Irene, a Poem, in Six Cantos.

Northampton, Margaret Clephane Compton, d. 1830


David Zhuang, -- creation of electronic text.

Electronic edition 366Kb
British Women Romantic Poets Project
Shields Library, University of California, Davis, California 95616
2001
I.D. No. NortMIrene

Copyright (c) 2001, Nancy Kushigian

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Davis British Women Romantic Poets Series

I.D. No. 66
Nancy Kushigian, -- General Editor
Charlotte Payne, -- Managing Editor


Irene: a poem, in six cantos: miscellaneous poems

Northampton, Margaret Clephane Compton


Printed by Mills, Jowett, and Mills
London ,
1833

[This text was scanned from its original in the Shields Library Kohler Collection, University of California, Davis. Kohler ID no. I:921. Another copy available on microfilm as Kohler I:921mf.]


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Page [i]

IRENE,
A Poem,
IN SIX CANTOS.

MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.

LONDON:

PRINTED BY MILLS, JOWETT, AND MILLS,

BOLT-COURT, FLEET-STREET.
MDCCCXXXIII.

[NOT PUBLISHED.]


Page [ii]



Page [iii]

THE following selection from Poems by the late Lady NORTHAMPTON , has been made, with the desire of preserving for her friends, some--however inadequate--memorial. NORTHAMPTON.
Castle Ashby , 1832.


Page [iv]



Page [1]

IRENE.

CANTO I.


I.

        YE who are young, and hope for happy days,
        Ye who are fair, and deem they are your due,
        Ye who ascend Fame's barren mount for praise--
        Stand far aloof, the lay is not for you.
        Come ye, who midway on the voyage rue
        That e'er, your anchors weighed, you put to sea,
        And ye who on the grave of Fancy strew
        Cold ashes from the fires extinct that be--
Come listen to a tale of Man's inconstancy.


II.

        Ah, but for that one fault that earthy leaven,
        Man might be faultless as the angels are:
        Earth were no longer weary earth, but heaven;
        And life too dear, and death too hard to bear.
        In that same hour it enter'd Eden fair,
        When Sin, and Death, and all their train of woe,
        Burst in their fury on that hapless pair
        Who added yet this ill to all we know,
While thinking of lost bliss, beneath their load to bow.


Page 2


III.

         When mortal with immortal in one strain
         Was mingled, to make man they scarce conjoined;
         Though in the regions of the head and brain
         The clay was seven times tried, and still refined.
         But in the heart, where life's warm currents wind,
         They flow through soil unequal and impure;
         And mortal skill a spell has ne'er combined
         To make its dearest wishes firm or sure,
Or fix them in the mood for ever to endure.


IV.

        How lovely would it be, in our cold sky
        To bid the sun mount to Grenada 's height,
        And pour on fruit and flower the ecstasy
        That riots in the lands of love and light!
        How lovely would it be to seize the bright
        Arch'd rainbow, and enwreath it in your hair--
        And so it would to fix for aye the sight
        Of wandering eyes, and heart with heart to pair,
And one unchanging love through life and death to share.


V.

        Love! 'tis a heavenly sprite of heavenly birth
        Which has no fellowship with mortal clay:
        It seldom will descend to visit earth,
        But in an instant it is scar'd away.
        Or if it linger with unus'd delay,
        Received in some fond heart, a welcome guest,
        It punishes presumption by its stay,
        Till, like the phoenix in its burning nest,
Destroying and destroy'd, it blackens into rest.


Page 3


VI.

        See how poor Psyche far'd--the tale is old,
        But truer lay a minstrel never sung,
        She seiz'd the lamp, for love was ever bold,
        And high in air the haughty Cupid sprung.
        Earth, air, and sea, with her wild sorrows rung
        Ere Venus would relent, or Cupid hear:
        Till from the god the boon she scarcely wrung
        Within Hell's gates her penance-debt to clear--
Alas! 'tis still love's price, but it is bought too dear.


VII.

        Still the wing'd vision, too refined to last,
        Flies from the lamp, its magic colours gone;
        And earth grows hell, when that illusion past
        Leaves us in darkness, desolate, alone.
        Thus still are hapless mortals doom'd to groan,
        Some for the good they sought, but ne'er obtain'd;
        While, far more wretched, some are forc'd to own
        They found but poison in the fruit they gain'd,
When they, through flood and fire, to seize the branch had strain'd.


VIII.

        Some centuries ago,--no matter where,
        No matter when,--a prince and princess wise,
        Reign'd o'er their people with such virtuous care
        Their subjects deem'd them children of the skies.
        Their capitol was built in curious guise,
        I know not if by Moslem, Norse, or Greek:
        Their kingdom teem'd with flowers, and fruits, and flies,
        And like all tribes who southern language speak,
Their hearts beat warm and strong, and reason's rule was weak.


Page 4


IX.

        This prince and princess had an only child,
        The fair Irene hight, their pride and joy:
        All favouring planets on her birth-day smiled
        As though no ill her bliss could e'er destroy.
        Her brother still she call'd a lovely boy
        Who shar'd her mother's lap, her father's knee:
        And the young Florio eager to enjoy
        Rough pastimes, suited to his sex and glee,
Still yielded to the look that said, "Abide with me."


X.

        They knew not when they first began to love,
        And long had loved before they knew the name:
        Destined its blest eternity to prove
        Without a first or last, and still the same.
        When riper years and other duties came,
        And Florio learn'd the lance and sword to wield,
        To breast the surge, the generous steed to tame,
        Then must Irene learn her wish to yield,
And stay content at home, while he rode forth afield.


XI.

        And when at evening, with the setting sun,
        She with her mother stood the knights to greet,
        (When sports of arms or hunting feats were done,)
        On high balconies o'er the crowded street;
        Then, as she mark'd young Florio's noble seat,
        Checking his fiery steed the gates before,
        Her fluttering heart would fly his glance to meet,
        And when he told the day's adventures o'er,
She thought, in her delight, she could not love him more.


Page 5


XII.

        But now o'er all the land alarm was spread,
        The foe was landed and the field was ta'en:
        Each hand was arm'd, and helmetted each head,
        And all went forth for glory or for gain.
        Now might young Florio as a boy remain
        With boys and women in the emptied town;
        But with steel glove he gathers up the rein,
        And pulls with joy his iron visor down,
To show the realm his brow is worthy of a crown.


XIII.

        He rushes through the thickest of the fray
        Where an old knight was hard beset and press'd,
        Who taught the art and rules of chivalry
        To noble youths, and Florio 'mong the rest.
        Against the foe he turn'd his dauntless breast,
        Killing or wounding all that near him came;
        Braving such weapons as our first and best
        Of antiquaries scarce can tell by name.
Bladed, hook'd, crook'd, and spik'd, to murder, catch, or lame.


XIV.

        And, by the way, I've often wish'd to crave
        How Adam's sons contriv'd so many ways
        Of sending one another to their grave,
        Yet how the world such multitudes displays.
        Old armouries may well our eyes amaze;
        For in the devilish weapons there you find
        What might dispatch all mankind in three days:
        And sometimes they have seem'd so well inclin'd,
That 'tis a wonder how they ne'er have wrought their mind.


Page 6


XV.

        But women put their brains to better use,
        And turn'd them still such mischief tow'rds preventing:
        Man was led back to social life and truce,
        At their great ingenuity relenting.
        Still for each cursed gin of man's inventing,
        Ten changes of attire they would put on;
        Till, at the sight of loveliness, repenting,
        From all such wicked purpose he was won,
And dropp'd the five-edged sword, and fifty-barrell'd gun.


XVI.

        From broad to long they changed their beauteous faces
        When cross-bows sent to farther aim the dart:
        When gunpowder was found they drew their laces
        So tight, the breath seem'd ready to depart.
        And hoops, and rumps, and ruffs, on every part,
        And wigs of red or flaxen, straight or curl'd,
        And necks made white, and cheeks made red by art,
        Commemorate each engine that had hurl'd
(Wer't not for woman's wit) destruction o'er the world.


XVII.

        So much for Christians: Pagan lore discloses
        The same kind spirit busy every where.
        Some slit their ears, some bored their very noses,
        Devoted in the cause all pain to bear.
        But lest you think Irene's features rare
        Paid for the war in some unseemly hue,
        Let me describe her, innocent and fair,
        As when to meet her sire and friend she flew,
Returning from the field, and crown'd with laurels new.


Page 7


XVIII.

        Not Arethusa e'er beside her fount
        Show'd a more lovely face to that bright sky,
        When turning to Ortygia's battled mount,
        She thought of distant Elis with a sigh.
        Yet though the present joy might well supply
        Her features with the brilliance o'er them shed,
        'Twas seldom that her dark and languid eye
        Sparkled, or that along her cheek was spread
The banner bright of youth, the dye of healthful red.


XIX.

        But when the pomp within the gate appears,
        And round her father's neck her arms are thrown,
        Her cheek is flush'd, her eyes are bright with tears
        That bursting, spite of effort, would flow down.
        And ne'er the goddess of the wheaten crown
        Young Proserpine, a graver grace assumes,
        Than when in presence of th' assembled town
        Her empire o'er herself the maid resumes,
As Florio on his knee doffs his high helm and plumes.


XX.

        And she her hand held forth to bid him stand,
        And he arose, nor yet let go the hold,
        For every throbbing finger in his hand
        Said kindest welcome o'er a thousand fold.
        And while she strove to look both calm and cold,
        Her cheek still burn'd with joy's delightful glow,
        And as the crowd its waves tumultuous roll'd,
        And made the gay procession's progress slow,
More beautiful she seem'd than aught of earth below.


Page 8


XXI.

        For sorrowful or gay, her shape and mien
        Might well the Grecian chisel's art defy;
        And if her cheek in colder clime had been
        Less pale, less fire had warm'd her large black eye.
        Her cluster'd chesnut locks luxuriantly
        Divided on her polish'd forehead hung,
        Her every motion turn'd to harmony,
        And harmony's own notes were on her tongue,
Gay, and yet soft in speech, and saddening when she sung.


XXII.

        Such was Irene. Let us now draw near,
        Where the good King and Prince with loud acclaim
        Of the whole city, peasant, burgher, peer,
        Towards the palace with the ladies came.
        I said before, and said it to their shame,
        That in that country Reason's rule was weak,
        Nor do I doubt that you will think the same,
        When you have heard how very strange a freak
Now moved his Majesty to his liege town to speak.


XXIII.

        He stood upon the palace stairs and sign'd,
        And all were silent, anxious well to hear;
        When thus the worthy monarch spoke his mind;
        "My honest townsmen, and my people dear,
        "Much I rejoice on my returning here
        "To find you all are pleas'd with what I've done;
        "And I believe it will be many a year
        "Before the foe forget the fight we've won,
"Or dare against our spears again in war to run.


Page 9


XXIV.

         "They are shipp'd off, and gone: and thus we gain
         "A booty rich in precious arms and gold:
         "And straight shall all that may to me pertain
         "To the best bidders be put up and sold.
         "The money that it brings shall all be told
         "To mend the roads which much require repair;
         "And I advise you all who prizes hold
         "To be good husbands of the wealth you share,
"Nor lay it out in gauds, but in good household ware.


XXV.

        "And for that we are glad, and have much cause,
        "And the great heats are past, and weather fine,
        "Keeping our joy within good order's laws,
        "Together in the public square we'll dine.
        "We have brought home of oxen, sheep, and kine,
        "What well may furnish forth a hearty meal:
        "And in my cellars I have store of wine,
        "And gladly to your board enough will deal
"To make your hearts rejoice but not your heads to reel."


XXVI.

        Oh simple King! unmindful of your duty,
        Your crown, your dignity, your state forgot!
        To give your subjects all your lawful booty,
        Not minding your poor ministers a jot!
        Now was the moment when their heads were hot
        With loud huzzas, and public joy for peace,
        To have insisted on old claims forgot,
        And in the taxes made a large increase,
Because war patronage must on the sudden cease.


Page 10


XXVII.

         Now if the kings your neighbours should neglect
         To punish this pernicious bad example,
         Who more to royalty will pay respect,
         Or fear upon its sacred rights to trample?
         Of foolish kings we've had experience ample
         In this sad constitutionizing time;
         But not the silliest has given such a sample
         Of folly almost equal to a crime,
Unheard of and untold, in history, prose, or rhyme.


XXVIII.

