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XX.
Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale

Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
There is no other crime, no mad assail

To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet :
But it is done-succeed the verse or fail-

To honor thee, and thy gone spirit greet;
To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,
An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.

XIII.
But, for the general award of love,

The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
Though Dido silent is in under-grove,

And Isabella's was a great distress,
Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove

Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the less-
Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers,
Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.

XIV.
With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,

Enriched from ancestral merchandise,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt

In torched mines and noisy factories,
And many once proud-quiver'd loins did melt

In blood from stinging whip;-with hollow eyes
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.

XXI.
These brethren having found by many signs

What love Lorenzo for their sister had,
And how she loved him too, each unconfines

His bitter thoughts to other, well-nigh mad
That he, the servant of their trade designs,

Should in their sister's love be blithe and glad,
When 't was their plan to coax her by degrees
To some high noble and his olive-trees.

XV.

XXII.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath, And many a jealous conference had they,
And went all naked to the hungry shark;

And many times they bit their lips alone,
For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death Before they fix'd upon a surest way
The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark

To make the youngster for his crime atone;
Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe And at the last, these men of cruel clay

A thousand men in troubles wide and dark · Cut Merey with a sharp knife to the bone; Half-ignorant, they turnd an easy wheel,

For they resolved in some forest dim
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel. To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him.
XVI.

XXIII.
Why were they proud ? Because their marble founts So on a pleasant morning, as he leant

Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears ?- Into the sunrise o'er the balustrade
Why were they proud? Because fair orange-

mounts of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent Were of more soft ascent than lazar-stairs ?

Their footing through the dews; and to him said, Why were they proud ? Because red-lined accounts You seem there in the quiet of content,

Were richer than the songs of Grecian years! Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade
Why were they proud ? again we ask aloud, Calm speculation; but if you are wise,
Why in the name of Glory were they proud ? Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.

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XXVII.

XXXIV.
So the two brothers and their murder'd man And she had died in drowsy ignorance,

Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream But for a thing more deadly dark than all; Gurgles through straiten'd banks, and still doth fan It came like a fierce potion, drunk by chance,

Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream Which saves a sick man from the feather'd pall Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan For some few gasping moments; like a lance, The brothers' faces in the ford did seem,

Waking an Indian from his cloudy hall Lorenzo's flush with love. They pass'd the water With cruel pierce, and bringing him again Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.

Sense of the gnawing fire at heart and brain. XXVIII.

XXXV.
There was Lorenzo slain and buried in,

It was a vision. In the drowsy gloom,
There in that forest did his great love cease ; The dull of midnight, at her couch's foot
Ah! when a soul doth thus its freedom win, Lorenzo stood, and wept: the forest tomb
It aches in loneliness—is ill at peace

Had marr'd his glossy hair which once could show As the break-covert blood-hounds of such sin : Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom

They dipp'd their swords in the water, and did tease Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute
Their horses homeward, with convulsed spur, From his lorn voice, and past his loamed ears
Each richer by his being a murderer.

Had made a miry channel for his tears.
XXIX.

XXXVI.
They told their sister how, with sudden speed, Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake ;
Lorenzo had ta'en ship for foreign lands,

For there was striving, in its piteous tongue, Because of some great urgency and need

To speak as when on earth it was awake, In their affairs, requiring trusty hands.

And Isabella on its music hung : Poor girl! put on thy stifling widow's weed, Languor there was in it, and tremulous shake,

And 'scape at once from Hope's accursed bands; As in a palsied Druid's harp unstrung; To-day thou wilt not see him, nor to-morrow, And through it moan'd a ghostly under-song, And the next day will be a day of sorrow. Like hoarse night-gusts sepulchral briers among. XXX.

XXXVII. She weeps alone for pleasures not to be ;

Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright Sorely she wept until the night came on,

With love, and kept all phantom fear aloof And then, instead of love, O misery!

