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In the forest and the sodden turfed dell,
Saying moreover, “ Isabel, my sweet!
Red whortleberries droop above my head, And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet;
Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed Their leaves and prickly nuts; a sheepfold bleat
Comes from beyond the river to my bed : Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom, And it shall comfort me within the tomb.
“I am a shadow now, alas ! alas !
Upon the skirts of human nature dwelling Alone : I chant alone the holy mass, While little sounds of life are round me knell
ing, And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass,
And many a chapel bell the hour is telling, Paining me through: those sounds grow strange to
me, And thou art distant in Humanity.
“I know what was, I feel full well what is,
And I should rage, if spirits could go mad; Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss, That paleness warms my grave, as though I
had A seraph chosen from the bright abyss
To be my spouse: thy paleness makes me glad : Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel A greater love through all my essence steal.”
The Spirit mourn’d “ Adieu ! dissolved and left
The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;
Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil :
" Ha! ha!” said she, “ I knew not this hard life,
I thought the worst was simple misery;
Portion'd us -- happy days, or else to die;
Sweet Spirit, thou hast schoold my infancy :
When the full morning came, she had devised
How she might secret to the forest hie;
And sing to it one latest lullaby ;
While she the inmost of the dream would try.
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. 66 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 churchyard,
And let his spirit, like a demon mole,
To see skull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole ; Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr’d,
And filling it once more with human soul ?
She gazed into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
One glance did fully all its secrets tell; Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know
Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well;
Like to a native lily of the dell:
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,
Until her heart felt pity to the core At sight of such a dismal labouring,
And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,
Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore ;
Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance ?
Why linger at the yawning tomb so long? O for the gentleness of old Romance,
The simple plaining of a minstrel's song! Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,
For here, in truth, it doth not well belong To speak :-( turn thee to the very tale, And taste the music of that vision pale.
With duller steel than the Perséan sword
They cut away no formless monster's head, But one, whose gentleness did well accord
With death, as life. The ancient harps have said, Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord :
If Love impersonate was ever dead, Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan'd. 'Twas love; cold, dead indeed, but not dethron'd.
In anxious secrecy they took it home,
And then the prize was all for Isabel:
And all around each eye's sepulchral cell
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
Of precious flowers pluck'd in Araby, And divine liquids come with odorous ooze
Through the cold serpent-pipe refreshfully,
A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by,
And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees, And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze; She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she saw not : but in peace Hung over her sweet Basil evermore, 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,