صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Did'st thou give a white handkerchief, brightly
Embroidered all over with gold,
And scented with rose and with amber
So sweet, that the scent of it nightly
May be smelt in the Bey's bridal chamber ? ".
When this came to the wife of the Bey,
She burst into tears as she read:
And “Pity upon me!” she said,
“ For I know not, alas ! what to say.
If I speak truth I put strife
"Twixt the brother I love and his wife;
If I speak false, much I dread
Lest my husband die for it," she said.
Then the letter she laid in her breast,
And she ponder'd with many a sigh,
“I choose of two evils the least,
If my husband must die, let him die !
Since the choice lies 'twixt the one or the other,
Any husband a woman may spare,
But the sister that injures a brother
Does that which she cannot repair.”
Thus shrewdly the matter she saw:
And she wrote to her sister-in-law :
“Wife of my brother, the Bey!
My husband is well. May naught ail him!
And I trust I shall never bewail him.
To my brother on your marriage day
(And truly the truth shall be told)
I gave a white handkerchief brightly
Embroider'd all over with gold,
And scented with rose and with amber
So sweet, that the scent (as you say,
And as I cannot doubt of it) nightly
May be smelt in the Bey's bridal chamber."


A Poet loved a Star,

And to it whisper'd nightly, “ Being so fair, why art thou, love, so far? Or why so coldly shine, who shinest so brightly?

O Beauty, woo'd and un possest,


O might I to this beating breast
But clasp thee once, and then die, blest!”
That Star her Poet's love,

So wildly warm, made human.
And, leaving for his sake her heaven above,
His Star stoop'd earthward, and became a Woman.

“ Thou who hast woo'd and hast possest,
My lover, answer, which was best,
The Star's beam, or the Woman's breast?"

"I miss from heaven,” the man replied,

“A light that drew my spirit to it." And to the man the woman sigh’d,

“I miss from earth a poet."


Ar Paris it was, at the Opera there;

And she looked like a queen in a book that night, With the wreath of pearl in her raven hair,

And the brooch on her breast, so bright. Of all the operas that Verdi wrote,

The best, to my taste, is the Trovatore;
And Mario can soothe with a tenor note

The souls in Purgatory.
The moon on the tower slept soft as snow;

And who was not thrilled in the strangest way,
As we heard him sing, while the gas burned low,

“Non ti scordar di me”? The Emperor there, in his box of state,

Looked grave, as if he had just then seen The red flag wave from the city gate

Where his eagles in bronze had been. The Empress too had a tear in her eye:

You'd have said that her fancy had gone back again, For one moment, under the old blue sky,

To the old glad life in Spain. Well, there in our front-row box we sat,

Together, my bride-betrothed and I; My gaze was fixed on my opera-hat,

And hers on the stage hard by.

And both were silent, and both were sad.

Like a queen she leaned on her full white arm,
With that regal, indolent air she had;

So confident of her charm !
I have not a doubt she was thinking then

Of her former lord, good soul that he was !
Who died the richest and roundest of men, —

The Marquis of Carabas.
I hope that, to get to the kingdom of heaven,

Through a needle's eye he had not to pass :
I wish him well, for the jointure given

To my lady of Carabas.
Meanwhile, I was thinking of my first love,

As I had not been thinking of aught for years,
Till over my eyes there began to move

Something that felt like tears.
I thought of the dress that she wore last time,

When we stood 'neath the cypress-trees together, In that lost land, in that soft clime,

In the crimson evening weather;
Of that muslin dress (for the eve was hot)

And her warm white neck in its golden chain.
And her full soft hair just tied in a knot,

And falling loose again;
And the jasmine-flower in her fair young breast;

(Oh, the faint, sweet smell of that jasmine-flower!) And the one bird singing alone to his nest;

And the one star over the tower.
I thought of our little quarrels and strife;

And the letter that brought me back my ring.
And it all seemed then, in the waste of life,

Such a very little thing!
For I thought of her grave below the hill,

Which the sentinel cypress-tree stands over,
And I thought, “ Were she only living still,

How I could forgive her, and love her!And I swear as I thought of her thus, in that hour,

And of how, after all, old things were best, That I smelt the smell of that jasmine-flower

Which she used to wear in her breast.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It smelt so faint, and it smelt so sweet,

It made me creep, and it made me cold ! Like the scent that steals from the crumbling sheet

Where a mummy is half unrolled. And I turned, and looked. She was sitting there

, In a dim box, over the stage; and drest In that muslin dress, with that full soft hair,

And that jasmine in her breast ! I was here, and she was there;

And the glittering horseshoe curved between ;From my bride-betrothed, with her raven hair,

And her sumptuous, scornful mien,
To my early love, with her eyes downcast,

And over her primrose face the shade,
In short, from the Future back to the Past, -

There was but a step to be made.
To my early love from my future bride

One moment I looked. Then I stole to the door; I traversed the passage; and down at her side

I was sitting, a moment more.
My thinking of her, or the music's strain,

Or something which never will be exprest,
Had brought her back from the grave again,

With the jasmine in her breast. She is not dead, and she is not wed !

But she loves me now, and she loved me then; And the very first word that her sweet lips said,

My heart grew youthful again. The Marchioness there, of Carabas,

She is wealthy, and young, and handsome still; And but for her well, we'll let that pass :

She may marry whomever she will. But I will marry my own first love,

With her primrose face: for old things are best; And the flower in her bosom, I prize it above

The brooch in my lady's breast. The world is filled with folly and sin,

And Love must cling where it can, I say: For Beauty is easy enough to win;

But one isn't loved every day.

[ocr errors]

And I think, in the lives of most women and men,

There's a moment when all would go smooth and even, If only the dead could find out when

To come back and be forgiven. But oh the smell of that jasmine-flower!

And oh that music! and oh the way
That voice rang out from the donjon tower,

“Non ti scordar di me,
Non ti scordar di me!”


[ocr errors]

Young, rich, and fair, why art thou weeping so ?
Say, dost thou mourn for thy dead infant ? No,

I never was a mother."
Dost thou, then, mourn for thy dead husband, say?
I loved him naught." For thy lost lover ?

Nor loved I any other.
Young, rich, and fair, what hast thou lost, then ?

Nor have youth, wealth, and beauty given me aught

That compensates the keeping."
Yet life for thee has done its best and most.
Young, rich, and fair, if thou hast nothing lost,

What is it thou art weeping ?
I weep my useless wealth, my beauty vain,
My youth, they gladden not. I weep the pain

of pleasures unenjoy'd.All possible felicities are thine, For what good thing denied thee dost thou pine ?

Love that is unalloy'd.Weep on, then! Weep till tolls the passing bell! Thou hast set thine heart on the impossible.

Young, rich, and fair disdain it, And live content! Else die, disconsolate one! Love that is unalloy'd life gives to none.

Death may, perchance, attain it.

« السابقةمتابعة »