From the poor girl by magic of their light, She brooded o'er the luxury alone :

The while it did unthread the horrid woof His image in the dusk she seem'd to see,

of the late darken'd time, the murderous spite And to the silence made a gentle moan,

Of pride and avarice,--the dark pine roof Spreading her perfect arms upon the air,

In the forest,--and the sodden turfed dell,
Andon her couch low murmuring, “Where? O where?” Where, without any word, from stabs he fell.
XXXI.

XXXVIII.
But Selfishness, Love's cousin, held not long Saying moreover, “ Isabel, my sweet!
Its fiery vigil in her single breast;

Red whortle-berries droop above my head,
She fretted for the golden hour, and hung

And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet; Upon the time with feverish unrest

Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed Not long—for soon into her heart a throng Their leaves and prickly nuts; a sheep-fold bleat Of higher occupants, a richer zest,

Comes from beyond the river to my bed: Came tragic; passion not to be subdued,

Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom,
And sorrow for her love in travels rude.

And it shall comfort me within the tomb.
XXXII.

XXXIX.
In the mid-days of autumn, on their eves

“I am a shadow now, alas ! alas! The breath of Winter comes from far away, Upon the skirts of human-nature dwelling And the sick west continually bereaves

Alone : I chant alone the holy mass, Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay While little sounds of life are round me knelling, of death among the bushes and the leaves, And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass, To make all bare before he dares to stray

And many a chapel-bell the hour is telling, From his north cavern. So sweet Isabel

Paining me through: those sounds grow strange to me, By gradual decay from beauty fell,

And thou art distant in Humanity.
XXXUI.

XL
Because Lorenzo came not. Oftentimes

" I know what was, I feel full well what is, She ask'd her brothers, with an eye all pale, And I should rage, if spirits could go mad, Striving to be itself, what dungeon climes Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,

Could keep him off so long? They spake a tale That paleness warms my grave, as though I had Time after time, to quiet her. Their crimes A Seraph chosen from the bright abyss

Came on them, like a smoke from Hinnom's vale ; To be my spouse : thy paleness makes me glad: And every night in dreams they groan'd aloud, Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel To see their sister in her snowy shroud.

A greater love through all my essence steal"

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XLI.

XLVIII.
The Spirit mourn'd “Adieu!"-dissolved, and left That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
The atom darkness in a slow turmoil ;

Until her heart felt pity to the core - As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft, At sight of such a dismal laboring,

Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil, And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar, We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,

And put her lean hands to the horrid thing : And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil : Three hours they labor'd at this travail sore ; It made sad Isabella's eyelids ache,

At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
And in the dawn she started up awake;

And Isabella did not stamp and rave.
XLII.

XLIX.
“ Ha! ha!” said she, “I knew not this hard life, Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance?
I thought the worst was simple misery;

Why linger at the yawning tomb so long? I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife O for the gentleness of old Romance, Portion'd us-happy days, or else to die;

The simple plaining of a minstrel's song! But there is crime--a brother's bloody knife! Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,

Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy: For here, in truth, it doth not well belong I'll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes,

To speak :-0 turn thee to the very tale,
And greet thee morn and even in the skies." And taste the music of that vision pale.
XLIII.

L.
When the full morning came, she had devised With duller steel than the Perséan sword
How she might secret to the forest hie;

They cut away no formless monster's head, How she might find the clay, so dearly prized, But one, whose gentleness did well accord And sing to it one latest lullaby ;

With death, as life. The ancient harps have said Flow her short absence might be unsurmised, Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord :

While she the inmost of the dream would try. If Love impersonate was ever dead, Resolved, she took with her an aged nurse,

Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan'd. And went into that dismal forest-hearse.

"T was love; cold, dead indeed, but not dethroned. XLIV.

LI. See, as they creep along the river-side

In anxious secrecy they took it home, How she doth whisper to that aged Dame,

And then the prize was all for Isabel : And, after looking round the champaign wide,

She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb, Shows her a knife.--" What feverous hectic flame And all around each eye's sepulchral cell Burns in thee, child ?-What good can thee betide, Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam That thou shouldst smile again?”—The evening With tears, as chilly as a dripping well,

She drench'd away : -and still she comb'd, and kept
And they had found Lorenzo's earthy hed; Sighing all day-and still she kiss'd, and wept.
The flint was there, the berries at his head.