        But where was then this kingdom? Greece, and Greece,
        And Grecians, oft are named: the word is wide;
        For that old-fashion'd race in their increase
        Spread from their nook o'er half the world beside.
        And the two shores Messina's straits divide
        Called themselves Magna Grecia; and Marseilles
        Still reckons it a proper theme of pride,
        That there the Grecian feature still prevails:
Though in that latter place the imagined likeness fails.


XXIX.

        The scrambling Normans next from France pour'd forth
        Their legions o'er each rich and southern field,
        And rul'd them with the sceptre of the north,
        To which the vine and rose must ever yield.
        Greeks they became, and gradual ceas'd to wield
        Their iron gear, (so luxury bewitches,)
        But though their hands grew soft, their heads unsteel'd,
        Their northern birth appear'd midst all their riches,
The women going loose, the men still wearing breeches.


Page 11


XXX.

        Then let each person please his own idea,
        And where he will my king and kingdom place:
        In Cyprus, Candia, Negropont, Morea,
        In Italy, or Sicily, or Thrace.
        But fancy not, good reader, that you'll trace
        Aught of historical in what remains:
        For if your wits will try to run a race
        With probabilities, you'll lose your pains,
To no good purpose cudgelling your learned brains.


XXXI.

        Near to the town a little quiet bay
        Retires, conceal'd by wood and rising land;
        Where the blue rippling waters still delay
        To quit th' enchantment of its shelter'd strand.
        There, at some Roman emperor's command,
        The villa once had proudly rear'd its head:
        But all is gone, save on the silver sand
        The brilliant fragments of mosaic spread,
And gleaming through the waves with azure, green, and red.


XXXII.

        Tis almost fearful to behold a place
        As lone and lovely as the haunt of fays,
        And yet upon the strand to see the trace
        That all the nothingness of pride displays.
        Nor this alone; for if your eyes you raise,
        On a smooth plat, between the wood and shore,
        A temple1 stands, a fane of other days,
        But ruin'd now, its worship long is o'er,
And Venus and her son are fled, and gods no more.


Page 12


XXXIII.

        Its circle stands on smoothest velvet sward,
        And ivies mingling with the gadding vine
        Each loosen'd stone from farther ruin guard,
        So firmly do the leafy garlands twine.
        But not when Venus still adorn'd her shrine,
        Received she vows from any lovelier guest
        Than when Irene, scarcely less divine,
        Made this delightful spot her place of rest,
And with long wreaths of flowers the ruin'd archway drest.


XXXIV.

        There, in this solitary calm retreat,
        She struck the lute, and sung her artless song;
        Passing the day's long vacant hours of heat,
        Far from the flatteries of a courtly throng.
        The wild birds love to sit the boughs among
        That canopied above her sylvan throne;
        And e'en her maidens never thought it long
        To stay till evening's lengthen'd shades came on,
And night compell'd to rise, and homewards to be gone.


XXXV.

        Soon after Florio had returned from war
        She sat retired within her temple bower;
        Her thoughts returned to evening's lingering star,
        And all the vows it heard her lover pour;
        When pressing for th' auspicious nuptial hour,
        He breath'd the vows all female hearts believe,
        And swore by every sacred thing and power
        That her fond heart he never would deceive,
Nor give her, through her life, one single cause to grieve.


Page 13


XXXVI.

        "Believe2 there's heat in snow, or chill in fire,
        "Believe these circling stars have ceased to move,
        "Believe that holy truth can be a liar,
        "But never, never doubt my constant love.
        "Not from thy sweet allegiance would I rove
        "Though Venus beckon'd me from yonder sky,
        "Nor think that earthly nymph nor powers above
        "Could give a heaven I find not in thine eye,
"And in thy love I'll live, and in thy love I'll die."


XXXVII.

        And it was true: pro tempore , 'twas true;
        Nor did he then believe that he could change;
        For to all loving lore the youth was new,
        Which at his age was neither wrong nor strange.
        He thought sincerely that in fate's wide range
        No period to such passion e'er could be:
        Nor did he guess what trifles can estrange
        The heart, nor how impossible to free
It from its native flaw, ingrain'd Inconstancy.


XXXVIII.

        His words were graven on her guileless heart,
        She heard them still and still she long'd to hear;
        And busy thought, where sadness had no part,
        Call'd forth a sigh, and scarce repress'd a tear.
        When from the thick and flowery covert near
        A sigh distinctly answer'd hers again,
        And, ere surprise had given its place to fear,
        A rustling 'mid the boughs was heard so plain
That she arose to fly, and call her maiden train.


Page 14


XXXIX.

        And as she fled, a rose-leaf from the bower
        Dropp'd on her bosom as her veil she drew
        Around her, and it seem'd some magic power
        Her steps arrested, and her accents too.
        Upon the leaf a hasty glance she threw
        For it was studded all with emeralds green,
        That quaintly trac'd a legend not so new
        As Noah's flood, yet whose strange power has been
The strongest magic spell that humankind has seen.


XL.

        "I love thee." Did she see,--or did she dream--
        A shadowy form where dark the branches close?
        Which may a man, or else a spirit seem,
        Such was the spell, which mystery round it throws.
        Till--like th'expanding of a gorgeous rose,
        That, leaf by leaf, puts all its glories on--
        So angel fair the noble vision grows,
        That, had the maiden's heart been still her own,
In the same fated hour both heart and head were gone.


XLI.

        And now, who can he be,3 th' intruding wooer
        Who came when no one call'd him? Full in sight,
        More beautiful he stood, in radiance newer
        Than the first sun flings o'er the eastern height:
        Loose, coal-black curls stood round a face of light,
        The light that gleams through crimson in the sky,
        And two wide wings of gold and purple bright
        Spread from his shoulders as in act to fly,
As though 'twere Love alone that held him Earth so nigh.


Page 15


XLII.

        "For thee alone, from heav'n to lowly earth,
        '"For thee alone," thus spoke the vision'd form,
        "I leave the radiance of my place of birth,
        "The joyous sun-beam, and the lofty storm.
        "And when rough winds thy rose bower would deform,
        "And in October tear each flower away,
        "Ten thousand Sylphs my bidding still perform
        "To chase the stern intruders from thy bay,
"And leave thee here unharm'd, perpetual Queen of May.


XLIII.

        "Think not a Prince of air his pride will bow
        "Before a haughty mortal fair to pine;
        "Nor think that any fragile mortal vow
        "Can stand comparison with love like mine.
        "Then say at once if thou wilt now resign
        "Thy mortal love, immortal bliss to share,
        "And come where e'en among our nymphs divine
        "No beauty with thine own can e'er compare,
"Queen of my heart and realm, as absolute as fair."


XLIV.

        He paus'd for answer, and she paus'd for breath,
        And said at length "her heart was giv'n away,
        "And nought could change her plighted faith till death."
        "Ah," cried the Sylph, "you know not what you say!
        " 'Tis a long time till death , and many a day
        "You may repent, if heedlessly you choose.
        "Grant to my love a little kind delay,
        "And take this rose, as pledge that thou wilt use
"Discretion in thy faith, nor from caprice refuse.


Page 16


XLV.

        "Believe me, fairest of the maids of earth,
        "Thy Florio scarce deserves a vassal's hand:
        "His heart, compar'd with thine, is nothing worth,
        "His faith too weak against a rush to stand:
        "And, wert thou now to lose thy father's land,
        "The love eternal which last night he swore
        "Would find it hard such trial to withstand;
        "But if thy venturous heart must needs explore
"Sad truth--then think of me, and scorn my suit no more.


XLVI.

        "And, if thou fearest in the air to fly,
        "And would'st not yet thy sire and mother leave,
        "Here to thy favourite bower I'll hover nigh
        "And mortal vigilance with a wish deceive."
        Then she found words;--"Vile slave! who canst believe
        "That such a wretch earth on its surface bears,
        "And dar'st to think 'tis I!" "I will relieve
        "Thee soon," he said, "from both thy rage and fears,--
"But tell me, ere I go, thine age?"--" 'Tis sixteen years."


XLVII.

He smiled: and if she fear'd his fiery glance
        When his dark eyes were drown'd in softest dew,
        How could she bear the smile that half askance,
        Half pity, and all scorn, the spirit threw?
        Then faint and fainter each bright colour grew
        As on his spreading pinions he arose;
        And as he faded into ether blue,
        Making an instant's pause, he downwards throws
(First having kiss'd it twice) the bright rejected rose.


Page 17


XLVIII.

        Her maidens met her, and the deadly pale
        That blanch'd her lips, soon call'd them all around:
        The fatal rose-leaf still hung to her veil,
        The fatal rose among her hair was bound.
        On every leaf a legend still they found,
        And every legend spoke the words of pride;
        As "Love me," "Thou art mine," "Thy head is crown'd
        "E'en with this rose, my Queen;" "False Florio," "Bride
"I hail thee;" and much more of the same kind beside.


XLIX.

        She seiz'd the flower, and leaf from leaf she tore,
        And flung it from her far into the sea.
        "Perish," she cried, "I hate thee now the more,
        "Thy flower, thy love, thy treachery, and thee!
        "And could I think one moment it might be,
        "I would not cast thy gift alone away:
        "This breast at once from life and love I'd free,
        "And leave the dwelling of this mortal clay,
"Beneath these rolling waves a broken heart to lay."


L.

        She hurried home, and on her mother's neck
        She told the story of her strange distress,
        And wept until she thought her heart would break,
        His words 'gainst Florio's honour to confess.
        " 'Tis not," she sobb'd, "that I would love him less,
        "Or trust him less, for aught that fiend can do;
        "But if each reason you had heard him press
        "To prove that Florio never could be true,
"You'd know it was a fiend, believe and pity too."


Page 18


LI.

        The wond'ring Queen could credit scarce her ears
        And question'd o'er each damsel of the train,
        And yet so very strange the whole appears,
        That every answer made the facts less plain.
        "Fairies, we know, have been, and may again,"
        She wisely said, "but let us to the King,
        "His wisdom may this mystery explain
        "Of flying men, who, lighting from the wing,
"Disturbing quiet peace, so much confusion bring."


LII.

        The worthy king was grievously surpris'd
        When maids and mistress full confession make,
        And, though of easy credence, still surmis'd
        The possibility of some mistake.
        A man with wings! might not his daughter take
        Some other object for this winged man?
        She was in love, and saw, whilst scarce awake,
        Some rover with a cloak, some gull, some swan,--
Or, 'twas a woman's whim, and fathom that who can.


LIII.

        But since her brain was so diseas'd for love
        'Twere best on all accounts to end it soon,
        And every chance of mischief to remove:
        Moreover, since their marriage was a boon
        That all the realm desir'd, that afternoon
        He sent for Florio, and inform'd him straight,
        That ere the waning of another moon,
        It was his will, for reasons good of state,
That the long-purpos'd marriage should no longer wait.


Page 19


LIV.

        Then, there was gladness over tower and town:
        The old rejoic'd they liv'd to see the day;
        The young all wish'd such lot might be their own,
        A maid so blooming, or a youth so gay.
        And they, the cause of all this glad array,
        (A case but rarely seen,) were happy too;
        But she would ne'er alone an instant stay,
        Nor suffer Florio to escape her view:
She said she might have dreamt, but fear'd to dream anew.


LV.

        The vows, which half my readers have heard spoken
        Profusely eloquent, he vow'd away;
        The other half, most like, the like have broken,
        And verse were wasted such old tales to say.
        They, like the bright last tints of closing day,
        Or like the dolphin on the dry deck lying.
        Or like th' Æolian harp that sinks the lay
        Lower and lower, tremulously sighing,
So bright, so sweet, are loveliest in their dying .


LVI.

        At last the day was come, the wreaths prepar'd,
        The incense smok'd, the lighted altars glow'd;
        The order all arrang'd, the duties shar'd,
        The feast made ready, and the alms bestow'd:
        In every street with wine the fountains flow'd,
        From every window silken draperies hung;
        And last, from out the palace portals rode
        The glittering pomp, the joyful crowd among,
While caps were flung in air, and merry bells were rung.


Page 20


LVII.

        Then midst the throng appear'd a blooming page,
        Leading a milk-white steed all trapp'd with gold:
        His air was grave, his mien demure and sage,
        As though some tale of weight he would unfold.
        And with a bearing, modest, firm, and bold,
        Before the King he reverent bent his knee;
        Then with proud grace his embassage he told,
        How the fair steed a wedding gift should be,
If the great Princess deign'd accept such courtesy.


LVIII.

