And rocks, whereby they grew, a Paradise,
Where I did lay me down within the shade
Of waving trees, and dreamed uncounted hours,
Though I was chid for wandering; and the Wise
Shook their white agéd heads o'er me, and said
Of such materials wretched men were made,
And such a truant boy would end in woe,160
And that the only lesson was a blow;—
And then they smote me, and I did not weep,
But cursed them in my heart, and to my haunt
Returned and wept alone, and dreamed again
The visions which arise without a sleep.
And with my years my soul began to pant
With feelings of strange tumult and soft pain;
And the whole heart exhaled into One Want,
But undefined and wandering, till the day
I found the thing I sought—and that was thee;170
And then I lost my being, all to be
Absorbed in thine;—the world was past away;—
Thou didst annihilate the earth to me!
- [Ariosto (Sat. 7, Terz. 53) complains that his father chased him "not with spurs only, but with darts and lances, to turn over old texts," etc.; but Tasso was a studious and dutiful boy, and, though he finally deserted the law for poetry, and "crossed" his father's wishes and intentions, he took his own course reluctantly, and without any breach of decorum. But, perhaps, the following translations from the Rinaldo, which Black supplies in his footnotes (i. 41. 97), suggested this picture of a "poetic child" at variance with the authorities:—
"Now hasting thence a verdant mead he found,
Where flowers of fragrant smell adorned the ground;
Sweet was the scene, and here from human eyes
Apart he sits, and thus he speaks mid sighs.
Canto I. stanxa xviii.
"Thus have I sung in youth's aspiring days
Rinaldo's pleasing plains and martial praise:
While other studies slowly I pursued
Ere twice revolved nine annual suns I viewed;
Ungrateful studies, whence oppressed I groaned,
A burden to myself and to the world unknown.······
But this first-fruit of new awakened powers!
Dear offspring of a few short studious hours!
Thou infant volume child of fancy born
Where Brenta's waves the sunny meads adorn."
Canto XII. stanza xc.]