Why, you Pompilia in the cavern thus,
How comes that arm of yours about a wolf?
And the soft length,lies in and out your feet
And laps you round the knee,a snake it is!
And so on.
By the torch they hold up now: for first, observe, (130)
I never had a father,no, nor yet
A mother: my own boy can say at least
I had a mother whom I kept two weeks!
Not I, who little used to doubt I
Good Pietro, kind Violante, gave me birth?
They loved me always as I love my babe
(Nearly so, that isquite so could not be)
Did for me all I meant to do for him,
Till one surprising day, three years ago,
They both declared, at Rome, before some judge (140)
In some court where the people flocked to hear,
That really I had never been their child,
Was a mere castaway, the careless crime
Of an unknown man, the crime and care too much
Of a woman known too well,little to these,
Therefore, of whom I was the flesh and blood:
What then to Pietro and Violante, both
No more my relatives than you or you?
Nothing to them! You know what they declared.
Such a mistake, in that relationship!
Everyone says that husbands love their wives,
Guard them and guide them, give them happiness;
Tis duty, law, pleasure, religion: well,
You see how much of this comes true in mine!
People indeed would fain have somehow proved
He was no husband: but he did not hear,
Or would not wait and so has killed us all.
Then there is only let me name one more!
There is the friend,men will not ask about, (160)
But tell untruths of, and give nicknames to,
And think my lover, most surprise of all!
Do only hear, it is the priest they mean,
Giuseppe Caponsacchi: a priestlove,
And love me! Well, yet people think he did.
I am married, he has taken priestly vows,
They know that, and yet go on, say, the same,
Yes, how he loves you! That was lovethey say,
When anything is answered that they ask:
Or else No wonder you love himthey say. (170)
Then they shake heads, pity much, scarcely blame
As if we neither of us lacked excuse,
And anyhow are punished to the full,
And downright love atones for everything!
Nay, I heard read-out in the public court
Before the judge, in presence of my friends,
Letters twas said the priest had sent to me,
And other letters sent him by myself,
We being lovers!
When I was a mere child, my mother thats
Violante, you must let me call her so
Nor waste time, trying to unlearn the word,
She brought a neighbours child of my own age
To play with me of rainy afternoons;
And, since there hung a tapestry on the wall,
We two agreed to find each other out
Among the figures. Tisbe, that is you,
With half-moon on your hair-knot, spear in hand,
Flying, but no wings, only the great scarf (190)
Blown to a bluish rainbow at your back:
Call off your hound and leave the stag alone!
And there are you, Pompilia, such green leaves
Flourishing out of your five finger-ends,
And all the rest of you are turned a sort of tree?
Why is it you are turned a sort of tree?
You know the figures never were ourselves
Though we nicknamed them so. Thus, all my life,
As well what was, as what, like this, was not,
Looks old, fantastic and impossible: (200)
I touch a fairy thing that fades and fades.
Even to my babe! I thought, when he was born,
Something began for once that would not end,
Nor change into a laugh at me, but stay
For evermore, eternally quite mine.
Well, so he is,but yet they bore him off,
The third day, lest my husband should lay traps
And catch him, and by means of him catch me.
Since they have saved him so, it was well done:
Yet thence comes such confusion of what was (210)
With what will be,that late seems long ago,
And, what years should bring round, already come,
Till even he withdraws into a dream
As the rest do: I fancy him grown great,
Strong, stern, a tall young man who tutors me,
Frowns with the others Poor imprudent child!
Why did you venture out of the safe street?
Why go so far from help to that lone house?
Why open at the whisper and the knock?
We bent above the fire and talked of him,
What he should do when he was grown and great.
Violante, Pietro, each had given the arm
I leant on, to walk by, from couch to chair
And fireside,laughed, as I lay safe at last,
Pompilias march from bed to board is made,
Pompilia back again and with a babe,
Shall one day lend his arm and help her walk!
Then we all wished each other more New Years.
Pietro began to schemeOur cause is gained; (230)
The law is stronger than a wicked man:
Let him henceforth go his way, leave us ours!
We will avoid the city, tempt no more
The greedy ones by feasting and parade,
Live at the other villa, we know where,
Still farther off, and we can watch the babe
Grow fast in the good air; and wood is cheap
And wine sincere outside the city gate.
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