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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
To Satan
By Giosuè Carducci (1835–1907)
 
From the ‘Poesie’: Translation of Frank Sewall

TO thee my verses,
Unbridled and daring,
Shall mount, O Satan,
King of the banquet!
 
Away with thy sprinkling,        5
O Priest, and thy droning,
For never shall Satan,
O Priest, stand behind thee.
 
See how the rust is
Gnawing the mystical        10
Sword of St. Michael;
And how the faithful
 
Wind-plucked archangel
Falls into emptiness;
Frozen the thunder in        15
Hand of Jehovah.
 
Like to pale meteors, or
Planets exhausted,
Out of the firmament
Rain down the angels.        20
 
Here in the matter
Which never sleeps,
King of phenomena,
King of all forms,
 
Thou, Satan, livest.        25
Thine is the empire
Felt in the dark eyes’
Tremulous flashing,
 
Whether their languishing
Glances resist, or        30
Glittering and tearful, they
Call and invite.
 
How shine the clusters
With happy blood,
So that the furious        35
Joy may not perish,
 
So that the languishing
Love be restored,
And sorrow be banished
And love be increased.        40
 
Thy breath, O Satan!
My verse inspires,
When from my bosom
The gods I defy
 
Of kings pontifical,        45
Of kings inhuman.
Thine is the lightning that
Sets minds to shaking.
 
For thee Arimane,
Adonis, Astarte;        50
For thee lived the marbles,
The pictures, the parchments,
 
When the fair Venus
Anadyomene
Blessed the Ionian        55
Heavens serene.
 
For thee were roaring the
Forests of Lebanon,
Of the fair Cypri
Lover re-born;        60
 
For thee rose the chorus,
For thee raved the dances,
For thee the pure shining
Loves of the virgins,
 
Under the sweet-odored        65
Palms of Idume,
Where break in white foam
The Cyprian waves.
 
What if the barbarous
Nazarene fury,        70
Fed by the base rites
Of secret feastings,
 
Lights sacred torches
To burn down the temples,
Scattering abroad        75
The scrolls hieroglyphic?
 
In thee find refuge
The humble-roofed plebs,
Who have not forgotten
The gods of their household.        80
 
Thence comes the power,
Fervid and loving, that,
Filling the quick-throbbing
Bosom of woman,
 
Turns to the succor        85
Of nature enfeebled;
A sorceress pallid,
With endless care laden.
 
Thou to the trance-holden
Eye of the alchemist,        90
Thou to the view of the
Bigoted mago,
 
Showest the lightning-flash
Of the new time
Shining behind the dark        95
Bars of the cloister.
 
Seeking to fly from thee,
Here in the world-life
Hides him the gloomy monk
In Theban deserts.        100
 
O soul that wanderest
Far from the straight way,
Satan is merciful.—
See Heloisa!
 
In vain you wear yourself        105
Thin in rough gown; I
Still murmur the verses
Of Maro and Flaccus
 
Amid the Davidic
Psalming and wailing.        110
And—Delphic figures
Close at thy side—
 
Rosy, amid the dark
Cowls of the friars,
Enters Licorida,        115
Enters Glicera.
 
Then other images
Of days more fair
Come to dwell with thee
In thy secret cell.        120
 
Lo! from the pages of
Livy, the Tribunes
All ardent, the Consuls,
The crowds tumultuous,
 
Awake; and the fantastic        125
Pride of Italians
Drives them, O Monk,
Up to the Capitol;
 
And you whom the flaming
Fire never melted,        130
Conjuring voices,
Wickliffe and Huss,
 
Send to the broad breeze
The cry of the watchman:—
“The age renews itself;        135
Full is the time.”
 
Already tremble
The mitres and crowns.
Forth from the cloister
Moves the rebellion.        140
 
Under his stole, see,
Fighting and preaching,
Brother Girolamo
Savonarola.
 
Off goes the tunic        145
Of Martin Luther;
Off go the fetters
That bound human thought.
 
It flashes and lightens,
Girdled with flame;        150
Matter, exalt thyself;
Satan has won!
 
A fair and terrible
Monster unchained
Courses the ocean,        155
Courses the earth.
 
Flashing and smoking,
Like the volcanoes, he
Climbs over mountains,
Ravages plains,        160
 
Skims the abysses;
Then he is lost
In unknown caverns
And ways profound,
 
Till lo! unconquered,        165
From shore to shore,
Like to the whirlwind,
He sends forth his cry.
 
Like to the whirlwind
Spreading his wings,…        170
He passes, O people,
Satan the great!
 
Hail to thee, Satan;
Hail the rebellion!
Hail, of the reason the        175
Great Vindicator!
 
Sacred to thee shall rise
Incense and vows.
Thou hast the god
Of the priest disenthroned!        180
 
 
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