Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
Extract from Casa Guidi Windows
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
THEN, gazing, I beheld the long-drawn street
Live out, from end to end, full in the sun,
With Austria’s thousand; sword and bayonet,
Horse, foot, artillery,—cannons rolling on
Like blind slow storm-clouds gestant with the heat        5
Of undeveloped lightnings, each bestrode
By a single man, dust-white from head to heel,
Indifferent as the dreadful thing he rode,
Like sculptured Fate serene and terrible.
As some smooth river which has overflowed,        10
Will slow and silent down its current wheel
A loosened forest, all the pines erect,
So swept, in mute significance of storm,
The marshalled thousands; not an eye deflects
To left or right, to catch a novel form        15
Of Florence city adorned by architect
And carver, or of Beauties live and warm
Scared at the casements,—all, straightforward eyes
And faces, held as steadfast as their swords,
And cognizant of acts, not imageries.        20
The key, O Tuscans, too well fits the wards!
Ye asked for mimes,—these bring you tragedies:
For purple,—these shall wear it as your lords.
Ye played like children,—die like innocents.
Ye mimicked lightnings with a torch,—the crack        25
Of the actual bolt, your pastime circumvents.
Ye called up ghosts, believing they were slack
To follow any voice from Gilboa’s tents,…
Here ’s Samuel!—and, so, Grand-dukes come back!

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