had abjured all rightat least

I' the woman still his wife: to plead right now

Were to declare the abjuration false:

He was relieved from any fear henceforth

Their hands might touchtheir breath defile again

Pompilia with his name upon her yet.

Wellno: the next news wasPompilia's health

Demanded change after full three long weeks

Spent in devotion with the Sisterhood-

Rendering sojourn- so the court opined-

Too irksomesince the convent's walls were high

And windows narrownor was air enough

Nor light enoughbut all looked prison-like

The last thing which had come in the court's head.

Propose a new expedient therefore- this!

She had demanded- had obtained indeed

By intervention of whatever friends

Or perhaps lovers- (beauty in distress

In one whose tale is the town-talk beside

Never lacks friendship's arm about her neck)-

Not freedomscarce remitted penalty

Solely the transfer to some private place

Where better airmore lightnew food might be-

Incarcerated (call itall the same)

At some sure friend's house she must keep inside

Be found in at requirement fast enough-

Domus pro carcerein Roman Style.

You keep the house i' the mainas most men do

And all good women: but free otherwise

Should friends arriveto lodge and entertain.

And such a domumsuch a dwelling-place

Having all Rome to choose fromwhere chose she?

What house obtained Pompilia's preference?

Whyjust the Comparini's- justdo you mark

Theirs who renounced all part and lot in her

So long as Guido could be robbed thereby

And only fell back on relationship

And found their daughter safe and sound again

So soon as that might stab him: yesthe pair

Whoas I told youfirst had baited hook

With this poor gilded fly Pompilia-thing

Then caught the fishpulled Guido to the shore

And gutted him- now found a further use

For the baitwould trail the gauze wings yet again

I' the way of what new swimmer passed their stand.

They took Pompilia to their hiding-place-

Not in the heart of Rome as formerly

Under observancesubject to control-

But out o' the way- or in the waywho knows?

That blind mute villa lurking by the gate

At Via Paulinanot so hard to miss

By the honest eyeeasy enough to find

In twilight by marauders: where perchance

Some muffled Caponsacchi might repair

Employ odd moments when he too tried change

Found that a friend's abode was pleasanter

Than relegationpenance and the rest.

Comehere's the last drop does its worst to wound

Here's Guido poisoned to the boneyou say

Your boasted still's full strain and strength: not so!

One master-squeeze from screw shall bring to birth

The hoard i' the heart o' the toadhell's quintessence.

He learned the true convenience of the change

And why a convent wants the cheerful hearts

And helpful hands which female straits require

Whenin the blind mute villa by the gate

Pompilia- what? sangdancedsaw company?

-Gave birthSirto a childhis son and heir

Or Guido's heir and Caponsacchi's son.

I want your word now: what do you say to this?

What would say little Arezzo and great Rome

And what did God say and the devil say

One at each ear o' the manthe husbandnow

The father? Whythe overburdened mind

Broke downwhat was a brain became a blaze.

In fury of the moment- (that first news

Fell on the Count among his vinesit seems

Doing his farm-work)- whyhe summoned steward

Called in the first four hard hands and stout hearts

From field and furrowpoured forth his appeal

Not to Rome's law and gospel any more

But this clown with a mother or a wife

That clodpole with a sister or a son:

Andwhereas law and gospel held their peace

What wonder if the sticks and stones cried out?

ALL five soon somehow found themselves at Rome

At the villa door: there was the warmth and light-

The sense of life so just an inch inside-

Some angel must have whispered 'One more chance!'

He gave it: bade the others stand aside:

Knocked at the door- 'Who is it knocks?' cried one.

'I will make' surely Guido's angel said

'One final essaylast experiment

Speak the wordname the name from out all names

Whichif- as doubtless strong illusions are

And strange disguisings whence even truth seems false

Andfor I am a manI dare not do

God's work until assured I see with God-

If I should bring my lips to breathe that name

And they be innocent- nayby one touch

Of innocence redeemed from utter guilt-

That name will bar the door and bid fate pass.

I will not say "It is a messenger

A neighboureven a belated man

Much less your husband's friendyour husband's self:"

At such appeal the door is bound to ope.

But I will say'- here's rhetoric and to spare!

WhySirthe stumbling-block is cursed and kicked

Block though it be; the name that brought offence

Will bring offence: the burnt child dreads the fire

Although that fire feed on a taper-wick

Which never left the altar nor singed fly:

And had a harmless man tripped you by chance

How would you wait himstand or step aside

When next you heard he rolled your way? Enough.


And open flew the door: enough again.

Vengeanceyou knowburstlike a mountain-wave

That holds a monster in itover the house

And wiped its filthy four walls free again

With a wash of hell-fire- fathermotherwife

Killed them allbathed his name clean in their blood

Andreeking sowas caughthis friends and he

Haled hither and imprisoned yesternight

O' the day all this was.

Now the whole is known

And how the old couple come to lie in state

Though hacked to pieces- neverthe expert say

So thorough a study of stabbing- while the wife

Viper-likevery difficult to slay

Writhes still through every ring of herpoor wretch

At the Hospital hard by- surviveswe'll hope

To somewhat purify her putrid soul

By full confessionmake so much amends

While time lasts; since at day's end die she must.

FOR Caponsacchi- whythey'll have him here

The hero of the adventurewho so fit

To tell it in the coming Carnival?

'Twill make the fortune of whate'er saloon

Hears him recountwith helpful cheekand eye

Hotly indignant nownow dewy-dimmed

The incidents of flightpursuitsurprise

Capturewith hints of kisses all between-

While Guidothe most unromantic spouse

No longer fit to laugh at since the blood

Gave the broad farce an all too brutal air

Whyhe and those our luckless friends of his

May tumble in the straw this bitter day-

Laid by the heels i' the New PrisonI hear

To bide their trialsince trialand for the life

Follows if but for form's sake: yesindeed!

But with a certain issue: no dispute

'Try him' bids law: formalities oblige:

But as to the issue- look me in the face!-

If the law thinks to find them guiltySir

Master or men- touch one hair of the five

Then I say in the name of all that's left

Of honour in Romecivility i' the world

Whereof Rome boasts herself the central source-

There's an end to all hope of justice more.

Astraea's gone indeedlet hope go too!

Who is it dares impugn the natural law?

Deny God's word 'the faithless wife shall die'?

Whatare we blind? How can we fail to see

This crowd of miseries make the man a mark

Accumulate on one devoted head

For our exampleyours and mine who read

Its lesson thus- 'Henceforward let none dare

Standlike a natural in the public way

Letting the very urchins twitch his beard

And tweak his noseto earn a nickname so

Of the male-Grissel or the modern Job!'

Had Guidoin the twinkling of an eye

Summed up the reckoningpromptly paid himself

That morning when he came up with the pair

At the wayside inn- exacted his just debt

By aid of what first mattockpitchforkaxe

Came to hand in the helpful stable-yard

And with that axeif providence so pleased

Cloven each headby some Rolando-stroke

In one clean cut from crown to clavicle

-Slain the priest-gallantthe wife-paramour

Stickingfor all defencein each skull's cleft

The rhyme and reason of the stroke thus dealt

To-witthose letters and last evidence

Of shameeach package in its proper place-

Biddingwho pitiedundistend the skulls-

I saythe world had praised the man. But no!

That were too plaintoo straighttoo simply just!

He hesitatescalls law forsooth to help.

And lawdistasteful to who calls in law

When honour is beforehand and would serve

What wonder if law hesitate in turn

Plead her disuse to calls o' the kindreply

Smiling a little ''Tis yourself assess

The worth of what's lostsum of damage done:

What you touched with so light a finger-tip

You whose concern it was to grasp the thing

Why must law gird herself and grapple with?

Lawalien to the actor whose warm blood

Asks heat from law whose veins run lukewarm milk-

What you dealt lightly withshall law make out

Heinous forsooth?'

Sirwhat's the good of law

In a case o' the kind? Noneas she all but says.

Call in law when a neighbour breaks your fence

Cribs from your fieldtampers with rent or lease

Touches the purse or pocket- but wooes your wife?

No: take the old way trod when men were men!

Guido preferred the new path- for his pains

Stuck in a quagmirefloundered worse and worse

Until he managed somehow scramble back

Into the safe sure rutted road once more

Revenged his own wrong like a gentleman.

Once back 'mid the familiar printsno doubt

He made too rash amends for his first fault

Vaulted too loftily over what barred him late

And lit i' the mire again- the common chance

The natural over-energy: the deed

Maladroit yields three deaths instead of one

And one life left: for where's the Canon's corpse?

All which is the worse for Guidobutbe frank-

The better for you and me and all the world

Husbands of wivesespecially in Rome.

The thing is put rightin the old place- ay

The rod hangs on its nail behind the door

Fresh from the brine: a matter I commend

To the noticeduring Carnival that's near

Of a certain what's-his-name and jackanapes

Somewhat too civil of eves with lute and song

About a house herewhere I keep a wife.

(Youbeing his cousinmay go tell him so.)

III: The Other Half-Rome

ANOTHER DAY that finds her living yet

Little Pompiliawith the patient brow

And lamentable smile on those poor lips

Andunder the white hospital-array

A flower-like bodyto frighten at a bruise

You'd thinkyet nowstabbed through and through again

Alive i' the ruins. 'Tis a miracle.

It seems thatwhen her husband struck her first

She prayed Madonna just that she might live

So long as to confess and be absolved;

And whether it was thatall her sad life long

Never before successful in a prayer

This prayer rose with authority too dread-

Or whetherbecause earth was hell to her

By compensationwhen the blackness broke

She got one glimpse of quiet and the cool blue

To show her for a moment such things were-

Or else- as the Augustinian Brother thinks

The friar who took confession from her lip-

When a probationary soul that moves

From nobleness to noblenessas she

Over the rough way of the worldsuccumbs

Bloodies its last thorn with unflinching foot

The angels love to do their work betimes

Staunch some wounds here nor leave so much for God.

Who knows? However it beconfessedabsolved

She lieswith overplus of life beside

To speak and right herself from first to last

Right the friend alsolamb-purelion-brave

Care for the boy's concernsto save the son

From the sireher two-weeks' infant orphaned thus

And- with best smile of all reserved for him-

Pardon that sire and husband from the heart.

A miracleso tell your Molinists!

There she lies in the long white lazar-house.

Rome has besiegedthese two daysnever doubt

Saint Anna's where she waits her deathto hear

Though but the chink o' the bellturn o' the hinge

When the reluctant wicket opes at last

Lets inon now this and now that pretence

Too many by half- complain the men of art-

For a patient in such plight. The lawyers first

Paid the due visit- justice must be done;

They took her witnesswhy the murder was;

Then the priests followed properly- a soul

To shrive; 'twas Brother Celestine's own right

The same who noises thus her gifts abroad:

But many morewho found they were old friends

Pushed in to have their stare and take their talk

And go forth boasting of it and to boast.

Old Monna Baldi chatters like a jay

Swears- but thatprematurely trundled out

Just as she felt the benefit begin

The miracle was snapped up by somebody-

Her palsied limb 'gan prick and promise life

At touch o' the bedclothes merely- how much more

Had she but brushed the body as she tried!

Cavalier Carlo- wellthere's some excuse

For him- Maratta who paints Virgins so-

He too must fee the porter and slip by

With pencil cut and paper squaredand straight

There was he figuring away at face-

'A lovelier face is not in Rome' cried he

'Shaped like a peacock's eggthe pure as pearl

That hatches you anon a snow-white chick.'

Thenoh that pair of eyesthat pendent hair

Black thisand black the other! Mighty fine-

But nobody cared ask to paint the same

Nor grew a poet over hair and eyes

Four little years ago whenask and have

The woman who wakes all this rapture leaned

Flower-like from out her window long enough

As much uncomplimented as uncropped

By comers and goers in Via Vittoria: eh?

'Tis just a flower's fate: past parterre we trip

Till peradventure someone plucks our sleeve-

'Yon blossom at the briar's endthat's the rose

Two jealous people fought for yesterday

And killed each other: seethere's undisturbed

A pretty pool at the rootof rival red!'

Then cry we'Ahthe perfect paragon!'

Then crave we'Just one keepsake-leaf for us!'

TRUTH lies between: there's anyhow a child

Of seventeen yearswhether a flower or weed

Ruined: who did it shall account to Christ-

Having no pity on the harmless life

And gentle face and girlish form he found

And thus flings back: go practise if you please

With men and women: leave a child alone

For Christ's particular love's sake!- so I say.

SOMEBODYat the bedsidesaid much more

Took on him to explain the secret cause

O' the crime: quoth he'Such crimes are very rife

Explode nor make us wonder now-a-days

Seeing that Antichrist disseminates

That doctrine of the Philosophic Sin:

Molinos' sect will soon make earth too hot!'

'Nay' groaned the Augustinian'what's there new?

Crime will not fail to flare up from men's hearts

While hearts are men's and so born criminal;

Which one factalways old yet ever new

Accounts for so much crime thatfor my part

Molinos may go whistle to the wind

That waits outside a certain churchyou know!'

THOUGH really it does seem as if she here

Pompilialiving so and dying thus

Has had undue experience how much crime

A heart can hatch. Why was she made to learn

-Not younot Inot even Molinos' self-

What Guido Franceschini's heart could hold?

Thus saintship is effected probably;

No sparing saints the process!- which the more

Tends to the reconciling usno saints

To sinnershipimmunity and all.

FOR see now: Pietro and Violante's life

Till seventeen years agoall Rome might note

And quote for happy- see the signs distinct

Of happiness as we yon Triton's trump.

What could they be but happy?- balanced so

Nor low i' the social scale nor yet too high

Nor poor nor richer than comports with ease

Nor bright and enviednor obscure and scorned

Nor so young that their pleasures fell too thick

Nor old past catching pleasure when it fell

Nothing abovebelow the just degree

All at the mean where joy's components mix.

So againin the couple's very souls

You saw the adequate half with half to match

Each having and each lacking somewhatboth

Making a whole that had all and lacked nought;

The round and soundin whose composure just

The acquiescent and recipient side

Was Pietro'sand the stirring striving one

Violante's: both in union gave the due

Quietudeenterprisecraving and content

Which go to bodily health and peace of mind.

Butas 'tis said a bodyrightly mixed

Each element in equipoisewould last

Too long and live for ever- accordingly

Holds a germ- sand-grain weight too much i' the scale-

Ordained to get predominance one day

And so bring all to ruin and release-

Not otherwise a fatal germ lurked here:

'With mortals much must gobut something stays;

Nothing will stay of our so happy selves.'

Out of the very ripeness of life's core

A worm was bred- 'Our life shall leave no fruit.'

Enough of blissthey thoughtcould bliss bear seed

Yield its likepropagate a bliss in turn

And keep the kind up; not supplant themselves

But put in evidencerecord they were

Show themwhen done withi' the shape of a child.

''Tis in a childman and wife grow complete

One flesh: God says so: let him do his work!'

NOWone reminder of this gnawing want

One special prick o' the maggot at the core

Always befell whenas the day came round

A certain yearly sum- our Pietro being

As the long name runsan usufructuary-

Dropped in the common bag as interest

Of moneyhis till deathnot afterward

Failing an heir: an heir would take and take

A child of theirs be wealthy in their place

To nobody's hurt- the stranger else seized all.

Prosperity rolled river-like and stopped

Making their mill go; but when wheel wore out

The wave would find a space and sweep on free

Andhalf-a-mile offgrind some neighbour's corn.

ADAM-LIKEPietro sighed and said no more:

Eve saw the apple was fair and good to taste

Soplucked ithaving asked the snake advice.

She told her husband God was merciful

And his and her prayer granted at the last:

Let the old mill-stone moulder- wheel unworn

Quartz from the quarryshot into the stream

Adroitlyshould go bring grist as before-

Their house continued to them by an heir

Their vacant heart replenished with a child.

We have her own confession at full length

Made in the first remorse: 'twas Jubilee

Pealed in the ear o' the conscience and it woke.

She found she had offended God no doubt

So much was plain from what had happened since

Misfortune on misfortune; but she harmed

No one i' the worldso far as she could see.

The act had gladdened Pietro to the height

Her husband- God himself must gladden so

Or not at all- (thus much seems probable

From the implicit faithor rather say

Stupid credulity of the foolish man

Who swallowed such a tale nor strained a whit

Even at his wife's far-over-fifty years

Matching his sixty-and-under). Him she blessed

And as for doing any detriment

To the veritable heir- whytell her first

Who was he? Which of all the hands held up

I' the crowdwould one day gather round their gate

Did she so wrong by intercepting thus

The ducatspendthrift fortune thought to fling

For a scramble just to make the mob break shins?

She kept itsaved them kicks and cuffs thereby.

While at the least one good work had she wrought

Goodclearly and incontestably! Her cheat-

What was it to its subjectthe child's self

But charity and religion? See the girl!

A body most like- a soul too probably-

Doomed to deathsuch a double death as waits

The illicit offspring of a common trull

Sure to resent and forthwith rid herself

Of a mere interruption to sin's trade

In the efficacious way old Tiber knows.

Was not so much proved by the ready sale

O' the childglad transfer of this irksome chance?

Well thenshe had caught up this castaway:

This fragile eggsome careless wild bird dropped

She had picked from where it waited the foot-fall

And put in her own breast till forth broke finch

Able to sing God praise on mornings now.

What so excessive harm was done?- she asked.

TO WHICH demand the dreadful answer comes-

For that same deednow at Lorenzo's church

Both agentsconscious and inconsciouslie;

While shethe deed was done to benefit

Lies alsothe most lamentable of things

Yonder where curious people count her breaths

Calculate how long yet the little life

Unspilt may serve their turn nor spoil the show

Give them their storythen the church its group.

WELLhaving gained Pompiliathe girl grew

I' the midst of Pietro hereViolante there

Eachlike a semicircle with stretched arms

Joining the other round her preciousness-

Two walls that go about a garden plot

Where a chance sliverbranchlet slipt from bole

Of some tongue-leaved eye-figured Eden tree

Filched by two exiles and borne far away

Patiently glorifies their solitude-

Year by year mountinggrade by grade surmounts

The builded brick-workyet is compassed still

Still hidden happily and shielded safe-

Else why should miracle have graced the ground?

But on the twelfth sun that brought April there

What meant that laugh? The coping-stone was reached;

Naya light tuft of bloom towered above

To be toyed with by butterfly or bee

Done good to or else harm to from outside:

Pompilia's rootstem and a branch or two

Home enclosed stillthe rest would be the world's.

All which was taught our couple though obtuse

Since walls have earswhen one day brought a priest

Smooth-mannered soft-speeched sleek-cheeked visitor

The notable Abate Paolo- known

As younger brother of a Tuscan house

Whereof the actual representative

Count Guidohad employed his youth and age

In culture of Rome's most productive plant-

A cardinal: but years pass and change comes

In token of whichhere was our Paolo brought

To broach a weighty business. Might he speak?

Yes- to Violante somehow caught alone

While Pietro took his after-dinner doze

And the young maidenbusily as befits

Minded her broider-frame three chambers off.

SO- giving now his great flap-hat a gloss

With flat o' the hand between-whilessoothing now

The silk from out its creases o'er the calf

Setting the stocking clerical again

But never disengagingonce engaged

The thin clear grey hold of his eyes on her-

He dissertated on that Tuscan house

Those Franceschini- very old they were-

Not rich however- ohnot richat least

As people look to be wholow i' the scale

One wayhave reasonrising all they can

By favour of the money-bag: 'tis fair-

Do all gifts go together? But don't suppose

That being not so rich means all so poor!

Say ratherwell enough- i' the wayindeed

Hahato better fortune than the best

Since if his brother's patron-friend kept faith

Put into promised play the Cardinalate

Their house might wear the red cloth that keeps warm

Would but the Count have patience- there's the point!

For he was slipping into years apace

And years make men restless- they needs must see

Some certaintysome sort of end assured

Sparkletho' from the topmost beacon-tip

That warrants life a harbour through the haze.

In shortcall him fantastic as you choose

Guido was home-sickyearned for the old sights

And usual faces- fain would settle himself

And have the patron's bounty when it fell

Irrigate far rather than deluge near

Go fertilize Arezzonot flood Rome.

Sooth to say'twas the wiser wish: the Count

Proved wanting in ambition- let us avouch

Since truth is best- in callousness of heart

Winced at those pin-pricks whereby honours hang

A ribbon o'er each puncture: his- no soul

Ecclesiastic (here the hat was brushed)

Humble but self-sustainingcalm and cold

Havingas one who puts his hand to the plough

Renounced the over-vivid family-feel-

Poor brother Guido! All too plainhe pined

Amid Rome's pomp and glare for dinginess

And that dilapidated palace-shell

Vast as a quarry andvery likeas bare-

Since to this comes old grandeur now-a-days-

Or that absurd wild villa in the waste

O' the hill sidebreezy thoughfor who likes air

Vittianonor unpleasant with its vines

Outside the city and the summer heats.

And now his harping on this one tense chord

The villa and the palacepalace this

And villa the otherall day and all night

Creaked like the implacable cicala's cry

And made one's ear-drum ache: nought else would serve

But thatto light his mother's visage up

With second youthhopegaiety again

He must find straightwaywoo and haply win

And bear away triumphant backsome wife.

Well nowthe man was rational in his way-

Hethe Abate- ought he to interpose?

Unless by straining still his tutelage

(Priesthood leaps over elder-brothership)

Across this difficulty: then let go

Leave the poor fellow in peace! Would that be wrong?

There was no making Guido greatit seems

Spite of himself: then happy be his dole!

Indeedthe Abate's little interest

Was somewhat nearly touched i' the casethey saw:

Since if his simple kinsman so were bent

Began his rounds in Rome to catch a wife

Full soon would such unworldliness surprise

The rare birdsprinkle salt on phoenix' tail

And so secure the nest a sparrow-hawk.

No lack of mothers here in Rome- no dread

Of daughters lured as larks by looking-glass!

The first name-pecking credit-scratching fowl

Would drop her unfledged cuckoo in our nest

To gather greyness theregive voice at length

And shame the brood... but it was long ago

When crusades wereand we sent eagles forth!

Nothat at least the Abate could forestall.

He read the thought within his brother's word

Knew what he purposed better than himself.

We want no name and fame- having our own:

No worldly aggrandizement- such we fly:

But if some wonder of a woman's-heart

Were yet untainted on this grimy earth

Tender and true- tradition tells of such-

Prepared to pant in time and tune with ours-

If some good girl (a girlsince she must take

The new bentlive new lifeadopt new modes)

Not wealthy- Guido for his rank was poor-

But with whatever dowry came to hand

There were the lady-love predestinate!

And somehow the Abate's guardian eye-

Scintillantrutilantfraternal fire-

Roving round every way had seized the prize

-The instinct of uswethe spiritualty!

Comecards on table; was it true or false

That here- here in this very tenement-

YeaVia Vittoria did a marvel hide

Lily of a maidenwhite with intact leaf

Guessed thro' the sheath that saved it from the sun?

A daughter with the mother's hands still clasped

Over her head for fillet virginal

A wife worth Guido's house and hand and heart?

He came to see; had spokenhe could no less-

(A final cherish of the stockinged calf)

If harm were- wellthe matter was off his mind.

THEN with the great air did he kissdevout

Violante's handand rise up his whole height

(A certain purple gleam about the black)

And go forth grandly- as if the Pope came next.

And so Violante rubbed her eyes awhile

Got up toowalked to wake her Pietro soon

And pour into his ear the mighty news

How somebody had somehow somewhere seen

Their tree-top-tuft of bloom above the wall

And came now to apprise them the tree's self

Was no such crab-sort as should feed the swine

But veritable goldthe Hesperian ball

Ordained for Hercules to haste and pluck

And bear and give the Gods to banquet with-

Hercules standing ready at the door.

Whereon did Pietro rub his eyes in turn

Look very wisea little woeful too

Thenperiwig on headand cane in hand

Sally forth dignifiedly into the Square

Of Spain across Babbuino the six steps

Toward the Boat-fountain where our idlers lounge-

Askfor form's sakewho Hercules might be

And have congratulation from the world.

HEARTILY laughed the world in his fool's-face

And told him Hercules was just the heir

To the stubble once a corn-fieldand brick-heap

Where used to be a dwelling-place now burned.

Guido and Franceschini; a Count- ay:

But a cross i' the poke to bless the Countship? No!

All gone except slothpriderapacity

Humours of the imposthume incident

To rich blood that runs thin- nursed to a head

By the rankly-salted soil- a cardinal's court

Whereparasite and picker-up of crumbs

He had hung on longand nowlet gosaid some

But shaken offsaid others- in any case

Tired of the trade and something worse for wear

Was wanting to change town for country quick

Go home again: let Pietro help him home!

The brotherAbate Paoloshrewder mouse

Had pricked for comfortable quartersinched

Into the core of Romeand fattened so;

But Guidoover-burly for rat's hole

Suited to clerical slimnessstarved outside

Must shift for himself: and so the shift was this!

Whatwas the snug retreat of Pietro tracked

The little provision for his old age snuffed?

'Ohmake your girl a ladyan you list

But have more mercy on our wit than vaunt

Your bargain as we burgesses who brag!

WhyGoodman Dullardif a friend must speak

Would the Countthink youstoop to you and yours

Were there the value of one penny-piece

To rattle 'twixt his palms- or likelier laugh

Bid your Pompilia help you black his shoe?'

HOME againshaking oft the puzzled pate

Went Pietro to announce a change indeed

Yet point Violante where some solace lay

Of a rueful sort- the taperquenched so soon

Had ended merely in a snuffnot stink-

Congratulate there was one hope the less

Not misery the more: and so an end.

THE marriage thus impossiblethe rest

Followed: our spokesmanPaoloheard his fate

Resignedly Count Guido bore the blow:

Violante wiped away the transient tear

Renounced the playing Danae to gold dreams

Praised much her Pietro's prompt sagaciousness

Found neighbours' envy naturallightly laughed

At gossips' malicefairly wrapped herself

In her integrity three folds about

Andletting pass a little day or two

Threweven over that integrity

Another wrappagenamely one thick veil

That hid hermatron-wisefrom head to foot

Andby the hand holding a girl veiled too

Stoodone dim end of a December day

In Saint Lorenzo on the altar-step-

Just where she lies now and that girl will lie-

Only with fifty candles' company

Now- in the place of the poor winking one

Which saw- doors shut and sacristan made sure-

A priest- perhaps Abate Paolo- wed

Guido clandestinelyirrevocably

To his Pompilia aged thirteen years

And five months- witness the church register-

Pompilia(thus become Count Guido's wife

Clandestinelyirrevocably his)

Who all the while had bornefrom first to last

As brisk a part i' the bargainas yon lamb

Brought forth from basket and set out for sale

Bears while they chafferwary market-man

And voluble housewifeo'er it- each in turn

Patting the curly calm inconscious head

With the shambles ready round the corner there

When the talk's talked out and a bargain struck.

TRANSFER completewhyPietro was apprised.

Violante sobbed the sobs and prayed the prayers

And said the serpent tempted so she fell

Till Pietro had to clear his brow apace

And make the best of matters: wrath at first-

How else? pacification presently

Why not?- could flesh withstand the impurpled one

The very CardinalPaolo's patron-friend?

Whojustifiably surnamed 'a hinge'

Knew where the molefying oil should drop

To cure the creak o' the valve- considerate

For frailtypatient in a naughty world

He even volunteered to supervise

The rough draught of those marriage-articles

Signed in a hurry by Pietrosince revoked:

Trust's politicsuspicion does the harm

There is but one way to brow-beat this world

Dumb-founder doubtand repay scorn in kind-

To go on trustingnamely till faith move


And faith here made the mountains move.

Whyfriends whose zeal cried 'Caution ere too late!'-

Bade 'Pause ere jumpwith both feet joinedon slough!'-

Counselled 'If rashness thennow temperance!'-

Heard for their pains that Pietro had closed eyes

Jumped and was in the middle of the mire

Money and alljust what should sink a man.

By the mere marriageGuido gained forthwith

Dowryhis wife's right; no rescinding there:

But Pietrowhy must he needs ratify

One gift Violante gavepay down one doit

Promised in first fool's-flurry? Grasp the bag

Lest the son's service flag- is reason and rhyme

Above all when the son's a son-in-law:

Words to the wind! The parents cast their lot

Into the lap o' the daughter: and the son

Now with a right to lie theretook what fell

Pietro's whole having and holdinghouse and field

Goodschattels and effectshis worldly worth

Present and in perspectiveall renounced

In favour of Guido. As for the usufruct-

The interest nowthe principal anon

Would Guido please to waitat Pietro's death:

Till whenhe must support the couple's charge

Bear with themhousematespensionariespawned

To an alien for fulfilment of their pact.

Guido should at discretion deal them orts

Bread-bounty in Arezzo the strange place-

They who had lived deliciously and rolled

Rome's choicest comfit 'neath the tongue before.

Into this quag 'jump' bade the Cardinal!

And neck-deep in a minute there flounced they.

BUT they touched bottom at Arezzo: there-

Four months' experience of how craft and greed

Quickened by penury and pretentious hate

Of plain truthbrutify and bestialize-

Four months' taste of apportioned insolence

Cruelty graduateddose by dose

Of ruffianism dealt out at bed and board

And lothe work was donesuccess clapped hands.

The starvedstrippedbeaten brace of stupid dupes

Broke at last in their desperation loose

Fled away for their livesand lucky so;

Found their account in casting coat afar

And bearing off a shred of skin at least:

Left Guido lord o' the preyas the lion is

Andcareless what came aftercarried their wrongs

To Rome- I nothing doubtwith such remorse

As folly feelssince pain can make it wise

But crimepast wisdomwhich is innocence

Needs not be plagued with till a later day.

PIETRO went back to beg from door to door

In hope that memory not quite extinct

Of cheery days and festive nights would move

Friends and acquaintance- after the natural laugh

And tributary 'Just as we foretold-'

To show some bowelsgive the dregs o' the cup

Scraps of the trencherto their host that was

Or let him share the mat with the mastiffhe

Who lived large and kept open house so long.

Not so Violante: ever a-head i' the march

Quick at the bye-road and the cut-across

She went first to the best adviserGod-

Whose finger unmistakably was felt

In all this retribution of the past.

Here was the prize of sinluck of a lie!

But here too was the Holy Year would help

Bound to rid sinners of sin vulgarsin

Abnormalsin prodigiousup to sin

Impossible and supposed for Jubilee' sake:

To lift the leadenest of lieslet soar

The soul unhampered by a feather-weight.

'I will' said she 'go burn out this bad hole

That breeds the scorpionbaulk the plague at least

Its hope of further creeping progeny:

I will confess my faultbe punishedyes

But pardoned too: Saint Peter pays for all.'

SOWITH the crowd she mixedmade for the dome

Through the great door new-broken for the nonce

Marchedmuffled more than ever matron-wise

Up the left nave to the formidable throne

Fell into file with this the poisoner

And that the parricideand reached in turn

The poor repugnant Penitentiary

Set at this gully-hole o' the world's discharge

To help the frightfullest of filth have vent

And then knelt down and whispered in his ear

How she had bought Pompiliapalmed the babe

On Pietropassed the girl off as their child

To Guidoand defrauded of his due

This one and that one- more than she could name

Until her solid piece of wickedness

Happened to split and spread woe far and wide:

Contritely now she brought the case for cure.

REPLIED the throne- 'Ere God forgive the guilt

Make man some restitution! Do your part!

The owners of your husband's heritage

Barred thence by this pretended birth and heir-

Tell themthe bar came sois broken so

Theirs be the due reversion as before!

Your husband whono partner in the guilt

Suffers the penaltyled blindfold thus

By love of what he thought his flesh and blood

To alienate his all in her behalf-

Tell him too such contract is null and void!

Lasthe who personates your son-in-law

Who with sealed eyes and stopped earstame and mute

Took at your hand that bastard of a whore

You called your daughter and he calls his wife-

Tell himand bear the anger which is just!

Thenpenance so performedmay pardon be!'

WHO could gainsay this just and right award?

Nobody in the world: butout o' the world

Who knows?- might timid intervention be

From any makeshift of an angel-guide

Substitute for celestial guardianship

Pretending to take care of the girl's self.-

'Womanconfessing crime is healthy work

And telling truth relieves a liar like you

But what of her my unconsidered charge?

No thought ofwhile this good befalls yourself

What in the way of harm may find out her?'

No least thoughtI assure you: truth being truth

Tell it and shame the devil!

Said and done:

Home went Violante and disbosomed all:

And Pietro whosix months beforehad borne

Word after word of such a piece of news

Like so much cold steel inched through his breast-blade

Now at its entry gave a leap for joy

As who- what did I say of one in a quag?-

Should catch a hand from heaven and spring thereby

Out of the mudon ten toes stand once more.

'What? All that used to bemay be again?

My money mine againmy housemy land

My chairs and tablesall mine evermore?

Whatthe girl's dowry never was the girl's

Andunpaid yetis never now to pay?

Then the girl's selfmy pale Pompilia child

That used to be my own with her great eyes-

He who drove us forthwhy should he keep her

When proved as very a pauper as himself?

Will she come backwith nothing changed at all

And laugh "But how you dreamed uneasily!

I saw the great drops stand here on your brow-

Did I do wrong to wake you with a kiss?"

Noindeeddarling! Nofor wide awake

I see another outburst of surprise:

The lout-lordbully-beggarbraggart-sneak

Who not content with cutting pursecrops ear-

Assuredly it shall be salve to mine

When this great news red-letters himthe rogue!

Aylet him taste the teeth o' the trapthis fox

Give us our lamb backgolden fleece and all

Let her creep in and warm our breasts again!

What care for the past?- we three are our old selves

Who know now what the outside world is worth.'

And sohe carried case before the courts;

And there Violanteblushing to the bone

Made public declaration of her fault

Renounced her motherhoodand prayed the law

To interposefrustrate of its effect

Her follyand redress the injury done.

WHEREOF was the disastrous consequence

That though indisputably clear the case

(For thirteen years are not so large a lapse

And still six witnesses survived in Rome

To prove the truth o' the tale)- yetpatent wrong

Seemed Guido's; the first cheat had chanced on him:

Here was the pity thatdeciding right

Those who began the wrong would gain the good.

Guido pronounced the story one long lie

Lied to do robbery and take revenge:

Or say it were no lie at all but truth

Thenit both robbed the right heirs and shamed him

Without revenge to humanize the deed:

What had he done when first they shamed him thus?

But that were too fantastic: losels they

And leasing this world's-wonder of a lie

They lied to blot him though it brand themselves.

So answered Guido through the Abate's mouth.

Wherefore the courtits customary way

Inclined to the middle course the sage affect-

They held the child to be a changeling- good:

Butlest the husband got no good thereby

They willed the dowrythough not hers at all

Should yet be hisif not by right then grace-

Part-payment for the plain injustice done.

But thenthat other contractPietro's work

Renunciation of his own estate

That must be cancelled- give him back his goods

He was no party to the cheat at least!

So ran the judgment:- whence a prompt appeal

On both sidesseeing right is absolute.

Cried Pietro 'Is Pompilia not my child?

Why give her my child's dowry?'- 'Have I right

To the dowrywhy not to the rest as well?'

Cried Guidoor cried Paolo in his name:

Till law said 'Reinvestigate the case!'

And so the matter pendsunto this day.

HENCE new disaster- that no outlet seemed;

Whatever the fortune of the battle-field

No path whereby the fatal man might march

Victoriouswreath on head and spoils in hand

And back turned full upon the baffled foe-

Nor cranny whencedesperate and disgraced

Stripped to the skinhe might be fain to crawl

Worm-likeand so away with his defeat

To other fortune and the novel prey.

Nohe was pinned to the place thereleft alone

With his immense hate andthe solitary

Subject to satisfy that hatehis wife.

'Cast her off? Turn her naked out of doors?

Easily said! But still the action pends

Still dowryprincipal and interest

Pietro's possessionsall I bargained for-

Any good daybe but my friends alert

May give them me if she continue mine.

Yetkeep her? Keep the puppet of my foes-

Her voice that lisps me back their curse- her eye

They lend their leer of triumph to- her lip

I touch and taste their very filth upon?'

IN SHORThe also took the middle course

Rome taught him- did at last excogitate

How he might keep the good and leave the bad

Twined in revengeyet extricable- nay

Make the very hate's eruptionvery rush

Of the unpent sluice of cruelty relieve

His heart firstthen go fertilize his field.

What if the girl-wifetortured with due care

Should takeas though spontaneouslythe road

It were impolitic to thrust her on?

Ifgoadedshe broke out in full revolt

Followed her parents i' the face o' the world

Branded as runaway not castaway

Self-sentenced and self-punished in the act?

So should the loathed form and detested face

Launch themselves into hell and there be lost

While he looked o'er the brink with folded arms;

So should the heaped-up shames go shuddering back

O' the head o' the heapersPietro and his wife

And bury in the breakage three at once:

While Guidoleft freeno one right renounced

Gain presentgain prospectiveall the gain

None of the wife except her rights absorbed

Should ask law what it was law paused about-

If law were dubious still whose word to take

The husband's- dignified and derelict

Or the wife's- the... what I tell you. It should be.

GUIDO'S first step was to take penindite

A letter to the Abate- not his own

His wife's- she should re-writesignseal and send.

She liberally told the household-news

Rejoiced her vile progenitors were fled

Revealed their malice- how they even laid

A last injunction on herwhen they fled

That she should forthwith find a paramour

Complot with him to gather spoil enough

Then burn the house down- taking previous care

To poison all its inmates overnight-

And so companionedso provisioned too

Follow to Rome and an join fortunes gay.

This lettertraced in pencil-characters

Guido as easily got re-traced in ink

By his wife's penguided from end to end

As it had been just so much HebrewSir:

For why? That wife could broidersing perhaps

Pray certainlybut no more read than write

This letter 'which yet write she must' he said

'Being half courtesy and compliment

Half sisterliness: take the thing on trust!'

She had as readily re-traced the words

Of her own death-warrant- in some sort 'twas so.

This letter the Abate in due course

Communicated to such curious souls

In Rome as needs must pry into the cause

Of quarrelwhy the Comparini fled

The Franceschiniwhence the grievance grew

What the hubbub meant: 'Nay- see the wife's own word

Authentic answer! Ten detractors too

There's a plan formeda programme figured here

-Pray God no after-practice put to proof

This letter cast no light uponone day!'

SO MUCH for what should work in Rome- back now

To Arezzogo on with the project there

Forward the next step with as bold a foot

And plague Pompilia to the heightyou see!

Accordingly did Guido set himself

To worry up and downacrossaround

The womanhemmed in by her household-bars-

Chased her about the coop of daily life

Having first stopped each outlet thence save one

Whichlike bird with a ferret in her haunt

She needs must seize as sole way of escape

Though there was tied and twittering a decoy

To seem as if it tempted- just the plume

O' the popinjayand not a respite there

From tooth and claw of something in the dark-

Guiseppe Caponsacchi.

Now begins

The tenebrific passage of the tale:

How hold a lightdisplay the cavern's gorge?

Howin this phase of the affairshow truth?

Here is the dying wife who smiles and says

'So it was- so it was not- how it was

I never knew nor ever care to know-'

Till they all weepphysicianman of law

Even that poor old bit of battered brass

Beaten out of all shape by the world's sins

Common utensil of the lazar-house-

Confessor Celestino groans ''Tis truth

All truth and only truth: there's something else

Some presence in the room beside us all

Something that every lie expires before:

No question she was pure from first to last.'

So far is well and helps us to believe:

But beyondshe the helplesssimple-sweet

Or silly-soothunskilled to break one blow

At her good frame by putting finger forth-

How can she render service to the truth?

The bird says 'So I fluttered where a springe

Caught me: the springe did not contrive itself

That I know: who contrived itGod forgive!'

But wewho hear no voice and have dry eyes

Must ask- we cannot elseabsolving her-

How of the part played by that same decoy

I' the catchingcaging? Was himself caught first?

We deal here with no innocent at least

No witless victim- he's a man of the age

And a priest beside- persuade the mocking world

Mere charity boiled over in this sort!

He whose own safety too- (the Pope's apprised-

Good-natured with the secular offence

The Pope looks grave on priesthood in a scrape)

Our priest's own safety thereforemay-be life

Hangs on the issue! You will find it hard.

Guido is here to meet you with fixed foot

Stiff like a statue- 'Leave what went before!

My wife fled i' the company of a priest

Spent two days and two nights alone with him:

Leave what came after!' He is hard to throw.

Moreover priests are merely flesh and blood;

When we get weaknessand no guilt beside

We have no such great ill-fortune: finding grey

We gladly call that white which might be black

Too used to the double-dye. Soif the priest

Moved by Pompilia's youth and beautygave

Way to the natural weakness.... Anyhow

Here be factscharactery; what they spell

Determineand thence pick what sense you may!

There was a certain young bold handsome priest

Popular in the cityfar and wide

Famedfor Arezzo's but a little place

As the best of good companionsgay and grave

At the decent minute; settled in his stall

Or sidelinglute on lapby lady's couch

Ever the courtly Canon: see in such

A star shall climb apace and culminate

Have its due handbreadth of the heaven at Rome

Though meanwhile pausing on Arezzo's edge

As modest candle 'mid the mountain fog

To rub off redness and rusticity

Ere it sweep chastenedgain the silver-sphere.

Whether through Guido's absence or what else

This Caponsacchifavourite of the town

Was yet no friend of his nor free o' the house

Though both moved in the regular magnates' march-

Each must observe the other's tread and halt

At churchsaloontheatrehouse of play.

Who could help noticing the husband's slouch

The black of his brow- or miss the news that buzzed

Of how the little solitary wife

Wept and looked out of window all day long?

What need of minute search into such springs

As start menset o' the move?- machinery

Old as earthobvious as the noonday sun.

Whytake men as they come- an instance now-

Of all those who have simply gone to see

Pompilia on her deathbed since four days

Half at the least arecall it how you please

In love with her- I don't except the priests

Nor even the old confessor whose eyes run

Over at what he styles his sister's voice

Who died so early and weaned him from the world.

Wellhad they viewed her ere the paleness pushed

The last o' the red o' the rose awaywhile yet

Some handadventurous 'twixt the wind and her

Might let the life run back and raise the flower

Rich with reward up to the guardian's face-

Would they have kept that hand employed the same

At fumbling on with prayer-book pages? No!

Men are men: why then need I say one word

More than thisthat our man the Canon here

Sawpitiedloved Pompilia?

This is why;

This startling why: that Caponsacchi's self-

Whom foes and friends alike avouchfor good

Or ina man of truth whate'er betide

Intrepid altogetherreckless too

How his own fame and fortunetossed to the winds

Suffer by any turn the adventure take

Naymore- not thrustinglike a badge to hide

'Twixt shirt and skin a joy which shown is shame-

But flirting flag-like i' the face o' the world

This tell-tale kerchiefthis conspicuous love

For the lady- ohcalled innocent loveI know!

Onlysuch scarlet fiery innocence

As most men would try muffle up in shade-

-'Tis strange then that this else abashless mouth

Should yet maintainfor truth's sake which is God's

That it was not he made the first advance

Thateven ere word had passed between the two

Pompilia penned him letterspassionate prayers

If not lovethen so simulating love

That heno novice to the taste of thyme

Turned from such over-luscious honey-clot

At end o' the flowerand would not lend his lip

Till... but the tale here frankly outsoars faith:

There must be falsehood somewhere. For her part

Pompilia quietly constantly avers

She never penned a letter in her life

Nor to the Canon nor any other man

Being incompetent to write and read:

Nor had she ever uttered word to himnor he

To her till that same evening when they met

She on her window-terracehe beneath

I' the public streetas was their fateful chance

And she adjured him in the name of God

Find out and bring to pass wherewhen and how

Escape with him to Rome might be contrived.

Means foundplan laid and time fixedshe avers

And heart assured to heart in loyalty

All at an impulse! All extemporized

As in romance-books! Is that credible?

Wellyes: as she avers this with calm mouth

DyingI do think 'Credible!' you'd cry-

Did not the priest's voice come to break the spell:

They questioned him apartas the custom is

When first the matter made a noise at Rome

And hecalmconstant then as she is now

For truth's sake did assert and reassert

Those letters called him to her and he came

-Which damns the story credible otherwise.

Why should this man- mad to devote himself

Careless what comes of his own famethe first-

Be studious thus to publish and declare

Just what the lightest nature loves to hide

Nor screen a lady from the byword's laugh

'First spoke the ladylast the cavalier!'

-I say- why should the man tell truth just here

When graceful lying meets such ready shrift?

Or is there a first moment for a priest

As for a womanwhen invaded shame

Must have its first and last excuse to show?

Do both contrive love's entry in the mind

Shall looki' the manner of ita surprise

That afteronce the flag o' the fort hauled down

Effrontery may sink drawbridgeopen gate

Welcome and entertain the conqueror?

Or what do you say to a touch of the devil's worst?

Can it be that the husbandhe who wrote

The letter to his brother I told you of

I' the name of her it meant to criminate-

What if he wrote those letters to the priest?

Further the priest sayswhen it first befell

This folly o' the lettersthat he checked the flow

Put them back lightly each with its reply.

Here again vexes new discrepancy:

There never reached her eye a word from him;

He did write but she could not read- she could

Burn what offended wifehoodwomanhood

So did burn: never bade him come to her

Yet when it proved he must comelet him come

And when he did come though uncalledshe spoke

Prompt by an inspiration: thus it was.

Will you go somewhat back to understand?

WHEN firstpursuant to his planthere sprang

Like an uncaged beastGuido's cruelty

On the weak shoulders of his wifeshe cried

To those whom law appoints resource for such

The secular guardian- that's the Governor

And the Archbishop- that's the spiritual guide

And prayed them take the claws from out her flesh.

Nowthis is ever the ill consequence

Of being noblepoor and difficult

Ungainlyyet too great to disregard-

That the born peers and friends hereditary

Though disinclined to help from their own store

The opprobrious wightput penny in his poke

From purse of theirs or leave the door ajar

When he goes wistful by at dinner-time-

Yetif his needs conduct him where they sit

Smugly in officejudge thisbishop that

Dispensers of the shine and shade o' the place-

And ifthe friend's door shut and purse undrawn

The potentate may find the office-hall

Do as good service at no cost- give help

By-the-byepay up traditional dues at once

Just through a feather-weight too much i' the scale

A finger-tip forgot at the balance-tongue-

Whyonly churls refuseor Molinists.

Thus whenin the first roughness of surprise

At Guido's wolf-face whence the sheepskin fell

The frightened coupleall bewilderment

Rushed to the Governor- who else rights wrong?

Told him their tale of wrong and craved redress-

Whythen the Governor woke up to the fact

That Guido was a friend of oldpoor Count!-

Sopromptly paid his tributepromised the pair

Wholesome chastisement should soon cure their qualms

Next time they came and prated and told lies:

Which stopped all pratingsent them dumb to Rome.

Wellnow it was Pompilia's turn to try:

The troubles pressing on heras I said

Three times she rushedmaddened by misery

To the other mighty mansobbed out her prayer

At footstool of the Archbishop- fast the friend

Of her husband also! Ohgood friends of yore!

Sothe Archbishopnot to be outdone

By the Governorbreak custom more than he

Thrice bade the foolish woman stop her tongue

Unloosed her hands from harassing his gout

Coached her and carried her to the Count again

-His old friend should be master in his house

Rule his wife and correct her faults at need!

Welldriven from post to pillar in this wise

Sheas a last resourcebetook herself

To oneshould be no family-friend at least

A simple friar o' the city; confessed to him

Then told how fierce temptation of release

By self-dealt death was busy with her soul

And urged that he put this in wordswrite plain

For one who could not writeset down her prayer

That Pietro and Violanteparent-like

If somehow not her parentsshould for love

Come save herpluck from out the flame the brand

Themselves had thoughtlessly thrust in so deep

To send gay-coloured sparkles up and cheer

Their seat at the chimney-corner. The good friar

Promised as much at the moment; butalack

Night brings discretion: he was no one's friend

Yet presently found he could not turn about

Nor take a step i' the case and fail to tread

On someone's toe who either was a friend

Or a friend's friendor a friend's friend thrice-removed

And woe to friar by whom offences come!

Sothe course being plain- with a general sigh

At matrimony the profound mistake-

He threw reluctantly the business up

Having his other penitents to mind.

IF THENall outlets thus secured save one

At last she took to the openstood and stared

With her wan face to see where God might wait-

And there found Caponsacchi wait as well

For the precious something at perdition's edge

He only was predestinate to save-

And if they recognized in a critical flash

From the zenitheach the otherher need of him

His need of... saya woman to perish for

The regular way o' the worldyet break no vow

Do no harm save to himself- if this were thus?

How do you say? It were improbable;

So is the legend of my patron-saint.

ANYHOWwhetheras Guido states the case

Pompilia- like a starving wretch i' the street

Who stops and rifles the first passenger

In the great right of an excessive wrong-

Did somehow call this stranger and he came-

Or whether the strange sudden interview

Blazed as when star and star must needs go close

Till each hurts each and there is loss in heaven-

Whatever way in this strange world it was-

Pompilia and Caponsacchi metin fine

She at her windowhe i' the street beneath

And understood each other at first look.

ALL was determined and performed at once.

And on a certain April eveninglate

I' the monththis girl of sixteenbride and wife

Three years and over- she who hitherto

Had never taken twenty steps in Rome

Beyond the churchpinned to her mother's gown

Norin Arezzoknew her way through street

Except what led to the Archbishop's door-

Such an one rose up in the darklaid hand

On what came firstclothes and a trinket or two

Belongings of her own in the old day-

Stole from the side o' the sleeping spouse- who knows?

Sleeping perhapssilent for certain- slid

Ghost-like from great dark room to great dark room

In through the tapestries and out again

And onwardunembarrassed as a fate

Descended staircasegained last door of all

Sent it wide open at first push of palm

And there stoodfirst timelast and only time

At libertyalone in the open street-

Unquestionedunmolested found herself

At the city gateby Caponsacchi's side

Hope therejoy therelife and all good again

The carriage therethe convoy therelight there

Broadening into a full blaze at Rome

And breaking small what long miles lay between;

Up she sprangin he followedthey were safe.

THE husband quotes this for incredible

All of the story from first word to last:

Sees the priest's hand throughout upholding hers

Traces his foot to the alcovethat night

Whither and whence blindfold he knew the way

Proficient in all craft and stealthiness;

And cites for proof a servanteye that watched

And ear that opened to purse secrets up

A woman-spy- suborned to give and take

Letters and tokensdo the work of shame

The more adroitly that herselfwho helped

Communion thus between a tainted pair

Had long since been a leper thick in spot

A common trull o' the town: she witnessed all

Helped many meetingspartingstook her wage

And then told Guido the whole matter. Lies!

The woman's life confutes her word- her word

Confutes itself: 'Thusthus and thus I lied.'

'And thusno questionstill you lie' we say.

'AY BUT at laste'en have it how you will

Whatever the meanswhatever the wayexplodes

The consummation'- the accusers shriek:

'Here is the wife avowedly found in flight

And the companion of her flighta priest;

She flies her husbandhe the church his spouse:

What is this?'

Wife and priest alike reply

'This is the simple thing it claims to be

A course we took for life and honour's sake

Very strangevery justifiable.'

She says'God put it in my head to fly

As when the martin migrates: autumn claps

Her handscries "Winter's comingwill be here

Off with you ere the white teeth overtake!

Flee!" So I fled: this friend was the warm day

The south wind and whatever favours flight;

I took the favourhad the helphow else?

And so we did fly rapidly all night

All dayall night- a longer night- again

And then another daylongest of days

And all the whilewhether we fled or stopped

I scarce know how or whyone thought filled both

"Fly and arrive!" So long as I found strength

I talked with my companiontold him much

Knowing that he knew moreknew meknew God

And God's disposal of me- but the sense

O' the blessed flight absorbed me in the main

And speech became mere talking through a sleep

Till at the end of that last longest night

In a red daybreakwhen we reached an inn

And my companion whispered "Next stage- Rome!"

Sudden the weak flesh fell like piled-up cards

All the frail fabric at a finger's touch

And prostrate the poor soul tooand I said

"But though Count Guido were a furlong off

Just on meI must stop and rest awhile!"

Then something like a white wave o' the sea

Broke o'er my brain and buried me in sleep

Blessedlytill it ebbed and left me loose

And where was I found but on a strange bed

In a strange room like hellroaring with noise

Ruddy with flameand filled with menin front

Whom but the man you call my husbanday-

Count Guido once more between heaven and me

For there my heaven stoodmy salvationyes-

That Caponsacchi all my heaven of help

Helpless himselfheld prisoner in the hands

Of men who looked up in my husband's face

To take the fate thence he should signify

Just as the way was at Arezzo: then

Not for my sake but his who had helped me-

I sprang upreached him with one boundand seized

The sword o' the felontrembling at his side

Fit creature of a cowardunsheathed the thing

And would have pinned him through the poison-bag

To the wall and left him there to palpitate

As you serve scorpionsbut men interposed-

Disarmed megave his life to him again

That he might take mine and the other lives

And he has done so. I submit myself!'

The priest says- ohand in the main result

The facts asseveratehe truly says

As to the very act and deed of him

However you mistrust the mind o' the man-

The flight was just for flight's sakeno pretext

For aught except to set Pompilia free:

He says 'I cite the husband's self's worst charge

In proof of my best word for both of us.

Be it conceded that so many times

We took our pleasure in his palace: then

What need to fly at all?- or flying no less

What need to outrage the lips sick and white

Of a womanand bring ruin down beside

By halting when Rome lay one stage beyond?'

So does he vindicate Pompilia's fame

Confirm her story in all points but one-

This; thatso fleeing and so breathing forth

Her last strength in the prayer to halt awhile

She makes confusion of the reddening white

Which was the sunset when her strength gave way

And the next sunrise and its whitening red

Which she revived in when her husband came:

She mixes both timesmorn and evein one

Having lived through a blank of night 'twixt each

Though dead-asleepunaware as a corpse

She on the bed above; her friend below

Watched in the doorway of the inn the while

Stood i' the red o' the mornthat she mistakes

In act to rouse and quicken the tardy crew

And hurry out the horseshave the stage

Overthe last leaguereach Rome and be safe:

When up came Guido.

Guido's tale begins-

How he and his whole householddrunk to death

By some enchanted potionpoppied drugs

Plied by the wifelay powerless in gross sleep

And left the spoilers unimpeded way

Could not shake off their poison and pursue

Till noontidethen made shift to get on horse

And did pursue: which meanshe took his time

Pressed on no more than lingered afterstep

By stepjust making sure o' the fugitives

Till at the nick of timehe saw his chance

Seized itcame up with and surprised the pair.

How he must needs have gnawn lip and gnashed teeth

Taking successively at tower and town

Village and roadsidestill the same report

'Yessuch a pair arrived an hour ago

Sat in the carriage just where your horse stands

While we got horses ready- turned deaf ear

To all entreaty they would even alight;

Counted the minutes and resumed their course.'

Would they indeed escapearrive at Rome

Leave no least loop to let damnation through

And foil him of his captured infamy

Prize of guilt proved and perfect? So it seemed:

Tilloh the happy chanceat last stageRome

But two short hours offCastelnuovo reached

The guardian angel gave reluctant place

Satan stepped forward with alacrity

Pompilia's flesh and blood succumbedperforce

A halt wasand her husband had his will.

Perdue he couchedcounted out hour by hour

Till he should spy in the east a signal-streak-

Night had beenmorrow wastriumph would be.

Do you see the plan deliciously complete?

The rush upon the unsuspecting sleep

The easy executionthe outcry

Over the deed 'Take notice all the world!

These two dead bodieslocked still in embrace-

The man is Caponsacchi and a priest

The woman is my wife: they fled me late

Thus have I found and you behold them thus

And may judge me: do you approve or no?'

SUCCESS did seem not so improbable

But that already Satan's laugh was heard

His black back turned on Guido- left i' the lurch

Or ratherbaulked of suit and service now

That he improve on both by one deed more

Burn up the better at no distant day

Body and soul one holocaust to hell.

Anyhowof this natural consequence

Did just the last link of the long chain snap:

For his eruption was o' the priestalive

And alertcalmresolute and formidable

Not the least look of fear in that broad brow-

One not to be disposed of by surprise

And armed moreover- who had guessed as much?

Yesthere stood he in secular costume

Complete from head to heelwith sword at side

He seemed to know the trick of perfectly.

There was no prompt suppression of the man

As he said calmly 'I have saved your wife

From death; there was no other way but this;

Of what do I defraud you except death?

Charge any wrong beyondI answer it.'

Guidothe valoroushad met his match

Was forced to demand help instead of fight

Bid the authorities o' the place lend aid

And make the best of a broken matter so.

They soon obeyed the summons- I suppose

Apprised and readyor not far to seek-

Laid hands on Caponsacchifound in fault

A priest yet flagrantly accoutred thus-

Thento make good Count Guido's further charge

Proceededprisoner made lead the way

In a crowdupstairs to the chamber-door

Where wax-whitedead asleepdeep beyond dream

As the priest laid herlay Pompilia yet.

AND as he mounted step and step with the crowd

How I see Guido taking heart again!

He knew his wife so well and the way of her-

How at the outbreak she would shroud her shame

In hell's heartwould it mercifully yawn-

Howfailing thather forehead to his foot

She would crouch silent till the great doom fell

Leave him triumphant with the crowd to see!

Guilt motionless or writhing like a worm?

No! Second misadventurethis worm turned

I told you: would have slain him on the spot

With his own weaponbut they seized her hands:

Leaving her tongue freeas it tolled the knell

Of Guido's hope so lively late. The past

Took quite another shape now. She who shrieked

'At least and for ever I am mine and God's

Thanks to his liberating angel Death-

Never again degraded to be yours

The ignoble noblethe unmanly man

The beast below the beast in brutishness!'-

This was the froward child'the restif lamb

Used to be cherished in his breast' he groaned-

'Eat from his hand and drink from out his cup

The while his fingers pushed their loving way

Through curl on curl of that soft coat-alas

And she all silverly baaed gratitude

While meditating mischief!'- and so forth.

He must invent another story now!

The ins and outs o' the rooms were searched: he found

Or showed for found the abominable prize-

Love-letters from his wife who cannot write

Love-letters in reply o' the priest- thank God!-

Who can write and confront his character

With thisand prove the false thing forged throughout:

Spitting whereathe needs must spatter who

But Guido's self?- that forged and falsified

One letter called Pompilia'spast dispute:

Then why not these to make sure still more sure?

SO WAS the case concluded then and there:

Guido preferred his charges in due form

Called on the law to adjudicateconsigned

The accused ones to the Prefect of the place.

(Oh mouse-birth of that mountain-like revenge!)

And so to his own place betook himself

After the spring that failed- the wildcat's way.

The captured parties were conveyed to Rome;

Investigation followed here i' the court-

Soon to review the fruit of its own work

From then to now being eight months and no more.

Guido kept out of sight and safe at home:

The Abatebrother Paolohelped most

At words when deeds were out of questionpushed

Nearest the purplebest played deputy

SopleadedGuido's representative

At the court shall soon try Guido's self- what's more

The court that also took- I told youSir-

That statement of the couplehow a cheat

Had been i' the birth of the babeno child of theirs.

That was the prelude; thisthe play's first act:

Whereof we wait what comescrownclose of all.

WELLthe result was something of a shade

On the parties thus accused- how otherwise?

Shadebut with shine as unmistakable.

Each had a prompt defence: Pompilia first-

'Earth was made hell to me who did no harm:

I only could emerge one way from hell

By catching at the one hand held meso

I caught at it and thereby stepped to heaven:

If that be wrongdo with me what you will!'

Then Caponsacchi with a grave grand sweep

O' the arm as though his soul warned baseness off-

'If as a manthen much more as a priest

I hold me bound to help weak innocence:

If so my worldly reputation burst

Being the bubble it iswhyburst it may:

Blame I can bear though not blameworthiness.

But use your sense firstsee if the miscreant here

The man who tortured thus the womanthus

Have not both laid the trap and fixed the lure

Over the pit should bury body and soul!

His facts are lies: his letters are the fact-

An infiltration flavoured with himself!

As for the fancies- whether... what is it you say?

The lady loves mewhether I love her

In the forbidden sense of your surmise-

Ifwith the midday blaze of truth above

The unlidded eye of God awakeaware

You needs must pry about and track the course

Of each stray beam of light may traverse earth

To the night's sun and Lucifer himself

Do soat other timein other place

Not now nor here! Enough that first to last

I never touched her lip nor she my hand

Nor either of us thought a thoughtmuch less

Spoke a word which the Virgin might not hear.

Be that your questionthus I answer it.'

THEN the court had to make its mind upspoke.

'It is a thorny questionand a tale

Hard to believebut not impossible:

Who can be absolute for either side?

A middle course is happily open yet.

Here has a blot surprised the social blank-

Whether through favourfeebleness or fault

No matterleprosy has touched our robe

And we're unclean and must be purified.

Here is a wife makes holiday from home

A priest caught playing truant to his church

In masquerade moreover: both allege

Enough excuse to stop our lifted scourge

Which else would heavily fall. On the other hand

Here is a husbanday and man of mark

Who comes complaining heredemands redress

As if he were the pattern of desert-

The while those plaguy allegations frown

Forbid we grant him the redress he seeks.

To all men be our moderation known!

Rewarding none while compensating each

Hurting all round though harming nobody

Husbandwifepriestscot-free not one shall 'scape

Yet priestwifehusbandboast the unbroken head

From application of our excellent oil:

So thatwhatever be the factin fine

It makes no miss of justice in a sort.

Firstlet the husband stomach as he may

His wife shall neither be returned himno-

Nor brandedwhipped and cagedbut just consigned

To a convent and the quietude she craves;

So is he rid of his domestic plague:

What better thing can happen to a man?

Nextlet the priest retire- unshentunshamed

Unpunished as for perpetrating crime

But relegated (not imprisonedSirs!)

Sent for three years to clarify his youth

At Civitaa rest by the way to Rome:

There let his life skim of its last of lees

Nor keep this dubious colour. Judged the cause:

All parties may retirecontentwe hope.'

That's Rome's waythe traditional road of law;

Whither it leads is what remains to tell.

THE priest went to his relegation-place

The wife to her conventbrother Paolo

To the arms of brother Guido with the news

And this beside- his charge was countercharged;

The Comparinihis old brace of hates

Were breathed and vigilant and venomous now-

Had shot a second bolt where the first struck

And followed up the pending dowry-suit

By a procedure should release the wife

From so much of the marriage-bond as barred

Escape when Guido turned the screw too much

On his wife's flesh and bloodas husband may.

No more defenceshe turned and made attack

Claimed now divorce from bed and boardin short:

Pleaded such subtle strokes of cruelty

Such slow sure siege laid to her body and soul

Asproved- and proofs seemed coming thick and fast-

Would gain both freedom and the dowry back

Even should the first suit leave them in his grasp:

So urged the Comparini for the wife.

Guido had gained not one of the good things

He grasped at by his creditable plan

O' the flight and following and the rest: the suit

That smouldered late was fanned to fury new

This adjunct came to help with fiercer fire

While he had got himself a quite new plague-

Found the world's face an universal grin

At this last best of the Hundred Merry Tales

Of how a young and spritely clerk devised

To carry off a spouse that moped too much

And cured her of the vapours in a trice:

And how the husbandplaying Vulcan's part

Told by the Sunstarted in hot pursuit

To catch the loversand came halting up

Cast his net and then called the Gods to see

The convicts in their rosy impudence-

Whereat said Mercury 'Would that I were Mars!'

Oh it was rareand naughty all the same!

Briefthe wife's courage and cunning- the priest's show

Of chivalry and adroitness- last not least

The husband- how he ne'er showed teeth at all

Whose bark had promised biting; but just sneaked

Back to his kenneltail 'twixt legsas 'twere-

All this was hard to gulp down and digest.

So pays the devil his liegemanbrass for gold.

But this was at Arezzo: here in Rome

Brave Paolo bore up against it all-

Battled it outnor wanting to himself

Nor Guido nor the House whose weight he bore

Pillar-likenot by force of arm but brain.

He knew his Romewhat wheels we set to work;

Plied influential folkpressed to the ear

Of the efficacious purplepushed his way

To the old Pope's self- past decency indeed-

Praying him take the matter in his hands

Out of the regular court's incompetence;

But times are changed and nephews out of date

And favouritism unfashionable: the Pope

Said 'Render Caesar what is Caesar's due!'

As for the Comparini's counter-plea

He met that by a counter-plea again

Made Guido claim divorce- with help so far

By the trial's issue: forwhy punishment

However slight unless for guiltiness

However slender?- and a molehill serves

Much as a mountain of offence this way.

So was he gathering strength on every side

And growing more and more to menace- when

All of a terrible moment came the blow

That beat down Paolo's fenceended the play

O' the foil and brought Mannaia on the stage.

FIVE months had passed now since Pompilia's flight

Months spent in peace among the Convert nuns:

This- being as it seemedfor Guido's sake

Solelywhat pride might call imprisonment

And quote as something gainedto friends at home-

This naturally was at Guido's charge:

Grudge it he mightbut penitential fare

Prayerspreachingswho but he defrayed the cost?

SoPaolo droppedas proxydoit by doit

Like heart's bloodtill- what's here? What notice comes?

The Convent's self makes application bland

Thatsince Pompilia's health is fast o' the wane

She may have leave to go combine her cure

Of soul with cure of bodymend her mind

Together with her thin arms and sunk eyes

That want fresh air outside the convent-wall

Say in a friendly house- and which so fit

As a certain villa in the Pauline way

That happens to hold Pietro and his wife

The natural guardians?' Ohand shift the care

You shift the costtoo; Pietro pays in turn

And lightens Guido of a load! And then

Villa or conventtwo names for one thing

Always the sojourn means imprisonment

Domum pro carcere - nowise we relax

Nothing abate: how answers Paolo?'


What would you answer? All so smooth and fair

Even Paul's astuteness sniffed no harm i' the world.

He authorized the transfersaw it made

Andtwo months afterreaped the fruit of the same

Having to sit downrack his brain and find

What phrase should serve him best to notify

Our Guido that by happy providence

A son and heira babe was born to him

I' the villa- go tell sympathizing friends!

Yessuch had been Pompilia's privilege:

Shewhen she fledwas one month gone with child

Known to herself or unknowneither way

Availing to explain (say men of art)

The strange and passionate precipitance

Of maiden startled into motherhood

Which changes body and soul by nature's law.

So when the she-dove breedsstrange yearnings come

For the unknown shelter by undreamed-of shores

And there is born a blood-pulse in her heart

To fight if needs bethough with flap of wing

For the wool-flock or the fur-tuftthough a hawk

Contest the prize- whereforeshe knows not yet.

Anyhowthus to Guido came the news.

'I shall have quitted Rome ere you arrive

To take the one step left'- wrote Paolo.

Then did the winch o' the winepress of all hate

Vanitydisappointmentgrudge and greed

Take the last turn that screws out pure revenge

With a bright bubble at the brim beside-

By an heir's birth he was assured at once

O' the main prizeall the money in dispute:

Pompilia's dowry might revert to her

Or stay with him as law's caprice should point-

But now- now- what was Pietro's shall be hers

What was hers shall remain her own- if hers

Why then- ohnot her husband's but- her heir's!

That heir being his tooall grew his at last

By this road or by that roadsince they join.

Beforewhypush he Pietro out o' the world-

The current of the money stoppedyou see

Pompilia being proved no Pietro's child:

Or let it be Pompilia's life he quenched

Again the current of the money stopped-

Guido debarred his rights as husband soon

So the new process threatened;- nowthe chance

Nowthe resplendent minute! Clear the earth

Cleanse the houselet the three but disappear

A child remainsdepositary of all

That Guido may enjoy his own again!

Repair all losses by a master-stroke

Wipe out the pastall done and left undone

Swell the good present to best evermore

Die into new lifewhich let blood baptize!

SOi' the blue of a sudden sulphur-blaze

And why there was one step to take at Rome

And why he should not meet with Paolo there

He saw- the ins and outs to the heart of hell-

And took the straight line thither swift and sure.

He rushed to Vittianofound four sons o' the soil

Brutes of his breedingwith one spark i' the clod

That served for a soulthe looking up to him

Or aught called Franceschini as lifedeath

Heavenhell- lord paramountassembled these

Haranguedequippedinstructedpressed each clod

With his will's imprint; then took horseplied spur

And so arrivedall five of themat Rome

On Christmas Eveand forthwith found themselves

Installed i' the vacancy and solitude

Left them by Paolothe considerate man

Whogood as his worddisappeared at once

As if to leave the stage free. A whole week

Did Guido spend in study of his part

Then played it fearless of a failure. One

Struck the year's clock whereof the hours are days

And off was rung o' the little wheels the chime

'Good will on earth and peace to man:' buttwo

Proceeded the same bell andevening come

The dreadful five felt finger-wise their way

Across the town by blind cuts and black turns

To the little lone suburban villa; knocked-

'Who may be outside?' called a well-known voice.

'A friend of Caponsacchi's bringing friends

A letter.'

That's a testthe excusers say:

Ayand a test conclusiveI return.

What? Had that name brought touch of guilt or taste

Of fear with itaught to dash the present joy

With memory of the sorrow just at end-

Shehappy in her parents' arms at length

With the new blessing of the two weeks' babe-

How had that name's announcement moved the wife?

Oras the other slanders circulate

Were Caponsacchi no rare visitant

On nights and days whither safe harbour lured

What bait had been i' the name to ope the door?

The promise of a letter? Stealthy guests

Have secret watchwordsprivate entrances:

The man's own self might have been found inside

And all the scheme made frustrate by a word.

No: but since Guido knewnone knew so well

The man had never since returned to Rome

Nor seen the wife's face more than villa's front

Socould not be at hand to warn or save-

For thathe took this sure way to the end.

'COME in' bade poor Violante cheerfully

Drawing the door-bolt: that death was the first

Stabbed through and through. Pietroclose on her heels

Set up a cry- 'Let me confess myself!

Grant but confession!' Cold steel was the grant.

Then came Pompilia's turn.

Then they escaped.

The noise o' the slaughter roused the neighbourhood.

They had forgotten just the one thing more

Which saves i' the circumstancethe ticket to-wit

Which puts post-horses at a traveller's use:

Soall on footdesperate through the dark

Reeled they like drunkards along open road

Accomplished a prodigious twenty miles

Homewardand gained Baccano very near

Stumbled at lastdeafdumbblind through the feat

Into a grange andone dead heapslept there

Till the pursuers hard upon their trace

Reached them and took themred from head to heel

And brought them to the prison where they lie.

The couple were laid i' the church two days ago

And the wife lives yet by miracle.

All is told.

You hardly need ask what Count Guido says

Since something he must say. 'I own the deed-'

(He cannot choose- but-) 'I declare the same

Just and inevitable- since no way else

Was left mebut by this of taking life

To save my honour which is more than life.

I exercised a husband's rights.' To which

The answer is as prompt- 'There was no fault

In any one o' the three to punish thus:

Neither i' the wifewho kept all faith to you

Nor in the parentswhom yourself first duped

Robbed and maltreatedthen turned out of doors.

You wronged and they endured wrong; yours the fault.

Nexthad endurance overpassed the mark

And turned resentment needing remedy-

Nayput the absurd impossible casefor once-

You were all blameless of the blame alleged

And they blameworthy where you fix all blame

Stillwhy this violation of the law?

Yourself elected law should take its course

Avenge wrongor show vengeance not your right;

Whyonly when the balance in law's hand

Trembles against you and inclines the way

O' the other partydo you make protest

Renounce arbitramentflying out of court

And crying "Honour's hurt the sword must cure"?

Ahaand so i' the middle of each suit

Trying i' the courts- and you had three in play

With an appeal to the Pope's self beside-

Whatyou may chop and change and right your wrongs

Leaving the law to lag as she thinks fit?'

THAT were too temptingly commodiousCount!

One would have still a remedy in reserve

Should reach the safest oldest sinneryou see!

One's honour forsooth? Does that take hurt alone

From the extreme outrage? I who have no wife

Being yet sensitive in my degree

As Guido- must discover hurt elsewhere

Whichhalf compounded-for in days gone by

May profitably break out now afresh

Need cure from my own expeditious hands.

The lie that wasas it wereimputed me

When you objected to my contract's clause-

The theft as good asone may sayalleged

When youco-heir in a willexceptedSir

To my administration of effects

-Ahado you think law disposed of these?

My honour's touched and shall deal death around!

Countthat were too commodiousI repeat!

If any law be imperative on us all

Of all are you the enemy: out with you

From the common light and air and life of man!

IV: Tertium Quid

TRUEEXCELLENCY- as his Highness says

Though she's not dead yetshe's as good as stretched

Symmetrical beside the other two;

Though he's not judged yethe's the same as judged

So do the facts abound and superabound:

And nothing hindersnowwe lift the case

Out of the shade into the shineallow

Qualified persons to pronounce at last

Nayedge in an authoritative word

Between this rabble's-brabble of dolts and fools

Who make up reasonless unreasoning Rome.

'Now for the Trial!' they roar: 'the Trial to test

The truthweigh husband and weigh wife alike

I' the scales of lawmake one scale kick the beam!'

Law's a machine from whichto please the mob

Truth the divinity must needs descend

And clear things at the play's fifth act- aha!

Hammer into their noddles who was who

And what was what. I tell the simpletons

'Could law be competent to such a feat

'Twere done already: what begins next week

Is end o' the Triallast link of a chain

Whereof the first was forged three years ago

When law addressed herself to set wrong right

And proved so slow in taking the first step

That ever some new grievance- tortretort

On one or the other side- o'ertook i' the game

Retarded sentencetill this deed of death

Is thrown inas it werelast bale to boat

Crammed to the edge with cargo- or passengers?

"Trecentos inseris: ohejam satis est!

Huc appelle!" - passengersthe word must be.'

Long sincethe boat was loaded to my eyes.

To hear the rabble and brabbleyou'd call the case

Fused and confused past human finding out.

One calls the square roundt' other the round square-

And pardonably in that first surprise

O' the blood that fell and splashed the diagram:

But now we've used our eyes to the violent hue

Can't we look through the crimson and trace lines?

It makes a man despair of history

Eusebius and the established fact- fig's end!

Ohgive the fools their Trialrattle away

With the leash of lawyerstwo on either side-

One barksone bites- Masters Arcangeli

And Spreti- that's the husband's ultimate hope

Against the Fisc and the other kind of Fisc

Bound to do barking for the wife: bow-wow!

WhyExcellencywe and his Highness here

Would settle the matter as sufficiently

As ever will Advocate This and Fiscal That

And Judge the Otherwith even- a word and a wink-

We well know who for ultimate arbiter.

Let us beware o' the basset-table- lest

We jog the elbow of Her Eminence

Jostle his cards- he'll rap you out a... st!

By the window-seat! And here's the Marquis too!

Indulge me but a moment: if I fail

-Favoured with such an audienceunderstand!-

To set things rightwhyclass me with the mob

As understander of the mind of man!

THE mob- nowthat's just how the error comes!

Bethink you that you have to deal with plebs

The commonalty; this is an episode

In burgess-life- why seek to aggrandize

Idealizedenaturalize the class?

People talk just as if they had to do

With a noble pair that... Excellencyyour ear!

Stoop to meHighness- listen and look yourselves!

THIS PIETROthis Violantelive their life

At Rome in the easy way that's far from worst

Even for their betters- themselves love themselves

Spend their own oil in feeding their own lamp

That their own faces may grow bright thereby.

They get to fifty and over: how's the lamp?

Full to the depth o' the wick- moneys so much;

And also with a remnant- so much more

Of moneys- which there's no consuming now

Butwhen the wick shall moulder out some day

Failing fresh twist of tow to use up dregs

Will lie a prize for the passer-by- to-wit

Anyone that can prove himself the heir

Seeingthe couple are wanting in a child:

Meantime their wick swims in the safe broad bowl

O' the middle rank- not raised a beacon's height

For wind to ravagenor swung till lamp graze ground

As watchman's cressethe pokes here and there

Going his rounds to probe the ruts i' the road

Or fish the luck o' the puddle. Pietro's soul

Was satisfied when crony smirked'No wine

Like Pietro'sand he drinks it every day!'

His wife's heart swelled her boddicejoyed its fill

When neighbours turned heads wistfully at church

Sighed at the load of lace that came to pray.

Wellhaving got through fifty years of flare

They burn out soindulge so their dear selves

That Pietro finds himself in debt at last

As he were any lordling of us all:

Andfor the dark begins to creep on day

Creditors grow uneasytalk aside

Take counselthen importune all at once.

For if the good fat rosy careless man

Who has not laid a ducat bydecease-

Let the lamp fallno heir at hand to catch-

Whybeing childlessthere's a spilth i' the street

O' the remnantthere's a scramble for the dregs

By the stranger: sothey grant him no long day

But come in a bodyclamour to be paid.

WHAT'S his resource? He asks and straight obtains

The customary largessdole dealt out

Towhat we call our 'poor dear shame-faced ones'

In secret once a month to spare the shame

O' the slothful and the spendthrift- pauper-saints

The Pope puts meat i' the mouth ofravens they

And providence he- just what the mob admires!

That isinstead of putting a prompt foot

On selfish worthless human slugs whose slime

Has failed to lubricate their path in life

Whythe Pope picks the first ripe fruit that falls

And gracious puts it in the vermin's way.

Pietro could never save a dollar? Straight

He must be subsidized at our expense:

And for his wife- the harmless household sheep

One ought not to see harassed in her age-

Judgeby the way she bore adversity

O' the patient nature you ask pity for!

How longnowwould the roughest marketman

Handling the creatures huddled to the knife

Harass a mutton ere she made a mouth

Or menaced biting? Yet the poor sheep here

Violantethe old innocent burgess-wife

In her first difficulty showed great teeth

Fit to crunch up and swallow a good round crime.

She meditates the tenure of the Trust

Fidei commissum is the lawyer-phrase

These funds that only want an heir to take-

Goes o'er the gamut o' the creditor's cry

By semitones from whine to snarl high up

And growl down lowone scale in sundry keys-

Pauses with a little compunction for the face

Of Pietro frustrate of its ancient cheer-

Never a bottle now for friend at need-

Comes to a stop on her own frittered lace

And neighbourly condolences thereat

Then makes her mind upsees the thing to do:

And sodeliberately snaps house-book clasp

Posts off to vespersmissal beneath arm

Passes the proper San Lorenzo by

Dives down a little lane to the leftis lost

In a labyrinth of dwellings best unnamed

Selects a certain blind oneblack at base

Blinking at top- the sign of we know what-

One candle in a casement set to wink

Streetwarddo service to no shrine inside-

Mounts thither by the filthy flight of stairs

Holding the cord by the wallto the tip-top

Gropes for the door i' the darkajar of course

Rapsopensenters in: up starts a thing

Naked as needs be- 'Whatyou rogue'tis you?

Back- how can I have taken a farthing yet?

Mercy on mepoor sinner that I am!

Here's... whyI took you for Madonna's self

With all that sudden swirl of silk i' the place!

What may your pleasure bemy bonny dame?'

Your Excellency supplies aught left obscure?

One of those women that abound in Rome

Whose needs oblige them eke out one poor trade

By another vile one: her ostensible work

Was washing clothesout in the open air

At the cistern by Citorio; but true trade-

Whispering to idlers when they stopped and praised

The ankles she let liberally shine

In kneeling at the slab by the fountain-side

That there was plenty more to criticize

At homethat evei' the house where candle blinked

Decorously aboveand all was done

I' the holy fear of God and cheap beside.

Violantenowhad seen this woman wash

Noticed and envied her propitious shape

Tracked her home to her house-topnoted too

And now was come to tempt her and propose

A bargain far more shameful than the first

Which trafficked her virginity away

For a melon and three pauls at twelve years old.

Five minutes' talk with this poor child of Eve

Struck was the bargainbusiness at an end-

'Thensix months hencethat person whom you trust

Comesfetches whatsoever babe it be;

I keep the price and secretyou the babe

Paying beside for mass to make all straight:

MeantimeI pouch the earnest-money-piece.'

Down stairs again goes fumbling by the rope

Violantetriumphing in a flourish of fire

From her own brainself-lit by such success-

Gains church in time for the 'Magnificat'

And gives forth 'My reproof is taken away

And blessed shall mankind proclaim me now'

So that the officiating priest turns round

To see who proffers the obstreperous praise:

Then home to Pietrothe enraptured-much

But puzzled-more when told the wondrous news-

How orisons and works of charity

(Beside that pair of pinners and a coif

Birth-day surprise last Wednesday was five weeks)

Had borne fruit in the Autumn of his life-

Theyor the Orvieto in a double dose.

Anyhowshe must keep house next six months

Lie on the settleavoid the three-legged stool

Andchieflynot be crossed in wish or whim

And the result was like to be an heir.

ACCORDINGLYwhen time was come about

He found himself the sire indeed of this

Francesca Vittoria Pompilia and the rest

O' the names whereby he sealed her his next day.

A crime complete in its way is hereI hope?

Lies to Godlies to manevery way lies

To nature and civility and the mode:

Flat robbery of the proper heirs thus foiled

O' the due succession- andwhat followed thence

Robbery of Godthrough the confessor's ear

Debarred the most note-worthy incident

When all else done and undone twelve month through

Was put in evidence at Easter-time.

All other peccadillos!- but this one

To the priest who comes next day to dine with us?

'Twere inexpedient; decency forbade.

IS SO far clear? You know Violante now

Compute her capability of crime

By this authentic instance? Black hard cold

Crime like a Stone you kick up with your foot

I' the middle of a field?

I thought as much.

But nowa question- how long does it lie

The bad and barren bit of stuff you kick

Before encroached on and encompassed round

With minute mossweedwild-flower- made alive

By wormand flyand foot of the free bird?

Your Highness- healthy minds let bygones be

Leave old crimes to grow young and virtuous-like

I' the sun and air; so time treats ugly deeds:

They take the natural blessing of all change.

There was the joy o' the husband silly-sooth

The softening of the wife's old wicked heart

Virtues to right and leftprofusely paid

If so they might compensate the saved sin.

And then the sudden existencedewy-dear

O' the rose above the dungheapthe pure child

As good as new createdsince withdrawn

From the horror of the pre-appointed lot

With the unknown father and the mother known

Too well- some fourteen years of squalid youth

And then libertinagediseasethe grave-

Hell in life herehereafter life in hell:

Look at that horror and this soft repose!

Whymoralistthe sin has saved a soul!

Theneven the palpable grievance to the heirs-

'Faiththis was no frank setting hand to throat

And robbing a manbut... Excellencyby your leave

How did you get that marvel of a gem

The sapphire with the Graces grand and Greek?

The story isstooping to pick a stone

From the pathway through a vineyard- no-man's-land-

To pelt a sparrow withyou chanced on this:

Why nowdo those five clowns o' the family

O' the vinedresser digest their porridge worse

That not one keeps it in his goatskin pouch

To do flints'-service with the tinder-box?

Don't cheat medon't cheat youdon't cheat a friend!

But are you so hard on who jostles just

A stranger with no natural sort of claim

To the havings and the holdings (here's the point)

Unless by misadventureand defect

Of that which ought to be- naywhich there's none

Would dare so much as wish to profit by-

Since who dares put in just so many words

'May Pietro fail to have a childplease God!

So shall his house and goods belong to me

The sooner that his heart will pine betimes'?

Well thenGod don't pleasenor his heart shall pine!

Because he has a child at lastyou see

Or selfsame thing as though a child it were

He thinkswhose sole concern it is to think:

If he accepts it why should you demur?

MOREOVERsay that certain sin there seem

The proper process of unsinning sin

Is to begin well-doing somehow else.

Pietro- rememberwith no sin at all

I' the substitution- whythis gift of God

Flung in his lap from over Paradise

Steadied him in a momentset him straight

On the good path he had been straying from.

Henceforward no more wilfulness and waste

Cuppingscarousings- these a sponge wiped out.

All sort of self-denial was easy now

For the child's sakethe chatelaine to be

Who must want much and might want who knows what?

And sothe debts were paidhabits reformed

Expense curtailedthe dowry set to grow.

As for the wife- I saidhers the whole sin:

Sohers the exemplary penance. 'Twas a text

Whereon folk preached and praisedthe district through:

'Ohmake us happy and you make us good!

It all comes of God giving her a child:

Such graces follow God's best earthly gift!'

HERE you put by my guardpass to my heart

By the home-thrust- 'There's a lie at base of all.'

Whythou exact Princeis it a pearl or no

Yon globe upon the Principessa's neck?

That great round glory of pellucid stuff

A fish secreted round a grain of grit!

Do you call it worthless for the worthless core?

(She don'twho well knows what she changed for it!)

Soto our brace of burgesses again!

You see so far i' the storywho was right

Who wrongwho neitherdon't you? Whatyou don't?

Eh? Welladmit there's somewhat dark i' the case

Let's on- the rest shall clearI promise you.

Leap over a dozen years: you findthese passed

An old good easy creditable sire

A careful housewife's beaming bustling face

Both wrapped up in the love of their one child

The strange tall pale beautiful creature grown

Lily-like out o' the cleft i' the sun-smit rock

To bow its white miraculous birth of buds

I' the way of wandering Joseph and his spouse-

So painters fancy: here it was a fact.

And this their lily- could they but transplant

And set in vase to stand by Solomon's porch

'Twixt lion and lion!- this Pompilia of theirs

Could they see worthily marriedwell bestowed

In house and home! And why despair of this

With Rome to choose fromsave the topmost rank?

Themselves would help the choice with heart and soul

Throw their late savings in a common heap

Should go with the dowryto be followed in time

By the heritage legitimately hers:

And when such paragon was found and fixed

Whythey might chant their 'Nunc dimittis' straight.

INDEED the prize was simply full to a fault;

Exorbitant for the suitor they should seek

And social class to choose amongthese cits.

Yet there's a latitude: exceptional white

Amid the general brown o' the specieslurks

A burgess nearly an aristocrat

Legitimately in reach: look out for him!

What bankermerchanthas seen better days

What second-rate painter a-pushing up

Poet a-slipping downshall bid the best

For this young beauty with the thumping purse?