        "For he, most gracious Lord, your cousin King,
        "Though ill at ease, and bed-rid many a day,
        "So that he cannot come his gifts to bring,
        "Sends the kind greetings that he may not say.
        "And the fair Princess must not say him nay,
        "But the white steed to-day her palfrey make:
        "So gentle is his mood that lady gay
        "May fearless in her hand the bridle take,--
"With this long chain of pearls, for her old kinsman's sake."


LIX.

        " 'Tis well," the King replied, "and very kind:
        "Arise, good youth, and lead the steed beside;
        "A fairer palfrey never king design'd
        "In nuptial pomp to bear a royal bride.
        "And though we are set forth, yet not denied
        "His kind request, fair messenger, shall be:
        "And instant when the marriage knot is tied,
        "Returning home, the people all shall see
"Her ride the milk-white steed, the bridle led by thee."


Page 21


LX.

        And from his knee the long-hair'd youth arose,
        And o'er his arm he threw the bridle rein,
        And onward with the bridal pomp he goes
        The brightest spot of all the glittering train.
        He would not enter, but would still remain
        Where each dismounted at the temple's gate,
        And when the menials spoke, no word again
        He answer'd, and upon him took such state,
That all began to wonder, and the most to hate.


LXI.

        He lean'd his back against the snowy steed
        Whose long embroider'd trappings swept the ground,
        And of the whisper'd wonder took no heed
        That in low tones began to circle round.
        As though his mind revolv'd some thought profound,
        His eyes upon the earth were downward bent;
        His dark and pencil'd brows contracted frown'd,
        At once resolv'd all converse to prevent,
And freedom to repel, and question to resent.


LXII.

        At last from out the porch returning, pour'd
        The assembled court, rejoic'd the knot was tied,
        And, leaning on the arm of her new lord,
        The star of all the pomp, the blushing bride.
        The page, advancing with a step of pride,
        Threw the pearl chain the princess' neck around,
        And, ere his boldness could be well denied,
        He lightly lifted her from off the ground,
And set her on the steed, and look'd defiance round.


Page 22


LXIII.

        Then Florio struck his hilt, and redden'd deep,
        And bit his lip and seiz'd the bridle rein:--
        "And if this page no better measure keep"
        He thought " 'twere base my anger to restrain.
        "But from my hand the rein he shall not gain
        "Let our good king have promis'd as he may;"--
        But, scarce the thought had darted through his brain,
        When on the croupe, light as an elfin fay,
The page sprang up, and cried "Away, my steed, away!"


LXIV.

        Two wings from 'neath the trailing foot-cloth rose,
        The princess scream'd as high they mount in air,
        But all so swift the sailing courser goes
        That help and hope were none, and all despair.
        The monarch tore his robes, the queen her hair,
        "Mount every knight, and forth!" the bridegroom cries.
        And long before the readiest could prepare,
        Firm in his stirrups set behold him rise,
And spurring like a madman, through the gate he flies.


LXV.

        And, one by one, from bow like arrow sent,
        Knight after knight the city gateway clear'd;
        And after them, all with the same intent,
        A crowd worse mounted spurring hard appear'd;
        And next a motley mass (so much endear'd
        The princess was to all) pour'd o'er the plain:
        And thousands ran on foot, as though they fear'd
        That shame with every laggard would remain
Unless they show'd their zeal, though all believ'd it vain.


Page 23


LXVI.

        But the good king and queen in piteous plight
        Sat on the steps, by sorrow's weight oppress'd.
        She rav'd and wept till evening's fading light,
        He sunk his head in silence on his breast;
        And when his anxious friends their fear express'd
        Of the night damps, and made remonstrance mild,
        He rais'd his head, and still th' inquirer press'd
        To ride--to ride and leave him! offering wild
His town, his provinces, his kingdom for his child.


LXVII.

        Now, gentle reader, close the book awhile,
        The muse has first grown dull and then ta'en flight;
        And could you view the scene for many a mile,
        You would agree that the coy dame was right.
        High mountains close around us; on each height
        Some scatter'd pines make head against the snow:
        The ground is patter'd all with mud and white,
        The flowers and bushes seem afraid to grow,
And the chill'd river's wave has scarcely strength to flow.


LXVIII.

        And yet that river is th' Adigé! this
        The merry month of May, the nurse of flowers!
        But May we've left behind in realms of bliss,
        And blossoms thrive not on a road like ours.
        Above the dark ravine the rain-cloud lours,
        And all is comfortless, and bleak, and bold:
        And, ere the storm its icy burden pours,
        I haste to guard my fingers from the cold,
And high o'er breast and chin my trusty cloak to fold.


Page [24]


Page 25

CANTO II.


I.

        Within a darksome wood, when evening fell,
        Without a hope or track he might pursue,
        Poor Florio tried in vain his way to tell,
        And check'd his rein, uncertain what to do.
        He had rid hard, to the direction true
        Where his lost bride had disappear'd from sight,
        But long agone she'd vanish'd from his view,
        Baffling the speed of mortal horse and wight,
And both were now exhausted, and 'twas dark midnight.


II.

        And he dismounted, girths and bit to loose,
        And on the ground his weary length threw down,
        And tears, that seem'd wrung from his heart's life-juice,
        Following long deep-drawn sobs, his visage drown.
        He had good reason, that you all must own,
        The cup of joy dash'd from his lip so near;
        And he was young, in anguish, and alone,
        With no observer of his misery near
To call him love-sick boy, and scorn the natural tear.


Page 26


III.

        "Oh earth," he cried, "ope wide some central cave!--
        "Oh heaven, send down thy lightnings through the air!
        "Strike me blind, senseless, sorrowless to the grave!
        "Aught, aught but this, 'tis more than I can bear.--
        "Oh my Irene, gentle, kind, and fair,--
        "My own, my lost, for ever, ever fled!
        "If yet thou livest, call upon Despair
        "To guide thee to the path I soon must tread,
"And join me once again among the quiet dead!"


IV.

        Then, as another gushing flood of grief
        More plenteously upon the damp moss fell,
        His bursting heart began to feel relief,
        For none can break outright that weep so well.
        First grief is bitterest, that we all can tell;
        The unblunted nerves in pain more wildly throb:
        Yet in first youth resides a latent spell
        That of its mortal sting the snake can rob,
And gently calm to peace the heart-convulsing sob.


V.

        In short, he rav'd and cried himself to sleep,
        At first oft waking with a fearful start;
        Till gradually unbroken slumbers deep
        Spread soothing poppies o'er his aching heart.
        And yet, though sorrow may with sense depart,
        Leaving the youthful bosom free from pain,
        'Tis paid for at the waking hour, when dart
        A host of shapeless terrors through the brain,
That one by one resume their form and place again.


Page 27


VI.

        But let us now among the sailing clouds
        Trace lost Irene to her lover's hall,
        Where with a powerful spell his prey he shrouds,
        By sylphs with thousand wings preserv'd from fall.
        Not like the hours4 that dancing one and all
        Follow Apollo's car the roof along,
        Whom though good flesh and blood, and plump, and tall,
        Convention, Guido's art, and usage long,
Place on the morning mist, and think it footing strong.


VII.

        And, when you see them look so highly pleas'd,
        Frisking with various attitude and grace
        Around the car, where with a hue diseas'd,
        Apollo shows his meagre yellow face,
        You wonder why they chose so bad a place,
        Or why he did not in his shop prepare
        A gentle cordial draught to mend his case,
        And keep at home, till with good meat and care
He safely might have brav'd the cooling morning air.


VIII.

        He was but little worth, that same Apollo,
        Mean, fine, and selfish as the veriest beau:
        And though the Olympian set his lyre would follow,
        A different judgment seem'd in vogue below.
        Sure of success, superior skill to show,
        To gain a prize from mortals he would strive,
        And when he lost it, lost his temper so,
        Jealous lest any art save his should thrive,
He whips me out his knife, and flays the man alive.


Page 28


IX.

        His sister Dian, when she felt afraid
        Her worship might depart to grace another,
        Gave perfect sample of a cross old maid,
        And hated Niobe, the prosp'rous mother
        Of a fair race; and then her cruel brother
        She call'd to aid, still eager to do ill,
        Nor could the wicked pair their vengeance smother,
        Dart after dart in fury launching still,
Till fourteen lovely boys and blooming girls they kill.


X.

        I never see the groupe around me lying,
        And think of their destruction, one by one,
        In every attitude of beauty dying,
        And the poor mother turning fast to stone;
        Without rejoicing that Diana's own
        Concerns went cross, and 'spite of all her care,
        That young Endymion ne'er was found alone
        And waking, when along the midnight air
She bow'd her proud heart down, her passion to declare.


XI.

        My sylph who carried on his suits far better,
        Had never met with a repulse till then.
        Knowing that woman's will by force to fetter
        Ne'er sped the wooing or of sylphs or men,
        He thought of how he best might please her when
        Some day propitious to his love might rise,
        And meantime kept him distant from her ken;
        But made her a pavilion in the skies,
Gayer than e'er was seen on earth by mortal eyes.


Page 29


XII.

        Ten thousand sylphs their wings together bind,
        Forming a plain to float upon the air,
        Green, azure, purple, gold were intertwin'd,
        And every tint that decks the bow was there.
        Right o'er the midst a group of lories bear
        With birds of Paradise a flowery wreath:
        The weight around their shining necks they share,
        Seeming to live on the perfume they breathe,
From which long garlands hang, and form a tent beneath.


XIII.

        Not such the garlands of the opera stage,
        The wither'd product of a hoarded store,
        As lank as groundsel fading on a cage,
        Or box-wreaths drooping o'er a chapel door
        When the saint's feast is past a month or more;
        But fresh, and full of real sap and bloom:
        Thick twin'd together, crossing o'er and o'er,
        A wilderness of every sweet perfume,
Without, all warmth and light, within, all shade and gloom.


XIV.

        There sat Irene on the floor of wings,
        Stunn'd and confounded, but no whit subdued:
        Firmly resolv'd that nought Time's changing brings
        Shall damp her love or bend her fortitude.
        Her hair, dishevell'd in her voyage rude,
        She firmly binds and braids above her brows,
        The chain of pearls, with fear and hatred view'd,
         She breaks and casts away, and round her throws
Her bridal veil, and from her seat majestic rose.


Page 30


XV.

        "Hear me," she cried, "thou fiend, who though unseen,
        "Rejoicing in my wrongs must hover near;
        "By all the hopes which crush'd this morn have been,
        "By all my love, by all my hate I swear,
        "Unless this instant thou thy steed prepare
        "To bear me back, my prison's bolts I'll draw;
        "My life, despoil'd of all that made it dear,
        "And which I value less than rush or straw,
"Refusing food and drink, must cease, by nature's law."


XVI.

        And down she laid her, covering face and head,
        Calm, silent, and resign'd, as if to die:
        Her fix'd resolve was ta'en, her oath was said,
        Dead or alive, she knew her freedom nigh.
        Invisible the sylph stood watching by,
        To see what yet might chance to change her will,
        But not a tear, nor ev'n a stifled sigh,
        Betray'd or fear or change--so perfect still
She lay, that not more fix'd a corpse its grave could fill.


XVII.

        Perhaps you wish to judge aright the feat,
        And know how long the maid her hunger bore:
        Reckon how long yourself can fast from meat;
        'Twas just that period, adding twelve hours more.
        And if her state of mind you pass not o'er,
        It was great proof of strength to fast so well;
        For grief devours5 a more abundant store
        Than health,--but grief so agoniz'd and fell
That few have suffer'd it and liv'd the tale to tell.


Page 31


XVIII.

        At last he spoke. "Irene, let me hear
        "But one short word:--thou hast not silence sworn;--
        "Ask what thou wilt,--thou know'st I am not here
        "To pay thy hatred back with hate or scorn.
        "I will not now remember thou hast torn
        "My rose, and call'd me fiend, and treacherous fay;
        "Or, when within thy bower that fatal morn
        "I only begg'd a little kind delay,
"That e'en to such small boon thy stubborn heart said nay.


XIX.

        "Dost thou not answer?--Dost thou not believe
        "That if I cross thee, 'tis for love alone?
        "At any cost thy sufferings I'd relieve,
        "And joy to save thy woe and bear my own.
        "One word--vouchsafe one word--I ask but one,
        "To say that once there might have been a time,
        "When, if that wretched boy thou ne'er hadst known,
        "Thou wouldst not thus have hated as a crime
"The love that would have thron'd thee in the clouds sublime."


