Abbildungen der Seite

can celebrate; and what flower or tree has been more highly celebrated than this tree, which the resemblance of its name to that of his mistress induced Petrarch to make the continual subject of his pen? Thus, in speaking of the commencement of his passion, he uses this figure :

“ Amor fra l'erbe una leggiadra rete

D'oro e di perle tese sott'un ramo
Del l'arbor sempre verde, ch'i tant'amo
Benchè n'abbia ombre più triste, che liete:”



[blocks in formation]

Spira, ovo Amor feri nel fianco Apollo
E a me pose un dolce giogo al collo
Tal, che mia libertà tardi ristauro."


L'aura che 'l verde lauro, e l' aureo crine

Soavemente sospirando move;
Fa con sue viste leggiadrette, e nove
L'anime da' lor corpi pellegrine*.

SonNET 208.

* The play upon the word Laura in these passages does not (as the Italian reader will readily perceive) easily admit of translation.

After the death of Laura, he writes :

“ Rotta è l'alta Colonna, e 'l verde Lauro,
Che facean ombra al mio stanco pensero:"


evidently alluding to the death of his mistress, and that of Cardinal Colonna; and a high compliment, indeed, it was to the cardinal, on such a subject to unite his name with hers. How tender and how natural is the following sonnet:

“Quand' io veggio dal ciel scender l'aurora

Con la fronte di rose, e co' crin d'oro;
Amor m'assale: ond' io mi discoloro;
E dico sospirando, ivi è Laura ora.
O felice Titon tu sai ben l'ora
Da ricovrare il tuo caro tesoro:
Ma io che debbo far del dolce Alloro;
Che se'l vo' riveder, conven ch' io mora.
I vostri dipartir non son si duri;
Ch' almen di notte suol tornar colei
Che' non ha a schifo le tue bianche chiome:
Le mie notti fa triste, e i giorni oscuri
Quella, che n'ha portato i pensier miei;
Nè di se m'ha lasciato altro, che 'l nome.”


Again I have to lament that the absence of a poetical friend will not allow me to add a proper translation of this sonnet. To give the English reader some notion of the subject, I have translated it in humble prose. I need not add, that this can convey but a very inadequate idea of the original:

“When I behold Aurora descending from heaven, with her cheek of roses, and her locks of gold, love assails me: I turn pale, and I say, sighing, where is Laura now? Oh, happy Tithonus, thou knowest well the hour when thou wilt recover thy dear treasure: but what shall I do for the sweet laurel, which would I see again, I first must die! Your parting is less cruel; for night at least restores to thee her who scorns not thy white locks: she makes my nights sorrowful, and my days dark, who has borne away my thoughts, and of herself has left me nothing but the name.”


But unless Petrarch's whole works are inserted, it will be a vain attempt to give all the passages in which he thus celebrates both his mistress and the tree. One or two more only shall be mentioned: the canzone beginning “ Standomi un giorno solo a la fenestra;"

CANZONE 42. and Quando il soave mio fido conforto."



[ocr errors]

It was but just that he should be crowned with this beloved Laurel, as it is well known that he was, publicly, at Rome; having been offered the same honourable distinction at Paris also.

“The Laurel seems more appropriated to Petrarch, (says Mr. Hunt,) than to any other poet. He delighted to sit under its leaves; he loved it both for itself and for the resemblance of its name to that of his mistress; he wrote of it continually; and he was called from out of its shade to be crowned with it in the Capitol. It is a remarkable instance of the fondness with which he cherished the united ideas of Laura and the Laurel, that he confesses it to have been one of the greatest delights he experienced in receiving the crown upon his head *.

Chaucer bestows the Laurel upon the Knights of the Round Table, the Paladines of Charlemagne, and some of the Knights of the Garter,

" That in their timis did right worthily.


[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

For one lefe givin of that noble tre
To any wight that hath done worthily
(An it be done so as it ought to be)
Is more honour than any thing erthly,
Witness of Rome; that foundir was truly
Of all knighthode and dedis marvelous,
Record I take of Titus Livius."

* Indicator, No. XL. vol. i. page 316.


Chaucer evidently intends the genuine Laurel, not the usurper of the title, since he speaks of its sweet scent:

“ And at the last I gan full well aspy

Where she sate in a fresh grene laury tre,
On the furthir side evin right by me,
That gave so passing a delicious smell,
According to the eglantere full well.”

THE FLOURE AND THE LEAFE. The following lines, addressed by Tasso to a Laurel in his lady's hair, are, with their translation, taken from the Literary Pocket-Book for the year 1821:

“O pianta trionfale,
Onor d' imperatori,
Hor de' nomi de' regi anco t' onori
Cosi di pregio in pregio,
Di vittoria in vittoria,
Vai trapassando, e d'una in altra gloria;
Arbore gentile, e regio,
Per che nulla ti manchi, orna le chiome

Di chi d'Amor trionfa, e l'alme ha ome.”
O glad triumphal bough,
That now adornest conquering chiefs, and now
Clippest the brows of over-ruling kings :
From victory to victory
Thus climbing on, through all the heights of story,
From worth to worth, and glory unto glory;
To finish all, O gentle and royal tree,
Thou reignest now upon that flourishing head,
At whose triumphant eyes Love and our souls are led.




PENTANDRIA DIGYNIA. Called also Summer Cypress.-French, la belvedère; bellevedere; belle a voir.-Italian, il belvedere: all which foreign names refer to its beautiful appearance.

This is an extremely handsome plant, growing very


close and thick, in the form of a pyramid, as regular as if cut by art: it has so much the appearance of a young cypress tree, that but for the leaves being of a more lively green, it might at a little distance be mistaken for one. It grows naturally in Carniola, Greece, China, and Japan.

The seeds should be sown in autumn, singly, or several together, and divided into separate pots in the spring, when they come up. In autumn, when they ripen their seeds, if other pots are standing pretty near, the seeds will be apt to fall into them, and the self-sown plants will come up the following spring: so that it will be well to keep such pots as will not admit of such an unceremonious visitor at a sufficient distance to secure them from intrusion. The earth should be kept moderately moist.





French, l'orobe; pois de pigeon (pigeon's pea).- Italian, orobo; robiglia.

The Yellow Bitter-Vetch is described by Haller as one of the handsomest of the papilionaceous tribe. It is a native of Siberia, Switzerland, Italy, and the South of France. Spring Bitter-Vetch has a handsome flower, curiously shaded with red, purple, and blue, becoming altogether a sky-blue before it falls. It grows in the woods in many parts of Europe, and flowers in March and April. The Tuberous Bitter-Vetch, called also heath peas, wood peas, and in French gesse sauvage, has also a brilliant flower of red-purple, fading to a blue as it decays. The Highlanders, who call it corr, or cormeille, dry the tubercles of the root, and keep them in the mouth to flavour their liquor. They affirm, that they are enabled, by the

« ZurückWeiter »