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

To Satan

By Giosuè Carducci (1835–1907)

From the ‘Poesie’: Translation of Frank Sewall

TO thee my verses,

Unbridled and daring,

Shall mount, O Satan,

King of the banquet!

Away with thy sprinkling,

O Priest, and thy droning,

For never shall Satan,

O Priest, stand behind thee.

See how the rust is

Gnawing the mystical

Sword of St. Michael;

And how the faithful

Wind-plucked archangel

Falls into emptiness;

Frozen the thunder in

Hand of Jehovah.

Like to pale meteors, or

Planets exhausted,

Out of the firmament

Rain down the angels.

Here in the matter

Which never sleeps,

King of phenomena,

King of all forms,

Thou, Satan, livest.

Thine is the empire

Felt in the dark eyes’

Tremulous flashing,

Whether their languishing

Glances resist, or

Glittering and tearful, they

Call and invite.

How shine the clusters

With happy blood,

So that the furious

Joy may not perish,

So that the languishing

Love be restored,

And sorrow be banished

And love be increased.

Thy breath, O Satan!

My verse inspires,

When from my bosom

The gods I defy

Of kings pontifical,

Of kings inhuman.

Thine is the lightning that

Sets minds to shaking.

For thee Arimane,

Adonis, Astarte;

For thee lived the marbles,

The pictures, the parchments,

When the fair Venus


Blessed the Ionian

Heavens serene.

For thee were roaring the

Forests of Lebanon,

Of the fair Cypri

Lover re-born;

For thee rose the chorus,

For thee raved the dances,

For thee the pure shining

Loves of the virgins,

Under the sweet-odored

Palms of Idume,

Where break in white foam

The Cyprian waves.

What if the barbarous

Nazarene fury,

Fed by the base rites

Of secret feastings,

Lights sacred torches

To burn down the temples,

Scattering abroad

The scrolls hieroglyphic?

In thee find refuge

The humble-roofed plebs,

Who have not forgotten

The gods of their household.

Thence comes the power,

Fervid and loving, that,

Filling the quick-throbbing

Bosom of woman,

Turns to the succor

Of nature enfeebled;

A sorceress pallid,

With endless care laden.

Thou to the trance-holden

Eye of the alchemist,

Thou to the view of the

Bigoted mago,

Showest the lightning-flash

Of the new time

Shining behind the dark

Bars of the cloister.

Seeking to fly from thee,

Here in the world-life

Hides him the gloomy monk

In Theban deserts.

O soul that wanderest

Far from the straight way,

Satan is merciful.—

See Heloisa!

In vain you wear yourself

Thin in rough gown; I

Still murmur the verses

Of Maro and Flaccus

Amid the Davidic

Psalming and wailing.

And—Delphic figures

Close at thy side—

Rosy, amid the dark

Cowls of the friars,

Enters Licorida,

Enters Glicera.

Then other images

Of days more fair

Come to dwell with thee

In thy secret cell.

Lo! from the pages of

Livy, the Tribunes

All ardent, the Consuls,

The crowds tumultuous,

Awake; and the fantastic

Pride of Italians

Drives them, O Monk,

Up to the Capitol;

And you whom the flaming

Fire never melted,

Conjuring voices,

Wickliffe and Huss,

Send to the broad breeze

The cry of the watchman:—

“The age renews itself;

Full is the time.”

Already tremble

The mitres and crowns.

Forth from the cloister

Moves the rebellion.

Under his stole, see,

Fighting and preaching,

Brother Girolamo


Off goes the tunic

Of Martin Luther;

Off go the fetters

That bound human thought.

It flashes and lightens,

Girdled with flame;

Matter, exalt thyself;

Satan has won!

A fair and terrible

Monster unchained

Courses the ocean,

Courses the earth.

Flashing and smoking,

Like the volcanoes, he

Climbs over mountains,

Ravages plains,

Skims the abysses;

Then he is lost

In unknown caverns

And ways profound,

Till lo! unconquered,

From shore to shore,

Like to the whirlwind,

He sends forth his cry.

Like to the whirlwind

Spreading his wings,…

He passes, O people,

Satan the great!

Hail to thee, Satan;

Hail the rebellion!

Hail, of the reason the

Great Vindicator!

Sacred to thee shall rise

Incense and vows.

Thou hast the god

Of the priest disenthroned!