Alackhad it been but one of such as these

So like the real thing they may pass for it

All had gone well! Unluckily fate must needs

It proved to be the impossible thing itself;

The truth and not the sham: hence ruin to them all.

FORGuido Franceschini was the head

Of an old family in Arezzoold

To that degree they could afford to be poor

Better than most: the case is common too.

Out of the vast door 'scutcheoned overhead

Creeps out a serving-man on Saturdays

To cater for the week- turns up anon

I' the marketchaffering for the lamb's least leg

Or the quarter-fowlless entrailsclaws and comb:

Then back again with prize- a liver begged

Into the bargaingizzard overlooked-

He's mincing these to give the beans a taste

Whenat your knockhe leaves the simmering soup

Waits on the curious stranger-visitant

Napkin in half-wiped handto show the rooms

Point pictures out have hung their hundred years

'Priceless' he tells you- puts in his place at once

The man of money: yesyou're banker-king

Or merchant-kaiserwallow in your wealth

While patronthe house-mastercan't afford

To stop our ceiling-hole that rain so rots-

But he's the man of markand there's his shield

And yonder's the famed Rafaelfirst in kind

The painter painted for his grandfather-

You have paid a paul to see: 'Good morningSir"

Such is the law of compensation. Here

The poverty was getting too acute;

There gaped so many noble mouths to feed

Beans must suffice unflavoured of the fowl.

The mother- hers would be a spun-out life

I' the nature of things; the sisters had done well

And married men of reasonable rank:

But that sort of illumination stops

Throws back no heat upon the parent-hearth.

The family instinct felt out for its fire

To the Church- the Church traditionally helps

A second son: and such was Paolo

Established here at Rome these thirty years

Who played the regular game- priest and Abate

Made friendsowned house and landbecame of use

To a personage: his course lay clear enough.

The youngest caught the sympathetic flame

Andthough unfledged wings kept him still i' the cage

Yet he shot up to be a Canonso

Clung to the higher perch and crowed in hope.

Even our Guidoeldest brotherwent

As far i' the way o' the Church as safety seemed

He being Head o' the Houseordained to wive-

Socould but dally with an Order or two

And testify good will i' the cause: he clipt

His top-hair and thus far affected Christ

But main promotion must fall otherwise

Though still from the side o' the Church: and here was he

At Romesince first youthworn threadbare of soul

By forty-six years' rubbing on hard life

Getting fast tired o' the game whose word is- 'Wait!'

When one day- he too having his Cardinal

To serve in some ambiguous sortas serve

To draw the coach the plumes o' the horses' heads-

The Cardinal saw fit to dispense with him

Ride with one plume the less; and off it dropped.

Guido thus left- with a youth spent in vain

And not a penny in purse to show for it

Advised with Paolobent no doubt in chafe

The black brows somewhat formidably the while.

'Where is the good I came to get at Rome?

Where the repayment of the servitude

To a purple popinjaywhose feet I kiss

Knowing his father wiped the shoes of mine?'

'PATIENCE' pats Paolo the recalcitrant-

'You have not hadso farthe proper luck

Nor do my gains suffice to keep us both:

A modest competency is minenot more.

You are the Count howeveryours the style

Heirdom and state- you can't expect all good.

Had Inowheld your hand of cards... wellwell-

What's yet unplayedI'll look atby your leave

Over your shoulder- I who made my game

Let's seeif I can't help to handle yours.

Fie on youall the Honours in your fist

CountshipHouseheadship- how have you misdealt!

Whyin the first placethey will marry a man!

Notum tonsoribus! To the Tonsor then!

Comeclear your looksand choose your freshest suit

Andafter function's done withdown we go

To the woman-dealer in perukesa wench

I and some others settled in the shop

At Place Colonna: she's an oracle. Hmm!

"Dear'tis my brother: brother'tis my dear.

Deargive us counsel! Whom do you suggest

As properest party in the quarter round

For the Count here?- he is minded to take wife

And further tells me he intends to slip

Twenty zecchines under the bottom-scalp

Of his old wig when he sends it to revive

For the wedding: and I add a trifle too.

You know what personage I'm potent with."'

And so plumped out Pompilia's name the first.

She told them of the household and its ways

The easy husband and the shrewder wife

In Via Vittoria- how the tall young girl

With hair black as yon patch and eyes as big

As yon pomander to make freckles fly

Would have so much for certainand so much more

In likelihood- whyit suitedslipt as smooth

As the Pope's pantoufle does on the Pope's foot.

'I'll to the husband!' Guido ups and cries.

'Ayso you'd play your last court-cardno doubt!'

Puts Paolo in with a groan- 'Onlyyou see

'Tis Ithis timethat supervise your lead.

Priests play with womenmaidswivesmothers- why?

These play with men and take them off our hands.

Did I comecounsel with some cut-beard gruff

Or rather this sleek young-old barberess?

Gobrotherstand you rapt in the ante-room

Of Her Efficacity my Cardinal

For an hour- he likes to have lord-suitors lounge-

While I betake myself to the grey mare

The better horse- how wise the people's word!-

And wait on Madam Violante.'

Said and done.

He was at Via Vittoria in three skips:

Proposed at once to fill up the one want

O' the burgess-family whichwealthy enough

And comfortable to heart's desireyet crouched

Outside a gate to heaven- lockedboltedbarred

Whereof Count Guido had a key he kept

Under his pillowbut Pompilia's hand

Might slide behind his neck and pilfer thence.

The key was fairy; mention of itmade

Violante feel the thing shoot one sharp ray

That reached the heart o' the woman. 'I assent:

Yours be Pompiliahers and ours that key

To all the glories of the greater life!

There's Pietro to convince: leave that to me!'

THEN was the matter broached to Pietro; then

Did Pietro make demand and get response

That in the Countship was a truthbut in

The counting up of the Count's casha lie:

He thereupon stroked grave his chinlooked great

Declined the honour. Then the wife wiped one-

Winked with the other eye turned Paolo-ward

Whispered Pompiliastole to church at eve

Found Guido there and got the marriage done

And finally begged pardon at the feet

Of her dear lord and master. Whereupon

Quoth Pietro- 'Let us make the best of things!'

'I knew your love would license us' quoth she:

Quoth Paolo once more'Motherswives and maids

These be the tools wherewith priests manage men.'

NOWhere take breath and ask- which bird o' the brace

Decoyed the other into clapnet? Who

Was foolwho knave? Neither and bothperchance.

There was a bargain mentally proposed

On each sidestraight and plain and fair enough;

Mind knew its own mind: but when mind must speak

The bargain have expression in plain terms

There was the blunder incident to words

And in the clumsy processfair turned foul.

The straight backbone-thought of the crooked speech

Were just- 'I Guido truck my name and tank

For so much money and youth and female charms.'-

'We Pietro and Violante give our child

And wealth to you for a rise i' the world thereby.'

Such naked truth while chambered in the brain

Shocks nowise: walk it forth by way of tongue-

Out on the cynical unseemliness!

Hence was the needon either sideof a lie

To serve as decent wrappage: soGuido gives

Money for money- and theybride for groom

Havinghenot a doittheynot a child

Honestly theirsbut this poor waif and stray.

According to the wordseach cheated each;

But in the inexpressive barter of thoughts

Each did give and did take the thing designed

The rank on this side and the cash on that-

Attained the object of the trafficso.

The way of the worldthe daily bargain struck

In the first market! Why sells Jack his ware?

'For the sake of serving an old customer.'

Why does Jill buy it? 'Simply not to break

A custompass the old stall the first time.'

Whyyou know where the gist is of the exchange:

Each sees a profitthrows the fine words in.

Don't be too hard o' the pair! Had each pretence

Been simultaneously discoveredstripped

From of the body o' the transactionjust

As when a cook... will Excellency forgive?

Strips away those long loose superfluous legs

From either side the crayfishleaving folk

A meal all meat henceforthno garnishry

(With your respectPrince!)- balance had been kept

No party blamed the other- sostarting fair

All subsequent fence of wrong returned by wrong

I' the matrimonial thrust and parryat least

Had followed on equal terms. Butas it chanced

One party had the advantagesaw the cheat

Of the other first and kept its own concealed:

And the luck o' the first discovery fellbeside

To the least adroit and self-possessed o' the pair.

'Twas foolish Pietro and his wife saw first

The nobleman was pennilessand screamed

'We are cheated!'

Such unprofitable noise

Angers at all times: but when those who plague

Do it from inside your own house and home

Gnats which yourself have closed the curtain round

Noise goes too near the brain and makes you mad.

The gnats sayGuido used the candle-flame

Unfairly- worsened that first bad of his

By practice of all kind of cruelty

To oust them and suppress the wail and whine-

That speedily he so scared and bullied them

Fain were theylong before five months were out

To beg him grantfrom what was once their wealth

Just so much as would help them back to Rome

Wherewhen they had finished paying the last doit

O' the dowrythey might beg from door to door.

So say the Comparini- as if it were

In pure resentment for this worse than bad

That then Violantefeeling conscience prick

Confessed her substitution of the child

Whence all the harm came- and that Pietro first

Bethought him of advantage to himself

I' the deedas part revengepart remedy

For all miscalculation in the pact.

ON THE other hand 'Not so!' Guido retorts-

'I am the wrongedsolelyfrom first to last

Who gave the dignity I engaged to give

Which wasiscannot but continue gain.

My being poor was a bye-circumstance

Miscalculated piece of untowardness

Might end to-morrow did heaven's windows ope

Or uncle die and leave me his estate.

You should have put up with the minor flaw

Getting the main prize of the jewel. If wealth

Not rankhad been prime object in your thoughts

Why not have taken the butcher's sonthe boy

O' the baker or candlestick-maker? In all the rest

It was yourselves broke compact and played false

And made a life in common impossible.

Show me the stipulation of our bond

That you should make your profit of being inside

My houseto hustle and edge me out o' the same

First make a laughing-stock of mine and me

Then round us in the ears from morn to night

(Because we show wry faces at your mirth)

That you are robbedstarvedbeaten and what not!

You fled a hell of your own lighting-up

Pay for your own miscalculation too:

You thought nobilitygained at any price

Would suit and satisfy- find the mistake

And now retaliatenot on yourselvesbut me.

And how? By telling mei' the face of the world

I it is have been cheated all this while

Abominably and irreparably- my name

Given to a cur-cast mongrela drab's brat

A beggar's bye-blow- thus depriving me

Of what yourselves allege the whole and sole

Aim on my part i' the marriage- money to-wit.

This thrust I have to parry by a guard

Which leaves me open to a counter-thrust

On the other side- no way but there's a pass

Clean through me. If I proveas I hope to do

There's not one truth in this your odious tale

O' the buyingsellingsubstituting- prove

Your daughter was and is your daughter- well

And her dowry hers and therefore mine- what then?

Whywhere's the appropriate punishment for this

Enormous lie hatched for mere malice' sake

To ruin me? Is that a wrong or no?

And if I try revenge for remedy

Can I well make it strong and bitter enough?'

I ANTICIPATE however- only ask

Which of the two here sinned most? A nice point!

Which brownness is least black- decide who can

Wager-by-battle-of-cheating! What do you say

Highness? Supposeyour Excellencywe leave

The question at this stageproceed to the next

Both parties step outfight their prize upon

In the eye o' the world?

They brandish law 'gainst law;

The grinding of such bladeseach parry of each

Throws terrible sparks offover and above the thrusts

And makes more sinister the fightto the eye

Than the very wounds that follow. Beside the tale

Which the Comparini have to re-assert

They needs must writeprintpublish all abroad

The straitnesses of Guido's household life-

The petty nothings we bear privately

But break down under when fools flock around.

What is it all to the facts o' the couple's case

How helps it prove Pompilia not their child

If Guido's motherbrotherkith and kin

Fare illlie hardlack clotheslack firelack food?

That's one more wrong than needs.

On the other hand

Guido- whose cue is to dispute the truth

O' the talereject the shame it throws on him-

He may retaliatefight his foe in turn

And welcomewe allow. Aybut he can't!

He's at homeonly acts by proxy here:

Law may meet law- but all the gibes and jeers

The superfluity of naughtiness

Those libels on his House- how reach at them?

Two hateful facesgrinning all a-glow

Not only make parade of spoil they filched

But foul him from the height of a toweryou see.

Unluckily temptation is at hand-

To take revenge on a trifle overlooked

A pet lamb they have left in reach outside

Whose first bleatwhen he plucks the wool away

Will strike the grinners grave: his wife remains

Whofour months earliersome thirteen years old

Never a mile away from mother's house

And petted to the height of her desire

Was told one morning that her fate was come

She must be married- just asa month before

Her mother told her she must comb her hair

And twist her curls into one knot behind.

These fools forgot their pet lambfed with flowers

Then 'ticed as usual by the bit of cake

Out of the bower into the butchery.

Plague herhe plagues them threefold: but how plague?

The world may have its word to say to that:

You can't do some things with impunity.

What remains... wellit is an ugly thought...

But that he drive herself to plague herself-

Herself disgrace herself and so disgrace

Who seek to disgrace Guido?

There's the clue

To what else seems gratuitously vile

Ifas is saidfrom this time forth the rack

Was tried upon Pompilia: 'twas to wrench

Her limbs into exposure that brings shame.

The aim o' the cruelty being so crueller still

That cruelty almost grows compassion's self

Could one attribute it to mere return

O' the parents' outragewrong avenging wrong.

They see in this a deeper deadlier aim

Not to vex just a body they held dear

But blacken too a soul they boasted white

And show the world their saint in a lover's arms

No matter how driven thither- so they say.

ON THE other handso much is easily said

And Guido lacks not an apologist.

The pair had nobody but themselves to blame

Being selfish beasts throughoutno lessno more:

-Cared for themselvestheir supposed goodnought else

And brought about the marriage; good proved bad

As little they cared for her its victim- nay

Meant she should stay behind and take the chance

If haply they might wriggle themselves free.

They baited their own hook to catch a fish

With this poor wormfailed o' the prizeand then

Sought how to unbait tacklelet worm float

Or sinkamuse the monster while they 'scaped.

Under the best stars Hymen brings above

Had all been honesty on either side

A common sincere effort to good end

Stillthis would prove a difficult problemPrince!

Givena fair wifeaged thirteen years

A husband poorcare-bittensorrow-sunk


Forty-six-years full- place the two grown one

Shecut off sheer from every natural aid

In a strange town with no familiar face-

Hein his own parade-ground or retreat

As need werefree from challengemuch less check

To an irritateddisappointed will-

How evolve happiness from such a match?

'Twere hard to serve up a congenial dish

Out of these ill-agreeing morselsDuke

By the best exercise of the cook's craft

Best interspersion of spicesalt and sweet!

But let two ghastly scullions concoct mess

With brimstonepitchvitriol and devil's-dung-

Throw in abuse o' the manhis body and soul

Kithkin and generationshake all slab

At RomeArezzofor the world to nose

Then end by publishingfor fiend's arch-prank

Thatover and above sauce to the meat's self

Whyeven the meatbedevilled thus in dish

Was never a pheasant but a carrion-crow-

Princewhat will then the natural loathing be?

What wonder if this?- the compound plague o' the pair

Pricked Guido- not to take the course they hoped

That issubmit him to their statement's truth

Accept its obvious promise of relief

And thrust them out of doors the girl again

Since the girl's dowry would not enter there

-Quit of the one if baulked of the other: no!

Rather did rage and hate so work in him

Their product proved the horrible conceit

That he should plot and plan and bring to pass

His wife mightof her own free will and deed

Relieve him of her presenceget her gone

And yet leave all the dowry safe behind

Confirmed his own henceforward past dispute

While blotting outas by a belch of hell

Their triumph in her misery and death.

YOU seethe man was Aretinehad touch

O' the subtle air that breeds the subtle wit;

Was noble tooof old blood thrice-refined

That shrinks from clownish coarseness in disgust:

Allow that such an one may take revenge

You don't expect he'll catch up stone and fling

Or try cross-buttockor whirl quarter-staff?

Instead of the honest drubbing clowns bestow

When out of temper at the dinner spoilt

On meddling mother-in-law and tiresome wife-

Substitute for the clown a nobleman

And you have Guidopractising'tis said

Unmitigably from the very first

The finer vengeance: thisthey saythe fact

O' the famous letter shows- the writing traced

At Guido's instance by the timid wife

Over the pencilled words himself writ first-

Wherein shewho could neither write nor read

Was made unblushingly declare a tale

To the brotherthe Abate then in Rome

How her putative parents had impressed

On their departuretheir enjoinment; bade

'We being safely arrived herefollowyou!

Poison your husbandrobset fire to all

And then by means o' the gallant you procure

With easeby helpful eye and ready tongue

The brave youth ready to daredo and die

You shall run off and merrily reach Rome

Where we may live like flies in honey-pot:'-

Such being exact the programme of the course

Imputed her as carried to effect.

THEY also say- to keep her straight therein

All sort of torture was piledpain on pain

On either side Pompilia's path of life

Built round about and over against by fear

Circumvallated month by monthand week

By weekand day by dayand hour by hour

Closecloser and yet closer still with pain

No outlet from the encroaching pain save just

Where stood one saviour like a piece of heaven

Hell's arms would strain round but for this blue gap.

Shethey say furtherfirst tried every chink

Every imaginable break i' the fire

As way of escape: ran to the Commissary

Who bade her not malign his friend her spouse;

Flung herself thrice at the Archbishop's feet

Where three times the Archbishop let her lie

Spend her whole sorrow and sob full heart forth

And then took up the slight load from the ground

And bore it back for husband to chastise-

Mildly of course- but natural right is right.

So went she slipping ever yet catching at help

Missing the high till come to lowest and last

No more than a certain friar of mean degree

Who heard her story in confessionwept

Crossed himselfshowed the man within the monk.

'Thenwill you save meyou the one i' the world?

I cannot even write my woesnor put

My prayer for help in words a friend may read-

I no more own a coin than have an hour

Free of observance- I was watched to church

Am watched nowshall be watched back presently-

How buy the skill of scribe i' the market-place?

Pray youwrite down and send whatever I say

O' the need I have my parents take me hence!'

The good man rubbed his eyes and could not choose-

Let her dictate her letter in such a sense

That parentsto save breaking down a wall

Might lift her over: she went backheaven in her heart.

Then the good man took counsel of his couch

Woke and thought twicethe second thought the best:

'Here am Ifoolish body that I be

Caught all but pushingteachingwho but I

My betters their plain duty- whatI dare

Help a case the Archbishop would not help

Mend mattersperadventureGod loves mar?

What hath the married life but strifes and plagues

For proper dispensation? So a fool

Once touched the ark- poor Hophni that I am!

Oh married onesmuch rather should I bid

In patience all of ye possess your souls!

This life is brief and troubles die with it:

Where were the prick to soar up homeward else?'

So sayinghe burnt the letter he had writ

Said Ave for her intentionin its place

Took snuff and comfortand had done with all.

Then the grim arms stretched yet a little more

And each touched eachall but one streak i' the midst

Whereat stood Caponsacchiwho cried'This way

Out by me! Hesitate one moment more

And the fire shuts out me and shuts in you!

Here my hand holds you life out!' Whereupon

She clasped the handwhich closed on hers and drew

Pompilia out o' the circle now complete.

Whose fault or shame but Guido's?- ask her friends.

BUT then this is the wife's- Pompilia's tale-

Eve's... nonot Eve'ssince Eveto speak the truth

Was hardly fallen (our candour might pronounce)

So much of paradisal natureEve's

When simply saying in her own defence

'The serpent tempted me and I did eat.'

Her daughters ever since prefer to urge

'Adam so starved me I was fain accept

The apple any serpent pushed my way.'

What an elaborate theory have we here

Ingeniously nursed uppretentiously

Brought forthpushed forward amid trumpet-blast

To account for the thawing of an icicle

Show us there needed AEtna vomit flame

Ere run the crystal into dew-drops! Else

Howunless hell broke loose to cause the step

How could a married lady go astray?

Bless the fools! And 'tis just this way they are blessed

And the world wags still- because fools are sure

-Ohnot of my wife nor your daughter! No!

But of their own: the case is altered quite.

Look now- last weekthe lady we all love-

Daughter o' the couple we all venerate

Wife of the husband we all cap before

Mother o' the babes we all breathe blessings on-

Was caught in converse with a negro page.

Hell thawed that icicleelse 'Why was it-

Why?' asked and echoed the fools. 'Becauseyou fools-'

So did the dame's self answershe who could

With that fine candour only forthcoming

When 'tis no odds whether withheld or no-

'Because my husband was the saint you say

And- with that childish goodnessabsurd faith

Stupid self-satisfactionyou so praise-

Saint to youinsupportable to me.

Had he- instead of calling me fine names

Lucretia and Susanna and so forth

And curtaining Corregio carefully

Lest I be taught that Leda had two legs-

-But once never so little tweaked my nose

For peeping through my fan at Carnival

Confessing thereby "I have no easy task-

I need use all my powers to hold you mine

And then- why 'tis so doubtful if they serve

That- take thisas an earnest of despair!"

Whywe were quits- I had wiped the harm away

Thought "The man fears me!" and foregone revenge.'

We must not want all this elaborate work

To solve the problem why young fancy-and-flesh

Slips from the dull side of a spouse in years

Betakes it to the breast of brisk-and-bold

Whose love-scrapes furnish talk for all the town!

ACCORDINGLYone word on the other side

Tips over the piled-up fabric of a tale.

Guido says- that isalwayshis friends say-

It is unlikely from the wickedness

That any man treat any woman so.

The letter in question was her very own

Unprompted and unaided: she could write-

As able to write as ready to sinor free

When there was dangerto deny both facts.

He bids you markherself from first to last

Attributes all the so-styled torture just

To jealousy- jealousy of whom but just

This very Caponsacchi! How suits here

This with the other alleged motivePrince?

Would Guido make a terror of the man

He meant should tempt the womanas they charge?

Do you fright your hare that you may catch your hare?

Consider toothe charge was made and met

At the proper time and place where proofs were plain-

Heard patiently and disposed of thoroughly

By the highest powerspossessors of most light

The Governorfor the lawand the Archbishop

For the gospel: which acknowledged primacies

'Tis impudently pleadedhe could warp

Into a tacit partnership with crime-

He being the whilebelieve their own account

Impotentpenniless and miserable!

He further asks- Dukenote the knotty point!-

How he- concede him skill to play such part

And drive his wife into a gallant's arms-

Could bring the gallant to play his part too

And stand with arms so opportunely wide?

How bring this Caponsacchi- with whomfriends

And foes alike agreethroughout his life

He never interchanged a civil word

Nor lifted courteous cap to- how bend him

To such observancy of beck and call

-To undertake this strange and perilous feat

For the good of Guidousingas the lure

Pompilia whomhimself and she avouch

He had nor spoken with nor seenindeed

Beyond sight in a public theatre

When she wrote letters (she that could not write!)

The importunate shamelessly-protested love

Which brought himthough reluctantto her feet

And forced on him the plunge whichhowsoe'er

She might swim up i' the whirlmust bury him

Under abysmal black: a priest contrive

No mitigable amour to be hushed up

But open flight and noonday infamy?

Try and concoct defence for such revolt!

Take the wife's tale as truesay she was wronged-

Prayin what rubric of the breviary

Do you find it registered the part of a priest

That to right wrongs he skip from the church-door

Go journeying with a woman that's a wife

And be pursuedo'ertaken and captured... how?

In a lay-dressplaying the sentinel

Where the wife sleeps (says he who best should know)

And sleepingsleeplessboth have spent the night!

Could no one else be found to serve at need-

No woman- or if manno safer sort

Than this not well-reputed turbulence?

Thenlook into his own account o' the case!

Hebeing the stranger and astonished one

Yet received protestations of her love

From lady neither known nor cared about:

Loveso protestedbred in him disgust

After the wonder- or incredulity

Such impudence seeming impossible.

Butsoon assured such impudence might be

When he had seen with his own eyes at last

Letters thrown down to him i' the very street

From behind lattice where the lady lurked

And read their passionate summons to her side-

Why thena thousand thoughts swarmed up and in-

How he had seen her oncea moment's space

Observed she was so young and beautiful

Heard everywhere report she suffered much

From a jealous husband thrice her age- in short

There flashed the proprietyexpediency

Of treatingtrying might they come to terms

-At all eventsgranting the interview

Prayed forand so adapted to assist

Decision as to whether he advance

Stand or retirein his benevolent mood.

Therefore the interview befell at length;

And at this one and only interview

He saw the sole and single course to take-

Bade her dispose of himheadheart and hand

Did her behest and braved the consequence

Not for the natural endthe love of man

For woman whether love be virtue or vice

Butplease youaltogether for Pity's sake-

Pity of innocence and helplessness!

And how did he assure himself of both?

Had he been the house-inmatevisitor

Eye-witness of the described martyrdom

Socompetent to pronounce its remedy

Ere rush on such extreme and desperate course

Involving such enormity of harm

Moreoverto the husband judged thusdoomed

And damned without a word in his defence?

But no- the truth was felt by instinct here!

-Process which saves a world of trouble and time

And there's his story: what do you say to it

Trying its truth by your own instinct too

Since that's to be the expeditious mode?

'And nowdo hear my version' Guido cries:

'I accept argument and inference both.

It would indeed have been miraculous

Had such a confidency sprung to birth

With no more fanning from acquaintanceship

Than here avowed by my wife and this priest.

Onlyit did not: you must substitute

The old stale unromantic way of fault

The commonplace adventuremere intrigue

In the prose form with the unpoetic tricks

Cheatings and lies: they used the hackney chair

Satan jaunts forth withshabby and serviceable

No gilded jimcrack-novelty from below

To bowl you along thitherswift and sure.

That same officious go-betweenthe wench

That gave and took the letters of the two

Now offers self and service back to me:

Bears testimony to visits night by night

When all was safethe husband far and away-

To many a timely slipping out at large

By light o' the morning-starere he should wake.

And when the fugitives were found at last

Whywith them were found alsoto belie

What protest they might make of innocence

All documents yet wantingif need were

To establish guilt in themdisgrace in me-

The chronicle o' the converse from its rise

To culmination in this outrage: read!

Letters from wife to priestfrom priest to wife-

Here they areread and say where they chime in

With the other talesuperlative purity

O' the pair of saints! I stand or fall by these.'

BUT then on the other side again- how say

The pair of saints? That not one word is theirs-

No syllable o' the batch or writ or sent

Or yet received by either of the two.

'Found' says the priest'because he needed them

Failing all other proofsto prove our fault:

Sohere they arejust as is natural.

Oh yes- we had our missiveseach of us!

Not thesebut to the full as vileno doubt:

Hers as from me- she could not readso burnt-

Mine as from her- I burnt because I read.

Who forged and found them? Cui profuerint!'

(I take the phrase out of your Highness' mouth)

'He who would gain by her fault and my fall

The tricksterschemer and pretender- he

Whose whole career was he entailing lie

Sought to be sealed truth by the worst lie last!'

GUIDO rejoins- 'Did the other end o' the tale

Match this beginning! 'Tis alleged I prove

A murderer at the enda man of force

Promptindiscriminateeffectual: good!

Then what need an this trifling woman's-work

Letters and embassies and weak intrigue

When will and power were mine to end at once

Safely and surely? Murder had come first

Not last with such a manassure yourselves!

The silent acquettastilling at command-

A drop a day i' the wine or soupthe dose-

The shattering beam that breaks above the bed

And beats out brainswith nobody to blame

Except the wormy age which eats even oak-

Naythe staunch steel or trusty cord- who cares

I' the blind old palacea pitfall at each step

With none to seemuch more to interpose

O' the twothree creeping house-dog-servant-things

Born mine and bred mine?- had I willed gross death

I had found nearer paths to thrust him prey

Than this that goes meandering here and there

Through half the world and calls down in its course

Notice and noise- hatevengeanceshould it fail

Derision and contempt though it succeed!

Moreoverwhat o' the future son and heir?

The unborn babe about to be called mine-

What end in heaping all this shame on him

Were I indifferent to my own black share?

Would I have tried these crookednessessay

Willing and able to effect the straight?'

'Aywould you!'- one may hear the priest retort

'Being as you arei' the stocka man of guile

And ruffianism but an added graft.

Youa born cowardtry a coward's arms

Trick and chicane- and only when these fail

Does violence followand like fox you bite

Caught out in Stealing. Alsothe disgrace

You hardly shrunk atwholly shrivelled her:

You plunged her thin white delicate hand i' the flame

Along with your coarse horny brutish fist

Held them a second therethen drew out both

-Yours roughed a littlehers ruined through and through.

Your hurt would heal forthwith at ointment's touch-

Namelysuccession to the inheritance

Which bolder crime had lost you: let things change

The birth o' the boy warrant the bolder crime

Whymurder was determineddared and done.

For me' the priest proceeds with his reply

'The look o' the thingthe chances of mistake

All were against me- thatI knew the first:

Butknowing also what my duty was

I did it: I must look to men more skilled

I' the reading hearts than ever was the world.'

HIGHNESSdecide! PronounceHer Excellency!

Or... even leave this argument in doubt

Account it a fit mattertaken up

With all its facesmanifold enough

To put upon- what fronts usthe next stage

Next legal process!- Guidoin pursuit

Coming up with the fugitives at the inn

Caused both to be arrested then and there

And sent to Rome for judgment on the case-

Thitherwith all his armoury of proofs

Betook himselfand there we'll meet him now

Waiting the further issue.

Here some smile

'And never let him henceforth dare to plead-

Of all pleas and excuses in the world

For any deed hereafter to be done-

His irrepressible wrath at honour's wound!

Passion and madness irrepressible?

WhyCount and cavalierthe husband comes

And catches foe i' the very act of shame:

There's man to man- nature must have her way-

We look he should have cleared things on the spot.

Yesthenindeed- even tho' it prove he erred-

Though the ambiguous first appearancemount

Of solid injurymelt soon to mist

Still- had he slain the lover and the wife-

Orsince she was a woman and his wife

Slain himbut stript her naked to the skin

Or at best left no more of an attire

Than patch sufficient to pin paper to

Some one love-letterinfamy and all

As passport to the Paphos fit for such

Safe-conduct to her natural home the stews-

Good! One had recognized the power o' the pulse.

But when he standsthe stock-fish- sticks to law-

Offers the hole in his heartall fresh and warm

For scrivener's pen to poke and play about-

Can standcan starecan tell his beads perhaps

Ohlet us hear no syllable o' the rage!

Such rage were a convenient afterthought

For one who would have shown his teeth belike

Exhibited unbridled rage enough

Had but the priest been foundas was to hope

In sergenot silkwith crucifixnot sword:

Whereas the grey innocuous grubof yore

Had hatched a hornettickle to the touch

The priest was metamorphosed into knight.

And even the timid wifewhose cue was- shriek

Bury her brow beneath his trampling foot-

She too sprang at him like a pythoness:

Sogulp down ragepassion must be postponed

Calm be the word! Wellour word is- we brand

This part o' the businesshowsoever the rest


'Nay' interpose as prompt his friends-

'This is the world's way! So you adjudge reward

To the forbearance and legality

Yourselves begin by inculcating- ay

Exacting from us all with knife at throat!

This one wrong more you add to wrong's amount-

You publish allwith the kind comment here

"Its victim was too cowardly for revenge."'

Make it your own case- you who stand apart!

The husband wakes one morn from heavy sleep

With a taste of poppy in his mouth- rubs eyes

Finds his wife flownhis strong box ransacked too

Follows as he best canovertakes i' the end.

You bid him use his privilege: wellit seems

He's scarce cool-blooded enough for the right move-

Does not shoot when the game were surebut stands

Bewildered at the critical minute- since

He has the first flash of the fact alone

To judge fromact withnot the steady lights

Of after-knowledge- yours who stand at ease

To try conclusions: he's in smother and smoke

You outsidewith explosion at an end:

The sulphur may be lightning or a squib-

He'll know in a minutebut till thenhe doubts.

Back from what you know to what he knew not!

Hear the priest's lofty 'I am innocent'

The wife's as resolute 'You are guilty!' Come!

Are you not staggered?- pauseand you lose the move!

Nought left you but a low appeal to law

'Coward' tied to your tail for compliment!

Another consideration: have it your way!

Admit the worst: his courage failed the Count

He's cowardly like the best o' the burgesses

He's grown incorporate with- a very cur

Kick him from out your circle by all means!

Whytrundled down this reputable stair

Stillthe Church-door lies wide to take him in

And the Court-porch also: in he sneaks to each-

'YesI have lost my honour and my wife

Andbeing moreover an ignoble hound

I dare not jeopardize my life for them!'

Religion and Law lean forward from their chairs

'Well donethou good and faithful servant!' Ay

Not only applaud him that he scorned the world

But punish should he dare do otherwise.

If the case be clear or turbid- you must say!

THUSanyhowit mounted to the stage

In the law-courts- let's see clearly from this point!-

Where the priest tells his story true or false

And the wife her storyand the husband his

All with result as happy as before.

The courts would nor condemn nor yet acquit

Thisthat or the otherin so distinct a sense

As end the strife to either's absolute loss:

Pronouncedin place of something definite

'Each of the partieswhether goat or sheep

I' the mainhas wool to show and hair to hide.

Each has brought somehow troubleis somehow cause

Of pains enough- even though no worse were proved.

Here is a husbandcannot rule his wife

Without provoking her to scream and scratch

And scour the fields- carelesslyit may be:

Here is that wife- who makes her sex our plague

Wedlockour bugbear- perhaps with cause enough:

And here is the truant priest o' the trioworst

Or best- each quality being conceivable.

Let us impose a little mulct on each.

We punish youth in state of pupilage

Who talk at hours when youth is bound to sleep

Whether the prattle turn upon Saint Rose

Or Donna Olimpia of the Vatican:

'Tis talktalked wisely or unwisely talked

I' the dormitory where to talk at all

Transgressesand is mulct: as here we mean.

For the wife- let her betake herselffor rest

After her runto a House of Convertites-

Keep thereas good as real imprisonment:

Being sick and tiredshe will recover so.

For the priestspritely strayer out of bounds

Who made Arezzo hot to hold him- Rome

Profits by his withdrawal from the scene.

Let him be relegate to Civita

Circumscribed by its bounds till matters mend:

There he at least lies out o' the way of harm

From foes- perhaps from the too friendly fair.

And finally for the husbandwhose rash rule

Has but itself to blame for this ado-

If he be vexed thatin our judgments dealt

He fails obtain what he accounts his right

Let him go comforted with the thoughtno less

Thatturn each sentence howsoever he may

There's satisfaction to extract therefrom.

Fordoes he wish his wife proved innocent?

Wellshe's not guiltyhe may safely urge

Has missed the stripes dishonest wives endure-

This being a fatherly pat o' the cheekno more.

Does he wish her guilty? Were she otherwise

Would she be locked upset to say her prayers

Prevented intercourse with the outside world

And that suspected priest in banishment

Whose portion is a further help i' the case?

Ohayyou all of you want the other thing

The extreme of lawsome verdict neatcomplete-

Eitherthe whole o' the dowry in your poke

With full release from the false wifeto boot

And headinghanging for the priestbeside-

Orcontraryclaim freedom for the wife

Repayment of each penny paid her spouse

Amends for the pastrelease for the future! Such

Is wisdom to the children of this world;

But we've no mindwe children of the light

To miss the advantage of the golden mean

And push things to the steel point.' Thus the courts.

IS IT settled so far? Settled or disturbed

Console yourselves: 'tis like... an instancenow!

You've seen the puppetsof Place Navonaplay-

Punch and his mate- how threats passblows are dealt

And a crisis comes: the crowd or clap or hiss

Accordingly as disposed for man or wife-

When down the actors duck awhile perdue

Donning what novel rag-and-feather trim

Best suits the next adventurenew effect:

And- by the time the mob is on the move

With something like a judgment pro and con-

There's a whistleup again the actors pop

In t' other tatter with fresh-tinseled staves

To re-engage in one last worst fight more

Shall showwhat you thought tragedy was farce.

Notethat the climax and the crown of things

Invariably isthe devil appears himself

Armed and accoutredhorns and hoofs and tail!

Just sonor otherwise it proved- you'll see:

Move to the murdernever mind the rest!

GUIDOat such a general duck-down

I' the breathing-space- of wife to convent here

Priest to his relegationand himself

To Arezzo- had resigned his part perforce

To brother Abatewho bustleddid his best

Retrieved things somewhatmanaged the three suits-

Sinceit should seemthere were three suits-at-law

Behoved him look tostilllest bad grow worse:

First civil suit- the one the parents brought

Impugning the legitimacy of his wife

Affirming thence the nullity of her rights:

This was before the Rota- Molines

That's judge theremade that notable decree

Which partly leaned to Guidoas I said-

But Pietro had appealed against the same

To the very court will judge what we judge now-

Tommati and his fellows- Suit the first.

Next civil suit- demand on the wife's part

Of separation from the husband's bed

On plea of cruelty and risk to life-

Claims restitution of the dowry paid

Immunity from paying any more:

This secondthe Vicegerent has to judge.

Third and last suit- this timea criminal one-

Answer toand protection fromboth these-

Guido's complaint of guilt against his wife

In the Tribunal of the Governor

Venturinialso judge of the present cause.

Three suits of all importance plaguing him

Beside a little private enterprise

Of Guido's- essay at a shorter cut.

For Paoloknowing the right way at Rome

Hadeven while superintending these three suits

I' the regular wayeach at its proper court

Ingeniously made interest with the Pope

To set such tedious regular forms aside

Andacting the supreme and ultimate judge

Declare for the husband and against the wife.

Wellat such crisis and extreme of straits

The man at baybuffeted in this wise

Happened the strangest accident of all.

'Then' sigh friends'the last feather broke his back

Made him forget all possible remedies

Save one- he rushed toas the sole relief

From horror and the abominable thing.'

'Or rather' laugh foes'then did there befall

The luckiest of conceivable events

Most pregnant with impunity for him

Which henceforth turned the flank of all attack

And bade him do his wickedest and worst.'

-The wife's withdrawal from the Convertites

Visit to the villa where her parents lived

And birth there of his babe. Divergence here!

I simply take the factsask what they show.

FIRST comes this thunderclap of a surprise:

Then follow all the signs and silences

Premonitory of earthquake. Paolo first

Vanishedwas swept off somewherelost to Rome:

(Wells dry upwhile the sky is sunny and blue.)

Then Guido girds himself for enterprise

Hies to Vittianocounsels with his steward

Comes to terms with four peasants young and bold

And Starts for Rome the Holyreaches her

At very holiestfor 'tis Christmas Eve

And makes straight for the Abate's dried-up font

The lodge where Paolo ceased to work the pipes.

And thenrest takenobservation made

And plan completedall in a grim week

The five proceed in a bodyreach the place

-Pietro'sby the Paolinasilentlone

And stupefied by the propitious snow-

At one in the evening: knock: a voice 'Who's there?'

'Friends with a letter from the priest your friend.'

At the doorstraight smiles old Violante's self.

She falls- her son-in-law stabs through and through

Reaches thro' her at Pietro- 'With your son

This is the way to settle suitsgood sire!'

He bellows 'Mercy for heavennot for earth!

Leave to confess and save my sinful soul

Then do your pleasure on the body of me!'

-'Nayfathersoul with body must take its chance!'

He presently got his portion and lay still.

And lastPompilia rushes here and there

Like a dove among lightnings in her brake

Falls also: Guido'sthis last husband's-act.

He lifts her by the long dishevelled hair

Holds her away at arms' length with one hand

While the other tries if life come from the mouth-

Looks out his whole heart's hate on the shut eyes

Draws a deep satisfied breath'So- dead at last!'

Throws down the burthen on dead Pietro's knees

And ends all with 'Let us awaymy boys!'

ANDas they left by one doorin at the other

Tumbled the neighbours- for the shrieks had pierced

To the mill and the grangethis cottage and that shed.

Soon followed the Public Force; pursuit began

Though Guido had the start and chose the road:

Sothat same night was hewith the other four

Overtaken near Baccano- where they sank

By the way-sidein some shelter meant for beasts

And now lay heaped togethernuzzling swine

Each wrapped in bloody cloakeach grasping still

His unwiped weaponsleeping all the same

The sleep o' the just- a journey of twenty miles

Bringing just and unjust to a levelyou see.

The only one i' the world that suffered aught

By the whole night's toil and troubleflight and chase

Was just the officer who took themHead

O' the Public Force- Patrizjzealous soul

Whohaving duty to sustain the flesh

Got heatedcaught a fever and so died:

A warning to the over-vigilant

-Virtue in a chafe should change her linen quick

Lest pleurisy get start of providence.

(That's for the Cardinaland toldI think!)

WELLthey bring back the company to Rome.

Says Guido'By your leaveI fain would ask

How you found out 'twas I who did the deed?

What put you on my tracea foreigner

Supposed in Arezzo- and assuredly safe

Except for an oversight: who told youpray?'

'Whynaturally your wife!' Down Guido drops

O' the horse he rode- they have to steady and stay

At either side the brute that bore himbound

So strange it seemed his wife should live and speak!

She had prayed- at least so people tell you now-

For but one thing to the Virgin for herself

Not simplyas did Pietro 'mid the stabs-

Time to confess and get her own soul saved-

But time to make the truth apparenttruth

For God's sakelest men should believe a lie:

Which seems to have been about the single prayer

She ever put upthat was granted her.

With this hope in her headof telling truth-

Being familiarized with painbeside-

She bore the stabbing to a certain pitch

Without a useless crywas flung for dead

On Pietro's lapand so attained her point.

Her friends subjoin this- have I done with them?-

And cite the miracle of continued life

(She was not dead when I arrived just now)

As attestation to her probity.

DOES it strike your Excellency? Whyyour Highness

The self-command and even the final prayer

Our candour must acknowledge explainable

As easily by the consciousness of guilt.

Sowhen they add that her confession runs

She was of wifehood one white innocence

In thoughtwordactfrom first of her short life

To last of it; prayingi' the face of death

That God forgive her other sins- not this

She is charged with and must die forthat she failed

Anyway to her husband: while thereon

Comments the old Religious- 'So much good

Patience beneath enormity of ill

I hear to my confusionwoe is me

Sinner that I standshamed in the walk and gait

I have practised and grown old inby a child!'-

Guido's friends shrug the shoulder'Just this same

Prodigious absolute calm in the last hour

Confirms us- being the natural result

Of a life which proves consistent to the close.

Having braved heaven and deceived earth throughout

She braves still and deceives stillgains thereby

Two endsshe prizes beyond earth or heaven:

First sets her lover freeimperilled sore

By the new turn things take: he answers yet

For the part he played: they have summoned him indeed:

The past ripped uphe may be punished still:

What better way of saving him than this?

Then- thus she dies revenged to the uttermost

On Guidodrags him with her in the dark

The lower still the betterdo you doubt?

Thustwo waysdoes she love her love to the end

And hate her hate- deathhell is no such price

To pay for these- lovers and haters hold.'

But there's another parry for the thrust.

'Confession' cry folks- 'a confessionthink!

Confession of the moribund is true!'

Which of themmy wise friends? This public one

Or the private other we shall never know?

The private may contain- your casuists teach-

The acknowledgment ofand the penitence for

That other public oneso people say.

However it be- we trench on delicate ground

Her Eminence is peeping o'er the cards-

Can one find nothing in behalf of this

Catastrophe? Deaf folks accuse the dumb!

You criticize the drunken reelfool's-speech

Maniacal gesture of the man- we grant!

But who poured poison in his cupwe ask?

Recall the list of his excessive wrongs

First cheated in his wiferobbed by her kin

Rendered anon the laughing-stock o' the world

By the storytrue or falseof his wife's birth-

The last seal publicly apposed to shame

By the open flight of wife and priest- whySirs

Step out of Rome a furlongwould you know

What another guess tribunal than ours here

Mere worldly Court without the help of grace

Thinks of just that one incident o' the flight?

Guido preferred the same complaint before

The court at Arezzobar of the Granduke-

In virtue of it being Tuscany

Where the offence had rise and flight began-

Self-same complaint he made in the sequel here

Where the offence grew to the fullthe flight

Ended: offence and flightone fad judged twice

By two distinct tribunals- what result?

There was a sentence passed at the same time

By Arezzo and confirmed by the Granduke

Which nothing baulks of swift and sure effect

But absence of the guilty(flight to Rome

Frees them from Tuscan jurisdiction now)

-Condemns the wife to the opprobrious doom

Of all whom law just lets escape from death.

The StincheHouse of Punishmentfor life-

That's what the wife deserves in Tuscany:

Hereshe deserves- remitting with a smile

To her father's housemain object of the flight!

The thief presented with the thing he steals!

AT THIS discrepancy of judgments- mad

The man took on himself the officejudged;

And the only argument against the use

O' the law he thus took into his own hands

Is... whatI ask you?- thatrevenging wrong

He did not revenge soonerkill at first

Whom he killed last! That is the final charge.

Sooner? What's soon or late i' the case?- ask we.

A wound i' the flesh no doubt wants prompt redress;

It smarts a little to-daywell in a week

Forgotten in a month; or neveror nowrevenge!

But a wound to the soul? That rankles worse and worse.

Shall I comfort youexplaining- 'Not this once

But now it may be some five hundred times

I called you ruffianpandarliar and rogue:

The injury must be less by lapse of time?'

The wrong is a wrongone and immortal too

And that you bore it those five hundred times

Let it rankle unrevenged five hundred years

Is just five hundred wrongs the more and worse!

Menplagued this fashionget to explode this way

if left no other.

'But we left this man

Many another wayand there's his fault'

'Tis answered- 'He himself preferred our arm

O' the law to fight his battle with. No doubt

We did not open him an armoury

To pick and choose fromuseand then reject.

He tries one weapon and fails- he tries the next

And next: he flourishes wit and common sense

They fail him- he plies logic doughtily

It fails him too- thereondiscovers last

He has been blind to the combustibles-

That all the while he is a-glow with ire

Boiling with irrepressible rageand so

May try explosives and discard cold steel-

So hire assassinsplotplanexecute!

Is this the honest self-forgetting rage

We are called to pardon? Does the furious bull

Pick out four help-mates from the grazing herd

And journey with them over hill and dale

Till he find his enemy?'

What rejoinder? save

That friends accept our bull-similitude.

Bull-like- the indiscriminate slaughterrude

And reckless aggravation of revenge

Were all i' the way o' the brute who never once

Ceasesamid all provocation more

To bear in mind the first tormentorfirst

Giver o' the wound that goaded him to fight:

Andthough a dozen follow and reinforce

The aggressorwound in front and wound in flank

Continues undisturbedly pursuit

And only after prostrating his prize

Turns on the pettiermakes a general prey.

So Guido rushed against Violantefirst

Author of all his wrongsfons et origo

Malorum - increasingly drunk- which justice done

He finished with the rest. Do you blame a bull?

IN TRUTH you look as puzzled as ere I preached!

How is that? There are difficulties perhaps

On any suppositionand either side.

Each party wants too muchclaims sympathy

For its object of compassionmore than just.

Cry the wife's friends'O the enormous crime

Caused by no provocation in the world!'

'Was not the wife a little weak?'- inquire-

'Punished extravagantlyif you please

But meriting a little punishment?

One treated inconsideratelysay

Rather than one deserving not at all

Treatment and discipline o' the harsher sort?'

Nothey must have her purity itself

Quite angel- and her parents angels too

Of an aged sortimmaculateword and deed

At all eventsso seemingtill the fiend

Even Guidoby his follyforced from them

The untoward avowal of the trick o' the birth

Would otherwise be safe and secret now.

Whyhere you have the awfulest of crimes

For nothing! Hell broke loose on a butterfly!

A dragon born of rose-dew and the moon!

Yet here is the monster! Whyhe's a mere man-

Bornbred and brought up in the usual way.

His mother loves himstill his brothers stick

To the good fellow of the boyish games;

The Governor of his town knows and approves

The Archbishop of the place knows and assists:

Here he has Cardinal This to vouch for the past

Cardinal That to trust for the future- match

And marriage were a Cardinal's making- in short

What if a tragedy be acted here

Impossible for malice to improve

And innocent Guido with his innocent four

Be addedall fiveto the guilty three

That we of these last days be edified

With one full taste o' the justice of the world?

THE long and the short istruth is what I show:-

Undoubtedly no pains ought to be spared

To give the mob an inkling of our lights.

It seems unduly harsh to put the man

To the tortureas I hear the court intends

Though readiest way of twisting out the truth;

He is nobleand he may be innocent:

On the other handif they exempt the man

(As it is also said they hesitate

On the fair groundpresumptive guilt is weak

I' the case of nobility and privilege)-

What crime that ever wasever will be

Deserves the torture? Then abolish it!

You see the reduction ad absurdumSirs?

HER Excellency must pronouncein fine!

Whatshe prefers going and joining play?

Her Highness finds it lateintends retire?

I am of their mind: onlyall this talktalked

'Twas not for nothing that we talkedI hope?

Both know as much about itnowat least

As all Rome: no particular thanksI beg!

(You'll seeI have not so advanced myself

After my teaching the two idiots here!)

V: Count Guido Franceschini

THANKSSIRbutshould it please the reverend Court

I feel I can stand somehowhalf sit down

Without helpmake shift to even speakyou see

Fortified by the sip of... why'tis wine

Velletri- and not vinegar and gall

So changed and good the times grow! Thankskind Sir!

Ohbut one sip's enough! I want my head

To save my neckthere's work awaits me still.

How cautious and considerate... aieaieaie

Not your faultsweet Sir! Comeyou take to heart

An ordinary matter. Law is law.

Noblemen were exemptthe vulgar thought

From rackingbutsince law thinks otherwise

I have been put to the rack: all's over now

And neither wrist- what men styleout of joint:

If any harm be'tis the shoulder-blade

The left onethat seems wrong i' the socket- Sirs

Much could not happenI was quick to faint

Being past my prime of lifeand out of health.

In short I thank you- yesand mean the word.

Needs must the Court be slow to understand

How this quite novel form of taking pain

This getting tortured merely in the flesh

Amounts to almost an agreeable change

In my caseme fastidiousplied too much

With opposite treatmentused (forgive the joke)

To the rasp-tooth toying with this brain of mine

Andin and out my heartthe play o' the probe.

Four years have I been operated on

I' the souldo you see- its tense or tremulous part-

My self-respectmy care for a good name

Pride in an old onelove of kindred- just

A motherbrotherssistersand the like

That looked up to my face when days were dim

And fancied they found light there- no one spot

Foppishly sensitivebut has paid its pang.

Thatand not this you now oblige me with

That was the Vigil-tormentif you please!

The poor old noble House that drew the rags

O' the Franceschini's once superb array

Close round herhoped to slink unchallenged by-

Pluck off these! Turn the drapery inside out

And teach the tittering town how scarlet wears!

Show men the lucklessnessthe improvidence

Of the easy-natured Count before this Count

The father I have some slight feeling for

Who let the world slidenor foresaw that friends

Then proud to cap and kiss the patron's shoe

Wouldwhen the purse he left held spider-webs

Properly push his child to wall one day!

Mimic the tetchy humourfurtive glance

And brow where half was furious half fatigued

O' the same son got to be of middle age

Soursaturnine- your humble servant here-

When things go cross and the young wifehe finds

Take to the window at a whistle's bid

And yet demurs thereonpreposterous fool!-

Whereat the worthies judge he wants advice

And beg to civilly ask what's evil here

Perhaps remonstrate on the habit they deem

He's given unduly toof beating her

...Ohsure he beats her- why says John so else

Who is cousin to George who is sib to Tecla's self

Who cooks the meal and combs the lady's hair?

What? 'Tis my wrist you merely dislocate

For the future when you mean me martyrdom?

-Let the old mother's economy alone

How the brocade-strips saved o' the seamy side

O' the wedding-gown buy raiment for a year?

-How she can dress and dish up- lordly dish

Fit for a dukelamb's head and purtenance-

With her proud handsfeast household so a week?

No word o' the wine rejoicing God and man

The less when three-parts water? ThenI say

A trifle of torture to the fleshlike yours

While soul is spared such foretaste of hell-fire

Is naught. But I curtail the catalogue

Through policy- a rhetorician's trick-

Because I would reserve some choicer points

O' the practicemore exactly parallel-

(Having an eye to climax) with what gift

Eventual grace the Court may have in store

I' the way of plague- my crown of punishments.

When I am hanged or headedtime enough

To prove the tenderness of only that

Mere headinghanging- not their counterpart

Not demonstration public and precise

That Ihaving married the mongrel of a drab

Am bound to grant that mongrel-bratmy wife

Her mother's birthright-licence as is just-

Let her sleep undisturbedi' the family style

Her sleep out in the embraces of a priest

Nor disallow their bastard as my heir!

Your sole mistake- dare I submit so much

To the reverend Court?- has been in all this pains

To make a stone roll down hill- rack and wrench

And rend a man to piecesall for what?

Why- make him ope mouth in his own defence

Show cause for what he has donethe irregular deed

(Since that he did itscarce dispute can be)

And clear his fame a littlebeside the luck

Of stopping even yetif possible

Discomfort to his flesh from noose or axe-

For thatout come the implements of law!

May it content my lords the gracious Court

To listen only half so patient-long

As I will in that sense profusely speak

And- fiethey shall not call in screws to help!

I killed Pompilia FranceschiniSirs;

Killed too the Comparinihusbandwife

Who called themselvesby a notorious lie

Her father and her mother to ruin me.

There's the irregular deed: you want no more

Than right interpretation of the same

And truth so far- am I to understand?

To that thenwith convenient speed- because

Now I consider- yesdespite my boast

There is an ailing in this omoplat

May clip my speech all too abruptly close

Whatever the good will in me. Now for truth!

I' THE name of the indivisible Trinity!

Will my lordsin the plenitude of their light

Weigh well that all this trouble has come on me

Through my persistent treading in the paths

Where I was trained to go- wearing that yoke

My shoulder was predestined to receive

Born to the hereditary stoop and crease?

NobleI recognized my nobler still

The Churchmy suzerain;- no mock-mistressshe;

The secular owned the spiritual: mates of mine

Have thrown their careless hoofs up at her call

'Forsake the clover and come drag my wain!'

There they go cropping: I protruded nose

To halterbent my back of docile beast

And now am whealedone wide wound all of me

For being found at the eleventh hour o' the day

Padding the mill-tracknot neck-deep in grass:

-My one faultI am stiffened by my work

-My one rewardI help the Court to smile!

I AM representative of a great line

One of the first of the old families

In Arezzoancientest of Tuscan towns.

When my worst foe is fain to challenge this

His worst exception runs- not first in rank

But secondnoble in the next degree

Only; not malice' self maligns me more.

Somy lord opposite has composedwe know

A marvel of a booksustains the point

That Francis boasts the primacy 'mid saints;

Yet not inaptly hath his argument

Obtained response from yon my other lord

In thesis published with the world's applause

-Rather 'tis Dominic such post befits:

Whyat the worstFrancis stays Francis still

Second in tank to Dominic it may be

Stillvery saintlyvery like our Lord;

And I at least descend from a Guido once

Homager to the Empirenought below-

Of which account as proof thatnone o' the line

Having a single gift beyond brave blood

Or able to do aught but givegivegive

In blood and brainin house and land and cash

Not get and garner as the vulgar may

We became poor as Francis or our Lord.

Be that as it likes youSirs- whenever it chanced

Myself grew capable anyway of remark

(Which was soon- penury makes wit premature)

This struck meI was poor who should be rich

Or pay that fault to the world which trifles not

When lineage lacks the flag yet lifts the pole:

Therefore I must make move forthwithtransfer

My stranded selfborn fish with gill and fin

Fit for the deep seanow left flap bare-backed

In slush and sanda show to crawlers vile

Reared of the low-tide and aright therein.

The enviable youth with the old name

Wide cheststout armssound brow and pricking veins

A heartful of desireman's natural load

A brainful of beliefthe noble's lot-

All this lifecramped and gaspinghigh and dry

I' the wave's retreat- the miserygood my lords

Which made you merriment at Rome of late-

It made me reasonrather- musedemand

-Why our bare dropping palacein the street

Where such-an-one whose grandfather sold tripe

Was adding to his purchased pile a fourth

Tall towercould hardly show a turret sound?

Why Countess Beatricewhose son I am

Cowered in the winter-time as she spun flax

Blew on the earthen basket of live ash

Instead of jaunting forth in coach and six

Like such-another widow who ne'er was wed?

I asked my fellowshow came this about?

'WhyJackthe suttler's childperhaps the camp's

Went to the warsfought sturdily- took a town

And got rewarded as was natural.

She of the coach and six- excuse me there!

Whydon't you know the story of her friend?

A clown dressed vines on somebody's estate

His boy recoiled from muckliked Latin more

Stuck to his pen and got to be a priest

Till one day... don't you mind that telling tract

Against Molinosthe old Cardinal wrote?

He penned and dropped it in the patron's desk

Whodeep in thought and absent much of mind

Licensed the thingallowed it for his own;

Quick came promotion- suum cuiqueCount!

Ohhe can pay for coach and sixbe sure!'

'-Welllet me godo likewise: war's the word-

That way the Franceschini worked at first

I'll take my turntry soldiership.'- 'Whatyou?

The eldest son and heir and prop o' the house

So do you see your duty? Here's your post

Hard by the hearth and altar. (Roam from roof

This youngsterplay the gipsy out of doors

And who keeps kith and kin that fall on us?)

Stand faststick tightconserve your gods at home!'

'-Well thenthe quiet coursethe contrary trade!

We had a cousin amongst us once was Pope

And minor glories manifold. Try the Church

The tonsureand- since heresy's but half-slain

Even by the Cardinal's tract he thought he wrote-

Have at Molinos!'- 'Have at a fool's head!

You a priest? How were marriage possible?

There must be Franceschini till time ends-

That's your vocation. Make your brothers priests

Paul shall be porporateand Girolamo step

Red-stockinged in the presence when you choose

But save one Franceschini for the age!

Be not the vine but dig and dung its root

Be not a priest but gird up priesthood's loins

With one foot in Arezzo stride to Rome

Spend yourself there and bring the purchase back!

Go hence to Romebe guided!'

So I was.

I turned alike from the hill-side zig-zag thread

Of way to the table-land a soldier takes

Alike from the low-lying pasture-place

Where churchmen grazerecline and ruminate

-Ventured to mount no platform like my lords

Who judge the worldbear brain I dare not brag-

But stationed memight thus the expression serve

As who should fetch and carrycome and go

Meddle and make i' the cause my lords love most-

The public wealwhich hangs to the lawwhich holds

By the Churchwhich happens to be through God himself.

Humbly I helped the Church till here I stand-

Or would Stand but for the omoplatyou see!

Bidden qualify for RomeIhaving a field

Wentsold itlaid the sum at Peter's foot:

Which means- I settled home-accounts with speed

Set apart just a modicum should suffice

To keep the villa's head above the waves

Of weed inundating its oil and wine

And prop roofstanchion wall o' the palace so

It should keep breath i' the bodyhold its own

Amid the advance of neighbouring loftiness-

(People like building where they used to beg)-

Till succoured one day- shared the residue

Between my mother and brothers and sitters there

Black-eyed babe Donna This and Donna That

As near to starving as might decently be

-Left myself journey-chargeschange of suit

A purse to put i' the pocket of the Groom

O' the Chamber of the patronand a glove

With a ring to it for the digits of the niece

Sure to be helpful in his household- then

Started for Romeand led the life prescribed.

Close to the Churchthough clean of itI assumed

Three or four orders of no consequence

-They cast out evil spirits and exorcise

For example; bind a man to nothing more

Give clerical savour to his layman's-salt

Facilitate his claim to loaf and fish

Should miracle leavebeyond what feeds the flock

Fragments to brim the basket of a friend-

Whilefor the world's sakeI rodedanced and gamed

Quitted me like a courtiermeasured mine

With whatsoever blade had fame in fence

-Ready to let the basket go its round

Even though my turn was come to help myself

Should Dives count on me at dinner-time

As just the understander of a joke

And not immoderate in repartee.

Utrique sic paratusSirsI said

'Here' (in the fortitude of years fifteen

So good a pedagogue is penury)

'Here waitdo service- serving and to serve!

Andin due timeI nowise doubt at all

The recognition of my service comes.

Next year I'm only sixteen. I can wait.'

I waited thirty yearsmay it please the Court:

Saw meanwhile many a denizen o' the dung

Hopskipjump o'er my shouldermake him wings

And fly aloft- succeedin the usual phrase.

Everyone soon or late comes round by Rome:

Stand still hereyou'll see all in turn succeed.

Whylook youso and sothe physician here

My father's lacquey's son we sent to school

Doctored and dosed this Eminence and that

Salved the last Pope his certain obstinate sore

Soon bought land as became himnames it now:

I grasp bell at his griffin-guarded gate

Traverse the half-mile avenue- a term

A cypressand a statuethree and three-

Deliver message from my Monsignor

With varletry at lounge i' the vestibule

I'm barred fromwho bear mud upon my shoe.

My father's chaplain's nephewChamberlain-

Nothing lessplease you!- courteous all the same

-He does not see me though I wait an hour

At his staircase-landing 'twixt the brace of busts

A noseless SyllaMarius maimed to match

My father gave him for a hexastich

Made on my birth-day- but he sends me down

To make amendsthat relic I prize most-

The unburnt end o' the very candleSirs

Purfled with paint so prettily round and round

He carried in such state last Peter's-day-

In token Ihis gentleman and squire

Had held the bridlewalked his managed mule

Without a tittup the procession through.

Naythe official- one you knowsweet lords!-

Who drew the warrant for my transfer late

To the New Prisons from Tordinona- he

Graciously had remembrance- 'Francesc... ha?

His sirenow- how a thing shall come about!-

Paid me a dozen florins above the fee

For drawing deftly up a deed of sale

When troubles fell so thick on himgood heart

And I was prompt and pushing! By all means!

At the New Prisons be it his son shall lie-

Anything for an old friend!' and thereat

Signed name with triple flourish underneath.

These were my fellowssuch their fortunes now

While I- kept fasts and feasts innumerable

Matins and vespersfunctions to no end

I' the train of Monsignor and Eminence

As gentleman-squireand for my zeal's reward

Have rarely missed a place at the table-foot

Except when some Ambassadoror such like

Brought his own people. Briefone day I felt

The tick of time inside meturning-point

And slight sense there was now enough of this:

That I was near my seventh climacteric

Hard uponif not overthe middle life

Andalthough fed by the east-windfulsome-fine

With foretaste of the Land of Promisestill

My gorge gave symptom it might play me false;

Better not press it further- be content

With living and dying only a nobleman

Who merely had a father great and rich

Who simply had one greater and richer yet

And so on back and first till first and best

Began i' the night; I finish in the day.

'The mother must be getting old' I said;

'The sisters are well wedded awayour name

Can manage to pass a sister offat need

And do for dowry: both my brothers thrive-

Regular priests they arenorbat-like'bide

'Twixt flesh and fowl with neither privilege.

My spare revenue must keep me and mine.

I am tired: Arezzo's air is good to breathe;

Vittiano- one limes flocks of thrushes there;

A leathern coat costs little and lasts long:

Let me bid hope good-byecontent at home!'

Thusone dayI disbosomed me and bowed.

Whereat began the little buzz and thrill

O' the gazers round me; each face brightened up:

As when at your Casinodeep in dawn

A gamester says at last'I play no more

Forego gainacquiesce in losswithdraw

Anyhow:' and the watchers of his ways

A trifle struck compunctious at the word

Yet sensible of reliefbreathe free once more

Break up the ringventure Polite advice-

'HowSir? So scant of heart and hope indeed?

Retire with neither cross nor pile from play?-

So incuriousso short-casting?- give your chance

To a youngerstrongerbolder spirit belike

Just when luck turns and the fine throw sweeps all?'

Such was the chorus: and its goodwill meant-

'See that the loser leave door handsomely!

There's an ill look- it's sinisterspoils sport

When an old bruised and battered year-by-year

Fighter with fortunenot a penny in poke

Reels down the steps of our establishment

And staggers on broad daylight and the world

In shagrag beard and doleful doubletdrops

And breaks his heart on the outside: people prate

"Such is the profit of a trip upstairs!"

Contrive he sidle forthbaulked of the blow

Best dealt by way of moralbidding down

No curse but blessings rather on our heads

For some poor prize he bears at tattered breast

Some palpable sort of kind of good to set

Over and against the grievance: give him quick!'

Whereon protested Paul'Go hang yourselves!

Leave him to me. Count Guido and brother of mine

A word in your ear! Take courage since faint heart

Ne'er won... ahafair ladydon't men say?

There's a sorsthere's a right Virgilian dip!

Do you see the happiness o' the hint? At worst

If the Church want no more of youthe Court

No moreand the Camp as littlethe ingrates- come

Count you are counted: still you've coat to back

Not cloth of gold and tissueas we hoped

But cloth with sparks and spangles on its frieze

From CampCourtChurchenough to make a shine

Entitle you to carry home a wife

With the proper dowrylet the worst betide!

Whyit was just a wife you meant to take!'

NOWPaul's advice was weighty: priests should know:

And Paul apprised meere the week was out

That Pietro and Violantethe easy pair

The cits enoughwith stomach to be more

Had just the daughter and exact the sum

To truck for the quality of myself: 'She's young

Pretty and rich: you're nobleclassicchoice.

Is it to be a match?' 'A match' said I.

Done! He proposed allI accepted all

And we performed all. So I said and did

Simply. As simply followednot at first

But with the outbreak of misfortunestill

One comment on the saying and doing- 'What?

No blush at the avowal you dared buy

A girl of age beseems your granddaughter

Like ox or ass? Are flesh and blood a ware?

Are heart and soul a chattel?'


Will the Court of its charity teach poor me

Anxious to learnof any way i' the world

Allowed by custom and conveniencesave

This same whichtaught from my youth upI trod?

Take me along with you; where was the wrong step?

If what I gave in barterstyle and state

And all that hangs to Franceschinihood

Were worthless- whysociety goes to ground

Its rules are idiot's-rambling. Honour of birth-

If that thing has no valuecannot buy

Something with value of another sort

You've no reward nor punishment to give

I' the giving or the taking honour; straight

Your social fabricpinnacle to base

Comes down a-clatter like a house of cards.

Get honourand keep honour free from flaw

Aim at still higher honour- gabble o' the goose!

Go bid a second blockhead like myself

Spend fifty years in guarding bubbles of breath

Soapsuds with air i' the bellygilded brave

Guarded and guidedall to break at touch

O' the first young girl's hand and first old fool's purse!

All my privation and enduranceall

Loveloyalty and labour dared and did

Fiddle-de-dee!- whydoer and darer both-

Count Guido Franceschini had hit the mark

Far betterspent his life with more effect

As a dancer or a prizertrades that pay!

On the other handbid this buffoonery cease

Admit that honour is a privilege

The question followsprivilege worth what?

Whyworth the market-price- now upnow down

Just so with this as with all other ware:

Therefore essay the marketsell your name

Style and condition to who buys them best!

'Does my name purchase' had I dared inquire

'Your niecemy lord?' there would have been rebuff

Though courtesyyour Lordship cannot else-

'Not altogether! Rank for rank may stand:

But I have wealth besideyou- poverty;

Your scale flies up there: bid a second bid

Rank too and wealth too!' Reasoned like yourself!

But was it to you I went with goods to sell?

This time 'twas my scale quietly kissed the ground

Mere rank against mere wealth- some youth beside

Some beauty toothrown into the bargainjust

As the buyer likes or lets alone. I thought

To deal o' the square: others find faultit seems:

The thing isthose my offer most concerned

PietroViolantecried they fair or foul?

What did they make o' the terms? Preposterous terms?

Why then accede so promptlyclose with such

Nor take a minute to chaffer? Bargain struck

They straight grew biliouswished their money back

Repented themno doubt: whyso did I

So did your Lordshipif town-talk be true

Of paying a full farm's worth for that piece

By Pietro of Cortona- probably

His scholar Ciro Ferri may have retouched-

You caring more for colour than design-

Getting a little tired of cupids too.

That's incident to all the folk who buy!

I am chargedI knowwith gilding fact by fraud;

I falsified and fabricatedwrote

Myself down roughly richer than I prove

Rendered a wrong revenue- grant it all!

Mere gracemere coquetry such fraudI say:

A flourish round the figures of a sum

For fashion's sakethat deceives nobody.

The veritable back-boneunderstood

Essence of this same bargainblank and bare

Being the exchange of quality for wealth-

What may such fancy-flights be? Flecks of oil

Flirted by chapmen where plain dealing grates.

I may have dripped a drop- 'My name I sell;

Not but that I too boast my wealth'- as they

'-We bring you riches; still our ancestor

Was hardly the rapscallionfolks saw flogged

But heir to we know whowere rights of force!'

They knew and I knew where the back-bone lurked

I' the writhings of the bargainlordsbelieve!

I paid down all engaged forto a doit

Delivered them just that whichtheir life long

They hungered in the hearts of them to gain-

Incorporation with nobility thus

In word and deed: for that they gave me wealth.

But when they came to try their gainmy gift

Quit Rome and qualify for Arezzotake

The tone o' the new sphere that absorbed the old

Put away gossip Jack and goody Joan

And go become familiar with the Great

Greatness to touch and taste and handle now-

Whythen- they found that all was vanity

Vexationand what Solomon describes!

The old abundant city-fare was best

The kindly warmth o' the commonsthe glad clap

Of the equal on the shoulderthe frank grin

Of the underling at all so many spoons

Fire-new at neighbourly treat- bestbest and best

Beyond compare!- down to the loll itself

O' the pot-house settle- better such a bench

Than the stiff crucifixion by my dais

Under the piece-meal damask canopy

With the coroneted coat of arms a-top!

Poverty and privation for pride's sake

All they engaged to easily brave and bear-

With the fit upon them and their brains a-work-

Proved unendurable to the sobered sots.

A banished princenowwill exude a juice

And salamander-like support the flame:

He dines on chestnutschucks the husks to help

The broil o' the brazierpays the due baioc

Goes off light-hearted: his grimace begins

At the funny humours of the christening-feast

Of friend the money-lender- then he's touched

By the flame and frizzles at the babe to kiss!

Here was the converse trialopposite mind:

Here did a petty nature split on rock

Of vulgar wants predestinate for such-

One dish at supper and weak wine to boot!

The prince had grinned and borne: the citizen shrieked

Summoned the neighbourhood to attest the wrong

Made noisy protest he was murdered- stoned

And burned and drowned and hanged- then broke away

He and his wifeto tell their Rome the rest.

And this you admireyou men o' the worldmy lords?

This moves compassionmakes you doubt my faith?

WhyI appeal to... sun and moon? Not I!

Rather to PlautusTerenceBoccaccio's Book

My townsmanfrank Ser Franco's merry Tales-

To all who strip a vizard from a face

A body from its paddingand a soul

From froth and ignorance it styles itself-

If this be other than the daily hap

Of purblind greed that dog-like still drops bone

Grasps shadowand then howls the case is hard!

SO MUCH for them so far: now for myself

My profit or loss i' the matter: married am I:

Text whereon friendly censors burst to preach.

Ayat Rome evenlong ere I was left

To regulate her life for my young bride

Alone at Arezzofriendliness outbroke

(Sifting my future to predict its fault)

'Purchase and sale being thus so plain a point

How of a certain soul bound upmay-be

I' the barter with the body and money-bags?

From the bride's soul what is it you expect?'

Whyloyalty and obedience- wish and will

To settle and suit her fresh and plastic mind

To the novelnor disadvantageous mould!

Father and mother shall the woman leave

Cleave to the husbandbe it for weal or woe:

There is the law: what sets this law aside

In my particular case? My friends submit

'Guideguardianbenefactor- feefawfum

The fact is you are forty-five years old

Nor very comely even for that age:

Girls must have boys.' Whylet girls say so then

Nor call the boys and menwho say the same

Brute this and beast the other as they do!

Comecards on table! When you chaunt us next

Epithalamium full to overflow

With praise and glory of white womanhood

The chaste and pure- troll no such lies o'er lip!

Put in their stead a crudity or two

Such short and simple statement of the case

As youth chalks on our walls at spring of year!

No! I shall still think nobler of the sex

Believe a woman still may take a man

For the short period that his soul wears flesh

Andfor the soul's sakeunderstand the fault

Of armour frayed by fighting. Tushit tempts

One's tongue too much! I'll say- the law's the law:

With a wife I took to find all wifeliness

As when I buytimber and twiga tree-

I buy the song o' the nightingale inside.

SUCH was the pact: Pompilia from the first

Broke itrefused from the beginning day

Either in body or soul to cleave to mine

And published it forthwith to all the world.

No rupture- you must join ere you can break-

Before we had cohabited a month

She found I was a devil and no man-

Made common cause with those who found as much

Her parentsPietro and Violante- moved

Heaven and earth to the rescue of all three.

In four months' timethe time o' the parents' stay

Arezzo was a-ringingbells in a blaze

With the unimaginable story rife

I' the mouth of manwoman and child- to-wit

My misdemeanour. First the lighter side

Ludicrous face of things- how very poor

The Franceschini had become at last

The meanness and the misery of each shift

To save a soldoStretch and make ends meet.

Nextthe more hateful aspect- how myself

With cruelty beyond Caligula's

Had stripped and beatenrobbed and murdered them

The good old coupleI decoyedabused

Plundered and then cast outand happily so

Since- in due course the abominable comes-

Woe worth the poor young wife left lonely here!

Repugnant in my person as my mind

I sought- was ever heard of such revenge?

-To lure and bind her to so cursed a couch

Such co-embrace with sulphursnake and toad

That she was fain to rush forthcall the stones

O' the common street to save hernot from hate

Of mine merelybut... must I burn my lips

With the blister of the lie?... the satyr-love

Of who but my own brotherthe young priest

Too long enforced to lenten fare belike

Now tempted by the morsel tossed him full

I' the trencher where lay bread and herbs at best.

Markthis yourselves say!- thisnone disallows

Was charged to me by the universal voice

At the instigation of my four-months'wife!-

And then you ask 'Such charges so preferred

(Truly or falselyhere concerns us not)

Pricked you to punish now if not before?-

Did not the harshness double itselfthe hate

Harden?' I answer 'Have it your way and will!'

Say my resentment grew apace: what then?

Do you cry out on the marvel? When I find

That pure smooth egg whichlaid within my nest

Could not but hatch a comfort to us all

Issues a cockatrice for me and mine

Do you stare to see me stamp on it? Swans are soft:

Is it not clear that she you call my wife

That any wife of any husbandcaught

Whetting a sting like this against his breast-

Speckled with fragments of the fresh-broke shell

Married a month and making outcry thus-

Proves a plague-prodigy to God and man?

She married: what was it she married for

Counted upon and meant to meet thereby?

'Love' suggests some one'lovea little word

Whereof we have not heard one syllable.

Sothe Pompiliachildgirlwifein one

Wanted the beating pulsethe rolling eye

The frantic gesturethe devotion due

From Thyrsis to Neaera! Guido's love-

Why not provencal roses in his shoe

Plume to his capand trio of guitars

At casementwith a bravo close beside?

Good things all these areclearly claimable

When the fit price is paid the proper way.

Had it been some friend's wifenowthrew her fan

At my footwith just this pretty scrap attached

'Shamedeathdamnation- fall these as they may

So I find youfor a minute! Come this eve!'

-Whyat such sweet self-sacrifice- who knows?

I might have fired upfound me at my post

Ardent from head to heelnor feared catch cough.

Nayhad some other friend's... saydaughtertripped

Upstairs and tumbled flat and rank on me

Bareheaded and barefootedwith loose hair

And garments all at large- cried 'Take me thus!

Duke So-and-Sothe greatest man in Rome-

To escape his hand and heart have I broke bounds

Traversed the town and reached you!'- Thenindeed

The lady had not reached a man of ice!

I would have rummagedransacked at the word

Those old odd corners of an empty heart

For remnants of dim love the long disused

And dusty crumblings of romance! But here

We talk of just a marriageif you please-

The every-day conditions and no more;

Where do these bind me to bestow one drop

Of blood shall dye my wife's true-love-knot pink?

Pompilia was no pigeonVenus' pet

That shuffled from between her pressing paps

To sit on my rough shoulder- but a hawk

I bought at a hawk's price and carried home

To do hawk's service- at the Rotundasay

Wheresix o' the callow nestlings in a row

You pick and choose and pay the price for such.

I have paid my poundawait my penny's worth

Sohoodwinkstarve and properly train my bird

Andshould she prove a haggard- twist her neck!

Did I not pay my name and stylemy hope

And trustmy all? Through spending these amiss

I am here! 'Tis scarce the gravity of the Court

Will blame me that I never piped a tune

Treated my falcon-gentle like my finch.

The obligation I incurred was just

To practise masteryprove my mastership:-

Pompilia's duty was- submit herself

Afford me pleasureperhaps cure my bile.

Am I to teach my lords what marriage means

What God ordains thereby and man fulfils

Whodocile to the dictatetreads the house?

My lords have chosen the happier part with Paul

And neither marry nor burn- yet priestliness

Can find a parallel to the marriage-bond

In its own blessed special ordinance

Whereof indeed was marriage made the type:

The Church may show her insubordinate

As marriage her refractory. How of the Monk

Who finds the claustral regimen too sharp

After the first month's essay? What's the mode

With the Deacon who supports indifferently

The rod o' the Bishop when he tastes its smart

Full four weeks? Do you straightway slacken hold

Of the innocentsthe all-unwary ones

Whoeager to professmistook their mind?-

Remit a fast-day's rigour to the Monk

Who fancied Francis' manna meant roast quails

Concede the Deacon sweet society

He never thought the Levite-rule renounced-

Or rather prescribe short chain and sharp scourge

Corrective of such peccant humours? This-

I take to be the Church's modeand mine.

If I was over-harsh- the worse i' the wife

Who did not win from harshness as she ought

Wanted the patience and persuasionlore

Of loveshould cure me and console herself.

Put case that I mishandleflurry and fright

My hawk through clumsiness in sportsmanship

Twitch out five pens where plucking one would serve-

Whatshall she bite and claw to mend the case?

Andif you find I pluck five more for that

Shall you weep 'How he roughs the turtle there'?

SUCH was the starting; now of the further step.

In lieu of taking penance in good part

The Monkwith hue and crysummons a mob

To make a bonfire of the conventsay-

And the Deacon's pretty piece of virtue (save

The ears o' the Court! I try to save my head)

Instructed by the ingenuous postulant

Taxes the Bishop with adultery(mud

Needs must pair off with mudand filth with filth)-

Such being my next experience: who knows not-

The couplefather and mother of my wife

Returned to Romepublished before my lords

Put into printmade circulate far and wide

That they had cheated me who cheated them?

PompiliaI supposed their daughterdrew

Breath first 'mid Rome's worst ranknessthrough the deed

Of a drab and a roguewas bye-blow bastard-babe

Of a nameless strumpetpassed offpalmed on me

As the daughter with the dowry. Daughter? Dirt

O' the kennel! Dowry? Dust o' the street! Nought more

Nought lessnought else but- oh- ah- assuredly

A Franceschini and my very wife!

Now take this charge as you willfor false or true-

This chargepreferred before your very selves

Who judge me now- I pray youadjudge again

Classing it with the cheats or with the lies

By which category I suffer most!

But of their reckoningtheirs who dealt with me

In either fashion- I reserve my word

Justify that in its place; I am now to say

Whichever point o' the charge might poison most

Pompilia's duty was no doubtful one.

You put the protestation in her mouth

'Henceforward and forevermoreavaunt

Ye fiendswho drop disguise and glare revealed

In your own shapeno longer father mine

Nor mother mine! Too nakedly you hate

Me whom you looked as if you loved once- me

Whomwhether true or falseyour tale now damns

Divulged thus to my public infamy

Private perditionabsolute overthrow.

Forhate my husband to your hearts' content

Ispoil and prey of you from first to last

I who have done you the blind servicelured

The lion to your pitfall- Ithus left

To answer for my ignorant bleating there

I should have been remembered and withdrawn

From the first o' the natural furynot flung loose

A proverb and a byeword men will mouth

At the cross-wayin the cornerup and down

Rome and Arezzo- therefull in my face

If my lordmissing them and finding me

Content himself with casting his reproach

To drop i' the street where such impostors die.

Ahbut- that husbandwhat the wonder were!-

Iffar from casting thus away the rag

Smeared with the plaguehis hand had chanced upon

Sewn to his pillow by Locusta's wile-

Far from abolishingrootstem and branch

The misgrowth of infectious mistletoe

Foisted into his stock for honest graft-

If herepudiate notrenounce nowise

Butguardingguiding memaintain my cause

By making it his own(what other way?)

-To keep my name for mehe call it his

Claim it of who would take it by their lie-

To save my wealth for me- or babe of mine

Their lie was framed to beggar at the birth-

He bid them loose graspgive our gold again:

Refuse to become partner with the pair

Even in a game whichplayed adroitlygives

Its winner life's great wonderful new chance-

Of marryingto-wita second time-

Ahdid he do thuswhat a friend were he!

Anger he might show- who can stamp out flame

Yet spread no black o' the brand?- yetrough albeit

In the actas whose bare feet feel embers scorch

What grace were hiswhat gratitude were mine!'

Such protestation should have been my wife's.

Looking for thisdo I exalt too much?

Whyhere's the- word for word so muchno more-

Avowal she madeher pure spontaneous speech

To my brother the Abate at first blush

Ere the good impulse had begun to fade-

So did she make confession for the pair

So pour forth praises in her own behalf.

'Aythe false letter' interpose my lords-

'The simulated writing- 'twas a trick:

You traced the signsshe merely marked the same

The product was not hers but yours.' Alack

I want no more impulsion to tell truth

From the other trickthe torture inside there!

I confess all- let it be understood-

And deny nothing! If I baffle you so

Can so fencein the plenitude of right

That my poor lathen dagger puts aside

Each pass o' the Bilboabeats you all the same-

What matters inefficiency of blade?

Mine and not hers the letter- concededlords!

Impute to me that practice!- take as proved

I taught my wife her dutymade her see

What it behoved her see and say and do

Feel in her heart and with her tongue declare

Andwhether sluggish or recalcitrant

Forced her to take the right stepI myself

Marching in mere marital rectitude!

And who finds fault heresay the tale be true?

Would not my lords commend the priest whose zeal

Seized on the sickmorose or moribund

By the palsy-smitten fingermade it cross

His brow correctly at the critical time?

-Or answered for the inarticulate babe

At baptismin its stead declared the faith

And saved what else would perish unprofessed?

Truethe incapable hand may rally yet

Renounce the sign with renovated strength-

The babe may grow up man and Molinist-

And so Pompiliaset in the good path

And left to go alone theresoon might see

That too frank-forwardall too simple-strait

Her step wasand decline to tread the rough

When here laytempting footthe meadow-side

And there the coppice called with singing-birds!

Soon she discovered she was young and fair

That many in Arezzo knew as much-

Yesthis next cup of bitternessmy lords

Had to begin go fillingdrop by drop

Its measure up of full disgust for me

Filtered into by every noisome drain-

Society's sink toward which all moisture runs.

Would not you prophesy- 'She on whose brow is stamped

The note of the imputation that we know-

Rightly or wrongly mothered with a whore-

Such an oneto disprove the frightful charge

What will she but exaggerate chastity

Err in excess of wifehoodas it were

Renounce even levities permitted youth

Though not youth struck to age by a thunderbolt?

Cry "wolf" i' the sheepfoldwhere's the sheep dares bleat

Knowing the shepherd listens for a growl?'

So you expect. How did the devil decree?

Whymy lordsjust the contrary of course!

It was in the house from the windowat the church

From the hassock- where the theatre lent its lodge

Or staging for the public show left space-

That still Pompilia needs must find herself

Launching her looks forthletting looks reply

As arrows to a challenge; on all sides

Ever new contribution to her lap

Till one daywhat is it knocks at my clenched teeth

But the cup fullcurse-collected all for me?

And I must needs drinkdrink this gallant's praise

That minion's prayerthe other fop's reproach

And come at the dregs to- Caponsacchi! Sirs

I- chin deep in a marsh of misery

Struggling to extricate my name and fame

And fortune from the marsh would drown them all

My face the sole unstrangled part of me-

I must have this new gad-fly in that face

Must free me from the attacking lover too!

Men say I battled ungracefully enough-

Was harshuncouth and ludicrous beyond

The proper part o' the husband: have it so!

Your lordships are considerate at least-

You order me to speak in my defence

Plainlyexpect no quavering tuneful trills

As when you bid a singer solace you-

Nor look that I shall give itfor a grace

Stans pede in uno: - you remember well

In the one case'tis a plainsong too severe

This story of my wrongs- and that I ache

And need a chairin the other. Ask you me

Whywhen I felt this trouble flap my face

Already pricked with every shame could perch-

Whenwith her parentsmy wife plagued me too-

Why I enforced not exhortation mild

To leave whore's-tricks and let my brows alone

With mulct of comfitspromise of perfume?

'FAR from that! Noyou took the opposite course

Breathed threateningsrage and slaughter!' What you will!

And the end has comethe doom is verily here

Unhindered by the threatening. See fate's flare

Full on each face of the dead guilty three!

Look at them welland nowlordslook at this!

Tell me: if on that day when I found first

That Caponsacchi thought the nearest way

To his church was some half-mile round by my door

And that he so admiredshall I suppose

The manner of the swallows' come-and-go

Between the props o' the window over head-

That window happening to be my wife's-

As to stand gazing by the hour on high

Of May-eveswhile she sat and let him smile-

If I- instead of threateningtalking big

Showing hair-powdera prodigious pinch

For poison in a bottle- making believe

At desperate doings with a bauble-sword

And other bugaboo-and-baby-work-

Hadwith the vulgarest household implement

Calmly and quietly cut offclean thro' bone

But one joint of one finger of my wife

Saying 'For listening to the serenade

Here's your ring-finger shorter a full third:

Be certain I will slice away next joint

Next time that anybody underneath

Seems somehow to be sauntering as he hoped

A flower would eddy out of your hand to his

While you please fidget with the branch above

O' the rose-tree in the terrace!'- had I done so

Whythere had followed a quick sharp screamsome pain

Much calling for plaisterdamage to the dress

A somewhat sulky countenance next day

Perhaps reproaches- but reflections too!

I don't hear much of harm that Malchus did

After the incident of the earmy lords!

