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ACT I. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe’s Works, vol. 3 (Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia in Tauris, Tarquato Tasso, etc) 
Goethe’s Works, illustrated by the best German artists, 5 vols. (Philadelphia: G. Barrie, 1885). Vol. 3.
Part of: Goethe’s Works, 5 vols.
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A Garden adorned with busts of the Epic Poets. To the right a bust of Virgil: to the left, one of Ariosto.
PrincessandLeonora,habited as shepherdesses
Smiling thou dost survey me, Leonora.
And with a smile thou dost survey thyself.
What is it? Let a friend partake thy thought!
Thou seemest pensive, yet thou seemest pleas’d.
Yes, I am pleas’d, my princess, to behold
Us twain in rural fashion thus attir’d.
Two happy shepherd-maidens we appear.
And like the happy we are both employ’d.
Garlands we wreathe; this one, so gay with flowers,
Beneath my hand in varied beauty grows:
Thou hast with higher taste and larger heart
The slender phant laurel made thy choice.
The laurel wreath, which aimlessly I twin’d,
Hath found at once a not unworthy head;
I place it gratefully on Virgil’s brow.
[She crowns the bust of Virgil.
With my full joyous wreath the lofty brow
Of Master Ludovico, thus I crown—
[She crowns the bust of Ariosto.
Let him whose sportive sashes never fade.
Receive his tribute from the early spring
My brother is most kind to bring us here
In this sweet season to our rural haunts:
Here, by the hour, in freedom unrestrain’d.
We may dream back the poet’s golden age.
I love this Belriguardo; in my youth
Full many a jovous day I linger’d here,
And this bright sunshine, and this verdant green,
Bring back the feelings of that bygone time.
Yes, a new world surrounds us! Grateful now
The cooling shelter of these evergreens.
The tuneful murmur of this gurgling spring
Once more revives us. In the morning wind
The tender branches waver to and fro.
The flowers look upwards from their lowly beds.
And smile upon us with their childlike eves.
The gardener, fearless grown, removes the roof
That screen’d his citron and his orange trees,
The azure dome of heaven above us rests:
And, in the far horizon, from the hills
The snow in balmy vapor melts away.
Most welcome were to me the genial spring,
Did it not lead my friend away from me.
My princess, in these sweet and tranquil hours,
Remind me not how soon I must depart.
Yon mighty city will restore to thee,
In double measure, what thou leavest here.
The voice of duty and the voice of love
Both call me to my lord, forsaken long;
I bring to him his son, who rapidly
Hath grown in stature and matur’d in mind
Since last they met,—I share his father’s joy.
Florence is great and noble, but the worth
Of all her treasur’d riches doth not reach
The prouder jewels that Ferrara boasts.
That city to her people owes her power;
Ferrara grew to greatness through her princes.
More through the noble men whom chance led here,
And who in sweet communion here remain’d.
Chance doth again disperse what chance collects;
A noble nature can alone attract
The noble, and retain them, as ye do.
Around thy brother, and around thyself,
Assemble spirits worthy of you both,
And ye are worthy of your noble sires.
Here the fair light of science and free thought
Was kindled first, while o’er the darken’d world
Still hung barbarian gloom. E’en when a child,
The names resounded loudly in mine ear,
Of Hercules and Hippolyte of Este.
My father oft with Florence and with Rome
Extoll’d Ferrara! Oft in youthful dream
Hither I fondly turn’d; now am I here.
Here was Petrarca kindly entertain’d,
And Ariosto found his models here.
Italia boasts no great, no mighty name,
This princely mansion hath not call’d its guest.
In fostering genius we enrich ourselves:
Dost thou present her with a friendly gift,
One far more beautiful she leaves with thee.
The ground is hallow’d where the good man treads;
When centuries have roll’d, his sons shall hear
The deathless echo of his words and deeds.
Yes, if those sons have feelings quick as thine;
This happiness full oft I envy thee.
Which purely and serenely thou, my friend,
As few beside thee, dost thyself enjoy.
When my full heart impels me to express
Promptly and freely what I keenly feel,
Thou feel’st the while more deeply, and—art silent.
Delusive splendor doth not dazzle thee,
Nor wit beguile; and flattery strives in vain
With fawning artifice to win thine ear;
Firm is thy temper, and correct thy taste,
Thy judgment just, and, truly great thyself,
With greatness thou dost ever sympathize.
