I loved all Solitude—but little thought
To spend I know not what of life, remote
From all communion with existence, save
The maniac and his tyrant;—had I been
Their fellow, many years ere this had seen
My mind like theirs corrupted to its grave.
But who hath seen me writhe, or heard me rave?180
Perchance in such a cell we suffer more
Than the wrecked sailor on his desert shore;
The world is all before him—mine is here,
Scarce twice the space they must accord my bier.
What though he perish, he may lift his eye,
And with a dying glance upbraid the sky;
I will not raise my own in such reproof,
Although 'tis clouded by my dungeon roof.
Yet do I feel at times my mind decline,
But with a sense of its decay: I see190
Unwonted lights along my prison shine,
- My mind like theirs adapted to its grave.—[MS.]
- ["Nor do I lament," wrote Tasso, shortly after his confinement, "that my heart is deluged with almost constant misery. that my head is always heavy and often painful, that my sight and hearing are much impaired, and that all my frame is become spare and meagre; but, passing all this with a short sigh, what I would bewail is the infirmity of my mind.... My mind sleeps, not thinks; my fancy is chill, and forms no pictures; my negligent senses will no longer furnish the images of things; my hand is sluggish in writing, and my pen seems as if it shrunk from the office. I feel as if I were chained in all my operations, and as if I were overcome by an unwonted numbness and oppressive stupor.—Opere, Venice, 1738, viii. 258, 263.]
- [In a letter to Maurizio Cataneo, dated December 25, 1585, Tasso gives an account of his sprite (folletto): "The little thief has stolen from me many crowns.... He puts all my books topsy-turvy (mi mette tutti i libri sottosopra), opens my chest and steals my keys, so that I can keep nothing." Again, December 30, with regard to his hallucinations he says, "Know then that in addition to the wonders of the Folletto ... I have many nocturnal alarms. For even when awake I have seemed to behold small flames in the air, and sometimes my eyes sparkle in such a manner, that I dread the loss of sight, and I have ... seen sparks issue from them."—Letters 454,456, Le Lettere, 1853. ii. 475, 479.]