Percy Bysshe Shelley: Scene from 'Tasso'

Scene from 'Tasso'

Composed, 1818. Published by Dr. Garnett, "Relics of Shelley", 1862.

Maddalo, a courtier.
Malpiglio, a poet.
Pigna, a minister.
Albano, an usher.
No access to the Duke! You have not said
That the Count Maddalo would speak with him?
Did you inform his Grace that Signor Pigna
Waits with state papers for his signature?
The Lady Leonora cannot know
That I have written a sonnet to her fame,
In which I ... Venus and Adonis.
You should not take my gold and serve me not.
In truth I told her, and she smiled and said,
'If I am Venus, thou, coy Poesy,
Art the Adonis whom I love, and he
The Erymanthian boar that wounded him.'
O trust to me, Signor Malpiglio,
Those nods and smiles were favours worth the zechin.
The words are twisted in some double sense
That I reach not: the smiles fell not on me.
How are the Duke and Duchess occupied?
Buried in some strange talk. The Duke was leaning,
His finger on his brow, his lips unclosed.
The Princess sate within the window-seat,
And so her face was hid; but on her knee
Her hands were clasped, veined, and pale as snow,
And quivering—young Tasso, too, was there.
Thou seest on whom from thine own worshipped heaven
Thou drawest down smiles—they did not rain on thee.
Would they were parching lightnings for his sake
On whom they fell!