University of Virginia Library


NAPLES IN THE TIME OF BOMBA as told by Major Jack Gentian


Chartering a nondescript holiday hack at his Neapolitan inn, Jack Gentian drives out, and is unexpectedly made the object of a spontaneous demonstration more to be prized by an appreciative recipient than the freedom of the city of New Jerusalem presented in a diamond box by a deputation from the Crown Council of Seraphim.


Behind a span whose cheery pace
Accorded well with gala trim—
Each harness, in arch triumphal reared,
With festive ribbons fluttering gay;
In Bomba's Naples sallying forth
In season when the vineyards mellow,
Suddenly turning a corner round—
Ha, happy to meet you, Punchinello!
And, merrily there, in license free,
The crowd they caper, droll as he;
While, arch as any, rolled in fun,
Such tatterdemalions, many a one!
We jounced along till, just ahead,
Nor far from shrine in niche of wall,
A stoppage fell. His rug or bed
In midmost way a tumbler spread,
A posturing mountebank withall;
Who, though his stage was out of doors,
Brought down the house in jolly applause.


“Signor,” exclaims my charioteer,
Turning, and reining up, the while
Trying to touch his jaunty hat;
But here, essaying to condense
Such opposite movements into one
Failing, and letting fall his whip,
“His Excellency stops the way!”
His Excellency there, meanwhile—
Reversed in stature, legs aloft,
And hobbling jigs on hands for heels—
Gazed up with blood-shot brow that told
The tension of that nimble play—
Gazed up as martyred Peter might;
And, noting me in landeau-seat
(Milor, there he opined, no doubt)
Brisk somersetted back, and stood
Urbanely bowing, then gave place;
While, tickled at my puzzled plight,
Yet mindful that a move was due,
And knowing me a stranger there,
With one consent the people part
Yielding a passage, and with eyes
Of friendly fun,—how courteous too!
Catching an impulse from their air,
To feet I spring, my beaver doff
And broadcast wave a blithe salute.
In genial way how humorsome
What pleased responses of surprise;
From o'er the Alps, and so polite!
They clap their hands in frank acclaim


Matrons in door-ways nod and smile
From balcony roguish girls laugh out
Or kiss their fingers, rain their nosegays down.
At such a shower—laugh, clap, and flower—
My horses shy, the landeau tilts,
Distractedly the driver pulls.
But I, Jack Gentian, what reck I,
The popular hero, object sole
Of this ovation!—I aver
No viceroy, king, nor emperor,
Panjandrum Grand, conquistador—
Not Caesar's self in car aloft
Triumphal on the Sacred Way,
No, nor young Bacchus through glad Asia borne,
Pelted with grapes, exulted so
As I in hackney-landeau here
Jolting and jouncing thro' the waves
Of confluent commoners who in glee
Good natured past before my prow.



Arrested by a second surprise not in harmony with the first, he is thereupon precipitated into meditations more or less profound, though a little mixed, as they say.

Flattered along by following cheers
We sped; I musing here in mind,
Beshrew me, needs be overdrawn
Those shocking stories bruited wide,
In England which I left but late,
Touching dire tyranny in Naples.


True freedom is to be care-free!
And care-free seem the people here
A truce indeed they seem to keep
Gay truce to care and all her brood.
But, look: what mean yon surly walls?
A fortress? and in heart of town?
Even so. And rapt I stare thereon.
The battlements black-beetling hang
Over the embrasures' tiers of throats
Whose enfilading tongues seem trained
Less to beat alien foemen off
Than awe the town. “Rabble!” they said,
Or in dumb threatening seemed to say,
“Revolt, and we will rake your lanes!”
But what strange quietude of wall!
While musing if response would be
Did tourist on the clampt gate tap
Politely there with slender cane—
Abrupt, to din condensed of drums
And blast of thronged trumps trooping first,
Right and left with clangor and clash
The double portals outward burst
Before streamed thronged bayonets that flash
Like lightning's sortie from the cloud.
Storming from the gloomy tower
Tempestuous thro' the caverned arch,
Like one long lance they lunge along,
A thousand strong of infantry!


