And, if I lived one day more, three full weeks;
Tis writ so in the churchs register,
Lorenzo in Lucina, all my names
At length, so many names for one poor child,
Francesca Camilla Vittoria Angela
Also tis writ that I was married there
Four years ago; and they will add, I hope,
When they insert my death, a word or two, (10)
Omitting all about the mode of death,
This, in its place, this which one cares to know,
That I had been a mother of a son
Exactly two weeks. It will be through grace
O the Curate, not through any claim I have;
Because the boy was born at, so baptised
Close to, the Villa, in the proper church:
A pretty church, I say no word against,
Yet stranger-like,while this Lorenzo seems
My own particular place, I always say. (20)
I used to wonder, when I stood scarce high
As the bed here, what the marble lion meant,
With half his body rushing from the wall,
Eating the figure of a prostrate man
(To the right, it is, of entry by the door)
An ominous sign to one baptised like me,
Married, and to be buried there, I hope.
And they should add, to have my life complete,
He is a boy and Gaetan by name
Gaetano, for a reason,if the friar (30)
Don Celestine will ask this grace for me
Of Curate Ottoboni: he it was
Baptised me: he remembers my whole life
As I do his grey hair.
All these few things
I know are true,will you remember them?
Because time flies. The surgeon cared for me,
To count my wounds,twenty-two dagger-wounds,
Five deadly, but I do not suffer much
Or too much pain,and am to die to-night. (40)
Better than born, baptised and hid away
Before this happened, safe from being hurt!
That had been sin God could not well forgive:
He was too young to smile and save himself.
When they took, two days after he was born,
My babe away from me to be baptised
And hidden awhile, for fear his foe should find,
The country-woman, used to nursing babes,
Said Why take on so? where is the great loss? (50)
These next three weeks he will but sleep and feed,
Only begin to smile at the months end;
He would not know you, if you kept him here,
Sooner than that; so, spend three merry weeks
Snug in the Villa, getting strong and stout,
And then I bring him back to be your own,
And both of you may steal towe know where!
The monththere wants of it two weeks this day!
Still, I half fancied when I heard the knock
At the Villa in the dusk, it might prove she (60)
Come to say Since he smiles before the time,
Why should I cheat you out of one good hour?
Back I have brought him; speak to him and judge!
Now I shall never see him; what is worse,
When he grows up and gets to be my age,
He will seem hardly more than a great boy;
And if he asks What was my mother like?
People may answer Like girls of seventeen
And how can he but think of this and that,
Lucias, Marias, Sofias, who titter or blush (70)
When he regards them as such boys may do?
Therefore I wish some one will please to say
I looked already old though I was young;
Do I not say, if you are by to speak
Look nearer twenty? No more like, at least,
Girls who look arch or redden when boys laugh,
Than the poor Virgin that I used to know
At our street-corner in a lonely niche,
The babe, that sat upon her knees, broke off,
Thin white glazed clay, you pitied her the more: (80)
She, not the gay ones, always got my rose.
Such could write what their son should read in time,
Had they a whole day to live out like me.
Also my name is not a common name,
Pompilia, and may help to keep apart
A little the thing I am from what girls are.
But then how far away, how hard to find
Will anything about me have become,
Even if the boy bethink himself and ask! (90)
No father that he ever knew at all,
Nor ever hadno, never had, I say!
That is the truth,nor any mother left,
Out of the little two weeks that she lived,
Fit for such memory as might assist:
As good too as no family, no name,
Not even poor old Pietros name, nor hers,
Poor kind unwise Violante, since it seems
They must not be my parents any more.
That is why something put it in my head (100)
To call the boy Gaetanono old name
For sorrows sake; I looked up to the sky
And took a new saint to begin anew.
One who has only been made sainthow long?
Twenty-five years: so, carefuller, perhaps,
To guard a namesake than those old saints grow,
Tired out by this time,see my own five saints!
The history of me as what someone dreamed,
And get to disbelieve it at the last: (110)
Since to myself it dwindles fast to that,
Sheer dreaming and impossibility,
Just in four days too! All the seventeen years,
Not once did a suspicion visit me
How very different a lot is mine
From any other womans in the world.
The reason must be, twas by step and step
It got to grow so terrible and strange:
These strange woes stole on tiptoe, as it were,
Into my neighbourhood and privacy, (120)
Sat down where I sat, laid them where I lay;
And I was found familiarised with fear,
When friends broke in,
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