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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/177

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THE LAMENT OF TASSO.[1]





I.

Long years!—It tries the thrilling frame to bear
And eagle-spirit of a Child of Song—
Long years of outrage—calumny—and wrong;
Imputed madness, prisoned solitude,[2]
And the Mind's canker in its savage mood,
When the impatient thirst of light and air
Parches the heart; and the abhorred grate,
Marring the sunbeams with its hideous shade,
Works through the throbbing eyeball to the brain,
With a hot sense of heaviness and pain;10

And bare, at once, Captivity displayed
  1. [The MS. of the Lament of Tasso corresponds, save in three lines where alternate readings are superscribed, verbatim et literatim with the text. A letter dated August 21, 1817, from G. Polidori to John Murray, with reference to the translation of the Lament into Italian, and a dedicatory letter (in Polidori's handwriting) to the Earl of Guilford, dated August 3, 1817, form part of the same volume.]
  2. [In a letter written to his friend Scipio Gonzaga ("Di prizione in Sant' Anna, questo mese di mezzio l'anno 1579"), Tasso exclaims, "Ah, wretched me! I had designed to write, besides two epic poems of most noble argument, four tragedies, of which I had formed the plan. I had schemed, too, many works in prose, on subjects the most lofty, and most useful to human life; I had designed to unite philosophy with eloquence, in such a manner that there might remain of me an eternal memory in the world. Alas! I had expected to close my life with glory and renown; but now, oppressed by the burden of so many calamities, I have lost every prospect of reputation and of honour. The fear of perpetual imprisonment increases my melancholy; the indignities which I suffer augment it; and the squalor of my beard, my hair, and habit, the sordidness and filth, exceedingly annoy me. Sure am I, that, if she who so little has corresponded to my attachment—if she saw me in such a state, and in such affliction—she would have some compassion on me."—Lettere di Torquato Tasso, 1853, ii. 60.]