The captains like to torches flaring,
Red plumes and scarlet sashes blown,
Bare sword in hand audacious gleaming;
While, like ejected lava rolled,
The files on files are vomited forth
Eruptive from their crater belched!
Sidelong, in vulpine craven sort,
On either flank at louring brows
Of tag-rag who before their sortie
Divide in way how all unlike
Their parting late before my wheels!
Who makes this sortie? who? and why?
Anon I learned. Sicilians, these—
Sicilians from Palermo shipped
In meet exchange for hirelings lent
From Naples here to hold the Isle;
And daily thus in seething town
From fort to fort are trooping streamed
To threaten, intimidate, and cow.
Flaunting the overlording flag,
Thumping the domineering drum,
With insolent march of blustering arms
They clean put out the festive stir,
Ay, quench the popular fun.
The fun they quench, but scarce the hate
In bridled imprecations pale
Of brooding hearts vindictive there,


The deadlier bent for rasping curb,
Through mutterings like deep thunder low,
Couched thunder ere the leaping bolt,
The swaggering troops and bullying trumpets go.
They fleet—they fade. And, altered much,
In serious sort my way I hold,
Till revery, taking candor's tone
With optimistic influence plead:
Sad, bad, confess; but solace bides!
For much has Nature done, methinks,
In offset here with kindlier aim.
If bayonets flash, what vineyards glow!
Of all these hells of wrath and wrong
How little feels the losel light
Who, thrown upon the odorous sod
In this indulgent clime of charm
Scarce knows a thought or feels a care
Except to take his careless pleasure:
A fig for Bomba! life is fair
Squandered in superabundant leisure!
Ay, but ye ragamuffs cutting pranks
About the capering mountebanks
Was that indeed mirth's true elation?
Or even in some a patched despair,
Bravery in tatters debonair,
True devil-may-care dilapidation?


Well, be these rubs even how they may,
Smart cock-plumes in yon headstalls dance,
Each harness with ribbons flutters gay,
I see at pole our wreath advance:
Inodorous muslin garland—true:
Impostor, but of jocund hue!
Ah, could one but realities rout
A holiday-world it were, no doubt.
But Naples, sure she lacks not cheer,
Religion, it is jubilee here—
Feast follows festa thro' the year;
And then such Nature all about!
No surly moor of forge and mill,
She charms us glum barbarians still,
Fleeing from frost, bad bread, or duns,
Despotic Biz, and devils blue,
And there's our pallid invalid ones,
Their hollow eyes the scene survey;
They win this clime of more than spice,
These myrtled shores, to wait the boat
That ferries (so the pilots say),
Yes, ferries to the isles afloat,
The floating Isles of Paradise
In God's Ægean far away!
O, scarce in trivial tenor all,
Much less to mock man's mortal sigh,
Those syllables proverbial fall,
Naples, see Naples, and—then die!
But hark: yon low note rising clear;
A singer!—rein up, charioteer!




Opening with a fervent little lyric which, if obscure in purport or anyway questionable to a Hyperborean professor of Agnostic Moral Philosophy, will nevertheless to readers as intelligently sympathetic as our honest narrator, be transparent enough and innocent as the Thirty Thousand Virgins of Cologne.

“Name me, do, that dulcet Donna
Whose perennial gifts engaging
Win the world to dote upon her
In meridian never ageing!
Look, in climes beyond the palms
Younger sisters bare young charms—
She the mellower graces!
Ripened heart maturely kind,
St. Martin's summer of the mind,
And pathos of the years behind—
More than empty faces!”
Who sings? Behold him under bush
Of vintner's ivy nigh a porch,
His rag-fair raiment botched and darned
But face much like a Delphic coin's
New disinterred with clinging soil.
Tarnished Apollo!—But let pass.
Best here be heedful, yes, and chary,
Sentiment nowadays waxeth wary,
And idle the ever-cooked Alas.




