To Charles Dickens

A poem 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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