XX.

        He rais'd the veil that cover'd o'er her brow,
        And still she mov'd not, but each open lid
        Such rays of hate and scorn upon him throw,
        That the poor sylph had best have left them hid.
        Feign'd love deceives; feign'd hatred never did;
        Nor could he for a moment doubt her eye:
        "May every power the atrocity forbid,"
        He said, "that here for hunger thou shouldst die!
" 'Tis love thy hate must meet, till love again reply."


Page 32


XXI.

        He left her as the sun went down the west,
        And brought the steed caparison'd for flight:
        The orb soon darken'd in his hall of rest,
        The evening star began to show his light.
        The gorgeous sun-set faded fast to night,
        The pale rose tints were lingering westward still:
        "Turn here," he said," unveil thy sullen sight
        "And see my haste thy wishes to fulfil;
"Following to yon dull globe a stubborn beauty's will."


XXII.

        She rais'd her veil, and with a fearless eye
        Mounted the winged steed, and seiz'd the rein:
        He spread his pinions on the pale bright sky[6] ,
        Himself more white than snow on Lapland's plain.
        And as they left the tent, the sylphid train
        (Unbound the spell that held them all confined)
        Burst forth rejoic'd their liberty to gain,
        And wildly sporting in the soft night wind,
Like many-coloured fires, their mazy dance entwin'd.


XXIII.

        The snowy steed, the maiden's bridal white,
        More pure than lilies gather'd in the dew,
        Sailing along the darkening fields of night,
        Left far behind the wayward wandering crew;
        And dark and darker as the heavens grew
        So fast and faster onward still they fly,
        Till, giddy grown the deep abyss to view
        Above, around, beneath, of endless sky,
She downward bent her head, and clos'd each reeling eye.


Page 33


XXIV.

        And ever and anon hot vapours gush'd
        Upon their path, sulphureous, dense, and dun;
        And, scarce escap'd from them, cold currents rush'd
        Fresh from the northern ice their course to run.
        In distance far, alternate lost and won,
        At last the ocean waves were heard to roar--
        But ere the maid had well to hope begun
        That not far distant lay the friendly shore,
The sound fell far behind, and then was heard no more.


XXV.

        The attentive Sylph observ'd and sooth'd her woe;
        "Not yet," he said, "our goal we reach or see:
        "The wingless sons of earth can never know
        "How many worlds, how many deeps there be.
        "The murmur we have heard rose from a sea
        " That breaks its billows on no earthly strand;
        "And the sweet gale, which never before thee
        "Hath mortal breath'd, blows from that unknown land
"Where ev'n my power is vain a dwelling to command.


XXVI.

        "Oft on the wing I pause and hover near,
        "The air of that mysterious place to breathe,
        "And the sweet melody entranc'd to hear
        "That rises high the spreading trees beneath.
        "The harmony would win the dart from Death,
        "Could Death approach the citadel of joy:
        "But all unfading is the amaranth wreath,
        "Blooming where cold and frost can ne'er annoy,
"Nor locust tribes consume, nor palmer-worm destroy.


Page 34


XXVII.

        "Along the tranquil shores the deep green woods
        "Cast their bright blossoms on the rippling wave,
        "And gem the bosom of the glassy floods
        "With sweets your southern summer never gave.
        "And gushing gently from each coral cave,
        "The waters murmur slow and soft along
        "To heavenly music while the beach they lave,
        "As though that planet's joy were all too strong
"To rest within the heart, and sprang to light in song.


XXVIII.

        "I know not how they win such blest abode;
        " 'Tis nought to me nor do I care to know:
        "But though with liquid fire were pav'd the road,
        "It were small hindrance to such rest to go.
        "And oft when I have seen them wandering slow
        "Along the margin of that deep calm sea,
        "The sight would almost cause a tear to flow,
        "(Could spirits weep,) that such a bliss can be,
"And clos'd, I know not why, 'gainst elfins wild like me.


XXIX.

        "For whether they are gliding through the sweets
        "That in their paradise luxuriant spread,
        "Or when th' united band at evening meets
        "On the smooth beach, or on the mountain's head,
        "Still hand in hand their various path they tread.
        "And, loving all, each seems more bound to one;
        "Their mutual wish by strong affection led
        "Not ev'n in crowds can find a joy alone--
''The will, the life of two, to one existence grown.


Page 35


XXX.

        "The race, for this their lot, I almost hate,
        "So blest beyond my own for aye to be--
        ''For constant love is not within my fate,
        "Nor were it well bestow'd on one like me.
        "We of the air may love a century,
        "Or days, or hours, or years, some less, some more:
        "But then the lightness of our ancestry
        "Will show its nature, spread its wings and soar,
"And all our ties dissolve, like birds' when spring is o'er.


XXXI.

        "And nought within our radiant star is new,
        "The immortal beauty lists the immortal swain,
        "Without that perfect soul, accorded true,
        "Whose element is joy, as man's is pain.
        "Thus our wild natures cut from both remain,
        "Restless and reckless, hopeless, helpless still,
        "With nought to love, and nought to lose or gain,
        "Possess'd of power to compass all we will,
"Save joys we cannot taste, and Death which cannot kill."


XXXII.

        "I pity," said the maid, "nor hate thee now--
        ''Thy doom is cheerless, differing far from ours;
        "For ev'n eternal summer's brilliant glow
        "Would long for autumn's winds and winter's showers.
        "And that same Death which all our kind devours,
        "Brings no appalling image to my breast,
        "For though my path was strew'd with sweetest flowers
        "Till lately, still I never felt distress'd
"Save from the fear to live when others went to rest.


Page 36


XXXIII.

        "And surely when thy speech so true can tell
        "How wretchedly the lonely heart must beat,
        "Thou wilt not act so ill and feel so well,
        "And doom us ne'er again on earth to meet."
        "Fair lady," said the Sylph, "keep fast your seat;
        "Your swerving here is dangerous; for though nigh
        "To the dull earth,--and death's a sure retreat,--
        "I trow you would not wish down from the sky
"To fall, a mangled mass, on some sharp rock to lie."


XXXIV.

        The many voic'd and hoarsely murmuring sea
        Once more in distance broke upon the ear,
        Until the waters seem'd so near to be
        That when she look'd she could no longer fear.
        With slanting wing descending, down they steer
        O'er a rough sea, an iron coast that laves:
        High barren rocks of human vestige clear
        In creeks and inlets frown above the waves,
Where never boatman lands and never anchor saves.


XXXV.

        High up the rocks a cavern's mouth is hid
        By oleander shrubs that fringe the door:
        The steed ascended to the place unbid,
        And lighting softly on the sandy floor
        Clos'd his white wings, his airy journey o'er.
        The Sylph along a gallery led the way
        Cut in the living rock, where, long before,
        The inhabitants of earth had ceased to stray--
Admitting from afar the dubious light of day.


Page 37


XXXVI.

        Emerging to the light they reach a spot
        Prepar'd in haste the Princess to receive,
        Where not a means of pleasure was forgot,
        Could but the sad and lonely cease to grieve.
        'Twas ruinous and vast, and to retrieve
        Its pristine state, had ta'en too long a time;
        So the light son of air, who, I believe,
        Could work no miracles in stone and lime,
Had deck'd it from the birds of every realm and clime.


XXXVII.

        It was an area circular and wide,6

[Referent changed in manuscript hand to read 7 in original printed edition.]


        With smooth green turf all o'er the centre spread,
        Surrounded with high rocks on every side
        Where the wild birds long undisturb'd had bred,
        Till man first seiz'd it, when these natives fled
        Before the circling audience, which made flow
        Blood both of man and beast on purpose fed:
        But the wild birds had repossess'd it now
By the sole imprescriptive right earth's tribes can show.


XXXVIII.

        And what was once the marble corridor
        Long stripp'd, was made a feather-tap'stried way;
        And where the consuls sat, th' arena o'er,
        Was now a tent with thousand colours gay.
        And the wild vine with many a trembling spray
        Hung from each rent, and the bright yellow bloom
        Of coronilla, that ne'er fails to lay
        Its golden garlands o'er a people's tomb,
Disguising with its flowers the desolate city's doom.


Page 38


XXXIX.

        "Now thou'rt on earth, and must thy promise keep,"
        So said the Sylph, "to take some needful food:
        "And then within that dark alcove to sleep
        "Will bring thy feelings to more tranquil mood."
        "Alas," she cried, "that one who seems so good
        "Should yet so cruel, so relentless be!
        "While I would purchase with my dearest blood
        "That, since my mother I no more may see,
"She might be told I live, and live unharm'd by thee."


XL.

        He turn'd and pull'd a rose-leaf from the bush,
        And drew a feather from his drooping wing.
        "Write here," he said, "with this red drop, and blush
        "That taunt unjust against me still to bring.
        "Rather call cruel that cold wayward thing
        "Thy heart, which answers not affection true:
        "And obstinate its love persists to fling
        "Away, on one to whom no love is due,
"Because accursed chance first gave him to thy view."


XLI.

        And she did blush; half anger and half shame
        Redden'd her cheek, to think that would she tell
        Her mother how to earth again she came,
        'Twas with his blood the legend she must spell.
        "Not for myself," she thought, "a pang so fell
        "Would I endure as blisters o'er my brow--
        "For all the various chances that befell
        "Seem small to this, my indignant heart to bow,
"Thanking for boons 'tis his to keep or to bestow."


Page 39


XLII.

        She took the pen, and with that sanguine dew
        A fairy billet wrote the leaf along:
        "Mother, Irene lives, and lives for you--
        "Weep not, but hope, my f--ather."--" 'Tis not long,"

[Initial "f" in father changed to "F" in manuscript hand in original printed edition.]


        The Sylph observ'd, "yet full of meaning strong;--
        "But mean it what it will, thy billet goes,
        "Ev'n should I not that blush interpret wrong."
        "Read," said the maid: the leaf to him she throws--
He smil'd, and up in air the quiv'ring rose-leaf blows.


XLIII.

        It flew a month, then fell. We'll follow it,
        And see what in the court the muse discovers:
        My guess for one it miss'd would twenty hit:
        The men were hunting place, the women lovers.
        The King by slow degrees his strength recovers:
        The Queen still weeps whene'er the thought recurs
        Of poor Irene's wedding-day, and covers
        With handkerchief her eyes while memory stirs
The image of the lost, alas, no longer hers!--


XLIV.

        And Florio, after his long tedious ride,
        Had turn'd his bridle round, and e'en gone home:
        For, till some trace his hopeless march might guide,
        It was lost labour farther on to roam.
        Still in sad musings by the ocean foam
        Where through the caverns chafe the waves, he strays;
        And still, as though he hop'd good news would come
        Over the sea, till latest eve he stays,
And on the lonely shore his ling'ring step delays.


Page 40


XLV.

        One night when o'er the air deep darkness came,
        In the south-west he saw a waving light,
        Of many colours was its varied flame,
        Drawing along a train of sparkles bright.
        And, why he could not guess, he watch'd it quite
        Extinct, in hopes again 't would re-appear;
        And late and later ev'ry following night
        Upon the beach remain'd till morn was near,
Nor would forsake the watch, that seem'd his grief to cheer.


XLVI.

        He show'd the Queen the place and then confided
        He meant to journey to the farthest west,
        And though no certain hope his wand'rings guided
        Until 'twas done he could not sleep or rest.
        "Then go," she said, "and be thy voyage blest
        "Beyond our hopes, my son, thy instinct good!"--
        Scarce had she spoke the words, when from its nest
        A nightingale from out the neighbouring wood
Flew with the written leaf and dropp'd it where they stood.


XLVII.

        And Florio caught the downward fluttering leaf,
        And as he read the words, the sudden beam
        Of instant thrilling joy succeeding grief,
        Turn'd for a moment life's arrested stream.
        He gave it to the Queen, who with a scream
        Of glad astonishment beheld the words;
        And Florio starting as from fitful dream,
        Scarce to the court's farewell an hour accords,
Or to prepare the ship the needful time affords.


Page 41


XLVIII.

        And soon the gallant vessel loos'd her sails
        And skimm'd majestic o'er the azure deep;
        Propitious fortune gave her favouring gales,
        And south south-west their destin'd course they keep.
        A wild-goose chase; but sometimes with a leap
        Such folly hits where wisdom's baffled most.
        And thus towards the place direct they sweep,
        Where on the desert and forsaken coast
The sad Irene pin'd, to mortal knowledge lost.