Thou should’st not to this highest flattery
The garment of confiding friendship lend.
Friendship is just; she only estimates
The full extent and measure of thy worth.
Let me ascribe to opportunity,
To fortune too, her portion in thy culture,
Still in the end thou hast it, it is thine,
And all extol thy sister and thyself
Before the noblest women of the age.
That can but little move me, Leonora,
When I reflect how poor at best we are,
To others more indebted than ourselves.
My knowledge of the ancient languages,
And of the treasures by the past bequeath’d.
I owe my mother, who, in varied lore
And mental power, her daughters far excell’d.
Might either claim comparison with her,
’Tis undeniably Lucretia’s right.
Besides, what nature and what chance bestow’d
As property or rank I ne’er esteem’d.
’Tis pleasure to me when the wise converse,
That I their scope and meaning comprehend;
Whether they judge a man of bygone times
And weigh his actions, or of science treat,
Which, when extended and applied to life,
At once exalts and benefits mankind.
Where’er the converse of such men may lead,
I follow gladly, for with ease I follow.
Well pleas’d the strife of argument I hear,
When, round the powers that sway the human breast,
Waking alternately delight and fear,
With grace the lip of eloquence doth play:
And listen gladly when the princely thirst
Of fame, of wide dominion, forms the theme.
When of an able man, the thought profound,
Develop’d skilfully with subtle tact,
Doth not perplex and dazzle, but instruct.
And then, this grave and serious converse o’er,
Our ear and inner mind with tranquil joy
Upon the poet’s tuneful verse repose,
Who through the medium of harmonious sounds
Infuses sweet emotions in the soul.
Thy lofty spirit grasps a wide domain;
Content am I to linger in the isle
Of poesy, her laurel groves among.
In this fair land, I’m told, the myrtle blooms
In richer beauty than all other trees;
Here, too, the Muses wander, yet we seek
A friend and playmate ’mong their tuneful choir
Less often than we seek to meet the bard,
Who seems to shun us, nay, appears to flee,
In quest of something that we know not of,
And which perchance is to himself unknown.
How charming were it, if in happy hour
Encountering us, he should with ecstasy
In our fair selves the treasure recognize,
Which in the world he long had sought in vain!
To your light raillery I must submit;
So light its touch it passeth harmless by.
I honor all men after their desert,
And am in truth toward Tasso only just.
His eye scarce lingers on this earthly scene,
To nature’s harmony his ear is tun’d.
What history offers, and what life presents,
His bosom promptly and with joy receives,
The widely scatter’d is by him combin’d,
And his quick feeling animates the dead.
Oft he ennobles what we count for naught;
What others treasure is by him despis’d.
Thus moving in his own enchanted sphere,
The wondrous man doth still allure us on
To wander with him and partake his joy;
Though seeming to approach us, he remains
Remote as ever, and perchance his eye,
Resting on us, sees spirits in our place.
Thou hast with taste and truth portray’d the bard,
Who hovers in the shadowy realm of dreams.
And yet reality, it seems to me,
Hath also power to lure him and enchain.
In the sweet sonnets, scatter’d here and there,
With which we sometimes find our trees adorn’d,
Creating like the golden fruit of old
A new Hesperia, perceiv’st thou not
The gentle tokens of a genuine love?
In these fair leaves I also take delight.
With all his rich diversity of thought
He glorifies one form in all his strains.
Now he exalts her to the starry heavens
In radiant glory, and before that form
Bows down, like angels in the realms above.
Then stealing after her through silent fields,
He garlands in his wreath each beauteous flower;
And should the form he worships disappear,
Hallows the path her gentle foot hath trod.
Thus like the nightingale, conceal’d in shade,
From his love-laden breast he fills the air
And neighboring thickets with melodious plaints:
His blissful sadness and his tuneful grief
Charm every ear, enrapture every heart—
And Leonora is the favor’d name
Selected for the object of his strains.
Thy name it is, my princess, as ’tis mine.
It would displease me were it otherwise.
Now I rejoice that under this disguise
He can conceal his sentiment for thee,
And am no less contented with the thought
That this sweet name should also picture me.
Here is no question of an ardent love,
Seeking possession, and with jealous care
Screening its object from another’s gaze.
While he enraptur’d contemplates thy worth,
He in my lighter nature may rejoice.
