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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.

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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

Who forbids our complaint.”

My Nanni would add, “he was safe, and

Of a presence that turn'd off the balls,

was impress'd It was Guido himself, who knew what I

could bear,
And how 't was impossible, quite dis-

To live on for the rest.”

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,”

No voice says “My mother” again to me.

You think Guido forgot?

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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, ,

to sea,

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

is there, Above the star prick’d by the last peak of

snow: 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

self-scorn; But the birth-pangs of nations will wring us

at length
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

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
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,

Clapp'd his hands and sung.

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