Robert Browning.

The complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning online

. (page 63 of 198)
Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 63 of 198)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


The hearts as well as hands — and where 's a

heart
Bnt beats with Luria, in the multitude
I come from walking through by Luria's side ?
You gave them Luna, set him thus to grow.
Head-like, upon their trunk; one heart feeds

both.
They feel him there, live twice, and well know

why.
— For they do know, if you are ignorant, ^
Who kept his own place and respected theirs.
Managed their sweat, yet never spared his blood.
An was your act : another might have served —
There 's peradventure no such dearth of heads —
But you chose Lnria: so, they grew one flesh.
And now, for nothing they can understand,
Luria removed, off is to roll the head ;
The body^s mine — much I shall do with it !
Jac, That *s at the worst.
Puc, No — at the best, it is I

Best, do you hear ? I saw them by his side.
Only we two with Luria in the camp
Are left that keep the secret ? You think that ?
Hear what I know : from rear to van, no heart



But felt the quiet patient hero there

Was wronged, nor m the moveless ranks an eye

But glancing told its fellow the whole story

Of tlukt convicted silent knot of spies

Who passed through them to Florence; they

might pass —
No breast but gladlier beat when free of such I
Our troops will catch up Luria, close him round.
Bear him to Florence as their natural lord.
Partake his fortune, live or die with him.
Jioc. And by mistake catoh up along with

him
Puc<do. no doubt, compelled in self despite
To still continue second in command I

Puc. No, sir, no second nor so fortunate I
Your tricks succeed with me too well for that I
I am as you have made me, live and die
To serve vour end — a mere trained fighting-

hack.
With words, you laugh at while they leave your

mouth.
For my life's rule and ordinance of God !
I have to do my duty, keep my faith.
And earn my praise, and guard against my

blame.
As I was trained. I shall accept your charge.
And fight against one better than myself.
Spite of my heart's conviction of his worth —
That, you may count on I — just as hitherto
I have gone on, persuaded I was wronged,
Slighted, insulted, terms we learn by rote, —
All because Luria superseded me —
Because the better nature, fresh-inspired.
Mounted above me to its proper place !
What mattered all the kindly graciousness.
The cordial brotherVbearing ? This was

clear —
I, once the captain, now was subaltern.
And so must keep complaining like a tool I
Go, take the curse of a lost soul, I say I
You neither play your puppets to the end.
Nor treat the real man, — tor his realness' sake
Thrust rudely in their place, — with such re*

gard
As might console them for their altered rank.
Me, the mere steady soldier, you depose
For Luria, and here 's all your pet deserves !
Of what account, then, is your laughing-stock ?
One word for all : whatever Luria does,

— If backed by his indignant troops he turn.
Revenge himself, and Florence go to ground, —
Or, for a signal everlasting shame.

He pardon vou, simply seek better friends.
Side with the Pisans and Lucchese for change

— And if I, pledged to ingrates past belief.
Dare fight against a man such fools call false,
Who, inasmuch as he was true, fights me, —
Whichever way he vrin, he wins for worth,
For every soldier, for all true and i



Sir, chronicling the rest, omit not this I
(i4« they go^ enter Lubia and Hcsaih.)
Hus, Saw'st thou ? — For they are gone !
The world lies bare
Before thee, to be tast-ed, felt and seen
Like what it is, now Florence goes awa^ !
Thou livest now, with men art man again t
Those Florentines were all to thee of old ;
Bnt Braooio, but Domizia, gone is each,



Digitized by



Google



LURIA



3"



There lie beneath thee thine own moltitudee !
Saw'stthon?

Iast, I saw.

