Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN EVENING IN TUSCANY, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON



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AN EVENING IN TUSCANY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Look! The sun sets. Now's the rarest
Last Line: To a silver-centred pause!
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): Florence, Italy; Tuscany, Italy


LOOK! the sun sets. Now's the rarest
Hour of all the blessed day.
(Just the hour, love, you look fairest!)
Even the snails are out to play.

Cool the breeze mounts, like this Chianti
Which I drain down to the sun.
-- There! shut up that old green Dante, --
Turn the page, where we begun,

At the last news of Ulysses, --
A grand image, fit to close
Just such grand gold eves as this is,
Full of splendor and repose!

So loop up those long bright tresses, --
Only, one or two must fall
Down your warm neck Evening kisses
Through the soft curls spite of all.

Ah, but rest in your still place there!
Stir not -- turn not! the warm pleasure
Coming, going in your face there,
And the rose (no richer treasure)

In your bosom, like my love there,
Just half secret and half seen;
And the soft light from above there
Streaming o'er your where you lean,

With your fair head in the shadow
Of that grass-hat's glancing brim,
Like a daisy in a meadow
Which its own deep fringes dim.

O you laugh, -- you cry "What folly!"
Yet you'd scarcely have me wise,
If I judge right, judging wholly
By the secret in your eyes.

But look down now, o'er the city
Sleeping soft among the hills, --
Our dear Florence! That great Pitti
With its steady shadow fills

Half the town up: Its unwinking
Cold white windows, as they glare
Down the long streets, set one thinking
Of the old dukes who lived there;

And one pictures those strange men so! --
Subtle brains, and iron thews!
There, the gardens of Lorenzo, --
The long cypress avenues

Creep up slow the stately hillside
Where the merry loungers are.
But far more I love this still side, --
The blue plain you see so far!

Where the shore of bright white villas
Leaves off faint: the purple breadths
Of the olives and the willows:
And the gold-rimmed mountain-widths:

All transfused in slumbrous glory
To one burning point -- the sun!
But up here, -- slow, cold, and hoary
Reach the olives, one by one:

And the land looks fresh: the yellow
Arbute-berries, here and there,
Growing slowly ripe and mellow
Through a flush of rosy hair.

For the Tramontana last week
Was about: 't is scarce three weeks
Since the snow lay, one white vast streak,
Upon those old purple peaks.

So to-day among the grasses
One may pick up tens and twelves
Of young olives, as one passes,
Blown about, and by themselves

Blackening sullen-ripe. The corn too
Grows each day from green to golden.
The large-eyed wind-flowers forlorn too
Blow among it, unbeholden:

Some white, some crimson, others
Purple blackening to the heart.
From the deep wheat-sea, which smothers
Their bright globes up, how they start!

And the small wild pinks from tender
Feather-grasses peep at us:
While above them burns, on slender
Stems, the red gladiolus:

And the grapes are green: this season
They 'll be round and sound and true,
If no after-blight should seize on
Those young bunches turning blue.

O that night of purple weather!
(Just before the moon had set)
You remember how together
We walked home? -- the grass was wet --

The long grass in the Podere --
With the balmy dew among it:
And that nightingale -- the fairy
Song he sung -- O how he sung it!

And the fig-trees had grown heavy
With the young figs white and woolly,
And the fire-flies, bevy on bevy
Of soft sparkles, pouring fully

Their warm life through trance on trances
Of thick citron-shades behind,
Rose, like swarms of loving fancies
Through some rich and pensive mind.

So we reached the loggia. Leaning
Faint, we sat there in the shade.
Neither spoke. The night's deep meaning
Filled the silence up unsaid.

Hoarsely through the cypress alley
A civetta out of tune
Tried his voice by fits. The valley
Lay all dark below the moon.

Until into song you burst out, --
That old song I made for you
When we found our rose, -- the first out
Last sweet Springtime in the dew.

Well! ...if things had gone less wildly --
Had I settled down before
There, in England -- labored mildly --
And been patient -- and learned more

Of how men should live in London --
Been less happy -- or more wise --
Left no great works tried, and undone --
Never looked in your soft eyes --

I...but what 's the use of thinking?
There! our nightingale begins --
Now a rising note -- now sinking
Back in little broken rings

Of warm song that spread and eddy --
Now he picks up heart -- and draws
His great music, slow and steady,
To a silver-centred pause!





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