Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

brity, and therefore the better able to judge of the talents to be displayed in this extraordinary art.

I have headed each Iinprovisation by a short account of the occasion on which it was called forth, and have also accompanied it by an attempt at imitation in English.

No. 1. At a party, which was given by the Marchese Girolamo Lucchesini, and at which were present the Marchesa Eleanora Bernardini, the Marchesa Caterina Nobili, and her consort the Signor Nicholao, their Excellencies the Marchese Montecatini, Grand Chamberlain, the Marchese Mansi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Marchese Giano Carlo Di Negri, and many other distinguished personages of rank and talent, the company were engaged in a conversazione in a garden contiguous to the Palazzo Lucchesini, in which the Improvisatorial art was the principal topic of discourse. It was allowed that a poet might, without any very extraordinary display of talent, produce a number of lines in his own language, but great doubt was expressed as to the possibility of delivering an unpremeditated effusion in Greek and Latin. The Professor Gagliuffi, who was one of the party, was requested to exert his genius; and he did so, without any hesitation, by reciting the following Latin lines first, and then translating them into Greek immediately afterwards. The distichs were transcribed upon the spot.

Hic suave halantes ubi Lucchesinia flores

Æmula Thessalici villula gignit agri:
Dulce foret tentare lyram, quam tangere quondam

Arcadico, (heu! memini) dulce erat in nemore.
At proh! cunctarum post tot discrimina rerum

Ingenii an constat nunc quoque vena mei ?
Haud sors tanta hodie est, vatem licet oninia circum

Insolito valeant exhilarare modo.
Exhilarat rutilis me Bernardinia ocellis,

Exhilarat pulchris Nobiliæa genis.
Montecatinus adest, et Mansus amabilis æque,

Franciscusque favens, et pater, et patruus.
Egregioque Niger semper mihi fædere junctus

Annuit, et læta hac quidquid in æde nitet.
Sed frustra, et quoniam mea jam sat prata biberunt,
Rivos me liceat claudere posse meos.

Καίσαρος Λουκχησινίου μετάφρασις.
"Ενθαδε, ού ευώδη Λουκχησίνιος αγρός

Θεσσαλικού βλαστεί ανθεα ζηλότυπος,
Ηδύ μέν εύκρεκτον τίλλειν τον βάρβιτον είη

Ως πάλαι 'Αρκαδικο (ώ μνεία) έν νέμεϊ.
'Αλλ' οί, έν τόσσοις πάντων μεταβλήμασι, κρήνη

'Αρα η αναβλύζει νυνί τε τών έπέων;
Τήμερον ευπορία ου τόσση, πάντα περισσως

Kάν δή ευφραίνη έξοχα μουσοπόλον.
"Οσσουν μ' ευφραίνει μέν Βερναρδινα φαεινούν

Ευφραίνει με καλαΐς Νωβιλιαία γνάθοις.
Μοντεκατίνε, πάρει τε, πάρει και Μάνσε ποθεινε,

Φράγκισκος τε, πατήρ, και πατράδελφος ομού.
Μοί τε Νίγηρ φιλίας κατανεύει δέσματι ζευγνύς,

Πίστω, και οίκοι ευδόκιμ' όσσα βλέπω.
'Αλλα μάτην κλείειν δ' ήδη αυλώνα μέτεστι,

Λειμώνες γάρ εμοι δη ικανώς έπιον.
Here where the soft Lucchesian bowers exhale
Odors that rival the Thessalian vale,
Sweet would it be to tune my lyre to Love,
As when I touch'd it in th' Arcadian grove.
But, ah ! 'midst public woes 'twould ill beseem
To warble numbers to a lighter theme.
Though all, to-day, with loveliness be fraught,
I cannot rid me of the mournful thought.
Though Ellen's eyes with brightest radiance beam,
Though Catharine's charnis outvie the Poet's dream;
Though Mansus smiles, Montecatin unbends,
And noble Francis all his influence lends;
Though Negri urges every friendly art,
And all combines t'exbilarate my heart,
Yet 'tis in vain-my powers exhausted lie,
No streams can murmur from a source that's dry,

No. II. On another occasion, at a conversazione, where the Signora Adelaide Maestri, daughter of the celebrated Professor Tommasini, and the Signore Maria Giannini, had been displaying their wonderful musical talents, the Professor Gagliuffi was challenged by Tommasini, to produce some strains of poetry, which should rival the excellence of the sister muse. He began with Italian, but the company having heard of his classical reputation, called for a Latin stanza, and these lines were instantly composed.

Quid quæris, Tomasine, meos ex tempore cantus ?

Jam senio mea vox adveniente cadit.
Jam fuimus vates! Juvenili in pectore tantum

Fervet, qui dictat fervida verba Deus.

[ocr errors]

Hunc mihi redde Deum, si tanta potentia, redde,

O Medici splendor, præsidiumque chori.
Ast heu! tu potis es quemvis depellere morbum,

Non tamen elapsos fas revocare dies.
Portentis hoc adde tuis, Medeaque fias,

Tunc facili rursus carniine, ut ante, canam.
Splendidiusque canam, tua si modulamine dulci

Excitet ingenium Filia cara meum,
Æmulaque alternam quærens Gianvinia palmam

Eliciat digito præpete dulce melos.
Hæc tibi pauca satis : paucos bonus excipe versus,

Ceu parvum ingentis pignus amicitiæ.
Ask not of me, my friend, the ready strain

i
My years might tell you that you ask in vain.
I once could strike the lyre, but now the Nine
Respond no longer to a chord like mine.
Charm back the Muse, dear Patron of the Art,
Beloved Physician, renovate my heart!
No! though 'tis thine to chase Disease away,
Time at thy bidding gives not back one day.
Add but this wonder to thy many more,
Medea be, and thus the Bard restore.
Or thou, fair Adelaide, resume thy lyre,
And try how Music can my soul inspire;
Her notes melodious let Maria blend,
And be for once the rival of her friend.
Enough-these stanzas wild, though worthless, prove
How great my reverence for the friend I love.