Saint Peter took the efficacious way;

Malchus was sore but silenced for his life:

He did not hang himself i' the Potter's Field

Like Judaswho was trusted with the bag

And treated to sops after he proved a thief.

Soby this timemy true and obedient wife

Might have been telling beads with a gloved hand;

Awkward a little at pricking hearts and darts

On sampler possiblybut well otherwise:

Not where Rome shudders now to see her lie.

I give that for the course a wise man takes;

I took the other howevertried the fool's

The lighter remedybrandished rapier dread

With cork-ball at the tipboxed Malchus' ear

Instead of severing the cartilage

Called her a terrible nicknameand the like

And there an end: and what was the end of that?

What was the good effect o' the gentle course?

Whyone night I went drowsily to bed

Dropped asleep suddenlynot suddenly woke

But did wake with rough rousing and loud cry

To find noon in my facea crowd in my room

Fumes in my brainfire in my throatmy wife

Gone God knows whither- rifled vesture-chest

And ransacked money-coffer. 'What does it mean?'

The servants had been drugged toostared and yawned

'It must be that our lady has eloped!'

-'Whither and with whom?'- 'With whom but the Canon's self?

One recognizes Caponsacchi there!'-

(By this time the admiring neighbourhood

Joined chorus round me while I rubbed my eyes)

''Tis months since their intelligence began-

A comedy the town was privy to-

He wrote and she wroteshe spokehe replied

And going in and out your house last night

Was easy work for one... to be plain with you...

Accustomed to do bothat dusk and dawn

When you were absent- at the villayou know

Where husbandry required the master-mind.

Did not you know? Whywe all knewyou see!'

And presentlybit by bitthe full and true

Particulars of the tale were volunteered

With all the breathless zeal of friendship- 'Thus

Matters were managed: at the seventh hour of night'...

-'Laterat daybreak'... 'Caponsacchi came'...

-'While you and all your household slept like death

Drugged as your supper was with drowsy stuff'...

-'And your own cousin Guillichini too-

Either or both entered your dwelling-place

Plundered it at their pleasuremade prize of all

Including your wife...'- 'Ohyour wife led the way

Out of doorson to the gate...'- 'But gates are shut

In a decent townto darkness and such deeds:

They climbed the wall- your lady must be lithe-

At the gapthe broken bit...'- 'Torrionetrue!

To escape the questioning guard at the proper gate

Clementewhere at the innhard by"the Horse"

Just outsidea calash in readiness

Took the two principalsall alone at last

To gate San Spiritowhich o'erlooks the road

Leads to PerugiaRome and liberty.'

Bit by bit thus made-up mosaic-wise

Flat lay my fortune- tesselated floor

Imperishable tracery devils should foot

And frolic it onaround my broken gods

Over my desecrated hearth.

So much

For the terrible effect of threateningSirs!

WELLthis way I was shaken wide awake

Doctored and drenchedsomewhat unpoisoned so;

Thenset on horseback and bid seek the lost

I started alonehead of meheart of me

Fireand each limb as languid... ahsweet lords

Bethink you!- poison-torturetry persuade

The next refractory Molinist with that!...

Floundered thro' day and nightanother day

And yet another nightand so at last

As Lucifer kept falling to find hell

Tumbled into the court-yard of an inn

At the endand fell on whom I thought to find

Even Caponsacchi- what part once was priest

Cast to the winds now with the cassock-rags:

In cape and sword a cavalier confessed

There stood he chiding dilatory grooms

Chafing that only horseflesh and no team

Of eagles would supply the last relay

Whirl him along the leaguethe one post more

Between the couple and Rome and liberty.

'Twas dawnthe couple were rested in a sort

And though the ladytired- the tenderer sex-

Still lingered in her chamber- to adjust

The limp hairlook for any blush astray-

She would descend in a twinkling- 'Have you out

The horses therefore!'

So did I find my wife.

Is the case complete? Do your eyes here see with mine?

Even the parties dared deny no one

Point out of all these points.

What follows next?

'Whythat then was the time' you interpose

'Or then or neverwhile the fact was fresh

To take the natural vengeance: there and thus

They and you- somebody had stuck a sword

Beside you while he pushed you on your horse-

'Twas requisite to slay the coupleCount!'

Just so my friends say- 'Kill!' they cry in a breath

Who presentlywhen matters grow to a head

And I do kill the offending ones indeed-

When crime of theirsonly surmised before

Is patentproved indisputably now-

When remedy for wronguntried at the time

Which law professes shall not fail a friend

Is thrice tried nowfound threefold worse than null-

When what might turn to transient shadewho knows?

Solidifies into a blot which breaks

Hell's black off in pale flakes for fear of mine-

Thenwhen I claim and take revenge- 'So rash?'

They cry- 'so little reverence for the law?'

LISTENmy mastersand distinguish here!

At firstI called in law to act and help:

Seeing I did so'Why'tis clear' they cry

'You shrank from gallant readiness and risk

Were coward: the thing's inexplicable else.'

Sweet my lordslet the thing be! I fall flat

Play the reednot the oakto breath of man.

Onlyinform my ignorance! Say I stand

Convicted of the having been afraid

Proved a poltroonno lion but a lamb-

Does that deprive me of my right of lamb

And give my fleece and flesh to the first wolf?

Are eunuchswomenchildrenshieldless quite

Against attack their own timidity tempts?

Cowardice were misfortune and no crime!

-Take it that waysince I am fallen so low

I scarce dare brush the fly that blows my face

And thank the man who simply spits not there-

Unless the Court be generouscomprehend

How one brought up at the very feet of law

As Iawaits the grave Gamaliel's nod

Ere he clench fist at outrage- much lessstab!

-Howready enough to rise at the right time

I still could recognize no time mature

Unsanctioned by a move o' the judgment-seat

Somute in miseryeyed my masters here

Motionless till the authoritative word

Pronounced amercement. There's the riddle solved:

This is just why I slew nor her nor him

But called in lawlaw's delegate in the place

And bade arrest the guilty coupleSirs!

We had some trouble to do so- you have heard

They braved me- he with arrogance and scorn

Shewith a volubility of curse

A conversancy in the skill of tooth

And claw to make suspicion seem absurd

Nayan alacrity to put to proof

At my own throat my own swordteach me so

To try conclusions better the next time-

Which did the proper service with the mob.

They never tried to put on mask at all:

Two avowed lovers forcibly torn apart

Upbraid the tyrant as in a playhouse scene

Ayand with proper clapping and applause

From the audience that enjoys the bold and free.

I kept stillsaid to myself'There's law!' Anon

We searched the chamber where they passed the night

Found what confirmed the worst was feared before

However needless confirmation now-

The witches' circle intactcharms undisturbed

That raised the spirit and succubus- lettersto-wit

Love-ladeneach the bag o' the bee that bore

Honey from lily and rose to Cupid's hive-

Nowpoetry in some rank blossom-burst

Nowprose- 'Come herego therewait such a while

He's at the villanow he's back again:

We are savedwe are lostwe are lovers all the same!'

All in orderall complete- even to a clue

To the drowsiness that happed so opportune-

No mysterywhen I read 'Of all thingsfind

What wine Sir Jealousy decides to drink-

Red wine? Because a sleeping-potiondust

Dropped into whitediscolours wine and shows.'

'OHBUT we did not write a single word!

Somebody forged the letters in our name!-'

Both in a breath protested presently.

AhaSacchetti again!- 'Dame'- quoth the Duke

'What meaneth this epistlecounsel me

I pick from out thy placket and peruse

Wherein my page averreth thou art white

And warm and wonderful 'twixt pap and pap?'

'Sir' laughed the Lady ''tis a counterfeit!

Thy page did never stroke but Dian's breast

The pretty hound I nurture for thy sake:

To lie were losel- by my fayno more

And no more say I tooand spare the Court.

AHTHE Court! yesI come to the Court's self;

Such the caseso complete in fact and proof

I laid at the feet of law- there sat my lords

Here sit they nowso may they ever sit

In easier attitude than suits my haunch!

In this same chamber did I bare my sores

O' the soul and not the body- shun no shame

Shrink from no probing of the ulcerous part

Since confident in Nature- which is God-

That she whofor wise endsconcocts a plague

Curbsat the right timethe plague's virulence too:

Law renovates even Lazarus- cures me!

Caesar thou seekest? To Caesar thou shalt go!

Caesar's at Rome; to Rome accordingly!

THE case was soon decided: both weightscast

I' the balancevibrateneither kicks the beam

Here awaythere awaythis now and now that.

To every one o' my grievances law gave

Redresscould purblind eye but see the point.

The wife stood a convicted runagate

From house and husband- driven to such a course

By what she somehow took for cruelty

Oppression and imperilment of life-

Not that such things werebut that so they seemed:

Thereforethe end conceded lawful(since

To save life there's no risk should stay our leap)

It follows that all means to the lawful end

Are lawful likewise- poisontheft and flight.

As for the priest's partdid he meddle or make

Enough that he too thought life jeopardized;

Concede him then the colour charity

Casts on a doubtful course- if blackish white

Or whitish blackwill charity hesitate?

What did he else but act the precept out

Leavelike a provident shepherdhis safe flock

To follow the single lamb and strayaway?

Best hope so and think so- that the ticklish time

I' the carriagethe tempting privacythe last

Somewhat ambiguous accident at the inn

-All may bear explanation: may? thenmust!

The letters- do they so incriminate?

But what if the whole prove a prank o' the pen

Flight of the fancynone of theirs at all

Bred of the vapours of my brain belike

Or at worst mere exercise of scholar's-wit

In the courtly Caponsacchi: verseconvict?

Did not Catullus write less seemly once?

Yet doctus and unblemished he abides.

Wherefore so ready to infer the worst?

StillI did righteously in bringing doubts

For the law to solve- take the solution now!

'Seeing that the said associateswife and priest

Bear themselves not without some touch of blame

-Else why the potherscandal and outcry

Which trouble our peace and require chastisement?

Wefor complicity in Pompilia's flight

And deviationand carnal intercourse

With the samedo set aside and relegate

The Canon Caponsacchi for three years

At Civita in the neighbourhood of Rome:

And we consign Pompilia to the care

Of a certain Sisterhood of penitents

I' the city's selfexpert to deal with such.'

Word for wordthere's your judgment! Read itlords

Re-utter your deliberate penalty

For the crime yourselves establish! Your award-

Who chop a man's right-hand off at the wrist

For tracing with forefinger words in wine

O' the table of a drinking-booth that bear

Interpretation as they mocked the Church!

-Who brand a woman black between the breasts

For sinning by connection with a Jew:

While for the Jew's self- pudency be dumb!

You mete out punishment such and suchyet so

Punish the adultery of wife and priest!

Take note of thatbefore the Molinists do

And read me right the riddlesince right must be!

While I stood rapt away with wonderment

Voices broke in upon my mood and muse.

'Do you sleep?' began the friends at either ear

'The case is settled- you willed it should be so-

None of our counselalways recollect!

With law's awardbudge! Back into your place!

Your betters shall arrange the rest for you.

We'll enter a new actionclaim divorce:

Your marriage was a cheat themselves allow:

You erred i' the person- might have married thus

Your sister or your daughter unaware.

We'll gain youthat wayliberty at least

Sure of so much by law's own showing. Up

And off with you and your unluckiness-

Leave us to bury the blundersweep things smooth!'

I was in humble frame of mindbe sure!

I bowedbetook me to my place again.

Station by station I retraced the road

Touched at this hostelpassed this post-house by

Wherefresh-remembered yetthe fugitives

Had risen to the heroic stature: still-

'That was the bench they sat on- there's the board

They took the meal at- yonder garden-ground

They leaned across the gate of'- ever a word

O' the Helen and the Pariswith 'Ha! you're he

The... much-commiserated husband?' Step

By stepacross the peltingdid I reach

Arezzounderwent the archway's grin

Traversed the length of sarcasm in the street

Found myself in my horrible house once more

And after a colloquy... no word assists!

With the mother and the brothersstiffened me

Strait out from head to foot as dead man does

Andthus prepared for life as he for hell

Marched to the public Square and met the world.

Apologize for the pincerspalliate screws?

Ply me with such toy-triflesI entreat!

Trust who has tried both sulphur and sops-in-wine!

I PLAYED the man as I best mightbade friends

Put non-essentials by and face the fact.

'What need to hang myself as you advise?

The paramour is banished- the ocean's width

Or the suburb's length- to Ultima Thulesay

Or Proxima Civitaswhat's the odds of name

And place? He's banishedand the fact's the thing.

Why should law banish innocence an inch?

Here's guilt thenwhat else do I care to know?

The adulteress lies imprisoned- whether in a well

With bricks above and a snake for company

Or tied by a garter to a bed-post- much

I mind what's little- least's enough and to spare!

The little fillip on the coward's cheek

Serves as though crab-tree cudgel broke his pate.

Law has pronounced there's punishmentless or more:

And I take note o' the fact and use it thus-

For the first flaw in the original bond

I claim release. My contract was to wed

The daughter of Pietro and Violante. Both

Protest they never had a child at all.

Then I have never made a contract: good!

Cancel me quick the thing pretended one.

I shall be free. What matter if hurried over

The harbour-boom by a great favouring tide

Or the last of a spent ripple that lifts and leaves?

The Abate is about it. Laugh who wins!

You shall not laugh me out of faith in law!

I listenthrough all your noiseto Rome!'

Rome spoke

In three months letters thence admonished me

'Your plan for the divorce is all mistake.

It would holdnowhad youtaking thought to wed

Rachel of the blue eye and golden hair

Found swarth-skinned Leah cumber couch next day:

But Rachelblue-eyed golden-haired aright

Proving to be only Laban's childnot Lot's

Remains yours all the same for ever more.

No whit to the purpose is your plea: you err

I' the person and the quality- nowise

In the individual- that's the case in point!

You go to the ground- are met by a cross-suit

For separationof the Rachel here

From bed and board- she is the injured one

You did the wrong and have to answer it.

As for the circumstance of imprisonment

And colour it lends to this your new attack

Never fearthat point is considered too!

The durance is already at an end;

The convent-quiet preyed upon her health

She is transferred now to her parents' house

-No-parentswhen that cheats and plunders you

But parentage again confessed in full

When such confession pricks and plagues you more-

As now- forthis their house is not the house

In Via Vittoria wherein neighbours' watch

Might incommode the freedom of your wife

But a certain villa smothered up in vines

At the town's edge by the gate i' the Pauline way

Out of eye-reachout of ear-shotlittle and lone

Whither a friend- at Civitawe hope

A good half-dozen-hours' ride off- mightsome eve

Betake himselfand whence ride backsome morn

Nobody the wiser: but be that as it may

Do not afflict your brains with trifles now.

You have still three suits to manageall and each

Ruinous truly should the event play false.

It is indeed the likelier so to do

That brother Paulyour single prop and stay

After a vain attempt to bring the Pope

To set aside proceduressit himself

And summarily use prerogative

Afford us the infallible finger's tact

To disentwine your tangle of affairs

Paul- finding it moreover past his strength

To stem the irruptionbear Rome's ridicule

Of... since friends must speak... to be round with you...

Of the old outwitted husbandwronged and wroth

Pitted against a brace of juveniles-

A brisk priest who is versed in Ovid's art

More than his Summaand a gamesome wife

Able to act Corinna without book

Beside the waggish parents who played dupes

To dupe the duper-(and truly divers scenes

Of the Arezzo palacetickle rib

And tease eye till the tears comeso we laugh;

Nor wants the shock at the inn its comic force

And then the letters and poetry- merum sal! )

-Paulfinallyin such a state of things

After a brief temptation to go jump

And join the fishes in the Tiberdrowns

Sorrow another and a wiser way:

House and goodshe has sold all offis gone

Leaves Rome- whether for France or Spainwho knows?

Or Britain almost divided from our orb.

You have lost him anyhow.'

Now- I see my lords

Shift in their seat- would I could do the same!

They probably please expect my bile was moved

To purposenor much blame me: nowthey judge

The fiery titillation urged my flesh

Break through the bonds. By your pardonnosweet Sirs!

I got such missives in the public place;

When I sought home- with such newsmounted stair

And sat at last in the sombre gallery

('Twas Autumnthe old mother in bed betimes

Having to bear that coldthe finer frame

Of her daughter-in-law had found intolerable-

The brotherwalking misery away

O' the mountain-side with dog and gun belike)

As I suppedate the coarse breaddrank the wine

Weak oncenow acrid with the toad's-head-squeeze

My wife's bestowment- I broke silence thus:

'Let mea manmanfully meet the fact

Confront the worst o' the truthendand have peace!

I am irremediably beaten here-

The gross illiterate vulgar couple- bah!

Whythey have measured forcesmastered mine

Made me their spoil and prey from first to last.

They have got my name- 'tis nailed now fast to theirs

The child or changeling is anyway my wife;

Point by point as they plan they execute

They gain alland I lose all- even to the lure

That led to loss- they have the wealth again

They hazarded awhile to hook me with

Have caught the fish and find the bait entire:

They even have their child or changeling back

To trade withturn to account a second time.

The brotherpresumably might tell a tale

Or give a warning- hetooflies the field

And with him vanish help and hope of help.

They have caught me in the cavern where I fell

Covered my loudest cry for human aid

With this enormous paving-stone stone of shame.

Wellare we demigods or merely clay?

Is success still attendant on desert?

Is thiswe live onheaven and the final state

Or earth which means probation to the end?

Why claim escape from man's predestined lot

Of being beaten and baffled?- God's decree

In which Ibowing bruised headacquiesce.

One of us Franceschini fell long since

I' the Holy Landbetrayedtradition runs

To Paynims by the feigning of a girl

He rushed to free from ravisherand found

Lay safe enough with friends in ambuscade

Who flayed him while she clapped her hands and laughed:

Let me endfalling by a like device.

It will not he so hard. I am the last

O' my line which will not suffer any more.

I have attained to my full fifty years

(About the average of us all'tis said

Though it seems longer to the unlucky man)

-Lived through my share of life; let all end here

Me and the house and grief and shame at once.

Friends my informants- I can bear your blow!'

And I believe 'twas in no unmeet match

For the stoic's moodwith something like a smile

Thatwhen morose December roused me next

I took into my handbroke seal to read

The new epistle from Rome. 'All to no use!

Whate'er the turn next injury take' smiled I

'Here's one has chosen his part and knows his cue.

I am done withdead now; strike awaygood friends!

Are the three suits decided in a trice?

Against me- there's no question! How does it go?

Is the parentage of my wife demonstrated

Infamous to her wish? Parades she now

Loosed of the cincture that so irked the loin?

Is the last penny extracted from my purse

To mulct me for demanding the first pound

Was promised in return for value paid?

Has the priestwith nobody to court beside

Courted the Muse in exilehitched my hap

Into a rattling ballad-rhyme whichbawled

At tavern-doorswakes rapture everywhere

And helps cheap wine down throat this Christmas time

Beating the bagpipes? Any or all of these!

As wellgood friendsyou cursed my palace here

To its old cold stone face- stuck your cap for crest

Over the shield that's extant in the Square-

Or spat on the statue's cheekthe impatient world

Sees cumber tomb-top in our family church:

Let him creep under covert as I shall do

Half below-ground already indeed. Good-bye!

My brothers are priestsand childless so; that's well-

Andthank God most for thisno child leave I-

None after me to bear till his heart break

The being a Franceschini and my son!'

'NAY' said the letter'but you have just that!

A babeyour veritable son and heir-

Lawful- 'tis only eight months since your wife

Left you- soson and heiryour babe was born

Last Wednesday in the villa- you see the cause

For quitting Convent without beat of drum

Stealing a hurried march to this retreat

That's not so savage as the Sisterhood

To slips and stumbles: Pietro's heart is soft

Violante leans to pity's side- the pair

Ushered you into life a bouncing boy:

And he's already hidden away and safe

From any claim on him you mean to make-

They need him for themselves- don't fearthey know

The use o' the bantling- the nerve thus laid bare

To nip atnew and nicewith finger-nail!'

THEN I rose up like fireand fire-like roared.

Whatall is only beginning not ending now?

The worm which wormed its way from skin through flesh

To the bone and there lay bitingdid its best

Whatit goes on to scrape at the bone's self

Will wind to inmost marrow and madden me?

There's to be yet my representative

Another of the name shall keep displayed

The flag with the ordure on itbrandish still

The broken sword has served to stir a jakes?

Who will he behow will you call the man?

A Franceschini- when who cut my purse

Filched my namehemmed me roundhustled me hard

As rogues at a fair some fool they strip i' the midst

When these count gainsvaunt pillage presently:-

But a Caponsacchiohbe very sure!

When what demands its tribute of applause

Is the cunning and impudence o' the pair of cheats

The lies and lust o' the motherand the brave

Bold carriage of the priestworthily crowned

By a witness to his feat i' the following age-

And how this three-fold cord could hook and fetch

And land leviathan that king of pride!

Or sayby some mad miracle of chance

Is he indeed my flesh and bloodthis babe?

Was it because fate forged a link at last

Betwixt my wife and meand both alike

Found we had henceforth some one thing to love

Was it when she could damn my soul indeed

She unlatched doorlet all the devils o' the dark

Dance in on me to cover her escape?

Why thenthe surplusage of disgracethe spilth

Over and above the measure of infamy

Failing to take effect on my coarse flesh

Seasoned with scorn nowsaturate with shame-

Is saved to instil on and corrode the brow

The baby-softness of my first-born child-

The child I had died to see though in a dream

The child I was bid strike out forbeat the wave

And baffle the tide of troubles where I swam

So I might touch shorelay down life at last

At the feet so dim and distant and divine

Of the apparitionas 'twere Mary's babe

Had heldthrough night and stormthe torch aloft-

Born now in very deed to bear this brand

On forehead and curse me who could not save!

Rather be the town-talk trueSquare's jeststreet's jeer

Truemy own inmost heart's confession true

And he's the priest's bastard and none of mine!

Aythere was cause for flightswift flight and sure!

The husband gets unrulybreaks all bounds

When he encounters some familiar face

Fashion of featurebrow and eyes and lips

Where he least looked to find them- time to fly!

This bastard thena nest for him is made

As the manner is of verminin my flesh-

Shall I let the filthy pest buzzflap and sting

Busy at my vitals andnor hand nor foot

Liftbut let belie still and rot resigned?

NoI appeal to God- what says Himself

How lessons Nature when I look to learn?

Whythat I am aliveam still a man

With brain and heart and tongue and right-hand too-

Nayeven with friendsin such a cause as this

To right me if I fail to take my right.

No more of law; a voice beyond the law

Enters my heartQuis est pro Domino?

MYSELFin my own Vittianotold the tale

To my own serving-people summoned there:

Told the first half of itscarce heard to end

By judges who got done with judgment quick

And clamoured to go execute her 'hest-

Who cried 'Not one of us that dig your soil

And dress your vineyardprune your olive-trees

But would have brained the man debauched our wife

And staked the wife whose lust allured the man

And paunched the Dukehad it been possible

Who ruled the landyet barred us such revenge!'

I fixed on the first whose eyes caught minesome four

Resolute youngsters with the heart still fresh

Filled my purse with the residue o' the coin

Uncaught-up by my wife whom haste made blind

Donned the first rough and rural garb I found

Took whatsoever weapon came to hand

And out we flung and on we ran or reeled

RomewardI have no memory of our way

Only thatwhen at intervals the cloud

Of horror about me opened to let in life

I listened to some song in the earsome snatch

Of a legendrelic of religionstray

Fragment of record very strong and old

Of the first consciencethe anterior right

The God's-gift to mankindimpulse to quench

The antagonistic spark of hell and tread

Satan and all his malice into dust

Declare to the world the one lawright is right.

Then the cloud re-encompassed meand so

I found myselfas on the wings of winds

Arrived: I was at Rome on Christmas Eve.

FESTIVE bells- everywhere the Feast o' the Babe

Joy upon earthpeace and good will to man!

I am baptized. I started and let drop

The dagger. 'Where is itHis promised peace?'

Nine days o' the Birth-Feast did I pause and pray

To enter into no temptation more.

I bore the hateful housemy brother's once

Deserted- let the ghost of social joy

Mock and make mouths at me from empty room

And idle door that missed the master's step-

Bore the frank wonder of incredulous eyes

As my own people watched without a word

Waftedfrom where they huddled round the hearth

Black like all elsethat nod so slow to come-

I stopped my ears even to the inner call

Of the dread dutyheard only the song

'Peace upon earth' saw nothing but the face

O' the Holy Infant and the halo there

Able to cover yet another face

Behind itSatan's which I else should see.

Butday by dayjoy waned and withered off:

The Babe's facepremature with peak and pine

Sank into wrinkled ruinous old age

Suffering and deaththen mist-like disappeared

And showed only the Cross at end of all

Left nothing more to interpose 'twixt me

And the dread duty- for the angel's song

'Peace upon earth' louder and louder pealed

'O Lordhow longhow long be unavenged?'

On the ninth daythis grew too much for man.

I started up- 'Some end must be!' At once

Silence: thenscratching like a death-watch-tick

Slowly within my brain was syllabled

'One more concessionone decisive way

And but oneto determine thee the truth-

This wayin fineI whisper in thy ear:

Now doubtanon decidethereupon act!'

'That is a waythou whisperest in my ear!

I doubtI will decidethen act' said I-

Then beckoned my companions: 'Time is come!'

AND soall yet uncertain save the will

To do rightand the daring aught save leave

Right undoneI did find myself at last

I' the dark before the villa with my friends

And made the experimentthe final test

Ultimate chance that ever was to be

For the wretchedness inside. I knocked- pronounced

The namethe predetermined touch for truth

'What welcome for the wanderer? Open straight-'

To the friendphysicianfriar upon his rounds

Traveller belatedbeggar lame and blind?-

Nobut- 'to Caponsacchi! And the door


And then- whyeven thenI think

I' the minute that confirmed my worst of fears

Surely- I pray God that I think aright!-

Had but Pompilia's selfthe tender thing

Who once was good and purewas once my lamb

And lay in my bosomhad the well-known shape

Fronted me in the doorway- stood there faint

With the recent pangperhapsof giving birth

To what mightthough by miracleseem my child-

Nay moreI will sayhad even the aged fool

Pietrothe dotardin whom folly and age

Wroughtmore than enmity or malevolence

To practise and conspire against my peace-

Had either of these but openedI had paused.

But it was she the hagshe that brought hell

For a dowry with her to her husband's house

She the mock-mothershe that made the match

And married me to perditionspring and source

O' the fire inside me that boiled up from heart

To brain and hailed the Fury gave it birth-

Violante Comparinishe it was

With the old grin amid the wrinkles yet

Opened: as if in turning from the Cross

With trust to keep the sight and save my soul

I had stumbledfirst thingon the serpent's head

Coiled with a leer at foot of it.

There was the end!

Then was I rapt away by the impulseone

Immeasurable everlasting wave of a need

To abolish that detested life. 'Twas done:

You know the rest and how the folds o' the thing

Twisting for helpinvolved the other two

More or less serpent-like: how I was mad

Blindstamped on allthe earth-worms with the asp

And ended so.

You came on me that night

Your officers of justice- caught the crime

In the first natural frenzy of remorse?

Twenty miles offsound sleeping as a child

On a cloak i' the straw which promised shelter first

With the bloody arms beside me- was it not so?

Wherefore not? Whyhow else should I be found?

I was my own selfhad my sense again

My soul safe from the serpents. I could sleep:

Indeed anddear my lordsI shall sleep now

Spite of my shoulderin five minutes' space

When you dismiss mehaving truth enough!

It is but a few days are passedI find

Since this adventure. Do you tell mefour?

Then the dead are scarce quiet where they lie

Old Pietroold Violanteside by side

At the church Lorenzo- ohthey know it well!

So do I. But my wife is still alive

Has breath enough to tell her story yet

Her waywhich is not mineno doubt at all.

And Caponsacchiyou have summoned him-

Was he so far to send for? Not at hand?

I thought some few o' the stabs were in his heart

Or had not been so lavish- less had served.

Wellhe too tells his story- florid prose

As smooth as mine is rough. You seemy lords

There will be a lying intoxicating smoke

Born of the blood- confusion probably-

For lies breed lies- but all that rests with you!

The trial is no concern of mine; with me

The main of the care is over: I at least

Recognize who took that huge burthen off

Let me begin to live again. I did

God's bidding and man's dutysobreathe free;

Look you to the rest! I heard Himself prescribe

That great Physicianand dared lance the core

Of the bad ulcer; and the rage abates

I am myself and whole now: I prove cured

By the eyes that seethe ears that hear again

The limbs that have relearned their youthful play

The healthy taste of food and feel of clothes

And taking to our common life once more

All that now urges my defence from death.

The willingness to livewhat means it else?

Before- but let the very action speak!

Judge for yourselveswhat life seemed worth to me

Whonot by proxy but in personpitched

Head-foremost into danger as a fool

That never cares if he can swim or no-

So he but finds the bottombraves the brook.

No man omits precautionquite neglects

Secrecysafetyschemes not how retreat

Having schemed he might advance. Did I so scheme?

Whywith a warrant which 'tis ask and have

With horse thereby made mine without a word

I had gained the frontier and slept safe that night.

Thenmy companions- call them what you please

Slave or stipendiary- what need of one

To me whose right-hand did its owner's work?

Hire an assassin yet expose yourself?

As well buy glove and then thrust naked hand

I' the thorn-bush. Nothe wise man stays at home

Sends only agents outwith pay to earn:

At homewhen they come back- he straight discards

Or else disowns. Why use such tools at all

When a man's foes are of his houselike mine

Sit at his boardsleep in his bed? Why noise

When there's the acquetta and the silent way?

Clearly my life was valueless.

But now

Health is returnedand sanity of soul

Nowise indifferent to the body's harm.

I find the instinct bids me save my life;

My witstoorally round me; I pick up

And use the arms that strewed the ground before

Unnoticed or spurned aside: I take my stand

Make my defence. God shall not lose a life

May do Him further servicewhile I speak

And you hearyou my judges and last hope!

You are the law: 'tis to the law I look.

I began life by hanging to the law

To the law it is I hang till life shall end.

My brother made appeal to the Pope'tis true

To stay proceedingsjudge my cause himself

Nor trouble law- some fondness of conceit

That rectitudesagacity sufficed

The investigator in a case like mine

Dispensed with the machine of law. The Pope

Knew betterset aside my brother's plea

And put me back to law- referred the cause

Ad judices meos- doubtlessly did well.

HerethenI clutch my judges- I claim law-

Cryby the higher law whereof your law

O' the land is humbly representative-

Cryon what point is itwhere either accuse

I fail to furnish you defence? I stand

Acquittedactually or virtually

By every intermediate kind of court

That takes account of right or wrong in man

Each unit in the series that begins

With God's throneends with the tribunal here.

God breathesnot speakshis verdictsfelt not heard

Passed on successively to each court I call

Man's consciencecustommannersall that make

More and more effort to promulgatemark

God's verdict in determinable words

Till last come human jurists- solidify

Fluid result- what's fixable lies forged

Statute- the residue escapes in fume

Yet hangs alofta cloudas palpable

To the finer sense as word the legist welds.

Justinian's Pandects only make precise

What simply sparkled in men's eyes before

Twitched in their brow or quivered on their lip

Waited the speech they called but would not come.

These courts thenwhose decree your own confirms-

Take my whole lifenot this last act alone

Look on it by the light reflected thence!

What has Society to charge me with?

Comeunreservedly- favour nor fear-

I am Guido Franceschiniam I not?

You know the courses I was free to take?

I took just that which let me serve the Church

I gave it all my labour in body and soul

Till these broke down i' the service. 'Specify?'

Wellmy last patron was a Cardinal.

I left him unconvicted of a fault-

Was even helpedby way of gratitude

Into the new life that I left him for

This very misery of the marriage- he

Made itkind soulso far as in him lay-

Signed the deed where you yet may see his name.

He is gone to his reward- deadbeing my friend

Who could have helped here also- thatof course!

So farthere's my acquittalI suppose.

Then comes the marriage itself- no questionlords

Of the entire validity of that!

In the extremity of distress'tis true

For after-reasonsfurnished abundantly

I wished the thing invalidwent to you

Only some months sinceset you duly forth

My wrong and prayed your remedythat a cheat

Should not have force to cheat my whole life long.

'Annul a marriage? 'Tis impossible!

Though ring about your neck be brass not gold

Needs must it claspgangrene you all the same!'

Welllet me have the benefitjust so far

O' the fact announced- my wife then is my wife

I have allowance for a husband's right.

I am charged with passing right's due bound- such acts

As I thought justmy wife called cruelty

Complained of in due form- convoked no court

Of common gossiprybut took her wrongs-

And not oncebut so long as patience served-

To the town's topjurisdiction's pride of place

To the Archbishop and the Governor.

These heard her charge with my replyand found

That futilethis sufficient: they dismissed

The hysteric querulous rebeland confirmed

Authority in its wholesome exercise

Theywith directest access to the facts.

'-Ayfor it was their friendship favoured you

Hereditary alliance against a breach

I' the social order: prejudice for the name

Of Franceschini!'- So I hear it said:

But not here. Youlordsnever will you say

Such is the nullity of grace and truth

Such the corruption of the faithsuch lapse

Of lawsuch warrant have the Molinists

For daring reprehend us as they do-

That we pronounce it just a common case

Two dignitarieseach in his degree

Firstforemostthis the spiritual headand that

The secular arm o' the body politic

Shouldfor mere wrongs' love and injustice' sake

Side withaid and abet in cruelty

This broken beggarly noble- bribed perhaps

By his watered wine and mouldy crust of bread-

Rather than that sweet tremulous flower-like wife

Who kissed their hands and curled about their feet

Looking the irresistible loveliness

In tears that takes man captiveturns'... enough!

Do you blast your predecessors? What forbids

Posterity to trebly blast yourselves

Who set the example and instruct their tongue?

You dreaded the crowdsuccumbed to the popular cry

Or elsewould nowise seem defer thereto

And yield to public clamour though i' the right!

You ridded your eye of my unseemliness

The noble whose misfortune wearied you-

Orwhat's more probablemade common cause

With the cleric sectionpunished in myself

Maladroit uncomplaisant laity

Defective in behaviour to a priest

Who claimed the customary partnership

I' the house and the wife. Lordsany lie will serve!

Look to it- or allow me freed so far!

THEN I proceed a stepcome with clean hands

Thus farre-tell the tale told eight months since.

The wifeyou allow so farI have not wronged

Has fled my roofplundered me and decamped

In company with the priest her paramour:

And I give chasecame up withcaught the two

At the wayside inn where both had spent the night

Found them in flagrant faultand found as well

By documents with name and plan and date

The fault was furtive then that's flagrant now

Their intercourse a long established crime.

I did not take the licence law's self gives

To slay both criminals o' the spot at the time

But held my hand- preferred play prodigy

Of patience which the world calls cowardice

Rather than seem anticipate the law

And cast discredit on its organs- you-

Soto your bar I brought both criminals

And made my statement: heard their counter-charge

Nay- their corroboration of my tale.

Nowise disputing its allegementsnot

I' the mainnot more than nature's decency

Compels men to keep silence in this kind-

Only contending that the deeds avowed

Would take another colour and bear excuse.

You were to judge between us; so you did.

You disregard the excuseyou breathe away

The colour of innocence and leave guilt black

'Guilty' is the decision of the court

And that I stand in consequence untouched

One white integrity from head to heel.

Not guilty? Why then did you punish them?

Truepunishment has been inadequate-

'Tis not I onlynot my friends that joke

My foes that jeerwho echo 'inadequate'-

Forby a chance that comes to help for once

The same case simultaneously was judged

At Arezzoin the province of the Court

Where the crime had beginning but not end.

They thendeciding on but half o' the crime

The effractionrobbery- features of the fault

I never cared to dwell upon at Rome-

What was it they adjudged as penalty

To Pompilia- the one criminal o' the pair

Amenable to their judgmentnot the priest

Who is Rome's? Whyjust imprisonment for life

I' the Stinche. There was Tuscany's award

To a wife that robs her husband: you at Rome

Having to deal with adultery in a wife

Andin a priestbreach of the priestly vow

Give gentle sequestration for a month

In a manageable Conventthen release

You call imprisonmentin the very house

O' the very couplethe sole aim and end

Of the culprits' crime was- there to reach and rest

And there take solace and defy me: well-

This difference 'twixt their penalty and yours

Is immaterial: make your penalty less-

Merely that she should henceforth wear black gloves

And white fanshe who wore the opposite-

Whyall the same the fact o' the thing subsists.

Reconcile to your conscience as you may

Be it on your own headsyou pronounced one half

O' the penalty for heinousness like hers

And histhat's for a fault at Carnival

Of comfit-pelting past discretion's law

Or accident to handkerchief in Lent

Which falls perversely as a lady kneels

Abruptlyand but half conceals her neck!

I acquiesce for my part- punishedthough

By a pin-point scratchmeans guilty: guilty means

-What have I been but innocent hitherto?

Anyhowhere the offencebeing punishedends.

ENDS?- for you deemed sodid you notsweet lords?

That was throughout the veritable aim

O' the sentence light or heavy- to redress

Recognized wrong? You righted meI think?

Well then- What if Iat this last of all

Demonstrate youas my whole pleading proves

No particle of wrong received thereby

One atom of right?- that cure grew worse disease?

That in the process you call 'justice done'

All along you have nipped away just inch

By inch the creeping climbing length of plague

Breaking my tree of life to branch

And left meafter all and every act

Of your interference- lightened of what load?

At liberty wherein? Mere words and wind!

'Now I was savednow I should feel no more

The hot breathfind a respite from fixed eye

And vibrant tongue!' Whyscarce your back was turned

There was the reptilethat feigned death at first

Renewing its detested spire and spire

Around merising to such heights of hate

Thatso far from mere purpose now to crush

And coil itself on the remains of me

Body and mindand there flesh fang content

Its aim is now to evoke life from death

Make me anewsatisfy in my son

The hunger I may feed but never sate

Tormented on to perpetuity-

My sonwhomdeadI shall knowunderstand

Feelhearseenever more escape the sight

In heaven that's turned to hellor hell returned

(Sorathersay) to this same earth again-

Moulded into the image and made one

Fashioned of soul as featured like in face

First taught to laugh and lisp and stand and go

By that thiefpoisoner and adulteress

I call Pompiliahe calls... sacred name

Be unpronouncedbe unpolluted here!

And last led up to the glory and prize of hate

By his... foster-fatherCaponsacchi's self

The perjured priestpink of conspirators

Tricksters and knavesyet polishedsuperfine

Manhood to model adolescence by...

Lordslook on medeclare- whenwhat I show

Is nothing more nor less than what you deemed

And doled me out for justice- what did you say?

For reparationrestitution and more-

Will you not thankpraisebid me to your breasts

For having done the thing you thought to do

And thoroughly trampled out sin's life at last?

I have heightened phrase to make your soft speech serve

Doubled the blow you but essayed to strike

Carried into effect your mandate here

That else had fallen to ground: mere duty done

Oversight of the master just supplied

By zeal i' the servant: Ibeing used to serve

Have simply... what is it they charge me with?

Blackened againmade legible once more

Your own decreenot permanently writ

Rightly conceived but all too faintly traced-

It reads efficientnowcomminatory

A terror to the wickedanswers so

The mood o' the magistratethe mind of law.

Absolvethenmelaw's mere executant!

Protect your own defender- save meSirs!

Give me my lifegive me my liberty

My good name and my civic rights again!

It would be too fondtoo complacent play

Into the hands o' the devilshould we lose

The game hereI for God: a soldier-bee

That yields his lifeexenterate with the stroke

O' the sting that saves the hive. I need that life

Ohnever fear! I'll find life plenty use

Though it should last five years moreaches and all!

Forfirst thingthere's the mother's age to help-

Let her come break her heart upon my breast

Not on the blank stone of my nameless tomb!

The fugitive brother has to be bidden back

To the old routinerepugnant to the tread

Of daily suit and service to the Church-

Thro' gibe and jestthose stones that Shimei flung!

Ayand the spirit-broken youth at home

The awe-struck altar-ministrantshall make

Amends for faith now palsied at the source

Shall see truth yet triumphantjustice yet

A victor in the battle of this world!

Give me- for lastbest giftmy son again

Whom law makes mine- I take him at your word

Mine be heby miraculous mercylords!

Let me lift up his youth and innocence

To purify my palaceroom by room

Purged of the memorieslend from his bright brow

Light to the old proud paladin my sire

Shrunk now for shame into the darkest shade

O' the tapestryshowed him once and shrouds him now!

Then may we'- strong from that rekindled smile-

Go forwardface new timesthe better day.

And whenin times made better through your brave

Decision now- might but Utopia be!-

Rome rife with honest women and strong men

Manners reformedold habits back once more

Customs that recognize the standard worth-

The wholesome household rule in force again

Husbands once more God's representative

Wives like the typical Spouse once moreand Priests

No longer men of Belialwith no aim

At leading silly women captivebut

Of rising to such duties as yours now-

Then will I set my son at my right-hand

And tell his father's story to this point

Adding 'The task seemed superhumanstill

I dared and did ittrusting God and law:

And they approved of me: give praise to both!'

And iffor answerhe shall stoop to kiss

My handand peradventure start thereat-

I engage to smile 'That was an accident

I' the necessary process- just a trip

O' the torture-irons in their search for truth-

Hardly misfortuneand no fault at all.'

VI: Giuseppe Caponsacchi

ANSWER YOUSIRS? Do I understand aright?

Have patience! In this sudden smoke from hell-

So things disguise themselves- I cannot see

My own hand held thus broad before my face

And know it again. Answer you? Then that means

Tell over twice what Ithe first timetold

Six months ago: 'twas hereI do believe

Fronting you same three in this very room

I stood and told you: yet now no one laughs

Who then... naydear my lordsbut laugh you did

As good as laughwhat in a judge we style

Laughter- no levitynothing indecorouslords!

Only- I think I apprehend the mood:

There was the blameless shrugpermissible smirk

The pen's pretence at play with the pursed mouth

The titter stifled in the hollow palm

Which rubbed the eyebrow and caressed the nose

When I first told my tale: they meantyou know

'The sly oneall this we are bound believe!

Wellhe can say no other than what he says.

We have been youngtoo- comethere's greater guilt!

Let him but decently disembroil himself

Scramble from out the scrape nor move the mud-

We solid ones may risk a finger-stretch!'

And now you sit as gravestare as aghast

As if I were a phantom: now 'tis- 'Friend

Collect yourself!'- no laughing matter more-

'Counsel the Court in this extremity

Tell us again!'- tell thatfor telling which

I got the jocular piece of punishment

Was sent to lounge a little in the place

Whence now of a sudden here you summon me

To take the intelligence from just- your lips

YouJudge Tommatiwho then tittered most-

That she I helped eight months since to escape

Her husbandis retaken by the same

Three days agoif I have seized your sense-

(I being disallowed to interfere

Meddle or make in a matter none of mine

For you and law were guardians quite enough

O' the innocentwithout a pert priest's help)-

And that he has butchered her accordingly

As she foretold and as myself believed-

Andso foretelling and believing so

We were punishedboth of usthe merry way:

Thereforetell once again the tale! For what?

Pompilia is only dying while I speak!

Why does the mirth hang fire and miss the smile?

My mastersthere's an old bookyou should con

For strange adventuresapplicable yet

'Tis Stuffed with. Do you know that there was once

This thing: a multitude of worthy folk

Took recreationwatched a certain group

Of soldiery intent upon a game-

How first they wrangledbut soon fell to play

Threw dice- the best diversion in the world.

A word in your ear- they are now casting lots

Aywith that gesture quaint and cry uncouth

For the coat of One murdered an hour ago!

I am a priest- talk of what I have learned.

Pompilia is bleeding out her life belike

Gasping away the latest breath of all

This minutewhile I talk- not while you laugh?

Yetbeing sobered nowwhat is it you ask

By way of explanation? There's the fact!

It seems to fill the universe with sight

And sound- from the four corners of this earth

Tells itself overto my sense at least.

But you may want it lower set i' the scale-

Too vasttoo close it clangs in the earperhaps;

You'd Stand back just to comprehend it more:

Well thenlet methe hollow rockcondense

The voice o' the sea and windinterpret you

The mystery of this murder. God above!

It is too paltrysuch a transference

O' the storm's roar to the cranny of the stone!

This deedyou saw begin- why does its end

Surprise you? Why should the event enforce

The lessonwe ourselves learnedshe and I

From the first o' the factand taught youall in vain?

This Guido from whose throat you took my grasp

Was this man to be favourednowor feared

Let do his willor have his will restrained

In the relation with Pompilia?- say!

Did any other man need interpose

-Ohthough first comerthough as strange at the work

As fribble must becoxcombfool that's near

To knave assaya priest who fears the world-

Was he bound brave the perilsave the doomed

Or go onsing his snatch and pluck his flower

Keep the straight path and let the victim die?

I held so; you decided otherwise

Saw no such periltherefore no such need

To stop songloosen flowerand leave path: Law

Law was aware and watchingwould suffice

Wanted no priest's intrusionpalpably

Pretencetoo manifest a subterfuge!

Whereupon Ipriestcoxcombfribble and fool

Ensconced me in my cornerthus rebuked

A kind of culpritover-zealous hound

Kicked for his pains to kennel; I gave place

To youand let the law reign paramount:

I left Pompilia to your watch and ward

And now you point me- there and thus she lies!

MENfor the last timewhat do you want with me?

Is it- you acknowledgeas it werea use

A profit in employing me?- at length

I may conceivably help the august law?

I am free to break the blownext hawk that swoops

On next dovenor miss much of good repute?

Or what if this your summonsafter all

Be but the form of mere releaseno more

Which turns the key and lets the captive go?

I have paid enough in person at Civita

Am free- what more need I concern me with?

Thank you! I am rehabilitated then

A very reputable priest. But she-

The glory of lifethe beauty of the world

The splendour of heaven... wellSirsdoes no one move?

Do I speak ambiguously? The gloryI say

And the beautyI sayand splendourstill say I

Whoa priesttrained to live my whole life long

On beauty and splendoursolely at their source

God- have thus recognized my food in one

You tell meis fast dying while we talk

Pompilia- how does lenity to me

Remit one death-bed pang to her? Comesmile!

The proper wink at the hot-headed youth

Who lets his soul showthrough transparent words

The mundane love that's sin and scandal too!

You are all struck acquiescent nowit seems:

It seems the oldestgravest signor here

Even the redoubtable Tommatisits

Chop-fallen- understands how law might take

Service like mineof brain and heart and hand

In good part. Better late than neverlaw!

You understand of a suddengospel too

Has a claim heremay possibly pronounce

Consistent with my priesthoodworthy Christ

That I endeavoured to save Pompilia?


You were wrongyou see: that's well to seethough late:

That's all we may expect of manthis side

The grave: his good is- knowing he is bad:

Thus will it be with us when the books ope

And we stand at the bar on judgment-day.

Well thenI have a mind to speaksee cause

To relume the quenched flax by this dreadful light

Burn my soul out in showing you the truth.

I heardlast time I stood here to be judged

What is priest's-duty- labour to pluck tares

And weed the corn of Molinism; let me

Make you hearthis timehowin such a case

Manbe he in the priesthood or at plough

Mindful of Christ or marching step by step

With... what's his stylethe other potentate

Who bids have courage and keep honour safe

Nor let minuter admonition tease?-

How he is boundbetter or worseto act.

Earth will not end through this misjudgmentno!

For you and the others like you sure to come

Fresh work is sure to follow- wickedness

That wants withstanding. Many a man of blood

Many a man of guile will clamour yet

Bid you redress his grievance- as he clutched

The preyforsooth a stranger stepped between

And there's the good gripe in pure waste! My part

Is done; i' the doing itI pass away

Out of the world. I want no more with earth.

Let mein heaven's nameuse the very snuff

O' the taper in one last spark shall show truth

For a momentshow Pompilia who was true!

Not for her sakebut yours: if she is dead

OhSirsshe can be loved by none of you

Most or least priestly! Saintsto do us good

Must be in heavenI seem to understand:

We never find them saints beforeat least.

Be her first prayer then presently for you-

She has done the good to me...

What is all this?

ThereI was bornhave livedshall diea fool

This is a foolish outset:- might with cause

Give colour to the very lie o' the man

The murderer- make as if I loved his wife

In the way he called love. He is the fool there!

Whyhad there been in me the touch of taint

I had picked up so much of knaves'-policy

As hide itkeep one hand pressed on the place

Suspected of a spot would damn us both.

Or nonot her!- not even if any of you

Dares think that Ii' the face of deathher death

That's in my eyes and ears and brain and heart

Lie- if he doeslet him! I mean to say

So he stop therestay thought from smirching her

The snow-white soul that angels fear to take

Untenderly. Butall the sameI know

I too am taintlessand I bare my breast.

You can't thinkmen as you areall of you

But thatto hear thus suddenly such an end

Of such a wonderful white soulthat comes

Of a man and murderer calling the white black

Must shake metrouble and disadvantage. Sirs

Only seventeen!

Whygood and wise you are!

You might at the beginning stop my mouth:

Sonone would be to speak for herthat knew.

I talk impertinentlyand you bear

All the same. This it is to have to do

With honest hearts: they easily may err

But in the main they wish well to the truth.

You are Christians; somehowno one ever plucked

A ragevenfrom the body of the Lord

To wear and mock withbutdespite himself

He looked the greater and was the better. Yes

I shall go on now. Does she need or not

I keep calm? Calm I'll keep as monk that croons

Transcribing battleearthquakefamineplague

From parchment to his cloister's chronicle.

Not one word more from the point now!

I begin.

YesI am one of your body and a priest.

Also I am a younger son o' the House

Oldest nowgreatest oncein my birth-town

ArezzoI recognize no equal there-

(I want all argumentsall sorts of arms

That seem to serve- use this for a reasonwait!)

Not therefore thrust into the Churchbecause

O' the piece of bread one gets there. We were first

Of Fiesolethat rings still with the fame

Of Capo-in-Sacco our progenitor:

When Florence ruined Fiesoleour folk

Migrated to the victor-cityand there

Flourished- our palace and our tower attest

In the Old Mercato- this was years ago

Four hundredfull- noit wants fourteen just.

Our arms are those of Fiesole itself

The shield quartered with white and red: a branch

Are the Salviati of usnothing more.

That were good help to the Church? But better still-

Not simply for the advantage of my birth

I' the way of the worldwas I proposed for priest;

But because there's an illustrationlate

I' the daythat's loved and looked to as a saint

Still in Arezzohe was bishop of

Sixty years since: he spent to the last doit

His bishop's-revenue among the poor

And used to tend the needy and the sick

Barefootbecause of his humility.

He it was- when the Granduke Ferdinand

Swore he would raze our cityplough the place

And sow it with saltbecause we Aretines

Had tied a rope about the neckto hale

The statue of his father from its base

For hate's sake- he availed by prayers and tears

To pacify the Duke and save the town.

This was my father's father's brother. You see

For his sakehow it was I had a right

To the self-same officebishop in the egg

Sogrew i' the garb and prattled in the school

Was made expectfrom infancy almost

The proper mood o' the priest; till time ran by

And brought the day when I must read the vows

Declare the world renounced and undertake

To become priest and leave probation- leap

Over the ledge into the other life

Having gone trippingly hitherto up to the height

O'er the wan water. Just a vow to read!

I STOPPED short awe-struck. 'How shall holiest flesh

Engage to keep such vow inviolate

How much less mine- I know myself too weak

Unworthy! Choose a worthier stronger man!'

And the very Bishop smiled and stopped the mouth

In its mid-protestation. 'Incapable?

Qualmish of conscience? Thou ingenuous boy!

Clear up the clouds and cast thy scruples far!

I satisfy thee there's an easier sense

Wherein to take such vow than suits the first

Rough rigid reading. Mark what makes all smooth

Nayhas been even a solace to myself!

The Jews who needs mustin their synagogue

Utter sometimes the holy name of God

A thing their superstition boggles at

Pronounce aloud the ineffable sacrosanct-

How does their shrewdness help them? In this wise;

Another set of sounds they substitute

Jumble so consonants and vowels- how

Should I know?- that there grows from out the old

Quite a new word that means the very same-

And o'er the hard place slide they with a smile.

Giuseppe Maria Caponsacchi mine

Nobody wants you in these latter days

To prop the Church by breaking your back-bone-

As the necessary way was oncewe know

When Diocletian flourished and his like;

That building of the buttress-work was done

By martyrs and confessors: let it bide

Add not a brickbutwhere you see a chink

Stick in a sprig of ivy or root a rose

Shall make amends and beautify the pile!

We profit as you were the painfullest

O' the martyrsand you prove yourself a match

For the cruellest confessor ever was

If you march boldly up and take your stand

Where their blood soakstheir bones yet strew the soil

And cry "Take noticeI the young and free

And well-to-do i' the worldthus leave the world

Cast in my lot thus with no gay young world

But the grand old Church: she tempts me of the two!"

Renounce the world? Naykeep and give it us!

Let us have youand boast of what you bring.

We want the pick o' the earth to practise with

Not its offscouringhalt and deaf and blind

In soul and body. There's a rubble-stone

Unfit for the front o' the buildingstuff to stow

In a gap behind and keep us weather-tight;

There's porphyry for the prominent place. Good lack!

Saint Paul has had enough and to spareI trow

Of ragged run-away Onesimus:

He wants the right-hand with the signet-ring

Of King Agrippanowto shake and use.

I have a heavy scholar cloistered up

Close under lock and keykept at his task

Of letting Fenelon know the fool he is

In a book I promise Christendom next Spring.

Whyif he covets so much meatthe clown

As a lark's wing next Fridayorany day

Diversion beyond catching his own fleas

He shall be properly swingedI promise him.

But youwho are so quite another paste

Of a man- do you obey me? Cultivate

Assiduousthat superior gift you have

Of making madrigals- (who told me? Ah!)

Get done a Marinesque Adoniad straight

With a pulse o' the blood a-prickinghere and there

That I may tell the lady"And he's ours!"'

So I became a priest: those terms changed all

I was good enough for thatnor cheated so;

I could live thus and still hold head erect.

Now you see why I may have been before

A fribble and coxcombyetas priestbreak word

Nowiseto make you disbelieve me now.

I need that you should know my truth. Wellthen

According to prescription did I live

-Conformed myselfboth read the breviary

And wrote the rhymeswas punctual to my place

I' the Pieveand as diligent at my post

Where beauty and fashion rule. I throve apace

Sub-deaconCanonthe authority

For delicate play at tarocsand arbiter

O' the magnitude of fan-mounts: all the while

Wanting no whit the advantage of a hint

Benignant to the promising pupil- thus:

'Enough attention to the Countess now

The young one; 'tis her mother rules the roast

We know whereand puts in a word: go pay

Devoir to-morrow morning after mass!

Break that rash promise to preachPassion-week!

Has it escaped you the Archbishop grunts

And snuffles when one grieves to tell his Grace

No soul dares treat the subject of the day

Since his own masterly handling it (haha!)

Five years ago- when somebody could help

And touch up an odd phrase in time of need

(Hehe!)- and somebody helps youmy son!

Thereforedon't prove so indispensable

At the Pievesit more loose i' the seatnor grow

A fixture by attendance morn and eve!

Arezzo's just a haven midway Rome-

Rome's the eventual harbour- make for port

Crowd sailcrack cordage! And your cargo be

A polished presencea genteel mannerwit

At willand tact at every pore of you!

I sent our lump of learningBrother Clout

And Father Slouchour piece of piety

To see Rome and try suit the Cardinal.

Thither they clump-clumpedbeads and book in hand

And ever since 'tis meat for man and maid

How both flopped downprayed blessing on bent pate

Bald many an inch beyond the tonsure's need

Never once dreamingthe two moony dolts

There's nothing moves his Eminence so much

As-far from all this awe at sanctitude-

Heads that wageyes that twinklemodified mirth

At the closet-lectures on the Latin tongue

A lady learns so much bywe know where.

Whybody o' Bacchusyou should crave his rule

For pauses in the elegiac coupletchasms

Permissible only to Catullus! There!

Now go do duty: briskbreak Priscian's head

By reading the day's office- there's no help.

You've Ovid in your poke to plaster that;

Amen's at the end of all: then sup with me!'

Wellafter three or four years of this life

In prosecution of my callingI

Found myself at the theatre one night

With a brother Canonin a mood and mind

Proper enough for the placeamused or no:

When I saw enterstandand seat herself

A ladyyoungtallbeautifulstrange and sad.

It was as whenin our cathedral once

As I got yawningly through matin-song

I saw facchini bear a burden up

Base it on the high-altarbreak away

A board or twoand leave the thing inside

Lofty and lone: and lowhen next I looked

There was the Rafael! I was still one stare

When- 'NayI'll make her give you back your gaze'-

Said Canon Conti; and at the word he tossed

A paper-twist of comfits to her lap

And dodged and in a trice was at my back

Nodding from over my shoulder. Then she turned

Looked our waysmiled the beautiful sad strange smile.

'Is not she fair? 'Tis my new cousin' said he:

'The fellow lurking there i' the black o' the box

Is Guidothe old scapegrace: she's his wife

Married three years since: how his Countship sulks!

He has brought little back from Rome beside

After the braggingburying. A fair face

And- they do say- a pocket-full of gold

When he can worry both her parents dead.

I don't go much therefor the chamber's cold

And the coffee pale. I got a turn at first

Paying my duty- I observed they crouched

-The two old frightened family spectresclose

In a cornereach on each like mouse on mouse

I' the cat's cage: ever sinceI stay at home.

Hallothere's Guidothe blackmean and small

Bends his brows on us- please to bend your own

On the shapely nether limbs of Light-skirts there

By way of a diversion! I was a fool

To fling the sweetmeats. Prudencefor God's love!

To-morrow I'll make my peacee'en tell some fib

Try if I can't find means to take you there.'

That night and next day did the gaze endure

Burnt to my brainas sunbeam thro' shut eyes

And not once changed the beautiful sad strange smile.

At vespers Conti leaned beside my seat

I' the choir- part saidpart sung- 'In ex-cel-sis -

All's to no purpose: I have louted low

But he saw you staring- quia sub - don't incline

To know you nearer: him we would not hold

For Hercules- the man would lick your shoe

If you and certain efficacious friends

Managed him warily- but there's the wife:

Spare herbecause he beats heras it is

She's breaking her heart quite fast enough- jam tu -

Sobe you rational and make amends

With little Light-skirts yonder- in secula

Secu-lo-o-o-o-rum. Ahyou rogue! Every one knows

What great dame she makes jealous: one against one

Playand win both!'

Sirsere the week was out

I saw and said to myself 'Light-skirts hides teeth

Would make a dog sick- the great dame shows spite

Should drive a cat mad: 'tis but poor work this-

Counting one's fingers till the sonnet's crowned.

I doubt much if Marino really be

A better bard than Dante after all.

'Tis more amusing to go pace at eve

I' the Duomo- watch the day's last gleam outside

Turnas into a skirt of God's own robe

Those lancet-windows' jewelled miracle-

Than go eat the Archbishop's ortolans

Digest his jokes. Luckily Lent is near:

Who cares to look will find me in my stall

At the Pieveconstant to this faith at least-

Never to write a canzonet any more.'

SONEXT week'twas my patron spoke abrupt

In altered guise'Young mancan it be true

That after all your promise of sound fruit

You have kept away from Countess young or old

And gone play truant in church all day long?

Are you turning Molinist?' I answered quick

'Sirwhat if I turned Christian? It might be.

The fact isI am troubled in my mind

Beset and pressed hard by some novel thoughts.

This your Arezzo is a limited world;

There's a strange Pope- 'tis saida priest who thinks.

Rome is the portyou say: to Rome I go.

I will live aloneone does so in a crowd

And look into my heart a little.' 'Lent

Ended'- I told friends- 'I shall go to Rome.'

One evening I was sitting in a muse

Over the opened 'Summa' darkened round

By the mid-March twilightthinking how my life

Had shaken under me- broke short indeed

And showed the gap 'twixt what iswhat should be-

And into what abysm the soul may slip

Leave aspiration hereachievement there

Lacking omnipotence to connect extremes-

Thinking moreover... ohthinkingif you like

How utterly dissociated was I

A priest and celibatefrom the sad strange wife

Of Guido- just as an instance to the point

Nought more- how I had a whole store of strengths

Eating into my heartwhich craved employ

And sheperhapsneed of a finger's help-

And yet there was no way in the wide world

To stretch out mine and so relieve myself-

How when the page o' the Summa preached its best

Her smile kept glowing out of itas to mock

The silence we could break by no one word-

There came a tap without the chamber-door

And a whisperwhen I bade who tapped speak out

Andin obedience to my summonslast

In glided a masked muffled mystery

Laid lightly a letter on the opened book

Then stood with folded arms and foot demure

Pointing as if to mark the minutes' flight.

I TOOK the letterread to the effect

That sheI lately flung the comfits to

Had a warm heart to give me in exchange

And gave it- loved me and confessed it thus

And bade me render thanks by word of mouth

Going that night to such a side o' the house

Where the small terrace overhangs a street

Blind and desertednot the street in front:

Her husband being awaythe surly patch

At his villa of Vittiano.

'And you?'- I asked:

'What may you be?'- 'Count Guido's kind of maid-

Most of us have two functions in his house.

We all hate himthe lady suffers much

'Tis just we show compassionfurnish aid

Specially since her choice is fixed so well.

What answer may I bring to cheer the sweet


Then I took a pen and wrote.

'No more of this! That you are fairI know:

But other thoughts now occupy my mind.

I should not thus have played the insensible

Once on a time. What made you- may one ask-

Marry your hideous husband? 'Twas a fault

And now you taste the fruit of it. Farewell.'

'THERE!' smiled I as she snatched it and was gone-

'Therelet the jealous miscreant- Guido's self

Whose mean soul grins through this transparent trick-

Be baulked so fardefrauded of his aim!

What fund of satisfaction to the knave

Had I kicked this his messenger down stairs

Trussed to the middle of her impudence

Setting his heart at ease so! Noindeed!

There's the reply which he shall turn and twist

At pleasuresnuff at till his brain grow drunk

As the bear does when he finds a scented glove

That puzzles him- a hand and yet no hand

Of other perfume than his own foul paw!

Last monthI had doubtless chosen to play the dupe

Accepted the mock-invitationkept

The sham appointmentcudgel beneath cloak

Prepared myself to pull the appointer's self

Out of the window from his hiding-place

Behind the gown of this part-messenger

Part-mistress who would personate the wife.

Such had seemed once a jest permissible:

NowI am not i' the mood.'

Back next morn brought

The messengera second letter in hand.

'You are cruelThyrsisand Myrtilla moans

Neglected but adores youmakes request

For mercy: why is it you dare not come?

Such virtue is scarce natural to your age:

You must love someone else; I hear you do

The Baron's daughter or the Advocate's wife

Or both- all's onewould you make me the third-

I take the crumbs from table gratefully

Nor grudge who feasts there. 'FaithI blush and blaze!

Yet if I break all boundsthere's reason sure

Are you determinedly bent on Rome?

I am wretched herea monster tortures me:

Carry me with you! Come and say you will!

Concert this very evening! Do not write!

I am ever at the window of my room

Over the terraceat the Ave. Come!'

I questioned- lifting half the woman's mask

To let her smile loose. 'Soyou gave my line

To the merry lady?' 'She kissed off the wax

And put what paper was not kissed away

In her bosom to go burn: but merryno!

She wept all night when evening brought no friend

Alonethe unkind missive at her breast;

Thus Philomelthe thorn at her breast too

Sings'... 'Writes this second letter?' 'Even so!

Then she may peep at vespers forth?'- 'What risk

Do we run o' the husband?'- 'Ah- no risk at all!

He is more stupid even than jealous. Ah-

That was the reason? Whythe man's away!

Besidehis bugbear is that friend of yours

Fat little Canon Conti. He fears him-

How should he dream of you? I told you truth-

He goes to the villa at Vittiano- 'tis

The time when Spring-sap rises in the vine-

Spends the night there. And then his wife's a child

Does he think a child outwits him? A mere child:

Yet so full growna dish for any duke.

Don't quarrel longer with such catesbut come!'

I WROTE 'In vain do you solicit me.

I am a priest: and you are wedded wife

Whatever kind of brute your husband prove.

I have scruplesin short. Yet should you really show

Sign at the window... but naybest be good!

My thoughts are elsewhere.'- 'Take her that!'


Let the incarnate meannesscheat and spy

Mean to the marrow of himmake his heart

His foodanticipate hell's worm once more!

Let him watch shivering at the window- ay

And let this hybridthis his light-of-love

And lackey-of-lies- a sage economy-

Paid with embracings for the rank brass coin-

Let her report and make him chuckle o'er

The break-down of my resolution now

And lour at disappointment in good time!

-So tantalize and so enrage by turns

Until the two fall each on the other like

Two famished spidersas the coveted fly

That toys longleaves their net and them at last!'

And so the missives followed thick and fast

For a monthsay- I still came at every turn

On the soft sly adderendlong 'neath my tread.

I was met i' the streetmade sign to in the church

A slip was found i' the door-sillscribbled word

'Twixt page and page o' the prayer-book in my place:

A crumpled thing dropped even before my feet

Pushed through the blindabove the terrace-rail

As I passedby daythe very window once.

And ever from corners would be peering up

The messengerwith the self-same demand

'Obdurate stillno flesh but adamant?

Nothing to cure the woundassuage the throe

O' the sweetest lamb that ever loved a bear?'

And ever my one answer in one tone-

'Go your waystemptress! Let a priest readpray

Unplagued of vain talkvisions not for him!

In the endyou'll have your will and ruin me!'

ONE daya variation: thus I read:

'You have gained little by timidity.

My husband has found out my love at length

Sees cousin Conti was the stalking-horse

And you the game he coveredpoor fat soul!

My husband is a formidable foe

Will stick at nothing to destroy you. Stand

Preparedor betterrun till you reach Rome!

I bade you visit mewhen the last place

My tyrant would have turned suspicious at

Or cared to seek you inwas... why saywhere?

But now all's changed: besidethe season's past

At the villa- wants the master's eye no more.

AnyhowI beseech youstay away

From the window! He might well be posted there.'

I WROTE- 'You raise my courageor call up

My curiositywho am but man.

Tell him he owns the palacenot the street

Under- that's his and yours and mine alike.

If it should please me pad the path this eve

Guido will have two troublesfirst to get

Into a rage and then get out again.

Be cautiousthough: at the Ave!'

You of the court!

When I stood question here and reached this point

O' the narrative- search notes and see and say

If some one did not interpose with smile

And sneer'And prithee why so confident

That the husband mustof all needsnot the wife

Fabricate thus- what if the lady loved?

What if she wrote the letters?'

Learned Sir

I told you there's a picture in our church.

Wellif a low-browed verger sidled up

Bringing melike a blotchon his prod's point

A transfixed scorpionlet the reptile writhe

And then said'See a thing that Rafael made-

This venom issued from Madonna's mouth!'-

I should reply'Ratherthe soul of you

Has issued from your bodylike from like

By way of the ordure-corner!'

But no less

I tired of the same black teasing lie

Obtruded thus at every turn; the pest

Was far too near the pictureanyhow:

One does Madonna servicemaking clowns

Remove their dung-heap from the sacristy.

'I will to the windowas he tempts' said I:

'Yeswhom the easy love has failed allure

This new bait of adventure may- he thinks.

While the imprisoned lady keeps afar

There will they lie in ambushheads alert

Kithkinand Count mustered to bite my heel.

No mother nor brother viper of the brood

Shall scuttle off without the instructive bruise!'

SOI WENT: crossed street and street: 'The next street's turn

I stand beneath the terraceseeabove

The black of the ambush-window. Thenin place

Of hand's throw of soft prelude over lute

And cough that clears way for the ditty last'-

I began to laugh already- 'he will have

"Out of the hole you hide inon to the front

Count Guido Franceschinishow yourself!

Hear what a man thinks of a thing like you

And aftertake this foulness in your face!"'

The words lay living on my lipI made

The one turn more- and there at the window stood

Framed in its black square lengthwith lamp in hand

Pompilia; the same great gravegriefful air

As stands i' the duskon altar that I know

Left alone with one moonbeam in her cell

Our Lady of all the Sorrows. Ere I knelt-

Assured myself that she was flesh and blood-

She had looked one look and vanished.

I thought- 'Just so:

It was herselfthey have set her there to watch-

Stationed to see some wedding-band go by

On fair pretence that she must bless the bride

Or wait some funeral with friends wind past

And crave peace for the corpse that claims its due.

She never dreams they used her for a snare

And now withdraw the bait has served its turn.

Well donethe husbandwho shall fare the worse!'

And on my lip again was- 'Out with thee

Guido!' When all at once she re-appeared;

Butthis timeon the terrace overhead

So dose above meshe could almost touch

My head if she bent down; and she did bend

While I stood still as stoneall eyeall ear.

SHE began- 'You have sent me lettersSir:

I have read noneI can neither read nor write;

But she you gave them toa woman here

One of the people in whose power I am

Partly explained their senseI thinkto me

Obliged to listen while she inculcates

That youa priestcan dare love mea wife

Desire to live or die as I shall bid

(She makes me listen if I will or no)

Because you saw my face a single time.

It cannot be she says the thing you mean;

Such wickedness were deadly to us both:

But good true love would help me now so much-

I tell myselfyou may mean good and true.

You offer meI seem to understand

Because I am in poverty and starve

Much moneywhere one piece would save my life.

The silver cup upon the altar-cloth

Is neither yours to give nor mine to take;

But I might take one bit of bread therefrom

Since I am starvingand return the rest

Yet do no harm: this is my very case.

I am in that straitI may not abstain

From so much of assistance as would bring

The guilt of theft on neither you nor me;

But no superfluous particle of aid.

I thinkif you will let me state my case

Even had you been so fancy-fevered here

Not your sound selfyou must grow healthy now-

Care only to bestow what I can take.

That it is only you in the wide world

Knowing me nor in thought nor word nor deed

Whoall unprompted save by your own heart

Come proffering assistance now- were strange

But that my whole life is so strange: as strange

It ismy husband whom I have not wronged

Should hate and harm me. For his own soul's sake

Hinder the harm! But there is something more

And that the strangest: it has got to be

Somehow for my sake tooand yet not mine

-This is a riddle- for some kind of sake

Not any clearer to myself than you

And yet as certain as that I draw breath-

I would fain livenot die- oh nonot die!

My case isI was dwelling happily

At Rome with those dear Comparinicalled

Father and mother to me; when at once

I found I had become Count Guido's wife:

Who thennot waiting for a momentchanged

Into a fury of fireif once he was

Merely a man: his face threw fire at mine

He laid a hand on me that burned all peace

All joyall hopeand last all fear away

Dipping the bough of lifeso pleasant once

In fire which shrivelled leaf and bud alike

Burning not only present life but past

Which you might think was safe beyond his reach.

He reached itthoughsince that beloved pair

My father oncemy mother all those years

That loved me sonow say I dreamed a dream

And bid me wakehenceforth no child of theirs

Never in all the time their child at all.

Do you understand? I cannot: yet so it is.

Just so I say of you that proffer help:

I cannot understand what prompts your soul

I simply needs must see that it is so

Only one strange and wonderful thing more.

They came here with methose two dear oneskept

All the old love uptill my husbandtill

His people here so tortured themthey fled.

And nowis it because I grow in flesh

And spirit one with him their torturer

That theyrenouncing himmust cast off me?

If I were graced by God to have a child

Could I one day deny God graced me so?

Thensince my husband hates meI shall break

No law that reigns in this fell house of hate

By using- letting have effect so much

Of hate as hides me from that whole of hate

Would take my life which I want and must have-

Just as I take from your excess of love

Enough to save my life withall I need.

The Archbishop said to murder me were sin:

My leaving Guido were a kind of death

With no sin- more deathhe must answer for.

Hear now what death to him and life to you

I wish to pay and owe. Take me to Rome!

You go to Romethe servant makes me hear.

Take me as you would take a dogI think

Masterless left for strangers to maltreat:

Take me home like that- leave me in the house

Where the father and the mother are; and soon

They'll come to know and call me by my name

Their child once moresince child I amfor all

They now forget mewhich is the worst o' the dream-

And the way to end dreams is to break themstand

Walkgo: then help me to standwalk and go!

The Governor said the strong should help the weak:

You know how weak the strongest women are.

How could I find my way there by myself?

I cannot even call outmake them hear-

Just as in dreams: I have tried and proved the fact.

I have told this story and more to good great men

The Archbishop and the Governor: they smiled.

"Stop your mouthfair one!"- presently they frowned

"Get you gonedisengage you from our feet!"

I went in my despair to an old priest

Only a friarno great man like these two

But goodthe Augustinianpeople name

Romano- he confessed me two months since:

He fears Godwhy then needs he fear the world?

And when he questioned how it came about

That I was found in danger of a sin-

Despair of any help from providence-

"Sincethough your husband outrage you" said he

"That is a case too commonthe wives die

Or livebut do not sin so deep as this"-

Then I told- what I never will tell you-

Howworse than husband's hateI had to bear

The love- soliciting to shame called love-

Of his brother- the young idle priest i' the house

With only the devil to meet there. "This is grave-

Yeswe must interfere: I counsel- write

To those who used to be your parents once

Of dangers herebid them convey you hence!"

"But" said I"when I neither read nor write?"

Then he took pity and promised "I will write."

If he did so- whythey are dumb or dead:

Either they give no credit to the tale

Or elsewrapped wholly up in their own joy

Of such escapethey care not who criesstill

I' the clutches. Anyhowno word arrives.

All such extravagance and dreadfulness

Seems incident to dreamingcured one way-

Wake me! The letter I received this morn

Said- if the woman spoke your very sense-

"You would die for me:" I can believe it now:

For now the dream gets to involve yourself.

First of allyou seemed wicked and not good

In writing me those letters: you came in

Like a thief upon me. I this morning said

In my extremityentreat the thief!

Try if he have in him no honest touch!

A thief might save me from a murderer.

'Twas a thief said the last kind word to Christ:

Christ took the kindness and forgave the theft:

And so did I prepare what I now say.

But nowthat you stand and I see your face

Though you have never uttered word yet- wellI know

Here too has been dream-workdelusion too

And that at no timeyou with the eyes here

Ever intended to do wrong by me

Nor wrote such letters therefore. It is false

And you are truehave been truewill be true.

To Rome then- When is it you take me there?

Each minute lost is mortal. When?- I ask.'

I ANSWERED 'It shall be when it can be.

I will go hence and do your pleasurefind

The sure and speedy means of travelthen

Come back and take you to your friends in Rome.

There wants a carriagemoney and the rest-

A day's work by to-morrow at this time.

How shall I see you and assure escape?'

SHE replied'Passto-morrow at this hour.

If I am at the open windowwell:

If I am absentdrop a handkerchief

And walk by! I shall see from where I watch

And know that all is done. Return next eve

And nextand so till we can meet and speak!'

'To-morrow at this hour I pass' said I.

She was withdrawn.

Here is another point

I bid you pause at. When I told thus far

Someone saidsubtly'Here at least was found

Your confidence in error- you perceived

The spirit of the lettersin a sort

Had been the lady'sif the body should be

Supplied by Guido: sayhe forged them all!

Here was the unforged fact- she sent for you

Spontaneously elected you to help

-What men callloved you: Guido read her mind

Gave it expression to assure the world

The case was just as he foresaw: he wrote

She spoke.'

Sirsthat first simile serves still-

That falsehood of a scorpion hatchedI say

Nowhere i' the world but in Madonna's mouth.

Go on! Supposethat falsehood foilednext eve

Pictured Madonna raised her painted hand

Fixed the face Rafael bent above the Babe

On my face as I flung me at her feet:

Such miracle vouchsafed and manifest

Would that prove the first lying tale was true?

Pompilia spokeand I at once received

Accepted my own factmy miracle

Self-authorised and self-explained- she chose

To summon me and signify her choice.

Afterward- oh! I gave a passing glance

To a certain ugly cloud-shapegoblin-shred

Of hell-smoke hurrying past the splendid moon

Out now to tolerate no darkness more

And saw right through the thing that tried to pass

For truth and solidnot an empty lie:

'Sohe not only forged the words for her

But words for memade letters he called mine:

What I senthe retainedgave these in place

All by the mistress-messenger! As I

Recognized herat potency of truth

So sheby the crystalline soulknew me

Never mistook the signs. Enough of this-

Let the wraith go to nothingness again

Here is the orbhave only thought for her!'

'THOUGHT?' naySirswhat shall follow was not thought:

I have thought sometimesand thought long and hard.

I have Stood beforegone round a serious thing

Tasked my whole mind to touch and clasp it close

As I stretch forth my arm to touch this bar.

God and manand what duty I owe both-

I dare to say I have confronted these

In thought: but no such faculty helped here.

I put forth no thought- powerlessall that night

I paced the city: it was the first Spring.

By the invasion I lay passive to

In rushed new thingsthe old were rapt away;

Alike abolished- the imprisonment

Of the outside airthe inside weight o' the world

That pulled me down. Death meantto spurn the ground

Soar to the sky- die well and you do that.

The very immolation made the bliss;

Death was the heart of lifeand all the harm

My folly had crouched to avoidnow proved a veil

Hiding all gain My wisdom strove to grasp:

As if the intense centre of the flame

Should turn a heaven to that devoted fly

Which hithertosophist alike and sage

Saint Thomas with his sober grey goose-quill

And sinner Plato by Cephisian reed

Would fainpretending just the insect's good

Whisk offdrive backconsign to shade again.

Into another stateunder new rule

I knew myself was passing swift and sure;

Whereof the initiatory pang approached

Felicitous annoyas bitter-sweet

As when the virgin-bandthe victors chaste

Feel at the end the earthly garments drop

And rise with something of a rosy shame

Into immortal nakedness: so I

Layand let come the proper throe would thrill

Into the ecstasy and outthrob pain.

I' THE grey of dawn it was I found myself

Facing the pillared front o' the Pieve- mine

My church: it seemed to say for the first time

'But am not I the Bridethe mystic love

O' the Lambwho took thy plighted trothmy priest

To fold thy warm heart on my heart of stone

And freeze thee nor unfasten any more?

This is a fleshly woman- let the free

Bestow their life-bloodthou art pulseless now!'

See! Day by day I had risen and left this church

At the signal waved me by some foolish fan

With half a curse and half a pitying smile

For the monk I stumbled over in my haste

Prostrate and corpse-like at the altar-foot

Intent on his corona: then the church

Was ready with her quipif word conduced

To quicken my pace nor stop for prating- 'There!

Be thankful you are no such ninnygo

Rather to teach a black-eyed novice cards

Than gabble Latin and protrude that nose

Smoothed to a sheep's through no brains and much faith!'

That sort of incentive! Now the church changed tone-

Nowwhen I found out first that life and death

Are means to an endthat passion uses both

Indisputably mistress of the man

Whose form of worship is self-sacrifice-

Nowfrom the stone lungs sighed the scrannel voice

'Leave that live passioncome be dead with me!'

As ifi' the fabled gardenI had gone

On great adventureplucked in ignorance

Hedge-fruitand feasted to satiety

Laughing at such high fame for hips and haws

And scorned the achievement: then come all at once

O' the prize o' the placethe thing of perfect gold

The apple's self: andscarce my eye on that

Was 'ware as well o' the seven-fold dragon's watch.

SIRSI obeyed. Obedience was too strange-

This new thing that had been struck into me

By the look o' the lady- to dare disobey

The first authoritative word. 'Twas God's.

I had been lifted to the level of her

Could take such sounds into my sense. I said

"We two are cognizant o' the Master now;

It is she bids me bow the head: how true

I am a priest! I see the function here;

I thought the other way self-sacrifice:

This is the trueseals up the perfect sum.

I pay itsit downsilently obey.'

SOI went home. Dawn brokenoon broadened-

I sat stone-stilllet time run over me.

The sun slanted into my roomhad reached

The west. I opened book- Aquinas blazed

With one black name only on the white page.

I looked upsaw the sunset: vespers rang:

'She counts the minutes till I keep my word

And come say all is ready. I am a priest.

Duty to God is duty to her: I think

Godwho created herwill save her too

Some new wayby one miracle the more

Without me. Thenprayer may avail perhaps.'

I went to my own place i' the Pieveread

The office: I was back at home again

Sitting i' the dark. 'Could she but know- but know

Thatwere there good in this distinct from God's

Really good as it reached herthough procured

By a sin of mine- I should sin: God forgives.

She knows it is no fear withholds me: fear?

Of what? Suspense here is the terrible thing.

If she shouldas she counts the minutescome

On the fantastic notion that I fear

The world nowfear the Archbishopfear perhaps

Count Guidohe whohaving forged the lies

May wait the workattend the effect- I fear

The sword of Guido! Let God see to that-

Hating lieslet not her believe a lie!'

AGAIN the morning found me. 'I will work

Tie down my foolish thoughts. Thank God so far!

I have saved her from a scandalstopped the tongues

Had broken else into a cackle and hiss

Around the noble name. Duty is still

Wisdom: I have been wise.' So the day wore.

AT EVENING- 'Butachieving victory

I must not blink the priest's peculiar part

Nor shrink to counselcomfort: priest and friend-

How do we discontinue to be friends?

I will go ministeradvise her seek

Help at the source- above allnot despair:

There may be other happier help at hand.

I hope it- wherefore then neglect to say?'

THERE she stood- leaned therefor the second time

Over the terracelooked at methen spoke:

'Why is it you have suffered me to stay

Breaking my heart two days more than was need?

Why delay helpyour own heart yearns to give?

You are again herein the self-same mind

I see heresteadfast in the face of you-

You grudge to do no one thing that I ask.

Why then is nothing done? You know my need.

Stillthrough God's pity on methere is time

And one day more: shall I be saved or no?'

I answered- 'Ladywaste no thoughtno word

Even to forgive me! Care for what I care-

Only! Now follow me as I were fate!

Leave this house in the dark to-morrow night

Just before daybreak:- there's new moon this eve-

It setsand then begins the solid black.

Descendproceed to the Torrionestep

Over the low dilapidated wall

Take San Clementethere's no other gate

Unguarded at the hour: some paces thence

An inn stands; cross toit; I shall be there.'

She answered'If I can but find the way.

But I shall find it. Go now!'

I did go

Took rapidly the route myself prescribed

Stopped at Torrioneclimbed the ruined place

Proved that the gate was practicablereached

The innno eyedespite the darkcould miss

Knocked there and enteredmade the host secure:

'With Caponsacchi it is ask and have;

I know my betters. Are you bound for Rome?

I get swift horse and trusty man' said he.

THEN I retraced my stepswas found once more

In my own house for the last time: there lay

The broad pale opened Summa. 'Shut his book

There's other showing! 'Twas a Thomas too

Obtained- more favoured than his namesake here-

He kept that safe and bade all doubt adieu.

I too have seen a lady and hold a grace.'

I KNOW not how the night passed: morning broke:

Presently came my servant. 'Sirthis eve-

Do you forget?' I started.- 'How forget?

What is it you know?'- 'With due submissionSir

This being last Monday in the month but one

And a vigilsince to-morrow is Saint George

And feast dayand moreover day for copes

And Canon Conti now away a month

And Canon Crispi sour becauseforsooth

You let him sulk in stall and bear the brunt

Of the octave.... WellSir'tis important!'


HearkenI have to start for Rome this night.

No wordlest Crispi overboil and burst!

Provide me with a laic dress! Throw dust

I' the Canon's eyestop his tongue's scandal so!

See there's a sword in case of accident.'

I knew the knavethe knave knew me.

And thus

Through each familiar hindrance of the day

Did I make steadily for its hour and end-

Felt time's old barrier-growth of right and fit

Give way through all its twinesand let me go;

Use and wont recognized the excepted man

Let speed the special service- and I sped

Tillat the dead between midnight and morn

There was I at the goalbefore the gate

With a tune in the earslow leading up to loud

A light in the eyesfaint that would soon be flare

Ever some spiritual witness new and new

In faster frequencecrowding solitude

To watch the way o' the warfare- tillat last

When the ecstatic minute must bring birth

Began a whiteness in the distancewaxed

Whiter and whiternear grew and more near

Till it was she: there did Pompilia come:

The white I saw shine through her was her soul's

Certainlyfor the body was one black

Black from head down to foot. She did not speak

Glided into the carriage- so a cloud

Gathers the moon up. 'By San Spirito

To Romeas if the road burned underneath!

Reach Romethen hold my head in pledgeI pay

The run and the risk to heart's content!' Just that

I I said- thenin another tick of time

Sprangwas beside hershe and I alone.

SO IT beganour flight thro' dusk to clear

Through day and night and day again to night

Once moreand to last dreadful dawn of all.

Sirshow should I lie quiet in my grave

Unless you suffer me wringdrop by drop

My brain drymake a riddance of the drench

Of minutes with a memory in each

Recorded motionbreath or look of hers

Which poured forth would present you one pure glass

Mirror you plain- as God's seaglassed in gold

His saints- the perfect soul Pompilia? Men

You must know that a man gets drunk with truth

Stagnant inside him! Ohthey've killed herSirs!

Can I be calm?

Calmly! Each incident

ProvesI maintainthat action of the flight

For the true thing it was. The first faint scratch

O' the stone will test its natureteach its worth

To idiots who name Pariancoprolite.

After allI shall give no glare- at best

Only display you certain scattered lights

Lamping the rush and roll of the abyss-

Nothing but here and there a fire-point pricks

Wavelet from wavelet: well!

For the first hour

We both were silent in the nightI know:

Sometimes I did not see nor understand.

Blackness engulphed me- partial stuporsay-

Then I would break waybreathe through the surprise

And be aware againand see who sat

In the dark vest with the white face and hands.

I said to myself- 'I have caught itI conceive

The mind o' the mystery: 'tis the way they wake

And waittwo martyrs somewhere in a tomb

Each by each as their blessing was to die;

Some signal they are promised and expect

When to arise before the trumpet scares:

Sothrough the whole course of the world they wait

The last daybut so fearless and so safe!

No otherwisein safety and not fear

I liebecause she lies too by my side.'

You know this is not loveSirs- it is faith

The feeling that there's Godhe reigns and rules

Out of this low world: that is all; no harm!

