Marenghi

This fragment refers to an event told in Sismondi's "Histoire des Republiques Italiennes", which occurred during the war when Florence finally subdued Pisa, and reduced it to a province.-[MRS. SHELLEY'S NOTE, 1824.]

Published in part (stanzas 7-15.) by Mrs. Shelley, "Posthumous Poems", 1824; stanzas 1-28 by W.M. Rossetti, "Complete Poetical Works of P. B. S.", 1870. The Boscombe manuscript-evidently a first draft-from which (through Dr. Garnett) Rossetti derived the text of 1870 is now at the Bodleian, and has recently been collated by Mr. C.D. Locock, to whom the enlarged and amended text here printed is owing. The substitution, in title and text, of "Marenghi" for "Mazenghi" (1824) is due to Rossetti. Here as elsewhere in the footnotes B. = the Bodleian manuscript.

 1. Let those who pine in pride or in revenge, Or think that ill for ill should be repaid, Who barter wrong for wrong, until the exchange Ruins the merchants of such thriftless trade, Visit the tower of Vado, and unlearn  Such bitter faith beside Marenghi's urn. 
 2. A massy tower yet overhangs the town, A scattered group of ruined dwellings now... 
 ... 
 3. Another scene are wise Etruria knew Its second ruin through internal strife  And tyrants through the breach of discord threw The chain which binds and kills. As death to life, As winter to fair flowers (though some be poison) So Monarchy succeeds to Freedom's foison. 
 4. In Pisa's church a cup of sculptured gold  Was brimming with the blood of feuds forsworn: A Sacrament more holy ne'er of old Etrurians mingled mid the shades forlorn Of moon-illumined forests, when... 
 5. And reconciling factions wet their lips  With that dread wine, and swear to keep each spirit Undarkened by their country's last eclipse... 
 ... 
 6. Was Florence the liberticide? that band Of free and glorious brothers who had planted, Like a green isle mid Aethiopian sand,  A nation amid slaveries, disenchanted Of many impious faiths-wise, just-do they, Does Florence, gorge the sated tyrants' prey? 
 7. O foster-nurse of man's abandoned glory, Since Athens, its great mother, sunk in splendour;  Thou shadowest forth that mighty shape in story, As ocean its wrecked fanes, severe yet tender:- The light-invested angel Poesy Was drawn from the dim world to welcome thee. 
 8. And thou in painting didst transcribe all taught  By loftiest meditations; marble knew The sculptor's fearless soul-and as he wrought, The grace of his own power and freedom grew. And more than all, heroic, just, sublime, Thou wart among the false...was this thy crime?  
 9. Yes; and on Pisa's marble walls the twine Of direst weeds hangs garlanded-the snake Inhabits its wrecked palaces;-in thine A beast of subtler venom now doth make Its lair, and sits amid their glories overthrown,  And thus thy victim's fate is as thine own. 
 10. The sweetest flowers are ever frail and rare, And love and freedom blossom but to wither; And good and ill like vines entangled are, So that their grapes may oft be plucked together;-  Divide the vintage ere thou drink, then make Thy heart rejoice for dead Marenghi's sake. 
 10a. [Albert] Marenghi was a Florentine; If he had wealth, or children, or a wife Or friends, [or farm] or cherished thoughts which twine  The sights and sounds of home with life's own life Of these he was despoiled and Florence sent... 
 ... 
 11. No record of his crime remains in story, But if the morning bright as evening shone,  It was some high and holy deed, by glory Pursued into forgetfulness, which won From the blind crowd he made secure and free The patriot's meed, toil, death, and infamy. 
 12. For when by sound of trumpet was declared A price upon his life, and there was set  A penalty of blood on all who shared So much of water with him as might wet His lips, which speech divided not-he went Alone, as you may guess, to banishment. 
 13. Amid the mountains, like a hunted beast, He hid himself, and hunger, toil, and cold,  Month after month endured; it was a feast Whene'er he found those globes of deep-red gold Which in the woods the strawberry-tree doth bear, Suspended in their emerald atmosphere.  
 14. And in the roofless huts of vast morasses, Deserted by the fever-stricken serf, All overgrown with reeds and long rank grasses, And hillocks heaped of moss-inwoven turf, And where the huge and speckled aloe made,  Rooted in stones, a broad and pointed shade,- 
 15. He housed himself. There is a point of strand Near Vado's tower and town; and on one side The treacherous marsh divides it from the land, Shadowed by pine and ilex forests wide,  And on the other, creeps eternally, Through muddy weeds, the shallow sullen sea. 
 16. Here the earth's breath is pestilence, and few But things whose nature is at war with life- Snakes and ill worms-endure its mortal dew. The trophies of the clime's victorious strife-  And ringed horns which the buffalo did wear, And the wolf's dark gray scalp who tracked him there. 
