Imatges de pàgina


Time, the Fourteenth Century. The Scene lies first at Ravenna, and

afterwards at Rimini.


Tais Poem is founded on the beautiful episode of Paulo and Francesca in the fifth book of the INFERNO, where it stands like a lily in the mouth of Tartarus. The substance of what Dante tells us of the history of the two lovers is to be found at the end of the third Canto. The rest has been gathered from the commentators. They differ in their accounts of it, but all agree that the lady was, in some measure, beguiled into the match with the elder and less attractive Malatesta,-Boccaccio says, by having the younger brother pointed out to her as her destined husband, as he was passing over a square.

Francesca of Ravenna was the daughter of Guido Novello da Polenta, lord of that city, and was married to Giovanni, or, as others call him, Launcelot Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, under circumstances that had given her an innocent predilection for Paulo, his younger brother. The falsehood thus practised upon her had fatal consequences. In the Poem before the reader, the Duke her father, a weak, though not ill-disposed man, desirous, on a political account, of marrying her to the Prince of Rimini, and dreading her objections in case she sees him, and becomes acquainted with his unamiable manners, contrives that he shall send his brother as his proxy, and that the poor girl shall believe the one prince to be the sample of the other. Experience undeceives her; Paulo has been told the perilous secret of her preference for him ; and in both of them a struggle with their sense of duty takes place, for which the insincere and selfish morals of others had not prepared them. Giovanni discovers the secret, from words uttered by his wife in her sleep: he forces Paulo to meet him in single combat, and slays him, not withont sorrow for both, and great indignation against the father : Francesca dies of a broken heart; and the two lovers, who had come to Ravenna in the midst of a gay cavalcade, are sent back to Ravenna, dead, in order that he who first helped to unite them with his falsehood, should bury them in one grave for his repentance. The poor old man loses his wits; and the burial takes place.





The sun is up, and ’tis a morn of May
Round old Ravenna's clear-shewn towers and bay,

A morn, the loveliest which the year has seen,
Last of the spring, yet fresh with all its green ;
For a warm eve, and gentle rains at night,
Have left a sparkling welcome for the light,
And there's a crystal clearness all about ;
The leaves are sharp, the distant hills look out;


A balmy briskness comes upon the breeze;
The smoke goes dancing from the cottage trees;
And when you listen, you may hear a coil
Of bubbling springs about the grassier soil
And all the scene in short,—sky, earth, and sea,
Breathes like a bright-eyed face, that laughs out


'Tis nature, full of spirits, waked and springing :The birds to the delicious time are singing, Darting with freaks and snatches


and down, Where the light woods go seaward from the town; While happy faces, striking through the green Of leafy roads, at every turn are seen ; And the far ships, lifting their sails of white Like joyful hands, come up with scatter'd light, Come gleaming up, true to the wished-for day, And chase the whistling brine, and swirl into the bay.

And well may all who can, come crowding there, If peace returning, and processions rare,

And to crown all, a marriage in the spring
Can set enjoying fancies on the wing;
For on this sparkling day, Ravenna's pride,
The daughter of their prince, becomes a bride,
A bride, to ransom an exhausted land :
And he, whose victories have obtained her hand,

Has taken with the dawn, so flies report,

His promised journey to the expecting court, With hasting pomp, and squires of high degree, The bold Giovanni, lord of Rimini.

Already in the streets the stir

loud Of joy increasing and a bustling crowd. With feet and voice the gathering hum contends, Yearns the deep talk, the ready laugh ascends : Callings, and clapping doors, and curs unite, And shouts from mere exuberance of delight, And armed bands, making important way, Gallant and grave, the lords of holiday, And nodding neighbours, greeting as they run, And pilgrims, chanting in the morning sun.


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