Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PAMPINEA, by THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH



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PAMPINEA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Lying by the summer sea
Last Line: I slept and dreamed of italy!
Subject(s): Italy; Beauty; Italians


LYING by the summer sea
I had a dream of Italy.

Chalky cliffs and miles of sand,
Mossy reefs and salty caves,
Then the sparkling emerald waves,
Faded; and I seemed to stand,
Myself a languid Florentine,
In the heart of that fair land.
And in a garden cool and green,
Boccaccio's own enchanted place,
I met Pampina face to face --
A maid so lovely that to see
Her smile is to know Italy.
Her hair was like a coronet
Upon her Grecian forehead set,
Where one gem glistened sunnily
Like Venice, when first seen at sea.
I saw within her violet eyes
The starlight of Italian skies,
And on her brow and breast and hand
The olive of her native land.

And, knowing how in other times
Her lips were ripe with Tuscan rhymes
Of love and wine and dance, I spread
My mantle by an almond-tree,
And "Here, beneath the rose," I said,
"I'll hear thy Tuscan melody."
I heard a tale that was not told
In those ten dreamy days of old,
When Heaven, for some divine offence,
Smote Florence with the pestilence;
And in that garden's odorous shade
The dames of the Decameron,
With each a loyal lover, strayed,
To laugh and sing, at sorest need,
To lie in the lilies in the sun
With glint of plume and silver brede.
And while she whispers in my ear,
The pleasant Arno murmurs near,
The dewy, slim chameleons run
Through twenty colors in the sun;
The breezes blur the fountain's glass,
And wake AEolian melodies,
And scatter from the scented trees
The lemon-blossoms on the grass.

The tale? I have forgot the tale --
A Lady all for love forlorn,
A rosebud, and a nightingale
That bruised his bosom on the thorn;
A jar of rubies buried deep,
A glen, a corpse, a child asleep,
A Monk, that was no monk at all,
In the moonlight by a castle-wall.
Now while the large-eyed Tuscan wove
The gilded thread of her romance --
Which I have lost by grievous chance --
The one dear woman that I love,
Beside me in our seaside nook,
Closed a white finger in her book,
Half vext that she should read, and weep
For Petrarch, to a man asleep!
And scorning me, so tame and cold,
She rose, and wandered down the shore,
Her wine-dark drapery, fold in fold,
Imprisoned by an ivory hand;
And on a bowlder, half in sand,
She stood, and looked at Appledore.

And waking, I beheld her there
Sea-dreaming in the moted air,
A siren lithe and debonair,
With wristlets woven of scarlet weeds,
And oblong lucent amber beads
Of sea-kelp shining in her hair.
And as I thought of dreams, and how
The something in us never sleeps,
But laughs, or sings, or moans, or weeps,
She turned -- and on her breast and brow
I saw the tint that seemed not won
From kisses of New England sun;
I saw on brow and breast and hand
The olive of a sunnier land!
She turned -- and, lo! within her eyes
There lay the starlight of Italian skies.
Most dreams are dark, beyond the range
Of reason; oft we cannot tell
If they are born of heaven or hell:
But to my soul it seems not strange
That, lying by the summer sea,
With that dark woman watching me,
I slept and dreamed of Italy!





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