 17. And at the utmost point...stood there The relics of a reed-inwoven cot,  Thatched with broad flags. An outlawed murderer Had lived seven days there: the pursuit was hot When he was cold. The birds that were his grave Fell dead after their feast in Vado's wave. 
 18. There must have burned within Marenghi's breast  That fire, more warm and bright than life and hope, (Which to the martyr makes his dungeon... More joyous than free heaven's majestic cope To his oppressor), warring with decay,- Or he could ne'er have lived years, day by day.  
 19. Nor was his state so lone as you might think. He had tamed every newt and snake and toad, And every seagull which sailed down to drink Those freshes ere the death-mist went abroad. And each one, with peculiar talk and play,  Wiled, not untaught, his silent time away. 
 20. And the marsh-meteors, like tame beasts, at night Came licking with blue tongues his veined feet; And he would watch them, as, like spirits bright, In many entangled figures quaint and sweet  To some enchanted music they would dance- Until they vanished at the first moon-glance. 
 21. He mocked the stars by grouping on each weed The summer dew-globes in the golden dawn; And, ere the hoar-frost languished, he could read  Its pictured path, as on bare spots of lawn Its delicate brief touch in silver weaves The likeness of the wood's remembered leaves. 
 22. And many a fresh Spring morn would he awaken- While yet the unrisen sun made glow, like iron  Quivering in crimson fire, the peaks unshaken Of mountains and blue isles which did environ With air-clad crags that plain of land and sea,- And feel ... liberty. 
 23. And in the moonless nights when the dun ocean  Heaved underneath wide heaven, star-impearled, Starting from dreams... Communed with the immeasurable world; And felt his life beyond his limbs dilated, Till his mind grew like that it contemplated.  
 24. His food was the wild fig and strawberry; The milky pine-nuts which the autumn-blast Shakes into the tall grass; or such small fry As from the sea by winter-storms are cast; And the coarse bulbs of iris-flowers he found  Knotted in clumps under the spongy ground. 
 25. And so were kindled powers and thoughts which made His solitude less dark. When memory came (For years gone by leave each a deepening shade), His spirit basked in its internal flame,-  As, when the black storm hurries round at night, The fisher basks beside his red firelight. 
 26. Yet human hopes and cares and faiths and errors, Like billows unawakened by the wind, Slept in Marenghi still; but that all terrors,  Weakness, and doubt, had withered in his mind. His couch... 
 ... 
 27. And, when he saw beneath the sunset's planet A black ship walk over the crimson ocean,- Its pennon streaming on the blasts that fan it,  Its sails and ropes all tense and without motion, Like the dark ghost of the unburied even Striding athwart the orange-coloured heaven,- 
 28. The thought of his own kind who made the soul Which sped that winged shape through night and day,-  The thought of his own country... 
 ... 
 NOTES: _3 Who B.; Or 1870. _6 Marenghi's 1870; Mazenghi's B. _7 town 1870; sea B. _8 ruined 1870; squalid B. ('the whole line is cancelled,' Locock). _11 threw 1870; cancelled, B. _17 A Sacrament more B.; At Sacrament: more 1870. _18 mid B.; with 1870. _19 forests when... B.; forests. 1870. _23, _24 that band Of free and glorious brothers who had 1870; omitted, B. _25 a 1870; one B. _27 wise, just-do they 1870; omitted, B. _28 Does 1870; Doth B. prey 1870; spoil B. _33 angel 1824; Herald [?] B. _34 to welcome thee 1824; cancelled for... by thee B. _42 direst 1824; Desert B. _45 sits amid 1824 amid cancelled for soils (?) B. _53-_57 Albert...sent B.; omitted 1824, 1870. Albert cancelled B.:      Pietro is the correct name. _53 Marenghi]Mazenghi B. _55 farm doubtful: perh. fame (Locock). _62 he 1824; thus B. _70 Amid the mountains 1824; Mid desert mountains [?] B. _71 toil, and cold]cold and toil editions 1824, 1839. _92, _93 And... there B. (see Editor's Note); White bones, and locks of     dun and yellow hair, And ringed horns which buffaloes did wear- 1870. _94 at the utmost point 1870; cancelled for when (where?) B. _95 reed B.; weed 1870. _99 after B.; upon 1870. _100 burned within Marenghi's breast B.;      lived within Marenghi's heart 1870. _101 and B.; or 1870. _103 free B.; the 1870. _109 freshes B.; omitted, 1870. _118 by 1870; with B. _119 dew-globes B.; dewdrops 1870. _120 languished B.; vanished 1870. _121 path, as on [bare] B.; footprints, as on 1870. _122 silver B.; silence 1870. _130 And in the moonless nights 1870; cancelled, B. dun B.;      dim 1870. _131 Heaved 1870; cancelled, B. wide B.;      the 1870. star-impearled B.; omitted, 1870. _132 Starting from dreams 1870; cancelled for He B. _137 autumn B.; autumnal 1870. _138 or B.; and 1870. _155 pennon B.; pennons 1870. _158 athwart B.; across 1870.