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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Afternoon Call

By Giuseppe Parini (1729–1799)

From ‘The Day,’ from ‘Modern Italian Poets’ by William Dean Howells

AND now the ardent friends to greet each other

Impatient fly, and pressing breast to breast

They tenderly embrace, and with alternate kisses

Their cheeks resound; then clasping hands, they drop

Plummet-like down upon the sofa, both

Together. Seated thus, one flings a phrase,

Subtle and pointed, at the other’s heart,

Hinting of certain things that rumor tells,

And in her turn the other with a sting

Assails. The lovely face of one is flushed

With beauteous anger, and the other bites

Her pretty lips a little; evermore

At every instant waxes violent

The anxious agitation of the fans.

So in the age of Turpin, if two knights

Illustrious and well cased in mail encountered

Upon the way, each cavalier aspired

To prove the valor of the other in arms,

And after greetings courteous and fair,

They lowered their lances and their chargers dashed

Ferociously together; then they flung

The splintered fragments of their spears aside,

And, fired with generous fury, drew their huge

Two-handed swords and rushed upon each other!

But in the distance through a savage wood

The clamor of a messenger is heard,

Who comes full gallop to recall the one

Unto King Charles, and th’ other to the camp

Of the young Agramante. Dare thou, too,

Dare thou, invincible youth, to expose the curls

And the toupet, so exquisitely dressed

This very morning, to the deadly shock

Of the infuriate fans; to new emprises

Thy fair invite, and thus the extreme effects

Of their periculous enmity suspend.