No. III. At the christening of the infant son of the Marchese Francesco Abauria and the Marchesa Constantia Laumellina, the sponsors were the Conte Marco Laumellina, his grandfather, the Marchese Carlo Serra, his paternal uncle, and the Duchessa Camilla Di Litta, his maternal aunt. The child was named after each of his sponsors, and Gagliuffi commemorated the event by the following Improvisation.

0
puer,

Auriadi quem Laumellina creavit,
Cuique sacra impositum est nomen in æde triplex,
Euge, o Marce puer; tibi primus supplice voto

Prospera maternus cuncta precatur avus.
Pulchra, Camille puer, tibi dum matertera ridet,

Littaicæ columen, deliciumque domus :
Carole blande puer, patruus tibi denique major

Sinceræ indigitat nobile laudis iter.

O ter fauste puer, pius esto, et amabilis idem,

Idem et Patriciæ conditionis honor.
Hail, lovely child! hail, Lonellino's joy,
Happy, thrice happy, be the thrice-ramed boy!
As Marcus prosper, and may every bliss
Follow th’ impression of thy grandsire's kiss.
Health to Camillus, as Camilla be
The pride of Litta, and as loved as she.
As Charles adorn thy father's, brother's name,
And him too rival in the path of fanie :
With fortune, virtue, glory by thy side,
Be first in honor, as the first allied !

Such are the unpremeditated productions of one of the most celebrated improvvisatori of the North of Italy; but should any of your readers, who have been in the Land of Poetry and Music, complain of these lines, as being very inferior to the bursts of feeling and eloquence, which he has heard pour from the lips of some of the gifted rhapsodists of Florence or Rome, let him remember that, copious and harmonious as were the languages of ancient Rome and Greece, they will bear no comparison with that of Modern Italy.

'The Italian Improvvisatore, who makes an assay of his talents in his native tongue, has an inexhaustible fountain of words from whence he may draw at his pleasure, without being detained one moment for an appropriate expression. He has a language, whose melodious sweetness is such, that its very sound, independent of sense, is capable of conveying a delicious pleasure. It flows in harmonic order, and in the nicest rhythmical precision, with the least effort on the part of the poet to adjust either his measure or bis rhyme. It vibrates on the ear and produces an effect perfectly musical, by being pronounced, in every sort of recitation, according to rules of accent, rather than emphasis. It is so flexible, and admits of such endless variation, that is one phrase will not combine the laws of poetry, and express the desired meaning, another may be found, or even made to suit the occasion. The language itself being so adapted to all the purposes of poetry, it is no wonder that there should be innumerable candidates for fame in every province where it is spoken. You cannot arrive at the smallest town, without being petitioned to admit some aspirant into your presence, who engages to entertain you upon any subject at a moment's bidding. In the marketplaces, at the corners of streets, and in the promenades, your ear is daily caught by the lyric or heroic strains of a declaimer, who is sure to have a crowd of good-humored listeners, who

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

gratify his vanity with their applauses, or fill his pocket with small pieces of coin, according as their means, or their satisfaction, may regulate their generosity.

Madame de Staël has remarked, with great justice, that the complacency with which these people are heard is one great source of inspiration :

“ Une chose me fait encore attacher du prix à notre talent d'improviser, c'est que ce talent serait presque impossible dans une société disposée à la moquerie: il faut, passez-moi cette expression, il faut la bonhommie du Midi, ou plutôt des pays où l'on aime à s'amuser, sans trouver de plaisir à critiquer ce qui amuse, pour que les poètes se risquent à cette périlleuse entreprise. Un sourire railleur suffirait pour ôter la présence d'esprit nécessaire à une composition subite et non interrompue: il faut que les auditeurs s'animent avec vous, et que leurs applaudissemens vous inspirent.” Corinne, chapitre S. vol. i.

There is another source of inspiration, or I should say rather, that there are endless sources of inspiration, in the natural enthusiasm of an Italian, which is re-kindled and fanned by every object around him. A brilliant sky, a pure air, and a clear atmosphere, prevail so triumphantly in Italy, that it has been said of one city at least, of Naples, that it is pleasurable to exist there, if you have nothing but mere life to enjoy. Add to these the beauties and sublimities of scenery, the glow and richness and variety of coloring which rock and mountain assume under the rays of a cloudless sun: the monuments of ancient glory, the vestiges of other times, the numberless productions of nature; the inimitable perfections of art, in painting, sculpture, and architecture; the rush or flow of waters, from the cataract to the cascade--the phenomena of volcanic violence-in short, think of all that is presented to the senses, the imagination, and memory of an Italian, upon bis own soil, and under his own climate, and then there will be no wonder that a poetical taste, if not a poetical talent, is communicated to a great proportion of the nation, and that the poet feels re-inspired, even when his words, thoughts, and images, would seem to be entirely exhausted. Í have been delighted to find how an Improvvisatore will gather new strength, as it were, when his audience have been doing all they can to tire him out, by insisting upon his rhyming upon the most puzzling words, or by proposing subjects as remote from poetical combinations, as the straits of Berens from the torrid zone. The poor fellow has perhaps engaged to compose a hundred lines in an hour, or to supply the same final word to a dozen or a score of stanzas, or to make every line end with the same syllable, while his hearers, though never out of humor, are pro

« PředchozíPokračovat »