Hti«. Then, hoM thy oonne, my Idn^ I

The yean return. Let thy heart have its way :
Ah, they wonld ph»y with thee as with all else,
Tnrn thee to use, and fashion thee anew,
Find out God's fault in thee as in the rest ?
Oh watch, oh listen only to these fiends
Once at their occupation I Ere we know.
The free g;Teat hearen is shut, their stifling pall
Drops till it frets the very tingline hair,
So weighs it on our head, — imd, for the earth,
Our common earth is tethered up and down,
Orer and across — *^ here shalt thou move,'*
therciTl

Iakt, Ay, Husain ?

jETtix. So hare they spoiled all beside I

So stands a man girt round with Florentines,
Priests, ^raybearos, Braooios, wcnnen, boys and

spies.
All in one tale, all singing the same song.
How thou must house, and live at bed and

board.
Take pledge and give it, go their everr wav.
Breathe to their measure, make thy blood oeat



-or, all 18 nothing — thou art



time
With theirs

lost —

A savage, how shouldst thoajperoeive as they ?
Peel glaa to stand 'neath God's dose naked

hand!
Look up to it t Why, down they^ pull thy neck.
Lest it crush thee, who f eeFst it and wouldst

kiss.
Without their priests that needs must glove tt

first.
Lest peradventure flesh offend thy lip.
Love woman I Why, a very beast then art t
Thou must . . .
Ijiw, Peace, Husain I

Hitf. Ay, but, spoiling all^

For alL else true things, subetitutiiiff false.
That they should dare spcnl, of all instincts,

thine!
Should dare to take thee with thine instincts up,
Thy battle-ardors, like a ball of fire.
And class them and allow them nlaoe and play
So far, no farther — unabashed the wlule I
lliou with the soul that never can take rest —
Thou bom to do, undo, and do itfain.
And never to be still,— wouldst thou make war ?
Oh, that is commendable, just and right !
**Come over," say they, have the honor due
Li living out thy nature I Fight thv best :
It is to be for Florence, not thyself I
For thee, it were a horror and a plague ;
For us, when war is made for Florence, see,
How all is changed : the fire that fed on earth
Now towers to heaven ! " —

Iakt, And what sealed up so long

My Husain's month ?

!Hi». Oh friend, oh lord — for me.

What am I ? — I was silent at thy side.
Who am a part of thee. It is thv hand.
Thy foot tnat glows when in the heart fresh

blood
Bmls up, thou heart of me ! Now, live again.



Again love as thou likest, hate as free I
Turn to no Braocios nor Domizias now.
To ask, before thy very limbs dttre move.
If Florence' welfare be concerned thereby I

Jjw, 80 clear what Florence must expect of
me?

Hii«. Both armies against Florence t Take
revenge!
Wide, deep — to live upqpi, in feeling now, —
And, after live, in memoryj year by year — ,
And, with the dear convictiou, die at last t
She lies now at thy pleasure : pleasure have I
Their vaunted intellect that guds our sense.
And blends with life, to show it better by,

— How think 'st thou ? — I have turned that

light on them I
They culed our thirst of war a transient thing ;
^' The battle-element must pass away
From life," they said, *' and leave a tranquil

world."

— Master, I took their light and turned it full
On that dull turgid vein they said would burst
And pass away ; and as I looked on life.
Still everywhere I tracked this, though it hid
And shifted, lay so silent as it thought,
Changed shape and hue yet ever was the same.
Why, 't was all fighting, all their nobler life I
All work was fighting, every harm — defeat.
And every joy oDtained — a victory I

Be not their dupe I

— Their dupe? That hour is past I
Here stand'st thou in the glory and the calm :
All is determined. Silence for me now t

[HimAiif poei.
Xur. Have I heard all?
Dom, [Advancingjrom the background.] No,
Luria, I remain I
Not from the motives these have urged on thee.
Ignoble, insufficient, incomplete.
And pregnant each with sure seeds of decay,
As failii^ of sustainment from thyself,

— Neith^ from low revenge, nor selfishness.
Nor savage lust of power* nor one, nor all,
Shalt thou abolish Florence 1 I proclaim
The an^l in thee, and reject the sprites
Which meffectual crowd about his strength.
And mingle with his work and claim a snare I
Inconsciously^ to the augustest end

Thou hast arisen : second not in rank

So much as time, to him who first ordained

That Florence, thou art to destroy, should be.