He loves not us,—forgive me what I say,—
His lov’d ideal from the spheres he brings,
And doth invest it with the name we bear;
His feeling we participate; we seem
To love the man, yet only love in him
The highest object that can claim our love.
In this deep science thou art deeply vers’d,
My Leonora, and thy words in truth
Play on my ear, yet scarcely reach my soul.
Thou Plato’s pupil! and not comprehend
What a mere novice dares to prattle to thee?
It must be then that I have widely err’d;
Yet well I know I do not wholly err.
For love doth in this graceful school appear
No longer as the spoil’d and wayward child;
He is the youth whom Psyche hath espous’d:
Who sits in council with the assembled gods,
He hath relinquish’d passion’s fickle sway,
He clings no longer with delusion sweet
To outward form and beauty, to atone
For brief excitement by disgust and hate.
Here comes my brother! let us not betray
Whither our converse hath conducted us;
Else we shall have his raillery to bear.
As in our dress he found a theme for jest.
Princess, Leonora, Alphonso.
Tasso I seek, whom nowhere I can find;
And even here, with you, I meet him not.
Can you inform me where he hides himself?
I have scarce seen him for the last two days.
’Tis his habitual failing that he seeks
Seclusion rather than society.
I can forgive him when the motley crowd
Thus studiously he shuns, and loves to hold
Free converse with himself in solitude;
Yet can I not approve that he should thus
Also the circle of his friends avoid.
If I mistake not, thou wilt soon, O prince,
Convert this censure into joyful praise.
To-day I saw him from afar; he held
A book and scroll, in which at times he wrote,
And then resum’d his walk, then wrote again.
A passing word, which yesterday he spoke,
Seem’d to announce to me his work complete;
His sole anxiety is now to add
A finish’d beauty to minuter parts,
That to your grace, to whom he owes so much,
A worthy offering he at length may bring.
A welcome, when he brings it, shall be his,
And long immunity from all restraint.
Great, in proportion to the lively joy
And interest which his noble work inspires,
Is my impatience at its long delay.
After each slow advance he leaves his task;
He ever changeth, and can ne’er conclude,
Till baffled hope is weary; for we see
Reluctantly postpon’d to times remote
A pleasure we had fondly deem’d so near.
I rather praise the modesty, the care
With which thus, step by step, he nears the goal.
His aim is not to string amusing tales,
Or weave harmonious numbers, which at length,
Like words delusive, die upon the ear.
His numerous rhymes he labors to combine
Into one beautiful, poetic whole;
And he whose soul this lofty aim inspires,
Must pay devoted homage to the Muse.
Disturb him not, my brother, time alone
Is not the measure of a noble work;
And, is the coming age to share our joy,
We of the present must forget ourselves.
Let us, dear sister, work together here!
As for our mutual good we oft have done.
Am I too eager—thou must then restrain;
Art thou too gentle—I will urge him on.
Then we perchance shall see him at the goal,
Where to behold him we have wish’d in vain.
His fatherland, the world, shall then admire
And view with wonder his completed work.
I shall receive my portion of the fame,
And Tasso will be usher’d into life.
In a contracted sphere, a noble man
Cannot develop all his mental powers.
On him his country and the world must work.
He must endure both censure and applause,
Must be compell’d to estimate aright
Himself and others. Solitude no more
Lulls him delusively with flattering dreams.
Opponents will not, friendship dare not, spare:
Then in the strife the youth puts forth his powers,
Knows what he is, and feels himself a man.
Thus will he, prince, owe everything to thee,
Who hast already done so much for him.
Talents are nurtur’d best in solitude,—
A character on life’s tempestuous sea.
Oh, that according to thy rules he would
Model his temper as he forms his taste,
Cease to avoid mankind, nor in his breast
Nurture suspicion into fear and hate!
He only fears mankind who knows them not,
And he will soon misjudge them who avoids.
This is his case, and so by slow degrees
His noble mind is trammell’d and perplex’d.
Thus to secure my favor he betrays,
At times, unseemly ardor; against some
Who, I am well assur’d, are not his foes,
He cherishes suspicion; if by chance
A letter go astray, a hireling leave
His service, or a paper be mislaid,
He sees deception, treachery and fraud,
Working insidiously to sap his peace.
Let us, beloved brother, not forget
That his own nature none can lay aside.