At times she drew a soft sigh- music seemed

Always to hover just above her lips

Not settle- break a silence music too.

IN THE determined morningI first found

Her head erecther face turned full to me

Her soul intent on mine through two wide eyes.

I answered them. 'You are saved hitherto.

We have passed Perugia- gone round by the wood

Not throughI seem to think- and opposite

I know Assisi; this is holy ground.'

Then she resumed. 'How long since we both left

Arezzo?'- 'Years- and certain hours beside.'

IT WAS at... ahbut I forget the names!

'Tis a mere post-house and a hovel or two-

I left the carriage and got bread and wine

And brought it her.- 'Does it detain to eat?'

'-They stay perforcechange horses- therefore eat!

We lose no minute: we arrivebe sure!'

She said- I know not where- there's a great hill

Close overand the stream has lost its bridge

One fords it. She began- 'I have heard say

Of some sick body that my mother knew

'Twas no good sign when in a limb diseased

All the pain suddenly departs- as if

The guardian angel discontinued pain

Because the hope of cure was gone at last:

The limb will not again exert itself

It needs be pained no longer: so with me

-My soul whence all the pain is past at once:

All pain must be to work some good in the end

Truethis I feel nowthis may be that good

Pain was because of- otherwiseI fear!'

SHE said- a long while later in the day

When I had let the silence be- abrupt-

'Have you a mother?'- 'She diedI was born.'

'A sister then?'- 'No sister.'- 'Who was it-

What woman were you used to serve this way

Be kind totill I called you and you came?'

I did not like that word. Soon afterward-

'Tell meare men unhappyin some kind

Of mere unhappiness at being men

As women sufferbeing womanish?

Have younowsome unhappinessI mean

Born of what may be man's strength overmuch

To match the undue susceptibility

The sense at every pore when hate is close?

It hurts us if a baby hides its face

Or child strikes at us punilycalls names

Or makes a mouth- much more if stranger men

Laugh or frown- just as that were much to bear!

Yet rocks split- and the blow-ball does no more

Quivers to feathery nothing at a touch;

And strength may have its drawbackweakness scapes.'

ONCE she asked 'What is it that made you smile

At the great gate with the eagles and the snakes

Where the company entered'tis a long time since?'

'-Forgive- I think you would not understand:

Ahbut you ask me- thereforeit was this.

That was a certain bishop's villa-gate

I knew it by the eagles- and at once

Remembered this same bishop was just he

People of old were wont to bid me please

If I would catch preferment: soI smiled

Because an impulse came to mea whim-

What if I prayed the prelate leave to speak

Began upon him in his presence-hall

-"Whatstill at work so grey and obsolete?

Still rocheted and mitred more or less?

Don't you feel all that out of fashion now?

I find out when the day of things is done!"'

At eve we heard the angelus: she turned-

'I told you I can neither read nor write.

My life stopped with the play-time; I will learn

If I begin to live again: but you-

Who are a priest- wherefore do you not read

The service at this hour? Read Gabriel's song

The lessonand then read the little prayer

To Raphaelproper for us travellers!'

I did not like thatneitherbut I read.

WHEN we stopped at Foligno it was dark.

The people of the post came out with lights:

The driver said'This time to-morrowmay

Saints only helprelays continue good

Nor robbers hinderwe arrive at Rome.'

I urged- 'Why tax your strength a second night?

Trust mealight here and take brief repose!

We are out of harm's reachpast pursuit: go sleep

If but an hour! I keep watchguard the while

Here in the doorway.' But her whole face changed

The misery grew again about her mouth

The eyes burned up from faintnesslike the fawn's

Tired to death in the thicketwhen she feels

The probing spear o' the huntsman. 'Ohno stay!'

She criedin the fawn's cry'On to Romeonon-

Unless 'tis you who fear- which cannot be!'

WE DID go on all night; but at its close

She was troubledrestlessmoaned lowtalked at whiles

To herselfher brow on quiver with the dream:

Oncewide awakeshe menacedat arms' length

Waved away something- 'Never again with you!

My soul is minemy body is my soul's:

You and I are divided ever more

In soul and body: get you gone!' Then I-

'Whyin my whole life I have never prayed!

Ohif the Godthat only canwould help!

Am I his priest with power to cast out fiends?

Let God arise and all his enemies

Be scattered!' By mornthere was peaceno sigh

Out of the deep sleep.

When she woke at last

I answered the first look- 'Scarce twelve hours more

ThenRome! There probably was no pursuit

There cannot now be peril: bear up brave!

Just some twelve hours to press through to the prize-

Thenno more of the terrible journey!' 'Then

No more o' the journey: if it might but last!

Alwaysmy life-longthus to journey still!

It is the interruption that I dread-

With no dreadever to be here and thus!

Never to see a face nor hear a voice!

Yours is no voice; you speak when you are dumb;

Nor faceI see it in the dark. I want

No face nor voice that change and grow unkind.'

That I likedthat was the best thing she said.

IN THE broad dayI dared entreat'Descend!'

I told a womanat the garden-gate

By the post-housewhite and pleasant in the sun

'It is my sister- talk with her apart!

She is married and unhappyyou perceive;

I take her home because her head is hurt;

Comfort her as you women understand!'

Sothere I left them by the garden-wall

Paced the roadthen bade put the horses to

Came backand there she sat: close to her knee

A black-eyed child still held the bowl of milk

Wondered to see how little she could drink

And in her arms the woman's infant lay.

She smiled at me 'How much good this has done!

This is a whole night's rest and how much more!

I can proceed nowthough I wish to stay.

How do you call that tree with the thick top

That holds in all its leafy green and gold

The sun now like an immense egg of fire?'

(It was a million-leaved mimosa.) 'Take

The babe away from me and let me go!'

And in the carriage 'Still a daymy friend!

And perhaps half a nightthe woman fears.

I pray it finish since it cannot last.

There may be more misfortune at the close

And where will you be? God suffice me then!'

And presently- for there was a roadside-shrine-

'When I was taken first to my own church

Lorenzo in Lucinabeing a girl

And bid confess my faultsI interposed

"But teach me what fault to confess and know!"

Sothe priest said- "You should bethink yourself:

Each human being needs must have done wrong!"

Nowbe you candid and no priest but friend-

Were I surprised and killed here on the spot

A runaway from husband and his home

Do you account it were in sin I died?

My husband used to seem to harm menot...

Not on pretence he punished sin of mine

Nor for sin's sake and lust of cruelty

But as I heard him bid a farming-man

At the villa take a lamb once to the wood

And there ill-treat itmeaning that the wolf

Should hear its criesand so comequick be caught

Enticed to the trap: he practised thus with me

That sowhatever were his gain thereby

Others than I might become prey and spoil.

Had it been only between our two selves-

His pleasure and my pain- whypleasure him

By dyingnor such need to make a coil!

But this was worth an effortthat my pain

Should not become a snareprove pain threefold

To other people- strangers- or unborn-

How should I know? I sought release from that-

I thinkor else from- dare I saysome cause

Such as is put into a treewhich turns

Away from the northwind with what nest it holds-

The woman said that trees so turn: nowfriend

Tell mebecause I cannot trust myself!

You are a man: what have I done amiss?'

You must conceive my answer- I forget-

Taken up wholly with the thoughtperhaps

This time she might have said- mightdid not say-

'You are a priest.' She said'my friend.'

Day wore

We passed the placessomehow the calm went

Again the restless eyes began to rove

In new fear of the foe mine could not see:

She wandered in her mind- addressed me once

'Gaetano!'- that is not my name: whose name?

I grew alarmedmy head seemed turning too:

I quickened pace with promise nownow threat:

Bade drive and drivenor any stopping more.

'Too deep i' the thick of the strugglestruggle through!

Then drench her in repose though death's self pour

The plenitude of quiet- help usGod

Whom the winds carry!'

Suddenly I saw

The old towerand the little white-walled clump

Of buildings and the cypress-tree or two-

'Already Castelnuovo- Rome!' I cried

'As good as Rome- Rome is the next stagethink!

This is where travellers' hearts are wont to beat.

Say you are savedsweet lady!' Up she woke.

The sky was fierce with colour from the sun

Setting. She screamed out'NoI must not die!

Take me no fartherI should die: stay here!

I have more life to save than mine!'

She swooned.

We seemed safe: what was it foreboded so?

Out of the coach into the inn I bore

The motionless and breathless pure and pale

Pompilia- bore her through a pitying group

And laid her on a couchstill calm and cured

By deep sleep of all woes at once. The host

Was urgent 'Let her stay an hour or two!

Leave her to usall will be right by morn!'

Ohmy foreboding! But I could not choose.

I PACED the passagekept watch all night long.

I listened- not one movementnot one sigh.

'Fear not: she sleeps so sound!' they said- but I

Fearedall the samekept fearing more and more

Found myself throb with fear from head to foot

Filled with a sense of such impending woe

Thatat first pause of nightpretence of gray

I made my mind up it was morn.- 'Reach Rome

Lest hell reach her! A dozen miles to make

Another long breathand we emerge!' I stood

I' the court-yardroused the sleepy grooms. 'Have out

Carriage and horsegive hastetake gold!'- said I.

While they made ready in the doubtful morn-

'Twas the last minute- needs must I ascend

And break her sleep; I turned to go.

And there

Faced me Count Guidothere posed the mean man

As master- took the fieldencamped his rights

Challenged the world: there leered new triumphthere

Scowled the old malice in the visage bad

And black o' the scamp. Soon triumph suppled the tongue

A littlemalice glued to his dry throat

And he part howledpart hissed... ohhow he kept

Well out o' the wayat arm's length and to spare!-

'My salutation to your priestship! What?

Matutinalbusy with book so soon

Of an April day that's damp as tears that now

Deluge Arezzo at its darling's flight?-

'Tis unfairwrongs feminity at large

To let a single dame monopolize

A heart the whole sex claimsshould share alike:

Therefore I overtake youCanon! Come!

The lady- could you leave her side so soon?

You have not yet experienced at her hands

My treatmentyou lay down undruggedI see!

Hence this alertness- hence no death-in-life

Like what held arms fast when she stole from mine.

To be sureyou took the solace and repose

That first night at Foligno!- news abound

O' the road by this time- men regaled me much

As past them I came halting after you

Vulcan pursuing Marsas poets sing-

Still at the last here pant Ibut arrive

Vulcan- and not without my Cyclops too

The Commissary and the unpoisoned arm

O' the Civil Forceshould Mars turn mutineer.

Enough of fooling: capture the culpritsfriend!

Here is the lover in the smart disguise

With the sword- he is a priestso mine lies still:

There upstairs hides my wife the runaway

His leman: the two plottedpoisoned first

Plundered me afterand eloped thus far

Where now you find them. Do your duty quick!

Arrest and hold him! That's done: now catch her!'

During this speech of that man- wellI stood

Awayas he managed- stillI stood as near

The throat of him- with these two handsmy own-

As now I stand near yoursSir- one quick spring

One great good satisfying gripeand lo!

There had he lain abolished with his lie

Creation purged o' the miscreateman redeemed

A spittle wiped off from the face of God!

Iin some measureseek a poor excuse

For what I left undonein just this fact

That my first feeling at the speech I quote

Was- not of what a blasphemy was dared

Not what a bag of venomed purulence

Was split and noisome- but how splendidly

Mirthfulwhat ludicrous a lie was launched!

Would Moliere's self wish more than hear such man

Callclaim such woman for his ownhis wife

Even thoughin due amazement at the boast

He had stammeredshe moreover was divine?

She to be his- were hardly less absurd

Than that he took her name into his mouth

Lickedand then let it go againthe beast

Signed with his slaver. Ohshe poisoned him

Plundered himand the rest! Wellwhat I wished

Wasthat he would but go onsay once more

So to the worldand get his meed of men

The fist's reply to the filth. And while I mused

The minuteoh the miserywas gone!

On either idle hand of me there stood

Really an officernor laughed i' the least.

They rendered justice to his reasonlaid

Logic to heartas 'twere submitted them

'Twice two makes four.'

'And nowcatch her!'- he cried.

That sobered me. 'Let myself lead the way-

Ere you arrest mewho am somebody

Andas you heara priest and privileged-

To the lady's chamber! I presume you- men

Expertinstructed how to find out truth

Familiar with the guise of guilt. Detect

Guilt on her face when it meets minethen judge

Between us and the mad dog howling there!'

Up we all went togetherin they broke

O' the chamber late my chapel. There she lay

Composed as when I laid herthat last eve

O' the couchstill breathlessmotionlesssleep's self.

Wax-whiteseraphicsaturate with the sun

O' the morning that now flooded from the front

And filled the window with a light like blood.

'Behold the poisonerthe adulteress

-And feigning sleep too! Seizebind!'- Guido hissed.

She started upStood erectface to face

With the husband: back he fellwas buttressed there

By the window all a-flame with morning-red

He the black figurethe opprobrious blur

Against all peace and joy and light and life.

'Away from between me and hell!'- she cried:

'Hell for meno embracing any more!

I am God'sI love GodGod- whose knees I clasp

Whose utterly most just award I take

But bear no more love-making devils: hence!'

I may have made an effort to reach her side

From where I stood i' the doorway- anyhow

I found the armsI wantedpinioned fast

Was powerless in the clutch to left and right

O' the rabble pouring inrascality

Enlistedrampant on the side of hearth

Home and the husband- pay in prospect too!

They heaped themselves upon me.- 'Ha!- and him

Also you outrage? Himtoomy sole friend

Guardian and saviour? That I baulk you of

Since- see how God can help at last and worst!'

She sprung at the sword that hung beside himseized

Drewbrandished itthe sunrise burned for joy

O' the blade'Die' cried she'devilin God's name!'

Ahbut they all closed round hertwelve to one

-The unmanly menno woman-mother made

Spawned somehow! Dead-white and disarmed she lay.

No matter for the swordher word sufficed

To spike the coward through and through: he shook

Could only spit between the teeth- 'You see?

You hear? Bear witnessthen! Write down... butno-

Carry these criminals to the prison-house

For first thing! I begin my search meanwhile

After the stolen effectsgoldjewelsplate

Money and clothesthey robbed me of and fled:

With no few amorous piecesverse and prose

I have much reason to expect to find.'

WHEN I sawthat- no more than the first mad speech

Made out the speaker mad and a laughing-stock

So neither did this next device explode

One listener's indignation- that a scribe

Did sit downset himself to write indeed

And sundry knaves began to peer and pry

In corner and hole- that Guidowiping brow

And getting him a countenancewas fast

Losing his fearbeginning to strut free

O' the stage of his exploitsnuff heresniff there-

I took the truth inguessed sufficiently

The service for the moment- 'What I say

Slight at your peril! We are aliens here

My adversary and Icalled noble both;

I am the noblerand a name men know.

I could refer our cause to our own court

In our own countrybut prefer appeal

To the nearer jurisdiction. Being a priest

Though in a secular garb- for reasons good

I shall adduce in due time to my peers-

I demand that the Church I servedecide

Between usright the slandered lady there.

A Tuscan nobleI might claim the Duke:

A priestI rather choose the Church- bid Rome

Cover the wronged with her inviolate shield.'

THERE was no refusing this: they bore me off

They bore her offto separate cells o' the same

Ignoble prisonandseparatethence to Rome.

Pompilia's facethen and thuslooked on me

The last time in this life: not one sight since

Never another sight to be! And yet

I thought I had saved her. I appealed to Rome:

It seems I simply sent her to her death.

You tell me she is dying nowor dead;

I cannot bring myself to quite believe

This is a place you torture people in:

What if this your intelligence were just

A subtletyan honest wile to work

On a man at unawares? 'Twere worthy you.

NoSirsI cannot have the lady dead!

That erect formflashing browfulgurant eye

That voice immortal (ohthat voice of hers!)

That vision in the blood-red daybreak- that

Leap to life of the pale electric sword

Angels go armed with- that was not the last

O' the lady! ComeI see through ityou find-

Know the manoeuvre! Also herself said

I had saved her: do you dare say she spoke false?

Let me see for myself if it be so!

Though she were dyinga priest might be of use

The more when he's a friend too- she called me

Far beyond 'friend.' Comelet me see her- indeed

It is my dutybeing a priest: I hope

I stand confessedestablishedproved a priest?

My punishment had motive thata priest

Iin a laic garba mundane mode

Did what were harmlessly done otherwise.

I never touched her with my finger-tip

Except to carry her to the couchthat eve

Against my heartbeneath my headbowed low

As we priests carry the paten: that is why

-To get leave and go see her of your grace-

I have told you this whole story over again.

Do I deserve grace? For I might lock lips

Laugh at your jurisdiction: what have you

To do with me in the matter? I suppose

You hardly think I donned a bravo's dress

To have a hand in the new crime; on the old

Judgment's deliveredpenalty imposed

I was chained fast at Civita hand and foot-

She had only you to trust toyou and Rome

Rome and the Churchand no pert meddling priest

Two days agowhen Guidowith the right

Hacked her to pieces. One might well be wroth;

I have been patientdone my best to help:

I come from Civita and punishment

As friend of the court- and for pure friendship's sake

Have told my tale to the end- naynot the end-

Forwait- I'll end- not leave you that excuse!

WHEN we were parted- shall I go on there?

I was presently brought to Rome- yeshere I stood

Opposite yonder very crucifix-

And there sat you and youSirsquite the same.

I heard chargeand bore questionand told tale

Noted down in the book there- turn and see

Ifby one jot or tittleI vary now!

I' the colour the tale takesthere's change perhaps;

'Tis naturalsince the sky is different

Eclipse in the air now; stillthe outline stays.

I showed you how it came to be my part

To save the lady. Then your clerk produced

Papersa pack of stupid and impure

Banalities called letters about love-

Loveindeed- I could teach who styled them so

BetterI thinkthough priest and loveless both!

'-How was it that a wifeyounginnocent

And stranger to your personwrote this page?'-

'-She wrote it when the Holy Father wrote

The bestiality that posts thro' Rome

Put in his mouth by Pasquin.'- 'Nor perhaps

Did you return these answersverse and prose

Signedsealed and sent the lady? There's your hand!'

'-This precious piece of verseI really judge

Is meant copy own character

A clumsy mimic; and this other prose

Not so much even; both rank forgery:

Versequotha? Bembo's verse! When Saint John wrote

The tract "De Tribus" I wrote this to match.'

'-How came itthenthe documents were found

At the inn on your departure?'- 'I opine

Because there were no documents to find

In my presence- you must hide before you find.

Who forged themhardly practised in my view;

Who found themwaited till I turned my back.'

'-And what of the clandestine visits paid

Nocturnal passage in and out the house

With its lord absent? 'Tis alleged you climbed...'

'-Flew on a broomstick to the man i' the moon!

Who witnessed or will testify this trash?'

'-The trusty servantMargherita's self

Even she who brought you lettersyou confess

Andyou confesstook letters in reply:

Forget not we have knowledge of the facts!'

'-Sirswho have knowledge of the factsdefray

The expenditure of wit I waste in vain

Trying to find out just one fact of all!

She who brought letters from who could not write

And took back letters to who could not read-

Who was that messengerof your charity?'

'-Wellso far favours you the circumstance

That this same messenger... how shall we say?...

Sub imputatione meretricis

Laborat- which makes accusation null:

We waive this woman's:- nought makes void the next.

Borsicalled Venerinohe who drove

O' the first night when you fled awayat length

Deposes to your kissings in the coach

-Frequentfrenetic...' 'When deposed he so?'

'After some weeks of sharp imprisonment...'

'-Granted by friend the GovernorI engage-'

'-For his participation in your flight!

At length his obduracy melting made

The avowal mentioned...' 'Was dismissed forthwith

To libertypoor knavefor recompense.

Sirsgive what credit to the lie you can!

For meno word in my defence I speak

And God shall argue for the lady!'


Did I stand questionand make answerstill

With the same result of smiling disbelief

Polite impossibility of faith

In such affected virtue in a priest;

But a showing fair playan indulgenceeven

To one no worse than others after all-

Who had not brought disgrace to the orderplayed

Discreetlyruffled gown nor ripped the cloth

In a bungling game at romps: I have told youSirs-

If I pretended simply to be pure

Honest and Christian in the case- absurd!

As well go boast myself above the needs

O' the human naturecareless how meat smells

Wine tastes- a saint above the smack! But once

Abate my crestown flaws i' the fleshagree

To go with the herdbe hog no more nor less

Whyhogs in common herd have common rights-

I must not be unduly borne upon

Who had just romanced a littlesown wild oats

But 'scaped without a scandalflagrant fault.

My name helped to a mirthful circumstance:

'Joseph' would do well to amend his plea:

Undoubtedly- some toying with the wife

But as for ruffian violence and rape

Potiphar pressed too much on the other side!

The intriguethe elopementthe disguise- well charged!

The letters and verse looked hardly like the truth.

Your apprehension was- of guilt enough

To be compatible with innocence

Sopunished best a little and not too much.

Had I struck Guido Franceschini's face

You had counselled me withdraw for my own sake

Baulk him of bravo-hiring. Friends came round

Congratulated'Nobody mistakes!

The pettiness o' the forfeiture defines

The peccadillo: Guido gets his share:

His wife is free of husband and hook-nose

The mouldy viands and the mother-in-law.

To Civita with you and amuse the time

Travesty us "De Raptu Helenae!"

A funny figure must the husband cut

When the wife makes him skip- too ticklisheh?

Do it in Latinnot the Vulgarthen!

Scazons- we'll copy and send his Eminence!

Mind- one iambus in the final foot!

He'll rectify itbe your friend for life!'

OhSirsdepend on me for much new light

Thrown on the justice and religion here

By this proceedingmuch fresh food for thought!

AND I was just set down to study these

In relegationtwo short days ago

Admiring how you read the ruleswhenclap

A thunder comes into my solitude-

I am caught up in a whirlwind and cast here

Told of a suddenin this room where so late

You dealt out law adroitlythat those scales

I meekly bowed totook my allotment from

Guido has snatched atbroken in your hands

Metes to himself the murder of his wife

Full measurepressed downrunning over now!

Can I assist to an explanation?- Yes

I rise in your esteemsagacious Sirs

Stand up a renderer of reasonsnot

The officious priest would personate Saint George

For a mock Princess in undragoned days.

Whatthe blood startles you? Whatafter all

The priest who needs must carry sword on thigh

May find imperative use for it? Thenthere was

A Princesswas a dragon belching flame

And should have been a Saint George also? Then

There might be worse schemes than to break the bonds

At Arezzolead her by the little hand

Till she reached Romeand let her try to live?

But you were the law and the gospel- would one please

Stand backallow your faculty elbow-room?

You blind guides who must needs lead eyes that see!

Foolsalike ignorant of man and God!

What was there here should have perplexed your wit

For a wink of the owl-eyes of you? How missthen

What's now forced on you by this flare of fact-

As if Saint Peter failed to recognize

Nero as no apostleJohn or James

Till someone burned a martyrmade a torch

O' the blood and fat to show his features by!

Could you fail read this cartulary aright

On head and front of Franceschini there

Large-lettered like hell's masterpiece of print-

That hefrom the beginning pricked at heart

By some lustletch of hate against his wife

Plotted to plague her into overt sin

And shamewould slay Pompilia body and soul

And save his mean self- miserably caught

I' the quagmire of his own trickscheats and lies?

-That himself wrote those papers- from himself

To himself- whichi' the name of me and her

His mistress-messenger gave her and me

Touching us with such pustules of the soul

That she and I might take the taintbe shown

To the world and shuddered overspeckled so?

-That the agent put her sense into my words

Made substitution of the thing she hoped

For the thing she had and heldits opposite

While the husband in the background bit his lips

At each fresh failure of his precious plot?

-That when at the last we did rush each on each

By no chance but because God willed it so-

The spark of truth was struck from out our souls-

Made all of medescried in the first glance

Seem fair and honest and permissible love

O' the good and true- as the first glance told me

There was no duty patent in the world

Like daring try be good and true myself

Leaving the shows of things to the Lord of Show

And Prince o' the Power of the Air. Our very flight

Even to its most ambiguous circumstance

Irrefragably proved how futilefalse...

Whymen- men and not boys- boys and not babes-

Babes and not beasts- beasts and not stocks and Stones!-

Had the liar's lie been true one pin-point speck

Were I the accepted suitorfree o' the place

Disposer of the timeto come at a call

And go at a wink as who should say me nay-

What need of flightwhat were the gain therefrom

But just damnationfailure or success?

Damnation pure and simple to her the wife

And me the priest- who bartered private bliss

For public reprobationthe safe shade

For the sunshine which men see to pelt me by:

What other advantage- we who led the days

And nights alone i' the house- was flight to find?

In our whole journey did we stop an hour

Diverge a foot from strait road till we reached

Or would have reached- but for that fate of ours-

The father and motherin the eye of Rome

The eye of yourselves we made aware of us

At the first fall of misfortune? And indeed

You did so far give sanction to our flight

Confirm its purposeas lend helping hand

Deliver up Pompilia not to him

She fledbut those the flight was ventured for.

Why then could youwho stopped shortnot go on

One poor step moreand justify the means

Having allowed the end?- not see and say

'Here's the exceptional conduct that should claim

To be exceptionally judged on rules

Whichunderstoodmake no exception here'-

Why play instead into the devil's hands

By dealing so ambiguously as gave

Guido the power to intervene like me

Prove one exception more? I saved his wife

Against law: against law he slays her now:

Deal with him!

I have done with being judged.

I stand here guiltless in thoughtword and deed

To the point that I apprise you- in contempt

For all misapprehending ignorance

O' the human heartmuch more the mind of Christ-

That I assuredly did bowwas blessed

By the revelation of Pompilia. There!

Such is the final fact I fling youSirs

To mouth and mumble and misinterpret: there!

'The priest's in love' have it the vulgar way!

Unpriest merend the rags o' the vestmentdo-

Degrade deepdisenfranchise all you dare-

Remove me from the midstno longer priest

And fit companion for the like of you-

Your gay Abati with the well-turned leg

And rose i' the hat-rimCanonscross at neck

And silk mask in the pocket of the gown

Brisk bishops with the world's musk still unbrushed

From the rochet; I'll no more of these good things:

There's a crack somewheresomething that's unsound

I' the rattle!

For Pompilia- be advised

Build churchesgo pray! You will find me there

I knowif you come- and you will comeI know.

Whythere's a Judge weeping! Did not I say

You were good and true at bottom? You see the truth-

I am glad I helped you: she helped me just so.

BUT for Count Guido- you must counsel there!

I bow my headbend to the very dust

Break myself up in shame of faultiness.

I had him one whole momentas I said-

As I rememberas will never out

O' the thoughts of me- I had him in arm's reach

There- as you standSirnow you cease to sit-

I could have killed him ere he killed his wife

And did not: he went off alive and well

And then effected this last feat- through me!

Me- not through you- dismiss that fear! 'Twas you

Hindered me staying here to save her- not

From leaving you and going back to him

And doing service in Arezzo. Come

Instruct me in procedure! I conceive-

In all due self-abasement might I speak-

How you will deal with Guido: ohnot death!

Deathif it let her life be: otherwise

Not death- your lights will teach you clearer! I

Certainly have an instinct of my own

I' the matter: bear with me and weigh its worth!

Let us go away- leave Guido all alone

Back on the world again that knows him now!

I think he will be found (indulge so far!)

Not to die so much as slide out of life

Pushed by the general horror and common hate

Lowlower- left o' the very ledge of things

I seem to see him catch convulsively

One by one at all honest forms of life

At reasonorderdecency and use-

To cramp him and get foothold by at least;

And still they disengage them from his clutch.

'Whatyou are hethenhad Pompilia once

And so forwent her? Take not up with us!'

And thus I see him slowly and surely edged

Off all the table-land whence life upsprings

Aspiring to be immortality

As the snakehatched on hill-top by mischance

Despite his wrigglingslipsslidesslidders down

Hill-sidelies low and prostrate on the smooth

Level of the outer placelapsed in the vale:

So I lose Guido in the loneliness

Silence and dusktill at the doleful end

At the horizontal linecreation's verge

From what just is to absolute nothingness-

Lowhat is this he meetsstrains onward still?

What other man deep further in the fate

Whoturning at the prize of a footfall

To flatter him and promise fellowship

Discovers in the act a frightful face-

Judasmade monstrous by much solitude!

The two are at one now! Let them love their love

That bites and claws like hateor hate their hate

That mops and mows and makes as it were love!

Therelet them each tear each in devil's-fun

Or fondle this the other while malice aches-

Both teachboth learn detestability!

Kiss him the kissIscariot! Pay that back

That smatch o' the slaver blistering on your lip-

By the better trickthe insult he spared Christ-

Lure him the lure o' the lettersAretine!

Lick him o'er slimy-smooth with jelly-filth

O' the verse-and-prose pollution in love's guise!

The cockatrice is with the basilisk!

There let them grappledenizens o' the dark

Foes or friendsbut indissolubly bound

In their one spot out of the ken of God

Or care of manfor ever and ever more!

WHYSirswhat's this? Whythis is sorry and strange!-

Futilitydivagation: this from me

Bound to be rationaljustify an act

Of sober man!- whereasbeing moved so much

I give you cause to doubt the lady's mind:

A pretty sarcasm for the world! I fear

You do her wit injustice- all through me!

Like my fate all through- ineffective help!

A poor rash advocate I prove myself.

You might be angry with good cause: but sure

At the advocate- only at the undue zeal

That spoils the force of his own pleaI think?

My part was just to tell you how things stand

State facts and not be flustered at their fume.

But then 'tis a priest speaks: as for love- no!

If you let buzz a vulgar fly like that

About your brainsas if I lovedforsooth

IndeedSirsyou do wrong! We had no thought

Of such infatuationshe and I:

There are many points that prove it: do be just!

I told you- at one little roadside-place

I spent a good half-hourpaced to and fro

The garden; just to leave her free awhile

I plucked a handful of Spring herb and bloom:

I might have sat beside her on the bench

Where the children were: I wish the thing had been

Indeed: the event could not be worseyou know:

One more half-hour of her saved! She's dead nowSirs!

While I was running on at such a rate

Friends should have plucked me by the sleeve: I went

Too much o' the trivial outside of her face

And the purity that shone there- plain to me

Not to youwhat more natural? Nor am I

Infatuated- ohI sawbe sure!

Her brow had not the right lineleaned too much

Painters would say; they like the straight-up Greek:

This seemed bent somewhat with an invisible crown

Of martyr and saintnot such as art approves.

And how the dark orbs dwelt deep underneath

Looked out of such a sad sweet heaven on me-

The lipscompressed a littlecame forward too

Careful for a whole world of sin and pain.

That was the faceher husband makes his plea

He sought just to disfigure- no offence

Beyond that! Sirslet us be rational!

He needs must vindicate his honour- ay

Yet shirksthe cowardin a clown's disguise

Away from the sceneendeavours to escape.

Nowhad he done soslain and left no trace

O' the slayer- what were vindicatedpray?

You had found his wife disfigured or a corpse

For what and by whom? It is too palpable!

Thenhere's another point involving law:

I use this argument to show you meant

No calumny against us by that title

O' the sentence- liars try to twist it so:

What penalty it boreI had to pay

Till further proof should follow of innocence-

Probationis ob defectum- proof?

How could you get proof without trying us?

You went through the preliminary form

Stopped therecontrived this sentence to amuse

The adversary. If the title ran

For more than fault imputed and not proved

That was a simple penman's errorelse

A slip i' the phrase- as when we say of you

'Charged with injustice'- which may either be

Or not be- 'tis a name that sticks meanwhile.

Another relevant matter: fool that I am!

Not what I wish trueyet a point friends urge:

It is not true- yetsince friends think it helps-

She only tried me when some others failed-

Began with Contiwhom I told you of

And GuillichiniGuido's kinsfolk both

And when abandoned by themnot before

Turned to me. That's conclusive why she turned.

Much good they got by the happy cowardice!

Conti is deadpoisoned a month ago:

Does that much strike you as a sin? Not much

After the present murder- one mark more

On the Moor's skin- what is black by blacker still?

Conti had come here and told truth. And so

With Guillichini; he's condemned of course

To the galleysas a friend in this affair

Tried and condemned for no one thing i' the world

A fortnight since by who but the Governor?-

The just judgewho refused Pompilia help

At first blushbeing her husband's friendyou know.

There are two tales to suit the separate courts

Arezzo and Rome: he tells you herewe fled

Aloneunhelped- lays stress on the main fault

The spiritual sinRome looks to: but elsewhere

He likes best we should break instealbear off

Be fit to brand and pillory and flog-

That's the charge goes to the heart of the Governor:

If these unpriest meyou and I may yet

ConverseVincenzo Marzi-Medici!

OhSirsthere are worse men than youI say!

More easily dupedI mean; this stupid lie

Its liar never dared propound in Rome

He gets Arezzo to receive- nay more

Gets Florence and the Duke to authorise!

This is their Rota's sentencetheir Granduke

Signs and seals! Rome for me henceforward- Rome

Where better men are- most of allthat man

The Augustinian of the Hospital

Who writes the letter- he confessedhe says

Many a dying personnever one

So sweet and true and pure and beautiful.

A good man! Will you make him Pope one day?

Not that he is not good toothis we have-

But old- else he would have his word to speak

His truth to teach the world: I thirst for truth

But shall not drink it till I reach the source.

SIRSI am quiet again. You seewe are

So very pitiableshe and I

Who had conceivably been otherwise.

Forget distemperature and idle heat!

Apart from truth's sakewhat's to move so much?

Pompilia will be presently with God;

I amon earthas good as out of it

A relegated priest; when exile ends

I mean to do my duty and live long.

She and I are mere strangers now: but priests

Should study passion; how else cure mankind

Who come for help in passionate extremes?

I do but play with an imagined life

Of whounfettered by a vowunblessed

By the higher call- since you will have it so-

Leads it companioned by the woman there.

To liveand see her learnand learn by her

Out of the low obscure and petty world-

Or only see one purpose and one will

Evolve themselves i' the worldchange wrong to right:

To have to do with nothing but the true

The goodthe eternal- and thesenot alone

In the main current of the general life

But small experiences of every day

Concerns of the particular hearth and home:

To learn not only by a comet's rush

But a rose's birth- not by the grandeurGod-

But the comfortChrist. All thishow far away!

Mere delectationmeet for a minute's dream!-

Just as a drudging student trims his lamp

Opens his Plutarchputs him in the place

Of RomanGrecian; draws the patched gown close

Dreams'Thus should I fightsave or rule the world!'-

Then smilinglycontentedlyawakes

To the old solitary nothingness.

So Ifrom such communionpass content...

O greatjustgood God! Miserable me!

VII: Pompilia

I AM JUST SEVENTEEN YEARS and five months old

Andif I lived one day morethree full weeks;

'Tis writ so in the church's register

Lorenzo in Lucinaall my names

At lengthso many names for one poor child

-Francesca Camilla Vittoria Angela

Pompilia Comparini- laughable!

Also 'tis writ that I was married there

Four years ago: and they will addI hope

When they insert my deatha word or two-

Omitting all about the mode of death-

Thisin its placethis which one cares to know

That I had been a mother of a son

Exactly two weeks. It will be through grace

O' the Curatenot through any claim I have;

Because the boy was born atso baptized

Close tothe Villain the proper church:

A pretty churchI say no word against

Yet stranger-like- while this Lorenzo seems

My own particular placeI always say.

I used to wonderwhen I stood scarce high

As the bed herewhat the marble lion meant

With half his body rushing from the wall

Eating the figure of a prostrate man-

(To the rightit isof entry by the door)

An ominous sign to one baptized like me

Marriedand to be buried thereI hope.

And they should addto have my life complete

He is a boy and Gaetan by name-

Gaetanofor a reason- if the friar

Don Celestine will ask this grace for me

Of Curate Ottoboni: he it was

Baptized me: he remembers my whole life

As I do his grey hair.

All these few things

I know are true- will you remember them?

Because time flies. The surgeon cared for me

To count my wounds- twenty-two dagger-wounds

Five deadlybut I do not suffer much-

Or too much pain- and am to die to-night.

OH HOW good God is that my babe was born

-Better than born- baptized and hid away

Before this happenedsafe from being hurt!

That had been sin God could not well forgive:

He was too young to smile and save himself.

When they tooktwo days after he was born

My babe away from me to be baptized

And hidden awhilefor fear his foe should find-

The country-womanused to nursing babes

Said 'Why take on so? where is the great loss?

These next three weeks he will but sleep and feed

Only begin to smile at the month's end;

He would not know youif you kept him here

Sooner than that; sospend three merry weeks

Snug in the Villagetting strong and stout

And then I bring him back to be your own

And both of you may steal to- we know where!'

The month- there wants of it two weeks this day!

StillI half fancied when I heard the knock

At the Villa in the duskit might prove she-

Come to say 'Since he smiles before the time

Why should I cheat you out of one good hour?

Back I have brought him; speak to him and judge!'

Now I shall never see him; what is worse

When he grows up and gets to be my age

He will seem hardly more than a great boy;

And if he asks 'What was my mother like?'

People may answer 'Like girls of seventeen'-

And how can he but think of this and that

LuciasMariasSofiaswho titter or blush

When he regards them as such boys may do?

Therefore I wish some one will please to say

I looked already old though I was young;

Do I not... sayif you are by to speak...

Look nearer twenty? No more likeat least

Girls who look arch or redden when boys laugh

Than the poor Virgin that I used to know

At our street-corner in a lonely niche-

The babethat sat upon her kneesbroke off-

Thin white glazed clayyou pitied her the more:

Shenot the gay onesalways got my rose.

HOW happy those are who know how to write!

Such could write what their son should read in time

Had they a whole day to live out like me.

Also my name is not a common name

'Pompilia' and may help to keep apart

A little the thing I am from what girls are.

But then how far awayhow hard to find

Will anything about me have become

Even if the boy bethink himself and ask!

No father that he ever knew at all

Nor ever had- nonever hadI say!

That is the truth- nor any mother left

Out of the little two weeks that she lived

Fit for such memory as might assist:

As good too as no familyno name

Not even poor old Pietro's namenor hers

Poor kind unwise Violantesince it seems

They must not be my parents any more.

That is why something put it in my head

To call the boy 'Gaetano'- no old name

For sorrow's sake; I looked up to the sky

And took a new saint to begin anew.

One who has only been made saint- how long?

Twenty-five years: socarefullerperhaps

To guard a namesake than those old saints grow

Tired out by this time- see my own five saints!

ON SECOND thoughtsI hope he will regard

The history of me as what someone dreamed

And get to disbelieve it at the last:

Since to myself it dwindles fast to that

Sheer dreaming and impossibility-

Just in four days too! All the seventeen years

Not once did a suspicion visit me

How very different a lot is mine

From any other woman's in the world.

The reason must be'twas by step and step

It got to grow so terrible and strange:

These strange woes stole on tiptoeas it were

Into my neighbourhood and privacy

Sat down where I satlaid them where I lay;

And I was found familiarised with fear

When friends broke inheld up a torch and cried

'Whyyou Pompilia in the cavern thus

How comes that arm of yours about a wolf?

And the soft length- lies in and out your feet

And laps you round the knee- a snake it is!'

And so on.

Welland they are right enough

By the torch they hold up now: for firstobserve

I never had a father- nonor yet

A mother: my own boy can say at least

'I had a mother whom I kept two weeks!'

Not Iwho little used to doubt... I doubt

Good Pietrokind Violantegave me birth?

They loved me always as I love my babe

(-Nearly sothat is- quite so could not be-)

Did for me all I meant to do for him

Till one surprising daythree years ago

They both declaredat Romebefore some judge

In some court where the people flocked to hear

That really I had never been their child

Was a mere castawaythe careless crime

Of an unknown manthe crime and care too much

Of a woman known too well- little to these

Thereforeof whom I was the flesh and blood:

What then to Pietro and Violanteboth

No more my relatives than you or you?

Nothing to them! You know what they declared.

SO WITH my husband- just such a surprise

Such a mistakein that relationship!

Everyone says that husbands love their wives

Guard them and guide themgive them happiness;

'Tis dutylawpleasurereligion: well

You see how much of this comes true in mine!

People indeed would fain have somehow proved

He was no husband: but he did not hear

Or would not waitand so has killed us all.

Then there is... only let me name one more!

There is the friend- men will not ask about

But tell untruths ofand give nicknames to

And think my lovermost surprise of all!

Do only hearit is the priest they mean

Giuseppe Caponsacchi: a priest- love

And love me! Wellyet people think he did.

I am marriedhe has taken priestly vows

They know thatand yet go onsaythe same

'Yeshow he loves you!' 'That was love'- they say

When anything is answered that they ask:

Or else 'No wonder you love him'- they say.

Then they shake headspity muchscarcely blame-

As if we neither of us lacked excuse

And anyhow are punished to the full

And downright love atones for everything!

NayI heard read-out in the public court

Before the judgein presence of my friends

Letters 'twas said the priest had sent to me

And other letters sent him by myself

We being lovers!

Listen what this is like!

When I was a mere childmy mother... that's

Violanteyou must let me call her so

Nor waste timetrying to unlearn the word...

She brought a neighbour's child of my own age

To play with me of rainy afternoons;

Andsince there hung a tapestry on the wall

We two agreed to find each other out

Among the figures. 'Tisbethat is you

With half-moon on your hair-knotspear in hand

Flyingbut no wingsonly the great scarf

Blown to a bluish rainbow at your back:

Call off your hound and leave the stag alone!'

'-And there are youPompiliasuch green leaves

Flourishing out of your five finger-ends

And all the rest of you so brown and rough:

Why is it you are turned a sort of tree?'

You know the figures never were ourselves

Though we nicknamed them so. Thusall my life-

As well what wasas whatlike thiswas not-

Looks oldfantastic and impossible:

I touch a fairy thing that fades and fades.

-Even to my babe! I thoughtwhen he was born

Something began for once that would not end

Nor change into a laugh at mebut stay

For evermoreeternally quite mine.

Wellso he is- but yet they bore him off

The third daylest my husband should lay traps

And catch himand by means of him catch me.

Since they have saved him soit was well done:

Yet thence comes such confusion of what was

With what will be- that late seems long ago

Andwhat years should bring roundalready come

Till even he withdraws into a dream

As the rest do: I fancy him grown great

Strongsterna tall young man who tutors me

Frowns with the others 'Poor imprudent child!

Why did you venture out of the safe street?

Why go so far from help to that lone house?

Why open at the whisper and the knock?'

SIX days ago when it was New Year's-day

We bent above the fire and talked of him

What he should do when he was grown and great.

ViolantePietroeach had given the arm

I leant onto walk byfrom couch to chair

And fireside- laughedas I lay safe at last

'Pompilia's march from bed to board is made

Pompilia back again and with a babe

Shall one day lend his arm and help her walk!'

Then we all wished each other more New Years.

Pietro began to scheme- 'Our cause is gained;

The law is stronger than a wicked man:

Let him henceforth go his wayleave us ours!

We will avoid the citytempt no more

The greedy ones by feasting and parade-

Live at the other villawe know where

Still farther offand we can watch the babe

Grow fast in the good air; and wood is cheap

And wine sincere outside the city gate.

I Still have two or three old friends will grope

Their way along the mere half-mile of road

With staff and lantern on a moonless night

When one needs talk: they'll find menever fear

And I'll find them a flask of the old sort yet!'

Violante said 'You chatter like a crow:

Pompilia tires o' the tattleand shall to bed:

Do not too much the first day- somewhat more

To-morrowandthe nextbegin the cape

And hood and coat! I have spun wool enough.'

Oh what a happy friendly eve was that!

Andnext dayabout noonout Pietro went-

He was so happy and would talk so much

Until Violante pushed and laughed him forth

Sight-seeing in the cold- 'So much to see

I' the churches! Swathe your throat three times!' she cried

'Andabove allbeware the slippery ways

And bring us all the news by supper-time!'

He came back latelaid by cloakstaff and hat

Powdered so thick with snow it made us laugh

Rolled a great log upon the ash o' the hearth

And bade Violante treat us to a flask

Because he had obeyed her faithfully

Gone sight-see through the sevenand found no church

To his mind like San Giovanni- 'There's the fold

And all the sheep togetherbig as cats!

And such a shepherdhalf the size of life

Starts up and hears the angel'- whenat the door

A tap: we started up: you know the rest.

PIETRO at least had done no harmI know;

Nor even Violanteso much harm as makes

Such revenge lawful. Certainly she erred-

Did wronghow shall I dare say otherwise?-

In telling that first falsehoodbuying me

From my poor faulty mother at a price

To pass off upon Pietro as his child:

If one should take my babegive him a name

Say he was not Gaetano and my own

But that some other woman made his mouth

And hands and feet- how very false were that!

No good could come of that; and all harm did.

Yet if a stranger were to represent

'Needs must you either give your babe to me

And let me call him mine for ever more

Or let your husband get him'- ahmy God

That were a trial I refuse to face!

Welljust so here: it proved wrong but seemed right

To poor Violante-for there layshe said

My poor real dying mother in her rags

Who put me from her with the life and all

Povertypainshame and disease at once

To die the easier by what price I fetched-

Also (I hope) because I should be spared

Sorrow and sin- why may not that have helped?

My father- he was no oneany one-

The worsethe likelier- call him- he who came

Was wicked for his pleasurewent his way

And left no trace to track by; there remained

Nothing but methe unnecessary life

To catch up or let fall- and yet a thing

She could make happybe made happy with

This poor Violante- who would frown thereat?

WELLGodyou see! God plants us where we grow.

It is not thatbecause a bud is born

At a wild briar's endfull i' the wild beast's way

We ought to pluck and put it out of reach

On the oak-tree top- say'There the bud belongs!'

She thoughtmoreoverreal lies were- lies told

For harm's sake; whereas this had good at heart

Good for my mothergood for meand good

For Pietro who was meant to love a babe

And needed one to make his life of use

Receive his house and land when he should die.

Wrongwrong and always wrong! how plainly wrong!

For seethis fault kept prickingas faults do

All the same at her heart- this falsehood hatched

She could not let it go nor keep it fast.

She told me so- the first time I was found

Locked in her arms once more after the pain

When the nuns let me leave them and go home

And both of us cried all the cares away-

This it was set her on to make amends

This brought about the marriage- simply this!

Do let me speak for her you blame so much!

When Paulmy husband's brotherfound me out

Heard there was wealth for who should marry me

Socame and made a speech to ask my hand

For Guido- sheinstead of piercing straight

Through the pretence to the ignoble truth

Fancied she saw God's very finger point

Designate just the time for planting me

(The wild briar-slip she plucked to love and wear)

In soil where I could strike real rootand grow

And get to be the thing I called myself:

Forwife and husband are one fleshGod says

And Iwhose parents seemed such and were none

Should in a husband have a husband now

Find nothingthis timebut was what it seemed

-All truth and no confusion any more.

I know she meant all good to meall pain

To herself- since how could it be aught but pain

TO give me upsofrom her very breast

The wilding flower-tree-branch thatall those years

She had got used to feel for and find fixed?

She meant well: has it been so ill i' the main?

That is but fair to ask: one cannot judge

Of what has been the ill or well of life

The day that one is dying'- sorrows change

Into not altogether sorrow-like;

I do see strangeness but scarce misery

Now it is overand no danger more.

My child is safe; there seems not so much pain.

It comesmost likethat I am just absolved

Purged of the pastthe foul in mewashed fair-

One cannot both have and not haveyou know-

Being right nowI am happy and colour things.

Yesevery body that leaves life sees all

Softened and bettered: so with other sights:

To me at least was never evening yet

But seemed far beautifuller than its day

For past is past.

There was a fancy came

When somewherein the journey with my friend

We stepped into a hovel to get food;

And there began a yelp herea bark there-

Misunderstanding creatures that were wroth

And vexed themselves and us till we retired.

The hovel is life: no matter what dogs bit

Or cats scratched in the hovel I break from

All outside is lone fieldmoon and such peace-

Flowing infilling up as with a sea

Whereon comes Someonewalks fast on the white

Jesus Christ's selfDon Celestine declares

To meet me and calm all things back again.

BESIDEup to my marriagethirteen years

Wereeach dayhappy as the day was long:

This may have made the change too terrible.

I know that when Violante told me first

The cavalier- she meant to bring next morn

Whom I must also let takekiss my hand-

Would be at San Lorenzo the same eve

And marry me- which overwe should go

Home both of us without him as before

Andtill she bade speakI must hold my tongue

Such being the correct way with girl-brides

From whom one word would make a father blush-

I knowI saythat when she told me this

-WellI no more saw sense in what she said

Than a lamb does in people clipping wool;

Only lay down and let myself be clipped.

And when next day the cavalier who came

(Tisbe had told me that the slim young man

With wings at headand wings at feetand sword

Threatening a monsterin our tapestry

Would eat a girl else- was a cavalier)

When he proved Guido Franceschini- old

And nothing like so tall as I myself

Hook-nosed and yellow in a bush of beard

Much like a thing I saw on a boy's wrist

He called an owl and used for catching birds-

And when he took my hand and made a smile-

Whythe uncomfortableness of it all

Seemed hardly more important in the case

Than- when one gives yousaya coin to spend-

Its newness or its oldness; if the piece

Weigh properly and buy you what you wish

No matter whether you get grime or glare!

Men take the coinreturn you grapes and figs.

Heremarriage was the coina dirty piece

Would purchase me the praise of those I loved:

About what else should I concern myself?

SOHARDLY knowing what a husband meant

I supposed this or any man would serve

No whit the worse for being so uncouth:

For I was ill once and a doctor came

With a great ugly hatno plume thereto

Black jerkin and black buckles and black sword

And white sharp beard over the ruff in front

And oh so leanso sour-faced and austere!-

Who felt my pulsemade me put out my tongue

Then oped a phialdripped a drop or two

Of a black bitter something- I was cured!

What mattered the fierce beard or the grim face?

It was the physic beautified the man

Master Malpichi- never met his match

In Romethey said- so ugly all the same!

HOWEVERI was hurried through a storm

Next dark eve of December's deadest day-

How it rained!- through our street and the Lion's-mouth

And the bit of Corso- cloaked roundcovered close

I was like something strange or contraband-

Into blank San Lorenzoup the aisle

My mother keeping hold of me so tight

I fancied we were come to see a corpse

Before the altar which she pulled me toward.

There we found waiting an unpleasant priest

Who proved the brothernot our parish friend

But one with mischief-making mouth and eye

Paulwhom I know since to my cost. And then

I heard the heavy church-door lock out help

Behind us: for the customary warmth

Two tapers shivered on the altar. 'Quick-

Lose no time!'- cried the priest. And straightway down

From... what's behind the altar where he hid-

Hawk-nose and yellowness and bush and all

Stepped Guidocaught my handand there was I

O' the chanceland the priest had opened book

Read here and theremade me say that and this

And aftertold me I was now a wife

Honoured indeedsince Christ thus weds the Church

And therefore turned he water into wine

To show I should obey my spouse like Christ.

Then the two slipped aside and talked apart

And Isilent and scaredgot down again

And joined my mother who was weeping now.

Nobody seemed to mind us any more

And both of us on tiptoe found our way

To the door which was unlocked by thisand wide.

When we were in the streetthe rain had stopped

All things looked better. At our own house-door

Violante whispered 'No one syllable

To Pietro! Girl-brides never breathe a word!'

'-Well treated to a wettingdraggle-tails!'

Laughed Pietro as he opened- 'Very near

You made me brave the gutter's roaring sea

To carry off from roost old dove and young

Trussed up in churchthe coteby methe kite!

What do these priests meanpraying folk to death

On stormy afternoonswith Christmas close

To wash our sins off nor require the rain?'

Violante gave my hand a timely squeeze

Madonna saved me from immodest speech

I kissed him and was quietbeing a bride.

WHEN I saw nothing morethe next three weeks

Of Guido- 'Nor the Church sees Christ' thought I:

'Nothing is changed howeverwine is wine

And water only water in our house.

Nor did I see that ugly doctor since

The cure of the illness: just as I was cured

I am married- neither scarecrow will return.'

Three weeksI chuckled- 'How would Giulia stare

And Tecla smile and Tisbe laugh outright

Were it not impudent for brides to talk!'-

Until one morningas I sat and sang

At the broidery-frame alone i' the chamber- loud

Voicestwothree togethersobbings too

And my name'Guido' 'Paolo' flung like stones

From each to the other! In I ran to see.

There stood the very Guido and the priest

With sly face- formal but nowise afraid-

While Pietro seemed all red and angryscarce

Able to stutter out his wrath in words;

And this it was that made my mother sob

As he reproached her- 'You have murdered us

Me and yourself and this our child beside!'

Then Guido interposed 'Murdered or not

Be it enough your child is now my wife!

I claim and come to take her.' Paul put in

'Consider- kinsmandare I term you so?-

What is the good of your sagacity

Except to counsel in a strait like this?

I guarantee the parties man and wife

Whether you like or loathe itbless or ban.

May spilt milk be put back within the bowl-

The done thingundone? Youit iswe look

For counsel toyou fitliest will advise!

Since milkthough spilt and spoiltdoes marble good

Better we down on knees and scrub the floor

Than sigh"the waste would make a syllabub!"

Help us so turn disaster to account

So predispose the groomhe needs shall grace

The bride with favour from the very first

Not begin marriage an embittered man!'

He smiled- the game so wholly in his hands!

While fast and faster sobbed Violante- 'Ay

All of us murderedpast averting now!

O my sinO my secret!' and such like.

THEN I began to half surmise the truth;

Something had happenedlowmeanunderhand

Falseand my mother was to blameand I

To pitywhom all spoke ofnone addressed:

I was the chattel that had caused a crime.

I stood mute- those who tangled must untie

The embroilment. Pietro cried 'Withdrawmy child!

She is not helpful to the sacrifice

At this stage- do you want the victim by

While you discuss the value of her blood?

For her sakeI consent to hear you talk:

Gochildand pray God help the innocent!'

I DID go and was praying Godwhen came

Violantewith eyes swollen and red enough

But movement on her mouth for make-believe

Matters were somehow getting right again.

She bade me sit down by her side and hear.

'You are too young and cannot understand

Nor did your father understand at first.

I wished to benefit all three of us

And when he failed to take my meaning- why

I tried to have my way at unaware-

Obtained him the advantage he refused.

As if I put before him wholesome food

Instead of broken victual- he finds change

I' the viandsnever cares to reason why

But falls to blaming mewould fling the plate

From windowscandalize the neighbourhood

Even while he smacks his lips- men's waymy child!

But either you have prayed him unperverse

Or I have talked him back into his wits:

And Paolo was a help in time of need-

Guidonot much- my childthe way of men!

A priest is more a woman than a man

And Paul did wonders to persuade. In short

Yeshe was wrongyour father sees and says;

My scheme was worth attempting: and bears fruit

Gives you a husband and a noble name

A palace and no end of pleasant things.

What do you care about a handsome youth?

They are so volatileand tease their wives!

This is the kind of man to keep the house.

We lose no daughter- gain a sonthat's all:

For 'tis arranged we never separate

Nor missin our grey time of lifethe tints

Of you that colour eve to match with morn.

In good or illwe share and share alike

And cast our lots into a common lap

And all three die together as we lived!

Onlyat Arezzo- that's a Tuscan town

Not so large as this noisy Romeno doubt

But older far and finer muchsay folks-

In a great palace where you will be queen

Know the Archbishop and the Governor

And we see homage done you ere we die.

Thereforebe good and pardon!'- 'Pardon what?

You know thingsI am very ignorant:

All is right if you only will not cry!'

And so an end! Because a blank begins

From whenat the wordshe kissed me hard and hot

And took me back to where my father leaned

Opposite Guido- who stood eyeing him

As eyes the butcher the cast panting ox

That feels his fate is comenor struggles more-

While Paul looked archly onpricked brow at whiles

With the pen-point as to punish triumph there-

And said 'Count Guidotake your lawful wife

Until death part you!'

All since is one blank

Over and ended: a terrific dream.

It is the good of dreams- so soon they go!

Wake in a horror of heart-beatsyou may-

Cry'The dread thing will never from my thoughts!'

Stilla few daylight doses of plain life

Cock-crow and sparrow-chirpor bleat and bell

Of goats that trot bytinklingto be milked;

And when you rub your eyes awake and wide

Where is the harm o' the horror? Gone! So here.

I know I wake- but from what? BlankI say!

This is the note of evil: for good lasts.

Even when Don Celestine bade 'Search and find!

For your soul's sakeremember what is past

The better to forgive it'- all in vain!

What was fast getting indistinct before

Vanished outright. By special grace perhaps

Between that first calm and this lastfour years

Vanish- one quarter of my lifeyou know.

I am held upamid the nothingness

By one or two truths only- thence I hang

And there I live- the rest is death or dream

All but those points of my support. I think

Of what I saw at Rome once in the Square

O' the Spaniardsopposite the Spanish House:

There was a foreigner had trained a goat

A shuddering white woman of a beast

To climb upstand straight on a pile of sticks

Put closewhich gave the creature room enough:

When she was settled there heone by one

Took away all the sticksleft just the four

Whereon the little hoofs did really rest

There she kept firmall underneath was air.

Sowhat I hold byare my prayer to God

My hopethat came in answer to the prayer

Some hand would interpose and save me- hand

Which proved to be my friend's hand: and- best bliss-

That fancy which began so faint at first

That thrill of dawn's suffusion through my dark

Which I perceive was promise of my child

The light his unborn face sent long before-

God's way of breaking the good news to flesh.

That is all left now of those four bad years.

Don Celestine urged 'But remember more!

Other men's faults may help me find your own.

I need the cruelty exposedexplained

Or how can I advise you to forgive?'

He thought I could not properly forgive

Unless I ceased forgetting- which is true:

Forbringing back reluctantly to mind

My husband's treatment of me- by a light

That's later than my life-timeI review

And comprehend much and imagine more

And have but little to forgive at last.

For now- be fair and say- is it not true

He was ill-used and cheated of his hope

To get enriched by marriage? Marriage gave

Me and no moneybroke the compact so:

He had a right to ask me on those terms

As Pietro and Violante to declare

They would not give me: so the bargain stood:

They broke itand he felt himself aggrieved

Became unkind with me to punish them.

They said 'twas he began deception first

Norin one point whereto he pledged himself

Kept promise: what of thatsuppose it were?

Echoes die offscarcely reverberate

For ever- why should ill keep echoing ill

And never let our ears have done with noise?

Then my poor parents took the violent way

To thwart him- he must needs retaliate- wrong

Wrongand all wrong- better sayall blind!

As I myself wasthat is surewho else

Had understood the mystery: for his wife

Was bound in some sort to help somehow there.

It seems as if I might have interposed

Blunted the edge of their resentment so

Since he vexed me because they first vexed him;

'I will entreat them to desistsubmit

Give him the money and be poor in peace-

Certainly not go tell the world: perhaps

He will grow quiet with his gains.'


Something to this effect and you do well!

But then you have to see first: I was blind.

That is the fruit of all such wormy ways

The indirectthe unapproved of God:

You cannot find their author's end and aim

Not even to substitute your good for bad

Your open for the irregular; you stand

Stupefiedprofitlessas cow or sheep

That miss a man's mind; anger him just twice

By trial at repairing the first fault.

Thuswhen he blamed me'You are a coquette

A lure-owl posturing to attract birds

You look love-lures at theatre and church

In walkat window!'- thatI knewwas false:

But why he charged me falselywhither sought

To drive me by such charge- how could I know?

SounawareI only made things worse.

I tried to soothe him by abjuring walk

Windowchurchtheatrefor good and all

As if he had been in earnest: thatyou know

Was nothing like the object of his charge.

Yeswhen I got my maid to supplicate

The priestwhose name she read when she would read

Those feigned false letters I was forced to hear

Though I could read no word of- he should cease

Writing- nayif he minded prayer of mine

Cease from so much as even pass the street

Whereon our house looked- in my ignorance

I was just thwarting Guido's true intent;

Which wasto bring about a wicked change

Of sport to earnesttempt a thoughtless man

To write indeedand pass the houseand more

Till both of us were taken in a crime.

He ought not to have wished me thus act lies

Simulate folly- but- wrong or rightthe wish-

I failed to apprehend its drift. How plain

It follows- if I fell into such fault

He also may have overreached the mark

Made mistakeby perversity of brain

In the whole sad strange plotthis same intrigue

To make me and my friend unself ourselves

Be other man and woman than we were!

Think it outyou who have the time! for me-

I cannot say less; more I will not say.

Leave it to God to cover and undo!

Onlymy dulness should not prove too much!

-Not prove that in a certain other point

Wherein my husband blamed me- and you blame

If I interpret smiles and shakes of head-

I was dull too. Ohif I dared but speak!

Must I speak? I am blamed that I forwent

A way to make my husband's favour come.

That is true: I was firmwithstoodrefused...

-Women as you arehow can I find the words?

I FELT there was just one thing Guido claimed

I had no right to give nor he to take;

We being in estrangementsoul from soul:

Tillwhen I sought helpthe Archbishop smiled

Inquiring into privacies of life

-Said I was blameable- (he stands for God)

Nowise entitled to exemption there.

Then I obeyed- as surely had obeyed

Were the injunction 'Since your husband bids

Swallow the burning coal he proffers you

But I did wrongand he gave wrong advice

Though he were thrice Archbishop- thatI know!-

Now I have got to die and see things clear

Remember I was barely twelve years old-

A child at marriage: I was let alone

For weeksI told youlived my child-life still

Even at Arezzowhen I woke and found

First... but I need not think of that again-

Over and ended! Try and take the sense

Of what I signifyif it must be so.

After the firstmy husbandfor hate's sake

Said one evewhen the simpler cruelty

Seemed somewhat dull at edge and fit to bear

'We have been man and wife six months almost:

How long is this your comedy to last?

Go this night to my chambernot your own!'

At which wordI did rush- most true the charge-

And gain the Archbishop's house- he stands for God-

And fall upon my knees and clasp his feet

Praying him hinder what my estranged soul

Refused to bearthough patient of the rest:

'Place me within a convent' I implored-

'Let me henceforward lead the virgin life

You praise in Her you bid me imitate!'

What did he answer? 'Folly of ignorance!

Knowdaughtercircumstances make or mar

Virginity- 'tis virtue or 'tis vice.

That which was glory in the Mother of God

Had beenfor instancedamnable in Eve

Created to be mother of mankind.

Had Evein answer to her Maker's speech

"Be fruitfulmultiplyreplenish earth"-

Pouted "But I choose rather to remain

Single"- whyshe had spared herself forthwith

Further probation by the apple and snake

Been pushed straight out of Paradise! For see-

If motherhood be qualified impure

I catch you making God command Eve sin!

-A blasphemy so like these Molinists'

I must suspect you dip into their books.'

Then he pursued ''Twas in your covenant!'

NO! There my husband never used deceit.

He never did by speech nor act imply

'Because of our souls' yearning that we meet

And mix in soul through fleshwhich yours and mine

Wear and impressand make their visible selves

-All which meansfor the love of you and me

Let us become one fleshbeing one soul!'

He only stipulated for the wealth;

Honest so far. But when he spoke as plain-

Dreadfully honest also- 'Since our souls

Stand each from eacha whole world's width between

Give me the fleshy vesture I can reach

And rend and leave just fit for hell to burn!'-

Whyin God's namefor Guido's soul's own sake

Imperilled by polluting mine- I say

I did resist; would I had overcome!

MY HEART died out at the Archbishop's smile;

It seemed so stale and worn a way o' the world

As though 'twere nature frowning- 'Here is Spring

The sun shines as he shone at Adam's fall

The earth requires that warmth reach everywhere:

Whatmust your patch of snow be saved forsooth

Because you rather fancy snow than flowers?'

Something in this style he began with me.

Last he saidsavagely for a good man

'This explains why you call your husband harsh

Harsh to youharsh to whom you love. God's Bread!

The poor Count has to manage a mere child

Whose parents leave untaught the simplest things

Their duty was and privilege to teach-

Goodwives' instructiongossips' lore: they laugh

And leave the Count the task- or leave it me!'

Then I resolved to tell a frightful thing.

'I am not ignorant- know what I say

Declaring this is sought for hatenot love.

Siryou may hear things like almighty God.

I tell you that my housemateyes- the priest

My husband's brotherCanon Girolamo-

Has taught me what depraved and misnamed love

Meansand what outward signs denote the sin

For he solicits me and says he loves

The idle young priest with nought else to do.

My husband sees thisknows thisand lets be.

Is it your counsel I bear this beside?'

'-More scandaland against a priest this time!

What'tis the Canon now?'- less snappishly-

'Rise upmy childfor such a child you are

The rod were too advanced a punishment!

Let's try the honeyed cake. A parable!

"Without a parable spake He not to them."

There was a ripe round long black toothsome fruit

Even a flower-figthe prime boast of May:

Andto the treesaid... either the spirit o' the fig

Orif we bring in menthe gardener

Archbishop of the orchard- had I time

To try o' the two which fits in best: indeed

It might be the Creator's selfbut then

The tree should bear an appleI suppose-

Wellanyhowone with authority said

"Ripe figburst skinregale the fig-pecker-

The bird whereof thou art a perquisite!"

"Nay" with a flouncereplied the restif fig

"I much prefer to keep my pulp myself:

He may go breakfastless and dinnerless

Supperless of one crimson seedfor me!"

Soback she flopped into her bunch of leaves.

He flew offleft her- did the natural lord-

And lothree hundred thousand bees and wasps

Found her outfeasted on her to the shuck:

Such gain the fig's that gave its bird no bite!

The moral- fools elude their proper lot

Tempt other foolsget ruined all alike.

Therefore go homeembrace your husband quick!

Which if his Canon brother chance to see

He will the sooner back to book again.'

SOHOME I did go: sothe worst befell:

SoI had proof the Archbishop was just man

And hardly thatand certainly no more.

Formiserable consequence to me

My husband's hatred waxed nor waned at all

His brother's boldness grew effrontery soon

And my last stay and comfort in myself

Was forced from me: henceforth I looked to God

Onlynor cared my desecrated soul

Should have fair wallsgay windows for the world.

God's glimmerthat came through the ruin-top

Was witness why all lights were quenched inside:

Henceforth I asked God counselnot mankind.

SOWHEN I made the effortsaved myself

They said- 'No care to save appearance here!

How cynic- whenhow wantonwere enough!'

-Addingit all came of my mother's life-

My own real motherwhom I never knew

Who did wrong (if she needs must have done wrong)

Through being all her lifenot my four years

At mercy of the hateful- every beast

O' the field was wont to break that fountain-fence

Trample the silver into mud so murk

Heaven could not find itself reflected there-

Now they cry 'Out on herwhoplashy pool

Bequeathed turbidity and bitterness

To the daughter-stream where Guido dipt and drank!'

WELLsince she had to bear this brand- let me!

The rather do I understand her now-

From my experience of what hate calls love-

Much love might be in what their love called hate.

If she sold... what they callsold... me her child-

I shall believe she hoped in her poor heart

That I at least might try be good and pure

Begin to live untemptednot go doomed

And done with ere once found in faultas she.

Oh andmy motherit all came to this?

Why should I trust those that speak ill of you

When I mistrust who speaks even well of them?

Whysince all bound to do me gooddid harm

May not youseeming as you harmed me most

Have meant to do most good- and feed your child

From bramble-bushwhom not one orchard-tree

But drew-back bough fromnor let one fruit fall?

This it was for you sacrificed your babe?

Gained just thisgiving your heart's hope away

As I might give mineloving it as you

If... but that never could be asked of me!

THEREenough! I have my support again

Again the knowledge that my babe wasis

Will be mine only. Himby deathI give

Outright to Godwithout a further care-

But not to any parent in the world-

So to be safe: why is it we repine?

What guardianship were safer could we choose?

All human plans and projects come to nought

My lifeand what I know of other lives

Prove that: no plan nor project! God shall care!

AND now you are not tired? How patient then

All of you- Oh yespatient this long while

Listeningand understandingI am sure!

Four days agowhen I was sound and well

And like to liveno one would understand.

People were kindbut smiled 'And what of him

Your friendwhose tonsurethe rich dark-brown hides?

Therethere!- your loverdo we dream he was?

A priest too- never were such naughtiness!

Stillhe thinks many a long thinknever fear

After the shy pale lady- lay so light

For a moment in his armsthe lucky one!'

And so on: wherefore should I blame you much?

So we are madesuch difference in minds

Such difference too in eyes that see the minds!

That manyou misinterpret and misprise-

The glory of his natureI had thought

Shot itself out in white lightblazed the truth

Through every atom of his act with me:

Yet where I point youthrough the chrystal shrine

Purity in quintessenceone dew-drop

You all descry a spider in the midst.

One says'The head of it is plain to see'

And one'They are the feet by which I judge'

All say'Those films were spun by nothing else.'

THENI must lay my babe away with God

Nor think of him againfor gratitude.

Yesmy last breath shall wholly spend itself

In one attempt more to disperse the stain

The mist from other breath fond mouths have made

About a lustrous and pellucid soul:

So thatwhen I am gone but sorrow stays

And people need assurance in their doubt

If God yet have a servantman a friend

The weak a saviour and the vile a foe-

Let him be presentby the name invoked

Giuseppe-Maria Caponsacchi!


Strength comes already with the utterance!

I will remember once more for his sake

The sorrow: for he lives and is belied.

Could he be herehow he would speak for me!

I HAD been miserable three drear years

In that dread palace and lay passive now

When I first learned there could be such a man.

Thus it fell: I was at a public play

In the last days of Carnival last March

Brought there I knew not whybut now know well.

My husband put me where I satin front;

Then crouched downbreathed cold through me from behind

Stationed i' the shadow- none in front could see-

I. it wasfaced the stranger-throng beneath

The crowd with upturned faceseyes one stare

Voices one buzz. I looked but to the stage

Whereon two lovers sang and interchanged

'True life is only lovelove only bliss:

I love thee- thee I love!' then they embraced.

I looked thence to the ceiling and the walls-

Over the crowdthose voices and those eyes-

My thoughts went through the roof and outto Rome

On wings of musicwaft of measured words-

Set me down therea happy child again

Sure that to-morrow would be festa-day

Hearing my parents praise past festas more

And seeing they were old if I was young

Yet wondering why they still would end discourse

With'We must soon goyou abide your time

And- might we haply see the proper friend

Throw his arm over you and make you safe!'

SUDDEN I saw him; into my lap there fell

A foolish twist of comfitsbroke my dream

And brought me from the air and laid me low

As ruined as the soaring bee that's reached

(So Pietro told me at the Villa once)

By the dust-handful. There the comfits lay:

I looked to see who flung themand I faced

This Caponsacchilooking up in turn.

Ere I could reason out whyI felt sure

Whoever flung themhis was not the hand-

Up rose the round face and good-natured grin

Of him whoin effecthad played the prank

From covert close beside the earnest face-

Fat waggish Contifriend of all the world.

He was my husband's cousinprivileged

To throw the thing: the othersilentgrave

Solemn almostsaw meas I saw him.

THERE is a psalm Don Celestine recites

'Had I a dove's wingshow I fain would flee!'

The psalm runs not 'I hopeI pray for wings'-

Not 'If wings fall from heavenI fix them fast'-

Simply 'How good it were to fly and rest

Have hope nowand one day expect content!

How well to do what I shall never do!'

So I said 'Had there been a man like that

To lift me with his strength out of all strife

Into the calmhow I could fly and rest!

I have a keeper in the garden here

Whose sole employment is to strike me low

If ever Ifor solaceseek the sun.

Life means with me successful feigning death

Lying stone-likeeluding notice so

Foregoing here the turf and there the sky.

Suppose that man had been instead of this!'

PRESENTLY Conti laughed into my ear

-Had tripped up to the raised place where I sat-

'CousinI flung them brutishly and hard!

Because you must be hurtto look austere

As Caponsacchi yondermy tall friend

A-gazing now. AhGuidoyou so close?

Keep on your kneesdo! Beg her to forgive!

My cornet battered like a cannon-ball.

Good byeI'm gone!'- nor waited the reply.

THAT night at supperout my husband broke

'Why was that throwingthat buffoonery?

Do you think I am your dupe? What man would dare

Throw comfits in a stranger lady's lap?

'Twas knowledge of you bred such insolence

In Caponsacchi; he dared shoot the bolt

Using that Conti for his stalking-horse.

How could you see him this once and no more

When he is always haunting hereabout

At the street-corner or the palace-side

Publishing my shame and your impudence?

You are a wanton- I a dupeyou think?

O Christwhat hinders that I kill her quick?'

Whereat he drew his sword and feigned a thrust.

ALL thisnow- being not so strange to me

Used to such misconception day by day

And broken-in to bear- I borethis time

More quietly than woman should perhaps;

Repeated the mere truth and held my tongue.

THEN he said'Since you play the ignorant

I shall instruct you. This amour- commenced

Or finished or midway in actall's one-

'Tis the town-talk; so my revenge shall be.

Does he presume because he is a priest?

I warn him that the sword I wear shall pink

His lily-scented cassock through and through

Next time I catch him underneath you eaves!'

BUT he had threatened with the sword so oft

Andafter allnot kept his promise. All

I said was'Let God save the innocent!

Moreoverdeath is far from a bad fate.

I shall go pray for you and menot him;

And then I look to sleepcome death orworse

Life.' SoI slept.

There may have elapsed a week

When Margherita- called my waiting-maid

Whom it is said my husband found too fair-

Who stood and heard the charge and the reply

Who never once would let the matter rest

From that night forwardbut rang changes still

On this the thrust and that the shameand how

Good cause for jealousy cures jealous fools

And what a paragon was this same priest

She talked about until I stopped my ears-

She said'A week is gone; you comb your hair

Then go mope in a cornercheek on palm

Till night comes round again- sowaste a week

As if your husband menaced you in sport.

Have not I some acquaintance with his tricks?

Oh nohe did not stab the serving-man

Who made and sang the rhymes about me once!

For why? They sent him to the wars next day.

Nor poisoned he the foreignermy friend

Who wagered on the whiteness of my breast-

The swarth skins of our city in dispute:

Forthough he paid me proper compliment

The Count well knew he was besotted with

Somebody elsea skin as black as ink

(As all the town knew save my foreigner)

He found and wedded presently- "Why need

Better revenge?"- the Count asked. But what's here?

A priestthat does not fightand cannot wed

Yet must be dealt with! If the Count took fire

For the poor pastime of a minute- me-

What were the conflagration for yourself

Countess and lady- wife and all the rest?

The priest will perish; you will grieve too late:

So shall the city-ladies' handsomest

Frankest and liberalest gentleman

Die for youto appease a scurvy dog

Hanging's too good for. Is there no escape?

Were it not simple Christian charity

To warn the priest be on his guard- save him

Assured deathsave yourself from causing it?

I meet him in the street. Give me a glove

A ring to show for token! Mum's the word!'

I ANSWERED'If you wereas styledmy maid

I would command you: as you areyou say

My husband's intimate- assist his wife

Who can do nothing but entreat "Be still!"

Even if you speak truth and a crime is planned

Leave help to God as I am forced to do!

There is no other courseor we should craze

Seeing such evil with no human cure.

Reflect that Godwho makes the storm desist

Can make an angry violent heart subside.

Why should we venture teach Him governance?

Never address me on this subject more!'

NEXT night she said'But I wentall the same

-Aysaw your Caponsacchi in his house

And come back stuffed with news I must outpour.

I told him"Sirmy mistress is a stone:

Why should you harm her for no good you get?

For you do harm her- prowl about our place

With the Count never distant half the street

Lurking at every cornerwould you look!

'Tis certain she has witched you with a spell.

Are there not other beauties at your beck?

We all knowDonna This and Monna That

Die for a glance of yoursyet here you gaze!

Go make them gratefulleave the stone its cold!

And he- ohhe turned first white and then red

And then- "To her behest I bow myself

Whom I love with my body and my soul:

Onlya word i' the bowing! SeeI write

One little wordno harm to see or hear!

Thenfear no further!" This is what he wrote.

I know you cannot read- thereforelet me!

"My idol!..."'

But I took it from her hand

And tore it into shreds. 'Why join the rest

Who harm me? Have I ever done you wrong?

People have told me 'tis you wrong myself:

Let it suffice I either feel no wrong

Or else forgive it- yet you turn my foe!

The others hunt me and you throw a noose!'

She muttered'Have your wilful way!' I slept.

WHEREUPON... noI leave my husband out!

It is not to do him more hurtI speak.

Let it sufficewhen misery was most

One dayI swooned and got a respite so.

She stooped as I was slowly coming to

This Margheritaever on my trace

And whispered- 'Caponsacchi!'

If I drowned

But woke afloat i' the wave with upturned eyes

And found their first sight was a star! I turned-

For the first timeI let her have her will

Heard passively- 'The imposthume at such head

One touchone lancet-puncture would relieve-

And still no glance the good physician's way

Who rids you of the torment in a trice!

Still he writes letters you refuse to hear.

He may prevent your husbandkill himself

So desperate and all fordone is he!

Just hear the pretty verse he made to-day!

A sonnet from Mirtillo. "Peerless fair..."

All poetry is difficult to read

-The sense of it isanyhowhe seeks

Leave to contrive you an escape from hell

And for that purpose asks an interview.

I can writeI can grant it in your name

Orwhat is betterlead you to his house.

Your husband dashes you against the stones;

This man would place each fragment in a shrine:

You hate himlove your husband!'

I returned

'It is not true I love my husband- no

Nor hate this man. I listen while you speak

-Assured that what you say is falsethe same:

Much as when onceto me a little child

A rough gaunt man in ragswith eyes on fire

A crowd of boys and idlers at his heels

Rushed as I crossed the Squareand held my head

In his two hands"Here's she will let me speak!

You little girlwhose eyes do good to mine

I am the Popeam Sextusnow the Sixth;

And that Twelfth Innocentproclaimed to-day

Is Lucifer disguised in human flesh!

The angelsmet in conclavecrowned me!"- thus

He gibbered and I listened; but I knew

All was delusionere folks interposed

"Unfasten himthe maniac!" Thus I know

All your report of Caponsacchi false

Folly or dreaming; I have seen so much

By that adventure at the spectacle

The face I fronted that one firstlast time:

He would belie it by such words and thoughts.

Therefore while you profess to show him me

I ever see his own face. Get you gone!'

'THAT will Inor once open mouth again-

Noby Saint Joseph and the Holy Ghost!

On your head be the damageso adieu!'

And so more daysmore deeds I must forget

Till... what a strange thing now is to declare!

Since I say anythingsay all if true!

And how my life seems lengthened as to serve!

It may be idle or inopportune

Buttrue?- whywhat was all I said but truth

Even when I found that such as are untrue

Could only take the truth in through a lie?

Now- I am speaking truth to the Truth's self:

God will lend credit to my words this time.

IT HAD got half through April. I arose

One vivid daybreak- who had gone to bed

In the old way my wont those last three years

Careless untilthe cup drainedI should die.

The last sound in my earthe over-night

Had been a something let drop on the sly

In prattle by Margherita'Soon enough

Gaieties endnow Easter's past: a week

And the Archbishop gets him back to Rome-

Everyone leaves the town for Romethis Spring-

Even Caponsacchiout of heart and hope

Resigns himself and follows with the flock.'

I heard this drop and drop like rain outside

Fast-falling through the darkness while she spoke:

So had I heard with like indifference

'And Michael's pair of wings will arrive first

At Rome to introduce the company

Will bear him from our picture where he fights

Satan- expect to have that dragon loose

And never a defender!'- my sole thought

Being stillas night came'Doneanother day!

How good to sleep and so get nearer death!'-

Whenwhatfirst thing at daybreakpierced the sleep

With a summons to me? Up I sprang alive

Light in melight without meeverywhere

Change! A broad yellow sun-beam was let fall

From heaven to earth- a sudden drawbridge lay

Along which marched a myriad merry motes

Mocking the flies that crossed them and recrossed

In rival dancecompanions new-born too.

On the house-eavesa dripping shag of weed

Shook diamonds on each dull grey lattice-square

As first onethen another bird leapt by

And light was offand lo was back again

Always with one voice- where are two such joys?-

The blessed building-sparrow! I stepped forth

Stood on the terrace- o'er the roofssuch sky!

My heart sang'I too am to go away

I too have something I must care about

Carry away with me to Rometo Rome!

The bird brings hither sticks and hairs and wool

And nowhere else i' the world; what fly breaks rank

Falls out of the procession that befits

From window here to window therewith all

The world to choose- so well he knows his course?

I have my purpose and my motive too

My march to Romelike any bird or fly!

Had I been dead! How right to be alive!

Last night I almost prayed for leave to die

Wished Guido all his pleasure with the sword

Or the poison- poisonswordwas but a trick

Harmlessmay God forgive him the poor jest!

My life is charmedwill last till I reach Rome!

Yesterdaybut for the sin- ahnameless be

The deed I could have dared against myself!

Now- see if I will touch an unripe fruit

And risk the health I want to have and use!

Not to livenowwould be the wickedness-

For life means to make haste and go to Rome

And leave Arezzoleave all woes at once!'

NOWunderstand hereby no means mistake!

Long ago had I tried to leave that house

When it seemed such procedure would stop sin;

And still failed more the more I tried- at first

The Archbishopas I told you- nextour lord

The Governor- indeed I found my way

I went to the great palace where he rules

Though I knew well 'twas he who- when I gave

A jewel or twothemselves had given me

Back to my parents- since they wanted bread

They who had never let me want a nosegay- he

Spoke of the jail for felonsif they kept

What was first theirsthen mineso doubly theirs

Though all the while my husband's most of all!

I knew well who had spoke the word wrought this:

Yetbeing in extremityI fled

To the Governoras I say- scarce opened lip

When- the cold cruel snicker close behind

Guido was on my tracealready there

Exchanging nod and wink for shrug and smile

And I- pushed back to him andfor my pains

Paid with... but why remember what is past?

I sought out a poor friar the people call

The Romanand confessed my sin which came

Of their sin- that fact could not be repressed-

The frightfulness of my despair in God:

Andfeelingthrough the gratehis horror shake

Implored him'Write for me who cannot write

Apprise my parentsmake them rescue me!

You bid me be courageous and trust God:

Do you in turn dare somewhattrust and write

"Dear friendswho used to be my parents once

And now declare you have no part in me

This is some riddle I want wit to solve

Since you must love me with no difference.

Even suppose you altered- there's your hate

To ask for: hate of you two dearest ones

I shall find liker love than love found here

If husbands love their wives. Take me away

And hate me as you do the gnats and fleas

Even the scorpions! How I shall rejoice!"

Write that and save me!' And he promised- wrote

Or did not write; things never changed at all:

He was not like the Augustinian here!

Lastin a desperation I appealed

To friendswhoever wished me better days

To Guillichinithat's of kin- 'WhatI-

Travel to Rome with you? A flying gout

Bids me deny my heart and mind my leg!'

Then I tried Contiused to brave- laugh back

The louring thunder when his cousin scowled

At me protected by his presence: 'You-

Who well know what you cannot save me from-

Carry me off! What frightens youa priest?'

He shook his headlooked grave- 'Above my strength!

Guido has claws that scratchshows feline teeth;

A formidabler foe than I dare fret:

Give me a dog to deal withtwice the size!

Of course I am a priest and Canon too

But... by the bye... though bothnot quite so bold

As hemy fellow-Canonbrother-priest

The personage in such ill odour here

Because of the reports- pure birth o' the brain-

Our Caponsacchihe's your true Saint George

To slay the monsterset the Princess free

And have the whole High-Altar to himself:

I always think so when I see that piece

I' the Pievethat's his church and mineyou know:

Though you drop eyes at mention of his name!'

THAT name had got to take a half-grotesque

Half-ominouswholly enigmatic sense

Like any bye-wordbroken bit of song

Born with a meaningchanged by mouth and mouth

That mix it in a sneer or smileas chance

Bidstill it now means naught but ugliness

And perhaps shame.

-All this intends to say

Thatovernightthe notion of escape

Had seemed distemperdreaming; and the name-

Not the manbut the name of himthus made

Into a mockery and disgrace- whyshe

Who uttered it persistentlyhad laughed

'I name his nameand there you start and wince

As criminal from the red tongs' touch!';- yet now

Nowas I stood letting morn bathe me bright

Choosing which butterfly should bear my news-

The whitethe brown oneor that tinier blue-

The MargheritaI detested so

In she came- 'The fine daythe good Spring time!

Whatup and out at window? That is best.

No thought of Caponsacchi?- who stood there

All night on one leglike the sentry crane

Under the pelting of your water-spout-

Looked last look at your lattice ere he leave

Our citybury his dead hope at Rome?

Aygo to looking-glass and make you fine

While he may die ere touch one least loose hair

You drag at with the comb in such a rage!'

I turned- 'Tell Caponsacchi he may come!'

'Tell him to come? Ahbutfor charity

A truce to fooling! Come? What- come this eve?

Peter and Paul! But I see through the trick-

Yescomeand take a flower-pot on his head

Flung from your terrace! No jokesincere truth?'

How plainly I perceived hell flash and fade

O' the face of her- the doubt that first paled joy

Thenfinal reassurance I indeed

Was caught nownever to be free again!

What did I care?- who felt myself of force

To play with the silkand spurn the horsehair-springe.

'But- do you know that I have bade him come

And in your own name? I presumed so much

Knowing the thing you needed in your heart.

But somehow- what had I to show in proof?

He would not come: half-promisedthat was all

And wrote the letters you refused to read.

What is the message that shall move him now?'

'After the Ave Mariaat first dark

I will be standing on the terracesay!'

'I would I had a good long lock of hair

Should prove I was not lying! Never mind!'

Off she went- 'May he not refusethat's all-

Fearing a trick!'

I answered'He will come.'

Andall dayI sent prayer like incense up

To God the strongGod the beneficent

God ever mindful in all strife and strait

Whofor our own goodmakes the need extreme

Till at the last He puts forth might and saves.

An old rhyme came into my head and rang

Of how a virginfor the faith of God

Hid herselffrom the Paynims that pursued

In a cave's heart; until a thunderstone

Wrapped in a flamerevealed the couch and prey:

And they laughed- 'Thanks to lightningours at last!'

And she cried 'Wrath of Godassert His love!

Servant of Godthou firebefriend His child!'