Tet him a star, too, guided, who broke first

The pride of lonely power, the life apart.

And made the eminences, each to each.

Lean o'er the level world and let it lie

Safe from the thunder henceforth 'neath their

tops; •

So the few famous men of old combined,
And let the multitude rise underneath.
And reach them and unite — so Florence grew :
Braccio speaks true, it was well worth the price.
But when the sheltered many grew in pride
And grudged the station of uie elected ones.
Who, greater than their kind, are truly great
Only in voluntary servitude —
Time was for thee to rise, and thou art here.
Such plaene possessed this Florence : who can



Digitized by



Google



3^2



LURIA



The mighty g:irth and greatness at the heart
Of those so Mrfeot pillars of the^ove
She polled down in ner envy ? Who as I,
The light weak parasite bom bnt to twine ^
Roona each of them and, measuring them, live ?
My light love keeps the matchless circle safe,
My slender life proves what has passed away.
I uved when thev departed ; lived to cling
To thee, the raignty stranger ; thou wouldst rise
And burst the thraldom, and avenge, I knew.
I have done nothing ; all was thv strong bole.
But a bird^s weight can break the infant tree
Which after holds an aery in its arms.
And *t was my care that naught should warp

thy spire
From rising to the height ; the roof is reached
0' the forest, break through, see extend the

sky I
Go on to Florence, Lnria 1 'Tis man*8 cause I
Fail thou, and thine own fall were least to

dread:
Thou keepest Florence in her evil way,
£ncoura|Fe8t her sin so much the more —
And while the ignoble past is justified,
Thou all the surelier waip*st the future growth,
Tlie chiefs to come, the Lurias yet unborn,
That, greater than thyself, are reached o^er thee
Who giv^st the vantage-ground their foes re-
quire,
As o'er my prostrate House thyself wast

reached!
Man calls thee, God requites thee I All is said,
The mission of my House fulfilled at last :
And the mere woman, speaking for herself.
Reserves speech — it is now no woman *s time.

[DomziA poet.
Xtir. Thus at the last must figure Luria,

then I
Doing the various work of all his friends,
And answering every purpose save his own.
No doubt, 't is well for them to wish ; bnt him —
After the exploit what were left? Perchance
A little pride upon the swarthy brow.
At having brought successfully to bear
'Gainst Florence^ self her own especial arms, —
Her craftiness, impelled by fiercer strength
From Moorish blood than feeds the northern wit.
But after ! — once the easy vengeance willed,
Beautiful Florence at a word uud low
— (Not in her domes and towers and palaces.
Not cTen in a dream, that outrage !) — low.
As shamed in her own eyes henceforth forever,
Low, for the rival cities round to laugh.
Conquered and pardoned by a hireling Moor I
*— For him. who did the irreparable wrong,
What would be left, his life s illusion fled, —
What hope or trust in the forlorn wide world ?
How strange that Florence should mistake me

sol
Whence grew this ? What withdrew her faith

from me?
Some cause! These fretful-blooded children

talk
Against their mother, — they are wronged, they

say —
Notable wrongs her smile makes up again I
So, taking fire at each supposed onenoe.
They may speak rashly, sniffer for their speech :



But what could it have been in word or deed
Thus injured me? Some one word spoken

more
Out of my heart, and all had changed perhaps.
My fault, it must have been, — for, what gain

they?
Whv risk the danger ? See, what I could do I
And my fault, wherefore visit upon them.
My Florentines ? The notable revenge
I meditated I To stay passively.
Attend their summons, be as they dispose I
Why, if my very soldiers keep the rank.
And if my chieitains acquiesce, what then ?
I ruin Florence, teach her friends mistrust,
CJonfirm her enemies in harsh belief.
And when she finds one day. as find she must.
The strange mistake, and how my heart was