LII.
XLV.

Then in a silken scarf,--sweet with the dews
Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard, of precious flowers pluck'd in Araby,
And let his spirit, like a demon-mole,

And divine liquids come with odorous ooze Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard, Through the cold serpent-pipe refreshfully,—

To see skull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole ; She wrapp'd it up; and for its tomb did choose Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr'd,

A garden-spot, wherein she laid it by, And filling it once more with human soul? And cover'd it with mould, and o'er it set Ah! this is holiday to what was felt

Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.
When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.

LIII.
XLVI.

And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
She gazed into the fresh-thrown mould, as though,

And she forgot the blue above the trees,
One glance did fully all its secrets tell ;

And she forgot the delis where waters run,
Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know

And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well ;

She had no knowledge when the day was done, Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow,

And the new morn she saw not : but in peace Like to a native lily of the dell:

Hung over her sweet Basil evermore, Then with her knife, all sudden, she began

And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.
To dig more fervently than misers can.

LIV.
XLVII.

And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon

Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies ; So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,

Of Basil-tusts in Florence; for it drew
And put it in her bosom, where it dries

Nature besides, and life, from human fears,
And freezes utterly unto the bone

From the fast-mouldering head there shut from Those dainties made to still an infant's cries :

view : Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care, So that the jewel, safely casketed, But to throw back at umes her veiling hair.

Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.

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LV.

And when she left, she hurried back, as swift O Melancholy, linger here awhile !

As bird on wing to breast its eggs again; O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!

And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there
O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,

Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.
Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us-0 sigh!
Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile;

LX.
Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily,

Yet they contrived to steal the Basil-pot, And make a pale light in your cypress glooms,

And to examine it in secret place: Tinting with silver wan your marble tornbs.

The thing was vile with green and livid spot,

And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face : LVI.

The guerdon of their murder they had got, Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,

And so left Florence in a moment's space,
From the deep throat of sad Melpomene! Never to turn again.--Away they went,
Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,

With blood upon their heads, to banishment.
And touch the strings into a mystery ;
Sound mournfully upon the winds and low;

LXI.
For simple Isabel is soon to be

O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away! Among the dead : she withers, like a palm

O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.

O Echo, Echo, on some other day,
LVII.

From isles Lethean, sigh to us-- sigh!
O leave the palm to wither by itself;

Spirits of grief, sing not your “ Well-a-way!"

For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die;
Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour! -
It may not be—those Baâlites of pelf,

Will die a death too lone and incomplete,
Her brethren, noted the continual shower

Now they have ta'en away her Basil sweet. From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,

LXII. Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower

Piteous she look'd on dead and senseless things. Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside

Asking for her lost Basil amorously;
By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.

And with melodious chuckle in the strings
LVII.

Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry
And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much After the Pilgrim in his wanderings,
Why she sat drooping by the Basil green,

To ask him where her Basil was; and why And why it flourishd, as by magic touch;

"T was hid from her: “ For cruel 't is," said she Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might mean: “To steal my Basil-pot away from me." They could not surely give belief, that such

LXIII.
A very nothing would have power to wean
Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay,

And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,
And even remembrance of her love's delay.

Imploring for her Basil to the last.

No heart was there in Florence but did moum LIX.

In pity of her love, so overcast. Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift And a sad dirty of this story born

This hidden whim; and long they watch'd in vain; From mouth io mouth through all the country pass'd: For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,

Still is the burthen sung—"O cruelty, And seldom felt she any hunger-pain;

| To steal my Basil-pot away from me!"

The Eve of St. Agnes.

1.

The sculptured dead, on each side, seem to freeze, St. AGNES' Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!

Imprison'd in black, purgatorial rails : The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold ;

Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat'ries, The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass, lle passeth by; and his weak spirit fails And silent was the flock in woolly fold : To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mail. Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told His rosary, and while his frosted breath,

III. Like pious incense from a censer old,

Northward he turneth through a little door.
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death, And scarce three steps, ere Music's golden tongue
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he Flatter'd to tears this aged man and poor ;
saith.