And lothe fire she grasped atfixed its flash

Lay in her hand a calm cold dreadful sword

She brandished till pursuers strewed the ground

So did the souls within them die away

As o'er the prostrate bodiesswordedsafe

She walked forth to the solitudes and Christ:

So should I grasp the lightning and be saved!

AND stillas the day worethe trouble grew

Whereby I guessed there would be born a star

Until at an intense throe of the dusk

I started upwas pushedI dare to say

Out on the terraceleaned and looked at last

Where the deliverer waited me: the same

Silent and solemn faceI first descried

At the spectacleconfronted mine once more.

So was that minute twice vouchsafed meso

The manhoodwasted thenwas still at watch

To save me yet a second time: no change

Herethough all else changed in the changing world!

I SPOKE on the instantas my duty bade

In some such sense as thiswhatever the phrase.

'Friendfoolish words were borne from you to me;

Your soul behind them is the pure strong wind

Not dust and feathers which its breath may bear:

These to the witless seem the wind itself

Since proving thus the first of it they feel.

If by mischance you blew offence my way

The straws are droptthe wind desists no whit

And how such strays were caught up in the street

And took a motion from youwhy inquire?

I speak to the strong soulno weak disguise.

If it be truth- 'Why should I doubt it truth?-

You serve God speciallyas priests are bound

And care about mestranger as I am

So far as wish my good- that miracle

I take to intimate He wills you serve

By saving me- what else can He direct?

Here is the service. Since a long while now

I am in course of being put to death:

While death concerned nothing but meI bowed

The head and badein heartmy husband strike.

Now I imperil something moreit seems

Something that's trulier me than this myself

Something I trust in God and you to save.

You go to Romethey tell me: take me there

Put me back with my people!'

He replied-

The first word I heard ever from his lips

All himself in it- an eternity

Of speechto match the immeasurable depths

O' the soul that then broke silence- 'I am yours.'

SO DID the star risesoon to lead my step

Lead onnor pause before it should stand still

Above the House o' the Babe- my babe to be

That knew me first and thus made me know him

That had his right of life and claim on mine

And would not let me die till he was born

But pricked me at the heart to save us both

Saying 'Have you the will? Leave God the way!'

And the way was Caponsacchi- 'mine' thank God!

He was minehe is minehe will be mine.

NO PAUSE i' the leading and the light! I know

Next night there was a cloud cameand not he:

But I prayed through the darkness till it broke

And let him shine. The second nighthe came.

'The plan is rash; the project desperate:

In such a flight needs must I risk your life

Give food for falsehoodfolly or mistake

Ground for your husband's rancour and revenge'-

So he began againwith the same face.

I felt thatthe same loyalty- one star

Turning now red that was so white before-

One service apprehended newly: just

A word of mine and there the white was back!

'Nofriendfor you will take me! 'Tis yourself

Risk allnot I- who let youfor I trust

In the compensating great God: enough!

I know you: when is it that you will come?'

'To-morrow at the day's dawn.' Then I heard

What I should do: how to prepare for flight

And where to fly.

That night my husband bade

'-Youwhom I loathebeware you break my sleep

This whole night! Couch beside me like the corpse

I would you were!' The rest you knowI think-

How I found Caponsacchi and escaped.

AND this manmen call sinner? Jesus Christ!

Of whom men saidwith mouths Thyself mad'st once

'He hath a devil'- say he was Thy saint

My Caponsacchi! Shield and show- unshroud

In Thine own time the glory of the soul

If aught obscure- if ink-spotfrom vile pens

Scribbling a charge against him- (I was glad

Thenfor the first timethat I could not write)-

Flirted his wayhave flecked the blaze!

For me

'Tis otherwise: let men takesift my thoughts

-Thoughts I throw like the flax for sun to bleach!

I did thinkdo thinkin the thought shall die

That to have Caponsacchi for my guide

Ever the face upturned to minethe hand

Holding my hand across the world- a sense

That readsas only such can readthe mark

God sets on womansignifying so

She should- shall peradventure- be divine;

Yet 'warethe whilehow weakness mars the print

And makes confusionleaves the thing men see

-Not this man- who from his own soulre-writes

The obliterated charter- love and strength

Mending what's marred: 'So kneels a votarist

Weeds some poor waste traditionary plot

Where shrine once waswhere temple yet may be

Purging the place but worshipping the while

By faith and not by sightsight clearest so-

Such way the saints work'- says Don Celestine.

But Inot privileged to see a saint

Of old when such walked earth with crown and palm

If I call 'saint' what saints call something else-

The saints must bear with meimpute the fault

To a soul i' the budso starved by ignorance

Stinted of warmthit will not blow this year

Nor recognize the orb which Spring-flowers know.

But if meanwhile some insect with a heart

Worth floods of lazy musicspendthrift joy-

Some fire-fly renounced Spring for my dwarfed cup

Crept close to me with lustre for the dark

Comfort against the cold- what though excess

Of comfort should miscall the creature- sun?

What did the sun to hinder while harsh hands

Petal by petalcrude and colourless

Tore me? This one heart brought me all the Spring!

IS ALL told? There's the journey: and where's time

To tell you how that heart burst out in shine?

Yet certain points do press on me too hard.

Each place must have a namethough I forget:

How strange it was- there where the plain begins

And the small river mitigates its flow-

When eve was fading fastand my soul sank

And he divined what surge of bitterness

In overtaking mewould float me back

Whence I was carried by the striding day-

So- 'This grey place was famous once' said he-

And he began that legend of the place

As if in answer to the unspoken fear

And told me all about a brave man dead

Which lifted me and let my soul go on!

How did he know too- at that town's approach

By the rock-side- that in coming near the signs

Of lifethe house-roofs and the church and tower

I saw the old boundary and wall o' the world

Rise plain as ever round mehard and cold

As if the broken circlet joined again

Tightened itself about me with no break-

As if the town would turn Arezzo's self-

The husband there- the friends my enemies

All ranged against menot an avenue

I trybut would be blocked and drive me back

On him- this other... oh the heart in that!

Did not he findbringput into my arms

A new-born babe?- and I saw faces beam

Of the young mother proud to teach me joy

And gossips round expecting my surprise

At the sudden hole through earth that lets in heaven.

I could believe himself by his strong will

Had woven around me what I thought the world

We went along in every circumstance

Townsflowers and facesall things helped so well!

Forthrough the journeywas it natural

Such comfort should arise from first to last?

As I look backall in one milky way;

Still bettered morethe more rememberedso

Do new stars bud while I but search for old

And fill all gaps i' the gloryand grow him-

Him I now see make the shine everywhere.

Even at the last when the bewildered flesh

The cloud of weariness about my soul

Clogging too heavilysucked down all sense-

Still its last voice was'He will watch and care;

Let the strength goI am content: he stays!'

I doubt not he did stay and care for all-

From that sick minute when the head swam round

And the eyes looked their last and died on him

As in his arms he caught me andyou say

Carried me inthat tragical red eve

And laid me where I next returned to life

In the other red of morningtwo red plates

That crushed togethercrushed the time between

And are since then a solid fire to me-

When inmy dreadful husband and the world

Broke- and I saw himmasterby hell's right

And saw my angel helplessly held back

By guards that helped the malice- the lamb prone

The serpent towering and triumphant- then

Came all the strength back in a sudden swell

I did for once see rightdo rightgive tongue

The adequate protest: for a worm must turn

If it would have its wrong observed by God.

I did spring upattempt to thrust aside

That ice-block 'twixt the sun and melay low

The neutralizer of all good and truth.

If I sinned so- never obey voice more

O' the Just and Terriblewho bids us- 'Bear!'

Not- 'Stand bybear to see my angels bear!'

I am clear it was on impulse to serve God

Not save myself- no- nor my child unborn!

Had I else waited patiently till now?-

Who saw my old kind parentssilly-sooth

And too much trustfulfor their worst of faults

Cheatedbrow-beatenstripped and starvedcast out

Into the kennel: I remonstrated

Then sank to silencefor- their woes at end

Themselves gone- only I was left to plague.

If only I was threatened and belied

What matter? I could bear it and did bear;

It was a comfortstill one lot for all:

They were not persecuted for my sake

And Iestrangedthe single happy one.

But when at lastall by myself I stood

Obeying the clear voice which bade me rise

Not for my own sake but my babe unborn

And take the angel's hand was sent to help-

And found the old adversary athwart the path-

Not my hand simply struck from the angel'sbut

The very angel's self made foul i' the face

By the fiend who struck there- that I would not bear

That only I resisted! Somy first

And last resistance was invincible.

Prayers move God; threatsand nothing elsemove men!

I must have prayed a man as he were God

When I implored the Governor to right

My parents' wrongs: the answer was a smile.

The Archbishop- did I clasp his feet enough

Hide my face hotly on themwhile I told

More than I dared make my own mother know?

The profit was- compassion and a jest.

This timethe foolish prayers were done withright

Used mightand solemnized the sport at once.

All was against the combat: vantagemine?

The runaway avowedthe accomplice-wife

In company with the plan-contriving priest?

Yetshame thus rank and patentI struckbare

At foe from head to foot in magic mail

And off it witheredcobweb-armoury

Against the lightning! 'Twas truth singed the lies

And saved menot the vain sword nor weak speech!

You seeI will not have the service fail!

I saythe angel saved me: I am safe!

Others may want and wishI wish nor want

One point o' the circle plainerwhere I stand

Traced round about with white to front the world.

What of the calumny I came across

What o' the way to the end?- the end crowns all.

The judges judged aright i' the maingave me

The uttermost of my heart's desirea truce

From torture and Arezzobalm for hurt

With the quiet nuns- God recompense the good!

Who said and sang away the ugly past.

Andwhen my final fortune was revealed

What safety whileamid my parents' arms

My babe was given me! Yeshe saved my babe:

It would not have peeped forththe bird-like thing

Through that Arezzo noise and trouble: back

Had it returned nor ever let me see!

But the sweet peace cured alland let me live

And give my bird the life among the leaves

God meant him! Weeks and months of quietude

I could lie in such peace and learn so much-

Begin the taskI see how needful now

Of understanding somewhat of my past-

Know life a littleI should leave so soon.

Thereforebecause this man restored my soul

All has been right; I have gained my gainenjoyed

As well as suffered- naygot foretaste too

Of better life beginning where this ends-

AH through the breathing-while allowed me thus

Which let good premonitions reach my soul

Unthwartedand benignant influence flow

And interpenetrate and change my heart

Uncrossed by what was wicked- nayunkind.

Foras the weakness of my time drew nigh

Nobody did me one disservice more

Spoke coldly or looked strangelybroke the love

I lay in the arms oftill my boy was born

Born all in lovewith nought to spoil the bliss

A whole long fortnight: in a life like mine

A fortnight filled with bliss is long and much.

All women are not mothers of a boy

Though they live twice the length of my whole life

Andas they fancyhappily all the same.

There I laythenall my great fortnight long

As if it would continuebroaden out

Happily more and moreand lead to heaven:

Christmas before me- was not that a chance?

I never realized God's birth before-

How he grew likest God in being born.

This time I felt like Maryhad my babe

Lying a little on my breast like hers.

So all went on tilljust four days ago-

The night and the tap.

O it shall be success

To the whole of our poor family! My friends

...Nayfather and mother- give me back my word!

They have been rudely stripped of lifedisgraced

Like children who must needs go clothed too fine

Carry the garb of Carnival in Lent:

If they too much affected frippery

They have been punished and submit themselves

Say no word: all is overthey see God

Who will not be extreme to mark their fault

Or He had granted respite: they are safe.

For that most woeful man my husband once

Whoneeding respitestill draws vital breath

I- pardon him? So far as lies in me

I give him for his good the life he takes

Praying the world will therefore acquiesce.

Let him make God amends- nonenone to me

Who thank him rather thatwhereas strange fate

Mockingly styled him husband and me wife

Himself this way at least pronounced divorce

Blotted the marriage-bond: this blood of mine

Flies forth exultingly at any door

Washes the parchment whiteand thanks the blow.

We shall not meet in this world nor the next

But where will God be absent? In His face

Is lightbut in His shadow healing too:

Let Guido touch the shadow and be healed!

And as my presence was importunate-

My earthly goodtemptation and a snare-

Nothing about me but drew somehow down

His hate upon me- somewhat so excused

Thereforesince hate was thus the truth of him-

May my evanishment for evermore

Help further to relieve the heart that cast

Such object of its natural loathing forth!

So he was made; he nowise made himself:

I could not love himbut his mother did.

His soul has never lain beside my soul;

But for the unresisting body- thanks!

He burned that garment spotted by the flesh!

Whatever he touched is rightly ruined: plague

It caughtand disinfection it had craved

Still but for Guido; I am saved through him

So as by fire; to him- thanks and farewell!

EVEN for my babemy boythere's safety thence-

From the sudden death of meI mean: we poor

Weak soulshow we endeavour to be strong!

I was already using up my life-

This portionnowshould do him such a good

This other go to keep off such an ill!

The great life; seea breath and it is gone!

So is detachedso left all by itself

The little lifethe fact which means so much.

Shall not God stoop the kindlier to His work

His marvel of creationfoot would crush

Now that the hand He trusted to receive

And hold itlets the treasure fall perforce?

The better; He shall have in orphanage

His own way all the clearlier: if my babe

Outlive the hour- and he has lived two weeks-

It is through God who knows I am not by.

Who is it makes the soft gold hair turn black

And sets the tonguemight lie so long at rest

Trying to talk? Let us leave God alone!

Why should I doubt He will explain in time

What I feel nowbut fail to find the words?

My babe nor wasnor isnor yet shall be

Count Guido Franceschini's child at all-

Only his mother'sborn of love not hate!

So shall I have my rights in after-time.

It seems absurdimpossible to-day;

So seems so much else not explained but known.

Ah! FriendsI thank and bless you every one!

No more now: I withdraw from earth and man

To my own soulcompose myself for God.

WELLand there is more! Yesmy end of breath

Shall bear away my soul in being true!

He is still herenot outside with the world

HerehereI have him in his rightful place!

'Tis nowwhen I am most upon the move

I feel for what I verily find- again

The faceagain the eyesagainthrough all

The heart and its immeasurable love

Of my one friendmy onlyall my own

Who put his breast between the spears and me.

Ever with Caponsacchi! Otherwise

Here alone would be failureloss to me-

How much more loss to himwith life debarred

From giving lifelove locked from love's display

The day-star stopped its task that makes night morn!

O lover of my lifeO soldier-saint

No work begun shall ever pause for death!

Love will be helpful to me more and more

I' the coming coursethe new path I must tread

My weak hand in thy strong handstrong for that!

Tell him that if I seem without him now

That's the world's insight! Ohhe understands!

He is at Civita- do I once doubt

The world again is holding us apart?

He had been heredisplayed in my behalf

The broad brow that reverberates the truth

And flashed the word God gave himback to man!

I know where the free soul is flown! My fate

Will have been hard for even him to bear:

Let it confirm him in the trust of God

Showing how holily he dared the deed!

Andfor the rest- sayfrom the deedno touch

Of harm camebut all goodall happiness

Not one faint fleck of failure! Why explain?

What I seeohhe sees and how much more!

Tell him- I know not wherefore the true word

Should fade and fall unuttered at the last-

It was the name of him I sprang to meet

When came the knockthe summons and the end.

'My great heartmy strong hand are back again!'

I would have sprung to thesebeckoning across

Murder and hell gigantic and distinct

O' the thresholdposted to exclude me heaven:

He is ordained to call and I to come!

Do not the dead wear flowers when dressed for God?

Say- I am all in flowers from head to foot!

Say- not one flower of all he said and did

Might seem to flit unnoticedfade unknown

But dropped a seed has grown a balsam-tree

Whereof the blossoming perfumes the place

At this supreme of moments! He is a priest;

He cannot marry thereforewhich is right:

I think he would not marry if he could.

Marriage on earth seems such a counterfeit

Mere imitation of the inimitable:

In heaven we have the real and true and sure.

'Tis there they neither marry nor are given

In marriage but are as the angels: right

Oh how right that ishow like Jesus Christ

To say that! Marriage-making for the earth

With gold so much- birthpowerrepute so much

Or beautyyouth so muchin lack of these!

Be as the angels ratherwhoapart

Know themselves into oneare found at length

Marriedbut marry nevernonor give

In marriage; they are man and wife at once

When the true time is: here we have to wait

Not so long neither! Could we by a wish

Have what we will and get the future now

Would we wish aught done undone in the past?

Solet him wait God's instant men call years;

Meantime hold hard by truth and his great soul

Do out the duty! Through such souls alone

God stooping shows sufficient of His light

For us i' the dark to rise by. And I rise.

VIII: Dominus Hyacinthus De Archangelis

Pauperum Procurator

AHMY GIACINTOhe's no ruddy rogue

Is not Cinone? Whatto-day we're eight?

Seven and one's eightI hopeold curly-pate!

-Branches me out his verb-tree on the slate

Amo- as- avi- atum- are- ans

Up to -aturuspersontenseand mood

Quies me cum subjunctivo (I could cry)

And chews Corderius with his morning crust!

Look eight years onwardand he's perchedhe's perched

Dapper and deft on stool beside this chair

CinozzoCinoncellowho but he?

-Trying his milk-teeth on some crusty case

Like thispapa shall triturate full soon

To smooth Papinianian pulp!

It trots

Already through my headthough noon be now

Does supper-time and what belongs to eve.

DisposeO Dono' the dayfirst work then play!

-The proverb bids. And 'then' meanswon't we hold

Our little yearly lovesome frolic feast

Cinuolo's birth-nightCinicello's own

That makes gruff January grin perforce!

For too contagious grows the mirththe warmth

Escaping from so many hearts at once-

When the good wifebuxom and bonny yet

Jokes the hale grandsire- such are just the sort

To go off suddenly- he who hides the key

O' the box beneath his pillow every night-

Which box may hold a parchment (some one thinks)

Will show a scribbled something like a name

'CininoCiniccino' near the end

'To whom I give and I bequeath my lands


When I decease as honest grandsire ought:'

Wherefore- yet this one time again perhaps-

Sha'n't my Orvieto fuddle his old nose!

Thenunclesone or the otherwell i' the world

May- drop inmerely?- trudge through rain and wind

Rather! The smell-feasts rouse them at the hint

There's cookery in a certain dwelling-place!

Gossipstooeach with keepsake in his poke

Will pick the waythrid lane by lantern-light

And so find doorput galligaskin off

At entry of a decent domicile

Cornered in snug Condotti- all for love

All to crush cup with Cinucciatolo!


Let others climb the heights o' the courtthe camp!

How vain are chambering and wantonness

Revel and rout and pleasures that make mad!

Commend me to home-joythe family board

Altar and hearth! Thesewith a brisk career

A source of honest profit and good fame

Just so much work as keeps the brain from rust

Just so much play as lets the heart expand

Honouring God and serving man- I say

These are realityand all else- fluff

Nutshell and naught- thank Flaccus for the phrase!

Suppose I had been Fiscyet bachelor!

WHYwork with a willthen! Wherefore lazy now?

Turn up the hour-glasswhence no sand-grain slips

But should have done its duty to the saint

O' the daythe son and heir that's eight years old!

Let law come dimple Cinoncino's cheek

And Latin dumple Cinarello's chin

The while we spread him fine and toss him flat

This pulp that makes the pancaketrim our mass

Of matter into Argument the First

Prime Pleading in defence of our accused

Whichonce a-waft on paper wingshall soar

Shall signalise before applausive Rome

What studyand mayhap some mother-wit

Can do toward making Master fop and Fisc

Old bachelor Bottinius bite his thumb.

Nowhow good God is! How falls plumb to point

This murdergives me Guido to defend

Nowof all days i' the yearjust when the boy

Verges on Virgilreaches the right age

For some such illustration from his sire

Stimulus to himself! One might wait years

And never find the chance which now finds me!

The fact isthere's a blessing on the hearth

A special providence for fatherhood!

Here's a manand what's morea noblekills

-Not sneakingly but almost with parade-

Wife's father and wife's mother and wife's self

That's mother's self of son and heir (like mine!)

-And here stand Ithe favoured advocate

Who pluck this flower o' the fieldno Solomon

Was ever clothed in glorious gold to match

And set the same in Cinoncino's cap!

I defend Guido and his comrades- I!

Pray GodI keep me humble: not to me-

Non nobisDominesed tibi laus!

How the fop chuckled when they made him Fisc!

We'll beat youmy Bottiniusall for love

All for our tribute to Cinotto's day!

Why'sbuddikinsold Innocent himself

May rub his eyes at the bustle- ask 'What's this

Rolling from out the rostrumas a gust

O' the Pro Milone had been prisoned there

And rattled Rome awake?' Awaken Rome

How can the Pope doze on in decency?

He needs must wake up alsospeak his word

Have his opinion like the rest of Rome

About this hugethis hurly-burly case:

He wants who can excogitate the truth

Give the result in speechplain black and white

To mumble in the mouth and make his own

-A little changedgood mana little changed!

No matterso his gratitude be moved

By when my Giacintino gets of age

Mindful of who thus helped him at a pinch

Archangelus Procurator Pauperum -

And proved Hortensius Redivivus!


To earn the Est-estmerit the minced herb

That mollifies the liver's leathery slice

With here a goose-footthere a cock's-comb stuck

Cemented in an element of cheese!

I doubt if dainties do the grandsire good:

Last June he had a sort of strangling... bah!

He's his own masterand his will is made.

Soliver fizzlaw flit and Latin fly

As we rub hands o'er dish by way of grace!

May I lose cause if I vent one word more

Except- with fresh-cut quill we ink the white-

P-r-o-pro Guidone et Sociis. There!

COUNT GUIDO married- orin Latin due

What? Duxit in uxorem? - commonplace!

Taedas jugales iniitsubiit- ha!

He underwent the matrimonial torch?

Connubio stabili sibi junxit- hum!

In stable bond of marriage bound his own?

That's clear of any modern taint: and yet...

VIRGIL is little help to who writes prose.

He shall attack me Terence with the dawn

Shall Cinuccino! Mummind businessSir!

Thus circumstantially evolve we facts

Ita se habet ideo series facti:

He wedded- ahwith owls for augury!

Nupseratheu sinistris avibus

One of the blood Arezzo boasts her best

Dominus Guidonobili genere ortus


But the version afterward!

Curb we this ardour! Notes aloneto-day

The speech to-morrow and the Latin last:

Such was the rule in Farinacci's time.

Indeed I hitched it into verse and good.

Unluckilylaw quite absorbs a man

Or else I think I too had poetized.

'Law is the pork substratum of the fry

Goose-foot and cock's-comb are Latinity'-

And in this caseif circumstance assist

We'll garnish law with idiomnever fear!

Out-of-the-way events extend our scope:

For instancewhen Bottini brings his charge

'That letter which you say Pompilia wrote

To criminate her parents and herself

And disengage her husband from the coil-

ThatGuido Franceschini wrotesay we:

Because Pompilia could nor read nor write

Therefore he pencilled her such letter first

Then made her trace in ink the same again.'

-Hamy Bottinihave I thee on hip?

How will he turn this nor break Tully's pate?

'Existimandum' (don't I hear the dog!)

'Quod Guido designaverit elementa

Dictae epistolaequae fuerint

(Superinducto ab ea calamo )

Notata atramento' - there's a style!-

'Quia ipsa scribere nesciebat.' Boh!

Nowmy turn! EitherInsulse! - I outburst

Stupidly put! Inane is the response

Inanis est responsioor the like-

To-witthat each of all those characters

Quod singula elementa epistolae

Had first of all been traced for her by him

Fuerant per eum prius designata

And thenthe ink applied a-top of that

Et deindesuperinducto calamo

The pieceshe saysbecame her handiwork

Per eamefformataut ipsa asserit.

Inane were such response! (a second time:)

Her husband outlined her the wholeforsooth?

Vir ejus lineabat epistolam?

Whatshe confesses that she wrote the thing

Fatetur eam scripsisse(scorn that scathes!)

That she might pay obedience to her lord?

Ut viro obtemperaretapices

(Here repeat charge with proper varied phrase)

Eo designanteipsaque calamum

Super inducente? By such argument

Ita paritershe seeks to show the same

(Ayby Saint Joseph and what saints you please)

Epistolam ostenditmedius fidius

No voluntary deed but fruit of force!

Non voluntarie sed coacte scriptam!

That's the way to write Latinfriend my Fisc!

Bottini is a beastone barbarous:

Look out for him when he attempts to say

'Armed with a pistolGuido followed her!'

Will not I be beforehand with my Fisc

Cut away phrase by phrase from underfoot!

Guido Pompiliam - Guido thus his wife

Following with igneous engineshall I have?

Armis munitus igneis persequens -

Arma sulphurea gestanssulphury arms

Ormight one style a pistol- popping-piece?

Armatus breviori sclopulo?

We'll let him have been armed sothough it make

Somewhat against us: I had thought to own-

Provided with a simple travelling-sword

Ense solummodo viatorio

Instructus: but we'll grant the pistol here:

Better we lost the cause than lacked the gird

At the Fisc's Latinlost the Judge's laugh!

It's Venturini that decides for style.

Tommati rather goes upon the law.

Soas to law-

Ahbut with law ne'er hope

To level the fellow- don't I know his trick!

How he draws upducks undertwists aside!

He's a lean-gutted hectic rascalfine

As pale-haired red-eyed ferret which pretends

'Tis erminepure soft snow from tail to snout.

He eludes law by piteous looks aloft

Lets Latin glance off as he makes appeal

To the saint that's somewhere in the ceiling-top-

Do you suppose that I don't see the beast?

Plague of the ermine-vermin! For it takes

It takesand here's the fellow Fiscyou see

And Judgeyou'll not be long in seeing next!

Confound the fop- he's now at work like me:

Enter his studyas I seem to do

Hear him read out his writing to himself!

I know he writes as if he spoke: I hear

The hoarse shrill throatsee shut eyesneck shot-forth

-I see him strain on tiptoesoar and pour

Eloquence outnor stay nor stint at all-

Perorate in the airand soto press

With the product! What abuse of type is here!

He'll keep clear of my castmy logic-throw

Let argument slideand then deliver swift

Some bowl from quite an unguessed point of stand-

Having the luck o' the last wordthe reply!

A plaguy casta mortifying stroke:

You face a fellow- cries 'Sothere you stand?

But I discourteous jump clean o'er your head!

You play ship-carpenternot pilot so-

Stop rat-holeswhile a sea sweeps through the breach-

Hammer and fortify at puny points!

Doclamp and tenonmake all tight and safe!

'Tis here and here and here you ship a sea

No good of your stopped leaks and littleness!'

YET what do I name 'little and a leak?'

The main defence o' the murder's used to death

By this timedry bare bonesno scrap to pick:

Safer I worked at the newthe unforeseen

The nice bye-strokethe fine and improvised

Point that can titillate the brain o' the Bench

Torpid with over-teachingby this time!

As if Tommatithat has heardreheard

And heard againfirst this side and then that-

Guido and PietroPietro and Guido din

And deafenfull three yearsat each long ear-

Don't want amusement for instruction now

Won't rather feel a flea run o'er his ribs

Than a daw settle heavily on his head!

OhI was young and had the trick of fence

Knew subtle pass and push with careless right-

The left arm ever quietly behind back

With the dagger in't: not both hands to blade:

Puff and blowput the strength outBlunderbore!

That's my subordinateyoung Spretinow

Pedant and prig- he'll pant away at proof

That's his way!

Now for mine- to rub some life

Into one's choppy fingers this cold day!

I trust Cinuzzo ties on tippetguards

The precious throat on which so much depends!

Guido must be all goose-flesh in his hole

Despite the prison-straw: bad Carnival

For captives! no sliced fry for himpoor Count!

Carnival-time- another providence!

The town a-swarm with strangers to amuse

To edifyto give one's name and fame

In charge oftill they findsome future day

Cintino come and claim ithis name too

Pledge of the pleasantness they owe papa-

Who else was itcured Rome of her great qualms

When she must needs have her own judgment?- ay

Since all her topping wits had set to work

Pronounced already on the case: mere boys

Twice Cineruggiolo's age and half his sense

As good as tell mewhen I cross the court

'Master Arcangeli!' (plucking at my gown)

We can predictwe comprehend your play

We'll help you save your client. 'Tra-la-la!

I've travelled groundfrom childhood till this hour

To have the town anticipate my track!

The old fox takes the plain and velvet path

The young hound's predilection- prints the dew

Don't heto suit their pulpy pads of paw?

No! Burying nose deep down i' the briery bush

Thus I defend Count Guido.

Where are we weak?

Firstwhich is foremost in advantage too

Our murder- we callkilling- is a fact

Confesseddefendedmade a boast of: good!

To think the Fisc claimed use of torture here

And got thereby avowal plump and plain

That gives me just the chance I wanted- scope

Not for brute-force but ingenuity

Explaining mattersnot denying them!

One may dispute- as I am bound to do

And shall- validity of process here:

Inasmuch as a noble is exempt

From torture which plebeians undergo

In such a case: for law is lenientlax

Remits the torture to a nobleman

Unless suspicion be of twice the strength

Attaches to a man born vulgarly:

We don't card silk with comb that dresses wool.

Moreover'twas severity undue

In this caseeven had the lord been lout.

What utterson this headour oracle

Our Farinaccimy Gamaliel erst

In those immortal 'Questions'? What I quote:

'Of all the tools at Law's disposalsure

That named Vigiliarum is the best-

That isthe worst- to whoso has to bear:

Lastingas it may dofrom some seven hours

To ten(beyond tenwe've no precedent;

Certain have touched their ten butbahthey died!)

It does so efficaciously convince

That- speaking by much observation here-

Out of each hundred casesby my count

Never I knew of patients beyond four

Withstand its tasteor less than ninety-six

End by succumbing: only martyrs four

Of obstinate silenceguilty or no- against

Ninety-six full confessorsinnocent

Or otherwise- so shrewd a tool have we!'

No marvel either: in unwary hands

Death on the spot is no rare consequence:

As indeed all but happened in this case

To one of ourselvesour young tough peasant-friend

The accomplice called Baldeschi: they were rough

Dosed him with torture as you drench a horse

Not modify your treatment to a man:

Sotwo successive days he fainted dead

And only on the third essaygave up

Confessed like flesh and blood. We could reclaim-

Blockhead Bottini giving cause enough!

But no- we'll take it as spontaneously

Confessed: we'll have the murder beyond doubt.

Ahfortunate (the poet's word reversed)

Inasmuch as we know our happiness!

Had the antagonist left dubiety

Here were we proving murder a mere myth

And Guido innocentignorantabsent- ay

Absent! He was- whywhere should Christian be?-

Engaged in visiting his proper church

The duty of us all at Christmas-time;

When Caponsacchithe seducerstung

To madness by his relegationcast

About him and contrived a remedy:

To stave off what opprobrium broke afresh

By the birth o' the babeon him the imputed sire

He came and quietly sought to smother up

His shame and theirs together- killed the three

And fled- (go seek him where you please to search)-

Just at the momentGuidotouched by grace

Devotions endedhastened to the spot

Meaning to pardon his convicted wife

'Neither do I condemn theego in peace!'-

Who thus arrived i' the nick of time to catch

The charge o' the killingthough great-heartedly

He came but to forgive and bring to life.

Doubt ye the force of Christmas on the soul?

'Is thine eye evil because mine is good?'

Sodoubtlesshad I needed argue here

But for the full confession round and sound!

Thus would you have some kingly alchemist-

Whose concern should not be with proving brass

Transmutable to goldbut triumphing

Ratherabove his gold changed out of brass

Not vulgarly to the mere sight and touch

But in the ideathe spiritual display

Proud apparition buoyed by winged words

Hovering above its birth-place in the brain-

Here would you have this excellent personage

Forcedby the gross needto gird apron round

Plant forgelight fireply bellows- in a word

Demonstrate- when a faulty pipkin's crack

May disconcert you his presumptive truth!

Here were I hanging to the testimony

Of one of these poor rustics- fourye Gods!

Whom the first taste of friend the Fiscal's cord

Might drive into undoing my whole speech

Shaming truth so!

I wonderall the same

Not so much at those peasants' lack of heart;

But- Guido Franceschininobleman

Bear pain no better! Everybody knows

It used oncewhen my father was a boy

To form a propernayimportant point

I' the education of our well-born youth

To take the torture handsomely at need

Without confessing in this clownish guise.

Each noble had his rack for private use

And wouldfor the diversion of a guest

Bid it be set up in the yard of arms

To take thereon his hour of exercise-

Command the variety stretchstrain their best

While friends looked onadmired my lord could smile

'Mid tugging which had caused an ox to roar.

Men are no longer men!

-And advocates

No longer Farinaccilet men add

If I one more time fly from point proposed!

SoVindicatio- here begins the same!-

Honoris causa; so we make our stand:

Honour in us had injurywe shall prove.

Or if we fail to prove such injury

More than misprision of the fact- what then?

It is enoughauthorities declare

If the resultthe deed in question now

Be caused by confidence that injury

Is veritable and no figment: since

Whatthough proved fancy afterwardseemed fact

At the timethey argue shall excuse result.

That which we dopersuaded of good cause

For what we dohold justifiable!-

The casuists bid: manbound to do his best

They would not have him leave that best undone

And mean to do the worst- though fuller light

Show best was worst and worst would have been best.

Act by the present lightthey ask of man.

Ultra quod hic non agiturbesides

It is not anyway our business here

De probatione adulterii

To prove what we thought crime was crime indeed

Ad irrogandam poenamand require

Its punishment: such nowise do we seek:

Sed ad effectumbut 'tis our concern

Excusandihere to simply find excuse

Occisoremfor who did the killing-work

Et ad illius defensionem(mark

The difference!) and defend the manjust that.

Quo casu levior probatio

Exuberaretto which end far lighter proof

Suffices than the prior case would claim:

It should be always harder to convict

In shortthan to establish innocence.

Therefore we shall demonstrate first of all

That Honour is a gift of God to man

Precious beyond compare- which natural sense

Of human rectitude and purity-

Which whiteman's soul is born withbrooks no touch:

Thereforethe sensitivest spot of all

Woundable by a wafture breathed from black

Is- honour within honourlike the eye

Centred i' the ball- the honour of our wife.

Touch us o' the pupil of our honourthen

Not actually- since so you slay outright-

But by a gesture simulating touch

Presumable mere menace of such taint-

This were our warrant for eruptive ire

'To whose dominion I impose no end.'

(Virgilnowshould not be too difficult

To Cinoncino- say the early books....

Pentruce to further gambols! Poscimur! )

NOR can revenge of injury done here

To the honour proved the life and soul of us

Be too excessivetoo extravagant:

Such wrong seeks and must have complete revenge.

Show we thisfirston the mere natural ground:

Begin at the beginningand proceed

Incontrovertibly. Theodoric

In an apt sentence Cassiodorus cites

Propounds for basis of all household law-

I hardly recollect itbut it ends

'Bird mates with birdbeast genders with his like

And brooks no interference: 'bird and beast?

The very insects... if they wive or no

How dare I say when Aristotle doubts?

But the presumption is they likewise wive

At least the nobler sorts; for take the bee

As instance- copying King Solomon-

Why that displeasure of the bee to aught

That savours of incontinencymakes

The unchaste a very horror to the hive?

Whence comes it bees obtain the epithet

Of castae apes? notably 'the chaste'?

Becauseingeniously saith Scaliger

(The young one- see his book of Table-talk)

'Such is their hatred of immodest act

They fall upon the offendersting to death.'

I mind a passage much confirmative

I' the Idyllist (though I read him Latinized)

'Why' asks a shepherd'is this bank unfit

For celebration of our vernal loves?'

'Oh swain' returns the wiser shepherdess

'Bees swarm hereand would quick resent our warmth!'

Only cold-blooded fish lack instinct here

Nor gain nor guard connubiality:

But beastsquadrupedalmammiferous

Do credit to their beasthood: witness him

That AElian citesthe noble elephant

(Or if not AEliansomebody as sage)

Who seeing much offence beneath his nose

His master's friend exceed in courtesy

The due allowance to that master's wife

Taught them good manners and killed both at once

Making his master and all men admire.

Indubitablythenthat master's self

Favoured by circumstancehad done the same

Or else stood clear rebuked by his own beast.

Adeout qui honorem spernitthus

Who values his own honour not a straw-

Et non recuperare curatnor

Labours by might and main to salve its wound

Se ulciscendoby revenging him

Nil differat a belluisis a brute

Quinimo irrationablior

Ipsismet belluisnaycontrariwise

Much more irrational than brutes themselves

Should be consideredreputetur! How?

If a poor animal feel honour smart

Taught by blind instinct nature plants in him

Shall man- confessed creation's master-stroke

Nayintellectual glorynaya god

Nayof the nature of my Judges here-

Shall man prove the insensiblethe block

The blot o' the earth he crawls on to disgrace?

(Comethat's both solid and poetic)- man

Derogatelive for the low tastes alone

Mean creeping cares about the animal life?

MAY Gigia have rememberednothing stings

Fried liver out of its monotony

Of richness like a root of fennelchopped

Fine with the parsley: parsley-sprigsI said-

Was there need I should say 'and fennel too'?

But noshe cannot have been so obtuse!

To our argument! The fennel will be chopped.

FROM beast to man next mount we- aybutmind

Still mere mannot yet Christian- thatin time!

Not too fastmark you! 'Tis on Heathen grounds

We next defend our act: thenfairly urge-

If this were done of oldin a green tree

Allowed in the Spring rawness of our kind

What may be licensed in the Autumn dry

And ripethe latter harvest-tide of man?

Ifwith his poor and primitive half-lights

The Paganwhom our devils served for gods

Could stigmatise the breach of marriage-vow

As that which bloodblood only might efface-

Absolve the husbandoutragedwhose revenge

Anticipated lawplied sword himself-

How with the Christian in full blaze of day?

Shall not he rather double penalty

Multiply vengeancethandegenerate

Let privilege be minisheddroopdecay?

Therefore set forth at large the ancient law!

Superabundant the examples be

To pick and choose from. The Athenian Code

Solon'sthe name is serviceable- then

The Laws of the Twelve Tablesthat fifteenth-

'Romulus' likewise rolls out round and large.

The Julian; the Cornelian; Gracchus' Law:

So old a chimethe bells ring of themselves!

Spreti can set that going if he please

I point youfor my partthe belfry out

Intent to rise from duskdiluculum

Into the Christian day shall broaden next.

FIRSTthe fit compliment to His Holiness

Happily reigning: then sustain the point-

All that was long ago declared as law

By the early Revelationstands confirmed

By Apostle and Evangelist and Saint-

To-wit- that Honour is the supreme good.

Why should I baulk Saint Jerome of his phrase?

Ubi honor non estwhere no honour is

Ibi contemptus est; and where contempt

Ibi injuria frequens; and where that

The frequent injuryibi et indignatio;

And where the indignationibi quies

Nulla; and where there is no quietude

Whyibitherethe mind is often cast

Down from the heights where it proposed to dwell

Mens a proposito saepe dejicitur.

And naturally the mind is so cast down

Since harder 'tisquum difficilius sit

Iram cohibereto coerce one's wrath

Quam miracula facerethan work miracles-

Saint Gregory smiles in his First Dialogue:

Whence we inferthe ingenuous soulthe man

Who makes esteem of honour and repute

Whenever honour and repute are touched

Arrives at term of fury and despair

Loses all guidance from the reason-check:

As in deliriumor a frenzy-fit

Nor fury nor despair he satiates- no

Not even if he attain the impossible

O'erturn the hinges of the universe

To annihilate- not whoso caused the smart

Solelythe author simply of his pain

But the placethe memoryvituperii

O' the shame and scorn: quia- says Solomon

(The Holy Spirit speaking by his mouth

In Proverbsthe sixth chapter near the end)

-Becausethe zeal and fury of a man

Zelus et furor viriwill not spare

Non parcetin the day of his revenge

In die vindictoenor will acquiesce

Nec acquiescetthrough a person's prayers

Cujusdam precibus- nec suscipiet

Nor yet takepro redemptionefor

Redemptiondona pluriumgifts of friends

Nor money-payment to compound for ache.

Who recognises not my client's case?

Wheretoas strangely consentaneous here

Adduce Saint Bernard in the Epistle writ

To Robertulushis nephew: Too much grief

Dolor quippe nimius non deliberat

Does not excogitate propriety

Non verecundaturnor knows shame at all

Non consulit rationemnor consults

Reasonnon dignitatis metuit

Damnumnor dreads the loss of dignity;

Modum et ordinemorder and the mode

Ignoratit ignores: whytrait for trait

Was ever portrait limned so like the life?

(By Cavalier Marattashall I say?

I hear he's first in reputation now.)

Yesthat of Samson in the Sacred Text:

That's not so much the portrait as the man!

Samson in Gaza was the antetype

Of Guido at Rome: for note the Nazarite!

Blinded he was- an easy thing to bear

Intrepidly he took imprisonment

Gyvesstripes and daily labour at the mill:

But when he found himselfi' the public place

Destined to make the common people sport

Disdain burned up with such an impetus

I' the breast of him thatall of him on fire

Moriaturroared helet my soul's self die

Anima meawith the Philistines!

Sopulled down pillarroofand death and all

Multosque plures interfecitay

And many more he killed thusmoriens

Dyingquam vivusthan in his whole life

Occiderathe ever killed before.

Are these things writ for no exampleSirs?

One instance moreand let me see who doubts!

Our Lord Himselfmade up of mansuetude

Sealing the sum of sufferance upreceived

Opprobriumcontumely and buffeting

Without complaint: but when He found Himself

Touched in His honour never so little for once

Then outbroke indignation pent before-

'Honorem meum nemini dabo!' 'No

My honour I to nobody will give!'

And certainly the example so hath wrought

That whosoeverat the proper worth

Apprises worldly honour and repute

Esteems it nobler to die honoured man

Beneath Mannaia than live centuries

Disgraced in the eye o' the world. We find Saint Paul

No recreant to this faith delivered once:

'Far worthier were it that I died' cries he

Expedit mihi magis mori'than

That anyone should make my glory void'

Quam ut gloriam meam quis evacuet!

Seead Corinthienses: whereupon

Saint Ambrose makes a comment with much fruit

Doubtless my Judges long since laid to heart

So I desist from bringing forward here-

(I can't quite recollect it.)

Have I proved

Satis superqueboth enough and to spare

That Revelation old and new admits

The natural man may effervesce in ire

O'erflood eartho'erfroth heaven with foamy rage

At the first puncture to his self-respect?

ThenSirsthis Christian dogmathis law-bud

Full-blown nowsoon to bask the absolute flower

Of Papal doctrine in our blaze of day-

Bethink youshall we miss one promise-streak

One doubtful birth of dawn crepuscular

One dew-drop comfort to humanity.

Now that the chalice teems with noonday wine?

Yeaargue Molinists who bar revenge-

Referring just to what makes out our case!

Under old dispensationargue they

The doom of the adulterous wife was death

Stoning by Moses' law. 'Naystone her not

Put her away!' next legislates our Lord;

And last of all'Nor yet divorce a wife!'

Ordains the Church'she typifies ourself

The Bride no fault shall cause to fall from Christ.'

Thenas no jot nor tittle of the Law

Has passed away- which who presumes to doubt?

As not one word of Christ is rendered vain-

Whichcould it be though heaven and earth should pass?

-Where do I find my proper punishment

For my adulterous wifeI humbly ask

Of my infallible Pope- who now remits

Even the divorce allowed by Christ in lieu

Of lapidation Moses licensed me?

The Gospel checks the Law which throws the stone

The Church tears the divorce-bill Gospel grants

The wife sins and enjoys impunity!

What profits me the fulness of the days

The final dispensationI demand

Unless LawGospel and the Church subjoin

'But who hath barred thee primitive revenge

Whichlike fire damped and dammed upburns more fierce?

Use thou thy natural privilege of man

Else wert thou found like those old ingrate Jews

Despite the manna-banquet on the board

A-longing after melonscucumbers

And such like trash of Egypt left behind!'

(There was one melonhad improved our soup

But did not Cinoncino need the rind

To make a boat with? So I seem to think.)

LAWGospel and the Church- from these we leap

To the very last revealmenteasy rule

Befitting the well-born and thorough-bred

O' the happy day we live in- not the dark

O' the early rude and acorn-eating race.

'Behold' quoth James'we bridle in a horse

And turn his body as we would thereby!'

Yeabut we change the bit to suit the growth

And rasp our colt's jaw with a rugged spike

We hasten to remit our managed steed

Who wheels round at persuasion of a touch.

Civilization bows to decency

The acknowledged use and wontthe manners- mild

But yet imperative law- which make the man.

Thus do we pay the proper compliment

To rankand that society of Rome

Hath so obliged us by its interest

Taken our client's part instinctively

As unaware defending its own cause.

What dictum doth Society lay down

I' the case of one who hath a faithless wife?

Wherewithal should the husband cleanse his way?

Be patient and forgive? Ohlanguage fails-

Shrinks from depicturing his punishment!

For if wronged husband raise not hue and cry

Quod si maritus de adulterio non

Conquerereturhe's presumed a- foh!

Presumitur leno: socomplain he must.

But how complain? At your tribunallords?

Far weightier challenge suits your senseI wot!

You sit not to have gentlemen propose

Questions gentility can itself discuss.

Did not you prove that to our brother Paul?

The Abatequum judicialiter

Prosequereturwhen he tried the law

Guidonis causamin Count Guido's case

Accidit ipsithis befell himself

Quod risum moverit et cachinnosthat

He moved to mirth and cachinnationall

Or nearly allfere in omnibus

Etiam sensatis et cordatismen

Strong-sensedsound-heartednaythe very Court

Ipsismet in judicibusI might add

Non tamen dicam. In a cause like this

So multiplied were reasons pro and con

Delicateintertwisted and obscure

That law were shamed to lend a finger-tip

To unravelreadjust the hopeless twine

Whilehalf-a-dozen steps outside the court

There stood a foolish trifler with a tool

A-dangle to no purpose by his side

Had clearly cut the tangle in a trice.

Asserunt enim unanimiter

Doctoresfor the Doctors all assert

That husbandsquod maritimust be held

Vilescornuti reputanturvile

And branching forth a florid infamy

Si propriis manibusif with their own hands

Non sumuntthey take not straightway revenge

Vindictambut expect the deed be done

By the Court- expectant illam fieri

Per judicesqui summopere ridentwhich

Gives an enormous guffaw for reply

Et cachinnantur. For he ran away

Deliquit enimjust that he might 'scape

The censure of both counsellors and crowd

Ut vulgi et Doctorum evitaret

Censuramand lest so he superadd

To loss of honour ignominy too

Et sic ne istam quoque ignominiam

Amisso honori superadderet.

My lordsmy lordsthe inconsiderate step

Was- we referred ourselves to law at all!

Twit me not with'Law else had punished you!

Each punishment of the extra-legal step

To which the high-born preferably revert

Is ever for some oversightsome slip

I' the taking vengeancenot for vengeance' self.

A good thing done unhandsomely turns ill;

And never yet lacked ill the law's rebuke.

For pregnant instancelet us contemplate

The luck of Leonardus- see at large

Of Sicily's Decisions sixty-first.

This Leonard finds his wife is false: what then?

He makes her own son snare herand entice

Out of the town-walls to a private walk

Wherein he slays her with commodity.

They find her body half-devoured by dogs:

Leonard is triedconvictedpunishedsent

To labour in the galleys seven years long:

Why? For the murder? Naybut for the mode!

Malus modus occidendiruled the Court

An ugly mode of killingnothing more!

Another fructuous sample- see 'De Re

Criminali' in Matthaeus' divine piece.

Another husbandin no better plight

Simulates absencethereby tempts the wife;

On whom he fallsout of sly ambuscade

Backed by a brother of hisand both of them

Armed to the teeth with arms that law had blamed.

Nimis doloseoverwilily

Fuisse operatumwas it worked

Pronounced the law: had all been fairly done

Law had not found him worthyas she did

Of four years' exile. Why cite more? Enough

Is good as a feast- (unless a birthday-feast

For one's Cinuccio: sowe'll finish here)

My lordswe rather need defend ourselves

Inasmuch as for a twinkling of an eye

We hesitatingly appealed to law-

Rather than deny thaton mature advice

We blushingly bethought usbade revenge

Back to the simple proper private way

Of decent self-dealt gentlemanly death.

Judgesthere is the lawand this beside

The testimony! Look to it!

Pause and breathe!

So far is only too plain; we must watch

Bottini will scarce hazard an attack

Here: let's anticipate the fellow's play

And guard the weaker places- warily ask

What if considerations of a sort

Reasons of a kindarise from out the strange

Peculiar unforseen new circumstance

Of this our (candour owns) abnormal act

To bar the right of us revenging so?

'Impunity were otherwise your meed:

Go slay your wife and welcome'- may be urged-

'But why the innocent old couple slay

PietroViolante? You may do enough

Not too muchnot exceed the golden mean:

Neither brute-beast nor PaganGentileJew

Nor Christianno nor votarist of the mode

Were free at all to push revenge so far!'

NOINDEED? Whythou very sciolist!

The actual wrongPompilia seemed to do

Was virtual wrong done by the parents here-

Imposing her upon us as their child-

Themselves allow: thenher fault was their fault

Her punishment be theirs accordingly!

But wait a littlesneak not off so soon!

Was this cheat solely harm to Guidopray?

The precious couple you call innocent-

Whythey were felons that law failed to clutch

Qui ut fraudarentwho that they might rob

Legitime vocatosfolks law called

Ad fidei commissumtrue heirs to the Trust

Partum supposueruntfeigned this birth

Immemores reos factos esseblind

To the fact thatguiltythey incurred thereby

Ultimi suppliciihanging or aught worse.

Do you blame us that we turn law's instruments

Not mere self-seekers- mind the public weal

Nor make the private good our sole concern?

That having- shall I say- secured a thief

Not simply we recover from his pouch

The stolen article our property

But also pounce upon our neighbour's purse

We opportunely find reposing there

And do him justice while we right ourselves?

He owes usfor our parta drubbing say

But owes our neighbour just a dance i' the air

Under the gallows: so we throttle him.

The neighbour's Lawthe couple are the Thief

We are the over-ready to help Law-

Zeal of her house hath eaten us up: for which

Can it beLaw intends to eat up us

Crudum Priamumdevour poor Priam raw

('Twas Jupiter's own joke) with babes to boot

Priamique pisinnosin Homeric phrase?

Shame!- and so ends the period prettily.

BUT even- prove the pair not culpable

Free as unborn babe from connivance at

Participation intheir daughter's fault:

Ours the mistake. Is that a rare event?

Non semelit is anything but rare

In contingentia factithat by chance

Impunes evaseruntgo scot-free

Quisuch well-meaning people as ourselves

Justo dolore motiwho aggrieved

With causeapposuerunt manuslay

Rough handsin innocenteson wrong heads.

Cite we an illustrative case in point:

Mulier Smirnea quaedamgood my lords

A gentlewoman lived in Smyrna once

Virum et filium ex eo conceptumwho

Both husband and her son begot by him

Killedinterfeceratex quobecause

Vir filium suum perdiderather spouse

Had been beforehand with herkilled her son

Matrimonii primiof a previous bed.

Deinde accusatathen accused

Apud Dolabellambefore him that sat

Proconsulnec duabus caedibus

Contaminatam liberarenor

To liberate a woman doubly-dyed

With murdervoluitmade he up his mind

Nec condemnarenor to doom to death

Justo dolore impulsamone impelled

By just griefsed remisitbut sent her up

Ad Areopagumto the Hill of Mars

Sapientissimorum judicum

Coetumto that assembly of the sage

Paralleled only by my judges here;

Ubicognito de causawherethe cause

Well weighedresponsum estthey gave reply

Ut ipsa et accusatorthat both sides

O' the suitredirentshould come back again

Post centum annosafter a hundred years

For judgment; et sicby which sage decree

Duplici parricidio reaone

Convicted of a double parricide

Quamvis etiam innocentemthough in truth

Out of the pairone innocent at least

Sheoccidissetplainly had put to death

Undequaqueyet she altogether 'scaped

Evasit impunis. See the case at length

In Valeriusfittingly styled Maximus

That eighth book of his Memorable Facts.

Nor Cyriacus cites beside the mark:

Similiter uxor quoe mandaverat

Just soa lady who had taken care

Homicidium virithat her lord be killed

Ex denegatione debiti

For denegation of a certain debt

Matrimonialishe was loth to pay

Fuit pecuniaria mulctawas

Amerced in a pecuniary mulct

Punitaet ad poenamand to pains

Temporalemfor a certain space of time

In monasterioin a convent.


In monasterio! How he manages

In with the ablativethe accusative!

I had hoped to have hitched the villain into verse

For a giftthis very daya complete list

O' the prepositions each with proper case

Telling a storylong was in my head.

What prepositions take the accusative?

Ad to or at- who saw the cat? - down to

Obforbecause ofkeep her claws off! Ah

Law in a man takes the whole liberty!

The muse is fettered- just as Ovid found!

AND nowsea widens and the coast is clear.

What of the dubious act you bade excuse?

Surely things brightenbrightentill at length

Remains- so far from act that needs defence-

Apology to make for act delayed

One minutelet alone eight mortal months

Of hesitation! 'Why procrastinate?'

(Out with it my Bottiniusease thyself!)

'Rightpromptly doneis twice right: right delayed

Turns wrong. We grant you should have killed your wife

But on the momentat the meeting her

In company with the priest: then did the tongue

O' the Brazen Head give licence"Time is now!"

You make your mind up: "Time is past" it peals.

Friendyou are competent to mastery

O' the passions that confessedly explain

An outbreak- yet allow an interval

And then break out as if time's dock still clanged.

You have forfeited your chanceand flat you fall

Into the commonplace category

Of men bound to go softly all their days

Obeying law.'

Nowwhich way make response?

What was the answer Guido gavehimself?

-That so to argue came of ignorance

How honour bears a wound: 'Forwound' said he

'My bodyand the smart is worst at first:

Whilewound my soul where honour sits and rules

Longer the sufferanceStronger grows the pain

'Tis ex incontinentifresh as first.'

But try another tackcalm common sense

By way of contrast: as- Too truemy lords!

We did demurawhile did hesitate:

Yet husband sure should let a scruple speak

Ere he slay wife- for his own safetylords!

Carpers abound in this misjudging world.

Moreoverthere's a nicety in law

That seems to justify them should they carp:

Suppose the source of injury a son-

Father may slay such son yet run no risk:

Why graced with such a privilege? Because

A father so incensed with his own child

Or must have reasonor believe he has:

Quia semperseeing that in such event

Presumiturthe law is bound suppose

Quod capiat paterthat the sire must take

Bonum consilium pro filio

The best course as to what befits his boy

Through instinctex instinctuof mere love


Quam confidentiamwhich confidence

Non habetlaw declines to entertain

De viroof the husband: where has he

An instinct that compels him love his wife?

Rather is he presumably her foe:

Solet him ponder long in this bad world

Ere do the simplest act of justice.


Again- and here we brush Bottini's breast-

Object you'See the danger of delay!

Suppose a man murdered my friend last month:

Had I come up and killed him for his pains

In rageI had done rightallows the law:

I meet him now and kill him in cold blood

I do wrongequally allows the law:

Wherein do actions differyours and mine?'

In plenitudine intellectus es?

Hast thy witsFisc? To take such slayer's life

Returns it life to thy slain friend at all?

Had he stolen ring instead of stabbing friend-

To-dayto-morrow or next century

Meeting the thiefthy ring upon his thumb

Thou justifiably hadst wrung it thence:

Socouldst thou wrench thy friend's life back again

Though prisoned in the bosom of his foe

Whylaw would look complacent on thy rush.

Our case isthat the thing we lostwe found:

The honourwe were robbed of eight months since

Being recoverable at any day

By death of the delinquent. Go thy ways!

Ere thou hast learned lawwill be much to do

As said the rustic while he shod the goose.

NAYif you urge meinterval was none!

From the inn to the villa- blank or else a bar

Of adverse and contrarious incident

Solid between us and our just revenge!

What with the priest who flourishes his blade

The wife who like a fury flings at us

The crowd- and then the capturethe appeal

To Romethe journey therethe journey thence

The shelter at the House of Convertites

The visits to the Villaand so forth

Where was one minute left us all this while

To put in execution that revenge

We planned o' the instant?- as it wereplumped down

A round sound eggo' the spotsome eight months since

Romemore propitious than our nestshould hatch!

Object not'You reached Rome on Christmas-eve

Anddespite liberty to act at once

Waited a week- indecorous delay!'

Hath so the Molinism-cankerlords

Eaten to the bone? Is no religion left?

No care for aught held holy by the Church?

Whatwould you have us skip and miss those Feasts

O' the Natal Timemust we go prosecute

Secular business on a sacred day?

Should not the merest charity expect

Setting our poor concerns aside for once

We hurried to the song matutinal

I' the Sistineand pressed forward for the Mass

The Cardinal that's Camerlengo chaunts

Then rushed on to the blessing of the Hat

And Rapierwhich the Pope sends to what prince

Has done most detriment to the Infidel-

And thereby whet our courage if 'twere blunt?

Meantimeallow we kept the house a week

Suppose not we were idle in our mew:

Picture Count Guido raging here and there-

'"Money?" I need none- "Friends?" The word is null.

Match me the white was on that shield of mine

Borne at'... wherever might be shield to bear;

'I see my grandsirehe who fought so well

At'... here find out and put in time and place

Of what might be a fight his grandsire fought:

'I see this- I see that-'

See to it all

Or I shall scarce see lamb's fry in an hour!

-Nod to the uncleas I bid advance

The smoking dish'Thisfor your tender teeth!

Behoves us care a little for our kin-

YouSir- who care so much for cousinship

As come to your poor loving nephew's feast!'

He has the reversion of a long lease yet-

Land to bequeath! He loves lamb's tryI know!

HERE fall to be considered those same six

Qualities; what Bottini needs must call

So many aggravations of our crime

Parasite-growth upon mere murder's back.

We summarily might dispose of such

By some off-hand and jaunty flingsome skit-

'Sosince there's proved no crime to aggravate

A fico for your aggravationsFisc!'

No- handle mischief rather- play with spells

Were meant to raise a spiritand laugh the while

We show that did he rise we are his match!

Thereforefirst aggravation: we made up-

Over and above our simple murdering selves-

A regular assemblage of armed men

Coadunatio armatorum- ay

Unluckily it was the very judge

Who sits in judgment on our cause to-day

That passed the law as Governor of Rome:

'Four men armed'- though for lawful purposemark!

Much more for an acknowledged crime- 'shall die.'

We five were armed to the teethmeant murder too?

Whythat's the very point that saves usFisc!

Let me instruct you. Crime nor done nor meant-

You punish still who arm and congregate:

For why have used bad means to a good end?

Crime being meant not done- you punish still

The means to crimeyou haply pounce upon

Though circumstance have baulked you of their end:

But crime not only compassed but complete

Meant and done too? Whysince you have the end

Be that your sole concernnor mind those means

No longer to the purpose! Murdered we?

(-Whichthat our luck was in the present case

Quod contigisse in praesenti casu

Is palpablemanibus palpatum est -)

Make murder out against usnothing less!

Of many crimes committed with a view

To one main crimeyou overlook the less

Intent upon the large. Suppose a man

Having in view commission of a theft

Climb the town-wall: 'tis for the theft he hangs

Suppose you can convict him of such theft

Remitted whipping due to who climbs wall

For bravery or wantonness alone

Just to dislodge a daw's nest and no more.

So I interpret you the manly mind

Of him the Judge shall judge both you and me-

O' the Governorwhobeing no babemy Fisc

Cannot have blundered on ineptitude!

Next aggravation- that the arms themselves

Were specially of such forbidden sort

Through shape or length or breadthaspromptlaw plucks

From single hand of solitary man

And makes him pay the carriage with his life:

Delatio armorumarms against the rule

Contra formam constitutionisof

Pope Alexander's blessed memory.

Such are the poignard with the double prong

Horn-likewhen tines make bold the antlered buck

And all of brittle glass- for man to stab

And break off short and so let fragment stick

Fast in the flesh to baffle surgery:

And such the Genoese blade with hooks at edge

That did us service at the Villa here.

Sed parcat mihi tam eximius vir

Butlet so rare a personage forgive

Fiscthy objection is a foppery!

Thy charge runsthat we killed three innocents:

Killeddost see? Thenif killedwhat matter how?-

By Stick or stoneby sword or daggertool

Long or tool shortround or triangular-

Poor folksthey find small comfort in a choice!

Means to an endmeans to an endmy Fisc!

Nature cries out 'Take the first arms you find!'

Furor ministrat arma: where's a stone?

Unde mi lapidemwhere darts for me?

Unde sagittas? But subdue the bard

And rationalize a little: eight months since

Had weor had we notincurred your blame

For letting 'scape unpunished this bad pair?

I think I proved that in last paragraph!

Why did we so? Because our courage failed.

Wherefore? Through lack of arms to fight the foe:

We had no arms or merely lawful ones

An unimportant sword and blunderbuss

Against a foepollent in potency

The amasiusand our vixen of a wife.

Well thenhow culpably do we gird loin

And once more undertake the high emprise

Unless we load ourselves this second time

With handsome superfluity of arms

Since better say 'too much' than 'not enough'

And 'plus non vitiat' too much does no harm

Except in mathematicssages say.

Gather instruction from the parable!

At first we are advised- 'A lad hath here

Seven barley loaves and two small fishes: what

Is that among so many?' Aptly asked:

But put that question twice andquite as apt

The answer is 'Fragmentstwelve baskets full!'

ANDwhile we speak of superabundancefling

A word by the way to fools that cast their flout

On Guido- 'Punishment exceeds offence:

You might be just but you were cruel too!'

If so you stigmatise the stern and strict

Stillhe is not without excuse- may plead

Transgression of his mandateover-zeal

O' the part of his companions: all he craved

Wasthey should fray the faces of the three:

Solummodo fassus esthe owns no more

Dedisse mandatumthan that he desired

Ad sfrisiandumdicamthat they hack

And hewi' the customary phrasehis wife

Uxorem tantumand no harm beside.

If his instructions then be misconceived

Naydisobeyedimpute you blame to him?

Cite me no Panicollus to the point

As adverse! OhI quite expect his case-

How certain noble youths of Sicily

Having good reason to mistrust their wives

Killed them and were absolved in consequence:

While others who had gone beyond the need

By mutilation of the paramour

(So Galba in the Horatian satire grieved)

-These were condemned to the galleysas for guilt

Exceeding simple murder of a wife.

But why? Because of uglinessand not

Crueltyin the said revengeI trow!

Ex causa abscissionis partium;

Quia nempe id facientes reputantur

Naturae inimiciman revolts

Against such as the natural enemy.

Praygrant to one who meant to slit the nose

And slash the cheek and slur the mouthat most

A somewhat more humane award than these!

Objectum funditus corruitflat you fall

My Fisc! I waste no kick on you but pass.

THIRD aggravation: that our act was done-

Not in the public streetwhere safety lies

Not in the bye-placecaution may avoid

Woodcaverndesertspots contrived for crime-

But in the very househomenook and nest

O' the victimsmurdered in their dwelling-place

In domo ac habitatione propria

Where all presumably is peace and joy.

The spidercrimepronounce we twice a pest

Whencreeping from congenial cottageshe

Taketh hold with her handsto horrify

His household morei' the palace of the king.

All three were housed and safe and confident.

Moreoverthe permission that our wife

Should have at length domum pro carcere

Her own abode in place of prison- why

We ourselves grantedby our other self

And proxy Paolo: did we make such grant

Meaning a lure?- elude the vigilance

O' the jailorlead her to commodious death

While we ostensibly relented?


Just so did wenor otherwisemy Fisc!

Is vengeance lawful? We demand our right

But find it will be questioned or refused

By jailorturnkeyhangdog- what know we?

Prayhow is it we should conduct ourselves?

To gain our private right- break public peace

Do you bid us?- trouble order with our broils?

Endanger... shall I shrink to own... ourselves?-

Who want no broken head nor bloody nose

(While busied slitting nosesbreaking heads)

From the first tipstaff shall please interfere!

Nam quicquid sitfor howsoever it be

An de consensu nostroif with leave

Or nota monasteriofrom the nuns

Educta essetshe had been led forth

Potuimus id dissimularewe

May well have granted leave in pure pretence

Ut aditum haberethat thereby

An entry we might compassa free move

Potuissemusto her easy death

Ad eam occidendam. Privacy

O' the hearthand sanctitude of homesay you?

Would you give man's abode more privilege

Than God's?- for in the churches where He dwells

In quibus assistit Regum Rexby means

Of His essenceper essentiamall the same

Et nihilominusthereinin eis

Ex justa via delinquenswhoso dares

To take a liberty on ground enough

Is pardonedexcusatur; that's our case-

Delinquent through befitting cause. You hold

To punish a false wife in her own house

Is graver thanwhat happens every day

To hale a debtor from his hiding-place

In church protected by the Sacrament?

To this conclusion have I brought my Fisc?

Foxes have holesand fowls o' the air their nests;

Praise you the impiety that followsFisc?

Shall false wife yet have where to lay her head?

'Contra Fiscum definitum est!' He's done

'Surge et scribe' make a note of it!

-If I may dally with Aquinas' word.

OR IN the death-throe does he mutter still?

Fourth aggravationthat we changed our garb

And rusticized ourselves with uncouth hat

Rough vest and goatskin wrappage; murdered thus

Mutatione vestiumin disguise

Whereby mere murder got complexed with wile

Turned homicidium ex insidiis. Fisc

How often must I round thee in the ears-

All means are lawful to a lawful end?

Concede he had the right to kill his wife:

The Count indulged in a travesty; why?

De illa ut vindictam sumeret

That on her he might lawful vengeance take

Commodiuswith more easeet tutius

And safelier: wants he warrant for the step?

Read to thy profit how the Apostle once

For case and safetywhen Damascus raged

Was let down in a basket by the wall

To 'scape the malice of the governor

(Another sort of Governor boasts Rome!)

-Many are of opinion- covered close

Concealed with- what except that very cloak

He left behind at Troas afterward?

I shall not add a syllable: Molinists may!

WELLhave we more to manage? Ayindeed!

Fifth aggravationthat our wife reposed

Sub potestate judicisbeneath

Protection of the judge- her house was styled

A prisonand his power became its guard

In lieu of wall and gate and bolt and bar.

This a tough pointshrewdredoubtable:

Because we have to supplicate the judge

Shall overlook wrong done the judgment-seat.

NowI might suffer my own nose be pulled

As man- but then as father... if the Fisc

Touched one hair of my boy who held my hand

In confidence he could not come to harm

Crossing the Corsoat my own desire

Going to see those bodies in the church-

What would you say to thatDon Hyacinth?

This is the sole and single knotty point:

Forbid Tommati blink his interest

You laud his magnanimity the while:

But baulk Tommati's office- he talks big!

'My predecessors in the place- those sons

O' the prophets that may hope succeed me here-

Shall I diminish their prerogative?

Count Guido Franceschini's honour!- well

Has the Governor of Rome none?'

You perceive

The cards are all against us. Make a push

Kick over tableas our gamesters do!

Wedo you sayencroach upon the rights

Deny the omnipotence o' the Judge forsooth?

Wewho have only been from first to last

Intent on that his purpose should prevail

Naymoreat timesanticipating both

At risk of a rebuke?

But wait awhile!

Cannot we lump this with the sixth and last

Of the aggravations- that the Majesty

O' the Sovereign here received a woundto-wit

Laesa Majestassince our violence

Was out of envy to the course of law

In odium litis? We cut short thereby

Three pending suitspromoted by ourselves

I' the main- which worsens crimeaccedit ad

Exasperationem criminis!

YEShere the eruptive wrath with full effect!

How- did not indignation chain my tongue-

Could I repel this lastworst charge of all!

(There is a porcupine to barbacue;

Gigia can jug a rabbit well enough

With sour-sweet sauce and pine-pips; butgood Lord

Suppose the devil instigate the wench

To stewnot roast him? Stew my porcupine?

If she doesI know where his quills shall stick!

ComeI must go myself and see to things:

I cannot stay much longer stewing here)

Our stomach... I meanour soul- is stirred within

And we want words. We wounded Majesty?

Fall under such a censurewe- who yearned

So much that Majesty dispel the cloud

And shine on us with healing on its wings

We prayed the PopeMajestas' very self

To anticipate a little the tardy pack

Bell us forth deep the authoritative bay

Should start the beagles into sudden yelp

Unisonous- andGospel leading Law

Grant there assemble in our own behoof

A Congregationa particular Court

A few picked friends of quality and place

To hear the several matters in dispute

Causes biglittle and indifferent

Bred of our marriage like a mushroom-growth

All at once (can one brush off such too soon?)

And so with laudable dispatch decide

Whether wein the main (to sink detail)

Were one the Church should hold fast or let go.

'Whattake the credit from the Law?' you ask?

Indeedwe did! Law ducks to Gospel here:

Why should Law gain the glory and pronounce

A judgment shall immortalize the Pope?

Yes: our self-abnegating policy

Was Joab's- we would rouse our David's sloth

Bid him encamp against a citysack

A place whereto ourselves had long laid siege

Lesttaking it at lastit take our name

And be not Innocentinopolis.

But no! The modesty was in alarm

The temperance refused to interfere

Returned us our petition with the word

'Ad judices suos' 'Leave him to his Judge!'

As who should say- 'Why trouble my repose?

Why consult Peter in a simple case

Peter's wife's sister in her fever-fit

Might solve as readily as the Apostle's self?

Are my Tribunals posed by aught so plain?

Hath not my Court a conscience? It is of age

Ask it!'

We do ask- butinspire reply

To the Court thou bidst me askas I have asked-

Oh thouwho vigilantly dost attend

To even the fewthe ineffectual words

Which rise from this our low and mundane sphere

Up to thy region out of smoke and noise

Seeking corroboration from thy nod

Who art all justice- which means mercy too

In a low noisy smoky world like ours

Where Adam's sin made peccable his seed!

We venerate the father of the flock

Whose last faint sands of lifethe frittered gold

Fall noiselesslyyet all too fasto' the cone

And tapering heap of those collected years-

Never have these been hurried in their flow

Though justice fain would jog reluctant arm

In eagerness to take the forfeiture

Of guilty life: much less shall mercy sue

In vain that thou let innocence survive

Precipitate no minim of the mass

O' the all-so precious moments of thy life

By pushing Guido into death and doom!

(Our Cardinal engages read my speech:

They saythe Pope has one half-hourin twelve

Of something like a moderate return

Of the intellectuals- never much to lose!-

If I adroitly plant this passage there

The Fisc will find himself forestalledI think

Though he standbeat till the old ear-drum break!

-Ahboy of my own bowelsHyacinth

Wilt ever catch the knack- requite the pains

Of poor papabecome proficient too

I' the how and why and when- the time to laugh

The time to weepthe timeagainto pray

And all the times prescribed by Holy Writ?

Wellwellwe fathers can but carebut cast

Our bread upon the waters!)

In a word

These secondary charges go to ground

Since secondaryso superfluous- motes

Quite from the main point: we did all and some

Little and muchadjunct and principal

Causa honoris. Is there such a cause

As the sake of honour? By that sole test try

Our actionnor demand if more or less

Because of the action's modewe merit blame

Or may-be deserve praise. The Court decides.

Is the end lawful? It allows the means:

What we may do we may with safety do

And what means 'safety' we ourselves must judge.

Put case a person wrongs me past dispute:

If my legitimate vengeance be a blow

Mistrusting my bare arm can deal the same

I claim co-operation of a stick;

Doubtful if stick be toughI crave a sword;

Diffident of ability in fence

I fee a frienda swordsman to assist:

Take one- who may be cowardfool or knave-

Why not take fifty?- and if these exceed

I' the due degree of drubbingwhom accuse

But the first author of the aforesaid wrong

Who put poor me to such a world of pains?

Surgery would have just excised a wart;

The patient made such potherstruggled so

That the sharp instrument sliced nose and all.

Taunt us not that our friends performed for pay!

For usenough were simple honour's sake:

Give country clowns the dirt they comprehend

The piece of gold! Our reasonswhich suffice

Ourselvesbe ours alone; our piece of gold

Beto the rusticreason and to spare!

We must translate our motives like our speech

Into the lower phrase that suits the sense

O' the limitedly apprehensive. Let

Each level have its language! Heaven speaks first

To the angelthen the angel tames the word

Down to the ear of Tobit: hein turn

Diminishes the message to his dog

And finally that dog finds how the flea

(Which elseimportunatemight check his speed)

Shall learn its hunger must have holiday-

How many varied sorts of language here

Each following each with pace to match the step

Haud passibus aequis!

Talking of which flea

Reminds me I must put in special word

For the poor humble following- the four friends

Sicariiour assassins in your charge.

Ourselves are safe in your approval now:

Yet must we care for our companionsplead

The cause o' the poorthe friends (of old-world faith)

Who are in tribulation for our sake.

Pauperum Procurator is my style:

I stand forth as the poor man's advocate:

And when we treat of what concerns the poor

Et cum agatur de pauperibus

In bondagecarceratisfor their sake

In eorum causisnatural piety

Pietasever ought to win the day

Triumphare debetquia ipsi sunt

Because those very paupers constitute

Thesaurus Christiall the wealth of Christ.

Nevertheless I shall not hold you long

With multiplicity of proofsnor burn

Candle at noon-tideclarify the clear.

There beams a case refulgent from our books-


I find it burn to dissipate the dark.

'Tis this: a husband had a friendwhich friend

Seemed to him over-friendly with his wife

In thought and purpose- I pretend no more.

To justify suspicion or dispel

He bids his wife make show of giving heed

Semblance of sympathy- proposein fine

A secret meeting in a private place.

The friendenticed thusfinds an ambuscade

To-witthe husband posted with a pack

Of other friendswho fall upon the first

And beat his love and life out both at once.

These friends were brought to question for their help.

Law ruled 'The husband being in the right

Who helped him in the right can scarce be wrong'-

Opinioan opinion every way

Multum tenenda cordiheart should hold!

When the inferiors follow as befits

The lead o' the principalthey change their name

Andnon dicunturare no longer called

His mandatoriesmandatorii

But helpmatessed auxiliatores; since

To that degree does honour' sake lend aid

Adeo honoris causa est efficax

That not alonenon solumdoes it pour

Itself outse diffundaton mere friends

We bring to do our bidding of this sort

In mandatorios simplicesbut sucks

Along with it in wide and generous whirl

Sed etiam assassinii qualitate

Qualificatospeople qualified

By the quality of assassination's self

Dare I make use of such neologism

Ut utar verbo.

Haste we to conclude:

Of the other points that favourleave some few

For Spreti; such as the delinquents' youth:

One of them falls shortby some monthsof age

Fit to be managed by the gallows; two

May plead exemption from our law's award

Being foreignerssubjects of the Granduke-

I spare that bone to Spreti and reserve

Myself the juicier breast of argument-

Flinging the breast-blade i' the face o' the Fisc

Who furnished me the tid-bit: he must needs

Play off his armoury and rack the clowns-

And theyat instance of the rackconfessed

All four unanimously did resolve-

That night o' the murderin brief minutes snatched

Behind the back of Guido as he fled-

Thatsince he had not kept his promisepaid

The money for the murder on the spot

Andreaching home againmight even ignore

The past or pay it in improper coin

They one and all resolvedthese hopeful friends

They would inaugurate the morrow's light

Having recruited strength with needful rest

By killing Guido as he lay asleep

Pillowed by wallet which contained their fee.

I THANK the Fisc for knowledge of this fact:

What fact could hope to make more manifest

Their rectitudeGuido's integrity?

For who fails recognise apparent here

That these poor rustics bore no envyhate

Malice nor yet uncharitableness

Against the people they had put to death?

In themdid such an act reward itself?

All done was to deserve their simple pay

Obtain the bread they earned by sweat of brow:

Missing this paythey missed of everything-

Hence claimed iteven at expense of life

To their own lordso little warped were they

By prepossessionsuch the absolute

Instinct of equity in rustic souls!

While he the Countthe cultivated mind

Hewholly rapt in his serene regard

Of honouras who contemplates the sun

And hardly minds what tapers blink below

Hedreaming of no argument for death

Except the vengeance worthy noble hearts

Would he so desecrate the deed forsooth

Vulgarise vengeanceas defray its cost

By money dug out of the dirty earth

Mere irritantin Maro's phraseto ill?

What though he lured base hinds by lucre's hope-

The only motive they could masticate

Milk for babesnot strong meat which men require?

The deed donethose coarse hands were soiled enough

He spared them the pollution of the pay.

So much for the allegementthinemy Fisc

Quo nil absurdiusthan which nought more mad

Excogitari potestmay be squeezed

From out the cogitative brain of thee!

AND nowthou excellent the Governor!

(Push to the peroration) coeterum

Enixe supplicoI strive in prayer

Ut dominis meisthat unto the Court

Benigna frontewith a gracious brow

Et oculis serenisand mild eyes

Perpendere placeatit may please them weigh

Quod dominus Guidothat our noble Count

Occiditdid the killing in dispute

Ut ejus honor tumulatusthat

The honour of him buried fathom-deep

In infamyin infamiamight arise

Resurgeretas ghosts break sepulchre!

Occiditfor he killeduxoremwife

Quia illi fuitsince she was to him

Opprobrioa disgrace and nothing more!

Et genitoreskilled her parents too

Quiwhopostposita verecundia

Having thrown off all sort of decency

Filiam repudiarunthad renounced

Their daughteratque declarare non

Erubueruntnor felt blush tinge cheek

Declaringmeretricis genitam

Esseshe was the offspring of a drab

Ut ipse dehonestareturjust

That so himself might lose his social rank!

Cujus mentemand which daughter's heart and soul

Theyperverteruntturned from the right course

Et ad illicitos amores non

Dumtaxat pellexeruntand to love

Not simply did alluringly incite

Sed vi obedientiaebut by force

O' the dutyfilialisdaughters owe

Coegeruntforced and drove her to the deed:

OcciditI repeat he killed the clan

Ne scilicet amplius in dedecore

Lest peradventure longer life might trail

Viveretlink by link his turpitude

Invisus consanguineishateful so

To kith and kindreda nobilibus

Notatusshunned by men of quality

Relictus ab amicisleft i' the lurch

By friendsab omnibus derisusturned

A common hack-block to try edge of jokes.

Occiditand he killed them here in Rome

In Urbethe Eternal CitySirs

Nempe quae alias spectata est

The appropriate theatre which witnessed once

Matronam nobilemLucretia's self

Abluere pudicitiae maculas

Wash off the spots of her pudicity

Sanguine propriowith her own pure blood;

Quae viditand which city also saw


Impunemwith no sort of punishment

Noret non illaudatumlacking praise

Sed polluentem parricidio

Imbrue his hands with butcheryfiliae

Of chaste Virginiato avoid a rape

Ne raperetur ad stupra; so to heart

Tanti illi cordi fuitdid he take

Suspiciothe mere fancy men might have

Honoris amittendiof fame's loss

Ut potius voluerit filia

Orbarithat he chose to lose his child

Quam illa incederetrather than she walk

The ways aninhonestachild disgraced

Licet non spontethough against her will.

Occidit - killed themI reiterate-

In propria domoin their own abode

Ut adultera et parentesthat each wretch

Conscii agnoscerentmight both see and say

Nullum locumthere's no placenullumque esse

Asylumnor yet refuge of escape

Impenetrabilemshall serve as bar

Honori laesoto the wounded one

In honour; neve ibi opprobria

Continuarenturkilled them on the spot

Moreoverdreading lest within those walls

The opprobrium peradventure be prolonged

Et domus quae testis fuit turpium

And that the domicile which witnessed crime

Esset et poenaemight watch punishment:

OcciditkilledI round you in the ears

Quia alio modosince by other mode

Non poterat ejus existimatio

There was no possibility his fame

Laesagashed grieslytam enormiter

Ducere cicatricesmight be healed:

Occidit ut exemplum praeberet

Uxoribuskilled her so to lesson wives

Jura conjugiithat the marriage-oath

Esse servandamust be kept henceforth:

Occidit deniquekilled herin a word

Ut pro posse honestus viveret

That heplease Godmight creditably live

Sin minusbut if fate willed otherwise

Proprii honorisof his outraged fame

Offensiby Mannajaif you please

Commiseranda victima caderet

The pitiable victim he should fall!

DONE! I' the roughi' the rough! But done! Andlo

Landed and stranded lies my very own

My miraclemy monster of defence-

Leviathan into the nose whereof

I have put fish-hookpierced his jaw with thorn

And given him to my maidens for a play!

I' the rough- to-morrow I review my piece

Tame here and there undue floridity-

It's hard: you have to plead before these priests

And poke at them with Scriptureor you pass

For heathen andwhat's worsefor ignorant

O' the quality o' the Court and what it likes

By way of illustration of the law:

To-morrow stick in thisand throw out that

Andhaving first ecclesiasticized

Regularize the wholenext emphasize

Then latinize and lastly Cicero-ize

Giving my Fisc his finish. There's my speech-

And where's my fryand family and friends?

Where's that old Hyacinth I mean to hug

Till he cries out'Jam satis! Let me breathe!'

Ohwhat an evening have I earned to-day!

Hailye true pleasuresall the rest are false!

Ohthe old motherohthe fattish wife!

Rogue Hyacinth shall put on paper toque

And wrap himself around with mamma's veil

Done up to imitate papa's black robe

(I'm in the secret of the comedy-

Part of the program leaked out long ago!)

And call himself the Advocate o' the Poor

Mimic Don father that defends the Count

And for reward shall have a small full glass

Of manly red rosolio to himself

-Always provided that he conjugate

BiboI drinkcorrectly- nor be found

Make the perfectumbipsias last year!

How the ambitious do so harden heart

As lightly hold by these home-sanctitudes

To me is matter of bewilderment-

Bewilderment! Because ambition's range

Is nowise tethered by domestic tie:

Am I refused an outlet from my home

To the world's stage?- whereon a man should play

The man in publicvigilant for law

Zealous for trutha credit to his kind

Nay- through the talent so employed as yield

The Lord his own again with usury-

A satisfactionyeato God Himself!

Well I have modelled me by Agur's wish

'Remove far from me vanity and lies

Feed me with food convenient for me!' What

I' the world should a wise man require beyond?

Can I but coax the good fat little wife

To tell her fool of a father of the prank

His scapegrace nephew played this time last year

At Carnival- he could not chooseI think

But modify that inconsiderate gift

O' the cup and cover (somewhere in the will

Under the pillowsomeone seems to guess)

-Correct that clause in favour of a boy

The trifle ought to grace with name engraved

(Would look so well produced in years to come

To pledge a memory when poor papa

Latin and law are long since laid at rest)

Hyacintho dono dedit avus- why

The wife should get a necklace for her pains

The very pearls that made Violante proud

And Pietro pawned for half their value once-

Redeemable by somebody- ne sit

Marita quae rotundioribus

Onusta mammis... baccis ambulet

Her bosom shall display the big round balls

No braver should be borne by wedded wife!

With which Horatian promise I conclude.

Into the pigeon-hole with theemy speech!

Off and awayfirst work then playplayplay!

Bottiniburn your booksyou blazing ass!

Sing 'Tra-la-laforlambkinswe must live!'

IX: Juris Doctor Johannes-Baptista Bottinius

Fisci et Rev. Cam. Apostol. Advocatus

HAD I GOD'S LEAVEhow I would alter things!

If I might read instead of print my speech-

Ayand enliven speech with many a flower

Refuses obstinately blow in print

As wildings planted in a prim parterre-

This scurvy room were turned an immense hall;

Oppositefifty judges in a row;

This side and that of mefor audience- Rome:

Andwhere yon window isthe Pope should be-

Watchcurtainedbut yet visibly enough.

A buzz of expectation! Through the crowd

Jingling his chain and stumping with his staff

Up comes an usherlouts him low'The Court

Requires the allocution of the Fisc!'

I riseI bendI look about mepause

O'er the hushed multitude: I count- Onetwo-

HAVE ye seenJudgeshave yelights of law-

When it may hap some paintermuch in vogue

Throughout our city nutritive of arts

Ye summon to a task shall test his worth

And manufactureas he knows and can

A work may decorate a palace-wall

Afford my lords their Holy Family-

Hath it escaped the acumen of the Court

How such a painter sets himself to paint?

Suppose that JosephMary and her Babe

A-journeying to Egypt prove the piece:

Whyfirst he sedulously practiseth

This painter- girding loin and lighting lamp-

On what may nourish eyemake facile hand;

Getteth him studies (styled by draughtsmen so)

From some assistant corpse of Jew or Turk

OrhaplyMolinisthe cuts and carves-

This Luca or this Carlo or the like:

To him the bones their inmost secret yield

Each notch and nodule signify their use

On him the muscles turnin triple tier

And pleasantly entreat the entrusted man-

'Familiarize thee with our play that lifts

Thusand thus lowers againlegarm and foot!'

-Ensuring due correctness in the nude.

Which doneis all done? Not a whitye know!

He- to art's surface rising from her depth-

If some flax-polled soft-bearded sire be found

May simulate a Joseph(happy chance!)

Limneth exact each wrinkle of the brow

Loseth no involutioncheek or chap

Till loin black and whitethe senior lives!

Is it a young and comely peasant-nurse

That poseth? (be the phrase accorded me!)

Each feminine delight of florid lip

Eyes brimming o'er and brow bowed down with love

Marmoreal neck and bosom uberous-

Glad on the paper in a trice they go

To help his notion of the Mother-Maid:

Methinks I see itchalk a little stumped!

Yea and her babe- that flexture of soft limbs

That budding face imbued with dewy sleep

Contribute each an excellence to Christ.

Naysince he humbly lent companionship

Even the poor assunpanniered and elate

Standsperks an ear uphe a model too;

While clouted shoonstaffscrip and water-gourd-

Aught may betoken travelheat and haste-

No jot nor tittle of these but in its turn

Ministers to perfection of the piece:

Till nowsuch piece before himpart by part-

Such prelude ended- pause our painter may

Submit his fifty studies one by one

And in some sort boast 'I have served my lords.'

BUT what? And hath he painted once this while?

