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To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;
He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch,
Because her face was turn'd to the same skies;
A whole long month of May in this sad plight Made their cheeks paler by the break of June: «To-morrow will I bow to my delight,
To-morrow will I ask my lady's boon.»O may I never see another night, Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love's tune.»— So spake they to their pillows; but, alas, Honeyless days and days did he let pass;
Until sweet Isabella's untouch'd cheek
So said he one fair morning, and all day
So once more he had waked and anguished
If Isabel's quick eye had not been wed
And straight all flush'd; so, lisped tenderly, « Lorenzo!-here she ceased her timid quest, But in her tone and look he read the rest.
« O Isabella! I can half perceive
That I may speak my grief into thine car; If thou didst ever any thing believe,
Believe how I love thee, believe how near My soul is to its doom: I would not grieve
Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear Thine eyes by gazing; but I cannot live Another night, and not my passion shrive.
Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold, Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime, And I must taste the blossoms that unfold In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time.. So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold, And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme : Great bliss was with them, and great happiness Grew, like a lusty flower in June's caress.
Parting they seem'd to tread upon the air,
Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart Only to meet again more close, and share The inward fragrance of each other's heart. She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair
Sang, of delicious love and honey'd dart; He with light steps went up a western hill, And bade the sun farewell, and joy'd his fill.
All close they met again, before the dusk
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil, All close they met, all eves, before the dusk Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil, Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,
Unknown of any, free from whispering tale. Ah! better had it been for ever so, Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.
Were they unhappy then?-It cannot be→
Too much of pity after they are dead,
Whose matter in bright gold were best be read; Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse Over the pathless waves towards him bows.
But, for the general award of love,
The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
And Isabella's was a great distress,
With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
In blood from stinging whip;—with hollow eyes Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
And went all naked to the hungry shark; For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
A thousand men in troubles wide and dark: Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel, That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.
Why were they proud? Because their marble founts
Yet were these Florentines as self-retired
And pannier'd mules for ducats and old lies-
How was it these same ledger-men could spy
How could they find out in Lorenzo's eye
A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt's pest
Into their vision covetous and sly!
How could these money-bags see east and west?— Yet so they did-and every dealer fair
Must see behind, as doth the hunted bare.
O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon, And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,
And of thy roses amorous of the moon, And of thy lilies, that do paler grow
Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune, For venturing syllables that ill beseem The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.
Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet: But it is done-succeed the verse or fail
To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet; To stead thee as a verse in English tongue, An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.
These brethren having found by many signs
Should in their sister's love be blithe and glad,
And many a jealous conference had they,
To make the youngster for his crime atone;
Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone;
So on a pleasant morning, as he leant
Into the sun-rise, o'er the balustrade Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent Their footing through the dews; and to him said, You seem there in the quiet of content, Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade Calm speculation; but if you are wise, Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies. XXIV.
«To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount
Το spur three leagues towards the Apennine;
Bow'd a fair greeting to these serpents' whine;
And as he to the court-yard pass'd along,
Each third step did he pause, and listen'd oft
If he could hear his lady's matin-song,
And as he thus over his passion hung,
He heard a laugh full musical aloft;
<< Love, Isabel!» said he, « I was in pain
Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow:
Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow. Good bye! I'll soon be back.»-« Good bye!» said she: And as he went she chanted merrily.
And she had died in drowsy ignorance,
But for a thing more deadly dark than all;
It was a vision. In the drowsy gloom,
Had marr'd his glossy hair which once could shoot Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom
Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute
Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake;
Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright
Of the late darken'd time,-the murderous spite
Saying moreover, «Isabel, my sweet!
The Spirit mourn'd «Adieu!»-dissolved, and left
And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil:
Ha! ha! said she, « I knew not this hard life,
When the full morning came, she had devised
See, as they creep along the river side,
How she doth whisper to that aged Dame, And, after looking round the champaign wide,
Shows her a knife. What feverous hectic flame Burns in thee, child?-What good can thee betide, That thou shouldst smile again?The evening came, And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed; The flint was there, the berries at his head.
Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard,
To see scull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole;
She gazed into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies; She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone, And put it in her bosom, where it dries And freezes utterly unto the bone
Those dainties made to still an infant's cries: Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care, But to throw back at times her veiling hair.
That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
At sight of such a dismal labouring,
And so she kneel'd, with her locks all hoar, And put her lean hands to the horrid thing:
Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;
For here, in truth, it doth not well belong
With duller steel than the Perséan sword
If Love impersonate was ever dead,
'T was love; cold,-dead indeed, but not dethroned. LI.
In anxious secrecy they took it home,
And then the prize was all for Isabel:
With tears, as chilly as a dripping well,
She drench'd away: -and still she comb'd, and kept Sighing all day-and still she kiss'd, and wept.
Then in a silken scarf,-sweet with the dews
Through the cold serpent-pipe refreshfully,-
And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.
And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
From the fast mouldering head there shut from view:
So that the jewel, safely casketed,
Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.
O Melancholy, linger here awhile!
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly! O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us-O sigh! Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile; Lift up your beads, sweet Spirits, heavily, And make a pale light in your cypress glooms, Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.
Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,
From the deep throat of sad Melpomene! Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go, And touch the strings into a mystery; Sound mournfully upon the winds and low; For simple Isabel is soon to be Among the dead: She withers, like a palm Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.
O leave the palm to wither by itself;
Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour!-It may not be those Baalites of pelf,
Her brethren, noted the continual shower From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf, Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.
And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much
Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might mean: They could not surely give belief, that such
A very nothing would have power to wean Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay, And even remembrance of her love's delay.
Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift This hidden whim; and long they watch'd in vain; For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,
And seldom felt she any hunger-pain;
And when she left, she hurried back, as swift
Yet they contrived to steal the Basil-pot,
O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly! O Echo, Echo, on some other day,
From isles Lethean, sigh to us-O sigh! Spirits of grief, sing not your Well-a-way!» For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die;
Will die a death too lone and incomplete,
Piteous she look'd on dead and senseless things, Asking for her lost Basil amorously;
And with melodious chuckle in the strings
Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry After the Pilgrim in his wanderings,
To ask him where her Basil was; and why 'T was hid from her: For cruel 't is, said she, To steal my Basil-pot away from me..
And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,
No heart was there in Florence but did mourn
And a sad ditty of this story born
From mouth to mouth through all the country pass'd: Still is the burthen sung-« O cruelty,
To steal my Basil-pot away from me!»>