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By that dear page where first the woman
She told herself—and then she told her beads; Meanwhile, the nerves insensibly let fall
Two curtains fairer than the lily breeds ; For sleep had crept and kiss'd her unawares, Just at the half-way milestone of her pray’rs.
Then like a drooping rose so bended she,
Till her bow'd head upon her hand reposed; But still she plainly saw, or seem'd to see,
That fair reflection, tho' her eyes were closed, A beauty bright as it was wont to be,
A portrait Fancy painted while she dozed : 'Tis very natural, some people say, To dream of what we dwell on in the day.
But ’gan some dreary touches to assume,
Her eyes resign'd their light, her lips their bloom, :
with rheum : There was a throbbing at her heart within, For, oh! there was a shooting in her chin.
The cruel trenches of besieging age,
Her place was booking for the seventh stage; And where her raven tresses used to flow,
Some locks that time had left her in his rage, And some mock ringlets, made her forehead
shady A compound (like our Psalms) of tête and
XXII. Then for her shape—alas ! how Saturn wrecks,
And bends, and corkscrews all the frame about, Doubles the hams, and crooks the straightest
necks, Draws in the nape, and pushes forth the snout, Makes backs and stomachs concave or convex:
Witness those pensioners call’d In and Out, Who all day watching first and second rater, Quaintly unbend themselves—but grow no
Her shape a bow, that once was like an arrow; His iron hand upon her spine he laid,
And twisted all awry her “winsome marrow.”
In truth it was a change —she had obey'd
The holy Pope before her chest grew narrow, But spectacles and palsy seem'd to make her Something between a Glassite and a Quaker.
Her grief and gall meanwhile were quite extreme,
And she had ample reason for her trouble ; For what sad maiden can endure to seem
Set in for singleness, tho' growing double. The fancy madden'd her; but now the dream,
Grown thin by getting bigger, like a bubble, Burst,—but still left some fragments of its size, That, like the soapsuds, smarted in her eyes.
And here—just here—as she began to heed
The real world, her clock chimed out its score; A clock it was of the Venetian breed,
That cried the hour from one to twenty-four; The works moreover standing in some need
Of workmanship, it struck some dozens more ; A warning voice that clench'd Bianca's fears, Such strokes referring doubtless to her years.
By twenty she had quite renounced the veil ; She thought of Julio just at twenty-one,
And thirty made her very sad and pale,
To paint that ruin where her charms would run;
At forty all the maid began to fail, And thought no higher, as the late dream cross'd
her, Of single blessedness, than single Gloster.
With Julio in a black Venetian bark,
Just sounding from the tow'r of old St. Mark She sate with eyes turn'd quietly to heav'n,
Perchance rejoicing in the grateful dark That veild her blushing cheek,—for Julio
brought her Of course—to break the ice upon the water.
To open ;-oysters, when the ice is thick,
And Julio felt the declaration stick
However, he contrived by bits to pick
xxix. But love is still the quickest of all readers ;
And Julio spent besides those signs profuse
That English telegraphs and foreign pleaders,
In help of language, are so apt to use, Arms, shoulders, fingers, all were interceders,
Nods, shrugs, and bends,— Bianca could not But soften to his suit with more facility, [choose He told his story with so much agility.
“ Be thou my park, and I will be thy dear,
(So he began at last to speak or quote ;) Be thou my bark, and I thy gondolier,
(For passion takes this figurative note;) Be thou my light, and I thy chandelier ;
Be thou my dove, and I will be thy cote:
xxxi. This, with more tender logic of the kind,
He pour'd into her small and shell-like ear, That timidly against his lips inclined ;
Meanwhile her eyes glanced on the silver sphere That even now began to steal behind
A dewy vapour, which was lingering near, Wherein the dull moon crept all dim and pale, Just like a virgin putting on the veil :
Bidding adieu to all her sparks—the stars,
That erst had woo'd and worshipp'd in her train,