Or when ye cry 'Produce the thing required

Show us our picture shall rejoice its niche

Thy Journey through the Desert done in oils!'-

Whatdoth he fall to shuffling 'mid his sheets

Fumbling for first thisthen the other fact

Consigned to paper- 'studies' bear the term!-

And stretch a canvasmix a pot of paste

And fasten here a head and there a tail

(The ass hath onemy Judges!) so dove-tail

Orratherass-tail inpiece sorrily out-

By bits of reproduction of the life-

The picturethe expected Family?

I trow not! do I miss with my conceit

The markmy lords?- not so my lords were served!

Rather your artist turns abrupt from these

And preferably buries him and broods

(Quite away from aught vulgar and extern)

On the inner spectrumfiltered through the eye

His brain-depositbred of many a drop

E pluribus unum: and the wiser he!

For in that brain- their fancy sees at work

Could my lords peep indulged- results alone

Not processes which nourish the result

Would they discover and appreciate- life

Fed by digestionnot raw food itself

No gobbets but smooth comfortable chyme

Secreted from each snapped-up crudity-

Less distinctpart by partbut in the whole

Truer to the subject- the main central truth

And soul o' the picturewould my Judges spy-

Not those mere fragmentary studied facts

Which answer to the outward frame and flesh-

Not this nosenot that eyebrowthe other fact

Of man's staffwoman's stole or infant's clout

But loa spirit-birth conceived of flesh

Truth rare and realnot transcriptsfact and false.

The studies- for his pupils and himself!

The picture be for our eximious Rome

And- who knows?- satisfy its Governor

Whose new wing to the villa he hath bought

(God give him joy of it) by Capenasoon

('Tis bruited) shall be glowing with the brush

Of who hath long surpassed the Florentine

The Urbinate and... what if I dared add

Even his masteryea the Cortonese-

I mean the accomplished Ciro FerriSirs!

(-Did not he die? I'll see before I print.)

END we exordiumPhoebus plucks my ear!

Thus thenjust so and no whit otherwise

Have I- engaged as I were Ciro's self

To paint a parallela Family

The patriarch Pietro with his wise old wife

To boot (as if one introduced Saint Anne

By bold conjecture to complete the group)

And juvenile Pompilia with her babe

Whoseeking safety in the wilderness

Were all surprised by Herodwhile outstretched

In sleep beneath a palm-tree by a spring

And killed- the very circumstance I paint

Moving the pity and terror of my lords-

Exactly so have Ia month at least

Your Fiscalmade me cognizant of facts

Searched outpried intopressed the meaning forth

Of every piece of evidence in point

How bloody Herod slew these innocents-

Until the glad result is gainedthe group

Demonstrably presented in detail

Their slumber and his onslaught- like as life.

Yea andavailing me of help allowed

By lawdiscreet provision lest my lords

Be too much troubled by effrontery-

The racklaw plies suspected crime withal-

(Law that hath listened while the lyrist sang

'Lene tormentum ingenio admoves'

Gently thou joggest by a twinge the wit

'Plerumque duro' else were slow to blab!)

Through this concession my full cup runs o'er:

The guilty owns his guilt without reserve.

Therefore by part and part I clutch my case

Whichin entirety now- momentous task-

My lords demandso render them I must

Sinceone poor pleading more and I have done.

But shall I ply my papersplay my proofs

Parade my studiesfifty in a row

As though the Court were yet in pupilage

And not the artist's ultimate appeal?

Much rather let me soar the height prescribed

Andbowing lowproffer my picture's self!

No more of proofdisproof- such virtue was

Such vice was never in Pompilianow!

Far better say 'Behold Pompilia!'- (for

I leave the family as unmanageable

And stick to just one portraitbut life-size.)

Hath calumny imputed to the fair

A blemishmole on cheek or wart on chin

Much moreblind hidden horrors best unnamed?

Shall I descend to prove youpoint by point

Never was knock-knee known nor splay-foot found

In Phryne? (I must let the portrait go

Content me with the modelI believe)-

-I prove this? An indignant sweep of hand

Dash at and doing away with drapery

And- use your eyesAthenianssmooth she smiles!

Or- since my client can no longer smile

And more appropriate instances abound-

What is this Tale of Tarquinhow the slave

Was caught by himpreferred to Collatine?

Thoueven from thy corpse-clothes virginal

Look'st the lie deadLucretia!

Thus at least

Iby the guidance of antiquity

(Our one infallible guide) now operate

Sure that the innocency shown is safe;

Suretoothatwhile I pleadthe echoes cry

(Lend my weak voice thy trumpsonorous Fame!)

'Monstrosity the Phrynean shape shall mar

Lucretia's soul comport with Tarquin's lie

When thistles grow on vines or thorns yield figs

Or oblique sentence leave this judgment-seat!'

A GREAT theme: may my strength be adequate!

For- paint Pompiliadares my feebleness?

How did I unaware engage so much

-Find myself undertaking to produce

A faultless nature in a flawless form?

What's here? Ohturn aside nor dare the blaze

Of such a crownsuch constellationsay

As jewels here thy frontHumanity!

Firstinfancypellucid as a pearl;

Thenchildhood- stone whichdew-drop at the first

(An old conjecture) sucksby dint of gaze

Blue from the sky and turns to sapphire so:

Yet both these gems eclipsed bylast and best

Womanliness and wifehood opaline

Its milk-white pallor- chastity- suffused

With here and there a tint and hint of flame-

Desire- the lapidary loves to find.

Such jewels bind conspicuously thy brow


Crown the ideal in our earth at last!

What should a faculty like mine do here?

Close eyesor elsethe rashlier hurry hand!

WHICH is to say- lose no time but begin!

Sermocinando ne declamemSirs

Ultra clepsydramas our preachers say

Lest I exceed my hour-glass. Whereupon

As Flaccus promptsI dare the epic plunge-

Begin at once with marriageup till when

Little or nothing would arrest your love

In the easeful life o' the lady; lamb and lamb

How do they differ? Know oneyou know all

Manners of maidenhood: mere maiden she.

And since all lambs are like in more than fleece

Prepare to find thatlamb-likeshe too frisks-

O' the weaker sexmy lordsthe weaker sex!

To whomthe Teian teaches usfor gift

Not strength- man's dower- but beautynature gave

'Beauty in lieu of spearsin lieu of shields!'

And what is beauty's sure concomitant

Nayintimate essential character

But melting wilesdeliciousest deceits

The whole redoubted armoury of love?

Therefore of vernal pranksdishevellings

O' the hair of youth that dances April in

And easily-imagined Hebe-slips

O'er sward which May makes over-smooth for foot-

These shall we pry into?- or wiselier wink

Though numerous and dear they may have been?

FOR loadvancing Hymen and his pomp!

Discedunt nunc amoreslovesfarewell!

Maneat amorlet lovethe soleremain!

Farewell to dewiness and prime of life!

Remains the rough determined day: dance done

To workwith plough and harrow! What comes next?

'Tis Guido henceforth guides Pompilia's step

Cries 'No more friskings o'er the foodful glebe

Else'ware the whip!' Accordingly- first crack

O' the thong- we hear that his young wife was barred

Cohibita fuitfrom the old free life

Vitam liberiorem ducere.

Demur we? Nowise: heifer brave the hind?

We seek not there should lapse the natural law

The proper piety to lord and king

And husband: let the heifer bear the yoke!

OnlyI crave he cast not patience off

This hind; for deem you she endures the whip

Nor winces at the goadnayrestivekicks?

What if the adversary's charge be just

And all untowardly she pursue her way

With groan and gruntthough hind strike ne'er so hard?

If petulant remonstrance made appeal

Unseasonableo'erprotracted- if

Importunate challenge taxed the public ear

When silence more decorously had served

For protestation- if Pompilian plaint

Wrought but to aggravate Guidonian ire-

Whysuch mishapsungainly though they be

Ever companion changeare incident

To altered modes and novelty of life:

The philosophic mind expects no less

Smilingly knows and names the crisissits

Waiting till old things go and new arrive.

ThereforeI hold a husband but inept

Who turns impatient at such transit-time

As if this running from the rod would last!

SINCEeven while I speakthe end is reached

Success awaits the soon-disheartened man

The parents turn their backs and leave the house

The wife may wail but none shall intervene

He hath attained his objectgroom and bride

Partake the nuptial bower no soul to see

Old things are passed and all again is new

Over and gone the obstacles to peace

Novorum - tenderly the Mantuan turns

The expressionsome such purpose in his eye-

Nascitur ordo! Every storm is laid

And forth from plain each pleasant herb may peep

Each bloom of wifehood in abeyance late:

(Confer a passage in the Canticles.)

BUT what ifas 'tis wont with plant and wife

Flowers- after a suppression to good end

Stillwhen they do spring forth- sprout herespread there

Anywhere likelier than beneath the foot

O' the lawful good-man gardener of the ground?

He dug and dibbledsowed and watered- still

'Tis a chance wayfarer shall pluck the increase.

Just sorespecting persons not too much

The ladyfoes allegeput forth each charm

And proper floweret of feminity

To whosoever had a nose to smell

Or breast to deck: what if the charge be true?

The fault were graver had she looked with choice

Fastidiously appointed who should grasp

Whoin the whole towngo without the prize!

To nobody she destined donative

Butfirst come was first servedthe accuser saith:

Put case her sort of... in this kind... escapes

Were many and oft and indiscriminate-

Impute ye as the action were prepense

The gift particulararguing malice so?

Which butterfly of the wide air shall brag

'I was preferred to Guido'- when 'tis clear

The cuphe quaffs atlay with olent breast

Open to gnatmidgebee and moth as well?

One chalice entertained the company;

And if its peevish lord object the more

Mistakemisname such bounty in a wife

Haste we to advertise him- charm of cheek

Lustre of eyeallowance of the lip

All womanly components in a spouse

These are no household-bread each stranger's bite

Leaves by so much diminished for the mouth

O' the master of the house at supper-time:

But rather like a lump of spice they lie

Morsel of myrrhwhich scents the neighbourhood

Yet greets its lord no lighter by a grain.

NAYeven sohe shall be satisfied!

Concede we there was reason in his wrong

Grant we his grievance and content the man!

For loPompiliashe submits herself;

Ere three revolving years have crowned their course

Off and away she puts this same reproach

Of lavish bountyinconsiderate gift

O' the sweets of wifehood stored to other ends:

No longer shall he blame 'She none excludes'

But substitute 'She laudably sees all

Searches the best out and selects the same.'

For who is herelong sought and latest found

Waiting his turn unmoved amid the whirl

'Constans in levitate' - Hamy lords?

Calm in his levity- indulge the quip!-

Since 'tis a levite bears the bell away

Parades him henceforth as Pompilia's choice.

'Tis no ignoble objecthusband! Doubt'st?

When here comes tripping Flaccus with his phrase

'Trust meno miscreant singled from the mob

Crede non illum tibi de scelesta

Plebe delectum' but a man of mark

A priestdost hear? Why thensubmit thyself

Priestay and very phoenix of such fowl

Well-bornof cultureyoung and vigorous

Comely toosince precise the precept points-

On the selected levite be there found

Nor mole nor scar nor blemishlest the mind

Come all uncandid through the thwarting flesh!

Was not the son of Jesse ruddysleek

Pleasant to look onpleasant every way?

Since well he smote the harp and sweetly sang

And danced till Abigail came out to see

And seeing smiled and smiling ministered

The raisin-cluster and the cake of figs

With ready meal refreshed the gifted youth

Till Nabalwho was absent shearing sheep

Felt heart sinktook to bed (discreetly done-

They might have been beforehand with him else)

And died- would Guido had behaved as well!

But ahthe faith of early days is gone

Heu prisca fides! Nothing died in him

Save courtesygood sense and proper trust

Whichwhen they ebb from souls they should o'erflow

Discover stubweedsludge and ugliness.

(The Popeyou knowis Neapolitan

And relishes a sea-side simile.)

Deserted by each charitable wave

Guidoleft high and dryshows jealous now!

Jealous avouchedparaded: tax the fool

With any peccadillohe responds

'Truly I beat my wife through jealousy

Imprisoned her and punished otherwise

Being jealous: now would threatensword in hand

Now manage to mix poison in her sight

And so forth: jealously I dealtin fine.'

Concede the fact and what remains to prove?

Have I to teach my masters what effect

Hath jealousy and howbefooling men

It makes false trueabuses eye and ear

Turns the mist adamantineloads with sound

Silenceand into void and vacancy

Crowds a whole phalanx of conspiring foes?

Therefore who owns 'I watched with jealousy

My wife' adds 'for no reason in the world!'

What need that who says 'madman' should remark

'The thing he thought a serpent proved an eel?'-

Perchance the right Comacchiansix foot length

And not an inch too long for that same pie

(Master Arcangeli has heard of such)

Whose succulence makes fasting bearable;

Meant to regale some moody splenetic

Who pleases to mistake the donor's gift

And spies- I know not what Lernaean snake

I' the luscious Lenten creaturestamps forsooth

The dainty in the dust.

Enough! Prepare

His lunes announcedfor downright lunacy!

Insanit homothreat succeeds to threat

And blow redoubles blow- his wifethe block.

Butif a blockshall not she jar the hand

That buffets her? The injurious idle stone

Rebounds and fits the head of him who flung.

Causeless rage breedsi' the wife nowrageful cause

Tyranny wakes rebellion from its sleep.

Rebellionsay I?- ratherself-defence

Laudable wish to live and see good days

Pricks our Pompilia on to fly the foe

By any meansat any price- naymore

Naymost of alli' the very interest

Of the foe thatbaffled of his blind desire

At any priceis truliest victor so.

Shall he effect his crime and lose his soul?

Nodictates duty to a loving wife.

Far better that the unconsummate blow

Adroitly baulked by hershould back again

Correctively admonish his own pate!

CRIME then- the Court is with me?- she must crush;

How crush it? By all efficacious means;

And these- whywhat in woman should they be?

'With horns the bullwith teeth the lion fights

To woman' quoth the lyrist quoted late

'Nor teethnor hornsbut beautyNature gave!'

Pretty i' the Pagan! Who dares blame the use

Of the armoury thus allowed for natural-

Exclaim against a seeming-dubious play

O' the sole permitted weaponspear and shield

Alikeresorted to i' the circumstance

By poor Pompilia? Grant she somewhat plied

Arts that allurethe magic nod and wink

The witchery of gesturespell of word

Whereby the likelier to enlist this friend

Yet strangeras a champion on her side?

Suchbeing but mere man ('twas all she knew)

Must be made sure by beauty's silken bond

The weakness that subdues the strongand bows

Wisdom alike and folly. Grant the tale

O' the husbandwhich is falsefor proved and true

To the letter- or the lettersI should say

The abominations he professed to find

And fix upon Pompilia and the priest-

Allow them hers- for though she could not write

In early days of Eve-like innocence

That plucked no apple from the knowledge-tree

Yetat the Serpent's wordEve plucks and eats

And knows- especially how to read and write:

And so Pompilia- as the move o' the maw

Quoth Persiusmakes a parrot bid 'Good-day!'

A crow salute the concaveand a pie

Endeavour at proficiency in speech-

So shethrough hunger after fellowship

May well have learnedthough lateto play the scribe:

As indeedthere's one letter on the list

Explicitly declares did happen here.

'You thought my letters could be none of mine'

She tells her parents- 'minewho wanted skill;

But now I have the skilland writeyou see!'

She needed write love-lettersso she learned

'Negatas artifex sequi voces' - though

This letter nowise 'scapes the common lot

But lies i' the condemnation of the rest

Found by the husband's self who forged them all.

Yetfor the sacredness of argument

For this once an exemption shall it plead-

Anythinganything to let the wheels

Of argument ran glibly to their goal!

Concede she wrote (which were preposterous)

This and the other epistle- what of it?

Where does the figment touch her candid fame?

Being in peril of her life- 'my life

Not an hour's purchase' as the letter runs-

And having but one stay in this extreme

And out of the wide world a single friend-

What could she other than resort to him

And how with any hope resort but thus?

Shall modesty dare bid a stranger brave

Dangerdisgracenay death in her behalf-

Think to entice the sternness of the steel

Save by the magnet moves the manly mind?

-Most of all when such mind is hampered so

By growth of circumstance athwart the life

O' the natural manthat decency forbids

He stoop and take the common privilege

Say frank 'I love' as all the vulgar do.

A man is wedded to philosophy

Married to statesmanship; a man is old;

A man is fettered by the foolishness

He took for wisdom and talked ten years since;

A man islike our friend the Canon here

A priestand wicked if he break his vow:

He dare to lovewho may be Pope one day?

Suppose this man could lovethoughall the same-

From what embarrassment she sets him free

Should onea woman he could lovespeak first-

''Tis I who break reservebegin appeal

Confess thatwhether you love me or no

I love you!' What an ease to dignity

What help of pride from the hard high-backed chair

Down to the carpet where the kittens bask

All under the pretence of gratitude!

FROM all whichI deduce- the lady here

Was bound to proffer nothing short of love

To the priest whose service was to save her. What?

Shall she propose him lucredust o' the mine

Rubbish o' the rocksome diamondmuckworms prize

Or pearl secreted by a sickly fish?

Scarcely! She caters for a generous taste.

'Tis love shall beckonbeauty bid to breast

Till all the Samson sink into the snare!

Becausepermit the end- permit therewith

Means to the end!

How say yougood my lords?

I hope you heard my adversary ring

The changes on this precept: nowlet me

Reverse the peal! Quia dato licito fine

Ad illum assequendum ordinata

Non sunt damnanda media- licit end

Enough was the escape from deathI hope

To legalize the means illicit else

Of feigned lovefalse allurementfancied fact.

Thus Venus losing Cupid on a day

(See that Idyllium Moschi ) seeking help

In the anxiety of motherhood

Allowably promised 'Who shall bring report

Where he is wandered tomy winged babe

I give him for reward a nectared kiss;

But who brings safely back the truant's self

His be a super-sweet makes kiss seem cold!'

Are not these things writ for example-sake?

TO SUCH permitted motivethenrefer

All those professionselse were hard explain

Of hopefearjealousyand the rest of love!

He is MyrtillusAmaryllis she

She burnshe freezes- all a mere device

To catch and keep the man may save her life

Whom otherwise nor catches she nor keeps!

Worstonceis best now: in all faithshe feigns:

Feigning- the liker innocence to guilt

The truer to the life is what she feigns!

How if Ulysses- whenfor public good

He sunk particular qualms and played the spy

Entered Troy's hostile gate in beggar's garb-

How if he first had boggled at this clout

Grown dainty o'er that clack-dish? Grime is grace

To whoso gropes amid the dung for gold.

HENCEbeyond promiseswe praise each proof

That promise was not simply made to break-

No moonshine-structure meant to fade at dawn:

So call- (proofs consequent and requisite)-

What enemies allege of- more than words

Deeds- meeting at the windowtwilight-tryst

Nocturnal entertainment in the dim

Old labyrinthine palace; lieswe know-

Inventions welong sinceturned inside out.

Would such external semblance of intrigue

Demonstrate that intrigue must lurk perdue?

Does every hazel-sheath disclose a nut?

He were a Molinist who dared maintain

That midnight meetings in a screened alcove

Must argue folly in a matron- since

So would he bring a slur on Judith's self

Commended beyond women that she lured

The lustful to destruction through his lust.

Pompilia took not Judith's liberty

No faulchion find you in her hand to smite-

No damsel to convey the head in dish

Of Holophernes- style the Canon so-

Or is it the Count? If I entangle me

With my similitudes- if wax wings melt

And earthward down I dropnot mine the fault:

Blame your beneficenceO CourtO sun

Whereof the beamy smile affects my flight!

What matterso Pompilia's fame revive

I' the warmth that proves the bane of Icarus?

YEAwe have shown it lawfulnecessary

Pompilia leave her husbandseek the house

O' the parents: and because 'twixt home and home

Lies a long road with many a danger rife

Lions by the way and serpents in the path

To rob and ravish- much behoves she keep

Each shadow of suspicion from fair fame

For her own sake muchbut for his sake more

The ingrate husband! Evidence shall be

Some witness to the world how white she walks

I' the mire she wanders through ere Rome she reach.

And who so proper witness as a priest?

Gainsay ye? Let me hear who dares gainsay!

I hope we still can punish heretics!

'Give me the man' I say with him of Gath

'That we may fight together!' NoneI think:

The priest is granted me.

Thenif a priest

One juvenile and potent: elsemayhap

That dragonour Saint George would slayslays him.

And should fair face accompany strong hand

The more complete equipment: nothing mars

Workelse praiseworthylike a bodily flaw

I' the worker: as 'tis said Saint Paul himself

Deplored the check o' the puny presencestill

Cheating his fulmination of its flash

Albeit the bolt therein went true to oak.

Therefore the agentas prescribedshe takes-

A priestjuvenilepotenthandsome too-

In all obedience: 'good' you grant again.

Do you? I would ye were the husbandlords!

How prompt and facile might departure be!

How boldly would Pompilia and the priest

March out of doorspread flag at beat of drum

But that inapprehensive Guido grants

Neither premiss nor yet conclusion here

Andpurblinddreads a bear in every bush!

For his own quietude and comfortthen

Means must be found for flight in masquerade

At hour when all things sleep.- 'Save jealousy!'

Rightjudges! Therefore shall the lady's wit

Supply the boon thwart nature baulks him of

And do him service with the potent drug

(Helen's nepentheas my lords opine)

Shall respite blessedly each frittered nerve

O' the much-enduring man: accordingly

There lies heduly dosed and sound asleep

Relieved of woesor real or raved about.

While soft she leaves his sidehe shall not wake;

Nor stop who steals away to join her friend

Nor do him mischief should he catch that friend

Intent on more than friendly office- nay

Nor get himself raw head and bones laid bare

In payment of his apparition!


Would I defend the step- were the thing true

Which is a fable- see my former speech-

That Guido slept (who never slept a wink)

Through treacheryan opiate from his wife

Who not so much as knew what opiates mean.

Now she may start: but hist- a stoppage still!

A journey is an enterprise which costs!

As in campaignswe fight and others pay

Suis expensisnemo militat.

'Tis Guido's self we guard from accident

Ensuring safety to Pompiliaversed

Nowise in misadventures by the way

Hard riding and rough quartersthe rude fare

The unready host. What magic mitigates

Each plague of travel to the unpractised wife?

Moneysweet Sirs! And were the fiction fact

She helped herself thereto with liberal hand

From out the husband's store- what fitter use

Was ever husband's money destined to?

With bag and baggage thus did Dido once

Decamp- for more authoritya queen!

SO IS she fairly on her route at last

Prepared for either fortune: nay and if

The priestnow all a-glow with enterprise

Cool somewhat presently when fades the flush

O' the first adventureclouded o'er belike

By doubtsmisgivings how the day may die

Though born with such auroral brilliance- if

The brow seem over-pensive and the lip

'Gin lag and lose the prattle lightsome late-

Vanquished by tedium of a prolonged jaunt

In a close carriage o'er a jolting road

With only one young female substitute

For seventeen other Canons of ripe age

Were wont to keep him company in church-

Shall not Pompilia haste to dissipate

The silent cloud thatgatheringbodes her bale?-

Prop the irresoluteness may portend

Suspension of the projectcheck the flight

Bring ruin on them both?- use every means

Since means to the end are lawful? What i' the way

Of wile should have allowance like a kiss

Sagely and sisterly administered

Sororia saltem oscula? We find

Such was the remedy her wit applied

To each incipient scruple of the priest

If we believe- aswhile my wit is mine

I cannot- what the driver testifies

Borsicalled Venerinothe mere tool

Of Guido and his friend the Governor-

The avowal I proved wrung from out the wretch

After long rotting in imprisonment

As price of liberty and favour: long

They temptedhe at last succumbedand lo

Counted them out full tale each kiss required-

'The journey was one long embrace' quoth he.

Stillthough we should believe the driver's lie

Nor even admit as probable excuse

Right reading of the riddle- as I urged

In my first argumentwith fruit perhaps-

That what the owl-like eyes (at back of head!)

O' the driverdrowsed by driving night and day

Supposed a vulgar interchange of love

This was but innocent jog of head 'gainst head

Cheek meeting jowl as apple may touch pear

From branch and branch contiguous in the wind

When Autumn blusters and the orchard rocks.

The rapid run and the rough road were cause

O' the casual ambiguityno harm

I' the world to eyes awake and penetrative.

Yet- not to grasp a truth I can forego

And safely fight without and conquer still-

Sayshe kissed himand he kissed her again!

Such osculation was a potent means

A very efficacious helpno doubt:

This with a third part of her nectar did

Venus imbue: why should Pompilia fling

The poet's declaration in his teeth?-

Pause to employ what- since it had success

And kept the priest her servant to the end-

We must presume of energy enough

No whit superfluousso permissible?

THE goal is gained: daynight and yet a day

Have run their round: a long and devious road

Is traversed- many mannersvarious men

Passed in reviewwhat cities did the see

What hamlets markwhat profitable food

For after-meditation cull and store!

Till Romethat Rome whereof- this voice

Would it might make our Molinists observe

That she is built upon a rock nor shall

Their powers prevail against her!- RomeI say

Is all but reached; one stage more and they stop

Saved: pluck up heartye pairand forwardthen!

AH NATURE- baffled she recursalas!

Nature imperiously exacts her due

Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

Pompilia needs must acquiesce and swoon

Give hopes alike and fears a breathing-while.

The innocent sleep soundly: sound she sleeps.

So let her slumberthenunguarded save

By her own chastitya triple mail

And his good hand whose stalwart arms have borne

The sweet and senseless burthen like a babe

From coach to couch- the serviceable man!

Naywhat and if he gazed rewardedly

On the pale beauty prisoned in embrace

Stooped overstole a balmy breath perhaps

For more assurance sleep was not decease-

'Ut vidi' 'how I saw!' succeeded by

'Ut perii' 'how I sudden lost my brains!'

-What harm ensued to her unconscious quite?

Forcuriosity- how natural!

Importunateness- what a privilege

In the ardent sex! And why curb ardour here?

How can the priest but pity whom he saved?

And pity is how near to loveand love

How neighbourly to unreasonableness!

And for love's objectwhether love were sage

Or foolishcould Pompilia know or care

Being still sound asleepas I premised?

Thus the philosopher absorbed by thought

Even Archimedesbusy o'er a book

The while besiegers sacked his Syracuse

Was ignorant of the imminence o' the point

O' the sword till it surprised him: let it stab

And never knew himself was dead at all.

So sleep thou onsecure whate'er betide!

For thoutoohast thy problem hard to solve-

How so much beauty is compatible

With so much innocence!

Fit placemethinks

While in this task she rosily is lost

To treat of and repel objection here

Which- frivolousI grant- butstill misgives

My mindit may have flittedgadfly-like

And teazed the Court at times- as ifall said

And donethere still seemedone might nearly say

In a certain acceptationsomewhat more

Of what may pass for insincerity

Falsehoodthroughout the course Pompilia took

Than befits Christian. Pagans heldwe know

We always ought to aim at good and truth

Not always put one thing in the same words:

Non idem semper dicere sed spectare

Debemus. But the Pagan yoke was light;

'Lie not at all' the exacter precept bids:

Each least lie breaks the law- is sinye hold.

I humble mebut venture to submit-

What prevents sinitself is sinlesssure:

And sinwhich hinders sin of deeper dye

Softens itself away by contrast so.

Conceive me! Little sinby none at all

Were properly condemned for great: but great

By greaterdwindles into small again.

Nowwhat is greatest sin of womanhood?

That which unwomans itabolishes

The nature of the woman- impudence.

Who contradicts me here? Concede methen

Whatever friendly fault may interpose

To save the sex from self-abolishment

Is three-parts on the way to virtue's rank!

Nowwhat is taxed here as duplicity

Feintwile and trick- admitted for the nonce-

What worse do one and all than interpose

Holdas it werea deprecating hand

Statuesquelyin the Medicean mode

Before some shame which modesty would veil?

Who blames the gesture prettily perverse?

Thus- lest ye miss a point illustrative-

Admit the husband's calumny- allow

That the wifehaving penned the epistle fraught

With horrorscharge on charge of crimeshe heaped

O' the head of Pietro and Violante- (still

Presumed her parents)- and despatched the thing

To their arch-enemy Paolothrough free choice

And no sort of compulsion in the world-

Put case that she discards simplicity

For craftdenies the voluntary act

Declares herself a passive instrument

I' the hands of Guido; duped by knavery

She traced the charactersshe could not write

And took on trust the unread sense whichread

Were recognized but to be spurned at once.

Allow this calumnyI reiterate!

Who is so dull as wonder at the pose

Of our Pompilia in the circumstance?

Who sees not that the too-ingenuous soul

Repugnant even at a duty done

Which brought beneath too scrutinizing glare

The misdemeanours- buried in the dark-

Of the authors of her beingshe believed-

Stung to the quick at her impulsive deed

And willing to repair what harm it worked

She- wise in this beyond what Nero proved

Whowhen needs were the candid juvenile

Should sign the warrantdoom the guilty dead

'Would I had never learned to write' quoth he!

-Pompilia rose above the Romancried

'To read or write I never learned at all!'

O splendidly mendacious!

But time fleets:

Let us not linger: hurry to the end

Since end does flight and all disastrously.

Beware ye blame desert for unsuccess

Disparage each expedient else to praise

Call failure folly! Man's best effort fails.

After ten years' resistance Troy fell flat:

Could valour save a townTroy still had stood.

Pompilia came off halting in no point

Of courageconductthe long journey through:

But nature sank exhausted at the close

Andas I saidshe swooned and slept all night.

Morn breaks and brings the husband: we assist

At the spectacle. Discovery succeeds.

Hahow is this? What moonstruck rage is here?

Though we confess to partial frailty now

To error in a woman and a wife

Is't by the rough way she shall be reclaimed?

Who bursts upon her chambered privacy?

What crowd profanes the chaste cubiculum?

What outcries and lewd laughterscurril gibe

And ribald jest to scare the ministrant

Good angels that commerce with souls in sleep?

Whyhad the worst crowned Guido to his wish

Confirmed his most irrational surmise

Yet there be bounds to man's emotionchecks

To an immoderate astonishment.

'Tis decent horrorregulated wrath

Befit our dispensation: have we back

The old Pagan licence? Shall a Vulcan clap

His net o' the sudden and expose the pair

To the unquenchable universal mirth?

A featantiquity saw scandal in

So clearlythat the nauseous tale thereof-

Demodocus his nugatory song-

Hath ever been concluded modern stuff

Impossible to the mouth of the grave Muse

Sofoisted into that Eighth Odyssey

By some impertinent pickthank. O thou fool

Count Guido Franceschiniwhat were gained

By publishing thy shame thus to the world?

Were all the precepts of the wise a waste-

Bred in thee not one touch of reverence?

Whysay thy wife- admonish we the fool-

Were falseand thou bid chronicle thy shame

Much rather should thy teeth bite out thy tongue

Dumb lip consort with desecrated brow

Silence become historiographer

And thou- thine own Cornelius Tacitus!

But virtuebarredstill leaps the barrierlords!

-Stillmoon-likepenetrates the encroaching mist

And burstsall broad and bareon nightye know!

Surprisedthenin the garb of truthperhaps

Pompiliathus opposedbreaks obstacle

Springs to her feetand stands Thalassian-pure

Confronts the foe- naycatches at his sword

And tries to kill the intruderhe complains.

Whyso she gave her lord his lesson back

Crowned himthis timethe virtuous woman's way

With an exact obedience; he brought sword

She drew the samesince swords are meant to draw.

Tell not me 'tis sharp play with tools on edge!

It was the husband chose the weapon here.

Why did not he inaugurate the game

With some gentility of apophthegm

Still pregnant on the philosophic page

Some captivating cadence still a-lisp

O' the poet's lyre? Such spells subdue the surge

Make tame the tempestmuch more mitigate

The passions of the mindand probably

Had moved Pompilia to a smiling blush.

Nohe must needs prefer the argument

O' the blow: and she obeyedin duty bound

Returned him buffet ratiocinative-

Ayin the reasoner's own interest

For wife must follow whither husband leads

Vindicate honour as himself prescribes

Save him the very way himself bids save!

No question but who jumps into a quag

Should stretch forth hand and pray one 'Pull me out

By the hand!' such were the customary cry:

But Guido pleased to bid 'Leave hand alone!

Join both feetratherjump upon my head

I extricate myself by the rebound!'

And dutifully as enjoined she jumped-

Drew his own sword and menaced his own life

Anything to content a wilful spouse.

AND so he was contented- one must do

Justice to the expedient which succeeds

Strange as it seem: at flourish of the blade

The crowd drew backstood breathless and abashed

Then murmured 'This should be no wanton wife

No conscience-stricken creaturecaught i' the act

And patiently awaiting our first stone:

But a poor hard-pressed all-bewildered thing

Has rushed so farmisguidedly perhaps

Meaning no more harm than a frightened sheep.

She sought for aid; and if she made mistake

I' the man could aid mostwhy- so mortals do:

Even the blessed Magdalen mistook

Far less forgiveably: consult the place-

Supposing him to be the gardener

"Sir" said sheand so following.' Why more words?

Forthwith the wife is pronounced innocent:

What would the husband more than gain his cause

And find that honour flash in the world's eye

His apprehension was lest soil had smirched?

SOHAPPILY the adventure comes to a close

Whereon my fat opponent grounds his charge

Preposterous: at mid-day he groans 'How dark!'

Listen to methou Archangelic swine!

Where is the ambiguity to blame

The flaw to find in our Pompilia? Safe

She standssee! Does thy comment follow quick

'Safeinasmuch as at the end proposed;

But thither she picked way by devious path-

Stands dirtiedno dubiety at all!

I recognize successyetall the same

Importunately will suggestion prick-

Whathad Pompilia gained the right to boast

"No devious pathno doubtful patch was mine

I saved my head nor sacrificed my foot?"

Whybeing in a perilshow mistrust

Of the angels set to guard the innocent?

Why rather hold by obvious vulgar help

Of stratagem and subterfugeexcused

Somewhatbut still no less a foila fault

Since low with highand good with bad is linked?

Methinks I view some ancient bas-relief

There stands Hesione thrust out by Troy

Her father's hand has chained her to a crag

Her mother's from the virgin plucked the vest

At a safe distance both distressful watch

While near and nearer comes the snorting orc.

I look thatwhite and perfect to the end

She wait till Jove despatch some demigod;

Not that- impatient of celestial club

Alcmena's son should brandish at the beast-

She daubdisguise her dainty limbs with pitch

And so elude the purblind monster! Ay

The trick succeedsbut 'tis an ugly trick

Where needs have been no trick!'

My answer? Faugh!

Nimis incongrue! Too absurdly put!

Sententiam ego teneo contrariam

TrickI maintainhad no alternative.

The heavens were bound with brass- Jove far at feast

(No feast like that thou didst not ask me to

Arcangeli- I heard of thy regale!)

With the unblamed AEthiop- Hercules spun wool

I' the lap of Omphalewhile Virtue shrieked-

The brute came paddling all the faster. You

Of Troywho stood at distancewhere's the aid

You offered in the extremity? Most and least

Gentle and simplehere the Governor

There the Archbishopeverywhere the friends

Shook heads and waited for a miracle

Or went their wayleft Virtue to her fate.

Just this one rough and ready man leapt forth!

-Was foundsole anti-Fabius (dare I say)

To restore thingswith no delay at all

Quihaud cunctandorem restituit! He

He onlyCaponsacchi 'mid a crowd

Caught Virtue upcarried Pompilia off

Thro' the gaping impotence of sympathy

In ranged Arezzo: what you take for pitch

Is nothing worsebelikethan black and blue

Mere evanescent proof that hardy hands

Did yeoman's servicecared not where the gripe

Was more than duly energetic: bruised

She smarts a littlebut her bones are saved

A fractureand her skin will soon show sleek.

How it disgusts when weaknessfalse-refined

Censures the honest rude effective strength-

When sickly dreamers of the impossible

Decry plain sturdiness which does the feat

With eyes wide open!

Did occasion serve

I could illustrateif my lords allow;

Quid vetatwhat forbidsI aptly ask

With Horacethat I give my anger vent

While I let breatheno lessand recreate

The gravity of my Judgesby a tale-

A case in point- what though an apologue

Graced by tradition- possibly a fact?

Tradition must precede all scripturewords

Serve as our warrant ere our books can be:

Soto tradition back we needs must go

For any fact's authority: and this

Hath lived so far (like jewel hid in muck)

O' the page of that old lying vanity

Called 'Sepher Toldoth Yeschu:' God be praised

I read no Hebrew- take the thing on trust:

But I believe the writer meant no good

(Blind as he was to truth in some respects)

To our pestiferous and schismatic... well

My lords' conjecture be the touchstoneshow

The thing for what it is! The author lacks

Discretionand his zeal exceeds: but zeal-

How rare in our degenerate day! Enough!

Here is the story- fear notI shall chop

And change a littleelse my Jew would press

All too unmannerly before the Court.

IT HAPPENED once- begins this foolish Jew

Pretending to write Christian history-

That threeheld greatestbest and worst of men

Peter and John and Judasspent a day

In toil and travel through the country-side

On some sufficient business- I suspect

Suppression of some Molinism i' the bud.

Foot-sore and hungrydropping with fatigue

They reached by nightfall a poor lonely grange

Hostel or inn: soknocked and entered there.

'Your pleasuregreat ones?'- 'Shelterrest and food!'

For shelterthere was one bare room above;

For rest thereinthree beds of bundled straw:

For foodone wretched starveling fowlno more-

Meat for one mouthbut mockery for three.

'You have my utmost.' How should supper serve?

Peter broke silence. 'To the spit with fowl!

And while 'tis cookingsleep!- since beds there be

Andso farsatisfaction of a want.

Sleep we an hourawake at supper-time

Then each of us narrate the dream he had

And he whose dream shall prove the happiestpoint

The clearliest out the dreamer as ordained

Beyond his fellows to receive the fowl

Him let our shares be cheerful tribute to

His the entire mealmay it do him good!'

Who could dispute so plain a consequence?

So saidso done: each hurried to his straw

Slept his hour's-sleep and dreamed his dreamand woke.

'I' commenced John'dreamed that I gained the prize

We all aspire to: the proud place was mine

Throughout the earth and to the end of time

I was the Loved Disciple: mine the meal!'

'But I' proceeded Peter'dreameda word

Gave me the headship of our company

Made me the Vicar and Vice-regentgave

The keys of Heaven and Hell into my hand

And o'er the earthdominion: mine the meal!'

'While I' submitted in soft under-tone

The Iscariot- sense of his unworthiness

Turning each eye up to the inmost white-

With long-drawn sighyet letting both lips smack

'I have had just the pitifullest dream

That ever proved man meanest of his mates

And born foot-washer and foot-wipernay

Foot-kisser to each comrade of you all!

I dreamed I dreamed: and in that mimic dream

(Impalpable to dream as dream to fact)

Methought I meanly chose to sleep no wink

But wait until I heard my brethren breathe;

Then stole from couchslipped noiseless to the door

Slid downstairsfurtively approached the hearth

Found the fowl duly brownboth back and breast

Hissing in harmony with the cricket's chirp

Grilled to a point; said no grace but fell to

Nor finished till the skeleton lay bare.

In penitence for which ignoble dream

LoI renounce my portion cheerfully!

Fie on the flesh- be mine the ethereal gust

And yours the sublunary sustenance!

Seethat whate'er be leftye give the poor!'

Down the two scuttledone on other's heel

Stung by a fell surmise; and foundalack

A goodly savourboth the drumstick-bones

And that which henceforth took the appropriate name

O' the merry-thoughtin memory of the fact

That to keep wide awake is our best dream.

SO- as was said once of Thucydides

And his sole joke'The lionlohath laughed!'-

Just sothe Governor and all that's great

I' the citynever meant that Innocence

Should starve thus while Authority sat at meat.

They meant to fling a bone at banquet's end

Wished well to our Pompilia- in their dreams

Nor bore the secular sword in vain- asleep:

Just so the Archbishop and all good like him

Went to bed meaning to pour oil and wine

I' the wounds of hernext day- but long ere day

They had burned the one and drunk the other: while

Just soagaincontrariwisethe priest

Sustained poor Nature in extremity

By stuffing barley-bread into her mouth

Saving Pompilia (grant the parallel)

By the plain homely and straightforward way

Taught him by common-sense. Let others shriek

'Oh what refined expedients did we dream

Proved us the only fit to help the fair!'

He cried 'A carriage waitsjump in with me!'

AND nowthis application pardonedlords-

This recreative pause and breathing-while-

Back to beseemingness and gravity!

For Law steps in: Guido appeals to Law

Demands she arbitrate- does well for once.

O Lawof thee how neatly was it said

By that old Sophoclesthou hast thy seat

I' the very breast of Joveno meanlier throned!

Here is a piece of work nowhitherto

Begun and carried onconcluded near

Without an eye-glance cast thy sceptre's way;

Andlo the stumbling and discomfiture!

Well may you call them 'lawless' means men take

To extricate themselves through mother-wit

When tangled haply in the toils of life!

Guido would try conclusions with his foe

Whoe'er the foe was and whate'er the offence;

He would recover certain dowry-dues:

Instead of asking Law to lend a hand

What pother of sword drawn and pistol cocked

What peddling with forged letters and paid spies

Politic circumvention!- all to end

As it began- by loss of the fool's head

First in a figurepresently in a fact.

It is a lesson to mankind at large.

How other were the endwould men be sage

And bear confidingly each quarrel straight

O Lawto thy recipient mother-knees!

How would the children light come and prompt go

Thiswith a red-cheeked apple for reward

The otherperadventure red-cheeked too

I' the rearby taste of birch for punishment.

No foolish brawling murders any more!

Peace for the householdpractice for the Fisc

And plenty for the exchequer of my lords!

Too much to hopein this world: in the next

Who knows? Sincewhy should sit the Twelve enthroned

To judge the tribesunless the tribes be judged?

And 'tis impossible but offences come:

Soall's one lawsuitall one long leet-day!

FORGIVE me this digression- that I stand

Entranced awhile at Law's first beamoutbreak

O' the businesswhen the Count's good angel bade

'Put up thy swordborn enemy to the ear

And let Law listen to thy difference!'

And Law does listen and compose the strife

Settle the suithow wisely and how well!

On our Pompiliafaultless to a fault

Law bends a brow maternally severe

Implies the worth of perfect chastity

By fancying the flaw she cannot find.

Superfluous sifting snownor helps nor harms:

'Tis safe to censure levity in youth

Tax womanhood with indiscretionsure!

Since toyspermissible to-daybecome

Follies to-morrow: prattle shocks in church:

And that curt skirt which lets a maiden skip

The matron changes for a trailing robe.

Mothers may risk thus much with half-shut eyes

Nodding above their spindles by the fire

On the chance to hit some hidden faultelse safe.

Just soLaw hazarded a punishment-

If applicable to the circumstance

Whywell- if not so appositewell too.

'Quit the gay range o' the world' I hear her cry

'Enterin lieuthe penitential pound:

Exchange the gauds of pomp for ashesdust:-

Leave each mollitious haunt of luxury

The golden-garnished silken-couched alcove

The many-columned terrace that so tempts

Feminine soul put foot forthnor stop ear

To fluttering joy of lover's serenade

Leave these for cellular seclusion; mask

And dance no morebut fast and pray; avaunt-

Be burnedthy wicked townsman's sonnet-book!

Welcomemild hymnal by... some better scribe!

For the warm armswere wont enfold thy flesh

Let wire-shirt plough and whip-cord discipline!'

If such an exhortation provedperchance

Inapplicablewords bestowed in waste

What harmsince law has storecan spend nor miss?

AND SOour paragon submits herself

Goes at command into the holy house

Andalso at commandcomes out again:

Forcould the effect of such obedience prove

Too certaintoo immediate? Being healed

Go blaze abroad the matterblessed one!

Art thou sound forthwith? Speedily vacate

The step by pool-sideleave Bethesda free

To patients plentifully posted round

Since the whole need not the physician! Brief

She may betake her to her parents' place.

Welcome herfatherwith wide arms once more

Motion hermotherto thy breast again!

For why? The law relinquishes its charge

Grants to your dwelling-place a prison's style

But gives you back Pompilia; golden days

Redeunt Saturnia regna! Six weeks slip

And she is domiciled in house and home

As though she thence had never budged at all.

And thither let the husbandjoyous- ay

But contrite also- quick betake himself

Proud that his dove which lay among the pots

Hath mued those dingy feathers- moulted now

Shows silver bosom clothed with yellow gold.

Quickhe shall tempt her to the perch she fled

Bid to domestic bliss the truant back!

O LET him not delay! Time fleets how fast

And opportunitythe irrevocable

Once flown will flout him! Is the furrow traced?

If field with corn ye fail preoccupy

Darnel for wheat and thistle-beards for grain

Infelix loliumcarduus horridus

Will grow apace in combination prompt

Defraud the husbandman of his desire.

Already- hist- what murmurs 'monish now

The laggard?- doubtfulnayfantastic bruit

Of such an apparitionsuch return

Interdumto anticipate the spouse

Of Caponsacchi's very self! 'Tis said

When nights are lone and company is rare

His visitations brighten winter up.

If so they did- which nowise I believe-

How can I?- proof abounding that the priest

Once fairly at his relegation-place

Never once left it- stilladmit he stole

A midnight marchwould fain see friend again

Find matter for instruction in the past

Renew the old adventure in such chat

As cheers a fireside! He was lonely too

Hetoomust need his recreative hour.

Should it amaze the philosophic mind

If onewas wont the empurpled cup to quaff

Have feminine society at will

Being debarred abruptly from all drink

Save at the spring which Adam used for wine

Dread harm to just the health he hoped to guard

Andmeaning abstinencegain malady?

Ask Tozzinow physician to the Pope!

'Little by little break'- (I hear he bids

Master Arcangeli my antagonist

Who loves good cheer- and may indulge too much-

So I explain the logic of the plea

Wherewith he opened our proceedings late)-

'Little by little break a habitDon!

Become necessity to feeble flesh!'

And thusnocturnal taste of intercourse

(Which never happened- butsuppose it did)

May have been used to dishabituate

By sip and sip this drainer to the dregs

O' the draught of conversation- heady stuff

Brewage which broachedit took two days and nights

To properly discuss o' the journeySirs!

Such is the second-naturemen call use

That undelightful objects get to charm

Instead of chafe: the daily colocynth

Tickles the palate by repeated dose

Old sores scratch kindlythe ass makes a push

Although the mill-yoke-wound be smarting yet

For mill-door bolted on a holiday-

And must we marvel if the impulse urge

To talk the old story over now and then

The hopes and fearsthe stoppage and the haste-

Subjects of colloquy to surfeit once?

'Here did you bid me twine a rosy wreath!'

'And there you paid my lips a compliment!'

'There you admired the tower could be so tall!'

'And there you likened that of Lebanon

To the nose o' the beloved!'- Trifles- still

'Forsan et haec olim' - such trifles serve

To make the minutes pass in winter-time.

HUSBANDreturn thenI re-counsel thee!

Forfinallyof all glad circumstance

Should make a prompt return imperative

What i' the world awaits theedost suppose?

O' the suddenas good gifts are wont befall

What is the hap of the unconscious Count?

That which lights bonfire and sets cask a-tilt

Dissolves the stubborn'st heart in jollity.

O admirablethere is born a babe

A sonan heira Franceschini last

And best o' the stock! Pompiliathine the palm!

Repaying incredulity with faith

Ungenerous thrift of each marital debt

With bounty in profuse expenditure

Pompilia will not have the old year end

Without a present shall ring in the new-

Bestows upon her parsimonious lord

An infant for the apple of his eye

Core of his heartand crown completing life

The summum bonum of the earthly lot!

'We' saith ingeniously the sage'are born

Solely that others may be born of us.'

Sofathertake thy childfor thine that child

Oh nothing doubt! In wedlock bornlaw holds

Baseness impossiblesince 'filius est

Quem nuptioe demonstrant' twits the text

Whoever dares to doubt.

Yet doubt he dares!

O faith where art thou flown from out the world?

Already on what an age of doubt we fall!

Instead of each disputing for the prize

The babe is bandied here from that to this.

Whose the babe? 'Cujum pecus?' Guido's lamb?

'An Meliboei?' Naybut of the priest!

'Non sed AEgonis!' Someone must be sire:

And who shall sayin such a puzzling strait

If there were not vouchsafed some miracle

To the wife who had been harassed and abused

More than enough by Guido's family

For non-production of the promised fruit

Of marriage? What if NatureI demand

Touched to the quick by taunts upon her sloth

Had roused herselfput forth recondite power

Bestowed this birth to vindicate her sway?

Like to the favourMaro memorized

Was granted Aristaeus when his hive

Lay empty of the swarmnot one more bee-

Not one more babe to Franceschini's house-

And loa new birth filled the air with joy

Sprung from the bowels of the generous steed!

Just so a son and heir rejoiced the Count!

Spontaneous generationneed I prove

Were facile feat to Nature at a pinch?

Let whoso doubtssteep horsehair certain weeks

In waterthere will be produced a snake;

A second product of the horsewhich horse

Happens to be the representative-

Now that I think on't- of Arezzo's self

The very city our conception blessed!

Is not a prancing horse the City-arms?

What sane eye sees not such coincidence?

Cur egoboast thoumy Pompiliathen

Desperem fieri sine conjuge

Mater - how well the Ovidian distich suits!-

Et parere intacto dummodo

Casta viro? but language baffles here.

Notefurtheras to mark the prodigy

The babe in question neither took the name

Of Guidofrom the sire presumptivenor

Giuseppefrom the sire potentialbut

Gaetano- last saint of the hierarchy

And newest namer for a thing so new:

What other motive could have prompted choice?

THEREFORE be peace again: exultye hills!

Ye vales rejoicingly break forth in song!

Incipeparve puerbeginsmall boy

Risu cognoscere patremwith a smile

To recognize thy parent! Nor do thou

Boggleoh parentto return the grace-

Nec anceps haerepaterpuero

Cognoscendo - one might well eke out the prayer!

In vain! The perverse Guido doubts his eyes

Distrusts assurancelets the devil drive;

Because his house is swept and garnished now

Hehaving summoned seven like himself

Must hurry thitherknock and enter in

And make the last worse than the firstindeed!

Is he content? We are. No further blame

O' the man and murder! They were stigmatized

Befittingly: the Court heard long ago

My mind o' the matterwhichoutpouring full

Has long since sweptlike surge i' the simile

Of Homeroverborne both dyke and dam

And whelmed alike client and advocate:

His fate is sealedhis life as good as gone

On him I am not tempted to waste word.

Yet though my purpose holds- which was and is

And solely shall be to the very end

To draw the true effigiem of a saint

Do justice to perfection in the sex-

Yetlet not some gross pamperer o' the flesh

And niggard in the spirit's nourishment

Whose feeding hath offuscated his wit

Rather than law- he never hadto lose-

Let not such advocate object to me

I leave my proper function of attack!

'What's this to Bacchus?'- (in the classic phrase

Well usedfor once) he hiccups probably.

O Advocate o' the Poorthou born to make

Their blessing void- beati pauperes!

By painting saintship I depicture sin

Beside the pearlI prove how black the jet

And through Pompilia's virtueGuido's crime.

BACK to herthen- with but one beauty more

End we our argument- one crowning grace

Pre-eminent 'mid agony and death.

For to the last Pompilia played her part

Used the right means to the permissible end

Andwily as an eel that stirs the mud

Thick overheadso baffling spearman's thrust

Shewhile he stabbed hersimulated death

Delayedfor his sakethe catastrophe

Obtained herself a respitefour days' grace

Whereby she told her story to the world

Enabled me to make the present speech

Andby a full confessionsaved her soul.

YET holdeven here would malice leer its last

Gurgle its choaked remonstrance: snakehiss free!

Ohthat's the objection? And to whom?- not her

But meforsooth- asin the very act

Of both confession andwhat followed close

Subsequent talkchatter and gossipry

Babble to sympathizing he and she

Whoever chose besiege her dying bed-

As this were found at variance with my tale

Falsified all I have adduced for truth

Admitted not one peccadillo here

Pretended to perfectionfirst and last

O' the whole procedure- perfect in the end

Perfect i' the meansperfect in everything

Leaving a lawyer nothing to excuse

Reason away and show his skill about!

-A flightimpossible to Adamic flesh

Just to be fanciedscarcely to be wished

Andanyhowunpleadable in court!

'How reconcile' gasps Malice 'that with this?'

Your 'this' friendis extraneous to the law

Comes of men's outside meddlingthe unskilled

Interposition of such fools as press

Out of their province. Must I speak my mind?

Far better had Pompilia died o' the spot

Than found a tongue to wag and shame the law

Shame most of all herself- did friendship fail

And advocacy lie less on the alert.

Listen how these protect her to the end!

Do I credit the alleged narration? No!

Lied our Pompilia thento laud herself?

Stillno;- clear up what seems discrepancy?

The means abound- art's longthough time is short

Sokeeping me in compassall I urge

Is- sinceconfession at the point of death

Nam in articulo mortiswith the Church

Passes for statement honest and sincere

Nemo presumitur reus esse- then

If sure that all affirmed would be believed

'Twas charityin one so circumstanced

To spend her last breath in one effort more

For universal good of friend and foe

And- by pretending utter innocence

Nayfreedom from each foible we forgive-

Re-integrate- not solely her own fame

But do the like kind office for the priest

Whom the crude truth might treat less courteously

Indeedexpose to perilabbreviate

The life and long career of usefulness

Presumably before him: while her lord

Whose fleeting life is forfeit to the law-

What mercy to the culprit ifby just

The gift of such a full certificate

Of his immitigable guiltiness

She stifled in him the absurd conceit

Of murder as it were a mere revenge!

-Stopped confirmation of that jealousy

Whichhad she but acknowledged the first flaw

The faintest foiblemight embolden him

To battle with his judgebaulk penitence

Bar preparation for impending fate.

Whereaspersuade him he has slain a saint

Who sinned not in the little she did sin

You urge him all the brisklier to repent

Of most and least and aught and everything!

Next- if this view of minecontent ye not

Lordsnor excuse the genial falsehood here

'Tis come to our Triariilast resource

We fall back on the inexpugnable

Submit you- she confessed before she talked!

The sacrament obliterates the sin:

What is not- was notin a certain sense.

Let Molinists distinguish'Souls washed white

Were red oncestill show pinkish to the eye!'

We sayabolishment is nothingness

And nothingness has neither head nor tail

End nor beginning;- better estimate

Exorbitantlythan disparage aught

Of the efficacity of the actI hope!

SOLVUNTUR tabulae? May we laugh and go?

Well- not before (in filial gratitude

To Lawwhomighty motherwaves adieu)

We take on us to vindicate Law's self-

For- yeaSirs- curb the startcurtail the stare!-

Remains that we apologize for haste

I' the Lawour lady who here bristles up

'And my procedure? Did the Court mistake?

(Which were indeed a misery to think)

Did not my sentence in the former stage

O' the business bear a title plain enough?

Decretum' - I translate it word for word-

'"Decreed: the priestfor his complicity

I' the flight and deviation of the dame

As well as for unlawful intercourse

Is banished three years:" crime and penalty

Declared alike. If he be taxed with guilt

How can you call Pompilia innocent?

If they be innocenthave I been just?'

GENTLYO motherjudge men! whose mistake

Is in the poor misapprehensiveness.

The Titulus a-top of your decree

Was but to ticket there the kind of charge

You in good time would arbitrate upon.

Title is one thing- arbitration's self

Probatioquite another possibly.

Subsistitthere holds good the old response

Responsio traditawe must not stick

Quod non sit attendendus Titulus

To the Titlesed Probatiobut to Proof

Resultans ex processuand result

O' the Trialand the style of punishment

Et poena per sententiam imposita;

All is tentativetill the sentence come

Mere indication of what men expect

And nowise an assurance they shall find.

Lordswhat if we permissibly relax

The tense bowas the law-god Phoebus bids

Relieve our gravity at close of speech?

I traverse Romefeel thirstyneed a draught

Look for a wine-shopfind it by the bough

Projecting as to say 'Here wine is sold!'

So much I know- 'sold:' but what sort of wine?

Strongweaksweetsourhome-made or foreign drink?

That much must I discover by myself.

'Wine is sold' quoth the bough'but good or bad

Findand inform us when you smack your lips!'

Exactly soLaw hangs her title forth

To show she entertains you with such case

About such crime: come in! she poursyou quaff.

You find the Priest good liquor in the main

But heady and provocative of brawls.

Remand the residue to flask once more

Lay it low where it may deposit lees

I' the cellar: thence produce it presently

Three years the brighter and the better!


Law's sonhave I bestowed my filial help

And thus I endtenax proposito;

Point to point as I purposed have I drawn

Pompiliaand implied as terribly

Guido: sogazinglet the world crown Law-

Able once moredespite my impotence

And helped by the acumen of the Court

To eliminatedisplaymake triumph truth!

What other prize than truth were worth the pains?

THERE'S my oration- much exceeds in length

That famed Panegyric of Isocrates

They say it took him fifteen years to pen.

But all those ancients could say anything!

He put in just what rushed into his head

While I shall have to prune and pare and print.

This comes of being born in modern times

With priests for auditory. Stillit pays.

X: The Pope

LIKE TO AHASUERUSthat shrewd prince

I will begin- as isthese seven years now

My daily wont- and read a History

(Written by one whose deft right hand was dust

To the last digitages ere my birth)

Of all my predecessorsPopes of Rome:

For though mine ancient early dropped the pen

Yet others picked it up and wrote it dry

Since of the making books there is no end.

And so I have the Papacy complete

From Peter first to Alexander last;

Can question each and take instruction so.

Have I to dare- I askhow dared this Pope?

To suffer? Suchanonehow suffered he?

Being about to judgeas nowI seek

How judged oncewell or illsome other Pope;

Study some signal judgment that subsists

To blaze onor else blotthe page which seals

The sum up of what gain or loss to God

Came of His one more Vicar in the world.

Sodo I find examplerule of life;

Sosquare and set in order the next page

Shall be stretched smooth o'er my own funeral cyst.

EIGHT hundred years exact before the year

I was made Popemen made Formosus Pope

Say Sigebert and other chroniclers.

Ere I confirm or quash the Trial here

Of Guido Franceschini and his friends

Read- how there was a ghastly Trial once

Of a dead man by a live manand bothPopes:

Thus- in the antique penman's very phrase.

'THEN StephenPope and seventh of the name

Cried outin synod as he sat in State

While choler quivered on his brow and beard

"Come into courtFormosusthou lost wretch

That claimedst to be late the Pope as I!"

'And at the wordthe great door of the church

Flew wideand in they brought Formosus' self

The body of himdeadeven as embalmed

And buried duly in the Vatican

Eight months beforeexhumed thus for the nonce.

They set itthat dead body of a Pope

Clothed in pontific vesture now again

Upright on Peter's chair as if alive.

And Stephenspringing upcried furiously

"Bishop of Portowherefore didst presume

To leave that see and take this Roman see

Exchange the lesser for the greater see

-A thing against the canons of the Church?"

'Then one(a Deacon whoobserving forms

Was placed by Stephen to repel the charge

Be advocate and mouthpiece of the corpse)

Spoke as he daredset stammeringly forth

With white lips and dry tongue- as but a youth

For frightful was the corpse-face to behold-

How nowise lacked there precedent for this.

But whenfor his last precedent of all

Emboldened by the Spiritout he blurts

"AndHoly Fatherdidst not thou thyself

Vacate the lesser for the greater see

Half a year since change Arago for Rome?"

"-Ye have the sin's defence nowsynod mine!"

Shrieks Stephen in a beastly froth of rage:

"Judge now betwixt him dead and me alive!

Hath he intruded or do I pretend?

Judgejudge!"- breaks wavelike one whole foam of wrath.

'Whereupon theybeing friends and followers

Said "Aythou art Christ's Vicarand not he!

Away with what is frightful to behold!

This act was uncanonic and a fault."

'Thenswallowed up in rageStephen exclaimed

"Soguilty! Soremains I punish guilt!

He is unpopedand all he did I damn:

The Bishopthat ordained himI degrade:

Depose to laics those he raised to priests:

What they have wrought is mischief nor shall stand

It is confusionlet it vex no more!

Since I revokeannul and abrogate

All his decrees in all kinds: they are void!

In token whereof and warning to the world

Strip me yon miscreant of those those robes usurped

And clothe him with vile serge befitting such!

Then hale the carrion to the market-place;

Let the town-hangman chop from his right hand

Those same three fingers which he blessed withal;

Next cut the head offonce was crowned forsooth:

And last go fling allfingershead and trunk

In Tiber that my Christian fish may sup!

-Either because of ICHTHUS which means Fish

And very aptly symbolizes Christ

Or else because the Pope is Fisherman

And seals with Fisher's-signet. Anyway

So saidso done: himselfto see it done

Following the corpsethey trailed from street to street

Till into Tiber wave they threw the thing.

The peoplecrowded on the banks to see

Were loud or mutewept or laughedcursed or jeered

According as the deed addressed their sense;

A scandal verily: and out spake a Jew

"Wot ye your Christ had vexed our Herod thus?"

'Now whenFormosus being dead a year

His judge Pope Stephen tasted death in turn

Made captive by the mob and strangled straight

Romanushis successor for a month

Did make protest Formosus was with God

Holyjusttrue in thought and word and deed.

Next Theodorewho reigned but twenty days

Therein convoked a synodwhose decree

Did reinstaterepope the late unpoped

And do away with Stephen as accursed.

So that when presently certain fisher-folk

As if the queasy river could not hold

Its swallowed Jonasbut discharged the meal)

Produced the timely product of their nets

The mutilated manFormosus- saved

From putrefaction by the embalmer's spice

Oras some saidby sanctity of flesh-

"Whylay the body again" bade Theodore

"Among his predecessorsin the church

And burial-place of Peter!" which was done.

"And" addeth Luitprand "many of repute

Pious and still aliveavouch to me

That as they bore the body up the aisle

The saints in imaged row bowed each his head

For welcome to a brother-saint come back."

As for Romanus and this Theodore

These two Popesthrough the brief reign granted each

Could but initiate what John came to close

And give the final stamp to: he it was

Ninth of the name(I follow the best guides)

Who- in full synod at Ravenna held

With Bishops seventy-fourand present too

Eude King of France with his Archbishopry-

Did condemn Stephenanathematize

The disintermentand make all blots blank.

"For" argueth here Auxilius in a place

De Ordinationibus"precedents

Had beenno lackbefore Formosus long

Of Bishops so transferred from see to see-

Marinusfor example": read the tract.

'Butafter Johncame Sergiusreaffirmed

The right of Stephencursed Formosusnay

Cast outsome sayhis corpse a second time.

And here- because the matter went to ground

Fretted by new griefsother cares of the age-

Here is the last pronouncing of the Church

Her sentence that subsists unto this day.

Yet constantly opinion hath prevailed

I' the ChurchFormosus was a holy man.'

WHICH of the judgments was infallible?

Which of my predecessors spoke for God?

And what availed Formosus that this cursed

That blessedand then this other cursed again?

'Fear ye not those whose power can kill the body

And not the soul' saith Christ 'but rather those

Can cast both soul and body into hell!'

John judged thus in Eight Hundred Ninety Eight

Exact eight hundred years ago to-day

Whensitting in his steadVice-gerent here

I must give judgment on my own behoof.

So worked the predecessor: nowmy turn!

IN GOD's name! Once more on this earth of God's

While twilight lasts and time wherein to work

I take His staff with my uncertain hand

And stay my six and fourscore yearsmy due

Labour and sorrowon His judgment-seat

And forthwith thinkspeakactin place of Him-

The Pope for Christ. Once more appeal is made

From man's assize to mine: I sit and see

Another poor weak trembling human wretch

Pushed by his fellowswho pretend the right

Up to the gulf whichwhere I gazebegins

From this world to the next- gives way and way

Just on the edge over the awful dark:

With nothing to arrest him but my feet.

He catches at me with convulsive face

Cries 'Leave to live the natural minute more!'

While hollowly the avengers echo 'Leave?

None! So has he exceeded man's due share

In man's fit licencewrung by Adam's fall

To sin and yet not surely die- that we

All of us sinfulall with need of grace

All chary of our life- the minute more

Or minute less of grace which saves a soul-

Bound to make common cause with who craves time

-We yet protest against the exorbitance

Of sin in this one sinnerand demand

That his poor sole remaining piece of time

Be plucked from out his clutch: put him to death!

Punish him now! As for the weal or woe

HereafterGod grant mercy! Man be just

Nor let the felon boast he went scot-free!'

And I am boundthe solitary judge

To weigh the worthdecide upon the plea

And either hold a hand outor withdraw

A foot and let the wretch drift to the fall.

Ayand while thus I dallydare perchance

Put fancies for a comfort 'twixt this calm

And yonder passion that I have to bear-

As if reprieve were possible for both

Prisoner and Pope- how easy were reprieve!

A touch o' the hand-bell herea hasty word

To those who waitand wonder they wait long

I' the passage thereand I should gain the life!-

Yeathough I flatter me with fancy thus

I know it is but nature's craven-trick.

The case is overjudgment at an end

And all things done now and irrevocable:

A mere dead man is Franceschini here

Even as Formosus centuries ago.

I have worn through this sombre wintry day

With winter in my soul beyond the world's

Over these dismalest of documents

Which drew night down on me ere eve befell-

Pleadings and counter-pleadingsfigure of fact

Beside fact's selfthese summaries to-wit-

How certain three were slain by certain five:

I read here why it wasand how it went

And how the chief o' the five preferred excuse

And how law rather chose defence should lie-

What argument he urged by wary word

When free to play off wilestart subterfuge

And what the unguarded groan toldtorture's feat

When law grew brutaloutbrokeoverbore

And glutted hunger on the truthat last-

No matter for the flesh and blood between.

All's a clear rede and no more riddle now.

Truthnowherelies yet everywhere in these-

Not absolutely in a portionyet

Evolvable from the whole: evolved at last

Painfullyheld tenaciously by me.

Therefore there is not any doubt to clear

When I shall write the brief word presently

And chink the hand-bellwhich I pause to do.

Irresolute? Not I more than the mound

With the pine-trees on it yonder! Some surmise

Perchancethat since man's wit is fallible

Mine may fail here? Suppose it so- what then?

Say- GuidoI count guiltythere's no babe

So guiltlessfor I misconceive the man!

What's in the chance should move me from my mind?

Ifas I walk in a rough country-side

Peasants of mine cry 'Thou art he can help

Lord of the land and counted wise to boot:

Look at our brotherstrangling in his foam

He fell so where we find him- prove thy worth!'

I may presumepronounce'A frenzy-fit

A falling-sickness or a fever-stroke!

Breathe a veincopiously let blood at once!'

So perishes the patientand anon

I hear my peasants- 'All was errorlord!

Our Storythy prescription: for there crawled

In due time from our hipless brother's breast

The serpent which had stung him: bleeding slew

Whom a prompt cordial had restored to health.'

What other should I say than 'God so willed:

Mankind is ignoranta man am I:

Call ignorance my sorrow not my sin!'

So and not otherwisein after-time

If some acuter witfresh probingsound

This multifarious mass of words and deeds

Deeperand reach through guilt to innocence

I shall face Guido's ghost nor blench a jot.

'God who set me to judge theemeted out

So much of judging facultyno more:

Ask Him if I was slack in use thereof!'

I hold a heavier fault imputable

Inasmuch as I changed a chaplain once

For no cause- noif I must bare my heart-

Save that he snuffled somewhat saying mass.

For I am ware it is the seed of act

God holds appraising in His hollow palm

Not act grown great thence on the world below

Leafage and branchagevulgar eyes admire.

Therefore I stand on my integrity

Nor fear at all: and if I hesitate

It is because I need to breathe awhile

Restas the human right allowsreview

Intent the little seeds of actthe tree-

The thoughtto clothe in deedand give the world

At chink of bell and push of arrased door.

O PALE departuredim disgrace of day!

Winter's in wanehis vengeful worst art thou

To dash the boldness of advancing March!

Thy chill persistent rain has purged our streets

Of gossipry; pert tongue and idle ear

By thisconsort 'neath archwayportico.

But wheresoe'er Rome gathers in the grey

Two names now snap and flash from mouth to mouth-

(Sparksflint and steel strike) Guido and the Pope.

By this same hour to-morrow eve- aha

How do they call him?- the sagacious Swede

Who finds by figures how the chances prove

Why one comes rather than another thing

Assaysuch dots turn up by throw of dice

Orif we dip in Virgil here and there

And prick for such a versewhen such shall point.

Take this Swedetell himhiding name and rank

Two men are in our city this dull eve;

One doomed to death- but hundreds in such plight

Slip asideclean escape by leave of law

Which leans to mercy in this latter time;

Moreover in the plenitude of life

Is hewith strength of limb and brain adroit

Presumably of service here: beside

The man is noblebacked by nobler friends:

Nayfor who wish him wellthe city's self

Makes common cause with the house-magistrate

The lord of hearth and homedomestic judge

Who ruled his own and let men cavil. Die?

He'll bribe a gaoler or break prison first!

Naya sedition may be helpfulgive

Hint to the mob to batter wallburn gate

And bid the favourite malefactor march.

Calculate now these chances of escape!

'It is not probablebut well may be.'

Againthere is another manweighed now

By twice eight years beyond the seven-times ten.

Appointed overweight to break our branch.

And this man's loaded branch liftsmore than snow

All the world's cark and carethough a bird's nest

Were a superfluous burthen: notably

Hath he been pressedas if his age were youth

From to-day's dawn till now that day departs

Trying one question with true sweat of soul

'Shall the said doomed man fitlier die or live?'

When a straw swallowed in his possetstool

Stumbled on where his path liesany puff

That's incident to such a smoking flax

Hurries the natural end and quenches him!

Now calculatethou sagethe chances here

Saywhich shall die the soonerthis or that?

'Thatpossiblythis in all likelihood.'

I thought so: yet thou tripp'stmy foreign friend!

Noit will be quite otherwise- to-day

Is Guido's last: my term is yet to run.

BUT SAY the Swede were rightand I forthwith

Acknowledge a prompt summons and lie dead:

Whythen I stand already in God's face

And hear 'Since by its fruit a tree is judged

Show me thy fruitthe latest act of thine!

For in the last is summed the first and all-

What thy life last put heart and soul into

There shall I taste thy product.' I must plead

This condemnation of a man to-day.

NOT SO! Expect nor question nor reply

At what we figure as God's judgment-bar!

None of this vile way by the barren words

Whichmore than any deedcharacterize

Man as made subject to a curse: no speech-

That still bursts o'er some lie which lurks inside

As the split skin across the coppery snake

And most denotes man! sincein all beside

In hate or lust or guile or unbelief

Out of some core of truth the excrescence comes

Andin the last resortthe man may urge

'So was I madea weak thing that gave way

To truthto impulse only strong since true

And hatedlustedused guileforwent faith.'

But when man walks the garden of this world

For his own solaceandunchecked by law

Speaks or keeps silence as himself sees fit

Without the least incumbency to lie

-Whycan he tell you what a rose is like

Or how the birds flyand not slip to false

Though truth serve better? Man must tell his mate

Of youme and himselfknowing he lies

Knowing his fellow knows the same- will think

'He liesit is the method of a man!'

And yet will speak for answer 'It is truth'

To him who shall rejoin 'Again a lie!'

Therefore these filthy rags of speechthis coil

Of statementcommentquery and response

Tatters all too contaminate for use

Have no renewing: Hethe Truthistoo

The Word. We menin our degreemay know

Theresimplyinstantaneouslyas here

After long time and amid many lies

Whatever we dare think we know indeed

-That I am Ias He is He- what else?

But be man's method for man's life at least!

WhereforeAntonio Pignatellithou

My ancient selfwho wast no Pope so long

But studied God and manthe many years

I' the schooli' the cloisterin the diocese

Domesticlegate-rule in foreign lands-

Thou other force in those old busy days

Than this grey ultimate decrepitude-

Yet sensible of fires that more and more

Visit a soulin passage to the sky

Left nakeder than when flesh-robe was new-

Thounot Pope but the mere old man o' the world

Supposed inquisitive and dispassionate

Wilt thouthe one whose speech I somewhat trust

Question the after-methis self now Pope

Hear his procedurecriticize his work?

Wise in its generation is the world.

THIS is why Guido is found reprobate.

I see him furnished forth for his career

On starting for the life-chance in our world

With nearly all we count sufficient help:

Body and mind in balancea sound frame

A solid intellect: the wit to seek

Wisdom to chooseand courage wherewithal

To deal with whatsoever circumstance

Should minister to manmake life succeed.

Ohand much drawback! what were earth without?

Is this our ultimate stageor starting-place

To try man's footif it will creep or climb

'Mid obstacles in seemingpoints that prove

Advantage for who vaults from low to high

And makes the stumbling-block a stepping-stone?

SoGuidoborn with appetitelacks food

Is poorwho yet could deftly play-off wealth

Straitenedwhose limbs are restless till at large:

Andas he eyes each outlet of the cirque

The narrow penfold for probationpines

After the good things just outside the grate

With less monitionfainter conscience-twitch

Rarer instinctive qualm at the first feel

Of the unseemly greed and grasp undue

Than nature furnishes the main mankind-

Making it harder to do wrong than right

The first timecareful lest the common ear

Break measuremiss the outstep of life's march.

Wherein I see a trial fair and fit

For one else too unfairly fenced about

Set above sinbeyond his fellows here

Guarded from the arch-tempterall must fight

By a great birthtraditionary name

Diligent culturechoice companionship

Above allconversancy with the faith

Which puts forth for its base of doctrine just

'Man is born nowise to content himself

But please God.' He accepted such a rule

Recognized man's obedience; and the Church

Which simply is such rule's embodiment

He clave tohe held on by- nay indeed

Near pushed inside ofdeep as layman durst

Professed so much of priesthood as might sue

For priest's-exemption where the layman sinned-

Got his arm frocked whichbarethe law would bruise.

Henceat this momentwhat's his last resource

His extreme stay and utmost stretch of hope

But that- convicted of such crime as law

Wipes not away save with a worldling's blood-

Guidothe three-parts consecratemay 'scape?

Naythe portentous brothers of the man

Are veritably priestsprotected each

May do his murder in the Church's pale

Abate PaulCanon Girolamo!

This is the man proves irreligiousest

Of all mankindreligion's parasite!

This may forsooth plead dinned earjaded sense

The vice o' the watcher who bides near the bell

Sleeps sound because the clock is vigilant

And cares not whether it be shade or shine

Doling out day and night to all men else!

Why was the choice o' the man to niche himself

Perversely 'neath the tower where Time's own tongue

Thus undertakes to sermonize the world?

Whybut because the solemn is safe too

The belfry proves a fortress of a sort

Has other uses than to teach the hour

Turns sunscreenparavent and ombrifuge

To whoso seeks a shelter in its pale

-Ayand attractive to unwary folk

Who gaze at storied portalstatued spire

And go home with full head but empty purse

Nor dare suspect the sacristan the thief!

Shall Judas- hard upon the donor's heel

To filch the fragments of the basket- plead

He was too near the preacher's mouthnor sat

Attent with fifties in a company?

No- closer to promulgated decree

Clearer the censure of default. Proceed!

I FIND him boundthento begin life well;

Fortified by propitious circumstance

Great birthgood breedingwith the Church for guide.

How lives he? Cased thus in a coat of proof

Mailed like a man-at-armsthough all the while

A puny starveling- does the breast pant big

The limb swell to the limitemptiness

Strive to become solidity indeed?

Ratherhe shrinks up like the ambiguous fish

Detaches flesh from shell and outside show

And steals by moonlight (I have seen the thing)

In and outnow to prey and now to skulk.

Armour he boasts when a wave breaks on beach

Or bird stoops for the prize: with peril nigh-

The man of rankthe much-befriended man

The man almost affiliate to the Church

Such is to deal withlet the world beware!

Does the world recognizepass prudently?

Do tides abate and sea-fowl hunt i' the deep?

Already is the slug from out its mew

Ignobly faring with all loose and free

Sand-fly and slush-worm at their garbage-feast

A naked blotch no better than they all:

Guido has dropped nobilityslipped the Church

Plays trickster if not cut-pursebody and soul

Prostrate among the filthy feeders- faugh!

And when Law takes him by surprise at last

Catches the foul thing on its carrion-prey

Beholdhe points to shell left high and dry

Pleads 'But the case out yonder is myself!'

Nayit is thouLaw prongs amid thy peers

Congenial vermin; that was none of thee

Thine outside- give it to the soldier-crab!

For I find this black mark impinge the man

That he believes in just the vile of life.

Low instinctbase pretensionare these truth?

Thenthat aforesaid armourprobity

He figures inis falsehood scale on scale;

Honour and faith- a lie and a disguise

Probably for all livers in this world

Certainly for himself! All say good words

To who will hearall do thereby bad deeds

To who must undergo; so thrive mankind!

See this habitual creed exemplified

Most in the last deliberate act; as last

Sovery sum and substance of the soul

Of him that planned and leaves one perfect piece

The sin brought under jurisdiction now

Even the marriage of the man: this act

I sever from his life as sampleshow

For Guido's selfintend to test him by

Asfrom a cup filled fairly at the fount

By the components we decide enough

Or to let flow as lateor staunch the source.

HE PURPOSES this marriageI remark

On no one motive that should prompt thereto-

Farthestby consequencefrom ends alleged

Appropriate to the action; so they were:

The besthe knew and feignedthe worst he took.

Not one permissible impulse moves the man

From the mere liking of the eye and ear

To the true longing of the heart that loves

No trace of these: but all to instigate

Is what sinks man past level of the brute

Whose appetite if brutish is a truth.

All is the lust for money: to get gold-

Whylierobif it must bemurder! Make

Body and soul wring gold outlured within

The clutch of hate by lovethe trap's pretence!

What good else get from bodies and from souls?

This gotthere were some life to lead thereby

-Whatwhere or howappreciate those who tell

How the toad lives: it lives- enough for me!

To get this good- with but a groan or so

Thensilence of the victims- were the feat.

He foresawmade a picture in his mind-

Of father and mother stunned and echoless

To the blowas they lie staring at fate's jaws

Their folly danced intotill the woe fell;

Edged in a month by strenuous cruelty

From even the poor nook whence they watched the wolf

Feast on their heartthe lamb-like child his prey;

Plundered to the last remnant of their wealth

(What daily pittance pleased the plunderer dole)

Hunted forth to go hide headstarve and die

So leave the pale awe-stricken wifepast hope

Of help i' the world nowmute and motionless

His slavehis chattelto use and then destroy:

All thishe bent mind how to bring about

Put this in act and lifeas painted plain

And have successthe crown of earthly good

In this particular enterprise of man

A marriage- undertaken in God's face

With all those lies so opposite God's truth

For ends so other than man's end.

Thus schemes

Guidoand thus would carry out his scheme:

But when an obstacle first blocks the path

When he finds there is no monopoly

Of lies and tricks i' the tricking lying world-

That sorry timid natureseven this sort

O' the Compariniwant nor trick nor lie

Proper to the kind- that as the gor-crow treats

The bramble-finch so treats the finch the moth

And the great Guido is minutely matched

By this same couple- whether true or false

The revelation of Pompilia's birth

Which in a moment brings his scheme to nought-

Thenhe is piquedadvances yet a stage

Leaves the low region to the finch and fly

Soars to the zenith whence the fiercer fowl

May dare the inimitable swoop. I see.

He draws now on the curious crimethe fine

Felicity and flower of wickedness;

Determinesby the utmost exercise

Of violencemade safe and sure by craft

To satiate malicepluck one last arch-pang

From the parentselse would triumph out of reach

By punishing their childwithin reach yet

Who nowise could have wrongedthoughtword or deed

I' the matter that now moves him. So plans he

Always subordinating (note the point!)

Revengethe manlier sinto interest

The meaner- would pluck pang forthbut unclench

No gripe in the actlet fall no money-piece.

Hence a plan for so plaguing body and soul

His wifeso puttingday by day and hour by hour

The untried torture to the untouched place

As must precipitate an end foreseen

Goad her into some plain revoltmost like

Plunge upon patent suicidal shame

Death to herselfdamnation by rebound

To those whose hearts heholding hersholds still:

Such a plan asin its completenessshall

Ruin the three together and alike

Yet leave himself in luck and liberty

No claim renouncedno right a forfeiture

His person unendangeredhis good fame

Without a flawhis pristine worth intact-

While theywith all their claims and rights that cling

Shall forthwith crumble off him every side

Scorched into dusta plaything for the winds.

As whenin our Campagnathere is fired

The nest-like work that lets a peasant house;

Andas the thatch burns herethereeverywhere

Even to the ivy and wild vinethat bound

And blessed the hut where men were happy once

There rises gradualblack amid the blaze

Some grim and unscathed nucleus of the nest-

Some old malicious towersome obscene tomb

They thought a temple in their ignorance

And clung about and thought to lean upon-

There laughs it o'er their ravage- where are they?

So did his cruelty burn life about

And lay the ruin bare in dreadfulness

Try the persistency of torment so

O' the wifeat some fierce extremity

Some crisis brought about by fire and flame

The patient stung to frenzy should break loose

Fly anyhowfind refuge anywhere

Even in the arms of who might front her first

No monster but a man- while nature shrieked

'Or thus escapeor die!' The spasm arrived

Not the escape by way of sin- O God

Who shall pluck sheep Thou holdestfrom Thy hand?

Therefore she lay resigned to die- so far

The simple cruelty was foiled. Why then

Craft to the rescuecraft should supplement

Cruelty and show hell a masterpiece!

Hence this consummate liethis love-intrigue

Unmanly simulation of a sin

With place and time and circumstance to suit-

These letters false beyond all forgery-

Not just handwriting and mere authorship

But false to body and soul they figure forth-

As though the man had cut out shape and shape

From fancies of that other Aretine

To paste below- incorporate the filth

With cherub faces on a missal-page!

WHEREBY the man so far attains his end

That strange temptation is permitted- see!

Pompiliawifeand Caponsacchipriest

Are brought together as nor priest nor wife

Should standand there is passion in the place

Power in the air for evil as for good

Promptings from heaven and hellas if the stars

Fought in their courses for a fate to be.

Thus stand the wife and priesta spectacle

I doubt notto unseen assemblage there.

No lamp will mark that window for a shrine

No tablet signalize the terraceteach

New generations which succeed the old

The pavement of the street is holy ground;

No bard describe in verse how Christ prevailed

And Satan fell like lightning! Why repine?

What does the worldtold truthbut lie the more?

A SECOND time the plot is foiled; nornow

By corresponding sin for countercheck

No wile and trick to baffle trick and wile-

The play of the parents! Here the blood is blanched

By God's gift of a purity of soul

That will not take pollutionermine-like

Armed from dishonour by its own soft snow.

Such was this gift of God who showed for once

How He would have the world go white: it seems

As a new attribute were born of each

Champion of truththe priest and wife I praise-

As a new safeguard sprang up in defence

Of their new noble nature: so a thorn

Comes to the aid of and completes the rose-

Courage to-witno woman's gift nor priest's

I' the crisis; might leaps vindicating right.

See how the strong aggressorbad and bold

With every vantagepreconcerts surprise

Flies of a sudden at his victim's throat

In a byeway- how fares he when face to face

With Caponsacchi? Who fightswho fears now?

There quails Count Guidoarmed to the chattering teeth

Cowers at the steadfast eye and quiet word

O' the Canon at the Pieve! There skulks crime

Behind law called in to back cowardice!

While out of the poor trampled worm the wife

Springs up a serpent!

But anon of these!

Him I judge now- of him proceed to note

Failing the firsta second chance befriends

Guidogives pause ere punishment arrive.

The law he calledcomeshearsadjudicates

Nor does amiss i' the main- secludes the wife

From the husbandrespites the oppressed onegrants

Probation to the oppressorcould he know

The mercy of a minute's fiery purge!

The furnace-coals alike of public scorn

Private remorseheaped glowing on his head

What if- the force and guilethe ore's alloy

Eliminatehis baser soul refined-

The lost be saved even yetso as by fire?

Let himrebukedgo softly all his days

Andwhen no graver musings claim their due

Meditate on a man's immense mistake

Whofashioned to use feet and walkdeigns crawl-

Takes the unmanly means- aythough to end

Man scarce should make forwould but reach thro' wrong-

May sinbut must not needs shame manhood so:

Since fowlers hawkshootnay and snare the game

And yet eschew vile practicenor find sport

In torch-light treachery or the luring owl.

BUT how hunts Guido? Whythe fraudful trap-

Late spurned to ruin by the indignant feet

Of fellows in the chase who loved fair play-

Here he picks up the fragments to the least

Lades him and hies to the old lurking-place

Where haply he may patch againrefit

The mischieffile its blunted teeth anew

Make surenext timea snap shall break the bone.

Craftgreed and violence complot revenge:

Craftfor its quotaschemes to bring about

And seize occasion and be safe withal:

Greed craves its act may work both far and near

Crush the treebranch and trunk and root beside

Whichever twig or leaf arrests a streak

Of possible sunshine else would coin itself

And drop down one more gold piece in the path.

Violence stipulates 'Advantage proved

And safety surebe pain the overplus!

Murder with jagged knife! Cut but tear too!

Foiled oftstarved longglut malice for amends!'

Andlastcraft schemes- scheme sorrowful and strange

As though the elementswhom mercy checked

Had mustered hate for one eruption more

One final deluge to surprise the Ark

Cradled and sleeping on its mountain-top:

The outbreak-signal- what but the dove's coos

Back with the olive in her bill for news

Sorrow was over? 'Tis an infant's birth

Guido's first bornhis son and heirthat gives

The occasion: other men cut free their souls

From care in such a casefly up in thanks

To Godreachrecognize His love for once:

Guido cries 'Soulat last the mire is thine!

Lie there in likeness of a money-bag

This babe's birth so pins down past moving now

That I dare cut adrift the lives I late

Scrupled to touch lest thou escape with them!

These parents and their child my wife- touch one

Lose all! Their rights determined on a head

I could but hatenot harmsince from each hair

Dangled a hope for me: now- chance and change!

No right was in their child but passes now

To that child's child and through such child to me.

I am the father now- come whatcome will

I represent my child; he comes between-

Cuts sudden off the sunshine of this life

From those three: whythe gold is in his curls!

