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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Ode to the River Metauro
By Torquato Tasso (1544–1595)
 
(A fragment written at the age of forty, and left unfinished)

Translation of Elizabeth Julia Hasell

          CHILD of great Apennine!
      River, if small yet far renowned,
More glorious than by waters, through thy name,—
          I these thy banks benign
A flying pilgrim seek: their courteous fame        5
  Make good; let rest and safety here be found.
And may that oak which thou dost bathe, whose frame
Fed well by thy sweet waters, stretches wide
  Its branches, seas and mountains shadowing,
          O’er me its safe shade fling!        10
 
Thou sacred shade, which hast to none denied
  ’Neath thy cool leaves a hospitable seat,
Now ’mid thy thickest boughs receive and fold me;
Lest that blind, cruel goddess should behold me,
  Who spies me out, though blind, in each retreat,        15
Albeit I crouch to hide in mount or vale,
          And lit by moonbeams pale,
  At midnight ply on lonely track my feet;
Yet with sure aim her darts still wound, and show
Her eyes as arrows keen to work my woe.        20
 
          Ah me! from that first day
      That I drew breath, and opened first
Mine eyes to this, to me still troubled light,
          I was the mark, the play
  Of evil, lawless Fate; whose hand accursed        25
Gave wounds that longer years have scarce set right.
      This knows that glorious Siren bright,
Beside whose tomb me the soft cradle pressed:
  Ah! would that at that first envenomed wound
          I there a grave had found!        30
 
  Me cruel Fortune from my mother’s breast
  Tore, yet a child: ah! those fond kisses
    Bathed by the tears that sheds her anguish,
    I here, with sighs remembering, languish,
And her warm prayers—prayers that the wind dismisses;        35
    For not again might I lay face to face,
          Clasped in that close embrace
By arms the treasury of my infant blisses:
  Thenceforth, like Trojan boy or Volscian maid,
  My weak steps followed where my father strayed.        40
 
          I ’mid those wanderings grew,
  In exile bitter and hard poverty,
And sense untimely of my sorrows gained;
          For ripeness, ere ’twas due,
      Mischance and suffering brought to me,        45
Sad wisdom learning while my heart was pained.
My sire’s weak age despoiled, his wrongs sustained,
Must I narrate? Does not my proper woe
  Make me so rich, that no more store I need
          Whereon my grief to feed?        50
 
Whose case, save mine, should bid my tears to flow?
  My sighs are all too few for my desire;
Nor can my tears, though in abundance given,
Equal my pain. Thou, who dost view from heaven,—
  Father, good father, unto God now nigher,—        55
I wept thee sick and dead, this know’st thou well;
          With groans my hot tears fell
  Thy bed, thy tomb upon: but now, raised higher
To endless joys, I honor thee, not mourn;
My whole grief pouring on my state forlorn.        60
 
 
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