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And he to that embrace awakes,
And, happy in the thought, mistakes
That dreaming sigh, and warm caress,
For such as he was wont to bless ;
And could in
fondness weep O'er her who loves him even in sleep.
He clasp'd her sleeping to his heart,
And listen’d to each broken word :
He hears—Why doth Prince Azo start,
As if the Archangel's voice he heard ?
And well he may-a deeper doom
Could scarcely thunder o'er his tomb,
When he shall wake to sleep no more,
And stand the eternal throne before.
And well he may-his earthly peace
Upon that sound is doom'd to cease.
That sleeping whisper of a name
Bespeaks her guilt and Azo's shame.
And whose that name ? that o'er his pillow
Sounds fearful as the breaking billow
Which rolls the plank upon the shore,
And dashes on the pointed rock
The wretch who sinks to rise no more;
So came upon his soul the shock.
And whose that name? 't is Hugo's,-his
In sooth he had not deem'd of this !
'T is Hugo's,-he, the child of one
his own all-evil son-
The offspring of his wayward youth,
When he betray'd Bianca's truth ;
The maid whose folly could confide
In him who made her not his bride.
He pluck'd his poniard in its sheath,
But sheathed it ere the point was bareHowe'er unworthy now to breathe,
He could not slay a thing so fair
At least, not smiling-sleeping there : Nay, more he did not wake her then,
But gazed upon her with a glance
Which, had she roused her from her trance, Had frozen her sense to sleep again And o'er his brow the burning lamp Gleam'd on the dew-drops big and damp.
She spake no more—but still she slumber'd While, in his thought, her days are number’d.
And with the morn he sought, and found
many a tale from those around,
The proof of all he fear'd to know,
Their present guilt, his future woe;
The long-conniving damsels seek
To save themselves, and would transfer
The guilt—the shame—the doom to her : Concealment is no more
they speak All circumstance which may compel Full credence to the tale they tell; And Azo's tortured heart and ear Have nothing more to feel or hear.
He was not one who brook'd delay :
Within the chamber of his state,
The chief of Este's ancient sway
Upon his throne of judgment sate ;
His nobles and his guards are there, -
Before him is the sinful pair ;
Both young—and one how passing fair !
With swordless belt, and fetter'd hand,
Oh, Christ! that thus a son should stand
Before a father's face!
Yet thus must Hugo meet his sire,
And hear the sentence of his ire,
The tale of his disgrace!
And yet he seems not overcome,
Although, as yet, his voice be dumb.
And still, and pale, and silently
Did Parisina wait her doom ;
How changed since last her speaking eye
Glanced gladness round the glittering room! Where high-born men were proud to waitWhere Beauty watch'd to imitate
Her gentle voice, her lovely mien-
And gather from her air and gait
The graces of its queen :
Then, had her eye in sorrow wept,
A thousand warriors forth had leapt,
A thousand swords had sheathless shone,
And made her quarrel all their own.
Now,—what is she? and what are they?
Can she command, or these obey?
All silent and unheeding now,
With downcast eyes and knitting brow,
And folded arms, and freezing air,
And lips that scarce their scorn forbear,
Her knights and dames, her court—is there;
And he, the chosen one, whose lance
Had yet been couch'd before her glance,
Who -were his arm a moment free-
Had died or gain’d her liberty ;
The minion of his father's bride, -
He, too, is fetter'd by her side ;
Nor sees her swoln and full
Less for her own despair than him ;
Those lids---o'er which the violet vein,
Wandering, leaves a tender stain,
Shining through the smoothest white
That e'er did softest kiss invite-
Now seem'd with hot and livid glow
press, not shade, the orbs below,
Which glance so heavily, and fill,
As tear on tear grows gathering still.
And he for her had also wept,
But for the eyes that on him gazed :
His sorrow, if he felt it, slept;
Stern and erect his brow was raised.
Whate'er the grief his soul avow'd,
He would not shrink before the crowd ;
But yet he dared not look on her :
Remembrance of the hours that were
His guilt—his love—his present state-
His father's wrath—all good men's hate
His earthly, his eternal fate
And hers,--oh, hers! he dared not throw
One look upon that deathlike brow!
Else had his rising heart betray'd
Remorse for all the wreck it made.
And Azo spake :-“But yesterday
I gloried in a wife and son;
That dream this morning pass'd away ;
Ere day declines, I shall have nonem
My life must linger on alone.
Well,—let that pass,-there breathes not one
Who would not do as I have done :
Those ties are broken—not by me;
Let that too pass ;—the doom's prepared ! Hugo, the priest awaits on thee,
And then—thy crime's reward! Away! address thy prayers to Heaven,
Before its evening stars are metLearn if thou there canst be forgiven;
Its mercy may absolve thee yet. But here, upon the earth beneath,
There is no spot where thou and I
Together, for an hour, could breathe :
Farewell! I will not see thee die.
But thou, frail thing! shalt view his head-
Away! I cannot speak the rest :
Go! woman of the wanton breast ! Not I, but thou his blood dost shed; Go! if that sight thou canst outlive, And joy thee in the life I give.”
And here stern Azo hid his face
For on his brow the swelling vein
Throbb’d as if back upon his brain
The hot blood ebb’d and flow'd again;
And therefore bow'd he for a space,
And pass’d his shaking hand along
His eye, to veil it from the throng;
While Hugo raised his chained hands,
And for a brief delay demands
His father's ear: the silent sire
Forbids not what his words require.
“ It is not that I dread the death-
For thou hast seen me by thy side
All redly through the battle ride,
And that not once a useless brand
Thy slaves have wrested from
my hand, Hath shed more blood in cause of thine, Than e'er can stain the axe of mine.
Thou gavest, and mayst resume my breath,
A gift for which I thank thee not ;
Her slighted love and ruin'd name,
Her offspring's heritage of shame ;
But she is in the grave, where he,
Her son, thy rival, soon shall be.
Her broken heart—my sever'd head-
Shall witness for thee from the dead
How trusty and how tender were
Thy youthful love-paternal care.
'T is true, that I have done thee wrong-
But wrong for wrong—this deem'd thy bride,
The other victim of thy pride,
Thou know'st for me was destined long.
Thou saw'st, and coveted'st her charms
And with thy very crime—my birth,
Thou taunted'st me-as little worth ;
A match ignoble for her arms,
Because, forsooth, I could not claim
The lawful heirship of thy name,
Nor sit on Este's lineal throne :
Yet, were a few short summers mine,
My name should more than Este's shine
With honours all my own.
I had a sword-and have a breast
That should have won as haught ' a crest
As ever waved along the line
Of all these sovereign sires of thine.
Not always knightly spurs are worn
The brightest by the better born;
And mine have lanced my courser's flank
Before proud chiefs of princely rank,
When charging to the cheering cry
Of • Este and of Victory!
I will not plead the cause of crime,
Nor sue thee to redeem from time
A few brief hours or days that must
At length roll o'er
reckless dust; Such maddening moments as my past, They could not, and they did not,
birth and name be base, And thy nobility of race Disdain'd to deck a thing like me
Yet in my lineaments they trace
Some features of my father's face, And in my spirit—all of thee. From thee—this tamelessness of heart From thee—nay, wherefore dost thou start ?From thee in all their vigour came My arm of strength, my soul of flame Thou didst not give me life alone, But all that made me more thine own. See what thy guilty love hath done! Repaid thee with too like a son! I am no bastard in my soul, For that, like thine, abhorr'd control :