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From heaven she rules supreme my willing mind :
HE PRAYS THAT SHE WILL BE NEAR HIM AT HIS DEATH, WHICH HE FEELS
Go, plaintive verse, to the cold marble go,
HE WOULD DIE OF GRIEF, WERE SHE NOT SOMETIMES TO CONSOLE HIM
WITH HER PRESENCE.
To that soft look which now adorns the skies,
That soothed me once, but now awake my sighs :
SINCE HER DEATH HE HAS CEASED TO LIVE.
Death cannot make that beauteous face less fair, But that sweet face may lend to death a grace; My spirit's guide, from her each good I trace; Who learns to die, may seek his lesson there. That Holy One, who not his blood would spare, But did the dark Tartarean bolts unbrace; He, too, doth from my soul death's terrors chase: Then welcome, death, thy impress I would wear. And linger not, 'tis time that I had fled; Alas! my stay hath little here availed, Since she, my Laura blest, resigned her breath : Life's spring in me hath since that hour lain dead, In I her lived, my life in hers exhaled, The hour she died I felt within me death!
1544 -15 95.
EARLY in the autumn of 1565, Tasso left the University of Bologna, where he had been for three years, studying poetry and philosophy, to enter the service of Cardinal Luigi d'Este, who was at that time in Ferrara. He arrived at Ferrara in October, and found the city alive with preparations for the approaching marriage of Duke Alphonso the Second with the Archduchess Barbara of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Ferdinand the First. The appearance of the bride elect, on the 31st of October, ushered in a series of magnificent entertainments, balls, tournaments, etc., which lasted an entire week. We are not told what part Tasso took in them (it could scarcely have been a prominent one, he was so newly arrived at court), but we know that it appealed strongly to his imagination, ever on the alert for the picturesque and the gorgeous. The death of Pius the Fifth terminated the festivities, and Cardinal Luigi departed for Rome to assist in the election of a new Pope: as the presence of Tasso was not necessary at that ceremony, he remained at Ferrara. Already a favourite with the Duke and his sister, the Princess Lucretia, he was now introduced to the Princess Leonora, who was just recovering from a long illness. She received him graciously, and waiving her rank in his behalf, admitted him to her favour and intimacy. Various reasons have been assigned for this condescension on her part—such as his youth and beauty, the elegance of his mind and manners—but the strongest one was undoubtedly her fondness for an art, in which he had already attained a reputation. The fact of his being a poet, levelled, as it should have done, the barriers of rank and custom, and opened the way to her friendship.
It is not known at what time Tasso began to look upon the Princess Leonora with the eyes of love, for the whole subject is wrapt in profoundest mystery; but circumstances render it probable that it was not long after his introduction to her. There was from the first a marked difference between the poems which he addressed to her, and those which he addressed to her sister; the one being complimentary—the fanciful effusions of a young poet, celebrating a noble lady, because it was expected of him; the others breathing the most ardent attachment—the passionate but guarded confessions of a lover. How the Princess