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death had been resolved on by the he comes to announce his sentence,
Duke, and that her visit was a parting and tells him he is prepared to die. A
one. At this moment, Montecatino striking scene follows.
is again announced. Tasso believes
Mont. Dismiss these idle visions from your brain !
Who wishes for your death ? Whom would it profit
The Duke has kept you prisoner here, because
He thought it dangerous to set you free
Because, in truth, you had abused your freedom.
Enough-the Duke would have you at St Anne's,
And here you have been ; had he wish'd your death,
Your execution had been just as easy.
But of such themes we speak not now. At present
Prepare yourself to hear more joyous news.
This gate is barr'd for you no more: No lock,
No bolt remains to keep you prisoner.
Torquato, you are free !
Tas. Free! Stop-be silent.
Take this note, and read.
Tas. My eyes are dazzled.
Tasso ! be composed.
Tas. (after a pause.) Be firm, my heart: 0, break not yet! What?---free! -
Free after seven imprison'd years of bondage !
Ah, me!- within the whole wide realm of speech
What term exists that so enchanting sounds ?
O give me words, O give me tones, kind Heaven,
To vent the exulting music of my soul,
That to the winds I may proclaim the joy
That fills my heart too full; for which no name
Is found in all the range of human feeling !
Mont. But only on conditions you are free.
Your stay within this court, within this city,
Within the territories of the Duke,
In future is forbidden. Should you dare
Once more to come within Ferrara's walls,
A darker doom awaits you. You are banish'd
Hence-and for ever. You depart to-night-
No more delay is granted. See to that.
Tas. It is enough for me. Let me go forth
But as a beggar, clad in sackcloth rags,
Not on my feet, but on my knees, to wander
Like one in penance-only let me go
Mont. Do as you will ; but be it done to-day.
Tas. Oh! death is nothing, life is nothing, freedom
Is all in all !
Free from this dark imprisonment to rove
From place to place, through mountain, wood, and vale
To see the day and night, and light and colour-
To drink the air into the gasping soul,
That were existence, that indeed were life
That I might sweep as freely as the eagle
Along the earth, and gaze—and gaze my fill !
Ang. Now, God be praised, Torquato ! that you can.
Tas. I could not have believed that I should ever
Know liberty again that I should live
To hear that sentence--" Tasso, you are free ! ”
Yet free I am. Oh! in that weary time,
If I had seen but once my father's house,
Had seen but once Vesuvius' smoke ascend,
Curling far off into the azure sky,
Methinks I should have died of happiness !
Now I shall see them see my home again,
And tread the soil with childish reverence,
Like an enfranchised slave. I shall behold
My sister's face-my kind, beloved sister's.
Keep. Joy makes your senses wander just like grief.
Tas. Montecatino, bear the Duke my thanks-
Deep thanks, the offspring of a deep-touch'd soul.
Say to him, all I suffer'd is forgotten,
And nothing but his kindness is remember'd.
Say to the Princess, that—(pauses) –
But whose entreaty moved the Prince to grant
The boon, when former prayers had proved in vain ?
To whom am I indebted ? For I would not
In such an hour as this appear ungrateful,
Or towards God or towards mau : I would not
Appear ungrateful even to my foes.
Mont. To many: yet methinks your chiefest thanks
Are due unto the noble Duke of Mantua,
Who answers for you.
God reward him for it!
Mon. And now, farewell, we will not see you more,
But hear of you—and that, I hope, for good:-
That you with gratitude repay the Duke's
Indulgence, that you use your freedom wisely,
And give the Duke no reason to repent
The gift which he has granted. Fare you well!
Tas. To you the same : Good wishes to you all!
Tas. I feel so happy, that methinks the gall
At once has vanish'd from my joyous breast,
Since not a word even from his mouth offends me.
For the last time I do behold you, then,
Ye walls, which seven long years environ'd me.
Ye witnesses of all my sufferings,
My sorrow, my despair--to-day I quit ye!
And yet, so strange a riddle is man's heart,
I almost might imagine loth to go.
Ang. You go, Torquato--you return no more,
And I shall never, never more behold you.
Tas. Thou, too, my child and must I part with thee !
A bitter drop within the cup of joy
That fires me thus. Much thou hast been to me,
More than thou could'st believe, or I express ;
That I still live, perchance, I owe to thee.
