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And thou in painting didst transcribe all taught
By loftiest meditations ; marble knew
The grace of his own power and freedom grew.
Yes; and on Pisa's marble walls the twine
Of direst weeds hangs garlanded; the snake
A beast of subtler venom now doth make
The sweetest flowers are ever frail and rare,
And love and freedom blossom but to wither; And good and ill like vines entangled are, So that their grapes may oft be plucked to
gether. Divide the vintage ere thou drink, then make Thy heart rejoice for dead Marenghi's sake.
But if the morning bright as evening shone,
Pursued into forgetfulness, which won
For when by sound of trumpet was declared
A price upon his life, and there was set A penalty of blood on all who shared
So much of water with him as might wet His lips, which speech divided not, he went Alone, as you may guess, to banishment.
Amid the mountains, like a hunted beast,
He hid himself, and hunger, toil, and cold, Month after month endured; it was a feast Whene'er he found those globes of deep-red
gold Which in the woods the strawberry-tree doth bear, Suspended in their emerald atmosphere.
And in the roofless huts of vast morasses,
Deserted by the fever-stricken serf, All overgrown with reeds and long rank grasses,
And hillocks heaped of moss-inwoven turf, And where the huge and speckled aloe made, Rooted in stones, a broad and pointed shade,
He housed himself. There is a point of strand
Near Vado's tower and town; and on one side The treacherous marsh divides it from the land,
Shadowed by pine and ilex forests wide,
Here the earth's breath is pestilence, and few
But things whose nature is at war with life Snakes and ill worms endure its mortal dew.
The trophies of the clime's victorious strife White bones, and locks of dun and yellow hair, And ringèd horns which buffaloes did wear
The relics of a weed-inwoven cot,
derer Had lived seven days there; the pursuit was hot When he was cold. The birds that his
grave Fell dead
their feast in Vado's wave.
There must have lived within Marenghi's heart That fire, more warm and bright than life or
More joyous than the heaven's majestic cope
Nor was his state so lone as you might think.
He had tamed every newt and snake and toad, And every seagull which sailed down to drink
Those ere the death-mist went abroad.
And each one, with peculiar talk and play,
And the marsh-meteors, like tame beasts, at night
Came licking with blue tongues his veinèd feet; And he would watch them, as, like spirits bright,
In many entangled figures quaint and sweet To some enchanted music they would dance Until they vanished at the first moon-glance.
He mocked the stars by grouping on each weed
The summer dewdrops in the golden dawn ;
Its pictured footprints, as on spots of lawn
And many a fresh Spring morn would he awaken,
While yet the unrisen sun made glow, like iron Quivering in crimson fire, the peaks unshaken
Of mountains and blue isles which did environ With air-clad crags that plain of land and sea, — And feel
And in the moonless nights, when the dim ocean
Heaved underneath the heaven, Starting from dreams . .
Communed with the immeasurable world ; And felt his life beyond his limbs dilated, Till his mind grew like that it contemplated.
The milky pine-nuts which the autumnal blast Shakes into the tall grass; and such small fry
As from the sea by winter-storms are cast; And the coarse bulbs of iris flowers he found Knotted in clumps under the spongy ground.
And so were kindled powers and thoughts which
made His solitude less dark. When memory came (For years gone by leave each a deepening shade),
His spirit basked in its internal flame, As, when the black storm hurries round at night The fisher basks beside his red firelight.
Yet human hopes and cares and faiths and errors,
Like billows unawakened by the wind, Slept in Marenghi still; but that all terrors,
Weakness, and doubt, had withered in his mind. His couch
And, when he saw beneath the sunset's planet
A black ship walk over the crimson ocean, Its pennons streaming on the blasts that fan it,
Its sails and ropes all tense and without motion, Like the dark ghost of the unburied even Striding across the orange-colored heaven,