But no—already had his death-bell rungi
II.

The joys of all his life were said and sung; His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man; His was harsh penance on St. Agnes' Eve : Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees, Another way he went, and soon among And back returnetb, meager, barefoot, wan, Rough asbes sat he for his soul's reprieve, Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees :

And all night kept awake, for sinners' sake to griete.

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IV.

X.
That ancient Beadsman heard the prelude soft; He ventures in : let no buzz'd whisper tell:
And so it chanced, for many a door was wide, All eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords
From hurry to and fro. Soon, up aloft,

Will storm his heart, Love's fev'rous citadel :
The silver, snarling trumpets 'gan to chide : For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes,
The level chambers, ready with their pride, Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords,
Were glowing to receive a thousand guests: Whose very dogs would execrations howl
The carved angels, ever eager-eyed,

Against his lineage : not one breast affords
Stared, where upon their heads the cornice rests, Him any mercy, in that mansion foul,
With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise on Save one old beldame, weak in body and in soul.
their breasts.

XI.
V

Ah, happy chance! the aged creature care, At length burst in the argent revelry,

Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand, With plume, tiara, and all rich array,

To where he stood, hid from the torch's flame, Numerous as shadows haunting fairily

Behind a broad hall-pillar, far beyond The brain, new stuff’d, in youth, with triumphs gay The sound of merriment and chorus bland : Of old romance. These let us wish away, He startled her: but soon she knew his face, And turn, sole-thoughted, to one Lady there, And grasp'd his fingers in her palsied hand, Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day, Saying, “ Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this place;

On love, and wing'd St. Agnes' saintly care, They are all here to-night, the whole bloodthirsty As she had heard old dames full many times declare.

race!

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,
If ceremonies due they did aright;
As, supperless to bed they must retire,
And couch supine their beauties, lily white;

Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.

XII.
“Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Hilde-

brand;
He had a fever late, and in the fit
He cursed thee and thine, both house and land:
Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a whit
More tame for his gray hairs-Alas me! flit!
Flit like a ghost away.”—“Ah, gossip dear,
We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit,
And tell me how"-" Good Saints! not here, not

here;
Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy bier.”

VII.
Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline :
The music, yearning like a God in pain,
She scarcely heard: her maiden eyes divine,
Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train
Pass by-she heeded not at all : in vain
Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier,
And back retired; not cool'd by high disdain.

But she saw not: her heart was otherwhere :
She sigh'd for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest of the year.

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VIII.
She danced along with vague, regardless eyes,
Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short :
The hallow'd hour was near at hand : she sighs
Amid the timbrels, and the throng'd resort
Of whisperers in anger, or in sport;
'Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and scorn,
Hoodwink'd with fairy fancy; all amort,

Save to St. Agnes, and her lambs unshorn,
And all the bliss to be before to-morrow morn.

XIV.
St. Agnes! Ah! it is St. Agnes' Eve-
Yet men will murder upon holy days:
Thou must hold water in a witch's sieve,
And be liege-lord of all the Elves and Fays,
To venture so: it fills me with amaze
To see thee, Porphyro !-St. Agnes' Eve!
God's help! my lady fair the conjuror plays

This very night: good angels her deceive!
But let me laugh awhile, I've mickle time to grieve."

IX.
So, purposing each moment to retire,
She linger'd still. Meantime, across the moors,
Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire
For Madeline. Beside the portal doors,
Buttress'd from moonlight, stands he, and implores
All saints to give him sight of Madeline,
But for one moment in the tedious hours,

That he might gaze and worship all unseen ; Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss--in sooth such things have been

XV.
Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon,
While Porphyro upon her face doth look,
Like puzzled urchin on an aged crone
Who keepeth closed a wondrous riddle-book,
As spectacled she sits in chimney-nook.
But soon his eyes grew brilliant, when she told
His lady's purpose ; and he scarce could brook

Tears, at the thought of those enchantments cold,
And Madeline asleep in lap of legends old.

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