Ang. And must we separate ?-I cannot bear it.
Tas. Yes, I have rock'd thee on these knecs of mine ;
A lovely child, at first, thou play'dst around
And thou hast grown a maiden by my side
Unmark’d; methinks, to-day I first observe it.
By custom's thousand soft-endearing ties,
I clụng to thee-my stay, my consolation.
Thy voice, the gentle breathings of thy lute,
Have, like the harp of David, oft infused
Soft peace and balm into my wounded breast-
Nay God's best blessing go with thee !
O take me with you! for I cannot leave you.
Tas. What moves you thus ?
Take me with you, Torquato!
Alone in this wide house, no more to see you ;
No more to hear I cannot bear it. Take,
Ob take me with you! I will follow thee,
Guide you, where'er it be-tend you elsewhere
As I did here.
Tas. But whither would you go?
Ang. You are so ill you need another's care ;
So weak-in truth, much weaker than you think ;
And can I send you forth into the world
Alone, forsaken, without me, Torquato ?
Tas. Ay, so it is. I am a mouldering trunk ;
If the storm spare it, of itself it falls ;
And, in the wither'd top of such a tree,
Where should my gentle dove a shelter find ?
No, Angioletta, no! You are a child,
Your life is in the bud, mine in the sere :
How could I bear to pluck this youthful rose
From off the stem on which it bloom'd so fair,
To lay it on my coffin-lid ?
I was a child: I am a child no more.
How this has been, what change is wrought within,
I cannot tell; but all is changed within me.
I feel as I have never felt till now:
My world is where you are. You are my light,
The air I breathe: I bloom but by your side-
At your departure I must droop and die.
I have not learn’d to live without you yet,
Torquato. Be not-be not, then, so cruel
As to repulse me-me-who am your own!
Tas. Angioletta !
Yes, I love you, Tasso. I
Dreamt not of this before-not till this moment:
For, with my growth, did my affection grow
Part of myself; it was the atmosphere
Which I till now unconsciously inhaled.
Tas. Oh! speak no more of this ! May God forbid
That the dark tissue of my evil days
Should cross thy young and blooming thread of life!
Let youth wed youth, let pleasure seek for pleasure,
The spring for flowers, for happiness the happy-
Within my breast these feelings dwell no more.
I have no wreaths to braid these locks of thine,
Not even a branch that I can offer to thee.
The present and the future are thy portion ;
But the short sunny hours of my existence
Lie stretch'd behind me in remotest distance :
Extinguish'd are the stars that lighted me,
And all is vanish'd now save memory !
May Heaven, then, in its mercy grant my prayer,
What I have borne, ob, may'st thou never bear!
[Kisses her on the forehead, and exit. The next scene is in front of the tion of the Duke, to make his ducal palace at Ferrara. The palace the palace, and to learn the truth from is lighted up: masks in festal dresses, the Princess herself, before he leaves are coming and retiring. Tasso en- Ferrara for ever. He procures the ters to take a last look at the residence garb of a pilgrim, and in that dis. which contained Leonora. He asks guise mingles with the masqueraders : of a nobleman who is about to enter not unobserved, however, for the the palace, what is the occasion of the watchful eye of Montecatino has defestival, and is told that it is in honour tected his entrance. He communicates of the intended espousal of Leonora to the intelligence to another mask, and the Duke of Mantua. In despair, he they retire together, while Tasso and resolves to set at defiance the prohibi- Leonora approach.
Tasso, (in a pilgrim's dress and masked,) LEONORA.
Leon. What would you ?-wherefore do you follow me ?
The pilgrim still should wend his way alone :
He shuns society--he seeks it not.
Tas. But ere he parts upon his weary journey,
He bends once more before the holy shrine,
And mans himself for his uncertain route,
As one no more expecting to return.
Leon. O God! what voice was that ? O Heaven! You are
Tas. A buried being from the grave uprisen,
And soon returning to a deeper grave,
Should I remove the mask that hides my face,
You'd start before that sight of terror.
Yes ! you are Tasso.
Tasso! I am he.
Leon. Unfortunate! Oh, what a recognition !
Must Leonora meet you thus again?
