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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.


To the Princesses of Ferrara

By Torquato Tasso (1544–1595)

Translated by Richard Henry Wilde

FAIR daughters of Rénée! my song

Is not of pride and ire,

Fraternal discord, hate, and wrong,

Burning in life and death so strong,

From rule’s accurst desire,

That even the flames divided long

Upon their funeral pyre.

But you I sing, of royal birth,

Nursed on one breast like them;

Two flowers, both lovely, blooming forth

From the same parent stem,—

Cherished by heaven, beloved by earth,

Of each a treasured gem!

To you I speak in whom we see

With wondrous concord blend

Sense, worth, fame, beauty, modesty,

Imploring you to lend

Compassion to the misery

And sufferings of your friend.

The memory of years gone by,

O, let me in your hearts renew,—

The scenes, the thoughts, o’er which I sigh,

The happy days I spent with you,—

And what, I ask, and where am I,

And what I was, and why secluded;

Whom did I trust, and who deluded?

Daughters of heroes and of kings,

Allow me to recall

These and a thousand other things,—

Sad, sweet, and mournful all!

From me few words, more tears, grief wrings,—

Tears burning as they fall.

For royal halls and festive bowers

Where, nobly serving, I

Shared and beguiled your private hours,

Studies, and sports I sigh;

And lyre, and trump, and wreathed flowers;

Nay more, for freedom, health, applause,

And even humanity’s lost laws!

Why am I chased from human kind?

What Circe in the lair

Of brutes, thus keeps me spell-confined?

Nests have the birds of air,

The very beasts in caverns find

Shelter and rest, and share

At least kind nature’s gifts and laws,

For each his food and water draws

From wood and fountain, where,

Wholesome and pure and safe, it was

Furnished by heaven’s own care;

And all is bright and blest, because

Freedom and health are there!

I merit punishment, I own;

I erred, I must confess it; yet

The fault was in the tongue alone,

The heart is true. Forgive! forget!

I beg for mercy, and my woes

May claim with pity to be heard;

If to my prayers your ears you close,

Where can I hope for one kind word

In my extremity of ill?

And if the pang of hope deferred

Arise from discord in your will,

For me must be revived again

The fate of Metius and the pain.

I pray you, then, renew for me

The charm that made you doubly fair,

In sweet and virtuous harmony

Urging, resistlessly, my prayer;

With him for whose loved sake, I swear

I more lament my fault than pains,

Strange and unheard of as they are.