XLIX.

        The tall rocks frowning o'er the subject wave[8]

[Referent numeral 8 lacking in original printed text; added in manuscript hand to this copy.]


        Repuls'd approach, and warn'd the ship away;
        But some true instinct unto Florio gave
        A wish to land and seek the nearest bay:
        And to the east some few short miles there lay
        Havens that twenty fleets might harbour well;
        And there he landed, minded, come what may,
        To reach the rocks where first his fortunes fell,
And search their every nook, despite of charm or spell.


L.

        Round was the quiet bay where now they steer:[9]

[Original referent numeral 7 changed in manuscript hand to read 9 in this copy of original printed text.]


        Bright too as that bright jewel of sea-green
        Which on fair lady's bosom sparkles clear,
        By mortal jewellers call'd aiguemarine.
        One giant mountain forward seemed to lean
        To guard its basin when the west winds blow,
        And on the other side a varied scene
        So richly spreads, that scarce the eye can know
Where most to rest admiring, nigh, or high, or low.


Page 42


LI.

        For hills on hills of every form and shape
        Rise o'er each other, till among the skies
        In rocky peaks their tops from sight escape,
        Gathering around them every cloud that flies.
        To some the purple thyme their tint supplies,
        Some glow in yellow broom, and some blush deep
        With oleander, while with threefold dyes,
        Convolvuli o'er flow'ring myrtles creep,
And rosy, white, or azure, through the branches peep.


LII.

        A wilderness of Eden such as once
        Bloom'd round fair Enna, till reforming Ceres
        Came with hedge shears and clipp'd them for the nonce,
        To substitute a waste the gazer wearies.
        And now by her improving touches, dreary is
        The view around, all corn, and corn, and corn;
        Save where green peas and beans in sober series
        Grow rank and lush along the plain forlorn,
Which neither flow'ret decks, nor forest trees adorn.


LIII.

        And there she farm'd, proud of the desolation
        Which among Nature's beauteous wilds she made:
        And temples rais'd to her by all the nation
        From Enna's steep the waving crop survey'd.
        But while from field to field the dame display'd
        Her wheaten sceptre o'er each thick-sol'd hind,
        The lovely Proserpine from home had stray'd,
        And as no mortal e'er the maid could find,
The blame was laid on Pluto, and the search resign'd.


Page 43


LIV.

        Perhaps some wicked sylph had done the deed,
        Like him whom now Sir Florio seeks to trace,
        As landing in the bay with anxious speed
        Straight to the western rocks he urged his pace.
        And there, in very sooth, was hid the place
        Where his fair bride in secret prison lay,
        And sylphs, to raise one smile upon her face,
        Three nights before had tried those gambols gay,
Which serv'd along the skies their hiding to betray.


LV.

        On for the rocks he walk'd, where many a mound
        Of short green sward behind the range extends,
        And to a labyrinth transforms the ground,
        With devious path that round in circles bends.
        In vain the maze the charmed spot defends;
        He takes the sun for mark, and holds right on,
        Till the old ruin'd wall an entrance lends
        Towards her whom heaven and earth had made his own,
To whom his love was guide when other guide was none.


LVI.

        Within the arena's round he cautious stepp'd,
        And saw the tapestry of feathers spread,
        And slowly on from shrub to shrub he crept
        Lest hidden foes might lurk, or hear his tread.
        And step by step he mov'd in hope and dread,
        To where the tent display'd its drapery gay;
        And there Irene from the sun had fled
        That still in evening burn'd with slanting ray,
And slumbering on her couch of flowers unconscious lay.


Page 44


LVII.

        Unconscious of the happiness so near--
        Unconscious that though near 'twas distant still:
        Spar'd all the agonies of hope and fear,
        And vain contention 'gainst her tyrant's will.
        For from the clouds that high o'erhung the hill
        The Sylph with eyes intent was watching keen;
        And just as Florio, dreaming nought of ill
        Was near, and, shaded by the tangled screen,
Crept near the tent, he rose, as he a bird had been.


LVIII.

        And up and upward, struggling, still he rose,
        Striving to stick to earth, but all in vain:
        High o'er the mountain-peaks in air he goes,
        And sight and breath are lost in dizzy pain.
        Yet still he flies above the azure main
        As if the setting sun he would pursue,
        Till lowering on the sudden he can gain
        Sight of a spot of rock where sat some few
Black divers with long bills, and many a grey curlew.


LIX.

        Down he alighted on his feet, amaz'd,
        While screaming, all the sea-birds rose and flew;
        Around in speechless wonderment he gaz'd,
        And no occasion of his flight could view.
        Till slowly on his sight a vision grew
        Which took the form he hated most to see,
        Though all so airy, that transparent through
        Shone the bright azure of the sparkling sea--
And back he drew as far as on the rock might be.


Page 45


LX.

        The Sylph malicious eyed him as he stood,
        And laugh'd and shook his wings to see his plight.
        "You must excuse," he said, "this ill-timed mood,
        "And pardon me the hurry of your flight.
        "I grieve immensely for your cause of fright,
        "But could you stand a moment in my place
        "You would forgive me, if politeness, 'spite
        "Of every effort, has not had the grace
"Gravely to look on that long, scar'd, disastrous face."


LXI.

        "Plunge me at once into the rolling wave,"
        Indignant Florio cried, "thou fiend of hell!
        "Thou canst not pierce the darkness of the grave,
        "Secure from sorcerer's charm and demon's spell.
        " 'Twere far more merciful than here to tell
        "The burning hours, till hunger's raging pain
        "Like a rough jailer, opes the prison fell,
        "And leaves my bones to bleach in wind and rain,
"While weeping friends shall wait my promis'd sails in vain."


LXII.

        "Indeed," the Sylph replied, "you much misjudge,
        "I am not half so wicked as I seem;
        "Nor yet to soothe your angry grief shall grudge,
        "Although of my intents so ill you deem.
        "So come along!"--With that more swift than steam
        Impels the rumbling flappers of the deep
        Up in the air he goes, and till the beam
        Of Phoebus sinks, and birds begin their sleep,
Still westward westward ho! their airy course they keep.


Page 46


LXIII.

        And high as soaring o'er the deep they pass
        A noble continent they coast along;
        The sea unruffled like a mirror glass
        Clos'd round a speck, that rising black among
        The lonely waters, seem'd a fortress strong,
        Where pirate hordes had form'd an eyrie nest,
        Whence they might sally forth on errands wrong,
        And catch th' unwary in their hours of rest,
And robbing, kill or spare, whiche'er their whim thought best.


LXIV.

        And down they lighted on the rocky spire
        That seem'd with shiver'd peak to brave the skies:
        "Here," said the Sylph, "thou mayst at ease admire
        "The heavenly bodies as they set and rise.
        "For one man's lodging 'tis of ample size;
        "The empty tower will shelter thee from heat,
        "And many a wholesome shell-fish round it lies
        "Which will supply thee with a savoury meat,
"And rain will give thee drink, providing all complete."


LXV.

        "Detested wretch," cried Florio, "would I knew
        "Fit terms to curse thee, that might mildew bring
        "To pierce thy scarce corporeal substance through,
        "And blast and blister either tyrant wing!"--
        "Scorn'st thou thy lodging then? If I should fling
        "Thee in the sea, 'twere but thy just desert;
        "Thus on my gentle patience trespassing,
         "Deem'st thou not that I can myself assert,
"Though now thy childish spleen my frolic mood divert?"


Page 47


LXVI.

        Thus spoke the Sylph--while Florio silent stood,
        Gazing, enrag'd though trembling, on the sea--
        ''Aye," he continued, "calm thy fiery blood,
        "Nor with keen curses make thy tongue so free.
        "I have but serv'd thee in the same degree
        "That you, earth's princes, deal--then why complain?
        "And could I kill a wretched worm like thee,
        " 'Twere more convenient than from mount to main
"And main to mount, to bear thee o'er the deeps again.


LXVII.

        "Here on this rock, a better man than e'er
        "Thou wert or wilt be, pass'd the livelong day,
        "Till days fulfill'd the month, and months the year,
        "And years and years roll'd on their weary way.
        "And for his crime, it was the same, they say,
        "That hemlock drugg'd for him, the King of Mind,
        "Who died because thy fellow brutes would slay
        "The wisest and the best of all his kind:--
"His name were lost on thee, unletter'd, coarse, and blind!"


LXVIII.

        With that he seiz'd him in his angry clutch,
        And shook him till his senses reel'd and fled:
        And then, lest he had shaken him too much,
        He plump'd him in the sea, thrice overhead.
        And next across the wave he northwards led,
        Not as before, with wings that floating swung;
        But like an arrow from the cross-bow sped,
        He, whizzing swift as thought, through ether sprung,
And in a dark deep hole, his senseless burden flung.


Page 48


LXIX.

        Now this same hole, a very curious hole,
        A story hath, on which if I should dwell,
        The tuneful numbers to such length would roll
        As far too much this canto's size would swell.
        Here let us stop then: and 'tis quite as well,
        For I am tir'd and doubtless so are you;
        And 'twere great shame to do, and worse to tell,
        That I upon a field so fresh and new,
With very weariness my gentle reader slew.


Page 49

CANTO III.


I.

        I made a vow: and now I see 'twas wrong--
        Wishing that I could tell thee, gentle wight,
        Who porest o'er this legend true and long,
        Both names and dates which would convince thee quite:
        But, unto both I bear a mortal spite,
        Seeing what sharp rebukes poor authors catch,
        Who, proving facts with all their strength and might,
        Most curiously refitting patch to patch
Of Time's sad wrecks, can ne'er the critic's cavils match.


II.

        Therefore, without a date, or name, you must
        Be pleas'd to know, that once there was a queen,
        So wise, so merciful, and yet so just,
        That since her day none other like has been.
        Some of her subjects with a peevish spleen
        O'erlooking their own interests, dar'd to think
        Some certain thoughts, towards certain truths which lean,
        Which certain people thought it best to blink,
And in a prudent silence, all the question sink.


Page 50


III.

        But she, good soul, would needs convince them all,
        And chose a way effectual and complete;
        She built a wood-stack near a stanchion tall
        In a frequented market-place or street;
        And some with cloven caps and cloven feet
        Ran all in haste the engine to contrive;
        And next she summon'd to her judgment-seat
        The few whom other reasoning could not drive,
And tied them to the stake, and burnt them all alive!--


IV.

        This lady had a spouse, a proper man,
        Who greatly lik'd the work, but in his land
        The roasting business long before began,
        Monopoliz'd by a still heavier hand:
        Abandoning delights of stake and brand,
        His Majesty sought out amusement new,
        And, on his voyage homewards, gave command
        An underground construction to renew,
And all in order set, where rebels he might stew.


V.

        Whether he thought the fiend would not forget him
        If he indulg'd too freely in such sport,
        Or that he guess'd his subjects might not let him,--
        (As why in Heav'n's name should they, when such sort
        Of Sunday pastimes get in vogue at court?)
        The hole was newly covet'd, neatly lin'd,
        Seven feet by five, neither more long nor short:--
        But, for no reason that I e'er could find,
This king could never catch a rebel to his mind.


Page 51


VI.

        Oh, my dear reader! what a loss is thine
        That all I know I do not here disclose!
        And what a sickly conscience must be mine
        That obstacles before the story throws:
        While one fair authoress, who I suppose,
        Is read more widely than the Gazetteer,
        Thinks it vain caution her sweet lips to close,
        And boldly banishing both doubt and fear,
Proclaims to all who read all she could see or hear.


VII.

        The race who in succession own'd the cave
        Left it untenanted till this our day,
        When its possessor chose it for the grave
        Of one he hop'd would there pine life away.
        But little did he know how long the clay
        That mortal man is made of can endure,
        When Heaven has lent a flash of its own ray
        To form a soul so upright, strong, and pure,
That man's vain wrath it scorns, in higher strength secure.


VIII.

        There in the lonely, loathsome, midnight den,
        Mid fetid air, debarr'd the light of heaven,
        Struck from the knowledge of all living men,
        And every earthly tie in sunder riven:
        While recent triumphs by a nation given
        Deepen'd with contrast's force the suffering hour,
        And strength was cramp'd and sleep away was driven--
        Th' unshaken mind could yet assert its power,
Which darkness could not tame, nor ling'ring death devour.


Page 52


IX.