Tas. That which I could not hope for has been granted
Once more my glance can lose itself in yours-
Within those deep unfathomable stars,
Within whose ray my soul dissolved like gold,
That grows more pure and sparkling in the fire.
Leon. And know you
risk ? Tas.
I know it well.
Nothing I risk, for nothing can I lose.
I go from hence, and something here within me
Whispers, I go to find a better freedom
Than what the Duke's indulgence can accord.
Then, since the moments are already number'd,
Let me arrest them in their flight, and revel
In the remembrance of my vanish'd bliss.
Leon. Oh, that you knew all that I feel and suffer
Tas. I bore within my heart a heavenly image
Of all that brightest was in love and life,
And held it fast in sorrow and in joy.
I clung to it in deepest misery;
It was the light that cheer'd my darken'd soul
Upbeld me when the tide of evil fortune
Rose swelling to my very head :-for this
I thank you, Leonora, even in death.
Leon. Nothing have you to thank me for, but grief.
Tas. And if the work I destined for the world
Won for me the applause of worthier spirits,
For that too must I thank you, Leonora.
Then chide me not, if on those days I linger,
Which you percbance would labour to forget.
You have no cause to blush for them, nor I:
That I have lived within your heaven of love,
And tasted of ambrosia ; that thus
Divinely charm’d, I deem'd myself a god-
I thank thee for it, and till death will thank thee,
Even were I plunged, as was Ixion, when
He raised his eyes unto the bride of Jove,
From bright Olympus down to Tartarus.
Leon. Oh, could I in one word condense my feeling,
Lay bare my being and my life before you !
Tas. To see you once-to loose the bands that held
The lips and heart in sad imprisonment ;-
That was the spell that press'd upon my soul
That was the madness that o'ertook me that
The longing unto death that wasted me!
A milder power has granted me the favour :
I part not now without a last adieu.
And now no more of me. Farewell! and if
You can, forget me. Let me be as buried,
And turn your glance where better days appear.
God make them many—make them happy. Princess,
To-night, I hear, is fix'd for your betrothing,
Leon. Betrothing ? Tasso, what a word from you !
Tas. What say you? Not betrothed !
I am not betrothed,
And never will be so- -accept my oath.
Tas. O now-support me now, ye heavenly powers !
Leon. So hear me, then, and let my words be taken
As if I spoke them in my dying hour.
Yes! my Torquato, I have loved thee much,
I love thee now, and will ever love thee !
The same.—LUCRETIA (entering abruptly, seizes Leonora's hand, and draws her
Luc. Your mask before your face. Fly, fly from hence.
(To Tasso.) And fly you quickly, if you value life.
Tas. Oh, one word more! By all the saints-remain !
Luc. Dare not to follow. If you love her-Hence.
[Hurries out with Leonora.
Tas. O fall and cover me, ye lofty pillars,
And hide at once my sorrows and my bliss.
But follow her I must. But once more.
Tasso. (A MASK meeting him.)
Tus. What would you ? Leave me-I must go.
A word !
I see you are a pilgrim, who unthinking
Have lost your way; let me then lead you to it.
This house is not the goal to which you travel-
Your course lies far apart indeed. Begone,
And venture never more to cross this threshold.
A giant here keeps watch beside the gate,
Whose club can crush the pilgrim at a blow;
Thank his good-nature that he spares you now.
But let him find you-as he does to-day-
And by my head, your head shall answer it.
Thou miserable fool, will nothing cure thee?
Wilt thou for ever cherish this delusion,
That princes' daughters are fit brides for one
Whose heritage on earth is nothing more
But a crazed brain, a harp, and pilgrim's staff ? [Exit.
Tas. It was my evil spirit's voice that spoke :
Unless my senses wander, 'twas the Duke. The Third Act introduces us to a his way to his sister's residence, to wild and woody country in the neigh- seek repose beside the only relative bourhoood of Sorrento. Tasso and that remains to him, and in the ex. Angioletta enter.
The poet is on pectation
66 That the same earth Should give him burial which first gave him birth.” A very beautiful scene takes place home. Angioletta tells him that his between the poet and his devoted entreaties are in vain-that her des. companion, in which he pours out his tiny and his are indissolubly linked gratitude for the kindness with which together; and that where he goes she she had tended him so far, and urges must follow. Tasso resumesher to leave him and to return to her