Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Italy
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII.  1876–79.
To the Princesses of Ferrara
Torquato Tasso (1544–1595)
Translated by Richard Henry Wilde

FAIR daughters of Rénée! my song
Is not of pride and ire,
Fraternal discord, hate, and wrong,
Burning in life and death so strong,
From rule’s accurst desire,        5
That even the flames divided long
Upon their funeral pyre.
But you I sing, of royal birth,
Nursed on one breast like them;
Two flowers, both lovely, blooming forth        10
From the same parent stem,—
Cherished by heaven, beloved by earth,
Of each a treasured gem!
To you I speak in whom we see
With wondrous concord blend        15
Sense, worth, fame, beauty, modesty,
Imploring you to lend
Compassion to the misery
And sufferings of your friend.
The memory of years gone by,        20
O, let me in your hearts renew,—
The scenes, the thoughts, o’er which I sigh,
The happy days I spent with you,—
And what, I ask, and where am I,
And what I was, and why secluded;        25
Whom did I trust, and who deluded?
Daughters of heroes and of kings,
Allow me to recall
These and a thousand other things,—
Sad, sweet, and mournful all!        30
From me few words, more tears, grief wrings,—
Tears burning as they fall.
For royal halls and festive bowers
Where, nobly serving, I
Shared and beguiled your private hours,        35
Studies, and sports I sigh;
And lyre, and trump, and wreathed flowers;
Nay more, for freedom, health, applause,
And even humanity’s lost laws!
Why am I chased from human kind?        40
What Circe in the lair
Of brutes, thus keeps me spell-confined?
Nests have the birds of air,
The very beasts in caverns find
Shelter and rest, and share        45
At least kind nature’s gifts and laws,
For each his food and water draws
From wood and fountain, where,
Wholesome and pure and safe, it was
Furnished by heaven’s own care;        50
And all is bright and blest, because
Freedom and health are there!
I merit punishment, I own;
I erred, I must confess it; yet
The fault was in the tongue alone,        55
The heart is true. Forgive! forget!
I beg for mercy, and my woes
May claim with pity to be heard;
If to my prayers your ears you close,
Where can I hope for one kind word        60
In my extremity of ill?
And if the pang of hope deferred
Arise from discord in your will,
For me must be revived again
The fate of Metius and the pain.        65
I pray you, then, renew for me
The charm that made you doubly fair,
In sweet and virtuous harmony
Urging, resistlessly, my prayer;
With him for whose loved sake, I swear        70
I more lament my fault than pains,
Strange and unheard of as they are.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.