And should a friend, who with us journeyeth,
Injure by chance his foot, we would in sooth
Rather relax our speed, and lend our hand
Gently to aid the sufferer on his way.
Better it were to remedy his pain,
With the physician’s aid attempt a cure,
Then with our heal’d and renovated friend
A new career of life with joy pursue.
And yet, dear friends, I hope that I may ne’er
The censure of the cruel leech incur.
I do my utmost to impress his mind
With feelings of security and trust.
Oft purposely in presence of the crowd,
With marks of favor I distinguish him.
Should he complain of aught, I sift it well,
As lately when his chamber he suppos’d
Had been invaded; then, should naught appear,
I calmly show him how I view the affair.
And, as we ought to practise every grace—
With Tasso, seeing he deserves it well,
I practise patience; you I’m sure will aid.
I now have brought, you to your rural haunts,
And must myself at eve return to town.
For a few moments you will see Antonio;
He calls here for me on his way from Rome.
We have important business to discuss,
Resolves to frame, and letters to indite,
All which compels me to return to town.
Wilt thou permit that we return with thee?
Nay, rather linger here in Belriguardo,
Or go together to Consandoli;
Enjoy these lovely days as fancy prompts.
Thou canst not stay with us? Not here arrange
All these affairs as well as in the town?
So soon, thou takest hence Antonio, too,
Who hath so much to tell us touching Rome.
It may not be, ye children; but with him
So soon as possible will I return:
Then shall he tell you all ye wish to hear,
And ye shall help me to reward the man
Who, in my cause, hath labor’d with such zeal.
And when we shall once more have talk’d our fill,
Hither the crowd may come, that mirth and joy
May in our gardens revel, that for me,
As is but meet, some fair one in the shade
May, if I seek her, gladly meet me there.
And we meanwhile will kindly shut our eyes.
Ye know that I can be forbearing too.
(Turned towards the scene.)
I long have notic’d Tasso: hitherward
Slowly he bends his footsteps; suddenly,
As if irresolute, he standeth still;
Anon, with greater speed he draweth near,
Then lingers once again.
Disturb him not,
Nor when the poet dreams and versifies
Intrude upon his musings,—let him roam.
No, he has seen us, and he comes this way.
Princess, Leonora, Alphonso, Tassowith a volume bound in parchment.
Slowly I come to bring my work to thee,
And yet I linger ere presenting it.
Although apparently it seem complete,
Too well I know it is unfinish’d still.
But if I cherish’d once an anxious fear
Lest I should bring thee an imperfect work,
A new solicitude constrains me now:
I would not seem ungrateful, nor appear
Unduly anxious; and, as to his friends,
A man can say but simply, “Here I am!”
That they, with kind forbearance, may rejoice.
So I can only say, “Receive my work!”
[He presents the volume.
Thou hast surpris’d me, Tasso, with thy gift.
And made this lovely day a festival.
I hold it then at length within my hands,
And in a certain sense can call it mine.
Long have I wish’d that thou could’st thus resolve,
And say at length “’Tis finish’d! here it is.”
Are you contented? then it is complete:
For it belongs to you in every sense.
Were I to contemplate the pains bestow’d
Or dwell upon the written character.
I might, perchance, exclaim. “This work is mine.”
But when I mark what ’tis that to my song
Its inner worth and dignity imparts,
I humbly feel I owe it all to you.
If Nature from her liberal stores on me
The genial gift of poesy bestow’d,
Capricious Fortune, with malignant power,
Had thrust me from her; though this beauteous world
With all its varied splendor lur’d the boy,
Too early was his youthful eye bedimm’d
By his lov’d parents’ undeserv’d distress.
Forth from my lips when I essay’d to sing,
There ever flow’d a melancholy song,
And I accompanied, with plaintive tones,
My father’s sorrow and my mother’s grief.
’Twas thou alone, who from this narrow sphere
Rais’d me to glorious liberty, reliev’d
From each depressing care my youthful mind,
And gave me freedom, in whose genial air
My spirit could unfold in harmony;
Then whatsoe’er the merit of the work,
Thine be the praise, for it belongs to thee.
A second time thou dost deserve applause,
And honorest modestly thyself and us.
Fain would I say how sensibly I feel
That what I bring is all deriv’d from thee!
The inexperienc’d youth—could he produce
The poem from his own unfurnish’d mind?
