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Did'st thou give a white handkerchief, brightly
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
So wildly warm, made human.
“ Thou who hast woo'd and hast possest,
"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;
The souls in Purgatory.
And who was not thrilled in the strangest way,
“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,
So confident of her charm !
Of her former lord, good soul that he was !
The Marquis of Carabas.
Through a needle's eye he had not to pass :
To my lady of Carabas.
As I had not been thinking of aught for years,
Something that felt like tears.
When we stood 'neath the cypress-trees together, In that lost land, in that soft clime,
In the crimson evening weather;
And her warm white neck in its golden chain.
And falling loose again;
(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.
And the letter that brought me back my ring.
Such a very little thing!
Which the sentinel cypress-tree stands over,
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.
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,
And over her primrose face the shade,
There was but a step to be made.
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.
Or something which never will be exprest,
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.
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
“Non ti scordar di me,
Young, rich, and fair, why art thou weeping so ?
I never was a mother."
Nor loved I any other.”
That compensates the keeping."
What is it thou art weeping ?
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.