Lord Byron Poem

Francesca of Rimini

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“The Land where I was born sits by the Seas
      Upon that shore to which the Po descends,
      With all his followers, in search of peace.
Love, which the gentle heart soon apprehends,
      Seized him for the fair person which was ta’en
      From me, and me even yet the mode offends.

      Remits, seized me with wish to please, so strong,
      That, as thou see’st, yet, yet it doth remain.
Love to one death conducted us along,
      But Caina waits for him our life who ended:”
      These were the accents uttered by her tongue.—
Since I first listened to these Souls offended,
      I bowed my visage, and so kept it till—
      ‘What think’st thou?’ said the bard; when I unbended,
And recommenced: ‘Alas! unto such ill
      How many sweet thoughts, what strong ecstacies,
      Led these their evil fortune to fulfill!’
And then I turned unto their side my eyes,
      And said, ‘Francesca, thy sad destinies
      Have made me sorrow till the tears arise.
But tell me, in the Season of sweet sighs,
      By what and how thy Love to Passion rose,
      So as his dim desires to recognize?’
Then she to me: ‘The greatest of all woes
      Is to remind us of our happy days
      In misery, and that thy teacher knows.
But if to learn our Passion’s first root preys
      Upon thy spirit with such Sympathy,
      I will do even as he who weeps and says.

      Of Lancilot, how Love enchained him too.
      We were alone, quite unsuspiciously.
But oft our eyes met, and our Cheeks in hue
      All o’er discoloured by that reading were;
      But one point only wholly us o’erthrew;
When we read the long-sighed-for smile of her,
      To be thus kissed by such devoted lover,
      He, who from me can be divided ne’er,
Kissed my mouth, trembling in the act all over:
      Accurséd was the book and he who wrote!
      That day no further leaf we did uncover.’
While thus one Spirit told us of their lot,
      The other wept, so that with Pity’s thralls
      I swooned, as if by Death I had been smote,
And fell down even as a dead body falls.”

March 20, 1820.

The Vision of Judgment
The Morgante Maggiore of Pulci


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