Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FIRST NEWS FROM VILLAFRANCA, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING



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FIRST NEWS FROM VILLAFRANCA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Peace, peace, peace, do you say?
Last Line: And god's face -- waiting, after all!
Subject(s): Italy - Revolutions; Peace


I

PEACE, peace, peace, do you say?
What! -- with the enemy's guns in our ears?
With the country's wrong not rendered back?
What! -- while Austria stands at bay
In Mantua, and our Venice bears
The cursed flag of the yellow and black?

II

Peace, peace, peace, do you say?
And this the Mincio? Where's the fleet,
And where's the sea? Are we all blind
Or mad with the blood shed yesterday,
Ignoring Italy under our feet,
And seeing things before, behind?

III

Peace, peace, peace, do you say?
What! -- uncontested, undenied?
Because we triumph, we succumb?
A pair of Emperors stand in the way
(One of whom is a man, beside),
To sign and seal our cannons dumb?

IV

No, not Napoleon! -- he who mused
At Paris, and at Milan spake,
And at Solferino led the fight:
Not he we trusted, honored, used
Our hopes and hearts for ... till they break
Even so, you tell us ... in his sight.

V

Peace, peace, is still your word?
We say you lie then! -- that is plain.
There is no peace, and shall be none.
Our very Dead would cry 'Absurd!'
And clamor that they died in vain,
And whine to come back to the sun.

VI

Hush! more reverence for the Dead!
They've done the most for Italy
Evermore since the earth was fair.
Now would that we had died instead,
Still dreaming peace meant liberty,
And did not, could not, mean despair.

VII

Peace, you say? -- yes, peace, in truth!
But such a peace as the ear can achieve
'Twixt the rifle's click and the rush of the ball,
'Twixt the tiger's spring and the crunch of the tooth,
'Twixt the dying atheist's negative
And God's Face -- waiting, after all!





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