Could he invent the conduct of the war,
The gallant bearing and the martial skill
Which every hero on the field display’d,
The leader’s prudence, and his followers’ zeal,
How vigilance the arts of cunning foil’d,—
Hadst thou not, valiant prince, infus’d it all,
As if my guardian genius thou hadst been,
Through a mere mortal, deigning to reveal
His nature high and inaccessible?
Enjoy the work in which we all rejoice!
Enjoy the approbation of the good!
Rejoice too in thy universal fame!
This single moment is enough for me.
Of you alone I thought while I compos’d:
You to delight was still my highest wish,
You to enrapture was my final aim.
Who doth not in his friends behold the world,
Deserves not that of him the world should hear.
Here is my fatherland, and here the sphere
In which my spirit fondly loves to dwell:
Here I attend and value every hint;
Here speak experience, knowledge and true taste;
Here stand the present and the future age.
With shy reserve the artist shuns the crowd,—
Its judgment but perplexes. Those alone
With minds like yours can understand and feel.
And such alone should censure and reward!
If thus the present and the future age
We represent, it is not meet that we
Receive the poet’s song unrecompens’d.
The laurel wreath, fit chaplet for the bard,
Which e’en the hero, who requires his verse
Sees without envy round his temples twin’d,
Adorns, thou seest, thy predecessor’s brow.
[Pointing to the bust of Virgil.
Hath chance, hath some kind genius twin’d the wreath,
And brought it hither? Not in vain it thus
Presents itself: Virgil I hear exclaim,
“Wherefore confer this honor on the dead?
They in their lifetime had reward and joy;
Do ye indeed revere the bards of old?
Then to the living bard accord his due.
My marble statue hath been amply crown’d,
And the green laurel branch belongs to life.”
[Alphonsomakes a sign to his sister; she takes the crown from the bust of Virgil, and approachesTasso:he steps back.
Thou dost refuse? Seest thou what hand the wreath,
The fair, the never-fading wreath, presents?
Oh, let me pause; I scarce can comprehend
How after such an hour I still can live.
Live in enjoyment of the high reward,
From which thy inexperience shrinks with fear.
(Raising the crown.) Thou dost afford me, Tasso, the rare joy
Of giving silent utt’rance to my thought.
The beauteous burden from thy honor’d hands.
On my weak head, thus kneeling, I receive.
[He kneels down; thePrincessplaces the crown upon his head.
(Applauding.) Long live the poet, for the first time crown’d!
How well the crown adorns the modest man!
It is an emblem only of that crown
Which shall adorn thee on the capitol.
There louder voices will salute thine ear;
Friendship with lower tones rewards thee here.
Take it—oh, take it quickly from my brow!
Pray thee remove it! It doth scorch my locks;
And like a sunbeam, that with fervid heat
Falls on my forehead, burneth in my brain
The power of thought; while fever’s fiery glow
Impels my blood. Forgive! it is too much.
This garland rather doth protect the head
Of him who treads the burning realm of fame.
And with its grateful shelter cools his brow.
I am not worthy to receive its shade,
Which only round the hero’s brow should wave.
Ye gods, exalt it high among the clouds.
To float in glory inaccessible.
That, through eternity, my life may be
An endless striving to attain this goal!
He who in youth acquires life’s noblest gifts,
Learns early to esteem their priceless worth;
He who in youth enjoys, resigneth not
Without reluctance what he once possess’d;
And he who would possess, must still be arm’d.
And who would arm himself, within his breast
A power must feel, that ne’er forsaketh him
Ah, it forsakes me now! In happiness
The inborn power subsides which tutor’d me
To meet injustice with becoming pride,
And steadfastly to face adversity.
Hath the delight, the rapture of this hour.
Dissolv’d the strength and marrow in my limbs?
My knees sink feebly! yet, a second time,
Thou seest me, princess, here before thee bow’d.
Grant my petition, and remove the crown.
That, as awaken’d from a blissful dream.
A new and fresh existence I may feel.
If thou with quiet modesty canst wear
The glorious talent from the gods receiv’d,
Learn also now the laurel wreath to wear,
The fairest gift that friendship can bestow,
The brow it once hath worthly adorn’d,
It shall encircle through eternity.
Oh, let me then asham’d from hence retire!
Let me in deepest shades my joy conceal,
As there my sorrow I was wont to shroud
There will I range alone: no eye will there
Remind me of a bliss so undeserv’d.
