Poems (Botta)/Day Dawn in Italy

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Italia! in thy bleeding heart, I thought, e’en hope was dead; That from thy scarred and prostrate form, The spark of life had fled.

I thought, as Memory’s sunset glow Its radiance o’er thee cast, That all thy glory and thy fame Were buried in the past.

Twice Mistress of the world! I thought Thy star had set in gloom; That all thy shrines and monuments Were but thy spirit’s tomb.

The mausoleum of the world, Where Art her spoils might keep; Where pilgrims from all shrines might come, To wonder and to weep.

The thunders of the Vatican Had long since died away; Saint Peter’s chair seemed tottering, And crumbling to decay.

Thy ancient line of Pontiff Kings Was to the past allied; And oft in Freedom’s holy wars, They fought not on her side.

The sacred banner of the Cross Was trailing, soiled and torn; And often had the hostile ranks That blessed ensign borne.

But from her death-like slumber now, The seven-hilled city wakes: Italia! on thy shrouded sky, A gleam of morning breaks.

Along the Alps and Appenines Runs an electric thrill; A golden splendor lights once more The Capitolian hill.

And hopes, bright as thy sunny skies, Are o’er thy future cast; The future that upon thee beams, As glorious as thy past.

The laurels that thy Caesars wore, Were dyed with crimson stains; Their triumphs glittered with the spoil Won on thy battle plains.

But for thy Pontiff Prince, to-day, A laurel might’st thou twine, Unsullied as the spotless life He lays upon thy shrine.

For him might the triumphal car Ascend the hill again; No slaves, bound to the chariot wheels, Should swell the lengthened train:—

Such train, as in her proudest days, Was never seen in Rome,— Of captives from the dungeon freed,— Of exiles welcomed home.

When, gazing on the doubtful strife, The Hebrew leader prayed, The friends of Israel gathered round, His drooping hands they staid.

And thus around the Patriarch’s chair, The friends of Freedom stand,— All eager, though it falters not, To stay his lifted hand.

And in a clearer, firmer tone, Is heard their rallying cry; From Ætna to the Alps it sounds: “For God and Liberty!”