Lines on the Monument of Giuseppe Mazzini

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Italia, mother of the souls of men,
Mother divine,
Of all that served thee best with sword or pen,
All sons of thine,
Thou knowest that here the likeness of the best
Before thee stands,
The head most high, the heart found faithfullest,
The purest hands.
67 Above the fume and foam of time that flits,
The soul, we know,
Now sits on high where Alighieri sits
With Angelo.
Not his own heavenly tongue hath heavenly speech
Enough to say
What this man was, whose praise no thought may reach,
No words can weigh.
Since man’s first mother brought to mortal birth
Her first-born son,
Such grace befell not ever man on earth
As crowns this one.
Of God nor man was ever this thing said,
That he could give
Life back to her who gave him, whence his dead
Mother might live.
68 But this man found his mother dead and slain,
With fast sealed eyes,
And bade the dead rise up and live again,
And she did rise.
And all the world was bright with her through him:
But dark with strife,
Like heaven’s own sun that storming clouds bedim,
Was all his life.
Life and the clouds are vanished: hate and fear
Have had their span
Of time to hunt, and are not: he is here,
The sunlike man.
City superb that hadst Columbus first
For sovereign son,
Be prouder that thy breast hath later nurst
This mightier one.
69 Glory be his for ever, while his land
Lives and is free,
As with controlling breath and sovereign hand
He bade her be.
Earth shows to heaven the names by thousands told
That crown her fame,
But highest of all that heaven and earth behold
Mazzini’s name.

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