Quick as lightning he is presented with a festive flower by the titillating fingers of a flying Peri, who thereupon spinning in pirouette, evaporates or vanishes.

Advancing now, we passed hard by
A regal court where under drill
Drawn up in line the palace-guard
Behind tall iron pickets spiked
With gilded barbs, in martial din
Clanged down their muskets on the pave.
Some urchins small looked on, and men
With eye-lids squeezed, yet letting out
A flame as of quick lightning thin;
The Captain of the guard meanwhile,
A nervous corpulence, on these
Stealing a restive sidelong glance.
A curve. And rounding by the bay
Nigh Edens parked along the verge,
Brief halt was made amid the press;
And, instantaneous thereupon,
A buoyant nymph on odorous wing
A lighting on the landeau-step,
Half hovering like a humming-bird,
A flower pinned to my lapelle,
Letting a thrill from finger brush
(Sure, unaware) the sensitive chin;
Yes, badged me in a twinkling bright
With O a red and royal rose;


A rose just flowering from the bud
Received my tribute, random coins,
Beaming received it, chirped adieu,
Twirled on her pivot and—was gone!
An opening came; and in a trice
The horses went, my landeau rocked,
The ribbons streamed; while, ruddy now,
Flushed with the rose's reflex bloom,
I dwelt no more on things amiss:
Come, take thine ease; lean back, my soul;
The world let spin; what signifies?
Look, she, the flower-girl—what recks she
Of Bomba's sortie? what indeed!
Fine sortie of her own, the witch,
But now she made upon my purse,
And even a craftier sally too!



Giving way to thoughts less cheerful than archaic, he is checked by a sportive sally from the Rose. But is anew troubled, catching sight of an object attesting a Power even more nitrous and menacing than the Bomb-King himself. In short, another and greater crowned artilleryman, a capricious dominator, impossible to dethrone, and reigning by right incontestably divine. Pondering which discouraging fact, once more our genial friend is twitted by the festive Mentor.

“Signor, turn here?” And turn we did,
Repassing scenes that charmed erewhile,
Nor less could charm reviewed even now.


What blandishment in clime, or else
What subtler influence, my rose,
From thee exhaled, thou Lydian one,
Seductive here could flatter me
Even in emotion not unfelt
While fleeting from that warmish pair!
If, taking tone indeed from them,
No lightsome thought awhile prevailed
Devious it drifted like a dream.
I mused on Virgil, here inurned
On Pausilippo, legend tells—
Here on the slope that pledges ease to pain,
For him a pledge assuredly true
If here indeed his ashes be—
Rome's laureat in Rome's palmy time;
Nor less whose epic's undertone
In volumed numbers rolling bland,
Chafing against the metric bound,
Plains like the South Sea ground-swell heaved
Against the palm-isle's halcyon strand.
What Mohawk of a mountain 'lours!
A scalp-lock of Tartarian smoke
Thin streaming forth from tawny brow,
One heel on painted Pompeii set,
And one on Hercules 'whelmed town!
The Siren's seat for pleasurists lies
Betwixt two threatening bombardiers
Their mortars loaded, linstocks lit—
Vesuvius yonder—Bomba here.


Events may Bomba's batteries spike:
But how with thee, sulphurious Hill
Whose vent far hellward reaches down!
Ah, funeral urns of time antique
Inwrought with flowers in gala play,
Whose form and bacchanal dance in freak,
Even as of pagan time ye speak
Type ye what Naples is alway?
Yes, round these curved volcanic shores,
Vined urn of ashes, bed on bed,
Abandonment as thoughtless pours
As when the revelling pagan led.
And here again I droopt the brow,
And, lo, again I saw the Rose,
The red red ruddy and royal Rose!
Expanded more from bud but late
Sensuous it lured, and took the tone
Of some light taunting Cyprian gay
In shadow deep of college-wall
Startling some museful youth afoot—
“Mooning in mind? Ah, lack-a-day!”



