Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
Oldport Days Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Sunshine And Petrarch

Page 5 of 7

Table Of Contents: Oldport Days

Previous Page

Next Page

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

More Books

More by this Author

These sonnets are in Petrarch's earlier manner; but the death of Laura brought a change. Look at yonder schooner coming down the bay, straight toward us; she is hauled close to the wind, her jib is white in the sunlight, her larger sails are touched with the same snowy lustre, and all the swelling canvas is rounded into such lines of beauty as scarcely anything else in the world--hardly even the perfect outlines of the human form--can give. Now she comes up into the wind, and goes about with a strong flapping of the sails, smiting on the ear at a half-mile's distance; then she glides off on the other tack, showing the shadowed side of her sails, until she reaches the distant zone of haze. So change the sonnets after Laura's death, growing shadowy as they recede, until the very last seems to merge itself in the blue distance.

    SONNET 251.
    "Gli occhi di ch' io parlai."
    Those eyes, 'neath which my passionate rapture rose,
    The arms, hands, feet, the beauty that erewhile
    Could my own soul from its own self beguile, And in a separate world of dreams enclose,
    The hair's bright tresses, full of golden glows,
    And the soft lightning of the angelic smile
    That changed this earth to some celestial isle,
    Are now but dust, poor dust, that nothing knows.
    And yet I live! Myself I grieve and scorn,
    Left dark without the light I loved in vain,
    Adrift in tempest on a bark forlorn;
    Dead is the source of all my amorous strain,
    Dry is the channel of my thoughts outworn,
    And my sad harp can sound but notes of pain.

We have hundreds more books for your enjoyment. Read them all!

"And yet I live!" What a pause is implied before these words! the drawing of a long breath, immeasurably long; like that vast interval of heart-beats that precedes Shakespeare's "Since Cleopatra died." I can think of no other passage in literature that has in it the same wide spaces of emotion.

The following sonnet seems to me the most stately and concentrated in the whole volume. It is the sublimity of a despair not to be relieved by utterance.

    SONNET 253.
    "Soleasi nel mio cor."
    She ruled in beauty o'er this heart of mine,
    A noble lady in a humble home, And now her time for heavenly
bliss has come,
    'T is I am mortal proved, and she divine.
    The soul that all its blessings must resign,
    And love whose light no more on earth finds room
    Might rend the rocks with pity for their doom,
    Yet none their sorrows can in words enshrine;
    They weep within my heart; and ears are deaf
    Save mine alone, and I am crushed with care,
    And naught remains to me save mournful breath.
    Assuredly but dust and shade we are,
    Assuredly desire is blind and brief,
    Assuredly its hope but ends in death.

Page 5 of 7 Previous Page   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
Oldport Days
Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004