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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
the street, With a face pale as stone, to say something
to me. 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
main'd To be leant on and walk'd with, recalling
the time 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
strong, Writ now, but in one hand, “I was not
to faint, One lov'd me for two — would be with me
ere long: And Viva l'Italia! - he died for, our
My Nanni would add, “he was safe, and
was impress'd It was Guido himself, who knew what I
On which without pause, up the telegraph
line, Swept smoothly the next news from Gaeta:
Shot. Tell his mother. Ah, ah, “his,'" “their”
6 mother, - notmine,”
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
given Through that Love and Sorrow which rec
oncil'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
pray, How we common mothers stand desolate,
mark, 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
wall; And when Italy's made, for what end is Ah, ah, ah! when Gaeta 's taken, what
it done If we have not a son?
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
tort 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
What then? Do not mock me. Ah, ring
your bells low, And burn your lights faintly! My country
is there, Above the star prick’d by the last peak of
snow: My Italy's there, with my brave civic
Forgive me. Some women bear children in
strength, And bite back the cry of their pain in
self-scorn; But the birth-pangs of nations will wring us
Dead! One of them shot by the sea in the
east, And one of them shot in the west by the
sea, 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
Up and down the place he sped,
Greeted old and young,
Clapp'd his hands and sung.