        Though the bright eyes sank hollow, far from view,
        Extinguish'd all the fire that made them glow--
        Though the dark hair now thin and scatter'd grew,
        Touch'd on each turn with pale untimely snow;--
        Though ready speech wax'd dull, and life ebb'd low,
        The man to giant strength still rose amain,
        Till at his dungeon's door his sceptred foe
        Besought his aid to stay his tottering reign;--
Such sons are thine, and they will save thee yet, oh Spain!--


X.

        'Tis glorious to behold a wave-toss'd bark
        Obey the helm and the storm's rage defy,
        Bearing, as in a heaven-protected ark,
        Its garrison o'er billows mountain-high:
        'Tis glorious to behold when danger's nigh
        The column'd march, to list the trumpet's cheer:--
        But man has still a higher destiny,
        More noble, more remote from earth-sprung fear,
When despot tyrants rave, and free-born spirits hear.


XI.

        The Lombard hero heard--and smil'd in scorn--
        Asserting Freedom's truths with fearless tongue,
        Till from his home and his lov'd country torn
        His care-worn frame in dungeon vault was flung:
        And all who bravely fought or sweetly sung
        Of wars and faithful loves, were blighted too;
        Till just, and good, and great, and bold, and young,
        Fast disappear'd beneath the dire mildew
That blasted all the land, and eat her vitals through.


Page 53


XII.

        We fain would hope the gloom will have a dawn
        The mists of Time's long night to chase away,
        When darkness' shadows from the land withdrawn
        Shall let it drink in peace the light's pure ray:
        The victims must be victors, come what may,
        O'er the vain impotence of despot's rage:
        And oh! what rapturous joy will hail the day,
        When History writes these triumphs on her page,
And leaves them grav'd in brass, proud Freedom's heritage!--


XIII.

        But where Sir Florio liv'd, such things were not;
        His King would not have prison'd up a mouse:
        And if his lieges' duty were forgot
        He banished them a season from his house.
        Within their own he valued not a souse
        Whate'er they did, or said, or look'd amiss:
        And as for plots, he trusted to their nous ,
        That, being well in plenty, peace, and bliss,
They'd mind their own affairs, nor trouble them with his.


XIV.

        O Truth and History! dismal, trite, and dull,
        What need were there to clog my wings with you?
        Whose motion's more impeded to the full
        Than fly's which labours through a pot of glue![10]

[Original referent was numeral 8, corrected in manuscript hand to read 10 in this copy of the printed text; in addition, referent actually belongs to following line in poem.]


        "That simile is stol'n." It is not new:
        I do confess it is a phrase convey'd.
        But should the author claim it as his due,
        In any likeness save his own array'd,
I will detain his goods, till proof be duly made.


Page 54


XV.

        Meantime let us return to Florio's prison--
        Where he awoke in darkness, pain, and fear:
        And when upon his feet he would have risen,
        He knock'd his head upon the rock roof near.
        Then with most lusty might he shouted clear,
        "Help! help, good people, help! a wretched Prince
        "Dies suffocated if no help is here.
        "Help, help, hollo!"--and ne'er before or since
Such power of voice and lungs did the brave youth evince.


XVI.

        At last by dint of holloing and bawling
        And creeping all about on hands and knees,
        He made a peasant hear his distant calling,
        Who mid loose stones his way contriv'd to squeeze,
        And holloing in reply, by slow degrees
        His voice was answer'd, till the youth he met,
        And dragg'd him upwards to the midnight breeze,
        And lastly qnestion'd him, how he could get
Into so strange a scrape, with garments dripping wet.


XVII.

        Their speech was different, yet so far allied,
        That each from either could a meaning gain:
        And first the peasant thought the gallant lied,
        And next he pitied his bewilder'd brain.
        How he could 'scape from shipwreck on the main,
        And walk two hundred miles, and still be dripping,
        Was more than he could guess; but this seem'd plain,
        He was too great and rich to be caught tripping,
Into whatever brine his grandeur had been slipping.


Page 55


XVIII.

        The peasant brought him to his humble shed,
        And saddled Dapple for the nearest town,
        And while the women had him put to bed
        He brought a leash of learn'd physicians down.
        They found him scratch'd and bruis'd from heel to crown,
        Raving that he was lost, betray'd, despoil'd!
        And all the frighten'd household of the clown
        Standing aloof, lest in his frenzy wild
He should among them pounce, and kill and eat the child.


XIX.

        The doctors' tender hearts were much commov'd
        To see so fine a youth in such a plight
        Resolving that their patient should be mov'd
        Before the hours should bring returning night.
        And, will he nill he, in a litter pight
        They brought him to a rich old lady's door,
        Whose charity had ever thought it right
        To help the wretched from her ample store,
And never did good turn with better will before.


XX.

        For Florio was a fair and goodly youth
        As e'er put spur on heel, or brand in belt:
        His face appear'd the very glass of truth,
        And all who look'd on it, its influence felt.
        And 'tis a sight the hardest heart would melt,
        To see great youth and beauty struggling sore
        Against the ills on mind and body dealt,
        Till the vex'd reason can sustain no more,
But flying from its throne, gives the vain warfare o'er.


Page 56


XXI.

        She mix'd his medicine, and she cook'd his broth,
        And firmly mild, she taught him to obey:
        Ev'n when his mood was most perverse and loth,
        She somehow could contrive to have her way.
        Till slow retreating, vanquish'd, from its prey,
        The fever left him pale, and faint, and weak:
        And Prudence plainly show'd that should he say
        Aught of the Sylph, or of his sea-flight speak,
'Twould seem a wilful lie, or else a madman's freak.


XXII.

        So when his kind nurse question'd, he replied
        He was the most unfortunate of men:
        And then he shut his languid eyes and sigh'd,
        And begg'd she ne'er would touch that string again.
        She waited for a day in all the pain
        That curious people feel, who are too good
        Or too well-bred to give their tongues the rein;--
        Till, like a dyke by growing floods subdued,
The imprison'd tongue broke loose, and thus the theme renew'd.


XXIII.

        She said it was not for herself she ask'd,
        She only fear'd her neighbours would be prying,
        And then her powers inventive would be task'd,
        Their curious search to answer vainly trying.
        She hated curious people--yet defying
        The world's opinion seem'd to her so wrong,
        That, though on his appearance quite relying,
        She thought a right to confidence, less strong
Than hers, might be consider'd, and she hop'd, ere long.


Page 57


XXIV.

        She paus'd--and then he told her he was Prince
        Of so and so--and that a vengeful power
        (Thus far he thought it wiser truth to mince)
        Had chang'd from joy to grief his nuptial hour.
        His bride, he said, of all her land the flower,
        The cruel spoiler's prize was borne away:--
        And since that dismal time his reason's power
        Was scarce sufficient his sad life to sway,
Nor how nor where he last was found, could guess or say.


XXV.

        But should her heaven-directed skill be crown'd
        By snatching from death's grasp a wretch unbless'd,
        He would take arms beneath some chief renown'd,
        And in war's tumults stun his griefs to rest.
        But most it was his wish on Earth's green breast
        His weary life in honour'd death to close;
        For life had little value at the best,
        And when beset like his with torturing woes,
'Twas vain to strive with fate, which change nor pity knows.


XXVI.

        The kind old soul listen'd with brimful eyes,
        And bade him pluck up heart and banish care:
        The spoiler might, she said, resign his prize,
        Or, in the lists defied, due penance bear.
        And if his bride had aught of blame to share,
        There wanted not fair ladies, right good store:
        At least, she said, if she were young and fair,
        A mien so beautiful she'd value more
Than if an emperor's crown were laid her feet before.


Page 58


XXVII.

        Florio had never heard such honey'd words,
        For in his home no flattery was allow'd;
        His friends and mates were rational young Lords,
        His love was still from childhood's hour avow'd.
        Irene's eyes admir'd him, but aloud
        She ne'er had told him none was fair like him;
        Unluckily the youth was no ways proud,
        So o'er his mind, his gifts of face and limb
With not unpleasing consciousness began to swim.


XXVIII.

        Ah fairest flower, youth's clear untarnish'd brow!
        How many snares are set thy sheen to spoil,
        As if to smirch thy brightness Care were slow,
        Nor Love could blast, nor sullen passions soil!
        But not the noisier vices' wild turmoil
        More sure destruction work, than that sly devil
        Whose flattering wreaths around its victim coil,
        And all of great or good with earth can level,
And leave the chamber free for worser fiends to revel.


XXIX.

        Accursed Vanity! the mother rife
        Of every mean and small debasing sin;
        Which poisons all the noble springs of life
        Where her slow mining rot has once got in!
        Then comes the speech contriv'd, the pretext thin,
        The 'sembling, seeming, shuffling, cogging skill;
        Contrivance long a short applause to win,
        Low and more low descending for its fill,
Preying on garbage foul, and yet unsated still.


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XXX.

        'Tis thus the fiends bring evil out of good,
        As angels' skill brings blessing out of curse:
        Had Florio fall'n in hands less kind, he would
        Have suffer'd sore for lack of aid and purse.
        But when his fate seem'd kinder, it grew worse,
        As greenest sward oft covers marshiest ground;
        For all the gossips of his kind old nurse,
        Where many noble, many fair were found,
Seem'd leagu'd to spoil the youth, and turn his head quite round.


XXXI.

        For there he sat, propp'd in an easy chair
        With cushions all dispos'd in law and rule,
        'Mid a bright circle of attendants fair,
        To smooth his pillow, and to place his stool.
        And one would wait and watch his drink to cool,
        And two with fan in hand would near him stay,
        Some the guitar would play, and some the fool,
        While in silk gown and velvet cap he lay,
Recovering strength and wasting common sense away.


XXXII.

        A little pride had serv'd his wits to mend,
        And set him high above such toys as these:
        (I do not mean the ladies, Heaven forefend!
        Whom all true knights are bound to serve and please.)
        With every woman, pity's a disease.
        And love of mystery, or more or less:
        And all with one accord on Florio seize,
        To aid a victim whom the fates oppress
With such mysterious woe and picturesque distress.


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XXXIII.

        What will not folly and occasion do
        Time pass'd and pass'd; Irene was not there:--
        And Florio held his bond untouch'd and true
        While prizing her beyond all rivals fair.
        As for his farther faith, 'twas somewhat spare--
        Buzzing about like bee from flower to flower:
        And if reproach'd with change, would roundly swear
        That he was truth's own pattern, with a shower
Of oaths and obtestations that would last an hour.


XXXIV.

        Or strike his brow and mournful sigh, and say,
        None could now bear a mood so chang'd and sad,
        For he had suffer'd misery in his day
        Enough to drive a sterner nature mad.
        And last, as if the ruin of the lad
        Were doom'd, he lighted on some ends of rhyme,
        And shap'd them to a madrigal less bad
        Than many a one applauded in their time,
And show'd it to his friends, who prais'd it as sublime.


XXXV.

        Oh reverend parents, guardians, uncles, tutors,
        Who harmless pastime for your pupils chuse,
        Let not your charges e'er become the suitors
        Of that disorder'd baggage call'd the Muse.
        Their inspiration thwart, their rhymes abuse,
        And, if confirm'd disease your skill resist,
        A powerful tincture of the birch infuse,
        And lay it on as strongly as you list,
Nor spare, to work a cure, fatigue of arm or fist.


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XXXVI.

        And though it seem so hard a prohibition,
        Not one good verse were lost if this were done,
        Though many a rhymster would escape perdition,
        And balk'd reviewers miss a world of fun.
        But sooner shall the river backwards run
        Than force can stop the heav'n-born poet's song;
        And sooner might you veil the mid-day sun
        Careering high the realms of light along,
Than bind in silence' chain the heav'n-inspired tongue.


XXXVII.

        And what did poor Irene all this while,
        A prisoner, sad, forsaken, and alone?
        Striving with hope her sorrows to beguile,
        Though Hope and all its joys had long been flow'n.
        Her lute unstrung no longer wak'd the tone
        That sung her bosom's torturers to sleep,
        And oft within the cave of rugged stone
        Which first receiv'd her from the Ocean's deep,
She would a dark nook find, and wring her hands, and weep.


XXXVIII.

        And o'er her brow and pallid cheek were spread
        Tints that nor health nor happiness can give;
        Ethereal pure, as from the blessed dead
        A soul return'd, on earth a saint would live.
        The Sylph his own rash act can scarce forgive,
        And curses deep on Florio ne'er doth spare.
        And vows to turn his skin into a sieve,
        If e'er again intruding, he should dare
To seek Irene's love, in prison or elsewhere.