Uninfluenced by the pranks and rhymes of certain Merry Andrews of the beach, he unaccountably falls into an untimely fit of historic reminiscences. For which dereliction, the Rose, now in a pleading mood, touchingly upbraids him. But again he relapses, notwithstanding an animated call, subsequently heard, to regale himself with ruddy apples and sweet oranges.

I turned me short; and, timely now,
Beheld this scene: damsels sun-burnt,


In holiday garb with tinsel trimmed;
And men and lads behind them ranged
About a carpet on the beach,
Whereon a juggler in brocade
Made rainbows of his glittering balls,
Cascading them with dexterous sleight;
And as from hand to hand they flew
With minglings of interior din,
He trilled a ditty deftly timed
To every lilted motion light:—
“The balls, hey! the balls,
Cascatella of balls—
Baseless arches I toss up in air!
Spinning we go,—
Now over, now under;
High Jack is Jack low,
And never a blunder!
Come hither—go thither:
But wherefor nowhither?
I lose them—I win them,
From hand to hand spin them,
Reject them, and seize them,
And toss them, and tease them,
And keep them forever in air,
All to serve but a freak of my glee!
Sport ye thus with your spoonies, ye fair,
For your mirth? nor even forbear


To juggle with Nestors your thralls?
Do ye keep them in play with your smiling and frowning,
Your flirting, your fooling, abasing and crowning,
And dance them as I do these balls?”
With that, and hurrying his two hands,
Arching he made his meteors play;
When, lo, like Mercury dropped from heaven,
Precipitate there a tumbler flew,
Alighting on winged feet; then sang,
Dancing at whiles, and beating time,
Clicking his nimble heels together
In hornpipe of the gamesome kid:
“Over mines, by vines
That take hot flavor
From Vesuvius—
Hark, in vintage
Sounds the tabor!
“In brimstone-colored
Tights or breeches
There the Wag-fiend
Dancing teaches;
“High in wine-press
Hoop elastic
Pigeon-wings cut
In rite fantastic;


“While the black grape,
Spirting, gushing,
Into red wine
Foameth rushing!
“Which wine drinking,
Drowning thinking,
Every night-fall,
Heard in Strada,
Kiss the doves
And coos the adder!”
While yet I listened, vivid came
A flash of thought that carried me
Back to five hundred years ago.
I saw the panoramic bay
In afternoon beneath me spread—
All Naples from siesta risen
Peopling the benches, barges, moles.
Cooled over blue waves tinkling bland
Came waftures from Sorrento's vines,
And Queen Joanna, queen and bride,
Sat in her casement by the sea,
Twining three strands of silk and gold
Into a cord how softly strung.
“For what this dainty rope, sweet wife?”
It was the bridegroom who had stolen
Behind her chair, and now first spoke.
“To hang you with, Andrea,” she said
Smiling. He shrugged his shoulders; “Nay,
What need? I'll hang but on your neck.”


And straight caressed her; and when she
Sat mutely passive, smiling still.
For jest he took it? But that night
A rope of twisted silk and gold
Droopt from a balcony where vines
In flower showed violently torn;
And, starlit, thence what tassel swung!
For offset to Eve's serpent twined
In that same sleek and shimmering cord,
Quite other scene recurred. In hall
Of Naples here, withall I stood
Before the pale mute-speaking stone
Of seated Agrippina—she
The truest woman that ever wed
In tragic widowhood transfixed;
In cruel craft exiled from Rome
To gaze on Naples' sunny bay,
More sharp to feel her sunless doom.
O ageing face, O youthful form,
O listless hand in idle lap,
And, ah, what thoughts of God and man!
But intervening here, my Flower,
Opening yet more in bloom the less,
Maturing toward the wane,—low-breathed,
Again? and quite forgotten me?
You wear an Order, me, the Rose,
To whom the favoring fates allot