Not with old Pietro'sViolante's head

Not his grey horrorher more hideous black-

Go thesedevoted to the knife!'

'Tis done:

Wherefore should mind misgiveheart hesitate?

He calls to counselfashions certain four

Colourless natures counted clean till now

-Rustic simplicityuncorrupted youth

Ignorant virtue! Here's the gold o' the prime

When Saturn ruledshall shock our leaden day-

The clown abash the courtier! Mark itbards!

The courtier tries his hand on clownship here

Speaks a wordnames a crimeappoints a price-

Just breathes on whatsuffused with all himself

Is red-hot henceforth past distinction now

I' the common glow of hell. And thus they break

And blaze on us at RomeChrist's Birthnight-eve!

Oh angels that sang erst 'On the earthpeace!

To mangood will!'- such peace finds earth to-day!

After the seventeen hundred yearsso man

Wills good to manso Guido makes complete

His murder! what is it I said?- cuts loose

Three lives that hitherto he suffered cling

Simply because each served to nail secure

By a corner of the money-baghis soul-

Thereforelives sacred till the babe's first breath

O'erweights them in the balance- off they fly!

So is the murder managedsin conceived

To the full: and why not crowned with triumph too?

Why must the sinconceived thusbring forth death?

I note howwithin hair's-breadth of escape

Impunity and the thing supposed success

Guido is found when the check comesthe change

The monitory touch o' the tether- felt

By fewnot marked by manynamed by none

At the momentonly recognized aright

I' the fulness of the daysfor God'slest sin

Exceed the serviceleap the line: such check-

A secret which this life finds hard to keep

Andoften guessedis never quite revealed.

Guido must needs trip on a stumbling-block

Too vulgartoo absurdly plain i' the path!

Study this single oversight of care

This hebetude that mars sagacity

Forgetfulness of what the man best knew!

Here is a stranger whowith need to fly

Needs but to ask and have the means of flight.

Whythe first urchin tells youto leave Rome

Get horsesyou must show the warrant just

The banal scrapclerk's scribblea fair word buys

Or foul oneif a ducat sweeten word-

And straight authority will back demand

Give you the pick o' the post-house!- in such wise

The resident at Rome for thirty years

Guidoinstructs a stranger! And himself

Forgets just this poor paper scrapwherewith

Armedevery door he knocks at opens wide

To save him: horsed and mannedwith such advance

O' the hunt behindwhy 'twere the easy task

Of hours told on the fingers of one hand

To reach the Tuscan Frontierlaugh at home

Light-hearted with his fellows of the place-

Prepared by that strange shameful judgmentthat

Satire upon a sentence just pronounced

By the Rota and confirmed by the Granduke-

Ready in a circle to receive their peer

Appreciate his good story howwhen Rome

The Pope-King and the populace of priests

Made common cause with their confederate

The other priestling who seduced his wife

Heall unaidedwiped out the affront

With decent bloodshed and could face his friends

Frolic it in the world's eye. Aysuch tale

Missed such applauseall by such oversight!

Sotired and footsorethose blood-flustered five

Went reeling on the road through dark and cold

The few permissible milesto sink at length

Wallow and sleep in the first wayside straw

As the other herd quenchedi' the wash o' the wave.

-Each swinethe devil inside him: so slept they

And so were caught and caged- all through one trip

Touch of the fool in Guido the astute!

He curses the omissionI surmise

More than the murder. Whythou fool and blind

It is the mercy-stroke that stops thy fate

Hamstrings and holds thee to thy hurt- but how?

On the edge o' the precipice! One minute more

Thou hadst gone farther and fared worsemy son

Fathoms down on the flint and fire beneath!

Thy comrades each and all were of one mind

Straightwaythy murder doneto murder thee

In turnbecause of promised pay withheld.

Soto the lastgreed found itself at odds

With craft in theeandproving conqueror

Had sent theethe same night that crowned thy hope

Thither wherethis same dayI see thee not

Northrough God's mercyneedto-morrowsee.

SUCH I find Guidomidmost blotch of black

Discernible in this group of clustered crimes

Huddling together in the cave they call

Their palaceoutraged day thus penetrates.

Around him rangednow close and now remote

Prominent or obscure to meet the needs

O' the mage and masterI detect each shape

Subsidiary i' the scene nor loathed the less

All alike colouredall descried akin

By one and the same pitchy furnace stirred

At the centre: seethey lick the master's hand-

This fox-faced horrible priestthis brother-brute

The Abate- whymere wolfishness looks well

Guido stands honest in the red o' the flame

Beside this yellow that would pass for white

This Guidoall craft but no violence

This copier of the mien and gait and garb

Of Peter and Paulthat he may go disguised

Rob halt and lamesick folk i' the temple-porch!

Armed with religionfortified by law

A man of peacewho trims the midnight lamp

And turns the classic page- and all for craft

All to work harm withyet incur no scratch!

While Guido brings the struggle to a close

Paul steps back the due distanceclear o' the trap

He builds and baits. Guido I catch and judge;

Paul is past reach in this world and my time:

That is a case reserved. Pass to the next

The boy of the broodthe young Girolamo

PriestCanonand what more? nor wolf nor fox

But hybridneither craft nor violence

Whollypart violence part craft: such cross

Tempts speculation- will both blend one day

And prove hell's better product? Or subside

And let the simple quality emerge

Go on with Satan's service the old way?

Meanwhilewhat promise- what performance too!

For there's a new distinctive touchI see

Lust- lacking in the two- hell's own blue tint

That gives a character and marks the man

More than a match for yellow and red. Once more

A case reserved: why should I doubt? Then comes

The gaunt grey nightmare in the furthest smoke

The hag that gave these three abortions birth

Unmotherly mother and unwomanly

Womanthat near turns motherhood to shame

Womanliness to loathing: no one word

No gesture to curb cruelty a whit

More than the she-pard thwarts her playsome whelps

Trying their milk-teeth on the soft o' the throat

O' the first fawnflungwith those beseeching eyes

Flat in the covert! How should she but couch

Lick the dry lipsunsheathe the blunted claw

Catch 'twixt her placid eyewinks at what chance

Old bloody half-forgotten dream may flit

Born when herself was novice to the taste

The while she lets youth take its pleasure. Last

These God-abandoned wretched lumps of life

These four companions- country-folk this time

Not tainted by the unwholesome civic breath

Much less the curse o' the court! Mere striplings too

Fit to do human nature justice still!

Surely when impudence in Guido's shape

Shall propose crime and proffer money's-worth

To these stout tall bright-eyed and black-haired boys

The blood shall bound in answer to each cheek

Before the indignant outcry break from lip!

Are these i' the mood to murderhardly loosed

From healthy autumn-finishthe ploughed glebe

Grapes in the barrelwork at happy end

And winter come with rest and Christmas play?

How greet they Guido with his final task-

(As if he but proposed 'One vineyard more

To digere frost comethen relax indeed!')

'Anywhereanyhow and anywhy

Murder me some three peopleold and young

Ye never heard the names of- and be paid

So much!' And the whole four accede at once.

Demur? As cattle wouldbid march or halt!

Is it some lingering habitold fond faith

I' the lord of the landinstructs them- birthright badge

Of feudal tenure claims its slaves again?

Not so at allthou noble human heart!

All is done purely for the pay- whichearned

And not forthcoming at the instantmakes

Religion heresyand the lord o' the land

Fit subject for a murder in his turn.

The patron with cut throat and rifled purse

Deposited i' the roadside-ditchhis due

Nought hinders each good fellow trudging home

The heavier by a piece or two in poke

And so with new zest to the common life

Mattock and spadeplough-tail and waggon-shaft

Till some such other piece of luck betide

Who knows? Since this is a mere start in life

And none of them exceeds the twentieth year.

NAYmore i' the backgroundyet? Unnoticed forms

Claim to be classedsubordinately vile?

Complacent lookers-on that laugh- perchance

Shake head as their friend's horse-play grows too rough

With the mere child he manages amiss-

But would not interfere and make bad worse

For twice the fractious tears and prayers: thou know'st

Civility betterMarzi-Medici

Governor for thy kinsman the Granduke!

Fit representative of lawman's lamp

I' the magistrate's grasp full-flareno rushlight-end

Sputtering 'twixt thumb and finger of the priest!

Whose answer to these Comparini's cry

Is a threat- whose remedy of Pompilia's wrong

A shrug o' the shouldera facetious word

Or winktraditional with Tuscan wits

To Guido in the doorway. Laud to law!

The wife is pushed back to the husbandhe

Who knows how these home-squabblings persecute

People who have the public good to mind

And work best with a silence in the court!

AHBUT I save my word at least for thee

Archbishopwho art under me in the Church

As I am under God- thouchosen by both

To do the shepherd's officefeed the sheep-

How of this lamb that panted at thy foot

While the wolf pressed on her within crook's reach?

Wast thou the hireling that did turn and flee?

With thee at least anon the little word!

Such denizens o' the cave now cluster round

And heat the furnace sevenfold: time indeed

A bolt from heaven should cleave roof and clear place

Transfix and show the worldsuspiring flame

The main offenderscar and brand the rest

Hurryingeach miscreant to his hole: then flood

And purify the scene with outside day-

Which yetin the absolutest drench of dark

Ne'er wants a witnesssome stray beauty-beam

To the despair of hell.

First of the first

Such I pronounce Pompiliathen as now

Perfect in whiteness- stoop thou downmy child

Give one good moment to the poor old Pope

Heart-sick at having all his world to blame-

Let me look at thee in the flesh as erst

Let me enjoy the old clean linen garb

Not the new splendid vesture! Armed and crowned

Would Michaelyonderbenor crowned nor armed

The less pre-eminent angel? Everywhere

I see in the world the intellect of man

That swordthe energy his subtle spear

The knowledge which defends him like a shield-

Everywhere; but they make not upI think

The marvel of a soul like thineearth's flower

She holds up to the softened gaze of God!

It was not given Pompilia to know much

Speak muchto write a bookto move mankind

Be memorized by who records my time.

Yet if in purity and patienceif

In faith held fast despite the plucking fiend

Safe like the signet-stone with the new name

That saints are known by- if in right returned

For wrongmost pardon for worst injury

If there be any virtueany praise-

Then will this woman-child have proved- who knows?-

Just the one prize vouchsafed unworthy me

Ten years a gardener of the untoward ground

I till- this earthmy sweat and blood manure

All the long day that barrenly grows dusk:

At least one blossom makes me proud at eve

Born 'mid the briers of my enclosure! Still

(Ohhere as elsewherenothingness of man!)

Those be the plantsimbedded yonder South

To mellow in the morningthose made fat

By the master's eyethat yield such timid leaf

Uncertain budas product of his pains!

While- see how this mere chance-sowncleft-nursed seed

That sprang up by the wayside 'neath the foot

Of the enemythis breaks all into blaze

Spreads itselfone wide glory of desire

To incorporate the whole great sun it loves

From the inch-height whence it looks and longs! My flower

My roseI gather for the breast of God

This I praise most in theewhere all I praise

That having been obedient to the end

According to the light allottedlaw

Prescribed thy lifestill triedstill standing test-

Dutiful to the foolish parents first

Submissive next to the bad husband- nay

Tolerant of those meaner miserable

That did his hestseked out the dole of pain-

Thoupatient thuscouldst rise from law to law

The old to the newpromoted at one cry

O' the trump of God to the new servicenot

To longer bearbut henceforth fightbe found

Sublime in new impatience with the foe!

Endure man and obey God: plant firm foot

On neck of mantread man into the hell

Meet for himand obey God all the more!

Oh child that didst despise thy life so much

When it seemed only thine to keep or lose

How the fine ear felt fall the first low word

'Value lifeand preserve life for My sake!'

Thou didst... how shall I say?... receive so long

The standing ordinance of God on earth

What wonder if the novel claim had clashed

With old requirementseemed to supersede

Too much the customary law? Butbrave

Thou at first prompting of what I call God

And fools call Naturedidst hearcomprehend

Accept the obligation laid on thee

Mother electto save the unborn child

As brute and bird doreptile and the fly

Ay andI nothing doubteven treeshrubplant

And flower o' the fieldall in a common pact

To worthily defend that trust of trusts

Life from the Ever Living:- didst resist-

Anticipate the office that is mine-

And with his own sword stay the upraised arm

The endeavour of the wickedand defend

Him who- again in my default- was there

For visible providence: one less true than thou

To touchi' the pastless practised in the right

Approved so far in all docility

To all instruction- how had such an one

Made scruple 'Is this motion a decree?'

It was authentic to the experienced ear

O' the good and faithful servant. Go past me

And get thy praise- and be not far to seek

Presently when I follow if I may!

AND surely not so very much apart

Need I place theemy warrior-priest- in whom

What if I gain the other rosethe gold

We grave to imitate God's miracle

Greet monarchs withgood rose in its degree?

Irregular noble scapegrace- son the same!

Faulty- and peradventure ours the fault

Who still misteachmisleadthrow hook and line

Thinking to land leviathan forsooth

Tame the scaled neckplay with him as a bird

And bind him for our maidens! Better bear

The King of Pride go wantoning awhile

Unplagued by cord in nose and thorn in jaw

Through deep to deepfollowed by all that shine

Churning the blackness hoary: He who made

The comely terrorHe shall make the sword

To match that piece of netherstone his heart

Aynor miss praise thereby; who else shut fire

I' the stoneto leap from mouth at sword's first stroke

In lamps of love and faiththe chivalry

That dares the right and disregards alike

The yea and nay o' the world? Self-sacrifice-

What if an idol took it? Ask the Church

Why she was wont to turn each Venus here-

Poor Rome perversely lingered rounddespite

Instructionfor the sake of purblind love-

Into Madonna's shapeand waste no whit

Of aught so rare on earth as gratitude!

All this sweet savour was not ours but thine

Nard of the rocka natural wealth we name

Incenseand treasure up as food for saints

When flung to us- whose function was to give

Not find the costly perfume. Do I smile?

NayCaponsacchimuch I find amiss

Blameworthypunishable in this freak

Of thinethis youth prolonged though age was ripe

This masquerade in sober daywith change

Of motley too- now hypocrite's-disguise

Now fool's-costume: which lie was least like truth

Which the ungainliermore discordant garb

With that symmetric soul inside my son

The churchman's or the worldling's- let him judge

Our Adversary who enjoys the task!

I rather chronicle the healthy rage-

When the first moan broke from the martyr-maid

At that uncaging of the beasts- made bare

My athlete on the instantgave such good

Great undisguised leap over post and pale

Right into the mid-cirquefree fighting-place.

There may have been rash stripping- every rag

Went to the winds- infringement manifold

Of laws prescribed pudicityI fear

In this impulsive and prompt self-display!

Ever such tax comes of the foolish youth;

Men mulct the wiser manhoodand suspect

No veritable star swims out of cloud:

Bear thou such imputationundergo

The penalty I nowise dare relax-

Conventional chastisement and rebuke.

But for the outcomethe brave starry birth

Conciliating earth with all that cloud

Thank heaven as I do! Aysuch championship

Of God at first blushsuch prompt cheery thud

Of glove on ground that answers ringingly

The challenge of the false knight- watch we long

And wait we vainly for its gallant like

From those appointed to the servicesworn

His body-guard with pay and privilege-

White-cinctbecause in white walks sanctity

Red-sockedhow else proclaim fine scorn of flesh

Unchariness of blood when blood faith begs?

Where are the men-at-arms with cross on coat?

Aloofbewraying their attire: whilst thou

In mask and motleypledged to dance not fight

Sprang'st forth the hero! In thoughtword and deed

How throughout all thy warfare thou wast pure

I find it easy to believe: and if

At any fateful moment of the strange

Adventurethe strong passion of that strait

Fear and surprisemay have revealed too much-

As when a thundrous midnightwith black air

That burnsrain-drops that blisterbreaks a spell

Draws out the excessive virtue of some sheathed

Shut unsuspected flower that hoards and hides

Immensity of sweetness- soperchance

Might the surprise and fear release too much

The perfect beauty of the body and soul

Thou savedst in thy passion for God's sake

He who is Pity: was the trial sore?

Temptation sharp? Thank God a second time!

Why comes temptation but for man to meet

And master and make crouch beneath his foot

And so be pedestalled in triumph? Pray

'Lead us into no such temptationsLord!'

YeabutO Thou whose servants are the bold

Lead such temptations by the head and hair

Reluctant dragonsup to who dares fight

That so he may do battle and have praise!

Do I not see the praise?- that while thy mates

Bound to deserve i' the matterprove at need

Unprofitable through the very pains

We gave to train them well and start them fair-

Are found too stiffwith standing ranked and ranged

For onset in good earnesttoo obtuse

Of earthrough iteration of command

For catching quick the sense of the real cry-

Thouwhose sword-hand was used to strike the lute

Whose sentry-station graced some wanton's gate

Thou didst push forward and show mettleshame

The laggardsand retrieve the day. Well done!

Be glad thou hast let light into the world

Through that irregular breach o' the boundary- see

The same upon thy path and march assured

Learning anew the use of soldiership

Self-abnegationfreedom from all fear

Loyalty to the life's end! Ruminate

Deserve the initiatory spasm- once more

Workbe unhappy but bear lifemy son!

AND troop yousomewhere 'twixt the best and worst

Where crowd the indifferent productall too poor

Makeshiftstarved samples of humanity!

Father and motherhuddle there and hide!

A gracious eye may find you! Foul and fair

Sadly mixed natures: self-indulgent- yet

Self-sacrificing too: how the love soars

How the craftavaricevanity and spite

Sink again! So they keep the middle course

Slide into silly crime at unaware

Slip back upon the stupid virtuestay

Nowhere enough for being classedI hope

And fear. Accept the swift and rueful death

Taughtsomewhat sternlier than is wontwhat waits

The ambiguous creature- how the one black tuft

Steadies the aim of the arrow just as well

As the wide faultless white on the bird's breast.

Nayyou were punished in the very part

That looked most pure of speck- the honest love

Betrayed you- did love seem most worthy pains

Challenge such purgingas ordained survive

When all the rest of you was done with? Go!

Never again elude the choice of tints!

White shall not neutralize the blacknor good

Compensate bad in manabsolve him so:

Life's business being just the terrible choice.

SO DO I seepronounce on all and some

Grouped for my judgment now- profess no doubt

While I pronounce: darkdifficult enough

The human sphereyet eyes grow sharp by use

I find the truthdispart the shine from shade

As a mere man maywith no special touch

O' the lynx-gift in each ordinary orb:

Nayif the popular notion class me right

One of well nigh decayed intelligence-

What of that? Through hard labour and good will

And habitude that gives a blind man sight

At the practised finger-ends of himI do

Discernand dare decree in consequence

Whatever prove the peril of mistake.

Whencethenthis quite new quick cold thrill- cloud-like

This keen dread creeping from a quarter scarce

Suspected in the skies I nightly scan?

What slacks the tense nervesaps the wound-up spring

Of the act that should and shall besends the mount

And mass o' the whole man's-strength- conglobed so late-

Shudderingly into dusta moment's work?

While I stand firmgo fearlessin this world

For this life recognize and arbitrate

Touch and let stayor else remove a thing

Judge 'This is rightthis object out of place'

Candle in hand that helps me and to spare-

What if a voice deride me'Perk and pry!

Brighten each nook with thine intelligence!

Play the good householderply man and maid

With tasks prolonged into the midnighttest

Their work and nowise stint of the due wage

Each worthy worker: but with gyves and whip

Pay thou misprision of a single point

Plain to thy happy self who lift'st the light

Lament'st the darkling- bold to all beneath!

What if thyself adventurenow the place

Is purged so well? Leave pavement and mount roof

Look round thee for the light of the upper sky

The fire which lit thy fire which finds default

In Guido Franceschini to his cost!

What ifabove in the domain of light

Thou miss the accustomed signsremark eclipse?

Shalt thou still gaze on ground nor lift a lid-

Steady in thy superb prerogative

Thy inch of inkling- nor once face the doubt

I' the sphere above theedarkness to be felt?'

Yet my poor spark had for its sourcethe sun;

Thither I sent the great looks which compel

Light from its fount: all that I do and am

Comes from the truthor seen or else surmised

Remembered or divinedas mere man may:

I know just sonor otherwise. As I know

I speak- what should I knowthenand how speak

Were there a wild mistake of eye or brain

In the recorded governance above?

If my own breathonlyblew coal alight

I called celestial and the morning-star?

Iwho in this world act resolvedly

Dispose of menthe body and the soul

As they acknowledge or gainsay this light

I show them- shall I too lack courage?- leave

Itoothe post of melike those I blame?

Refusewith kindred inconsistency

Grapple with danger whereby souls grow strong?

I am near the end; but still not at the end;

All till the very end is trial in life:

At this stage is the trial of my soul

Danger to faceor danger to refuse?

Shall I dare try the doubt nowor not dare?

O THOU- as represented here to me

In such conception as my soul allows-

Under Thy measureless my atom width!-

Man's mind- what is it but a convex glass

Wherein are gathered all the scattered points

Picked out of the immensity of sky

To reunite therebe our heaven on earth

Our known unknownour God revealed to man?

Existent somewheresomehowas a whole;

Hereas a whole proportioned to our sense-

There(which is nowherespeech must babble thus!)

In the absolute immensitythe whole

Appreciable solely by Thyself-

Hereby the little mind of manreduced

To littleness that suits his faculty

Appreciable too in the degree;

Between Thee and ourselves- nay evenagain

Below usto the extreme of the minute

Appreciable by how many and what diverse

Modes of the life Thou makest be! (why live

Except for love- how love unless they know?)

Each of themonly filling to the edge

Insect or angelhis just length and breadth

Due facet of reflection- fullno less

Angel or insectas Thou framedst things-

I it is who have been appointed here

To represent Theein my turnon earth

Just asif new philosophy know aught

This one earthout of all the multitude

Of peopled worldsas stars are now supposed-

Was chosenand no sun-star of the swarm

For stage and scene of Thy transcendent act

Beside which even the creation fades

Into a puny exercise of power.

Choice of the worldchoice of the thing I am

Both emanate alike from the dread play

Of operation outside this our sphere

Where things are classed and counted small or great-

Incomprehensibly the choice is Thine!

I therefore bow my head and take Thy place.

There isbeside the worksa tale of Thee

In the world's mouth which I find credible:

I love it with my heart: unsatisfied

I try it with my reasonnor discept

From any point I probe and pronounce sound.

Mind is not matter nor from matterbut

Above- leave matter thenproceed with mind:

Man's be the mind recognized at the height-

Leave the inferior minds and look at man.

Is he the strongintelligent and good

Up to his own conceivable height? Nowise.

Enough o' the low- soar the conceivable height

Find cause to match the effect in evidence

Works in the worldnot man'sthen God's; leave man:

Conjecture of the worker by the work:

Is there strength there?- enough: intelligence?

Ample: but goodness in a like degree?

Not to the human eye in the present state

This isoscele deficient in the base.

What lacksthenof perfection fit for God

But just the instance which this tale supplies

Of love without a limit? So is strength

So is intelligence; then love is so

Unlimited in its self-sacrifice:

Then is the tale true and God shows complete.

Beyond the taleI reach into the dark

Feel what I cannot seeand still faith stands:

I can believe this dread machinery

Of sin and sorrowwould confound me else

Devised- all painat most expenditure

Of pain by Who devised pain- to evolve

By new machinery in counterpart

The moral qualities of man- how else?-

To make him love in turn and be beloved

Creative and self-sacrificing too

And thus eventually God-like(ay

'I have said ye are Gods'- shall it be said for nought?)

Enable man to wringfrom out all pain

All pleasure for a common heritage

To all eternity: this may be surmised

The other is revealed- whether a fact

Absoluteabstractindependent truth

Historicnot reduced to suit man's mind-

Or only truth reverberatechangedmade pass

A spectrum into mindthe narrow eye-

The same and not the sameelse unconceived-

Though quite conceivable to the next grade

Above it in intelligence- as truth

Easy to man were blindness to the beast

By parity of procedure- the same truth

In a new formbut changed in either case:

What matter so the intelligence be filled?

To the childthe sea is angryfor it roars;

Frost biteselse why the tooth-like fret on face?

Man makes acoustics deal with the sea's wrath

Explains the choppy cheek by chymic law-

To bothremains one and the same effect

On drum of ear and root of nosechange cause

Never so thoroughly: so our heart be struck

What care I- by God's gloved hand or the bare?

Nor do I much perplex me with aught hard

Dubious in the transmitting of the tale-

Nonor with certain riddles set to solve.

This life is training and a passage; pass-

Stillwe march over some flat obstacle

We made give way before us; solid truth

In front of itwere motion for the world?

The moral sense grows but by exercise.

'Tis even as man grew probatively

Initiated in Godshipset to make

A fairer moral world than this he finds

Guess now what shall be known hereafter. Thus

O' the present problem: as we see and speak

A faultless creature is destroyedand sin

Has had its way i' the world where God should rule.

Aybut for this irrelevant circumstance

Of inquisition after bloodwe see

Pompilia lost and Guido saved: how long?

For his whole life: how much is that whole life?

We are not babesbut know the minute's worth

And feel that life is large and the world small

Sowait till life have passed from out the world.

NEITHER does this astonish at the end

Thatwhereas I can so receive and trust

Menmade with hearts and souls the same as mine

Reject and disbelieve- subordinate

The future to the present- sinnor fear.

This I refer still to the foremost fact

Life is probation and this earth no goal

But starting-point of man: compel him strive

Which meansin manas good as reach the goal-

Why institute that racehis lifeat all?

But this does overwhelm me with surprise

Touch me to terror- not that faiththe pearl

Should be let lie by fishers wanting food-

Norseen and handled by a certain few

Critical and contemptuousstraight consigned

To shore and shingle for the pebble it proves-

But thatwhen haply found and known and named

By the residue made rich for evermore

These- aythese favoured onesshould in a trice

Turnand with double zest go dredge for whelks

Mud-worms that make the savoury soup. Enough

O' the disbelieverssee the faithful few!

How do the Christians here deport themkeep

Their robes of white unspotted by the world?

What is this Aretine Archbishopthis

Man under me as I am under God

This champion of the faithI armed and decked

Pushed forwardput upon a pinnacle

To show the enemy his victor- see!

What's the best fighting when the couple close?

Pompilia cries'Protect me from the fiend!'

'Nofor thy Guido is one headystrong

Dangerous to disquiet: let him bide!

He needs some bone to mumblehelp amuse

The darkness of his den with: sothe fawn

Which limps up bleeding to my foot and lies

-Come to medaughter- thus I throw him back!'

Have we misjudged hereover-armed the knight

Given gold and silk where the plain steel serves best

Enfeebled whom we sought to fortify

Made an archbishop and undone a saint?

Well thendescend these heightsthis pride of life

Sit in the ashes with the barefoot monk

Who long ago stamped out the worldly sparks.

Fasting and watchingstone cell and wire scourge

-No such indulgence as unknits the strength-

These breed the tight nerve and tough cuticle

Let the world's praise or blame run rillet-wise

Off the broad back and brawny breastwe know!

He meets the first cold sprinkle of the world

And shudders to the marrow'Save this child?

Ohmy superiorsohthe Archbishop here!

Who was it dared lay hand upon the ark

His betters saw fall nor put finger forth?

Great ones could help yet help not: why should small?

I break my promise: let her break her heart!'

These are the Christians not the worldlingsnot

The scepticswho thus battle for the faith!

If foolish virgins disobey and sleep

What wonder? But the wise that watchthis time

Sell lamps and buy lutesexchange oil for wine

The mystic Spouse betrays the Bridegroom here.

To our last resourcethen! Since all flesh is weak

Bind weaknesses togetherwe get strength:

The individual weighedfound wantingtry

Some institutionhonest artifice

Whereby the units grow compact and firm:

Each props the otherand so stand is made

By our embodied cowards that grow brave.

The Monastery called of Convertites

Meant to help women because these helped Christ-

A thing existent only while it acts

Does as designedelse a nonentity

For what is an idea unrealized?-

Pompilia is consigned to these for help.

They do help; they are prompt to testify

To her pure life and saintly dying days.

She diesand lowho seemed so poorproves rich!

What does the body that lives through helpfulness

To women for Christ's sake? The kiss turns bite

The dove's note changes to the crow's cry: judge!

'Seeing that this our Convent claims of right

What goods belong to those we succourbe

The same proved women of dishonest life-

And seeing that this Trial made appear

Pompilia was in such predicament-

The Convent hereupon pretends to said

Succession of Pompiliaissues writ

And takes possession by the Fisc's advice.'

Such is their attestation to the cause

Of Christwho had one saint at leastthey hoped:

Butis a title-deed to filcha corpse

To slanderand an infant-heir to cheat?

Christ must give up his gains then! They unsay

All the fine speeches- who was saint is whore.

Whyscripture yields no parallel for this!

The soldiers only threw dice for Christ's coat;

We want another legend of the Twelve

Disputing if it was Christ's coat at all

Claiming as prize the woof of price- for why?

The Master was a thiefpurloined the same

Or paid for it out of the common bag!

Can it be this is end and outcomeall

I take with me to show as stewardship's fruit

The best yield of the latest timethis year

The seventeen-hundredth since God died for man?

Is such effect proportionate to cause?

And still the terror keeps on the increase

When I perceive... how can I blinkthe fact?

That the faultthe obduracy to good

Lies not with the impracticable stuff

Whence man is madehis very nature's fault

As if it were of icethe moon may gild

Not meltor stone'twas meant the sun should warm

Not make bear flowers- nor ice nor stone to blame:

But it can meltthat iceand bloomthat stone

Impassible to rule of day and night!

This terrifies methus compelled perceive

Whatever love and faith we looked should spring

At advent of the authoritative star

Which yet lie sluggishcurdled at the source-

These have leapt forth profusely in old time

These still respond with promptitude to-day

At challenge of- what unacknowledged powers

O' the airwhat uncommissioned meteorswarmth

By lawand light by rule should supersede?

For see this priestthis Caponsacchistung

At the first summons- 'Help for honour's sake

Play the manpity the oppressed!'- no pause

How does he lay about him in the midst

Strike any foeright wrong at any risk

All blindnessbravery and obedience!- blind?

Ayas a man would be inside the sun

Delirious with the plenitude of light

Should interfuse him to the finger-ends-

Let him rush straightand how shall he go wrong?

Where are the Christians in their panoply?

The loins we girt about with truththe breasts

Righteousness plated roundthe shield of faith

The helmet of salvationand that sword

O' the Spiriteven the word of God- where these?

Slunk into corners! OhI hear at once

Hubbub of protestation! 'Whatwe monks

We friarsof such an ordersuch a rule

Have not we foughtbledleft our martyr-mark

At every point along the boundary-line

'Twixt true and falsereligion and the world

Where this or the other dogma of our Church

Called for defence?' And Idespite myself

How can I but speak loud what truth speaks low

'Or better than the bestor nothing serves!

What boots deedI can cap and cover straight

With such another doughtiness to match

Done at an instinct of the natural man?'

Immolate bodysacrifice soul too-

Do not these publicans the same? Outstrip!

Or else stop raceyou boast runs neck and neck

You with the wingsthey with the feet- for shame!

OhI remark your diligence and zeal!

Five years longnowrounds faith into my ears

'Hell thouor Christendom is done to death!'

Five years sincein the Province of To-kien

Which is in China as some people know

Maigrotmy Vicar Apostolic there

Having a great qualmissues a decree.

Alackthe converts use as God's namenot

Tien-chu but plain Tien or else mere Shang-ti

As Jesuits please to fancy politic

Whilesay Dominicansit calls down fire-

For Tien means heavenand Shang-tisupreme prince

While Tien-chu means the lord of heaven: all cry

'There is no business urgent for despatch

As that thou send a legatespecially

Cardinal Tournonstraight to Pekinthere

To settle and compose the difference!'

So have I seen a potentate all fume

For some infringement of his realm's just right

Some menace to a mud-built straw-thatched farm

O' the frontierwhile inside the mainland lie

Quite undisputed- for in solitude

Whole cities plague may waste or famine sap:

What if the sun crumblethe sands encroach

While he looks on sublimely at his ease?

How does their ruin touch the empire's bound?

AND is this little all that was to be?

Where is the gloriously-decisive change

The immeasurable metamorphosis

Of human day to divine goldwe looked

Shouldin some poor sortjustify the price?

Had a mere adept of the Rosy Cross

Spent his life to consummate the Great Work

Would not we start to see the stuff it touched

Yield not a grain more than the vulgar got

By the old smelting-process years ago?

If this were sad to see in just the sage

Who should profess so muchperform no more

What is it when suspected in that Power

Who undertook to make and made the world

Devised and did effect manbody and soul

Ordained salvation for them bothand yet...

Wellis the thing we seesalvation?


Put no such dreadful question to myself

Within whose circle of experience burns

The central truthPowerWisdomGoodness- God:

I must outlive a thing ere know it dead:

When I outlive the faith there is a sun

When I lieashes to the very soul-

Someonenot Imust wail above the heap

'He died in dark whence never morn arose.'

While I see day succeed the deepest night-

How can I speak but as I know?- my speech

Must bethroughout the darkness'It will end:

The light that did burnwill burn!' Clouds obscure-

But for which obscuration all were bright?

Too hastily concluded! Sun-suffused

A cloud may soothe the eye made blind by blaze-

Better the very clarity of heaven:

The soft streaks are the beautiful and dear.

What but the weakness in a faith supplies

The incentive to humanityno strength


How can man love but what he yearns to help?

And that which men think weakness within strength

But angels know for strength and stronger yet-

What were it else but the first things made new

But repetition of the miracle

The divine instance of self-sacrifice

That never ends and aye begins for man?

Sonever I miss footing in the maze

No- I have light nor fear the dark at all.

BUT are mankind not realwho pace outside

My petty circlethe world measured me?

And when they stumble even as I stand

Have I a right to stop ears when they cry

As they were phantomstook the clouds for crags

Tripped and fellwhere the march of man might move?

Besidethe cry is other than a ghost's

When out of the old time there pleads some bard

Philosopheror both and- whispers not

But words it boldly. 'The inward work and worth

Of any mindwhat other mind may judge

Save God who only knows the thing He made

The veritable service He exacts?

It is the outward product men appraise.

Beholdan engine hoists a tower aloft:

"I looked that it should move the mountain too!"

Or else "Had just a turret toppled down

Success enough!"- may say the Machinist

Who knows what less or more result might be:

But wewho see that done we cannot do

"A feat beyond man's force" we men must say.

Regard me and that shake I gave the world!

I was bornnot so long before Christ's birth

As Christ's birth haply did precede thy day-

But many a watchbefore the star of dawn:

Therefore I lived- it is thy creed affirms

Pope Innocentwho art to answer me!-

Under conditionsnowise to escape

Whereby salvation was impossible.

Each impulse to achieve the good and fair

Each aspiration to the pure and true

Being without a warrant or an aim

Was just as sterile a felicity

As if the insectborn to spend his life

Soaring his circlesstopped them to describe

(Painfully motionless in the mid-air)

Some word of weighty counsel for man's sake

Some "Know thyself" or "Take the golden mean!"

-Forwent his happy dance and the glad ray

Died half an hour the sooner and was dust.

Iborn to perish like the brutesor worse

Why not live brutishlyobey my law?

But Iof body as of soul complete

A gymnast at the gamesphilosopher

I' the schoolswho paintedand made music- all

Glories that met upon the tragic stage

When the Third Poet's tread surprised the Two-

Whose lot fell in a land where life was great

And sense went free and beauty lay profuse

Iuntouched by one adverse circumstance

Adopted virtue as my rule of life

Waived all rewardand loved for loving's sake

Andwhat my heart taught meI taught the world

And have been teaching now two thousand years.

Witness my work- plays that should pleaseforsooth!

"They might pleasethey may displeasethey shall teach

For truth's sake" so I saidand didand do.

Five hundred years ere Paul spokeFelix heard-

How much of temperance and righteousness

Judgment to comedid I find reason for

Corroborate with my strong style that spared

No sinnor swerved the more from branding brow

Because the sinner was called Zeus and God?

How nearly did I guess at that Paul knew?

How closely comein what I represent

As dutyto his doctrine yet a blank?

And as that limner not untruly limns

Who draws an object round or squarewhich square

Or round seems to the unassisted eye

Though Galileo's tube display the same

Oval or oblong- sowho controverts

I rendered rightly what proves wrongly wrought

Beside Paul's picture? Mine was true for me.

I saw that there arefirst and above all

The hidden forcesblind necessities

Named Naturebut the thing's self unconceived:

Then follow- how dependent upon these

We know nothow imposed above ourselves

We well know- what I name the godsa power

Various or one; for great and strong and good

Is thereand littleweak and bad there too

Wisdom and folly: saythese make no God-

What is it else that rules outside man's self?

A fact then- alwaysto the naked eye-

Andsothe one revealment possible

Of what were unimagined else by man.

Thereforewhat gods doman may criticize

Applaudcondemn- how should he fear the truth?

But likewise have in awe because of power

Venerate for the main munificence

And give the doubtful deed its due excuse

From the acknowledged creature of a day

To the Eternal and Divine. Thusbold

Yet self-mistrustingshould man bear himself

Most assured on what now concerns him most-

The law of his own lifethe path he prints-

Which law is virtue and not viceI say-

And least inquisitive where least search skills

I' the nature we best give the clouds to keep.

What could I paint beyond a scheme like this

Out of the fragmentary truths where light

Lay fitful in a tenebrific time?

You have the sunrise nowjoins truth to truth

Shoots life and substance into death and void;

Themselves compose the whole we made before:

The forces and necessity grow God-

The beings so contrarious that seemed gods

Prove just His operation manifold

And multiformtranslatedas must be

Into intelligible shape so far

As suits our sense and sets us free to feel:

What if I let a child thinkchildhood-long

That lightningI would have him spare his eye

Is a real arrow shot at naked orb?

The man knows morebut shuts his lids the same:

Lightning's cause comprehends nor man nor child.

Why thenmy schemeyour better knowledge broke

Presently readjusts itselfthe small

Proportioned largelierparts and whole named new:

So muchno more two thousand years have done!

Popedost thou dare pretend to punish me

For not descrying sunshine at midnight

Me who crept all-foursfound my way so far-

While thou rewardest teachers of the truth

Who miss the plain way in the blaze of noon-

Though just a word from that strong style of mine

Grasped honestly in hand as guiding-staff

Had pricked them a sure path across the bog

That mire of cowardice and slush of lies

Wherein I find them wallow in wide day?'

HOW should I answer this Euripides?

Paul- 'tis a legend- answered Seneca

But that was in the day-spring; noon is now

We have got too familiar with the light.

Shall I wish back once more that thrill of dawn?

When the whole truth-touched man burned upone fire?

-Assured the trialfieryfiercebut fleet

Wouldfrom his little heap of asheslend

Wings to the conflagration of the world

Which Christ awaits ere He make all things new-

So should the frail become the perfectrapt

From glory of pain to glory of joy; and so

Even in the end- the act renouncing earth

Landshouseshusbandswives and children here-

Begin that other act which finds alllost

Regainedin this time evena hundredfold

Andin the next timefeels the finite love

Blent and embalmed with its eternal life.

So does the sun ghastlily seem to sink

In those north partslean all but out of life

Desist a dread mere breathing-stopthen slow

Reassert daybegin the endless rise.

Was this too easy for our after-stage?

Was such a lighting-up of faithin life

Only allowed initiateset man's step

In the true way by help of the great glow?

Away wherein it is ordained he walk

Bearing to see the light from heaven still more

And more encroached on by the light of earth

Tentatives earth puts forth to rival heaven

Earthly incitements that mankind serve God

For man's sole sakenot God's and therefore man's

Till at lastwho distinguishes the sun

From a mere Druid fire on a far mount?

More praise to him who with his subtle prism

Shall decompose both beams and name the true.

In such sensewho is last proves first indeed;

For how could saints and martyrs fail see truth

Streak the night's blackness? Who is faithful now

Untwists heaven's pure white from the yellow flare

O' the world's gross torchwithout a foil to help

Produce the Christian actso possible

When in the way stood Nero's cross and stake-

So hard now that the world smiles 'Rightly done!

It is the politicthe thrifty way

Will clearly make you in the end returns

Beyond our fool's-sport and improvidence:

We fools go thro' the cornfield of this life

Pluck ears to left and right and swallow raw

-Naytreadat pleasurea sheaf underfoot

To get the better at some poppy-flower-

Well aware we shall have so much wheat less

In the eventual harvest: you meantime

Waste not a spike- the richlier will you reap!

What then? There will be always garnered meal

Sufficient for our comfortable loaf

While you enjoy the undiminished prize!'

Is it not this ignoble confidence

Cowardly hardihoodthat dulls and damps

Makes the old heroism impossible?

UNLESS... what whispers me of times to come?

What if it be the mission of that age

My death will usher into lifeto shake

This torpor of assurance from our creed

Re-introduce the doubt discardedbring

The formidable danger backwe drove

Long ago to the distance and the dark?

No wild beast now prowls round the infant camp;

We have built wall and sleep in city safe:

But if the earthquake try the towersthat laugh

To think they once saw lions rule outside

Till man stand out againpaleresolute

Prepared to die- that isalive at last?

As we broke up that old faith of the world

Have wenext ageto break up this the new-

Faithin the thinggrown faith in the report-

Whence need to bravely disbelieve report

Through increased faith in thing reports belie?

Must we deny- do theythese Molinists

At peril of their body and their soul-

Recognized truthsobedient to some truth

Unrecognized yetbut perceptible?-

Correct the portrait by the living face

Man's Godby God's God in the mind of man?

Thenfor the few that rise to the new height

The many that must sink to the old depth

The multitude found fall away! A few

E'en ere the new law speak clearkeep the old

Preserve the Christian levelcall good good

And evil evil(even though razed and blank

The old titles stand) thro' customhabitude

And all they may mistake for finer sense

O' the fact than reason warrants- as before

They hope perhapsfear not impossibly.

Surely some one Pompilia in the world

Will say 'I know the right place by foot's feel

I took it and tread firm there; wherefore change?'

But what a multitude will fallperchance

Quite through the crumbling truth subjacent late

Sink to the next discoverable base

Rest upon human naturetake their stand

On what is factthe lust and pride of life!

The mass of menwhose very souls even now

Seem to need re-creating- so they slink

Worm-like into the mud light now lays bare-

Whose future we dispose of with shut eyes

'They are baptized- graftedthe barren twigs

Into the living stock of Christ: may bear

One daytill when they lie death-likenot dead'-

Those who with all the aid of Christ lie thus

Howwithout Christwhitherunaidedsink?

What but to this rehearsed before my eyes?

Do not we endthe century and I?

The impatient antimasque treads close on kibe

O' the very masque's self it will mock- on me

Last lingering personagethe impatient mime

Pushes already- will I block the way?

Will my slow trail of garments ne'er leave space

For pantaloonsockplume and castanet?

Here comes the first experimentalist

In the new order of things- he plays a priest;

Does he take inspiration from the Church

Directly make her rule his law of life?

Not he: his own mere impulse guides the man-

Happily sometimessince ourselves admit

He has dancedin gaiety of hearti' the main

The right step in the maze we bade him foot.

What if his heart had prompted to break loose

And mar the measure? Whywe must submit

And thank the chance that brought him safely through.

Will he repeat the prodigy? Perhaps.

Can he teach others how to quit themselves

Prove why this step was rightwhile that were wrong?

How should he? 'Ask your hearts as I asked mine

And get discreetly through the morrice so;

If your hearts misdirect you- quit the stage

And make amends- be there amends to make.'

Such isfor the Augustine that was once

This Canon Caponsacchi we see now.

'And my heart answers to another tune'

Puts in the Abatesecond in the suite

'I have my taste tooand tread no such step!

You choose the glorious lifeand mayfor me

Who like the lowest of life's appetites-

What you judge- but the very truth of joy

To my own apprehension which must judge.

Call me knave and you get yourself called fool!

I live for greedambitionlustrevenge;

Attain these ends by forceguile: hypocrite

To-dayperchance to-morrow recognized

The rational manthe type of common sense.'

There's Loyola adapted to our time!

Under such guidance Guido plays his part

He also influencing in due turn

These last clods where I track intelligence

By any glimmerthose four at his beck

Ready to murder anyandat their own

As ready to murder him- these are the world!

Andfirst effect of the new cause of things

There they lie also duly- the old pair

Of the weak head and not so wicked heart

And the one Christian motherwife and girl

Which three gifts seem to make an angel up-

The first foot of the dance is on their heads!

STILL I stand herenot off the stage though close

On the exit: and my last actas my first

I owe the sceneand Him who armed me thus

With Paul's sword as with Peter's key. I smite

With my whole strength once morethen end my part

Endingso far as man maythis offence.

And when I raise my armwhat plucks my sleeve?

Who stops me in the righteous function- foe

Or friend? Ostill as everfriends are they

Whoin the interest of outraged truth

Deprecate such rough handling of a lie!

The facts being proved and incontestable

What is the last word I must listen to?

Is it 'Spare yet a term this barren stock

We pray thee dig about and dung and dress

Till he repent and bring forth fruit even yet?'

Is it 'So poor and swift a punishment

Shall throw him out of life with all that sin?

Let mercy rather pile up pain on pain

Till the flesh expiate what the soul pays else?'

Nowise! Remonstrance on all sides begins

Instruct methere's a new tribunal now

Higher than God's- the educated man's!

Nice sense of honour in the human breast

Supersedes here the old coarse oracle-

Confirming handsomely a point or so

Wherein the predecessor worked aright

By rule of thumb: as when Christ said- whenwhere?

EnoughI find it in a pleading here-

'All other wrongs donepatiently I take:

But touch my honour and the case is changed!

I feel the due resentment- nemini

Honorem tradois my quick retort.'

Right of Himjust as if pronounced to-day!

Stillshould the old authority be mute

Or doubtfulor in speaking clash with new

The younger takes permission to decide.

At last we have the instinct of the world

Ruling its household without tutelage

And while the two lawshuman and divine

Have busied finger with this tangled case

In the brisk junior pushescuts the knot

Pronounces for acquittal. How it trips

Silverly o'er the tongue! 'Remit the death!

Forgive... wellin the old wayif thou please

Decency and the relics of routine

Respected- let the Count go free as air!

Since he may plead a priest's immunity-

The minor orders help enough for that

With Farinacci's licence- who decides

That the mere implication of such man

So privilegedin any causebefore

Whatever court except the Spiritual

Straight quashes the procedure- quash itthen!

It proves a pretty loophole of escape

Moreoverthatbeside the patent fact

O' the law's allowancethere's involved the weal

O' the Popedom: a son's privilege at stake

Thou wilt pretend the Church's interest

Ignore all finer reasons to forgive!

But herein lies the proper cogency-

(Let thy friends teach thee while thou tellest beads)

That in this case the spirit of culture speaks

Civilization is imperative.

To her shall we remand all delicate points

Henceforthnor take irregular advice

O' the slyas heretofore: she used to hint

Apologies when law was out of sorts

Because a saucy tongue was put to rest

An eye that roved was cured of arrogance:

But why be forced to mumble under breath

What soon shall be acknowledged the plain fact

Outspokensayin thy successor's time?

Methinks we see the golden age return!

Civilization and the Emperor

Succeed thy Christianity and Pope.

One Emperor thenas one Pope now: meanwhile

She anticipates a little to tell thee "Take

Count Guido's lifeand sap society

Whereof the main prop wasisand shall prove

-Supremacy of husband over wife!"

Shall the man rule i' the houseor may his mate

Because of any plea dispute the same?

Ohpleas of all sorts shall aboundbe sure

If once allowed validity- forharsh

And savageforinept and silly-sooth

Forthis and thatwill the ingenious sex

Demonstrate the best master e'er graced slave:

And there's but one short way to end the coil-

By giving right and reason steadily

To the man and master: then the wife submits.

There it is broadly stated- nor the time

Admits we shift- a pillar? naya stake

Out of its place i' the tenementone touch

Whereto may send a shudder through the heap

And bring it toppling on our heads perchance.

Moreoverif this breed a qualm in thee

Give thine own feelings play for once- deal death?

Thouwhose own life winks o'er the socket-edge

Would'st thou it went out in such ugly snuff

As dooming sons to deaththough justice bade?

Whyon a certain feastBarabbas' self

Was set free not to cloud the general cheer.

Neither shalt thou pollute thy Sabbath close!

Mercy is safe and graceful. How one hears

The howl beginscarce the three little taps

O' the silver mallet ended on thy brow-

"His last act was to sacrifice a Count

And thereby screen a scandal of the Church!

Guido condemnedthe Canon justified

Of course- delinquents of his cloth go free!"

And so the Luthers and the Calvins come

So thy hand helps Molinos to the chair

Whence he may hold forth till doom's day on just

These petit-maitre priestlings- in the choir

Sanctus et Benedictuswith a brush

Of soft guitar-strings that obey the thumb

Touched by the bedsidefor accompaniment!

Does this give umbrage to a husband? Death

To the fooland to the priest impunity!

But no impunity to any friend

So simply over-loyal as these four

Who made religion of their patron's cause

Believed in him and did his bidding straight

Asked not one question but laid down the lives

This Pope took- all four lives together made

Just his own length of days- sodead they lie

As these were times when loyalty's a drug

And zeal in a subordinate too cheap

And common to be saved when we spend life!

Come'tis too much good breath we waste in words:

The pardonHoly Father! Spare grimace

Shrugs and reluctance! Are not we the world

Bid theeour Priamlet soft culture plead

Hecuba-like"non tali" (Virgil serves)

"Auxilio" and the rest! Enoughit works!

The Pope relaxesand the Prince is loth

The father's bowels yearnthe man's will bends

Reply is apt. Our tears on tremblehearts

Big with a benedictionwait the word

Shall circulate thro' the city in a trice

Set every window flaringgive each man

O' the mob his torch to wave for gratitude.

Pronounce itfor our breath and patience fail!'

I WILLSirs: for a voice other than yours

Quickens my spirit. 'Quis pro Domino?

Who is upon the Lord's side?' asked the Count.

Iwho write-

'On receipt of this command

Acquaint Count Guido and his fellows four

They die to-morrow: could it be to-night

The betterbut the work to dotakes time.

Set with all diligence a scaffold up

Not in the customary placeby Bridge

Saint Angelowhere die the common sort;

But since the man is nobleand his peers

By predilection haunt the People's Square

There let him be beheaded in the midst

And his companions hanged on either side:

So shall the quality seefear and learn.

All which work takes time: till to-morrowthen

Let there be prayer incessant for the five!'

FOR the main criminal I have no hope

Except in such a suddenness of fate.

I stood at Naples oncea night so dark

I could have scarce conjectured there was earth

Anywheresky or sea or world at all:

But the night's black was burst through by a blaze-

Thunder struck blow on blowearth groaned and bore

Through her whole length of mountain visible:

There lay the city thick and plain with spires

Andlike a ghost disshroudedwhite the sea.

So may the truth be flashed out by one blow

And Guido seeone instantand be saved.

Else I avert my facenor follow him

Into that sad obscure sequestered state

Where God unmakes but to remake the soul

He else made first in vain; which must not be.

Enoughfor I may die this very night

And how should I dare diethis man let live?

Carry this forthwith to the Governor!

XI: Guido

YOU ARE the Cardinal Acciaiuoliand you

Abate Panciatichi- two good Tuscan names:

Acciaiuoli- ahyour ancestor it was

Built the huge battlemented convent-block

Over the little forky flashing Greve

That takes the quick turn at the foot o' the hill

Just as one first sees Florence: oh those days!

'Tis Emathoughthe other rivulet

The one-archedbrown brick bridge yawns over- yes

Gallop and go five minutesand you gain

The Roman Gate from where the Ema's bridged:

Kingfishers fly there: how I see the bend

O'erturreted by Certosa which he built

That Senescal (we styled him) of your House!

I do adjure youhelp meSirs! My blood

Comes from as far a source: ought it to end

This wayby leakage through their scaffold-planks

Into Rome's sink where her red refuse runs?

SirsI beseech you by blood-sympathy

If there be any vile experiment

In the air- if this your visit simply prove

When all's donejust a well-intentioned trick

That tries for truth truer than truth itself

By startling up a manere break of day

To tell him he must die at sunset- pshaw!

That man's a Franceschini; feel his pulse

Laugh at your follyand let's all go sleep!

You have my last word- innocent am I

As Innocent my Pope and murderer

Innocent as a babeas Mary's own

As Mary's self- I saidsay and repeat-

And whythenshould I die twelve hours hence? I-

Whomnot twelve hours agothe gaoler bade

Turn to my straw-trusssettle and sleep sound

That I might wake the soonerpromptlier pay

His dues of meat-and-drink-indulgencecross

His palm with fee of the good-handbeside

As gallants use who go at large again!

For why? All honest Rome approved my part;

Whoever owned wifesisterdaughter- nay

Mistress- had any shadow of any right

That looks like rightandall the more resolved

Held it with tooth and nail- these manly men

Approved! I being for RomeRome was for me!

Thenthere's the point reservedthe subterfuge

My lawyers held bykept for last resource

Firm should all else- the impossible fancy!- fail-

And sneaking burgess-spirit win the day:

The knaves! One plea at least would holdthey laughed

One grappling-iron scratch the bottom-rock

Even should the middle mud let anchor go-

And hook my cause on to the Clergy's- plea

Whicheven if law tipped off my hat and plume

Would show my priestly tonsuresave me so-

The Pope moreoverthis old Innocent

Being so meek and mild and merciful

So fond o' the poor and so fatigued of earth

So... fifty thousand devils in deepest hell!

Why must he cure us of our strange conceit

Of the angel in man's likenessthat we loved

And looked should help us at a pinch? He help?

He pardon? Here's his mind and message- death

Thank the good Pope! Nowis he good in this

Never mindChristian- no such stuff's extant-

But will my death do credit to his reign

Show he both lived and let liveso was good?

Cannot I live if he but like? 'The law!'

Whyjust the law gives him the very chance

The precise leave to let my life alone

Which the angelic soul of him (he says)

Yearns after! Here they drop it in his palm

My lawyerscapital o' the cursed kind-

A life to take and hold and keep: but no!

He sighsshakes headrefuses to shut hand

Motions away the gift they bid him grasp

And of the coyness comes that off I run

And down I gohe best knows whither- mind

He knowsand sets me rolling all the same!

Disinterested Vicar of our Lord

This way he abrogates and disallows

Nullifies and ignores- reverts in fine

To the good and rightin detriment of me!

Talk away! Will you have the naked truth?

He's sick of his life's supper- swallowed lies:

Sohobbling bedwardneeds must ease his maw

Just where I sit o' the door-sill. Sir Abate

Can you do nothing? Friendswe used to frisk:

What of this sudden slash in a friend's face

This cut across our good companionship

That showed its front so gay when both were young?

Were not we put into a beaten path

Bid pace the worldwe nobles born and bred

The body of friends with each his scutcheon full

Of old achievement and impunity-

Taking the laugh of morn and Sol's salute

As forth we faredpricked on to breathe our steeds

And take equestrian sport over the green

Under the blueacross the crop- what care?

So we went prancing up hill and down dale

In and out of the level and the straight

By the bit of pleasant byewaywhere was harm?

Still Sol salutes me and the morning laughs:

I see my grandsire's hoof-prints- point the spot

Where he drew reinslipped saddleand stabbed knave

For daring throw gibe- much lessstone- from pale

Then backand onand up with the cavalcade;

Just so wend wenow canternow converse

Till'mid the jauncing pride and jaunty port

Something of a sudden jerks at somebody-

A dagger is outa flashing cut and thrust

Because I play some prank my grandsire played

And here I sprawl: where is the company? Gone!

A trot and a trample! only I lie trapped

Writhe in a certain novel springe just set

By the good old Pope: I'm first prize. Warn me? Why?

Apprize me that the law o' the game is changed?

Enough that I'm a warningas I writhe

To all and each my fellows of the file

And make law plain henceforward past mistake

'For such a prankdeath is the penalty!'

Pope the Five Hundredth... what do I know or care?

Deputes your Eminence and Abateship

To announce thattwelve hours from this timehe needs

I just essay upon my body and soul

The virtue of his bran-new engineprove

Represser of the pranksome! I'm the first!

Thanks. Do you know what teeth you mean to try

The sharpness ofon this soft neck and throat?

I know it- I have seen and hate it- ay

As you shallwhile I tell you: let me talk

Or leave meat your pleasure! talk I must:

What is your visit but my lure to talk?

You have a something to disclose?- a smile

At end of the forced sternnessmeans to mock

The heart-beats here? I call your two hearts stone!

Is your charge to stay with me till I die?

Be tacit as your benchthen! Use your ears

I use my tongue: how glibly yours will run

At pleasant supper-time... God's curse!... to-night

When all the guests jump upbegin so brisk

'Welcomehis Eminence who shrived the wretch!

Now we shall have the Abate's story!'


How I could spill this overplus of mine

Among those hoar-hairedshrunk-shankedodds and ends

Of body and soulold age is chewing dry!

Those windle-straws that stare while purblind death

Mows heremows theremakes hay of juicy me

And missesjust the bunch of withered weed

Would brighten hell and streak its smoke with flame!

How the life I could shed yet never shrink

Would drench their stalks with sap like grass in May!

Is it not terribleI entreat youSirs?

Such manifold and plenitudinous life

Prompt at death's menace to give blow for threat

Answer his 'Be thou not!' by 'Thus I am!'-

Terrible so to be alive yet die?

HOW I livehow I see! so- how I speak!

Lucidity of soul unlocks the lips:

I never had the words at will before.

How I see all my folly at a glance!

'A man requires a woman and a wife:'

There was my folly; I believed the saw:

I knew that just myself concerned myself

Yet needs must look for what I seemed to lack

In a woman- whythe woman's in the man!

Fools we arehow we learn things when too late!

Overmuch life turns round my woman-side;

The male and female in memixed before

Settle of a sudden: I'm my wife outright

In this unmanly appetite for truth

This careless courage as to consequence

This instantaneous sight through things and through

This voluble rhetoricif you please- 'tis she!

Here you have that Pompilia whom I slew

Also the folly for which I slew her!


Andfool-likewhat is it I wander from?

Whatof the sharpness of your iron tooth?

Ah- that I know the hateful thing: this way.

I chanced to stroll forthmany a good year gone

One warm Spring eve in Romeand unaware

Lookingmayhapto count what stars were out

Came on your huge axe in a framethat falls

And so cuts off a man's head underneath

Mannaia- thus we made acquaintance first

Out of the wayin a bye-part o' the town

At the Mouth-of-Truth o' the river-sideyou know:

One goes by the Capitol: and wherefore coy

Retiring out of crowded noisy Rome?

Because a very little time ago

It had done servicechopped off head from trunk

Belonging to a fellow whose poor house

The thing had made a point to stand before.

Felice Whatsoever-was-the-name

Who stabled buffaloes and so gained bread

(Our clowns unyoke them in the ground hard by)

Andafter use of much improper speech

Had struck at Duke Some-title-or-other's face

Because he kidnappedcarried away and kept

Felice's sister that would sit and sing

I' the filthy doorway while she plaited fringe

To deck the brutes with- on their gear it goes-

The good girl with the velvet in her voice.

So did the Dukeso did Feliceso

Did Justiceintervening with her axe.

There the man-mutilating engine stood

At easeboth gay and grimlike a Swiss guard

Off duty- purified itself as well

Getting drysweet and proper for next week-

And doing incidental good'twas hoped

To the rough lesson-lacking populace

Who now and thenforsoothmust right their wrongs!

There stood the twelve of scaffoldrailed

Considerately round to elbow-height:

(Suppose an officer should tumble thence

And sprain his ankle and be lame a month

Through starting when the axe fell and head too?)

Railed likewise were the steps whereby 'twas reached.

All of it painted red: redin the midst

Ran up two narrow tall beams barred across

Since from the summitsome twelve feet to reach

The iron plate with the sharp shearing edge

Had... slammedjerkedshot or slid- I shall find which!

There it lay quietfast in its fit place

The wooden half-moon collarnow eclipsed

By the blade which blocked its curvature: apart

The other half- the under half-moon board

Whichhelped by thiscompletes a neck's embrace-

Joined to a sort of desk that wheels aside

Out of the way when done with- down you kneel

In you're wheeledover you the other drops

Tight you are clippedwhizthere's the blade on you

Out trundles bodydown flops head on floor

And where's your soul gone? ThattooI shall find!

This kneeling-place was redrednever fear!

But only slimy-like with paintnot blood

For why? a decent pitcher stood at hand

A broad dish to hold sawdustand a broom

By some unnamed utensil- scraper-rake-

Each with a conscious air of duty done.

Underneathloungers- boys and some few men-

Discoursed this platter and the other tool

Just aswhen grooms tie up and dress a steed

Boys lounge and look onand elucubrate

What the round brush is used forwhat the square-

So was explained- to me the skill-less man-

The manner of the grooming for next world

Undergone by Felice What's-his-name.

There's no such lovely month in Rome as May-

May's crescent is no half-moon of red plank

And came now tilting o'er the wave i' the west

One greenish-golden searight 'twixt those bars

Of the engine- I began acquaintance with

Understoodhatedhurried from before

To have it out of sight and cleanse my soul!

Here it is all againconserved for use:

Twelve hours hence I may know morenot hate worse.

That young May-moon-month! Devils of the deep!

Was not a Pope then Pope as much as now?

Used not he chirrup o'er the Merry Tales

Chuckle- his nephew so exact the wag

To play a jealous cullion such a trick

As wins the wife i' the pleasant story! Well?

Why do things change? Wherefore is Rome un-Romed?

I tell youere Felice's corpse was cold

The dukethat nightthrew wide his palace-doors

Received the compliments o' the quality

For justice done him- bowed and smirked his best

And in return passed round a pretty thing

A portrait of Felice's sister's self

Florid old rogue Albano's masterpiece

As- better than virginity in rags-

Bouncing Europa on the back o' the bull:

They laughed and took their road the safelier home.

Ahbut times changethere's quite another Pope

I do the Duke's deedtake Felice's place

Andbeing no Felicelout and clout

Stomach but ill the phrase 'I lose my head!'

How euphemistic! Lose what? Lose your ring

Your snuff-boxtabletskerchief!- butyour head?

I learnt the process at an early age;

'Twas useful knowledge in those same old days

To know the way a head is set on neck.

My fencing-master urged 'Would you excel?

Rest not content with mere bold give-and-guard

Nor pink the antagonist somehow-anyhow-

See me dissect a littleand know your game!

Only anatomy makes a thrust the thing.'

Oh Cardinalthose lithe live necks of ours!

Here go the vertebraehere's Atlashere

Axisand here the symphyses stop short

So wisely and well- aso'er a corpsewe cant-

And here's the silver cord which... what's our word?

Depends from the gold bowlwhich loosed (not 'lost')

Lets us from heaven to hell- one chopwe're loose!

'And not much pain i' the process' quoth the sage:

Who told him? Not Felice's ghostI think!

Such 'losing' is scarce Mother Nature's mode.

She fain would have cord ease itself away

Worn to a thread by threescore years and ten

Snap while we slumber: that seems bearable:

I'm told one clot of blood extravasate

Ends one as certainly as Roland's sword-

One drop of lymph suffused proves Oliver's mace-

Intrudingeither of the pleasant pair

On the arachnoid tunic of my brain.

That's Nature's way of loosing cord!- but Art

How of Art's process with the engine here?

When bowl and cord alike are crushed across

Bored betweenbruised through? Whyif Fagon's self

The French Court's pridethat famed practitioner

Would pass his cold pale lightning of a knife

Pistoja-wareadroit 'twixt joint and joint

With just a 'See how facilegentlefolks!'-

The thing were not so bad to bear! Brute force

Cuts as he comesbreaks inbreaks onbreaks out

O' the hard and soft of you: is that the same?

A lithe snake thrids the hedgemakes throb no leaf:

A heavy ox sets chest to brier and branch

Bursts somehow throughand leaves one hideous hole

Behind him!

And whywhy must this needs be?

Ohif men were but good! They are not good

Nowise like Peter: people called him rough

But ifas I left RomeI spoke the Saint

-'Petrusquo vadis?' - doubtlessI should hear

'To free the prisoner and forgive his fault!

I plucked the absolute dead from God's own bar

And raised up Dorcas- why not rescue thee?'

What would cost one such nullifying word?

If Innocent succeeds to Peter's place

Let him think Peter's thoughtspeak Peter's speech!

I sayhe is bound to it: friendshow say you?

Concede I be all one bloodguiltiness

And mystery of murder in the flesh

Why should that fact keep the Pope's mouth shut fast?

He execrates my crime- good!- sees hell yawn

One inch from the red plank's end which I press-

Nothing is better! What's the consequence?

How does a Pope proceed that knows his cue?

Whyleaves me linger out my minute here

Since close on death come judgment and the doom

Nor cribs at dawn its pittance from a sheep

Destined ere dewfall to be butcher's-meat!

ThinkSirsif I had done you any harm

And you require the natural revenge

Supposeand so intend to poison me

-Just as you take and slip into my draught

The paperful of powder that clears scores

You notice on my brow a certain blue:

How you both overset the wine at once!

How you both smile! 'Our enemy has the plague!

Twelve hours hence he'll be scraping his bones bare

Of that intolerable fleshand die

Frenzied with pain: no need for poison here!

Step aside and enjoy the spectacle!'

Tender for souls are youPope Innocent!

Christ's maxim is- one soul outweighs the world:

Respite mesave a soulthencurse the world!

'No' venerable sireI hear you smirk

'No: for Christ's gospel changes namesnot things

Renews the obsoletedoes nothing more!

Our fire-new gospel is retinkered law

Our mercyjustice- Jove's rechristened God-

Naywhereasin the popular conceit

'Tis pity that old harsh Law somehow limps

Lingers on earthalthough Law's day be done-

Else would benignant Gospel interpose

Not furtively as nowbut bold and frank

O'erflutter us with healing in her wings-

Law is all harshnessGospel were all love!-

We like to put iton the contrary-

Gospel takes up the rod which Law lets fall;

Mercy is vigilant when justice sleeps;

Does Law let Guido taste the Gospel-grace?

The secular arm allow the spiritual power

To act for once?- what compliment so fine

As that the Gospel handsomely be harsh

Thrust back Law's victim on the nice and coy?'

Yesyou do say so- else you would forgive

Mewhom Law dares not touch but tosses you!

Don't think to put on the professional face!

You know what I know- casuists as you are

Each nerve must creepeach hair startsting and stand

At such illogical inconsequence!

Dear my friendsdo but see! A murder's tried

There are two parties to the cause: I'm one

-Defend myselfas somebody must do:

I have the best o' the battle: that's a fact

Simple fact- fancies find no place beside:

What though half Rome condemned me? Half approved:

Andnone disputesthe luck is mine at last

All Romei' the mainacquits me: whereupon

What has the Pope to ask but 'How finds Law?'

'I find' replies Law'I have erred this while:

Guilty or guiltlessGuido proves a priest

No layman: he is therefore yoursnot mine:

I bound him: loose himyou whose will is Christ's!'

And now what does this Vicar of the Lord

Shepherd o' the flock- one of whose charge bleats sore

For crook's help from the quag wherein it drowns?

Law suffers him put forth the crumpled end-

His pleasure is to turn staffuse the point

And thrust the shuddering sheep he calls a wolf

Back and backdown and down to where hell gapes!

'Guiltless' cries Law- 'Guilty' corrects the Pope!

'Guilty' for the whim's sake! 'Guilty' he somehow thinks

And anyhow says: 'tis truth; he dares not lie!

Others should do the lying. That's the cause

Brings you both here: I ought in decency

Confess to you that I deserve my fate

Am guiltyas the Pope thinks- ayto the end

Keep up the jestlie onlie everlie

I' the latest gasp of me! What reasonSirs?

Because to-morrow will succeed to-day

For youthough not for me: and if I stick

Still to the truthdeclare with my last breath

I die an innocent and murdered man-

Whythere's the tongue of Rome will wag apace

This time to-morrow- don't I hear the talk!

'Soto the last he proved impenitent?

Pagans have said as much of martyred saints!

Law demurredwashed her hands of the whole case.

Prince Somebody said thisDuke Somethingthat.

Doubtless the man's deaddead enoughdon't fear!

Buthang itwhat if there have been a spice

A touch of... eh? You seethe Pope's so old

Some of us addobtuse- age never slips

The chance of shoving youth to face death first!'

And so on. Therefore to suppress such talk

You two come hereentreat I tell you lies

And endthe edifying way. I end

Telling the truth! Your self-styled shepherd thieves!

A thief- and how thieves hate the wolves we know:

Damage to theftdamage to thriftall's one!

The red hand is sworn foe of the black jaw!

That's only naturalthat's right enough:

But why the wolf should compliment the thief

With the shepherd's titlebark out life in thanks

Andspitelesslick the prong that spits him- eh

Cardinal? My Abatescarcely thus!

Therelet my sheepskin-garba curse on'tgo-

Leave my teeth free if I must show my shag!

Repent? What good shall follow? If I pass

Twelve hours repentingwill that fact hook fast

The thirteenth at the horrid dozen's end?

If I fall forthwith at your feetgnashtear

Foamraveto give your story the due grace

Will that assist the engine half-way back

Into its hiding-house?- boardsshaking now

Bone against bonelike some old skeleton bat

That wantsnow winter's deadto wake and prey!

Will howling put the spectre back to sleep?

Ahbut I misconceive your objectSirs!

Since I want new life like the creature- life

Being done with herebegins i' the world away:

I shall next have 'Comemortalsand be judged!'

There's but a minute betwixt this and then:

Soquickbe sorry since it saves my soul!

Sirstruth shall save itsince no lies assist!

Hear the truthyouwhatever you style yourselves

Civilization and society!

Comeone good grappleI with all the world!

Dying in cold blood is the desperate thing;

The angry heart explodesbears off in blaze

The indignant souland I'm combustion-ripe.

Whyyou intend to do your worst with me!

That's in your eyes! You dare no more than death

And mean no less. I must make up my mind!

So Pietro- when I chased him here and there

Morsel by morsel cut away the life

I loathed- cried for just respite to confess

And save his soul: much respite did I grant!

Why grant me respite who deserve my doom?

Me- who engaged to play a prizefight you

Knowing your armsand foil youtrick for trick

At rapier-fenceyour match andmay bemore.

I knew that if I chose sin certain sins

Solace my lusts out of the regular way

Prescribed meI should find you in the path

Have to try skill with a redoubted foe;

You would lungeI would parryand make end.

At lastoccasion of a murder comes:

We cross bladesIfor all my bragbreak guard

And in goes the cold iron at my breast

Out at my backand end is made of me.

You stand confessed the adroiter swordsman- ay

But on your triumph you increaseit seems

Want more of me than lying flat on face:

I ought to raise my ruined headallege

Not simply I pushed worse blade o' the pair

But my antagonist dispensed with steel!

There was no passage of armsyou looked me low

With brow and eye abolished cut-and-thrust

Nor used the vulgar weapon! This chance scratch

This incidental hurtthis sort of hole

I' the heart of me? I stumbledgot it so!

Fell on my own sword as a bungler may!

Yourself proscribe such heathen toolsand trust

To the naked virtue: it was virtue stood

Unarmed and awed me- on my brow there burned

Crime out so plainlyintolerablyred

That I was fain to cry- 'Down to the dust

With meand bury there browbrand and all!'

Law had essayed the adventure- but what's Law?

Morality exposed the Gorgon-shield!

Morality and Religion conquer me.

If Law sufficed would you come hereentreat

I supplement lawand confess forsooth?

Did not the Trial show things plain enough?

'Ahbut a word of the man's very self

Would somehow put the keystone in its place

And crown the arch!' Then take the word you want!

I SAY thatlong agowhen things began

All the world made agreementsuch and such

Were pleasure-giving profit-bearing acts

But henceforth extra-legalnor to be:

You must not kill the man whose death would please

And profit youunless his life stop yours

Plainlyand need so be put aside:

Get the thing by a public courseby law

Only no private bloodshed as of old!

All of usfor the good of every one

Renounced such licence and conformed to law:

Who breaks lawbreaks pactthereforehelps himself

To pleasure and profit over and above the due

And must pay forfeit- pain beyond his share:

For pleasure is the sole good in the world

Anyone's pleasure turns to someone's pain

Solet law watch for everyone- say we

Who call things wicked that give too much joy

And nickname the reprisalenvy makes

Punishment: quite right! thus the world goes round.

Ibeing well aware such pact there was

Who in my time have found advantage too

In law's observance and crime's penalty-

Whobut for wholesome fear law bred in friends

Had doubtless given example long ago

Furnished forth some friend's pleasure with my pain

Andby my deathpieced out his scanty life-

I could notfor that foolish life of me

Help risking law's infringement- I broke bond

And needs must pay price- whereforehere's my head

Flung with a flourish! Butrepentance too?

But pure and simple sorrow for law's breach

Rather than blunderer's-ineptitude?

Cardinalno! Abatescarcely thus!

'Tis the faultnot that I dared try a fall

With Law and straightway am found undermost

But that I fail to seeabove man's law

God's precept youthe Christians recognize?

Colly my cow! Don't fidgetCardinal!

Abatecross your breast and count your beads

And exorcize the devilfor here he stands

And stiffens in the bristly nape of neck

Daring you drive him hence! YouChristians both?

I sayif ever was such faith at all

Born in the worldby your community

Suffered to live its little tick of time

'Tis dead of age nowludicrously dead;

Honour its ashesif you be discreet

In epitaph only! Forconcede its death

Allow extinctionyou may boast unchecked

What feats the thing did in a crazy land

At a fabulous epoch- treat your faiththat way

Just as you treat your relics: 'Here's a shred

Of saintly flesha scrap of blessed bone

Raised King Cophetuawho was deadto life

In Mesopotamy twelve centuries since

Such was its virtue!'- twangs the Sacristan

Holding the shrine-box upwith hands like feet

Because of gout in every finger-joint:

Does he bethink him to reduce one knob

Allay one twinge by touching what he vaunts?

I think he half uncrooks fist to catch fee

Butfor the gracethe quality of cure-

Cophetua was the man put that to proof!

Not otherwiseyour faith is shrined and shown

And shamed at once: you banter while you bow!

Do you dispute this? Comea monster-laugh

A madman's laughallowed his Carnival

Later ten days than when all Romebut he

Laughed at the candle-contest: mine's alight

'Tis just it sputter till the puff o' the Pope

End it to-morrow and the world turn Ash

Comethus I wave a wand and bring to pass

In a momentin the twinkle of an eye

What but that- feigning everywhere grows fact

Professors turn possessorsrealize

The faith they play with as a fancy now

And bid it operatehave full effect

On every circumstance of lifeto-day

In Rome- faith's flow set free at fountain-head!

Nowyou'll own. at this present when I speak

Before I work the wonderthere's no man

Woman or child in Romefaith's fountain-head

But mightif each were mindedrealize

Conversely unbelieffaith's opposite-

Set it to work on life unflinchingly

Yet give no symptom of an outward change:

Why should things change because men disbelieve?

What's incompatiblein the whited tomb

With bones and rottenness one inch below?

What saintly act is done in Rome to-day

But might be prompted by the devil- 'is'

I say not- 'has beenand again may be'-

I do sayfull i' the face o' the crucifix

You try to stop my mouth with! Off with it!

Look in your own heartif your soul have eyes!

You shall see reason whythough faith were fled

Unbelief still might work the wires and move

Manthe machineto play a faithful part.

Preside your collegeCardinalin your cape

Or- having got above his headgrown Pope-

Abategird your loins and wash my feet!

Do you suppose I am at loss at all

Why you crookwhy you cringewhy fast or feast?

Praiseblamesitstandlie or go!- all of it

In each of youpurest unbelief may prompt

And wit explain to who has eyes to see.

ButloI wave wandmake the false the true!

Here's Rome believes in Christianity!

What an explosionhow the fragments fly

Of what was surfacemask and make-believe!

Begin now- look at this Pope's-halberdier

In wasp-like black and yellow foolery!

Hedoing duty at the corridor

Wakes from a muse and stands convinced of sin!

Down he flings halbertleaps the passage-length

Pushes into the presencepantingly

Submits the extreme peril of the case

To the Pope's self- whom in the world beside?-

And the Pope breaks talk with ambassador

Bids aside bishopwills the whole world wait

Till he secure that prizeoutweighs the world

A soulrelieve the sentry of his qualm!

His Altitude the Referendary-

Robed rightand ready for the usher's word

To pay devoir- isof all timesjust then

'Ware of a master-stroke of argument

Will cut the spinal cord... ughugh!... I mean

Paralyze Molinism for evermore!

Straight he leaves lobbytrundlestwo and two

Down stepsto reach homewrite if but a word

Shall end the impudence: he leaves who likes

Go pacify the Pope: there's Christ to serve!

How otherwise would men display their zeal?

If the same sentry had the least surmise

A powder-barrel 'neath the pavement lay

In neighbourhood with what might prove a match

Meant to blow sky-high Pope and presence both-

Would he not break through courtiersrank and file

Bundle upbear off and save body so

O' the Popeno matter for his priceless soul?

There's no fool's-freak herenought to soundly swinge

Only a man in earnestyou'll so praise

And pay and prate aboutthat earth shall ring!

Had thought possessed the Referendary

His jewel-case at home was left ajar

What would be wrong in runningrobes awry

To be beforehand with the pilferer?

What talk then of indecent haste? Which means

That both theseeach in his degreewould do

Just that- for a comparative nothing's sake

And thereby gain approval and reward-

Whichdone for what Christ says is worth the world

Procures the doer cursescuffs and kicks.

I call such difference 'twixt act and act

Sheer lunacy unless your truth on lip

Be recognized a lie in heart of you!

How do you all actpromptly or in doubt

When there's a guest poisoned at supper-time

And he sits chatting on with spot on cheek?

'Pluck him by the skirtand round him in the ears

Have at him by the beardwarn anyhow!'

Goodand this other friend that's cheat and thief

And dissolute- go stop the devil's feast

Withdraw him from the imminent hell-fire!

Whyfor your lifeyou dare not tell your friend

'You lieand I admonish you for Christ!'

Who yet dare seek that same man at the Mass

To warn him- on his kneesand tinkle near-

He left a cask a-tilta tap unturned

The Trebbian running: what a grateful jump

Out of the Church rewards your vigilance!

Perform that self-same service just a thought

More maladroitly- since a bishop sits

At function!- and he budges notbites lip-

'You see my case: how can I quit my post?

He has an eye to any such default.

See to itneighbourI beseech your love!'

He and you know the relative worth of things

What is permissible or inopportune.

Contort your brows! You know I speak the truth:

Gold is called goldand dross called drossi' the Book:

Gold you let lie and dross pick up and prize!

-Despite your muster of some fifty monks

And nuns a-maundering here and mumping there

Who couldand on occasion wouldspurn dross

Clutch goldand prove their faith a fact so far-

I grant you! Fifty times the number squeak

And gibber in the madhouse- firm of faith

This fellowthat his nose supports the moon

The otherthat his straw hat crowns him Pope:

Does that prove all the world outside insane?

Do fifty miracle-mongers match the mob

That acts on the frank faithless principle

Born-baptized-and-bred Christian-atheistseach

With just as much a right to judge as you-

As many senses in his soulor nerves

I' neck of him as I- whomsoul and sense

Neck and nerveyou abolish presently-

I being the unit in creation now

Who pay the Makerin this speech of mine

A creature's dutyspend my last of breath

In bearing witnesseven by my worst fault

To the creature's obligationabsolute

Perpetual: my worst fault protects'The faith

Claims all of me: I would give all she claims

But for a spice of doubt: the risk's too rash:

Double or quitsI playbutall or nought

Exceeds my courage: thereforeI descend

To the next faith with no dubiety-

Faith in the present lifemade last as long

And prove as full of pleasure as may hap

Whatever pain it cause the world.' I'm wrong?

I've had my lifewhate'er I lose: I'm right?

I've got the single good there was to gain.

Entire faithor else complete unbelief-

Aught between has my loathing and contempt

Mine and God's alsodoubtless: ask yourself

Cardinalwhere and how you like a man!

Whyeither with your feet upon his head

Confessed your caudatoryor at large

The stranger in the crowd who caps to you

But keeps his distance- why should he presume?

You want no hanger-on and dropper-off

Now yoursand now not yours but quite his own

According as the sky looks black or bright.

Just so I capped to and kept off from faith-

You promised trudge behind through fair and foul

Yet leave i' the lurch at the first spit of rain.

Who holds to faith whenever rain begins?

What does the father when his son lies dead

The merchant when his money-bags take wing

The politician whom a rival ousts?

No case but has its conductfaith prescribes:

Where's the obedience that shall edify?

Whythey laugh frankly in the face of faith

And take the natural course- this rends his hair

Because his child is taken to God's breast

That gnashes teeth and raves at loss of trash

Which rust corrupts and thieves break through and steal

And thisenabled to inherit earth

Through meeknesscurses till your blood runs cold!

Down they all drop to my low levelease

Heart upon dungy earth that's warm and soft

And let who willattempt the altitudes.

We have the prodigal son of heavenly sire

Turning his nose up at the fatted calf

Fain to fill belly with the husks we swine

Did eat by born depravity of taste!

ENOUGH of the hypocrites. But youSirsyou-

Who never budged from litter where I lay

And buried snout i' the draff-box while I fed

Cried amen to my creed's one article-

'Get pleasure' scape pain- give your preference

To the immediate goodfor time is brief

And death ends good and ill and everything:

What's got is gainedwhat's gained soon is gained twice

And- inasmuch as faith gains most- feign faith!'

So did we brother-like pass word about:

-Younow- like bloody drunkards but half-drunk

Who fool men yet perceive men find them fools

And that a titter gains the gravest mouth-

O' the sudden you must needs re-introduce

Solemnitymust sober undue mirth

By a blow dealt your boon companion here

Whousing the old licencedreamed of harm

No more than snow in harvest: yet it falls!

You check the merriment effectually

By pushing your abrupt machine i' the midst

Making me Rome's example: blood for wine!

The general good needs that you chop and change!

I may dislike the hocus-pocus- Rome

The laughter-loving peoplewon't they stare

Chap-fallen!- while serious natures sermonize

'The magistratehe beareth not the sword

In vain; who sins may taste its edgewe see!'

Why my sindrunkards? Where have I abused

Libertyscandalized you all so much?

Who called mewho crooked finger till I came

Fool that I wasto join companionship?

I knew my own mindmeant to live my life

Elude your envyor else make a stand

Take my own part and sell you my life dear:

But it was 'Fie! No prejudice in the world

To the proper manly instinct! Cast your lot

Into our lapone genius ruled our births

We'll compass joy by concert; take with us

The regular irregular way i' the wood;

You'll miss no game through riding breast by breast

In this preservethe Church's park and pale

Rather than outside where the world is waste!'

Comeif you said not thatdid you say this?

Give plain and terrible warning'Liveenjoy?

Such life begins in death and ends in hell!

Dare you bid us assist you to your sins

Who hurry sin and sinners from the earth?

No such delight for uswhy then for you?

Leave earthseek heaven or find its opposite!'

Had you so warned menot in lying words

But veritable deeds with tongues of flame

That had been fairthat might have struck a man

Silenced the squabble between soul and sense

Compelled him make his mind uptake one course

Or the otherperadventure!- wrong or right

Foolish or wiseyou would have been at least

Sincereno question- forced me chooseindulge

Or else renounce my instinctsstill play wolf

Or find my way submissive to the fold

Be red-crossed on the fleeceone sheep the more.

But you as good as bade me wear sheep's wool

Over wolf's skinsuck blood and hide the noise

By mimicry of something like a bleat-

Whence it comes that becausedespite my care

Because I smack my tongue too loud for once

Drop baainghere's the village up in arms!

Have at the wolf's throatyou who hate the breed!

Ohwere it only open yet to choose-

One little time more- whether I'd be free

Your foeor subsidized your friend forsooth!

Should not you get a growl through the white fangs

In answer to your beckoning! Cardinal

Abatemanagers o' the multitude

I'd turn your gloved hands to accountbe sure!

You should manipulate the coarse rough mob:

'Tis you I'd deal directly withnot them-

Using your fears: why touch the thing myself

When I could see you hunt and then cry 'Shares!

Quarter the carcass or we quarrel; come

Here's the world ready to see justice done!'

Ohit had been a desperate gamebut game

Wherein the winner's chance were worth the pains

To try conclusions!- at the worstwhat's worse

Than this Mannaia-machineeach minute's talk

Helps push an inch the nearer me? Foolfool!

You understand me and forgivesweet Sirs?

I blame youtear my hair and tell my woe-

All's but a flourishfigure of rhetoric!

One must try each expedient to save life.

One makes fools look foolisher fifty-fold

By putting in their place the wise like you

To take the full force of an argument

Would buffet their stolidity in vain.

If you should feel aggrieved by the mere wind

O' the blow that means to miss you and maul them

That's my success! Is it not follynow

To say with folks'A plausible defence-

We see through notwithstandingand reject?'

Reject the plausible they dothese fools

Who never even make pretence to show

One point beyond its plausibility

In favour of the best belief they hold!

'Saint Somebody-or-other raised the dead:'

Did he? How do you come to know as much?

'Know itwhat need? The story's plausible

Avouched for by a martyrologist

And why should good men sup on cheese and leeks

On such a saint's dayif there were no saint?'

I praise the wisdom of these foolsand straight

Tell them my story- 'plausiblebut false!'

Falseto be sure! What else can story be

That runs- a young wife tired of an old spouse

Found a priest whom she fled away with- both

Took their full pleasure in the two-days' flight

Which a grey-headed greyer-hearted pair

(Whose best boast wastheir life had been a lie)

Helped for the love they bore all liars. Oh

Here incredulity begins! Indeed?

Allow thenwere no one point strictly true

There's that i' the tale might seem like truth at least

To the unlucky husband- jaundiced patch-

Jealousy maddens peoplewhy not him?

Sayhe was maddenedsoforgivable!

Humanity pleads that though the wife were true

The priest trueand the pair of liars true

They might seem false to one man in the world!

A thousand gnats make up a serpent's sting

And many sly soft stimulants to wrath

Compose a formidable wrong at last

That gets called easily by some one name

Not applicable to the single parts

And so draws down a general revenge

Excessive if you take crimefault by fault.