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XXXIX.

        But she, unconscious he had been so near,
        Wasted her soul away in guesses vain;
        And he, whom all the day she held so dear,
        At night in restless dreams return'd again.
        She dreamt she was at large, and oft and plain
        Saw her heart's idol, but with mien so chang'd,
        So different grown, that tears as fast as rain
        Delug'd her pillow, while her fancy rang'd,
To see her Florio dead, or dying, or estrang'd.


XL.

        Sometimes she dream'd his bloody corse she found
        With recent murder all defac'd and red,
        And busy with her bridal veil she bound
        The wounds cut deep upon his breast and head.
        And then, like Manfred, he would tell the bed
        Where his bleach'd bones in wind and rain lay bare;
        And she would wander on to seek the dead,
        And wade through rising floods, and see him there
Carried away--away--through the dark boisterous air.


XLI.

        One day the Sylph with pain and wonder view'd
        Upon her cheek the stain of many a tear;
        And though he fear'd with questions to intrude,
        He strove to find the cause of her sad cheer.
        For she, who lack'd not pride and felt not fear,
        Had kept her sorrows sacred from his sight,
        And, knowing well the time he would appear,
        Her tears were shed in cover of the night,
To meet her foe with eyes compos'd, and calm, and bright.


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XLII.

        She said it was not tears--or if it were,
        They were but drops from an oppressive cloud
        Of fearful dreams;--"but ne'er from these infer,"
        She said, "that my firm heart is chang'd or bow'd:
        "But all points plainly to my coming shroud.
        "My head is ill at ease, my hands are fire,
        "And on my brain such fever'd fancies crowd
        "As clearly show, unless thy suit should tire,
"That I from death shall gain the boon I most desire."


XLIII.

        "Irene," said the Sylph, "if you will swear
        "To tell the truth, unvarnish'd, of your dream,
        "I now repeat and solenmly declare
        "I am not half so wicked as I seem.
        "And more, I'll tell you how the truth can gleam
        "Through the dead silence of the sleeper's heart;
        "On earth it long has proved a fertile theme
        "For talking nonsense with the terms of art,
"And all the wisest, widest from the truth depart.


XLIV.

        "Those spirits whom you see, who dance so deft,
        "Who, though like angels, are like imps still more,
        "Sometimes assume the place by reason left
        "When man lies down, the day's long labours o'er.
        "And gently through his head, his brain before,
        "(Like showman's glass,) a world of shapes they draw,
        "And he especially whose conscience sore
        "Winces with secret wounds unsear'd and raw,
"Shapes meanings out of nought, and trembles at a straw.


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XLV.

        "But when these active sprites some notice have
        "Of what he says and does when broad awake,
        "With merry glee some nimble-witted knave
        "Contrives a shadow from the truth to take.
        "A kinsman dies far off--a horse can make
        "But a snail's journey when compar'd to theirs,
        "And welcome or unwelcome news they break
        "To see what feeling forth unbidden fares,
"Before the waking man his purpos'd face prepares.


XLVI.

        "Sometimes I have a pleasure sought and found
        "In seeing smiles play o'er a woe-worn face,
        "Placing the sleeper on th' enchanted ground,
        "That in the gloomy day he might not pace.
        "Then friends long-sever'd change the warm embrace,
        "And Death awhile lays down his scythe and crown;--
        "But more diverting is the strange grimace
        "That the old miser screws for treasures flown,
"Which, dearer than his soul, he held secure his own.


XLVII.

        "I once remember teazing an old king
        "With a fair daughter, yet not fair like you,
        "Till from my idle fun he forc'd to spring
        "A prophecy, and its fulfilment too.
        "But with your dream I have had nought to do,
        "And much desire to know its bent and aim;
        "So tell its whole adventures strictly true,
        "And I will show you whence the vision came,
"And if 'tis false, will soon the culprit catch and tame."


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XLVIII.

        "Then promise," said the maid, "that thou wilt hear
        "In patient silence while my tale I tell:"--
        He nodded:--"though a name must meet thine ear
        "Which for sufficient cause thou lik'st not well.
        "Of whom I often dream;--and some foul spell
        "Presents him still so changed, so wretched grown,
        "That deep forebodings in my bosom swell
        "That it is truth, and that thy work alone
"Hath made such fearful wreck of him I call'd my own."


XLIX.

        "Last night I dream'd I stood on that dear shore, [11]

[Original referent was numeral 9, corrected in manuscript hand to read 11 in this copy of the printed text.]


        "Lovelier than limners paint, or poets feign,
        "Where the waves gently kiss the dripping floor
        "Cover'd with gems of every tint and strain:
        "Where the grey olive, bending o'er the main,
        "Proclaims sweet peace and love to land and sea,
        "And the rich vintage, ripening on the plain,
        "Hangs its full clusters thick from tree to tree,
"Binding the poplars tall with wreaths of joy and glee.


L.

        "The wine-cup's wreath, the ivy, spreads its hue
        "O'er the grey rocks the citadel that crown;
        "The aloe and the fig united grew,
        "On the calm deeps of ocean looking down:
        "The hills were blue, the skies without a frown,
        "The tints of eve descending soft and pale,
        "Till, o'er the flaming mount her visage shown,
        "The rising moon withdrew her lucid veil,
"And pour'd her tranquil light o'er rock, and sea, and dale.


Page 66


LI.

        "Bright silver lines edg'd every rock and cave,
        "And silvery light the citadel o'erspread,
        "Save where an antre, yawning like the grave,
        "O'er the near rocks a browner horror shed.
        "Beneath its portal wide a footpath led,
        "Beneath its arch a cresset light was held,
        "And though my heart, recoiling back with dread,
        "Shrank from the awful form and words of eld,
"Unwilling I advanc'd, by some strong charm compell'd.


LII.

        "And who art thou that seek'st the Sybil's cell?"
        Said the tall spectre, threat'ning as she stood:
        "Com'st thou prepared to hear a prophet tell
        "The' impending fate that not to know were good?
        "Whate'er thy grief, however high the flood
        "That from thine eyes has wash'd the light away--
        '' From my dark cavern in no gayer mood
        "Thy trembling limbs shall bear thee to the day,
"And thou wilt wish unheard the doom my voice shall say.


LIII.

        "The happiest maid that earth did ever hold,
        "The happiest youth that sun e'er shone upon,
        "Had they but seen their fate's long web unroll'd
        "And all their future woes in story spun:--
        "Had they but seen how the bright sands would run
        "Ere the turn'd hour-glass reach'd to even-tide:--
        "Scar'd at the sight, ere life were well begun
        "They back had started from its ills untried,
"And on the first green sod had laid their heads and died."


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LIV.

        "Oh tell me not," I said, "of my own woe,
        "For I can bear my fate; nor yet repine;
        " 'Tis of another I would seek to know,
        "Whose lot was happy till 'twas link'd with mine.
        "Not yet, not yet his doom to grief consign,
        "Though sternly Fate has brush'd away the dew
        "That should have gemm'd an Orient so divine.
        "Say that his cheek will flush with joy anew,
"And sorrow seem a dream, forgotten and untrue."


LV.

        The Sybil paus'd, and held her lamp on high,
        And gaz'd upon my face while thus she said,
        "Alas, poor child of frail mortality,
        "Too fragile in life's rugged path to tread!
        "The storm already on thy fenceless head
        "Hath beat too roughly, yet thou wouldst brave more!
        "Till no kind hand be near the pall to spread
        "When thy last hour and thy last strife are o'er,
"Far as in life, in death, from every friendly shore.


LVI.

        "Strive to forget that inauspicious hour
        "When the vain bond was seal'd, so soon to sever,
        "When thou didst fondly deem a word had power
        "To bind two hearts for ever and for ever.
        "And love and hope and fear in fitful fever
        "Thrill'd through thy heart from morn's first dawning grey,
        "And as thou saw'st it break so joyous, never
        "Could'st thou have deem'd it was thy parting day,
"Which tear nor prayer of thine could for one hour delay.


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LVII.

        "Thy strong affections, like the ivy spray
        "Would cast their wreaths around a slender reed,
        "Which beauty, grace, and genius' dazzling ray
        "Cover with barren flowers which bear no seed:
        "For not the god who led the flocks to feed
        "Of Pheræ's monarch, own'd a form more fair;
        "And many a wound in her poor heart must bleed
        "Who with such glittering mate her fate would share,
"Unless her heart forewarn'd, the sevenfold buckler bear."


LVIII.

        "Oh that 'twere mine!" in agony I spoke,
        "Dread Sybil, hear my prayer and shield me now!"
        "Straight through the darksome cave a radiance broke,
        "An armed maid appear'd in light's full glow,
        "Off from her arm the buckler she did throw--
        "The brazen burden struck me to the ground:
        "My breath was crush'd, and Death sat on my brow--
        "Thick darkness fill'd with many a fearful sound
"Clos'd--and the scream that wak'd me echoed still around."


LIX.

        She ceas'd: the Sylph frown'd; and each fringed lid
        Dropp'd low, and brightness left his cheek and eye,
        As when the sun by rain-charg'd clouds is hid
        In the quick changes of a stormy sky.
        "To read thy dream," he said, " if thou wouldst try,
        "My oft-repeated speech the key affords,
        "Which some eaves-dropping imp, officiously
        "Has seiz'd, and like a minstrel, form'd to chords
"And harmony the sense of unconnected words.


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LX.

        "It needs no Sybil, lamp-lit in a cave,
        "To tell the fortune of a love like thine:
        " 'Tis rightly told, or I had scorch'd the knave
        "Till his sing'd wings had drown'd him in the brine.
        "But oh, 'tis strange that thou wilt not resign
        "This snare of fancied bliss, which thy pure soul
        "Hath form'd from its own treasures, line by line
        "And tint by tint, creating new the whole,
"Till thy own work's thy tyrant, strong beyond control.


LXI.

        "I lov'd thee when I saw thee in thy bower
        "Bright as a lily shelter'd from the blast;
        "But now, far dearer is the drooping flower
        "That all its glory on the earth has cast.
        "Thy love is no delusion; it will last,
        "(Curse on the spite that robs me of its sweets!)
        "Till Time and all its mockeries are past,
        "And till removed from earth's dull air, it meets
"The guerdon high which angels' happiness completes.


LXII.

        "But upon earth the wandering sons of heaven
        "No longer choose their mates the Sun below;
        "And love like thine still from its nest is driven
        "To pine away and perish in the snow.
        "But never from my hand shall come the blow
        "That lays thy head untimely in the grave:--
        "Then dry thy tears, and learn at last to know
        " 'Twas a kind fortune that such guardian gave,
"Who strives so hard with Fate, thy lot from ill to save.


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LXIII.

        "If for a year and day thou yet wilt live
        "(So long I strive to save thee) constant still,
        "I will undo my work, and freely give
        "Back to thy love the rival I might kill.
        "Now, love me as thou ought'st, who, to fulfil
        "Thy heart's dear wishes, sacrifice my own:
        "But when the moment comes, as come it will,
        "That Florio's heart and love thy truth disown,
"Then swear to follow me, and share my cloudy throne."


LXIV.

        The maid, whose joy had flush'd o'er face and brow,
        Shrank from the pledging hand he proffer'd free:
        "I cannot teach," she said, "my tongue to vow
        "A truth in falsehood that can never be.
        "Fears, most unworthy both of thee and me,
        "Have made me like a jealous secret keep
        "Conceal'd, a love more boundless than the sea,--
        "Until thou hast forgot how dear, how deep
"The hopes that night and day in passionate tears I steep.


LXV.

        "The oak, that strikes its roots so far in ground,
        "Clasps not more firmly than he holds my heart,
        "And not a fibre could be thence unbound
        "But drops of life blood from the wound would start.
        "How little skill'd in woman's love thou art
        "Who deem'st his perjury could my faith remove!
        "Wide, wide as east from west let his depart,
        "Nay, doubly wider let his falsehood rove,--
"I well might cease to live, but never cease to love!"


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LXVI.

        The Sylph who late had stood before her, bright
        In plumes of orient gold, and rainbow dyes,
        Began to change to the dull hues of night,
        And all the brilliance of his glory flies.
        "Oh, could I weep! could I but weep" he cries,
        "The tears that mortals shed, 't were some relief!
        "But elemental flame my blood supplies,
        "And scorching arrows, darting swift and brief
"From every burning vein, will burst my heart with grief!


LXVII.

