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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Lady’s Lap-Dog
By Giuseppe Parini (1729–1799)
 
From ‘The Day,’ from ‘Modern Italian Poets’ by William Dean Howells

SHE recalls the day—
Alas, the cruel day!—what time her lap-dog,
Her beauteous lap-dog, darling of the Graces,
Sporting in youthful gayety, impressed
The light mark of her ivory tooth upon        5
The rude foot of a menial; he, with bold
And sacrilegious toe, flung her away.
Over and over thrice she rolled, and thrice
Rumpled her silken coat, and thrice inhaled
With tender nostril the thick, choking dust.        10
Then raised imploring cries, and “Help, help, help!”
She seemed to call, while from the gilded vaults
Compassionate Echo answered her again,
And from their cloistral basements in dismay
The servants rushed, and from the upper rooms        15
The pallid maidens trembling flew: all came.
Thy lady’s face was with reviving essence
Sprinkled, and she awakened from her swoon.
Anger and grief convulsed her still; she cast
A lightning glance upon the guilty menial,        20
And thrice with languid voice she called her pet,
Who rushed to her embrace and seemed to invoke
Vengeance with her shrill tenor. And revenge
Thou hadst, fair poodle, darling of the Graces.
The guilty menial trembled, and with eyes        25
Downcast received his doom. Naught him availed
His twenty years’ desert; naught him availed
His zeal in secret services; for him
In vain were prayer and promise: forth he went,
Spoiled of the livery that till now had made him        30
Enviable with the vulgar. And in vain
He hoped another lord: the tender dames
Were horror-struck at his atrocious crime,
And loathed the author. The false wretch succumbed
With all his squalid brood, and in the streets,        35
With his lean wife in tatters at his side,
Vainly lamented to the passer-by.
 
 
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