Jealousy! I have known a score of plays

Were listened to and laughed at in my time

As like the everyday-life on all sides

Wherein the husbandmad as a March hare

Suspected all the world contrived his shame;

What did the wife? The wife kissed both eyes blind

Explained away ambiguous circumstance

And while she held him captive by the hand

Crowned his head- you know what's the mockery-

By half her body behind the curtain. That's

Nature now! That's the subject of a piece

I saw in Vallombrosa Conventmade

Expressly to teach men what marriage was!

But say 'Just so did I misapprehend!'

Or 'Just so she deceived me to my face!'

And that's pretence too easily seen through!

All those eyes of all husbands in all plays

At stare like one expanded peacock-tail

Are laughed at for pretending to be keen

While horn-blind: but the moment I step forth-

OhI must needs o' the sudden prove a lynx

And look the heartthat stone-wallthrough and through!

Such an eyeGod's may be- not yours nor mine.

YESpresently... what hour is fleeting now?

When you cut earth away from under me

I shall be left alone withpushed beneath

Some such an apparitional dread orb;

I fancy it go filling up the void

Above my mote-self it devoursor what

Immensity please wreak on nothingness.

Just so I felt oncecouching through the dark

Hard by Vittiano; young I wasand gay

And wanting to trap fieldfares: first a spark

Tipped a bentas a mere dew-globule might

Any stiff grass-stalk on the meadow- this

Grew fiercerflamed out fulland proved the sun.

What do I want with proverbsprecepts here?

Away with man! What shall I say to God?

Thisif I find the tongue and keep the mind-

'Do Thou wipe out the being of meand smear

This soul from off Thy white of thingsI blot!

I am one huge and sheer mistake- whose fault?

Not mine at leastwho did not make myself!'

Someone declares my wife excused me so!

Perhaps she knew what argument to use.

Grind your teethCardinalAbatewrithe!

What else am I to cry out in my rage

Unable to repent one particle

O' the past? Ohhow I wish some cold wise man

Would dig beneath the surface which you scrape

Deal with the depthspronounce on my desert

Groundedly! I want simple sober sense

That asksbefore it finishes with a dog

Who taught the dog that trick you hang him for?

You both persist to call that act a crime

Sense would call... yesI do assure youSirs...

A blunder! At the worstI stood in doubt

On cross-roadtook one path of many paths:

It leads to the red thingwe all see now

But nobody at first saw one primrose

In bankone singing-bird in bushthe less

To warn from wayfare: let me prove you that!

Put me back to the cross-roadstart afresh!

Advise me when I take the first false step!

Give me my wife: how should I use my wife

Love her or hate her? Prompt my action now!

There she standsthere she is alive and pale

The thirteen-years'-old childwith milk for blood

Pompilia Comparinias at first

Which first is only four brief years ago!

I stand too in the little ground-floor room

O' the father's house at Via Vittoria: see!

Her so-called mother- one arm round the waist

O' the child to keep her from the toys- let fall

At wonder I can live yet look so grim-

Ushers her inwith deprecating wave

Of the other- there she fronts me looseat large

Held only by the mother's finger-tip-

Struck dumbfor she was white enough before!

She eyes me with those frightened balls of black

As heifer- the old simile comes pat-

Eyes tremblingly the altar and the priest:

The amazed lookall one insuppressive prayer-

Might she but be set free as heretofore

Have this cup leave her lips unblisteredbear

Any cross anywhither anyhow

So but aloneso but apart from me!

You are touched? So am Iquite otherwise

If 'tis with pity. I resent my wrong

Being a man: we only show man's soul

Through man's fleshshe sees mineit strikes her thus!

Is that attractive? To a youth perhaps-

Calf-creatureone-part boy to three-parts girl

To whom it is a flattering novelty

That hemen use to motion from their path

Can thus imposethus terrify in turn

A chit whose terror shall be changed apace

To bliss unbearable whengrace and glow

Prowess and pride descend the throne and touch

Esther in all that pretty tremblecured

By the dove o' the sceptre! But myself am old

O' the wane at leastin all things: what do you say

To her who frankly thus confirms my doubt?

I am past the primeI scare the woman-world

Done-with that way: you like this piece of news?

A little saucy rose-bud minx can strike

Death-damp into the breast of doughty king

Though 'twere French Louis- soul I understand-

Sayingby gesture of repugnancejust

'Sireyou are regalpuissant and so forth

But- young you have beenare notnor will be!'

In vain the mother nodswinksbustles up

'Countgirls incline to mature worth like you!

As for Pompiliawhat's fleshfish or fowl

To one who apprehends no difference

And would accept you even were you old

As you are... youngish by her father's side?

Trim but your beard a littlethin your bush

Of eyebrow; and for presenceportliness

And decent gravityyou beat a boy!'

Deceive you for a secondif you may

In presence of the child that so loves age

Whose neck writhescords itself against your kiss

Whose hand you wring starkrigid with despair!

WellI resent this; I am young in soul

Nor old in body- thews and sinews here-

Though the vile surface be not smooth as once-

Far beyond the first wheelwork that went wrong

Through the untempered iron ere 'twas proof-

I am the steel man worth ten times the crude-

Would woman see what this declines to see

Declines to say 'I see'- the officious word

That makes the thingpricks on the soul to shoot

New fire into the half-used cinderflesh!

Therefore 'tis she begins with wronging me

Who cannot but begin with hating her.

Our marriage follows: there we stand again!

Why do I laugh? Whyin the very gripe

O' the jaws of death's gigantic skull do I

Grin back his grinmake sport of my own pangs?

Why from each clashing of his molarsground

To make the devil bread from out my grist

Leaps out a spark of mirtha hellish toy?

Take notice we are lovers in a church

Waiting the sacrament to make us one

And happy! just as bidshe bears herself

Comes and kneelsrisesspeaksis silent- goes:

So have I brought my horseby word and blow

To stand stock-still and front the fire he dreads.

How can I other than remember this

Resent the very obedience? Gain thereby?

YesI do gain my end and have my will-

Thanks to whom? When the mother speaks the word

She obeys it- even to enduring me!

There had been compensation in revolt-

Revolt's to quell: but martyrdom rehearsed

But predetermined saintship for the sake

O' the mother?- 'Go!' thought I'we meet again!'

Pass the next weeks of dumb contented death

She lives- wakes upinstalled in house and home

Is minemine all day-longan night-long mine.

Good folks begin at me with open mouth

'Nowat leastreconcile the child to life!

Study and make her love... that isendure

The... hem! the... all of you though somewhat old

Till it amount to somethingin her eye

As good as lovebetter a thousand times-

Since nature helps the woman in such strait

Makes passiveness her pleasure: failing which

What if you give up boys' and girls' fools'-play

And go on to wise friendship all at once?

Those boys and girls kiss themselves coldyou know

Toy themselves tired and slink aside full soon

To friendshipas they name satiety:

Thither go you and wait their coming!' Thanks

Considerate advisers- butfair play!

Had you and I but started fair at first

Wekeeping fairmight reach itneck by neck

This blessed goalwhenever fate so please:

But why am I to miss the daisied mile

The course begins withwhy obtain the dust

Of the end precisely at the starting-point?

Why quaff life's cup blown free of all the beads

The bright red froth wherein our beard should steep

Before our mouth essay the black o' the wine?

Foolishthe love-fit? Let me prove it such

Like youbefore like you I puff things clear!

'The best's to comeno rapture but content!

Not the first glory but a sober glow

Nor a spontaneous outburst in pure boon

So much asgained by patiencecare and toil!'

Go preach that to your nephewsnot to me

Whotired i' the midway of my lifewould stop

And take my first refreshment in a rose:

What's this coarse woolly hipworn smooth of leaf

You counsel I go plant in garden-pot

Water with tearsmanure with sweat and blood

In confidence the seed shall germinate

Andfor its very bestsome far-off day

Grow bigand blow me out a dog-rose bell?

Why must your nephews begin breathing spice

O' the hundred-petalled Provence prodigy?

Naymore and worse- would such my root bear rose-

Prove really flower and favouritenot the kind

That's queenbut those three leaves that make one cup

And hold the hedge-bird's breakfast- then indeed

The prize though poor would pay the care and toil!

Respect we Nature that makes least as most

Marvellous in the minim! But this bud

Bit through and burned black by the tempter's tooth

This bloom whose best grace was the slug outside

And the wasp inside its bosom- call you 'rose'?

Claim no immunity from a weed's fate

For the horrible present! What you call my wife

I call a nullity in female shape

Vapid disgustsoon to be pungent plague

When mixed withmade confusion and a curse

By two abominable nondescripts

That father and that mother: think you see

The dreadful bronze our boastwe Aretines

The Etruscan monsterthe three-headed thing

Bellerophon's foe! How name you the whole beast?

You choose to name the body from one head

That of the simple kid which droops the eye

Hangs the neck and dies tenderly enough:

I rather see the griesly lion belch

Flame out i' the midstthe serpent writhe her rings

Grafted into the common stock for tail

And name the bruteChimaerawhich I slew!

How was there ever more to be- (concede

My wife's insipid harmless nullity)-

Dissociation from that pair of plagues-

That mother with her cunning and her cant-

The eyes with first their twinkle of conceit

Thendropped to earth in mock-demureness- now

The smile self-satisfied from ear to ear

Nowthe prim pursed-up mouth's protruded lips

With deferential duckslow swing of head

Tempting the sudden fist of man too much-

That owl-like screw of lid and rock of ruff!

As for the father- Cardinalyou know

The kind of idiot!- rife are such in Rome

But they wear velvet commonlysuch fools

At the end of lifecan furnish forth young folk

Who grin and bear with imbecility

Since the stalled assthe jokersheds from jaw

Cornin the jokefor those who laugh or starve:

But what say we to the same solemn beast

Wagging his ears and wishful of our pat

When turnedwith hide in holes and bones laid bare

To forage for himself i' the waste o' the world

Sir Dignity i' the dumps? Pat him? We drub

Self-knowledgeratherinto frowzy pate

Teach Pietro to get trappings or go hang!

Fancy this quondam oracle in vogue

At Via Vittoriathis personified

Authority when time was- Pantaloon

Flaunting his tom-fool tawdry just the same

As if Ash-Wednesday were mid-Carnival!

That's the extreme and unforgivable

Of sinsas I account such. Have you stooped

For your own ends to bestialize yourself

By flattery of a fellow of this stamp?

The ends obtainedor else shown out of reach

He goes ontakes the flattery for pure truth-

'You love and honour meof course: what next?'

Whatbut the trifle of the stabbingfriend?-

Which taught you how one worships when the shrine

Has lost the relic that we bent before.

Angry? And how could I be otherwise?

'Tis plain: this pair of old pretentious fools

Meant to fool me: it happensI fooled them.

Why could not these who sought to buy and sell

Me- when they found themselves were bought and sold

Make up their mind to the proved rule of right

Be chattel and not chapman any more?

Miscalculation has its consequence;

But when the shepherd crooks a sheep-like thing

And meaning to get wooldislodges fleece

And finds the veritable wolf beneath

(How that staunch image serves at every turn!)

Does heby way of being politic

Pluck the first whisker grimly visible?-

Or rather grow in a trice all gratitude

Protest this sort-of-what-one-might-name sheep

Beats the old other curly-coated kind

And shall share board and bedif so it deign

With its discovererlike a royal ram?

Aythuswith chattering teeth and knocking knees

Would wisdom treat the adventure: theseforsooth

Tried whisker-pluckingand so found what trap

The whisker kept perduetwo rows of teeth-

Sharpas too late the prying fingers felt.

What would you have? The fools transgressthe fools

Forthwith receive appropriate punishment:

They first insult meI return the blow

There follows noise enough: four hubbub months

Now hue and crynow whimpering and wail-

A perfect goose-yard cackle of complaint

Because I do not gild the geese their oats-

I have enough of noiseope wicket wide

Sweep out the couple to go whine elsewhere

Frightened a littlehurt in no respect

And am just taking thought to breathe again

Taste the sweet sudden silence all about

Whenthere they are at itthe old noise I know

At Rome i' the distance! 'Whatbegun once more?

Whine onwail ever'tis the loser's right!'

But ehwhat sort of voice grows on the wind?

Triumph it sounds and no complaint at all

And triumph it is! My boast was premature:

The creaturesI turned forthclapped wing and crew

Fighting-cock-fashion- they had filched a pearl

From dung-heapand might boast with cause enough!

I was defrauded of all bargained for-

You knowthe Pope knowsnot a soul but knows

My dowry was derisionmy gain- muck

My wife(the Church declared my flesh and blood)

The nameless bastard of a common whore:

My old name turned henceforth to... shall I say

'He that received the ordure in his face?'

And they who planned this wrongperformed this wrong

And then revealed this wrong to the wide world

Rounded myself in the ears with my own wrong-

Whythese were... note hell's lucky malicenow!...

These were just theyand they alonecould act

And publish in this wise their infamy

Secure that men would in a breath believe

Compassionate and pardon them- for why?

They plainly were too stupid to invent

Too simple to distinguish wrong from right-

Inconscious agents theythe silly-sooth

Of heaven's retributive justice on the strong

Proud cunning violent oppressor- me!

Follow them to their fate and help your best

You RomeArezzofoes called friends of mine

They gave the good long laugh to at my cost!

Defray your share o' the cost since you partook

The entertainment! Do!- assured the while

That not one stabI dealt to right and left

But went the deeper for a fancy- this-

That each might do me two-fold servicefind

A friend's face at the bottom of each wound

And scratch its smirk a little!


There's a report at Florence- is it true?-

That when your relative the Cardinal

Builtonly the other daythat barrack-bulk

The palace in Via Largasomeone picked

From out the street a saucy quip enough

That fell there from its day's flight through the town

About the flat front and the windows wide

And ugly heap of cornice- hitched the joke

Into a sonnetsigned his name thereto

And forthwith pinned on post the pleasantry.

For which he's at the galleysrowing now

Up to his waist in water- just because

Panciatic and lymphatic rhymed so pat:

I hopeSirthose who passed this joke on me

Were not unduly punished? What say you

Prince of the Churchmy patron? Nayindeed!

I shall not dare insult your wits so much

As think this problem difficult to solve!

This Pietro and ViolantethenI say

These two ambiguous insectschanging name

And nature with the season's warmth or chill-

Nowgrovelledgrubbing toiling moiling ants

A very synonym of thrift and peace-

Anonwith lusty June to prick their heart

Soared i' the airwinged flies for more offence

Circled mebuzzed me deaf and stung me blind

And stunk me dead with fetor in the face

Until I stopped the nuisance: there's my crime!

Pity I did not suffer them subside

Into some further shape and final form

Of execrable life? My mastersno!

Iby one blowwisely cut short at once

Them and their transformations of disgust

In the snug little Villa out of hand.

'Grant me confessiongive bare time for that!'-

Shouted the sinner till his mouth was stopped.

His life confessed!- that was enough for me

Who came to see that he did penance. 'S death!

Here's a coil raiseda pother and for what?

Because strengthbeing provoked by weaknessfought

And conquered- the world never heard the like!

Pahhow I spend my breath on themas if

'Twas their fate troubled metoo hard to range

Among the right and fit and proper things!

AYBUT Pompilia- I await your word-

Sheunimpeached of crimeunimplicate

In follyone of alien blood to these

I punishwhy extend my claimexact

Her portion of the penalty? Yesfriends

I go too fast: the orator's at fault:

Yesere I lay herwith your leaveby them

As she was laid at San Lorenzo late

I ought to step backlead her by degrees

Recounting at each step some fresh offence

Up to the red bed- never fearI will!

Gaze at herwhere you place herto begin

Confound me with her gentleness and worth!

The horrible pair have fled and left her now

She has her husband for her sole concern

His wifethe woman fashioned for his help

Flesh of his fleshbone of his bonethe bride

To groom as is the Church and Spouseto Christ:

There she stands in his presence- 'Thy desire

Shall be to the husbando'er thee shall he rule!'

-'Pompiliawho declare that you love God

You know who said that: thendesire my love

Yield me contentment and be ruled aright!

She sits upshe lies downshe comes and goes

Kneels at the couch-sideoverleans the sill

O' the windowcold and pale and mute as stone

Strong as stone also. 'Wellare they not fled?

Am I not leftam I not one for all?

Speak a worddrop a teardetach a glance

Bless me or curse me of your own accord!

Is it the ceiling only wants your soul

Is worth your eyes?' And then the eyes descend

And do look at me. Is it at the meal?

'Speak!' she obeys'Be silent!' she obeys

Counting the minutes till I cry 'Depart'

As brood-bird when you saunter past her eggs

Departedjust the same through door and wall

I see the same stone strength of white despair.

And all this will be never otherwise!

Beforethe parents' presence lent her life:

She could play off her sex's armoury

Intreatreproachbe female to my male

Try all the shrieking doubles of the hare

Go clamour to the Commissarybid

The Archbishop hold my hands and stop my tongue

And yield fair sport so: but the tactics change

The hare stands stock-still to enrage the hound!

Since that day when she learned she was no child

Of those she thought her parents- that their trick

Had tricked me whom she thought sole trickster late-

WhyI suppose she said within herself

'Thenno more struggle for my parents' sake

Andfor my own sakewhy needs struggle be?'

But is there no third party to the pact?

What of her husband's relish or dislike

For this new game of giving up the game

This worst offence of not offending more?

I'll not believe but instinct wrought in this

Set her on to conceive and execute

The preferable plague... how sure they probe-

These jadesthe sensitivest soft of man!

The long black hair was wound now in a wisp-

Crowned sorrow better than the wild web late:

No more soiled dress'tis trimness triumphs now

For how should malice go with negligence?

The frayed silk looked the fresher for her spite!

There was an end to springing out of bed

Praying mewith face buried on my feet

Be hindered of my pastime- so an end

To my rejoinder'Whaton the ground at last?

Vanquished in fighta supplicant for life?

What if I raise you? 'Ware the casting down

When next you fight me!' Thenshe lay theremine:

Nowmine she is if I please wring her neck-

A moment of disquietworking eyes

Protruding tonguea long sighthen no more-

As if one killed the horse one could not ride!

Had I enjoined 'Cut off the hair!'- whysnap

The scissorsand at once a yard or so

Had fluttered in black serpents to the floor:

But till I did enjoin ithow she combs

Uncurls and draws out to the complete length

Plaitsplaces the insulting rope on head

To be an eyesore past dishevelment!

Is all done? Then sit still again and stare!

I advise- no one think to bear that look

Of steady wrongendured as steadily

-Through what sustainment of deluding hope?

Who is the friend i' the background that notes all?

Who may come presently and close accounts?

This self-possession to the uttermost

How does it differ in aughtsave degree

From the terrible patience of God?

'All which just means

She did not love you!' Again the word is launched

And the fad fronts me! Whatyou try the wards

With the true key and the dead lock flies ope?

Noit sticks fast and leaves you fumbling still!

You have some fifty servantsCardinal-

Which of them loves you? Which subordinate

But makes parade of such officiousness

That- if there's no love prompts it- lovethe sham

Does twice the service done by lovethe true.

God bless us liarswhere's one touch of truth

In what we tell the worldor world tells us

Of how we like each other? All the same

We calculate on word and deednor err-

Bid such a man do such a loving act

Sure of effect and negligent of cause

Just as we bid a horsewith cluck of tongue

Stretch his legs arch-wisecrouch his saddled back

To foot-reach of the stirrup- all for love

And some for memory of the smart of switch

On the inside of the foreleg- what care we?

Yet where's the bond obliges horse to man

Like that which binds fast wife to husband? God

Laid down the law: gave man the brawny arm

And ball of fist- woman the beardless cheek

And proper place to suffer in the side:

Since it is he can strikelet her obey!

Can she feel no love? Let her show the more

Sham the worsedamn herself praiseworthily!

Who's that soprano Rome went mad about

Last week while I lay rotting in my straw?

The very jailor gossiped in his praise-

How- dressed up like Armidathough a man;

And painted to look prettythough a fright-

He still made love so that the ladies swooned

Being an eunuch. 'AhRinaldo mine!

But to breathe by thee while Jove slays us both!'

All the poor bloodless creature never felt

Sidoremifasqueak and squall- for what?

Two gold zecchines the evening! Here's my slave

Whose body and soul depend upon my nod

Can't falter out the first note in the scale

For her life! Why blame me if I take the life?

All women cannot give men loveforsooth!

Nonor all pullets lay the henwife eggs-

Whereat she bids them remedy the fault

Brood on a chalk-ball: soon the nest is stocked-

Otherwiseto the plucking and the spit!

This wife of mine was of another mood-

Would not begin the lie that ends with truth

Nor feign the love that brings real love about:

Wherefore I judgedsentenced and punished her.

But why particularizedefend the deed?

Say that I hated her for no one cause

Beyond my pleasure so to do- what then?

Just on as much incitement acts the world

All of you! Look and like! You favour one

Brow-beat anotherleave alone a third-

Why should you master natural caprice?

Pure nature! Try- plant elm by ash in file;

Both unexceptionable trees enough

They ought to overlean each otherpair

At top and arch across the avenue

The whole path to the pleasaunce: do they so-

Or loathelie off abhorrent each from each?

Lay the fault elsewheresince we must have faults:

Mine shall have been- seeing there's ill in the end

Come of my course- that I fare somehow worse

For the way I took- my fault... as God's my judge

I see not where the fault liesthat's the truth!

I ought... ohought in my own interest

Have let the whole adventure go untried

This chance by marriage- or elsetrying it

Ought to have turned it to account some one

O' the hundred otherwises? Aymy friend

Easy to sayeasy to do- step right

Now you've stepped left and stumbled on the thing

-The red thing! Doubt I any more than you

That practice makes man perfect? Give again

The chance- same marriage and no other wife

Be sure I'll edify you! That's because

I'm practisedgrown fit guide for Guido's self.

You proffered guidance- I knownone so well-

You laid down law and rolled decorum out

From pulpit-corner on the gospel-side-

Wanted to make your great experience mine

Save me the personal search and pains so: thanks!

Take your word on life's use? When I take his-

The muzzled ox that treadeth out the corn

Gone blind in padding round and round one path-

As to the taste of green grass in the field!

What do you know o' the world that's trodden flat

And salted sterile with your daily dung

Leavened into a lump of loathsomeness?

Take your opinion of the modes of life

The aims of lifelife's triumph or defeat

How to feelhow to scheme and how to do

Or else leave undone? You preached long and loud

On high-days'Take our doctrine upon trust!

Into the mill-house with you! Grind our corn

Relish our chaffand let the green grass grow!'

I tried chafffound I famished on such fare

So made this mad rush at the mill-house-door

Buried my head up to the ears in dew

Browsed on the bestfor which you brain meSirs!

Be it so! I conceived of life that way

And still declare- lifewithout absolute use

Of the actual sweet thereinis deathnot life.

Give me- pay down- not promisewhich is air-

Something that's out of life and better still

Make sure rewardmake certain punishment

Entice mescare me- I'll forgo this life;

Otherwiseno!- the less that wordsmere wind

Would cheat me of some minutes while they plague.

The fulness of revenge here- blame yourselves

For this eruption of the pent-up soul

You prisoned first and played with afterward!

'Deny myself 'meant simply pleasure you

The sacred and superiorsave the mark!

You- whose stupidity and insolence

I must defer tosoothe at every turn-

Whose swine-like snuffling greed and grunting lust

I had to wink at or help gratify-

While the same passions- dared they perk in me

Methe immeasurably markedby God

Master of the whole world of such as you-

Iboast such passions? 'Twas 'Suppress them straight!

Or staywe'll pick and choose before destroy:

Here's wrath in you- a serviceable sword-

Beat it into a ploughshare! What's this long

Lance-like ambition? Forge a pruning-hook

May be of service when our vines grow tall!

But- sword used swordwisespear thrust out as spear?

Anathema! Suppression is the word!'

My naturewhen the outrage was too gross

Widened itself an outlet over-wide

By way of answer?- sought its own relief

With more of fire and brimstone than you wished?

All your own doing: preachersblame yourselves!

'TIS I preach while the hourglass runs and runs!

God keep mepatient! All I say just means-

My wife provedwhether by her fault or mine-

That's immaterial- a true stumbling-block

I' the way of me her husband: I but plied

The hatchet yourselves use to clear a path

Was politicplayed the game you warrant wins

Plucked at law's robe a-rustle through the courts

Bowed down to kiss divinity's buckled shoe

Cushioned i' the church: efforts all wide the aim!

Procedures to no purpose! Then flashed truth!

The letter killsthe spirit keeps alive

In law and gospel: there be nods and winks

Instruct a wise man to assist himself

In certain matters nor seek aid at all.

'Ask money of me'- quoth the clownish saw-

'And take my purse! But- speaking with respect-

Need you a solace for the troubled nose?

Let everybody wipe his own himself!'

Sirstell me free and fair! Had things gone well

At the wayside inn: had I surprised asleep

The runawaysas was so probable

And pinned them each to other partridge-wise

Through back and breast to breast and backthen bade

Bystanders witness if the spitmy sword

Were loaded with unlawful game for once-

Would you have interposed to damp the glow

Applauding me on every husband's cheek?

Would you have checked the cry 'A judgmentsee!

A warningnote! Be henceforth chasteye wives

Nor stray beyond your proper precinctpriests!'

If you hadthen your house against itself

Dividesnor stands your kingdom any more.

Ohwhywhy was it not ordained just so?

Why fell not things out so nor otherwise?

Ask that particular devil whose task it is

To trip the all-but-at perfection- slur

The line o' the painter just where paint leaves off

And life begins- puts ice into the ode

O' the poet while he cries 'Next stanza- fire!'

Inscribes all human effort with one word

Artistry's haunting cursethe Incomplete!

Being incompletethe act escaped success.

Easy to blame now! Every fool can swear

To hole in net that held and slipped the fish.

Buttreat my act with fair unjaundiced eye

What was there wanting to a masterpiece

Except the luck that lies beyond a man?

My way with the womannow proved grossly wrong

Just missed of being gravely grandly right

And making critics laugh o' the other side.

Dofor the poor obstructed artist's sake

Go with him over that spoiled work once more!

Take only its first flowerthe ended act

Now in the dusty poddry and defunct!

I march to the Villaand my men with me

That eveningand we reach the door and stand.

I say... noit shoots through me lightning-like

While I pausebreathemy hand upon the latch

'Let me forebode! Thus fartoo much success:

I want the natural failure- find it where?

Which thread will have to break and leave a loop

I' the meshy combinationmy brain's loom

Wove this long while and now next minute tests?

Of three that are to catchtwo should go free

One must: all three surprised- impossible!

BesideI seek three and may chance on six-

This neighbourt' other gossip- the babe's birth

Brings such to fireside and folks give them wine-

'Tis late: but when I break in presently

One will be found outlingering the rest

For promise of a posset- one whose shout

Would raise the dead down in the catacombs

Much more the city-watch that goes its round.

When did I ever turn adroitly up

To sun some brick embedded in the soil

And with one blow crush all three scorpions there?

Or Pietro or Violante shambles off-

It cannot be but I surprise my wife-

If only she is stopped and stamped ongood!

That shall suffice: more is improbable.

Now I may knock!' And this once for my sake

The impossible was effected: I called king

Queen and knave in a sequenceand cards came

All threethree only! SoI had my way

Did my deed: sounbrokenly lay bare

Each taenia that had sucked me dry of juice

At last outside menot an inch of ring

Left now to writhe about and root itself

I' the heart all powerless for revenge! Henceforth

I might thrive: these were drawn and dead and damned.

Oh Cardinalthe deep long sigh you heave

When the load's off youringing as it runs

All the way down the serpent-stair to hell!

No doubt the fine delirium flustered me

Turned my brain with the influx of success

As if the sole need now were to wave wand

And find doors fly wide- wish and have my will-

The rest o' the scheme would care for itself: escape?

Easy enough were thatand poor beside!

It all but proved so- ought to quite have proved

Sincehalf the chances had sufficedset free

Anyonewith his senses at command

From thrice the danger of my flight. Butdrunk

Redundantly triumphant- some reverse

Was sure to follow! There's no other way

Accounts for such prompt perfect failure then

And there on the instant. Any day o' the week

A ducat slid discreetly into palm

O' the mute post-masterwhile you whisper him-

How you the Count and certain four your knaves

Have just been mauling who was malapert

Suspect the kindred may prove troublesome

Thereforewant horses in a hurry- that

And nothing more secures you any day

The pick o' the stable! Yet I try the trick

Double the bribecan myself Duke for Count

And say the dead man only was a Jew

And for my pains find I am dealing just

With the one scrupulous fellow in all Rome-

Just this immaculate official stares

Sees I want hat on head and sword in sheath

Am splashed with other sort of wet than wine

Shrugs shoulderputs my hand bygold and all

Stands on the strictness of the rule o' the road!

'Where's the Permission?' Where's the wretched rag

With the due seal and sign of Rome's Police

To be had for askinghalf-an-hour ago?

'Gone? Get anotheror no horses hence!'

He dares not stop mewe five glare too grim

But hinders- hacks and hamstrings sure enough

Gives me some twenty miles of miry road

More to march in the middle of that night

Whereof the rough beginning taxed the strength

O' the youngstersmuch more minesuch as you see

Who had to think as well as act: dead-beat

We gave in ere we reached the boundary

And safe spot out of this irrational Rome-

Whereon dismounting from our steeds next day

We had snapped our fingers at yousafe and sound

Tuscans once more in blessed Tuscany

Where the laws make allowanceunderstand

Civilized life and do its champions right!

Witness the sentence of the Rota there

Arezzo utteredthe Granduke confirmed

One week before I acted on its hint-

Giving friend Guillichinifor his love

The galleysand my wife your saintRome's saint-

Rome manufactures saints enough to know-

Seclusion at the Stinche for her life.

All thisthat all but wasmight all have been

Yet was not! baulked by just a scrupulous knave

Whose palm was horn through handling horses' hoofs

And could not close upon my proffered gold!

What say you to the spite of fortune? Well

The worst's in store: thus hinderedhaled this way

To Rome again by hangdogswhom find I

Herestill to fight withbut my pale frail wife?

-Riddled with wounds by one not like to waste

The blows he dealt- knowing anatomy-

(I think I told you) one to pick and choose

The vital parts! 'Twas learning all in vain!

She too must shimmer through the gloom o' the grave

Come and confront me- not at judgment-seat

Where I could twist her soulas erst her flesh

And turn her truth into a lie- but there

O' the death-bedwith God's hand between us both

Striking me dumband helping her to speak

Tell her own story her own wayand turn

My plausibility to nothingness!

Four whole days did Pompilia keep alive

With the best surgery of Rome agape

At the miracle- this cutthe other slash

And yet the life refusing to dislodge

Four whole extravagant impossible days

Till she had time to finish and persuade

Every manevery womanevery child

In Rome of what she would: the self-same she

Whobut a year agohad wrung her hands

Reddened her eyes and beat her breastsrehearsed

The whole game at Arezzonor availed

Thereby to move one heart or raise one hand!

When destiny intends you cards like these

What good of skill and preconcerted play?

Had she been found deadas I left her dead

I should have told a tale brooked no reply:

You scarcely will suppose me found at fault

With that advantage! 'What brings me to Rome?

Necessity to claim and take my wife:

Betterto claim and take my new-born babe-

Strong in paternity a fortnight old

When 'tis at strongest: warily I work

Knowing the machinations of my foe;

I have companionship and use the night:

I seek my wife and child- I find- no child

But wifein the embraces of that priest

Who caused her to elope from me. These two

Backed by the pander-pair who watch the while

Spring on me like so many tiger-cats

Glad of the chance to end the intruder. I-

What should I do but stand on my defence

Strike rightstrike leftstrike thick and threefoldslay

Not all- because the coward priest escapes.

LastI escapein fear of evil tongues

And having had my taste of Roman law.'

What's disputablerefutable here?-

Save by just this one ghost-thing half on earth

Half out of it- as if she held God's hand

While she leant back and looked her last at me

Forgiving me (here monks begin to weep)

Ohfrom her very soulcommending mine

To heavenly mercies which are infinite-

While fixing fast my head beneath your knife!

'Tis fate not fortune! All is of a piece!

What was it you informed me of my youths?

My rustic four o' the familysoft swains

What sweet surprise had they in store for me

Those of my very household- what did Law

Twist with her rack-and-cord-contrivance late

From out their bones and marrow? What but this-

Had no one of these several stumbling-blocks

Stopped methey yet were cherishing a scheme

All of their honest country homespun wit

To quietly next day at crow of cock

Cut my own throat toofor their own behoof

Seeing I had forgot to clear accounts

O' the instantnowise slackened speed for that-

And somehow never might find memory

Once safe back in Arezzowhere things change

And a court-lord needs mind no country lout.

Wellbeing the arch-offenderI die last-

Mayere my head fallshave my eyesight free

Nor miss them dangling high on either hand

Like scarecrows in a hemp-fieldfor their pains!

AND then my Trial- 'tis my Trial that bites

Like a corrosiveso the cards are packed

Dice loadedand my life-stake tricked away!

Look at my lawyerslacked they grace of law

Latin or logic? Were not they fools to the height

Fools to the depthfools to the level between

O' the foolishness set to decide the case?

They feignthey flatter; nowise does it skill

Everything goes against me: deal each judge

His dole of flattery and feigning- why

He turns and tries and snuffs and savours it

As an old fly the sugar-grainyour gift;

Then eyes your thumb and fingerbrushes clean

The absurd old head of himand whisks away

Leaving your thumb and finger dirty. Faugh!

AND finallyafter this long-drawn range

Of affrontfailurefailure and affront-

This path'twixt crosses leading to a skull

Paced by me barefootbloodied by my palms

From the entry to the end- there's light at length

A cranny of escape- appeal may be

To the old manto the fatherto the Pope

For a little life- from one whose life is spent

A little pity- from pity's source and seat

A little indulgence to rankprivilege

From one who is the thing personified

Rankprivilegeindulgencegrown beyond

Earth's bearingevenask Jansenius else!

Still the same answerstill no other tune

From the cicala perched at the tree-top

Than crickets noisy round the root- 'tis 'Die!'

Bids Law- 'Be damned!' adds Gospel- nay

No word so frank- 'tis rather'Save yourself!'

The Pope subjoins- 'Confess and be absolved!

So shall my credit countervail your shame

And the world see I have not lost the knack

Of trying all the spirits- yoursmy son

Wants but a fiery washing to emerge

In clarity! Comecleanse youease the ache

Of these old bonesrefresh our bowelsboy!'

Do I mistake your mission from the Pope?

Thenbear his Holiness the mind of me!

I do get strength from being thrust to wall

Successively wrenched from pillar and from post

By this tenacious hate of fortunehate

Of all things inunderand above earth.

Warfarebegun this mean unmanly mode

Does best to end so- gives earth spectacle

Of a brave fighter who succumbs to odds

That turn defeat to victory. StabI fold

My mantle round me! Rome approves my act:

Applauds the blow which costs me life but keeps

My honour spotless: Rome would praise no more

Had I fallensaysome fifteen years ago

Helping Vienna when our Aretines

Flocked to Duke Charles and fought Turk Mustafa;

Nor would you two be trembling o'er my corpse

With all this exquisite solicitude.

Why is it that I make such suit to live?

The popular sympathy that's round me now

Would break like bubble that o'er-domes a fly-

Pretty enough while he lies quiet there

But let him want the air and ply the wing

Whyit breaks and bespatters himwhat else?

Cardinalif the Pope had pardoned me

And I walked out of prison through the crowd

It would not be your arm I should dare press!

Thenif I got safe to my place again

How sad and sapless were the years to come!

I go my old ways and find things grown grey;

You priests leer at meold friends look askance;

The mob's in loveI'll wagerto a man

With my poor young good beauteous murdered wife:

For hearts require instruction how to beat

And eyeson warrant of the storywax

Wanton at portraiture in white and black

Of dead Pompilia gracing ballad-sheet

Whichhad she died unmurdered and unsung

Would never turn though she paced street as bare

As the mad penitent ladies do in France.

My brothers quietly would edge me out

Of use and management of things called mine;

Do I command? 'You stretched command before!'

Show anger? 'Anger little helped you once!'

Advise? 'How managed you affairs of old?'

My very motherall the while they gird

Turns eye upgives confirmatory groan-

For unsuccessexplain it how you will

Disqualifies youmakes you doubt yourself

-Much moreis found decisive by your friends.

Besideam I not fifty years of age?

What new leap would a life takechecked like mine

I' the spring at outset? Where's my second chance?

Aybut the babe... I had forgot my son

My heir! Now for a burst of gratitude!

There's some appropriate service to intone

Some gaudeamus and thanksgiving-psalm!

OldI renew my youth in himand poor

Possess a treasure- is not that the phrase?

Only I must wait patient twenty years-

Nourishing all the whileas father ought

The excrescence with my daily blood of life.

Does it respond to hopesuch sacrifice-

Grows the wen plump while I myself grow lean?

Whyhere's my son and heir in evidence

Who strongerwiserhandsomer than I

By fifty yearsrelieves me of each load-

Tames my hot horsecarries my heavy gun

Courts my coy mistress- has his apt advice

On house-economyexpenditure

And what not? All which good gifts and great growth

Because of my declinehe brings to bear

On Guidobut half apprehensive how

He cumbers earthcrosses the brisk young Count

Who civilly would thrust him from the scene.

Contrariwisedoes the blood-offering fail?

There's an ineptitudeone blank the more

Added to earth in semblance of my child?

Thenthis has been a costly piece of work

My life exchanged for his!- why henot I

Enjoy the worldif no more grace accrue?

Dwarf mewhat giant have you made of him?

I do not dread the disobedient son-

I know how to suppress rebellion there

Being not quite the fool my father was.

But grant the medium measure of a man

The usual compromise 'twixt fool and sage

-You know- the tolerably-obstinate

The not-so-much-perverse but you may train

The true son-servant thatwhen parent bids

'Go worksonin my vineyard!' makes reply

'I goSir!'- Whywhat profit in your son

Beyond the drudges you might subsidize

Have the same work from at a paul the head?

Look at those four young precious olive-plants

Reared at Vittiano- not on flesh and blood

These twenty yearsbut black bread and sour wine!

I bade them put forth tender branchand hook

And hurt three enemies I had in Rome:

They did my hest as unreluctantly

At promise of a dollaras a son

Adjured by mumping memories of the past!

Nonothing repays youth expended so-

YouthI saywho am young still- give but leave

To live my life outto the last I'd live

And die conceding age no right of youth!

It is the will runs the renewing nerve

Through flaccid fleshwould faint before the time.

Therefore no sort of use for son have I-

Sicknot of life's feast but of steps to climb

To the house where life prepares her feast- of means

To the end: for make the end attainable

Without the means- my relish were like yours.

A man may have an appetite enough

For a whole dish of robins ready cooked

And yet lack courage to face sleetpad snow

And snare sufficiency for supper.


The time's arrived whenancient Roman-like

I am bound to fall on my own sword- why not

Say- Tuscan-likemore ancientbetter still?

Will you hear truth can do no harm nor good?

I think I never was at any time

A Christianas you nickname all the world

Me among others: truce to nonsense now!

Name mea primitive religionist-

As should the aboriginary be

I boast myselfEtruscanAretine

One sprung- your frigid Virgil's fieriest word-

From fauns and nymphstrunks and the heart of oak

With- for a visible divinity-

The portent of a Jove AEgiochus

Descried 'mid cloudslightning and thundercouched

On topmost crag of your Capitoline-

'Tis in the Seventh AEneid- whatthe Eighth?

Right- thanksAbate- though the Christian's dumb

The Latinist's vivacious in you yet!

I know my grandsire had our tapestry

Marked with the motto'neath a certain shield

His grandson presently will give some gules

To vary azure. First we fight for faiths

But get to shake hands at the last of all:

Mine's your faith too- in Jove AEgiochus!

Nor do Greek godsthat serve as supplement

Jar with the simpler schemeif understood.

We want such intermediary race

To make communication possible;

The real thing were too loftywe too low

Midway hang these: we feel their use so plain

In linking height to depththat we doff hat

And put no question nor pry narrowly

Into the nature hid behind the names.

We grudge no rite the fancy may demand;

But nevermore than needsinventrefine

Improve upon requirementidly wise

Beyond the letterteaching gods their trade

Which is to teach us: we'll obey when taught.

Why should we do our duty past the due?

When the sky darkensJove is wroth- say prayer!

When the sun shines and Jove is glad- sing psalm!

But wherefore pass prescription and devise

Blood-offering for sweat-servicelend the rod

A pungency through pickle of our own?

Learned Abate- no one teaches you

What Venus means and who's Apollo here!

I spare youCardinal- butthough you wince

You know meI know youand both know that!

Soif Apollo bids us fastwe fast:

But where does Venus order we stop sense

When Master Pietro rhymes a pleasantry?

Give alms prescribed on Friday- buthold hand

Because your foe lies prostrate- where's the word

Explicit in the book debars revenge?

The rationale of your scheme is just

'Pay toll herethere pursue your pleasure free!'

So do you turn to use the medium-powers

Mars and MinervaBacchus and the rest

And so are saved propitiating- what?

What all goodall wise and all potent Jove

Vexed by the very sins in manhimself

Made life's necessity when man he made?

Irrational bunglers! Sothe living truth

Revealed to strike Pan deadducks low at last

Prays leave to hold its own and live good days

Provided it go masque grotesquelycalled

Christian not Pagan? Ohyou purged the sky

Of all gods save the Onethe great and good

Clapped hands and triumphed! But the change came fast:

The inexorable need in man for life-

Life- you may mulct and minish to a grain

Out of the lumpso the grain left but live-

Laughed at your substituting death for life

And bade you do your worst- which worst was done

-Pass that age styled the primitive and pure

When Saint thisSaint thatdutifully starved

Frozefought with beastswas beaten and abused

And finally ridded of his flesh by fire

Keeping the while unspotted from the world!-

Good: but next agehow goes the gamewho gives

His life and emulates Saint that and this?

They mutinymutter who knows what excuse?

In fine make up their minds to leave the new

Stick to the old- enjoy old liberty

No prejudiceall the sameif so it please

To the new profession: sin o' the slyhenceforth!

Let the law stand: the letter killswhat then?

The spirit saves as unmistakably.

Omniscience seesOmnipotence could stop

All-mercifulness pardons- it must be

Frown law its fiercestthere's a wink somewhere.

SUCH was the logic in this head of mine:

Ilike the restwrote 'poison' on my bread;

But broke and ate:- said 'those that use the sword

Shall perish by the same;' then stabbed my foe.

I stand on solid earthnot empty air:

Dislodge melet your Pope's crook hale me hence!

Not henor you! And I so pity both

I'll make the speech you want the wit to make:

'Count Guidowho reveal our mystery

You trace all issues to the love of life:

We have a life to love and guardlike you.

Why did you put us upon self-defence?

You well knew what prompt pass-word would appease

The sentry's ire when folk infringe his bounds

And yet kept mouth shut: do you wonder then

Ifin mere decencyhe shot you dead?

He can't have people play such pranks as you

Beneath his nose at noondaywho disdain

To give him an excuse before the world

By crying "I break rule to save our camp!"

Under the old rulesuch offence were death;

And so had you heard Pontifex pronounce

"Since you slay foe and violate the form

That turns to murderwhich were sacrifice

Had youwhilesaylaw-suiting him to death

But raised an altar to the Unknown God

Or else the Genius of the Vatican."

Why then this pother?- all because the Pope

Doing his dutycries "A foreigner

You scandalize the natives: here at Rome

Romano vivitur more: wise menhere

Put the Church forward and efface themselves.

The fit defence had been- you stamped on wheat

Intending all the time to trample tares-

Were fain extirpatethenthe heretic

And now findin your haste you slew a fool:

Nor Pietronor Violantenor your wife

Meant to breed up your babe a Molinist!

Whence you are duly contrite. Not one word

Of all this wisdom did you urge!- which slip

Death must atone for!"'

Solet death atone!

So ends mistakeso end mistakers!- end

Perhaps to recommence- how should I know?

Onlybe sureno punishmentno pain


But some such fate as Ovid could foresee-

Byblis in fluviumlet the weak soul end

In watersed Lycaon in lupumbut

The strong become a wolf for evermore!

Change that Pompilia to a puny stream

Fit to reflect the daisies on its bank!

Let me turn wolfbe wholeand satefor once-

Wallow in what is now a wolfishness

Coerced too much by the humanity

That's half of me as well! Grow out of man

Glut the wolf-nature- what remains but grow

Into the man againbe man indeed

And all man? Do I ring the changes right?


The honest instinctpent and crossed through life

Let surge by death into a visible flow

Of rapture: as the strangled thread of flame

Painfully windsannoying and annoyed

Malignant and malignedthro 'stone and ore

Till earth exclude the stranger: vented once

It finds full playis recognized a-top

Some mountain as no such abnormal birth.

Fire for the mountthe streamlet for the vale!

Ayof the water was that wife of mine-

Be it for goodbe it for illno run

O' the red thread through that insignificance!

Againhow she is at me with those eyes!

Away with the empty stare! Be holy still

And stupid ever! Occupy your patch

Of private snow that's somewhere in what world

May now be growing icy round your head

And anguish at your foot-print- freeze not me

Dare follow not another step I take

Not with so much as those detested eyes

Nothough they follow but to pray me pause

On the inclineearth's edge that's next to hell!

None of your abnegation of revenge!

Fly at me franktug while I tear again!

There's Godgo tell Himtestify your worst!

Not she! There was no touch in her of hate:

And it would prove her hellif I reached mine!

To know I sufferedwould still sadden her

Do what the angels might to make amends!

Therefore there's either no such place as hell

Or thence shall I be thrust forthfor her sake

And thereby undergo three hellsnot one-

I whowith outlet for escape to heaven

Would tarry if such flight allowed my foe

To raise his headrelieved of that firm foot

Had pinned him to the fiery pavement else!

So am I made'who did not make myself:'

(How dared she rob my own lip of the word?)

Beware me in what other world may be!-

Pompiliawho have brought me to this pass!

All I know herewill I say thereand go

Beyond the saying with the deed. Some use

There cannot but be for a mood like mine

Implacablepersistent in revenge.

She maundered 'All is over and at end:

I go my own roadgo you where God will!

Forgive you? I forget you!' There's the saint

That takes your tasteyou other kind of men!

How you had loved her! Guido wanted skill

To value such a woman at her worth!

Properly the instructed criticize

'What's hereyou simpleton have tossed to take

Its chance i' the gutter? This a daubindeed?

Why'tis a Rafael that you kicked to rags!'

Perhaps so: some prefer the pure design:

Give me my gorge of colourglut of gold

In a glory round the Virgin made for me!

Titian's the mannot Monk Angelico

Who traces you some timid chalky ghost

That turns the church into a charnel: ay

Just such a pencil might depict my wife!

She- since shealsowould not change herself-

Why could not she come in some heart-shaped cloud

Rainbowed about with richesroyalty

Rimming her roundas round the tintless lawn

Guardingly runs the selvage cloth of gold?

I would have left the faint fine gauze untouched

Needle-worked over with its lily and rose

Let her bleach unmolested in the midst

Chill that selected solitary spot

Of quietude she pleased to think was life:

Puritypallor grace the lawn no doubt

When there's the costly bordure to unthread

And make again an ingot: but what's grace

When you want meat and drink and clothes and fire?

A tale comes to my mind that's apposite-

Possibly trueprobably falsea truth

Such as all truths we live byCardinal!

'Tis saida certain ancestor of mine

Followed- whoever was the potentate

To Paynimrieand in some battlebroke

Through more than due allowance of the foe

Andrisking much his own lifesaved the lord's.

Battered and bruisedthe Emperor scrambles up

Rubs his eyes and looks round and sees my sire

Picks a furze-sprig from out his hauberk-joint

(Token how near the ground went majesty)

And says 'Take thisandif thou get safe home

Plant the same in thy garden-ground to grow:

Run thence an hour in a straight lineand stop:

Describe a circle round (for central point)

The furze aforesaidreaching every way

The length of that hour's run: I give it thee-

The central pointto build a castle there

The circumjacent spacefor fit demesne

The whole to be thy children's heritage-

Whomfor my sakebid thou wear furze on cap!

Those are my arms: we turned the furze a tree

To show moreand the greyhound tied thereto

Straining to startmeans swift and greedy both;

He stands upon a triple mount of gold-

By Jovethenhe's escaping from true gold

And trying to arrive at empty air!

Aha! the fancy never crossed my mind!

My father used to tell meand subjoin

'As for the castlethat took wings and flew:

The broad lands- whyto traverse them to-day

Would task my gouty feetthough in my prime

I doubt not I could stand and spit so far:

But for the furzeboyfear no lack of that

So long as fortune leaves one field to grub!

Wherefore hurra for furze and loyalty!'

What may I meanwhere may the lesson lurk?

'Do not bestow on man by way of gift

Furze without some substantial framework- grace

Of puritya furze-sprig of a wife

To mei' the thick of battle for my bread

Without some better dowry- house and land!'

No other gift than sordid muck? YesSir!

Many more and much better. Give them me!

O those Olimpias boldthose Biancas brave

That brought a husband will worth Ormuz' wealth!

Cried 'Thou being minewhywhat but thine am I?

Be thou to me lawrightwrongheaven and hell!

Let us blend soulsbe thou in me to bid

Two bodies work one pleasure! What are these

Called kingpriestfathermotherstrangerfriend?

They fret thee or they frustrate? Give the word-

Be certain they shall frustrate nothing more!

And who is this young florid foolishness

That holds thy fortune in his pigmy clutch

-Being a prince and potencyforsooth!-

And hesitates to let the trifle go?

Let me but seal up eyesing ear to sleep

Sounder than Samson- pounce thou on the prize

Shall slip from off my breastand down couch-side

And on to floorand far as my lord's feet-

Where he stands in the shadow with the sword

Waiting to see what Delilah dares do!

Is the youth fair? What is a man to me

Who am thy call-bird? Twist his neck- my dupe's-

Then take the breast shall turn a breast indeed!'

Such women are there; and they marry whom?

Whywhen a man has gone and hanged himself

Because of what he calls a wicked wife-

Seeif the turpitudehe makes his moan

Be not mere excellence the fool ignores!

His monster is perfectionCircesent

Straight from the sunwith rod the idiot blames

As not an honest distaff to spin wool!

O thou Lucreziais it long to wait

Yonder where all the gloom is in a glow

With thy suspected presence?- virgin yet

Virtuous again in face of what's to teach-

Sin unimaginedunimaginable-

I come to claim my bride- thy Borgia's self

Not half the burning bridegroom I shall be!

Cardinaltake away your crucifix!

Abateleave my lips alonethey bite!

'Tis vain you try to changewhat should not change

And cannot. I have baredyou bathe my heart-

It grows the stonier for your saving dew!

You steep the substanceyou would lubricate

In waters that but touch to petrify!

YOU too are petrifactions of a kind:

Move not a muscle that shows mercy; rave

Another twelve hoursevery word were waste!

I thought you would not slay impenitence-

Teased first contrition from the man you slew-

I thought you had a conscience. Cardinal

You know I am wronged!- wrongedsayand wronged maintain.

Was this strict inquisition made for blood

When first you showed us scarlet on your back

Called to the College? That straightforward way

To that legitimate end- I think it passed

Over a scantling of heads brainedhearts broke

Lives trodden into dust- how otherwise?

Such is the way o' the worldand so you walk:

Does memory haunt your pillow? Not a whit

God wills you never pace your garden-path

One appetizing hour ere dinner-time

But your intrusion there treads out of life

An universe of happy innocent things:

Feel you remorse about that damsel-fly

Which buzzed so near your mouth and flapped your face

You blotted it from being at a blow?

It was a flyyou were a manand more

Lord of created thingsso took your course.

Manlinessmind- these are things fit to save

Fit to brush fly from: whybecause I take

My coursemust needs the Pope kill me?- kill you!

Because this instrument he throws away

Is strong to serve a master: it were yours

To have and hold and get such good from out!

The Pope who dooms meneeds must die next year;

I'll tell you how the chances are supposed

For his successor: first the Chamberlain

Old San Cesario- Colloredonext-

ThenonetwothreefourI refuse to name

After thesecomes Altieri; then come you-

Seventh on the list you areunless... haha

How can a dead hand give a friend a lift?

Are you the person to despise the help

O' the head shall drop in pannier presently?

So a child seesaws on or kicks away

The fulcrum-stone that's all the sage requires

To fit his lever to and move the world.

CardinalI adjure you in God's name

Save my lifefall at the Pope's feetset forth

Things your own fashionnot in words like these

Made for a sense like yours who apprehend!

Translate into the court-conventional

'Count Guido must not dieis innocent!

Fairbe assured! But what an he were foul

Blood-drenched and murder-crusted head to foot?

Spare one whose death insults the Emperor

And outrages the Louis you so love!

He has friends who will avenge him; enemies

Who hate the church now with impunity

Missing the old coercive: would you send

A soul straight to perditiondying frank

An atheist?' Go and say thisfor God's sake!

-Whyyou don't think I hope you'll say one word?

Neither shall I persuade you from your stand

Nor you persuade me from my station: take

Your crucifix awayI tell you twice!

ComeI am tired of silence! Pause enough!

You have prayed: I have gone inside my soul

And shut its door behind me: 'tis your torch

Makes the place dark- the darkness let alone

Grows tolerable twilight- one may grope

And get to guess at length and breadth and depth.

What is this fact I feel persuaded of-

This something like a foothold in the seal

Although Saint Peter's bark scudsbillow-borne

Leaves me to founder where it flung me first?

Spite of your splashingI am high and dry!

God takes his own part in each thing he made;

Made for a reasonhe conserves his work

Gives each its proper instinct of defence.

My lamb-like wife could neither bark nor bite

She bleatedbleatedtill for pity pure

The village roused itran with pole and prong

To the rescueand behold the wolf's at bay!

Shall he try bleating?- or take turn or two

Since the wolf owns to kinship with the fox

And failing to escape the foe by these

Give up attemptdie fighting quietly?

The last bad blow that strikes fire in at eye

And on to brainand so outlife and all

How can it but be cheated of a pang

Whilefighting quietlythe jaws enjoy

Their re-embrace in mid back-bone they break

After their weary work thro' the foes' flesh?

That's the wolf-nature. Don't mistake my trope!

The Cardinal is qualmish! Eminence

My fight is figurativeblows i' the air

Brain-war with powers and principalities

Spirit-bravadono real fisticuffs!

I shall not presentlywhen the knock comes

Cling to this bench nor flee the hangman's face

Notrust me! I conceive worse lots than mine.

Whether it be the old contagious fit

And plague o' the prison have surprised me too

The appropriate drunkenness of the death-hour

Creep on my sensethe work o' the wine and myrrh-

I know not- I begin to taste my strength

Carelessgay even: what's the worth of life?

The Pope is deadmy murderous old man

For Tozzi told me so: and youforsooth-

Whyyou don't thinkAbatedo your best

You'll live a year more with that hacking cough

And blotch of crimson where the cheek's a pit?

Tozzi has got you also down in book.

Cardinalonly seventh of seventy near

Is not one called Albano in the lot?

Go eat your heartyou'll never be a Pope!

Inform meis it true you left your love'

A Puccifor promotion in the church?

She's more than in the church- in the churchyard!

Plautilla Pucciyour affianced bride

Has dust now in the eyes that held the love-

And Martinezsuppose they make you Pope

Stops that with veto- soenjoy yourself

I see you all reel to the rockyou waves-

Some forthrightsome describe a sinuous track

Some crestedbrilliantly with heads above

Some in a strangled swirl sunk who knows how

But all bound whither the main-current sets

Rockwardan end in foam for all of you!

What if I am o'ertakenpushed to the front

By all you crowding smoother souls behind

And reacha minute sooner than was meant

The boundarywhereon I break to mist?

Go to! the smoothest safest of you all

Most perfect wave in my train

Spite of the blue tranquillity above

Spite of the breadth before of lapsing peace

Where broods the halcyon and the fish leaps free

Will presently begin to feel the prick

At lazy heartthe push at torpid brain

Will rock vertiginously in turnand reel

Andemulativerush to death like me:

Later or sooner by a minute then

So much for the untimeliness of death

Andas regards the manner that offends

The rude and roughI count the same for gain-

Be the act harsh and quick! Undoubtedly

The soul's condensed andtwice itselfexpands

To burst thro' lifein alternation due

Into the other state whate'er it prove.

You never know what life means till you die:

Even throughout life'tis death that makes life live

Gives it whatever the significance.

For seeon your own ground and argument

Suppose life had no death to fearhow find

A possibility of nobleness

In manprevented daring any more?

What's lovewhat's without a worst to dread?

Lack-lustre jewelry; but faith and love

With death behind them bidding do or die-

Put such a foil at backthe sparkle's born!

From out myself how the strange colours come!

Is there a new rule in another world?

Be sure I shall resign myself: as here

I recognized no law I could not see

Therewhat I seeI shall acknowledge too:

On earth I never took the Pope for God

In heaven I shall scarce take God for the Pope.

Unmannedremade: I hold it probable-

With something changeless at the heart of me

To know me bysome nucleus that's myself-

Accretions did it wrong? Away with them-

You soon shall see the use of fire!

Till when

All that wasis; and must for ever be.

Nor is it in me to unhate my hates-

I use up my last strength to strike once more

Old Pietro in the wine-house-gossip-face

To trample underfoot the whine and wile

Of that Violante- and I grow one gorge

To loathingly reject Pompilia's pale

Poison my hasty hunger took for food.

A strong tree wants no wreaths about its trunk

No cloying cupsno sickly sweet of scent

But sustenance at roota bucketful.

How else lived that Athenian who died so

Drinking hot bull's-bloodfit for men like me?

I lived and died a manand takes man's chance

Honest and bold: right will be done to such.

WHO are these you have let descend my stair?

Hatheir accursed psalm! Lights at the sill!

Is it 'Open' they dare bid you? Treachery!

Sirshave I spoken one word all this while

Out of the world of words I had to say?

Not one word! All was folly- I laughed and mocked!

Sirsmy first true wordall truth and no lie

Is- save me notwithstanding! Life is all!

I was just stark mad- let the madman live

Pressed by as many chains as you please pile!

Don't open! Hold me from them! I am yours

I am the Granduke's- noI am the Pope's!

Abate- Cardinal- Christ- Maria- God...

Pompiliawill you let them murder me?

XII: The Book and the Ring

HERE WERE THE ENDhad anything an end:

Thuslit and launchedup and up roared and soared

A rockettill the key o' the vault was reached

And wide heaven helda breathless minute-space

In brilliant usurpature: thus caught spark

Rushed to the heightand hung at full of fame

Over men's upturned facesghastly thence

Our glaring Guido: now decline must be.

In its explosionyou have seen his act

By my power- may-bejudged it by your own-

Or composite as good orbs proveor crammed

With worse ingredients than the Wormwood Star.

The actover and endedfalls and fades:

What was once seengrows what is now described

Then talked oftold abouta tinge the less

In every fresh transmission; till it melts

Trickles in silent orange or wan grey

Across our memorydies and leaves all dark

And presently we find the stars again.

Follow the main streaksmeditate the mode

Of brightnesshow it hastes to blend with black!

AFTER that February Twenty-Two

Since our salvationSixteen-Ninety-Eight

Of all reports that wereor may have been

Concerning those the day killed or let live

Four I count only. Take the first that comes.

A letter from a strangerman of rank

Venetian visitor at Rome- who knows

On what pretence of busy idleness?

Thus he begins on evening of that day.

'HERE are we at our end of Carnival;

Prodigious gaiety and monstrous mirth

And constant shift of entertaining show:

With influxfrom each quarter of the globe

Of strangers nowise wishful to be last

I' the Struggle for a good place presently

When that befallsfate cannot long defer.

The old Pope totters on the verge o' the grave:

You seeMalpichi understood far more

Than Tozzi how to treat the ailments: age

No questionrenders these inveterate.

Cardinal Spadaactual Minister

Is possible Pope; I wager on his head

Since those four entertainments of his niece

Which set all Rome a-stare: Pope probably-

Though Colloredo has his backers too

And San Cesario makes one doubt at times:

Altieri will be Chamberlain at most.

'A WEEK ago the sun was warm like May

A And the old man took daily exercise

Along the river-side; he loves to see

That Custom-house he built upon the bank

ForNaples-bornhis tastes are maritime:

But yesterday he had to keep in-doors

Because of the outrageous rain that fell.

On such days the good soul has fainting-fits

Or lies in stuporscarcely makes believe

Of minding businessfumbles at his beads.

They saythe trust that keeps his heart alive

Is thatby lasting till December next

He may hold Jubilee a second time

Andtwice in one reignope the Holy Doors.

By the waysomebody responsible

Assures me that the King of France has writ

Fresh orders: Fenelon will be condemned:

The Cardinal makes a wry face enough

Having a love for the delinquent: still

He's the ambassadormust press the point.

Have you a wager too dependent here?

'NOWfrom such matters to divert awhile

Hear of to-day's event which crowns the week

Casts all the other wagers into shade.

Tell Dandolo I owe him fifty drops

Of heart's blood in the shape of gold zecchines!

The Pope has done his worst: I have to pay

For the execution of the Countby Jove!

Two days sinceI reported him as safe

Re-echoing the conviction of all Rome:

Who could suspect the one deaf ear- the Pope's?

But prejudices grow insuperable

And that old enmity to Austriathat

Passion for France and France's pageant-king

(Of whichwhy pause to multiply the proofs

Now scandalously rife in Europe's mouth?)

These fairly got the better in the man

Of justiceprudenceand esprit de corps

And he persisted in the butchery.

Also'tis said that in his latest walk

To that Dogana-by-the-Bankhe built

The crowd- he suffers questionunrebuked-

Asked"Whether murder was a privilege

Only reserved for nobles like the Count?"

And he was ever mindful of the mob.

Martinezthe Caesarian Minister

-Who used his best endeavours to spare blood

And strongly pleaded for the life "of one"

Urged he"I may have dined at table with!"-

He will not soon forget the Pope's rebuff

-Feels the slight sensiblyI promise you!

And but for the dissuasion of two eyes

That make with him foul weather or fine day

He had abstainednor graced the spectacle:

As it wasbarely would he condescend

Look forth from the palchetto where he sat

Under the Pincian: we shall hear of this!

The substitutingtoothe People's Square

For the out-o'-the-way old quarter by the Bridge

Was meant as a conciliatory sop

To the mob; it gave one holiday the more.

But the French Embassy might unfurl flag-

Still the good luck of France to fling a foe!

Cardinal Bouillon triumphs properly!

Palchetti were erected in the Place

And housesat the edge of the Three Streets

Let their front windows at six dollars each:

Anguisciolathat patron of the arts

Hired one; our Envoy Contarini too.

'NOW for the thing; no sooner the decree

Gone forth- 'tis four-and-twenty hours ago-

Than Acciaioli and Panciatichi

Old friendsindeed compatriots of the man

Being pitched on as the couple properest

To intimate the sentence yesternight

Were closeted ere cock-crow with the Count.

They both report their efforts to dispose

The unhappy nobleman for ending well

Despite the natural sense of injury

Were crowned at last with a complete success:

And when the Company of Death arrived

At twenty-hours- the way they reckon here-

We sayat sunsetafter dinner-time-

The Count was led downhoisted up on car

Last of the fiveas heinousestyou know:

Yet they allowed one whole car to each man.

His intrepiditynaynonchalance

As up he stood and down he sat himself

Struck admiration into those who saw.

Then the procession startedtook the way

From the New Prisons by the Pilgrim's Street

The street of the GovernoPasquin's Street

(Where was stuck up'mid other epigrams

A quatrain... but of all thatpresently!)

The Place Navonathe Pantheon's Place

Place of the Columnlast the Corso's length

And so debouched thence at Mannaia's foot

I' the Place o' the People. As is evident

(Despite the malice- plainly meantI fear

By this abrupt change of locality-

The Square's no such bad place to head and hang)

We had the titillation as we sat

Assembled(quality in conclaveha?)

Ofminute after minutesome report

How the slow show mas winding on its way.

Now did a car run overkill a man

Just opposite a pork-shop numbered Twelve:

And bitter were the outcries of the mob

Against the Pope: forbut that he forbids

The Lotterywhytwelve were Tern Quatern!

Now did a beggar by Saint Agneslame

From his youth uprecover use of leg

Through prayer of Guido as he glanced that way:

So that the crowd near crammed his hat with coin.

Thus was kept up excitement to the last

-Not an abrupt out-boltingas of yore

From Cattleover Bridge and on to block

And so all ended ere you well could wink!

'GUIDO was last to mount the scaffold-steps

Here alsoas atrociousest in crime.

We hardly noticed how the peasants died

They dangled somehow soon to right and left

And we remained all ears and eyescould give

Ourselves to Guido undividedly

As he harangued the multitude beneath.

He begged forgiveness on the part of God

And fair construction of his act from men

Whose suffrage he entreated for his soul

Suggesting that we should forthwith repeat

A Pater and an Avewith the hymn

Salve Regina Caelifor his sake.

Which saidhe turned to the confessorcrossed

And reconciled himselfwith decency

Oft glancing at Saint Mary's opposite

Where they possessand showed in shrine to-day

The blessed Umbilicus of our Lord

(A relic 'tis believed no other church

In Rome can boast of)- then rose upas brisk

Knelt down againbent headadapted neck

Andwith the name of Jesus on his lips

Received the fatal blow.

'The headsman showed

The head to the populace. Must I avouch

We strangers own to disappointment here?

Report pronounced him fully six feet high

Youngishconsidering his fifty years

Andif not handsomedignified at least.

Indeedit was no face to please a wife!

His friends saythis was caused by the costume:

He wore the dress he did the murder in

That isa just-a-corps of russet serge

Black camisolecoarse cloak of baracan

(So they style here the garb of goat's-hair cloth)

White hat and cotton cap beneathpoor Count

Preservative against the evening dews

During the journey from Arezzo. Well

So died the manand so his end was peace;

Whence many a moral were to meditate.

Spada- you may bet Dandolo- is Pope?

Now for the quatrain!'

Nofriendthis will do!

You've sputtered into sparks. What streak comes next?

A letter: Don Giacinto Arcangeli

Doctor and Proctorhim I made you mark

Buckle to business in his study late

The virtuous sirethe valiant for the truth

Acquaints his correspondent- Florentine

By name Cenciniadvocate as well

Socius and brother-in-the-devil to match-

A friend of Franceschinianyhow

And knit up with the bowels of the case-

Acquaints him(in this paper that I touch)

How their joint effort to obtain reprieve

For Guido had so nearly nicked the nine

And ninety and one over- he would say

At Tarocs- or succeeded- in our phrase.

To this Cencini's care I owe the Book

The yellow thing I take and toss once more

-How will it bemy four-years'-intimate

When thou and I part company anon?-

'Twas hethe 'whole position of the case'

Pleading and summarywere put before;

Discreetly in my Book he bound them all

Adding some three epistles to the point.

Here is the first of thesepart fresh as penned

The sandthat dried the inknot rubbed away

Though penned the day whereof it tells the deed:

Part- extant just as plainlyyou know where

Whence came the other stuffwentyou know how

To make the ring that's all but round and done.

'LATE they arrivedtoo lateegregious Sir

Those same justificative points you urge

Might benefit His Blessed Memory

Count Guido Franceschini now with God:

Since the Court- to state things succinctly- styled

The Congregation of the Governor

Having resolved on Tuesday last our cause

I' the guilty sensewith death for punishment

Spite of all pleas by me deducible

In favour of said Blessed Memory-

Iwith expenditure of pains enough

Obtained a respiteleave to claim and prove

Exemption from the law's award- alleged

The power and privilege o' the Clericate:

To which effect a courier was despatched.

But ere an answer from Arezzo came

The Holiness of our Lord the Pope (prepare!)

Judging it inexpedient to postpone

The execution of such sentence passed

Saw fitby his particular chirograph

To derogatedispense with privilege

And wink at any hurt accruing thence

To Mother Church through damage of her son;

Alsoto overpass and set aside

That other plea on score of tender age

Put forth by me to do Pasquini good

One of the four in trouble with our friend.

So that all fiveto-dayhave suffered death

With no distinction save in dying- he

Decollated by way of privilege

The rest hanged decently and in order. Thus

Came the Count to his end of gallant man

Defunct in faith and exemplarity:

Nor shall the shield of his great House lose shine

Nor its blue banner blush to red thereby.

Thistooshould yield sustainment to our hearts-

He had commiseration and respect

In his decease from universal Rome

Quantum est hominum venustiorum

The nice and cultivated everywhere:

Thoughin respect of me his advocate

Needs must I groan o'er my debility

Attribute the untoward event o' the strife

To nothing but my own crass ignorance

Which faired to set the valid reasons forth

Find fit excuse: such is the fate of war!

May God compensate us the direful blow

By future blessings on his family

Whereof I lowly beg the next commands;

-Wheretoas humblyI confirm myself...'

And so forth- follow name and place and date:

On the next leaf-

'Hactenus senioribus!

Thereold foxshow the clients t' other side

And keep this corner sacredI beseech!

You and your pleas and proofs were what folks call

Pisan assistanceaid that comes too late

Saves a man dead as nail in post of door.

Had I but time and space for narrative!

What was the good of twenty Clericates

When Somebody's thick headpiece once was bent

On seeing Guido's drop into the bag?

How these old men like giving youth a push!

So much the better: next push goes to him

And a new Pope begins the century.

Much good I get by my superb defence!

But argument is solid and subsists

While obstinacy and ineptitude

Accompany the owner to his tomb;

What do I care how soon? Besidefolks see!

Rome will have relished heartily the show

Yet understood the motivesnever fear

Which caused the indecent change o' the People's Place

To the People's Playground- stigmatize the spite

Which in a trice precipitated things!

As oft the moribund will give a kick

To show they are not absolutely dead

So feebleness i' the socket shoots its last

A spirt of violence for energy!

'But thouCencinibrother of my breast

O foxwhose home is 'mid the tender grape

Whose couch in Tuscany by Themis' throne

Subject to no such... but I shut my mouth

Or only open it again to say

This pother and confusion fairly laid

My hands are empty and my satchel lank.

Now then for both the Matrimonial Cause

And the case of Gomez! Serve them hot and hot!

'RELIQUA differamus in crastinum!

The impatient estafette cracks whip outside:

Stillthough the earth should swallow him who swears

And me who make the mischiefin must slip

-My boyyour godsonfat-chaps Hyacinth

Enjoyed the sight while Papa plodded here.

I promised himthe roguea month ago

The day his birthday wasof all the days

That if I failed to save Count Guido's head

Cinuccio should at least go see it chopped

From trunk- "Solatinize your thanks!" quoth I:

"That I preferhoc malim" raps me out

The rogue: you notice the subjunctive? Ah!

Accordingly he sat therebold in box

Proud as the Pope behind the peacock-fans:

Whereon a certain lady-patroness

For whom I manage things (my boy in front

Her Marquis sat the third in evidence;

Boys have no eyes nor ears save for the show)

"This timeCintino" was her sportive word

When whiz and thump went axe and mowed lay man

And folks could fall to the suspended chat

"This timeyou seeBottini rules the roast

Nor can Papa with all his eloquence

Be reckoned on to help as heretofore!"

Whereat Cinone pouts; thensparkishly-

"Papa knew better than aggrieve his Pope

And baulk him of his grudge against our Count

Else he'd have argued-off Bottini's"... what?

"His nose"- the rogue! well parried of the boy!

He's long since out of Caesar (eight years old)

And as for tripping in Eutropius... well

Reason the more that we strain every nerve

To do him justicemould a model-mouth

A Bartolus-cum-Baldo for next age:.

For that I purse the pieceswork the brain

And want both Gomez and the marriage-case

Success with which shall plaster aught of pate

That's broken in me by Bottini's flail

And bruise his ownbelikethat wags and brags.

Adverti supplico humiliter

Quoddon't the fungus seethe fop divine

That one hand drives two horsesleft and right?

With this rein did I rescue from the ditch

The fortune of our Franceschinikeep

Unsplashed the credit of a noble House

And set the fashionable cause of Rome

A-prancing till bystanders shouted "'ware!"

The other rein's judicious management

Suffered old Somebody to keep the pace

Hobblingly play the roadster: who but he

Had his opinionwas not led by the nose

In leash of quibbles strung to look like law!

You'll soon see- when I go to pay devoir

And compliment him on confuting me-

Ifby a back-swing of the pendulum

Grace be notthick and threefoldconsequent!

"I must decide as I see properDon!

The PopeI have my inward lights for guide.

Had learning been the matter in dispute

Could eloquence avail to gainsay fact

Yours were the victorybe comforted!"

Cinuzzo will be gainer by it all.

Quick then with Gomezhot and hot next case!'

FOLLOWSa lettertakes the other side.

Tall blue-eyed Fisc whose head is capped with cloud

Doctor Bottini- to no matter who

Writes on the Monday two days afterward.

Now shall the honest championship of right

Crowned with successenjoy at lastunblamed

Moderate triumph! Now shall eloquence

Poured forth in fancied floods for virtue's sake

(The print is sorrowfully dyked and dammed

But shows where fain the unbridled force would flow

Finding a channel)- now shall this refresh

The thirsty donor with a drop or two!

Here has been truth at issue with a lie:

Let who gained truth the day have handsome pride

In his own prowess! Eh? What ails the man?

'WELLit is overends as I foresaw:

Easily provedPompilia's innocence!

Catch them entrusting Guido's guilt to me!

I hadas usualthe plain truth to plead.

I always knew the clearness of the stream

Would show the fish so thoroughlychild might prong

The clumsy monster: with no mud to splash

Small credit to lynx-eye and lightning-spear!

This Guido- (much sport he contrived to make

Who at first twistpreamble of the cord

Turned whitetold alllike the poltroon he was!)-

Finishedas you expecta penitent

Fully confessed his crimeand made amends

Andedifying Rome last Saturday

Died like a saintpoor devil! That's the man

The gods still give to my antagonist:

Imagine how Arcangeli claps wing

And crows! "Such formidable facts to face

So naked to attackmy client here

And yet I kept a month the Fisc at bay

And in the end had foiled him of the prize

By this arch-strokethis plea of privilege

But that the Pope must gratify his whim

Put in his wordpoor old man- let it pass!"

-Such is the cue to which all Rome responds.

And howin petrifaction of surprise

The actors stand- raised arm and planted foot-

Mouth as it madeeye as it evidenced

Despairing shriektriumphant hate- transfixed

Both he who takes and she who yields the life.

'AS YE become spectators of this scene-

Watch obscuration of a fame pearl-pure

In vapoury filmsenwoven circumstance

-A soul made weak by its pathetic want

Of just the first apprenticeship to sin

Would thenceforth make the sinning soul secure

From all foes save itselfthat's truliest foe-

For egg turned snake needs fear no serpentry-

As ye behold this web of circumstance

Deepen the more for every thrill and throe

Convulsive effort to disperse the films

And disenmesh the fame o' the martyr- mark

How all those meansthe unfriended one pursues

To keep the treasure trusted to her breast

Each struggle in the flight from death to life

How allby procuration of the powers

Of darknessare transformed- no single ray

Shot forth to show and save the inmost star

Butpassed as through hell's prismproceeding black

To the world that hates white: as ye watchI say

Till dusk and such defacement grow eclipse

By- marvellous perversity of man!-

The inadequacy and inaptitude

Of that self-same machinethat very law

Man vauntsdevised to dissipate the gloom

Rescue the drowning orb from calumny

-Hear lawappointed to defend the just

Submitfor best defencethat wickedness

Was bred of flesh and innate with the bone

Borne by Pompilia's spirit for a space

And no mere chance faultpassionate and brief:

Finallywhen ye find- after this touch

Of man's protection which intends to mar

The last pin-point of light and damn the disc-

One wave of the hand of God amid the worlds

Bid vapour vanishdarkness flee away

And leave the vexed star culminate in peace

Approachable no more by earthly mist-

What I call God's hand- youperhaps- this chance

Of the true instinct of an old good man

Who happens to hate darkness and love light-

In whom too was the eye that sawnot dim

The natural force to do the thing he saw

Nowise abated- both by miracle-

All this well pondered- I demand assent

To the enunciation of my text

In face of one proof more that "God is true

And every man a liar"- that who trusts

To human testimony for a fact

Gets this sole fact- himself is proved a fool;

Man's speech being falseif but by consequence

That only strength is true; while man is weak

Andsince truth seems reserved for heaven not earth

Should learn to love what he may speak one day.

'FOR methe weary and the wornwho prompt

To mirth or pityas I move the mood-

A friar who glide unnoticed to the grave

Bare feetcoarse robe and rope-girt waist of mine-

I have long since renounced your worldye know:

Yet weigh the worth of worldly prize foregone

Disinterestedly judge this and that

Good ye account good: but God tries the heart.

Stillif you question me of my content

At having put each human pleasure by

I answerat the urgency of truth

As this world seemsI dare not say I know

-Apart from Christ's assurance which decides-

Whether I have not failed to taste some joy.

For many a dream would fain perturb my choice-

How lovein those the varied shapesmight show

As gloryor as raptureor as grace:

How conversancy with the books that teach

The arts that help- howto grow greatin fine

Rather than simply goodand bring thereby

Goodness to breathe and livenorborn i' the brain

Die there- how these and many another gift

May well be precious though abjured by me.

Butfor one prizebest meed of mightiest man

Arch-object of ambition- earthly praise

Repute o' the worldthe flourish of loud trump

The softer social fluting- Ohfor these

-Nomy friends! Fame- that bubble whichworld-wide

Each blows and bids his neighbour lend a breath

That so he haply may behold thereon

One more enlarged distorted false fool's-face

Until some glassy nothing grown as big

Send by a touch the imperishable to suds-

Noin renouncing famethe loss was light

Choosing obscuritythe chance was well!'

DIDST ever touch such ampollosity

As the man's own bubblelet alone its spite?

What's his speech forbut just the fame he flouts-

How he dares reprehend both high and low?

Else had he turned the sentence 'God is true

And every man a liar- save the Pope

Happily reigning- my respects to him!'

-Sorounded off the period. Molinism

Simple and pure! To what pitch get we next?

I find thatfor first pleasant consequence

Gomezwho had intended to appeal

From the absurd decision of the Court

Declinesthough plain enough his privilege

To call on help from lawyers any more-

Resolves the liars may possess the world

Till God have had sufficiency of both:

So may I whistle for my job and fee!

BUTfor this virulent and rabid monk-

If law be an inadequate machine

And advocacyso much impotence

We shall soon seemy blatant brother! That's

Exactly what I hope to show your sort!

Forby a veritable piece of luck

True providenceyou monks round period with

All may be gloriously retrieved. Perpend!

That Monastery of the Convertites

Whereto the Court consigned Pompilia first

-Observeif convertitewhysinner then

Or where the pertinency of award?-

And whither she was late returned to die

-Still in their jurisdictionmark again!-

That thrifty Sisterhoodfor perquisite

Claims every paul whereof may die possessed

Each sinner in the circuit of its walls.

Nowthis Pompiliaseeing that by death

O' the coupleall their wealth devolved on her

Straight utilized the respite ere decease

By regular conveyance of the goods

She thought her ownto will and to devise-

Gave all to friendsTighetti and the like

In trust for him she held her son and heir

Gaetano- trust to end with infancy:

So willing and devisingsince assured

The justice of the Court would presently

Confirm her in her rights and exculpate

Re-integrate and rehabilitate-

Station asthrough my pleadingnow she stands.

But here's the capital mistake: the Court

Found Guido guilty- but pronounced no word

About the innocency of his wife:

I grounded charge on broader baseI hope!

No matter whether wife be true or false

The husband must not push aside the law

And punish of a sudden: that's the point!

Gather from out my speech the contrary!

It follows that Pompiliaunrelieved

By formal sentence from imputed fault

Remains unfit to have and to dispose

Of propertywhich law provides shall lapse:

Wherefore the Monastery claims its due.

And whosepraywhose the officebut the Fisc's?

Who but I institute procedure next

Against the person of dishonest life

Pompiliawhom last week I sainted so?

Iit isteach the monk what scripture means

And that the tongue should prove a two-edged sword

No axe sharp one sideblunt the other way

Like what amused the town at Guido's cost!

Astraea redux! I've a second chance

Before the self-same Court o' the Governor

Who soon shall see volte-face and chopchange sides!

AccordinglyI charge you on your life

Send me with all dispatch the judgment late

O' the Florence Rota Courtconfirmative

O' the prior judgment at Arezzoclenched

Again by the Granducal signature

Wherein Pompilia is convicteddoomed

And only destined to escape through flight

The proper punishment. Send me the piece-

I'll work it! And this foul-mouthed friar shall find

His Noah's-dove that brought the olive back

Is turned into the other sooty scout

The ravenNoah first of all put forth the ark

And never came backbut ate carcasses!

No adequate machinery in law?

No power of life and death i' the learned tongue?

Methinks I am already at my speech

Startle the world with 'ThouPompiliathus?

How is the fine gold of the Temple dim!'

And so forth. But the courier bids me close

And clip away one joke that runs through Rome

Side by side with the sermon which I send-

How like the heartlessness of the old hunks

Arcangeli! His Count is hardly cold

His client whom his blunders sacrificed

When somebody must needs describe the scene-

How the procession ended at the church

That boasts the famous relic: quoth our brute

'Whythat's just Martial's phrase for "make an end"-

Ad umbilicum sic perventum est!'

The callous dog- let who will cut off head

He cuts a jokeand cares no more than so!

I think my speech shall modify his mirth:

'How is the fine gold dim!'- but send the piece!

ALACKBottiniwhat is my next word

But death to all that hope? The Instrument

Is plain before meprint that ends my Book

With the definitive verdict of the Court

Dated Septembersix months afterward

(Such trouble and so longthe old Pope gave!)

'In restitution of the perfect fame

Of dead Pompiliaquondam Guido's wife

And warrant to her representative

Domenico Tighettibarred hereby

While doing duty in his guardianship

From all molestingall disquietude

Each perturbation and vexation brought

Or threatened to be brought against the heir

By the Most Venerable Convent called

Saint Mary Magdalen o' the Convertites

I' the Corso.'

Justice done a second time!

Well judgedMarc AntonyLocum-tenens

O' the Governora Venturini too!

For which I save thy name- last of the list!

NEXT year but onecompleting his nine years

Of rule in Romedied Innocent my Pope

-By some accountson his accession-day.

If he thought doubt would do the next age good

'Tis pity he died unapprised what birth

His reign may boast ofbe remembered by-

Terrible Popetooof a kind- Voltaire.

AND so an end of all i' the story. Strain

Never so much my eyesI miss the mark

There lived or died that Gaetanochild

Of Guido and Pompilia: only find

Immediately upon his father's death

A record in the annals of the town

That Porziasister of our Guidomoved

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Top of Form 1

Bottom of Form 1

The Priors of Arezzo and their head

Its Gonfalonier to give loyally

A public attestation to the right

O' the Franceschini to men's reverence-

Apparently because of the incident

O' the murder- there's no mention made of crime

But what else caused such urgency to cure

The mobjust thenof chronic greediness

For scandallove of lying vanity

And appetite to swallow crude reports

That bring annoyance to their betters?- Bane

Whichherewas promptly met by antidote.

I like and shall translate the eloquence

Of nearly the worst Latin ever writ:

'Since antique time whereof the memory

Holds the beginningto this present hour

Our Franceschini ever shoneand shine

Still i' the primary ranksupreme amid

The lustres of Arezzoproud to own

In this great family- her flag-bearer

Guide of her steps and guardian against foe-

As in the first beginningso to-day!'

Therewould you disbelieve stern History

Trust rather to the babble of a bard?

I thoughtArezzothou hadst fitter souls

Petrarch- nayBuonarroti at a pinch

To do thee credit as vexillifer!

Was it mere mirth the Patavinian meant

Making thee outin his veracious page

Founded by Janus of the Double Face?

WELLproving of such perfect parentage

Our Gaetanoborn of love and hate

Did the babe live or die?- one fain would find!

What were his fancies if he grew a man?

Was he proud- a true scion of the stock-

Of bearing blazonshall make bright my Book-

ShieldAzureon a Triple MountainOr

A Palm-treeProperwhereunto is tied

A GreyhoundRampantstriving in the slips?

Or did he love his motherthe base-born

And fight i' the ranksunnoticed by the world?

SUCHthenthe final state o' the story. So

Did the Star Wormwood in a blazing fall

Frighten awhile the waters and lie lost:

So did this old woe fade from memory

Till afterin the fulness of the days

I needs must find an ember yet unquenched

Andbreathingblow the spark to flame. It lives

If precious be the soul of man to man.

SOBRITISH Publicwho may like me yet

(Marry and amen!) learn one lesson hence

Of many which whatever lives should teach:

This lessonthat our human speech is naught

Our human testimony falseour fame

And human estimation words and wind.

Why take the artistic way to prove so much?

Becauseit is the glory and good of Art

That Art remains the one way possible

Of speaking truthto mouths like mineat least.

How look a brother in the face and say

'Thy right is wrongeyes hast thou yet art blind

Thine ears are stuffed and stoppeddespite their length

Andohthe foolishness thou countest faith!'

Say this as silverly as tongue can troll-

The anger of the man may be endured

The shrugthe disappointed eyes of him

Are not so bad to bear- but here's the plague

That all this trouble comes of telling truth

Which truthby when it reaches himlooks false

Seems to be just the thing it would supplant

Nor recognizable by whom it left-

While falsehood would have done the work of truth.

But Art- wherein man nowise speaks to men

Only to mankind- Art may tell a truth

Obliquelydo the thing shall breed the thought

Nor wrong the thoughtmissing the mediate word.

So may you paint your picturetwice show truth

Beyond mere imagery on the wall-

Sonote by notebring music from your mind

Deeper than ever the Andante dived-

So write a book shall meanbeyond the facts

Suffice the eye and save the soul beside.

AND save the soul! If this intent save mine-

If the rough ore be rounded to a ring

Render all duty which good ring should do

Andfailing gracesucceed in guardianship-

Might mine but lie outside thineLyric Love

Thy rare gold ring of verse (the poet praised)

Linking our England to his Italy!