University of Virginia Library



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.