Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, GARIBALDI IN PIEDMONT, by PHOEBE CARY



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GARIBALDI IN PIEDMONT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Hemmed in by the hosts of the austrians
Last Line: And the dreams of its youth.
Subject(s): Garibaldi, Giuseppe (1807-1882)


HEMMED in by the hosts of the Austrians,
No succor at hand,
Adown the green passes of Piedmont,
That beautiful land,
Moves a patriot band.

Two long days and nights, watchful, sleepless,
Have they ridden nor yet
Checked the rein, though the feet of their horses,
In the ripe vineyard set,
By its wine have been wet.

What know they of weariness, hunger,
What good can they lack,
While they follow their brave Garibaldi,
Who never turns back,
Never halts on his track?

By the Austrians outnumbered, surrounded,
On left and on right;
Strong and fearless he moves as a giant,
Who rouses to fight
From the slumbers of night.

So, over the paths of Orfano,
His brave horsemen tread,
Long after the sun, halting wearied,
Hath hidden his head
In his tent-folds of red.

Every man with his eye on his leader,
Whom a spell must have bound,
For he rideth as still as the shadow,
That keeps step on the ground,
In a silence profound.

With the harmony Nature is breathing,
His soul is in tune;
He is bathed in a bath of the splendor
Of the beautiful moon,
Of the air soft as June!

But what sound meets the ear of the soldier;
What menacing tone?
For look! how the horse and the rider
Have suddenly grown
As if carved in stone.

Leaning down toward that fair grove of olives
He waits; doth it mean
That he catches the tramp of the Austrians,
That his quick eye hath seen
Their bayonets' sheen?

Nay! there, where the thick leaves about her
By the music are stirred,
Sits a nightingale singing her rapture,
And the hero hath heard
But the voice of a bird!

A hero! aye, more than a hero
By this he appears;
A man, with a heart that is tender,
Unhardened by years;
Who shall tell what he hears?

Not the voice of the nightingale only,
Floating soft on the breeze,
But the music of dear human voices,
And blended with these
The sound of the seas.

Ah, the sea, the dear sea! from the cradle
She took him to rest;
Leaping out from the arms of his mother,
He went to her breast
And was softly caressed.

Perchance he is back on her bosom,
Safe from fear or alarms,
Clasping close as of old that first mistress
Whose wonderful charms
Drew him down to her arms.

By the memories that come with that singing
His soul has been wiled
Far away from the danger of battle;
Transported, beguiled,
He again is a child,

Sitting down at the feet of the mother,
Whose prayers are the charm
That ever in conflict and peril
Has strengthened his arm,
And kept him from harm.

Nay, who knows but his spirit that moment
Was gone in its quest
Of that bright bird of paradise, vanished
Too soon from the nest
Where her lover was blest!

For unerring the soul finds its kindred,
Below or above;
And, as over the great waste of waters
To her mate goes the dove,
So love seeks its love.

Did he see her first blush, burning softly
His kisses beneath;
Or her dear look of love, when he held her
Disputing with Death
For the last precious breath?

Lost Anita! sweet vision of beauty,
Too sacred to tell
Is the tale of her dear life, that, hidden
In his heart's deepest cell,
Is kept safely and well.

And what matter his dreams! He whose bosom
With such rapture can glow
Hath something within him more sacred
Than the hero may show,
Or the patriot know.

And this praise, for man or for hero,
The best were, in sooth;
His heart, through life's conflict and peril,
Has kept its first truth,
And the dreams of its youth.





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