hers,
Shall it console me, that my Florentines
Walk with a sadder step, in graver guise.
Who took me with such frankness, praised me

so.
At the glad outset ? Had they loved me lees^
lliey had less feared what seemed a change m^

me.
And after all, who did the harm ? Not they I
How could they interpose with those old fools
1' the council? Suffer for those old fools^

sake —
They, who made pictures of me, sang the songs
About my battles ? Ah, we Moors get blind
Out of our proper world, where we can see I
The sun that guides is closer to us ! There —
There, my own orb I He sinks from out the

sky!
Why, there I a whole day has he blessed th»

land,
My land, our Florence all about the hills,
The fields and gardens, vineyards, oHve-

grounds.
All have been blest— and yet we Florentines,
With souls intent upon our battle here,
Found that he rose too soon, or set too late,
Gave us no vantage, or gave Pisa much —
Therefore we wronged him I Does he turn in

ire
To bum the earth that cannot understand ?
Or drop out quietly, and leave the sky.
His task once ended? Night wipes blame

away.
Another morning from my East shall spring
And find all eyes at leisure, all disposed
To watch and understand its work, no doubt.
So, praise the new sun, the successor praise.
Praise the new Luria and forget the old I

[ Takina a phial from M* breast
-— Strange I This is all I brought from my own

land
To help me : Europe would supply the rest.
All needs beside, lul other helps save one I
I thought of adverse fortune, luittle lost.
The natural upbraiding of the loser.
And then this quiet remedy to seek
At end of the disastrous day. [^« drimit,

'T is sought I
This was my happy triumph-morning : Florenoe
Is saved : 1 dnnk this, and ere night, — die 1

Strange I



Digitized by



Google



LURIA



313



ACT V

NIGHT

LuuA and Puooio

Xmr. I thoug^ht to do this, not to talk thii :
well,
Snoh were my projeets for the oity*s good.
To help her in attack or by defence.
Time, here as elsewhere, soon or late may take
Our loreaight by surprise through chauoe and

chan^:
But not a httle we provide against
— If you see dear on every point.

Pwc. Most dear.

Xmt. Then all is said — not much, if yon
count words.
Yet to an understanding ear enough ;
And all that my brief stay permits, beside.
Nor must you blame me, as I sought to teach
My elder in command, or threw a doubt
Upon the very skill, it comforts me
To know I leave, — your steady soldiership
Which never failed me : yet, beeaase it seemed
A stranger's eye might haply note defect
That skill, through use and custom, over-
looks —
I have gone into the old cares once more,
Ab if I had to come and save again
Florence — that May — that morning I 'Tis

nieht now.
Wdl— I broke off with? . . .

Pmc. Of the past campaign

You spoke — of measures to be kept in mind
For future use.

Jaot, True, so . . . but, time— no time !

Ab well end here : remember this, and me I
Farewell now I

Pmc. Dare I speak?

Jaot, South o' the river —

How is the second stream called . . . no, — the
third?

Pmc. Pesa.

Xur. And a stone's-cast from the f ording-
plaoe.
To the east, —the little mount's name ?

Pite. Lupo.

Xyr. A7I

Ay— there the tower, and all that side is safe !
With San Romano, west of Evola,
San Miniato, Scala, Empoli,
Five towers in all, — f origet not I

Pmc. Fear not me I

Xur. — Nor to memorialise the Council now,
V the easy hour, on those battalions* claim.
Who forced a pass by Staggia on the hills.
And kept the Sienese at check 1

Pmc One word —

SiTf I must sjpeak ! That you submit yourself
To Florence'^ bidding, howsoe'er it i>rove.
And give up the command to roe — is much,
Too much, perhaps : but what yon tell me now,
Even will affect the other course yon choose —
Poor aa it may be, perils even that I
Refuge you seek at Pisa : yet these niaaa
An imlitate for Florence, all condude
Yonr formidable work to make her queen



O' the oooDtry, — whioh her rivals rose agaiml
When you began it, — which to interrupt,
Pisa would buy you off at any price I
You cannot mean to sue for Pisa's hdp.
With this made perfect and on record r

Lur. I-

At Pisa, and for refuge, do you say ?

