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To Charles Dickens by Walter Savage Landor

 

      Go then to Italy; but mind
      To leave the pale low France behind;
      Pass through that country, nor ascend
      The Rhine, nor over Tyrol wend:
      Thus all at once shall rise more grand
      The glories of the ancient land.
        Dickens! how often, when the air
      Breath'd genially, I've thought me there,
      And rais'd to heaven my thankful eyes
      To see three spans of deep blue skies.
        In Genoa now I hear a stir,
      A shout ... Here comes the Minister!
      Yes, thou art he, although not sent
      By cabinet or parliament:
      Yes, thou art he. Since Milton's youth
      Bloom'd in the Eden of the South,
      Spirit so pure and lofty none
      Hath heavenly Genius from his throne
      Deputed on the banks of Thames
      To speak his voice and urge his claims.
      Let every nation know from thee
      How less than lovely Italy
      Is the whole world beside; let all
      Into their grateful breasts recall
      How Prospero and Miranda dwelt
      In Italy: the griefs that melt
      The stoniest heart, each sacred tear
      One lacrymatory gathered here;
      All Desdemona's, all that fell
      In playful Juliet's bridal cell.
        Ah! could my steps in life's decline
      Accompany or follow thine!
      But my own vines are not for me
      To prune, or from afar to see.
      I miss the tales I used to tell
      With cordial Hare and joyous Gell,
      And that good old Archbishop whose
      Cool library, at evening's close
      (Soon as from Ischia swept the gale
      And heav'd and left the dark'ning sail),
      Its lofty portal open'd wide
      To me, and very few beside:
      Yet large his kindness. Still the poor
      Flock round Taranto's palace door,
      And find no other to replace
      The noblest of a noble race.
      Amid our converse you would see
      Each with white cat upon his knee,
      And flattering that grand company:
      For Persian kings might proudly own
      Such glorious cats to share the throne.
        Write me few letters: I'm content
      With what for all the world is meant;
      Write then for all: but, since my breast
      Is far more faithful than the rest,
      Never shall any other share
      With little Nelly nestling there.

 
 
 

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