Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

So that it smelt more balmy than its peers

Of Basil-tufts in Florence ; for it drew Nurture besides, and life, from human fears, From the fast mouldering head there shut from

view : So that the jewel, safely casketed, Came forth, and in perfumed leaflets spread.

LV.

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 heads, sweet Spirits, heavily, And make a pale light in your cypress glooms, Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.

LVI.

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 his juicy balm.

LVII.

O leave the palm to wither by itself;

Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour! It may not be those Baâlites of pelf,

Her brethren, noted the continual shower From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,

Among her kindred, wonderd that such dower

Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside
By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.

LVIII.

And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much

Why she sat drooping by the Basil green, And why it flourish'd, as by magic touch; 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.

LIX.

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

As bird on wing to breast its eggs again:
And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there
Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.

LX.

Yet they contrived to steal the Basil-pot,

And to examine it in secret place:
The thing was vile with green and livid spot,

And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face:
The guerdon of their murder they had got,

And so left Florence in a moment's space, Never to turn again. Away they went, With blood upon their heads, to banishment.

LXI.

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,
Now they have ta’en away her Basil sweet.

LXII.

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 'Twas hid from ber: “For cruel ’tis,” said she, “ To steal my Basil-pot away from me.”

LXIIL.

And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,

Imploring for her Basil to the last.
No heart was there in Florence but did mourn

In pity of her love, so overcast.
And a sad ditty of this story borne

From mouth to mouth through all the country

passid:

Still is the burthen sung

« () cruelty, To steal my Basil-pot away from me!"

THE EVE OF ST. AGNES.

I.

ST

\T. AGNES' EVE - Ah, bitter chill it was !

The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen

grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,

Seem'd taking flight for heaven without a death, Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he

saith.

II.

His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man;
Then takes lis lamp, and riseth from his knees,
And back returneth, meagre, barefoot, wan,
Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees :
The sculptured dead, on each side seem to freeze,
Emprison'd in black, purgatorial rails :
Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat’ries,

He passeth by; and his weak spirit fails
To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails.

III.

Northward he turneth through a little door,
And scarce three steps, ere Music's golden tongue
Flatter'd to tears this aged man and poor ;

already had his death-bell rung;

But no

The joys of all his life were said and sung:
His was harsh penance on St. Agnes' Eve:
Another way he went, and soon among

Rough ashes sat he for his soul's reprieve,
And all night kept awake, for sinner's sake to grieve.

IV.

That ancient Beadsman heard the prelude soft;
And so it chanced, for many a door was wide,
From hurry to and fro. Soon, up aloft,
The silver, snarling trumpets 'gan to chide :
The level chambers, ready with their pride,
Were glowing to receive a thousand guests :
The carved angels

, ever eager-eyed, Stared, where upon their heads the cornice rests, With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise on

their breasts.

At length burst in the argent revelry,
With plume, tiara, and all rich array,
Numerous as shadows haunting fairily
The brain, new-stuff’d, in youth, with triumphs

gay
Of old romance. These let us wish away,
And turn, sole-thoughted, to one Lady there,
Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day,

On love, and wing'd St. Agnes' saintly care, As she had heard old dames full many times declare.

VI.

They told her how, upon St. Agnes' Eve,
Young virgins might have visions of delight,
And soft adorings from their loves receive
Upon the honey'd middle of the night,

« ZurückWeiter »