Pifc Where are you going, then? You
must dedde
On leaving us, a silent fugitive.
Alone, at night — you, stealing through our

lines.
Who were this morning's Lnria, —you escape
To painfully begin the world once more.
With such a past, as it had never been I
Where are you going ?

Lw, Not so far, m]r Pucdo,

But that I hope to hear, enjoy and praise
(If yon mind praise from vour dd captain yet)
Each happy blow you strike for Florence t

Puc. Ay.

But ere you gain yonr shelter, what may come 7
For see — though nothing's surdy known as

yet.
Still — truth must out — I apprehend the worst.
If mere suspicion stood for certainty
Before, there 's nothing can arrest the step
Of Florenc i toward your ruin, once on foot.
Forgive her fiftv times, it matters not I
And having disbelieved your innocence.
How can sne trust your magnanimity ?
Yon may do harm to her — why then, you will I
And Florence is sagacious in pursuit.
Have you a friend to count on ?

Jaot, One sure friend.

Pwc. Potent?

Lur» All-potent.

Fuc, And he is apprised ?

Xur* He waits me.

Puc, So I — Then I, put in your place,

Making my profit of all done by yon.
Calling your labors mine, reaping their fruit.
To this, the State's gift, now add yours be-
side — •
That I may take as my peculiar store
These your instructions to work Florence good.
And if, by putting some few happily
In practice, I should both advantage her
And draw down honor on myself, — what then f

Lwr, Do it, my Pucdo I I shall know and
praise I

Puc, Though so, men say, ** mark what we
gain by change
— A Pucdo for a Luria I "

Lur, Even so !

Puc. Then, not for fifty hundred Florences
Would I accept one office save my own,
Fill any other than my rightful post
Here at your feet, mv captain and my lord I
That such a cloud should break, such trouble

be.
Ere a roan settle, soul and body, down
Into his true place and take rest forever I
Here were my wise eyes fixed on yonr right

hand.
And so the bad thoughts came and the worse

words.
And all went wroog and painfully enough, —



Digitized by



Google



314



LURIA



No wonder, — till, the right spot stumbled on,
All the jar stops, and there is peace at once I
I am yours now, — a tool your right hand

wields I
God's love, that I should liye, the man I am.
On orders, warrants, patents and the like.
As if there were no glowing eye i' the world
To glance straight inspiration to my brain,
No glorious heart to give mine twice the beats !
For, see — my doubt, where is it ? — fear ? 't is

flown!
And Florence and her anger are a tale
To scare a child 1 Why, half -ardozen words
Will tell her, spoken as 1 now can speak.
Her error, my past folly — and all 's ri^t.
And you are Luria, our great chief agam 1
Or at the worst — which worst were best of

aU—
To exile or to death I follow yon I

Iaot, ^ Thanks, Pucciol Let me use the

privilege
You grant me : if I still command you, — stay I
Remain here, my vicegerent, it shall be.
And not successor : let me, as of old.
Still serve the State, my spirit prompting

yours—
Still mumph, one for both. There! Leave

mienow!
You cannot disobey mv first command ?
Remember what I spoke of Jaoopo,
And what you promised to concert with him I
Send him to speak with me — nay, no farewell !
You shall be by me when the sentence comes.

[PUOCIO^OM.

So, there 's one Florentiiie returns again !
Out of the genial morning company.
One face is left to take into the night.
(Enter JAOoro.)

Jae, I wait for your comma nd, sir.

Xrtir. What, so soon ?

