Da Ponte’s son Joseph has died,nat twenty-one of consumption.nProstrate, all but maddened by grief,nNancy goes into a deep depression.nLorenzonis not in much better case.nOne of his students,nhoping to cheer him,ndistract him,noffer him solace,nhands him a copy of Byron’s recent piece,nin terza riman(in English!).nIt is a curiositynthat speaks deeply, curiously, to da Ponte’sngrief—n”The Prophecy of Dante.”nThis poem, Byron wrote in Ravenna, where Dante’sntomb is “one of the principal objects of interest. . .nboth to the native and to the stranger.”nAn exile from England,nByron had been drawn to Dante’s plightnin exile from Florence.nThe wars of griefs and angers, Dante’s and Byron’s,nda Ponte knew, hown”sometimes the last pangs of a vile foenWrithe in a dream before me and o’er-archnMy brow with hopes of triumph—let them go!nSuch are the last infirmities of thosenWho long have suffered more than mortal woe,nand yet, being mortal still, have no repose . . .”nThe feeling Byron had of being cheatednof what he deserved, by rank and talent, he gavento Dante, but da Ponte could claim for himselfna little of that. At his tomb, too, wouldn”pilgrims come from climes where they have knownnThe name of him, who now is but a name.nAnd wasting homage o’er the sullen stone.nSpread his—by him unheard, unheeded—fame.”nHe’ll do it! He’ll do . .. what? Translate the thingninto Italian, into what terza rimanought to be. He’ll claim the piece for himself.nAnd does, throwing himself into the work,nand writing with tears streaming down to blurnthe words on the page:n”to die is nothing; but to wither thus,nto tame / My mind downnfrom its own infinity, / To livenin narrow ways with little men,nA common sight to every common eye,nA wanderer,nwhile even wolves can find a den . . .”nOh, yes, 0 si, si. . .nHe publishes, and at length receives a letternfrom Giagomo Ombrosi, the vice-consulnin Florence, who says a copy was given to Byronnin Leghorn, and the poetn(having taken a villa there for his friendnthe CountessnTeresa Guiccioli) received the bookn”with much satisfaction.”nSi.nHe becomes, in 1825, Professornof Italian at Columbia College—nonstipend, but the title is useful. He canntake in pupils, to Nancy’s boarding house,nand make a dollar—nhe’ll lose, of course, as an impresario, bringingnan opera company over to New York.nIn 1828, he becomesna citizen—a gain, and also a loss,nan acknowledgment.nNancy dies in 1831. Da Ponte lives onnto 1839. Nearly ninety,nhe fails, fades away, sends for a priest,nfor form’s sake at least.nThey keep it quietnthat he, too, is a priest.n”I dreamt of roses and laurels,” he wrote,n”but from the roses I had only thorns,nand from the laurels bitterness.”nBack in Ceneda,nby now merged with the neighboring Serravalleninto Vittorio Veneto, they namena streetnthe Via da Ponte.n•n. ‘ . . ‘ • -n•i:n^n,<n•yn• kn•_n. ‘A’nr-n< / •n•’•%nt’ftny<n„*tn,n;nin1.-n-1 i”n• • •n’; .!v,x …… irnjM^.iT vnt.”–:<nV -nnn;n•- -sn•f «kn*•’nnn. ‘•’.n- “•*•n.’ ‘*’ -n’ Vn”••’• *•;(n*:>n* <• ‘in•i;.;n.* I “ln- •- .n-r ••sn’- >un1 . V- •’n”:n•intn, 1nrni ••n4nOCTOBER 1992/17n