Rhymes on the Road - Extract 12. Florence

If it be true that Music reigns,
Supreme, in I TALY'S soft shades,
'T is like that Harmony so famous,
Among the spheres, which He of S AMOS
Declared had such transcendent merit
That not a soul on earth could hear it;
For, far as I have come — from Lakes,
Whose sleep the Tramontana breaks,
Thro' M ILAN and that land which gave
The Hero of the rainbow vest —
By M INCIO'S banks, and by that wave,
Which made V ERONA'S bard so blest —
Places that (like the Attic shore,
Which rung back music when the sea
Struck on its marge) should be all o'er
Thrilling alive with melody —
I've heard no music — not a note
Of such sweet native airs as float
In my own land among the throng
And speak our nation's soul for song.

Nay, even in higher walks, where Art
Performs, as't were, the gardener's part,
And richer if not sweeter makes
The flowers she from the wild-hedge takes —
Even there, no voice hath charmed my ear,
No taste hath won my perfect praise,
Like thine, dear friend — long, truly dear —
Thine, and thy loved O LIVIA'S lays.
She, always beautiful, and growing
Still more so every note she sings —
Like an inspired young Sibyl, glowing
With her own bright imaginings!
And thou, most worthy to be tied
In music to her, as in love,
Breathing that language by her side,
All other language far above,
Eloquent Song — whose tones and words
In every heart find answering chords!

How happy once the hours we past,
Singing or listening all day long,
Till Time itself seemed changed at last
To music, and we lived in song!
Turning the leaves of H AYDN o'er,
As quick beneath her master hand
They opened all their brilliant store,
Like chambers, touched by fairy wand;
Or o'er the page of M OZART bending,
Now by his airy warblings cheered,
Now in his mournful Requiem blending
Voices thro' which the heart was heard.
And still, to lead our evening choir,
Was He invoked, thy loved-one's Sire —
He who if aught of grace there be
In the wild notes I write or sing,
First smoothed their links of harmony,
And lent them charms they did not bring; —
He, of the gentlest, simplest heart,
With whom, employed in his sweet art,
(That art which gives this world of ours
A notion how they speak in heaven,)
I 've past more bright and charmed hours
Than all earth's wisdom could have given,
Oh happy days, oh early friends,
How Life since then hath lost its flowers!
But yet — tho' Time some foliage rends,
The stem, the Friendship, still is ours;
And long may it endure, as green
And fresh as it hath always been!

How I have wandered from my theme!
But where is he, that could return
To such cold subjects from a dream,
Thro' which these best of feelings burn? —
Not all the works of Science, Art,
Or Genius in this world are worth
One genuine sigh that from the heart
Friendship or Love draws freshly forth.
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