A term that shall not bloom outlast;
No future's mine, nor mine a past.
Yet I'm the Rose, the flower of flowers.
Ah, let time's present time suffice,
No Past pertains to Paradise.
Time present. Well, in present time
It chanced a lilting note I heard,
A fruit-girl's, and she fluted this:
“Love-apples, love-apples!
All dew, honey-dew,
From orchards of Cyprus—
Blood-oranges too!
“Will you buy? prithee, try!
They grew facing south;
See, mutely they languish
To melt in your mouth!
“'Tis now, take them now
In the hey-day of flush,
While the crisis is on,
And the juices can gush!
“Love-apples, love-apples,
All dew, honey-dew,
From orchards of Cyprus—
Blood-oranges, too!”


Warbling and proffering them she went,
And passed, and left me as erewhile,
For the dun annals would not down.
Murky along the sunny strand
New spectres streamed from shades below,
Spectres of Naples under Spain,
Phantoms of that incensed Revolt
With whose return Wrath threatens still
Bomba engirt with guards.—Lo, there,
A throng confused, in arms they pass,
Arms snatched from smithy, forge and shop:
Craftsman and sailors, peasants, boys,
And swarthier faces dusked between—
Brigands and outlaws; linked with these
Salvator Rosa, and the fierce
Falcone with his fiery school;
Pell-mell with riff-raff, banded all
In league as violent as the sway
Of feudal claims and foreign lords
Whose iron heel evoked the spark
That fired the populace into flame.
And, see, dark eyes and sunny locks
Of Masaniello, bridegroom young,
Tanned marigold-cheek and tasselled cap;
The darling of the mob; nine days
Their great Apollo; then, in pomp
Of Pandemonium's red parade,
His curled head Gorgoned on the pike,
And jerked aloft for God to see.


A portent. Yes, and typed the years
Red after-years, and whirl of error
When Freedom linkt with Furies raved
In Carmagnole and cannibal hymn,
Mad song and dance before the ark
From France imported with The Terror!
To match the poison, mock the clime,
Hell's cornucopia crammed with crime!
Scarce cheerful here the revery ran.
Nor did my Rose now intervene,
Full opening out in dust and sun
Which hurried along that given term,
She said would never bloom outlast.



He encounters a prepossessing little tatterdemalion Triton, shell in hand, dewy in luminous spray of a rainbowed fountain. With the precocity of his precocious tribe, the juvenile Levantine, knowing that there is nothing the populace everywhere more like to hear than something touching upon themselves, their town and their period, entertains his street-audience accordingly with certain improvisations partaking alike of the sentiment and devil-may-care incident to the Neapolitan.

By marbles where a fountain rose
In jubilant waters scurrying high
To break in sleet against the blue,
I saw a thing as freshly bright—
A boy, who holding up a shell,
Enamelled part, with pinkish valve


New dipped in rainbows of the spray,
By mute appeal, with deference touched,
As if invoking Naples' monarch,
Not her mob, attention craved.
A weed of life, a sea-weed he
From the Levant adventuring out;
A cruiser light, like all his clan
Who, in repletion's lust for more,
And penury's strife for daily bread,
As licensed by compassionate heaven
To privateer it on their wits,
The Mid Sea rove from quay to quay,
At home with Turban, Fez, or Hat;
Ready in French, Italian, Greek—
Linguists at large; alert to serve
As chance interpreters or guides;
Suave in address, with winning ways—
Arch imps of Pandarus, a few;
Others with improvising gift
Of voweled rhyme in antic sort,
Or passionate, spirited by their sun
That ripens them in early teens;
And some with small brown fingers slim
Busier than the jackdaw's bill.
But he, what gravity is his!
Precociously sedate indeed
In beauty sensuously serene.
White-draped, and ranked aloft in choir
A treble clear in rolling laud
Meet would he look on Easter morn.