And if perchance I should behold a youth
In the clear mirror of a crystal spring.
Who, in the imag’d heaven, ’midst rocks and trees.
Absorb’d in thought appears, his brow adorn’d
With glory’s garland: there, methinks, I see
Elysium mirror’d in the magic flood.
I pause and calmly ask. Who may this be?
What youth of bygone times, so fairly crown’d?
Whence can I learn his name? his high desert?
I linger long, and musing fondly think:
Oh, might there come another, and yet more
To join with him in friendly intercourse!
Oh, could I see assembled round this spring
The bards, the heroes of the olden time!
Could I behold them still united here
As they in life were ever firmly bound!
As with mysterious power the magnet binds
Iron with iron, so do kindred aims
Unite the souls of heroes and of bards.
Himself forgetting, Homer spent his life
In contemplation of two mighty men;
And Alexander in the Elysian fields
Doth Homer and Achilles haste to seek.
Oh, would that I were present to behold
Those mighty spirits in communion met.
Awake! awake! let us not feel that thou
The present quite forgettest in the past.
It is the present that inspireth me;
Absent I seem alone, I am entranc’d!
When thou dost speak with spirits, I rejoice
The voice is human, and I gladly hear.
[A Page steps to thePrince.
He is arriv’d! and in a happy hour;
Antonio! Bring him hither;—here he comes!
Princess, Leonora, Alphonso, Tasso, Antonio.
Thou’rt doubly welcome! thou who bring’st at once
Thyself and welcome tidings.
Scarce dare I venture to express the joy
Which in your presence quickens me anew.
In your society I find restor’d
What I have miss’d so long. You seem content
With what I have accomplish’d, what achiev’d;
So am I recompens’d for every care,
For many days impatiently endur’d,
And many others wasted purposely.
At length our wish is gain’d,—the strife is o’er.
I also greet thee, though in sooth displeas’d;
Thou dost arrive when I must hence depart.
As if to mar my perfect happiness,
One lovely part forthwith thou takest hence.
My greetings too! I also shall rejoice
In converse with the much experience’d man.
Thou’lt find me true, whenever thou wilt deign
To glance awhile from thy world into mine.
Though thou by letter hast announc’d to me
The progress and the issue of our cause,
Full many questions I have yet to ask
Touching the course thou hast pursu’d therein.
In that strange region a well-measur’d step
Alone conducts us to our destin’d goal.
Who doth his sovereign’s interest purely seek,
In Rome a hard position must maintain;
For Rome gives nothing, while she grasps at all;
Let him who thither goes some boon to claim,
Go well provided, and esteem himself
Most happy, if e’en then he gaineth aught.
’Tis neither my demeanor nor my art
By which thy will hath been accomplish’d, prince.
For where the skill which at the Vatican
Would not be over-master’d? Much conspir’d
Which I could use in furth’rance of our cause.
Pope Gregory salutes and blesses thee.
That aged man, that sovereign most august,
Who on his brow the load of empire bears,
Recalls the time when he embrac’d thee last
With pleasure. He who can distinguish men
Knows and extols thee highly. For thy sake
He hath done much.
So far as ’tis sincere,
His good opinion cannot but rejoice me.
But well thou knowest, from the Vatican
The pope sees empires dwindled at his feet;
Princes and men must needs seem small indeed.
Confess what was it most assisted thee.
Good! if thou will’st: the pope’s exalted mind.
To him the small seems small, the great seems great.
That he may wield the empire of the world,
He to his neighbor yields with kind goodwill.
The strip of land, which he resigns to thee,
He knoweth, like thy friendship, well to prize.
Italia must be tranquil, friends alone
Will he behold around him, peace must reign
Upon his borders, that of Christendom
The might which he so potently directs
May smite at once the Heretic and Turk.
And is it known what men he most esteems,
And who approach him confidentially?
The experienc’d man alone can win his ear,
The active man his favor and esteem.
He, who from early youth has serv’d the state,
Commands it now, ruling those very courts
Which, in his office of ambassador,
He had observ’d and guided years before.
The world lies spread before his searching gaze,
Clear as the interests of his own domain.
In action we must yield him our applause,
And mark with joy, when time unfolds the plans
Which his deep forethought fashion’d long before.
