Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SWORD OF CASTRUCCIO CASTRACANI, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING



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THE SWORD OF CASTRUCCIO CASTRACANI, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When victor emanuel the king / went down to his lucca that day
Last Line: With a hero to head us, -- our king!
Subject(s): Castruccio Castracani, Antelmineli; Italy; Victor Emmanuel Ii, King Of Italy; Italians


I

WHEN Victor Emanuel the King
Went down to his Lucca that day,
The people, each vaunting the thing
As he gave it, gave all things away, --
In a burst of fierce gratitude, say,
As they tore out their hearts for the King.

II

-- Gave the green forest-walk on the wall,
With the Apennine blue through the trees;
Gave the palaces, churches, and all
The great pictures which burn out of these;
But the eyes of the King seemed to freeze
As he gazed upon ceiling and wall.

III

'Good,' said the King as he passed.
Was he cold to the arts? -- or else coy
To possession? or crossed, at the last
(Whispered some), by the vote in Savoy?
Shout! Love him enough for his joy!
'Good,' said the King as he passed.

IV

He, travelling the whole day through flowers
And protesting amenities, found
At Pistoia, betwixt the two showers
Of red roses, the 'Orphans' (renowned
As the heirs of Puccini) who wound
With a sword through the crowd and the flowers.

V

''T is the sword of Castruccio, O King, --
In that strife of intestinal hate,
Very famous! Accept what we bring,
We who cannot be sons, by our fate,
Rendered citizens by thee of late,
And endowed with a country and king.

VI

Read! Puccini has willed that this sword
(Which once made in an ignorant feud
Many orphans) remain in our ward
Till some patriot its pure civic blood
Wipe away in the foe's and make good,
In delivering the land by the sword.'

VII

Then the King exclaimed 'This is for me!'
And he dashed out his hand on the hilt,
While his blue eye shot fire openly,
And his heart overboiled till it spilt
A hot prayer, -- 'God! the rest as Thou wilt!
But grant me this! -- This is for me.'

VIII

O Victor Emanuel, the King,
The sword is for thee, and the deed,
And nought for the alien, next spring,
Nought for Hapsburg and Bourbon agreed --
But, for us, a great Italy freed,
With a hero to head us, -- our King!





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