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At first, happy news came, in gay letters moil'd
With my kisses,-of camp-life and glory, and how
They both lov'd me; and, soon coming home to be spoil'd,
In return would fan off every fly from my brow
With their green laurel-bough.
Then was triumph at Turin: "Ancona was free!"
And some one came out of the cheers in
With a face pale as stone, to say something
My Guido was dead! I fell down at his feet,
While they cheer'd in the street.
I bore it; friends sooth'd me; my grief look'd sublime
As the ransom of Italy. One boy re
To be leant on and walk'd with, recalling
When the first grew immortal, while both of them strain'd
To the height he had gain'd.
And letters still came, shorter, sadder, more
Writ now, but in one hand, "I was not
One lov'd me for two would be with me ere long:
And Viva l'Italia! - he died for, our
Who forbids our complaint."
My Nanni would add, "he was safe, and
Of a presence that turn'd off the balls,
It was Guido himself, who knew what I could bear,
And how 't was impossible, quite dispossess❜d,
To live on for the rest."
On which without pause, up the telegraph
Swept smoothly the next news from Gaeta:
Tell his mother. Ah, ah, "his," "their
mother, not "mine,"
No voice says "My mother" again to me.
You think Guido forgot?
Are souls straight so happy that, dizzy with Heaven,
They drop earth's affections, conceive not of woe?
I think not. Themselves were too lately for
Through that Love and Sorrow which reconcil'd so
The Above and Below.
O Christ of the five wounds, who look'st through the dark
To the face of Thy Mother! consider I
How we common mothers stand desolate,
Whose sons, not being Christs, die with
eyes turn'd away,
And no last word to say!
Both boys dead? but that's out of nature. We all
Have been patriots, yet each house must always keep one.
'T were imbecile, hewing out roads to a
And when Italy's made, for what end is
If we have not a son?
Ah, ah, ah! when Gaeta's taken, what then?
When the fair wicked queen sits no more at her sport
Of the fire-balls of death crashing souls out of men?
When the guns of Cavilli with final re
Have cut the game short?
When Venice and Rome keep their own jubilee,
When your flag takes all heaven for its white, green, and red,
When you have your country from mountain,
When King Victor has Italy's crown on his head,
(And I have my Dead) —
What then? Do not mock me. Ah, ring your bells low,
And burn your lights faintly! My country
Above the star prick'd by the last peak of
My Italy's there, with my brave civic
To disfranchise despair!
Forgive me. Some women bear children in strength,
And bite back the cry of their pain in
But the birth-pangs of nations will wring us
Into wail such as this—and we sit on
When the man-child is born.
Dead! One of them shot by the sea in the east,
And one of them shot in the west by the
Both! both my boys! If in keeping the feast, You want a great song for your Italy free, Let none look at me.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
MOTHER wept, and father sigh'd;
With delight a-glow
Cried the lad, "To-morrow," cried,
"To the pit I go."
Up and down the place he sped,
Greeted old and young,
Far and wide the tidings spread,