There is no fairer prospect in the world
Than to behold a prince who wisely rules;
A realm where every one obeys with pride,
Where each imagines that he serves himself,
Because ’tis justice only that commands.
How ardently I long to view that realm!
Doubtless that thou may’st play thy part therein;
For Leonora never could remain
A mere spectator: meet it were, fair friend,
If now and then we let your gentle hands
Join in the mighty game—Say, is’t not so?
(ToAlphonso.) Thou would’st provoke me,—thou shalt not succeed.
I am already deeply in thy debt.
Good; then to-day I will remain in thine!
Forgive, and do not interrupt me now.
Say, hath he for his relatives done much?
No more nor less than equity allows.
The potentate, who doth neglect his friends,
Is even by the people justly blam’d.
With wise discretion Gregory employs
His friends as trusty servants of the state,
And thus fulfils at once two kindred claims.
Doth science, do the liberal arts enjoy
His fostering care? and doth he emulate
The glorious princes of the olden time?
He honors science when it is of use,—
Teaching to govern states, to know mankind;
He prizes art when it embellishes,—
When it exalts and beautifies his Rome,
Erecting palaces and temples there,
Which rank among the marvels of this earth.
Within his sphere of influence he admits
Naught inefficient, and alone esteems
The active cause and instrument of good.
Thou thinkest, then, that we may soon conclude
The whole affair? that no impediments
Will finally be scatter’d in our way?
Unless I greatly err, ’twill but require
A few brief letters and thy signature
To bring this contest to a final close.
This day with justice then I may proclaim
A season of prosperity and joy.
My frontiers are enlarg’d and made secure;
Thou hast accomplish’d all without the sword,
And hence deservest well a civic crown.
Our ladies on some beauteous morn shall twine
A wreath of oak to bind around thy brow.
Meanwhile our poet hath enrich’d us too;
He, by his conquest of Jerusalem,
Hath put our modern Christendom to shame.
With joyous spirit and unwearied zeal,
A high and distant goal he had attain’d;
For his achievement thou behold’st him crown’d.
Thou solvest an enigma. Two crown’d heads
I saw with wonder on arriving here.
While thou dost gaze upon my happiness,
With the same glance, oh, could’st thou view my heart,
And witness there my deep humility!
How lavishly Alphonso can reward
I long have known; thou only provest now
What all enjoy who come within its sphere.
When thou shalt see the work he hath achiev’d,
Thou wilt esteem us moderate and just.
The first, the silent, witnesses are we,
Of praises, which the world and future years
In tenfold measure will accord to him.
Through you his fame is certain. Who so bold
To entertain a doubt when you commend?
But tell me, who on Ariosto’s brow
Hath plac’d this wreath?
It hath done well.
It more becomes him than a laurel crown.
As o’er her fruitful bosom Nature throws
Her variegated robe of beauteous green,
So he enshrouds in Fable’s flowery garb,
Whatever can conspire to render man
Worthy of love and honor. Power and taste.
Experience, understanding, and content,
And a pure feeling for the good and true,
Pervade the spirit of his every song,
And there appear in person, to repose
’Neath blossoming trees, besprinkled by the snow
Of lightly-falling flowers, their heads entwin’d
With rosy garlands, while the sportive Loves
With frolic humor weave their magic spells.
A copious fountain, gurgling near, displays
Strange variegated fish, and all the air
Is vocal with the song of wondrous birds;
Strange cattle pasture in the bowers and glades;
Half hid in verdure, Folly slyly lurks:
At times, resounding from a golden cloud.
The voice of Wisdom utters lofty truth,
While Madness, from a wild harmonious lute,
Scatters forth bursts of fitful harmony,
Yet all the while the justest measure holds.
He who aspires to emulate this man,
E’en for his boldness well deserves a crown.
Forgive me if I feel myself inspir’d,
Like one entranc’d forget both time and place,
And fail to weigh my words; for all these crowns,
These poets, and the festival attire
Of these fair ladies, have transported me
Out of myself into a foreign land.
Who thus can prize one species of desert,
Will not misjudge another. Thou to us
Some future day shalt show in Tasso’s song
What we can feel, and thou canst comprehend.
Come now, Antonio! many things remain
Whereof I am desirous to inquire.
Then till the setting of the sun thou shalt
Attend the ladies. Follow me. Farewell!
[Antoniofollows thePrince. Tassothe ladies.