Giosuè Carducci

O MIRAMAR, about your fair white towers,
Weary with weight of the rain-burdened sky,
Like some dark cluster of ill-omened birds
Gather the clouds.

O Miramar, against your granite rocks,
Grey-rising from the grim deeps of the sea
With echoing shriek as of tormented souls
Thunder the waves.

In melancholy shadow of the clouds
Stand, keeping watch above the double gulf,
Turreted cities of the Istrian shore
Gems of the sea.

And all its roaring anger still the sea
Hurls 'gainst the rocky rampart whence you look
Over the Adriatic on both sides,
Hapsburgian hold.

O'er Nabresina thunder bursts and rolls
Along the iron coast; and, lightning-crowned,
Distant Triesté through a mist of showers
Raises her head.

Ah, how all nature smiled on that fair morn
Of April when, his lovely dame beside,
Forth came the fair-haired Emperor, to sail
For distant shores.

Upon his placid countenance there beamed
The manly strength of one to empire called;
The blue eyes of his lady wandered proud
Over the sea.

Farewell, O castle of the happy days,
Vainly constructed as a nest for love!
An alien zephyr toward the desert ocean
Bears off the twain.

With kindled hopes, they leave the halls adorned
With chiselled wisdom and triumphal story;
Dante and Goethe to the castle's lord
Make vain appeal.

A sphinx of changeful aspect lures him on
To follow in her path across the sea.
He yields, and half-way open leaves the book
Of old romance.

Ah, 'twas no song of love or high exploit,
No music of guitars that waited him
To sound a welcome in the Aztec Spain!
Long on the air,

What is that wail which from Salvor's sad Point
Sounds midst the raucous sobbing of the flood?
Do dead Venetians sing, or else the old,
Old Istrian Fates?

—"Ah, Son of Hapsburg, in an ill-starred hour
You mount, upon our seas, the fated ship![1]
Darkly the Furies, by you, to the wind
Shake out the sails.

See how the sphinx perfidiously gives back
As you advance, and puts on other forms!
It is mad Joan's livid look that fronts
That of your wife;

It is the severed head of France's Queen[2]
Grinning at you; and with deep-sunken eyes
Fastened on yours, 'tis Montezuma's fierce
Yellow-hued face.

While, midst dark tufts of savage plants, unstirred
By any breathing of benignant airs,
Huitzilopotli in his pyramid
Sits keeping watch.

Out from the god are darting livid flames
Into the tropic night; he scents your blood,
And with his gaze o'ersweeps the spreading main,
Howling, "Oh come!

"Long have I waited; the ferocious whites
Destroyed my kingdom, broke my temples down,
Come, self-devoted victim, nephew thou
Of the Fifth Charles.

"I wanted not your forebears of ill fame,
Rotten with vice, consumed with royal madness;
For you I waited, you I pluck, reborn
Hapsburgian flower.

“And to Guatimozino's mighty soul
That reigns 'neath the pavilion of the sun,
I send you, Maximilian, that are strong,
Beautiful, pure!"

Last updated September 20, 2022