The muster round him closing more,
How circumspect he plays his part;
His glance intelligent taking in
The motley miscellaneous groups:
Large-chested porters, swarthy dames
In dress provincial that beseems;
Fishermen bronzed, and barbers curled;
Fat monk with paunched umbrella blue;
The quack, magnific in brocade
Chapeau and aigulets; the wight
That cobbles shoes in public way;
Mariners in red Phrygian caps.
But, twinkling brief, his liquid glance
Skims one poor figure limp that leans
Listlessly deaf amid the hum.
A purblind man, too, sly he views
With staff before him, pattering thin;
Informers these, perchance, and spies?
So queries one, a craftsman there,
Nudging his fellow, winking back.
And, verily, rumor long has run
That Bomba's blind men well can see,
His deaf men hear, his dumb men talk.
But never amid the varied throng
The boy a stragging soldier notes
In livery lace declaring him.


Howbeit, some sombre garbs he views:
A Jesuit grave, genteely sleek
In dapper small-clothes and fine hose
Of sable silk, and shovel-hat,
Hard by a doctor of the law,
In sables, too, with parchment cheek;
A useful man to lawless power,
Expert to legalise the wrong.
The twain, brief tarrying there behind,
Went sauntering off ere came the close.
But now the lad, in posture grave,
With sidelong leaning head intent,
The shell's lips to his listening ear,
In modulating tone began:
“Metheglin befuddles this freak o' the sea,
Humming, low humming—in brain a bee!
“Hymns it of Naples her myriads warming?
Involute hive in fever of swarming.
“What Hades of sighs in irruption suppressed,
Suffused with huzzahs that buzz in arrest!
“Neapolitans, ay, 'tis the soul of the shell
Intoning your Naples, Parthenope's bell.
“O, couch of the Siren renowned thro' the sea
That enervates Salerno, seduces Baiæ;
“I attend you, I hear; but how to resolve
The complex of conflux your murmurs involve!”


He paused, as after prelude won;
Abrupt then in recitative, he:
“Hark, the stir
The ear invading:
“Crowds on crowds
All promenading;
“Clatter and clink
Of cavalcading;
From ships unlading;
“Funeral dole,
Thro' arches fading;
“All hands round!
In masquerading;
“Litany low—
High rodomontading;
“Grapes, ripe grapes!
In cheer evading;
“Lazarus' plaint
All vines upbraiding;
Of fusillading!


“Hurly-burly, late and early,
Gossips prating, quacks orating,
Daft debating:
Furious wild reiteration
And incensed expostulation!
“Din condensed,
All hubbub summing:
Larking, laughing,
Chattering, chaffing,
Thrumming, strumming
Singing, jingling
All commingling—
Till the Drum,
Rub-a-dub sounded, doubly pounded,
Redundant in deep din rebounded,
Deafning all this hive of noises
Babel-tongued with myriad voices,
Drubs them dumb!
No more larking,
No more laughing,
No more chattering,
Nay, nor chaffing—
All is glum!
To blab the reason—
Were out of season,
For, look, they come!


Rub-a-dub, rub-a-dub,
Rub-a-double-dub-dub-o' the drum!”
Alert in his young senses five
The lad had caught the wafted roll
Of Bomba's barbarous tom-toms thumped,
And improvised the beat. Anon
The files wheeled into open view.
A second troop a thousand strong
With band and banners, flourished blades,
Launched from second cannoned den
And now in countermarch thereon;
The great drum-major towering up
In aigulets and tinsel tags—
Pagoda glittering in Cathay!
Arch whiskerando and gigantic
A grandiose magnifico antic
Tossing his truncheon in the van.
A hifalutin exaggeration,
Barbaric in his bearskin shako,
Of bullying Bomba's puffed elation
And blood-and-thunder proclamation,
A braggadocio Bourbon-Draco!