I thank your ready presence and fair word.
I used to notice you in early dasrs
As of the other species, so to speak.
Those watchers of the livei^f us who act —
That weigh our motives, scrutinize our tboughts.
So, I propound this to your faculty
As you would tell me, were a tovm to take
. . . That is, of old. I am departing hence
Under these imputations ; that is naught —
I leave no friend on whom they may rebound.
Hardly a name behind me in uie kmd.
Being a stranger : all the more behooves
That I rep;ard how altered were the case
With natives of the country, Florentines
On whom the like mischance should fall : the

roots
O' the tree survive the ruin of the trunk —
No root of mine will throb, you understand.
But I had predecessors, Florentines,
Accused as I am now, and punished so —
The Traversari : you know more than I
How stigmatized they are and lost in shame.
Now Puocio, who succeeds me in command.
Both served them and succeeded, in due time ;
He knows the way, holds proper documents,
And has the power to lay the simple truth
Before an active spirit, as I count yours :
And also there ^s Tibundo, my new friend^



Will, at a word, confirm such evidence.
He being the great chivalric soul we tuiow.
I put it to your tact, sir — were *t not well,

— A grace, though but for contrast's sake, no

more, —
If you who witness, and have borne a share
Involimtarily in my mischance.
Should, of your proper motion, set your skill
To indicate — that is, investigate
The right or wrong of what mischance befell
Those famous citizens, your countiTmen ?
Nay, ^ou shall promise nothing : but reflect,
And if your sense of justice prompt you —
good!

Jac, And if, the trial past, their fame stand
dear
To all men's eyes, as yours, my lord, to mine —
Their ghosts may sleep in quiet satisned !
For me, a straw thrown up into the air,
My testimony goes for a straw's worth.
I used to hold by the instructed brain,
And move with Braocio as nay master-wind ;
The heart leads surelier: I must move with

you —
As ereatest now, who ever were the beet.
So, let the last aiid humblest of your servants
Accept your charge, as Braccio's heretofore,
And tender homage by obeying you I

[Jaooto poM.

Lur, Another I — Luria goes not poorlv forth.
If we could wait ! The only fault 's with time ;
All men become good creatures : but so slow I
{Enter Domzu.)

Lur, Ah, you once more ?

Dom. Domizia, whom you knew.

Performed her task, and died with it. 'T is I,
Another woman, you have never known.
Let the past sleep now I

Lur, I have done with it.

Dom, How inexhaustibly the spirit grows I
One object, she seemed erewhile bom to reach
With her whole energies and die content, —
So like a wall at the world's edge it stood.
With naught beyond to live for, — is that

reached? —
Already are new undreamed energies
Outgrowing under, and extending farther
To a new object ; there 's another world.
See ! I have told the purpose of mv life ;
'T is gained : you are decided, well or ill —
You march on Florence, or submit to her —
My work is done with vou, your brow dedaies.
But — leave you ? — More of you seems yet to

reach:
I stay for what I just begin to see.

Lur. So that you turn not to the past I

Dom, You trace

Nothing but ill in it — my selfish impulse.
Which sought its end and disregarded yours ?

Lur. Speak not against your nature : best,
each keep
His own — you, yours — most, now that I keep
mine,

— At least, fall by it, having too weakly stood.
Gk>d's finger marks distinctions, all so fiiie.
We would confound : the lesser has its use.
Which, when it apes the ereater, is foregone.

I, bom a Moor, lived half a Florentine ;



Digitized by



Google



LURIA



315



L properljr, can end, a Moor.
Beside, there 'saomethiii^ makes me understand
Tour nature : I hare seen it.
Dom, Aoght like mine ?

Lwr» In my own East ... if yon wonld

stoop and help
My barbarous illustration I It sounds ill ;
Tet there 's no wrong at bottom : rather, praise.
Dom. Well?
Jaot, We have creatures there, which if you

saw
The first time, you would doubtless marrel at
For their surpassins beauty, craft and strength.
And though it were a liyely moment's shock
When you first found the purpose of forked

tongues
That seem innocuous in their lambent play,
Yet, once made know such grace requires such

guard,
Your reason soon would acquiesce, I think.
In wisdom which made all things for the best —



Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 63 of 198)