Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Canzone, Written in Prison

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI. 1876–79.

Austria: Spielberg, the Castle

Canzone, Written in Prison

By Silvio Pellico (1789–1854)

Anonymous translation

THE LOVE of song what can impart

To the lone captive’s sinking heart?

Thou sun! thou fount divine

Of light! the gift is thine!

O, how, beyond the gloom

That wraps my living tomb,

Through forest, garden, mead, and grove,

All nature drinks the ray

Of glorious day,—

Inebriate with love!

The jocund torrents flow

To distant worlds that owe

Their life to thee!

And if a slender ray

Chance through my bars to stray,

And pierce to me,

My cell, no more a tomb,

Smiles in its caverned gloom,—

As nature to the free!

If scarce thy bounty yields

To these ungenial fields

The gift divine,

O, shed thy blessings here,

Now while in dungeon drear

Italians pine!

Thy splendors faintly known,

Sclavonia may not own

For thee the love

Our hearts must move,

Who from our cradle learn

To adore thee, and to yearn

With passionate desire

(Our nature’s fondest prayer,

Needful as vital air)

To see thee, or expire.

Beneath my native, distant sky,

The captive’s sire and mother sigh;

O, never there may darkling cloud

With veil of circling horror shroud

The rising day;

But thy warm beams, still glowing bright,

Enchant their hearts with joyous light,

And charm their grief away!