While yet the bayonets flashed along
And all was silent save the drum,


Then first it was I chanced to note
Some rose-leaves fluttering off in air,
While on my lap lay wilted ones.
Ah, Rose, that should not bloom outlast
Now leaf by leaf art leaving me?
But here anew the lad broke in:—
“Lo, the King's men
They go marching!
O, the instep
Haughty arching!—
Live the King!
“What's the grin for—
Queer grimacing?
Who, yon grenadiers
Here dare sing
Live the King?”
But there, a comely wine-wife plump,
A bustling motherly good body
Who all along in fidgety sort
Concern had shown, and tried her way
To push up to this imp satiric,
Got next him now, and clapping hand
Across his mouth, she whispered him.
He heard; then, turning toward the throng,
“She says, Young chick come down a peg,
Nor risk being pent anew in egg.”


Castel dell Ovo here was meant,
The oval fortress on the bay,
Hiving its captives in sea-cells;
Nor patriots only, plotters deemed,
But talkers, rhymesters, every kind
Of indiscreetly innocent mind.
Nor less the volatile audience—late
Grinding their teeth at Bomba's guards,
Were tickled by the allusive pun,
Howbeit, the boy here made an end;
And dulcet now, with decent air,
Of mild petitionary grace:
“Carlo am I, some carlins then!”
He twitched his sash up, scarlet rag,
Blithely in bonnet caught the coins,
Then disappeared beyond the marge
To dice with other imps as young,
Ere yet a little and his star
Evanish like the Pleiad lost.



Herein, if Jack Gentian, ever reputed a man of veracity, is to be credited, so thin a thing as a wafer made of a little flour and water, and so forth, the same being viewless, or carefully covered from view, proves of far more efficacy in bringing a semi-insurgent populace to their knees than all the bombs, bayonets, and fusilades of the despot of Naples.

The younker faded, voice and all—
He faded, and his carol died,
Forgot anon in shifted scene;
For, hark, what slender chimes are these


On zephyr borne? And, look, the folk
In one consent of strange accord,
Part, and in expectation stand;
Yet scarce as men who mirth await—
More like to crowds that wait eclipse,
So gravely sobering seems to fall
Those light lilt chimes now floating near,
In harbinger of—what behind?
It comes; a corpulent form erect,
And holds what looks a Titan stem
Of lily-of-the-vale, the buds
A congregation of small bells—
Small, silver, and of dulcet tone,
Drooping from willowy light wires;
Behind, in square, four boys in albs
Whose staves uphold a canopy,
And, under this, a shining priest
Who to some death-bed bears the host
In mystic state before him veiled.
A hush falls; and the people drop
Stilly and instantaneous all
As plumps the apple ripe from twig
And cushions motionless in sod.
My charioteer reins short—transfixed;
The very mountebanks, they kneel;
And idlers, all along and far,
Bow over as the host moves on—
Bow over, and for time remain
Like to Pompeiian masquers caught
With fluttering garb in act of flight,
For ages glued in deadly drift.


But, look, the Rose, brave Rose, is where?
Last petals falling, and its soul
Of musk dissolved in empty air!
And here this draught at hazard drawn,
Like squares of fresco newly dashed,
Cools, hardens, nor will more receive,
Scarce even the touch that mends a slip:
The plaster sets; quietus—bide.
Let bide; nor all the piece esteem
A medley mad of each extreme;
Since, in those days, gyved Naples, stung
By tickling tantalising pain,
Like tried St. Anthony giddy hung
Betwixt the tittering hussies twain:
She sobbed, she laughed, she rattled her chain;
Till the Red Shirt proved signal apt
Of danger ahead to Bomba's son,
And presently freedom's thunder clapt,
And lo, he fell from toppling throne—
Fell down, like Dagon on his face,
And ah, the unfeeling populace!
But Garibaldi—Naples' host
Uncovers to her deliverer's ghost,
While down time's aisle, mid clarions clear
Pale glory walks by valor's bier.