        "Oh for the polar sea, or Zembla's snow!"
        And as he spoke, black dyed each outspread wing,
        And the smooth curls that wont to crown his brow,
        In serpent tresses haggard shadows fling:
        And then, as if he fled from adder's sting,
        He shot on high, nor downward deign'd to look,
        And the four winds from prison seem'd to spring
        While o'er the clouds his sable wings he shook,
And lightnings through the storm their forked pathway took.


LXVIII.

        Clouds over clouds their heavy masses roll'd
        Along the billows of the roaring deep,
        But still amid their darkly-hanging fold
        The semblance of the sable wings they keep.
        The tortur'd sea seem'd rising in a heap,
        The lowring clouds descended lower still,
        Till the black trumpets of the tempest sweep
        Along the waves, which boil, and toil, and swill,
As swoll'n with murky loads, the greedy clouds they fill.


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LXIX.

        Woe to the spot where bursts the raging flood
        Which to the Sylph supplies the want of tears!
        Irene deep within the cavern stood,
        And strove to hide her eyes and close her ears.
        Yet peal on peal of thunder loud she hears,
        And lightnings whizzing through the sheeted rain,--
        Till, with a gush that seems to 'whelm the spheres,
        The high-rais'd deluge rushes down again,
Sweeping rocks, ruins, trees, loud crashing to the main.


Page 73

CANTO IV.


I.

        Parting is ill to bear--ev'n when we leave
        Some town or city on a distant shore,
        The heart flies back a moment's space to grieve,
        And sighs to hear the knell of Never more!
        And those indifferent and ne'er priz'd before
        Excite the wish on earth again to meet,
        With one exception only;--that fell bore
        Who seizes on you in your last retreat--
A civil county neighbour, in your country seat.


II.

        Who stuns you with the talk of bullocks, till
        You wish with all your soul that he were one,
        That you might turn him out to graze his fill,
        And leave you with your thoughts, in peace alone;
        Or preaches upon turnpikes, one by one
        Thrumming them o'er, till from his mouth you'd swear
        Fly bushels of dry dust and lumps of stone,
        While in your heart you curse them in despair,
And, chief of all, the one which serv'd to bring him there.


Page 74


III.

        But when the Sylph departed, far less glad
        Was fair Irene than she hop'd to be;
        For in his freaks he was more gaily mad
        Than any spirit of the land or sea:
        And when his prisoner's mind from fear was free,
        She rather long'd for the returning hour
        When brightening in the sun's slant radiance, he
        From the high vault descending, came to pour
Low at her feet earth's treasures, shell, and fruit, and flower.


IV.

        Oh Loneliness! thou desert demon grim!
        Destroyer of thy victim far more sure
        Than the wild beast which tears him limb from limb,
        Or aught that from his kind he can endure.
        In vain Philosophy casts forth her lure,
        Preaching up heavenly peace in rocky cell,
        To live on fruits and drink from fountains pure;
        For in that word Alone more horrors dwell
Than human heart can hold, or human tongue can tell.


V.

        Then, as my poor Irene now must learn
        To pass her joyless moments as she may,
        We best had leave her, lest the world discern
        Her dulness clouding o'er the languid lay;
        For sometimes in good novels of the day
        When bores or dull companions are brought in,
        They are describ'd in such a natural way,
        That your poor jaws to heave and gape begin,
As if the ponderous chest

[Note: "chest" altered to read "jest" in manuscript hand in this copy of the printed text.]

weigh'd down your drooping chin.


Page 75


VI.

        And it were more unpardonable now
        To punish others, when my breath more free
        I draw, rejoicing to leave rocks and snow,
        And greet again my own dear Italy:
        Where still the green leaf hangs upon the tree
        Although November's come, and summer's gone,
        And still the sun is warm, and wakes to glee
        The heart from which all thought of glee was flown,
Oppress'd with heavier weight than lies in granite stone.


VII.

        But yesterday the sharp tormenta blew
        Within the mountain-giant's drear domain,
        When frozen blood, and noses chill and blue
        Paid homage to his seat and ancient reign;
        And straw and blankets scarce could heat retain
        In the wide coach and lighter cabriolet:
        And plagues below the dignity of pain
        Mustering at every mile in thick array,
Seem'd destin'd to impede and lengthen out the way.


VIII.

        But now once more we have o'erclimb'd the wall
        That guards the Hesperides from snow and bise,
        And unrebuk'd again the muse I call
        To come and sit beside me at her ease:
        No more the Alpine snow and cutting breeze
        Scare her away to realms beyond their line;
        And, but she smile, I may not hope to seize
        The power in fitting colours to design
The great adventures where Sir Florio's virtues shine.


Page 76


IX.

        I never mention'd how much time had past
        Before the promis'd year and day began,
        Which was to bring him back to port at last,
        According to the Sylph's concerted plan.
        It may be short or long; an hour, a span,
        Will sometimes make strange work: and for a day--
        Some days may colour all the life of man
        And count for years;--while years may glide away,
Noiseless as sleep or death, and calm and cold as they.


X.

        See where before an open lattice stands
        The young Theresa, in the pale moon-beam:
        Her dark hair waves unbound, her clasped hands
        Press on her heart, her eyes through tear-drops gleam.
        The drops stand trembling, for the tears that stream
        Have less of hope, and far, far less of fear:
        She looks upon the moon whose bright rays seem
        To be the harbingers of danger near,
And wishes for a cloud to make the light less clear.


XI.

        And every breath that stirs the orange bough
        Makes her heart beat: and in each breeze's sigh
        She strains to hear the footstep, stealing slow,
        That summons to the garden gate to fly.
        He comes! the steps approach!--the sounds pass by,
        And far through distant streets extinguish'd fail:
        And many a doubting terror presses nigh,
        While still fond memory, striving to prevail,
Repeats the treasur'd vows she ne'er could guess were frail.


Page 77


XlI.

        The slowest, longest moments that e'er crept
        With heavy pace o'er Sorrow's dungeon cell,
        Were swift to those, which while the city slept,
        It was this gentle creature's lot to tell:
        Till the deep stroke from the cathedral bell
        Told midnight's hour--and one--and two--and three:--
        And from the gate the brazen trumpets swell
        Their clamorous peal of military glee,
And day streaks all the east, and darkness' shadows flee.


XIII.

        The window barr'd no longer gave to view
        The lovely vision of the midnight hour;
        To deepest shades retiring, she withdrew,
        To weep unseen within her secret bower.
        But tears alone possess'd not half the power
        To soothe the burning of the poison'd dart;
        And solemn vows were mingled with the shower,
        From love, from life, from all but Heaven to part,
And on her saint's pure altar lay her broken heart.


XIV.

        "Hear me," she said, "Oh thou who in my dreams"[12]

[Original referent was numeral 10, corrected in manuscript hand to read 12 in this copy of the printed text.]


        "Hast oft look'd down with kindness, hear me now,
        "Thou from whose heart the living ray still streams,
        "To whose bright glory saints and seraphs bow!
        "By the pure flame which wrapt thee--by the vow
        "Which bound thy youth and burning heart to Heaven,
        "Receive me in thine arms, where free may flow
        "From human joy and human converse driven,
"The tears of anguish deep, in penitence forgiven!


Page 78


XV.

        "Oh, if I lov'd him, was it fault of mine?
        "I ask'd not for the heart he freely gave:
        "And ere my own I would to hope resign,
        "I strove its weakness from such wreck to save.
        "E'en when I lov'd him dearest, and would rave
        "The long night hours in passion, torments, tears,
        "Did not my constant purpose firmly brave
        "The pain I felt, to fly and close my ears
"Against the dangerous tale that none escapes who hears?


XVI.

        "And he is gone! gone without one kind word!
        "Gone, and forsook the heart he just had won:
        "He who had sworn, to live one hour its Lord,
        "He would forsake all else beneath the sun!--
        "To thee, to thee I turn: my vows begun
        "In anguish, spurn not from thy blest repose!--
        "And oh, could I, by treble penance done,
        "Dare hope my prayers might shield him midst his foes,
"One gleam of gladness yet would light my setting close."


XVII.

        Enough of her. Within another dome
        The stroke of midnight brought dismay as great,
        Though the proud Princess did not leave her room
        To watch a window near the garden gate.
        But from her forehead as she loosed the weight
        Of diamond wreath and coronal, the knell
        Rang in her ears--and statue-like she sat,
        And pangs unwonted heart and bosom swell,
As one, and two, and three, strike hourly from the bell.


Page 79


XVIII.

        She threw the lattice wide: the kindling dawn
        Streak'd the red east--the trumpets sounded far,
        That told the troops in muster'd order drawn,
        March'd with spread banners to the morning star.
        She clos'd the window, and replac'd the bar,
        And, cautious, down the stairs one glance she threw;--
        " 'Tis well," she said; "If he return from war,
        "There's interval to grant me means enow
"To work as deep revenge as ever hatred knew!


XIX.

        "To me! to me! my brain reels round to think
        "Of the deep stain, th' irreparable wrong;
        "And that the wretch before the foe may sink,
        "Escaping from a death more sharp and long.
        "Oh Heav'n! but send him back my snares among,
        "And turn my sighs to fire, my tears to blood!
        "And slighted love shall make my weakness strong
        "To bring this gallant to another mood,
"Though in the deed these hands were in his blood embrued!"


XX.

        Meantime the cause of all this sad dismay.
        The favour'd youth, what could have kept him back?--
        But who might follow that eventful day
        His loves' and leave takings' laborious track!
        Within a tall arm-chair, in vesture slack
        He sat at ease, most gracefully reclin'd;
        His right leg o'er the elbow dangled, black
        He frown'd, and seem'd with an unquiet mind
To read a billet ne'er for other eyes designed.


Page 80


XXI.

        This was the scroll. "Your early parting hence
        "Leaves me scarce time to breathe, far less to think,
        "And trusting to your honour and good sense,
        "I risk a step, from which I else should shrink:
        "A few short moments, and perhaps the link
        "Which long has bound our hearts, for aye may sever,--
        ''I stand upon a precipice's brink--
        "Yet for your sake to calm my fears endeavour--
"Then come to snatch farewell--Oh heavens! perhaps for ever!--


XXII.

        "Ere twelve has struck, be on the stairs, a guide
        "Will meet you there:"--and Florio shuts his eyes,
        And holding o'er his face the page spread wide,
        Within its shade inspection's search defies.
        Then twirling down his leg and arm, he sighs--
        And t'other leg o'er t'other elbow flings,
        And, shaking hard his sleeve of ample size,
        Another billet forth to light he brings,
And in his left hand spread, unfolds its snowy wings.


XXIII.

        And thus it read: "The time is past when fear
        "Binding my tongue, hath made me seem unkind:
        "Already seems to burst upon my ear
        "The trumpet summons swelling on the wind.
        "Oh, judge me not too lightly! call to mind
        "Your last reproachful words and sorrowing tone,--
        "Alas! you left a bursting heart behind,
         "That scarce had strength to wait till you were gone
"To rave in grief as wild, as frantic as your own.


Page 81


XXIV.

        "True--I refus'd the last farewell you ask'd--
        "I thought I must--oh pardon if 'twas wrong!
        "For ne'er was heart to such hard duty task'd
        "As mine, concealing all its wounds so long.
        "Then come ere twelve--a gate unlock'd among
        "The thick-grown shrubs will hide you--and for me,--
        "I feel already I have liv'd too long,
        "And, losing you, indifferent all must be,
"Or where or how I die, discover'd, bound, or free."


XXV.

        This second billet o'er two pages spread
        Call'd up a deeper frown, almost like pain,
        And turning back the leaf, the whole he read,
        Line after line, at leisure slow, again.
        Then lowering down his leg, his busy brain
        Full of deep working seem'd to puzzle sore,--
        Till, like that quadruped whose bundles twain
        Of provender but mock'd his hunger more,
He bolted on his feet, his cogitations o'er.


XXVI.

        "A plague upon them both! was ever man
        "So hardly, so abominably us'd?"
        ('Twas thus his tender monologue began;)
        "Have these two baggages so long abused
        "My patience, and my earnest suit refused,
        "As if their virtue mock'd the power of fate,--
        ''To find their pens all of a sudden loosed,
        "One with her stairs, the other with her gate,--
"By Jove, tis almost twelve!--they wait--well--let them wait--


Page 82


XXVII.

        "I'm not their foot-licker--and there is no man
        "(Except the Doctor) who is bound to fly
        "The moment that a vain capricious woman
        "Thinks fit to summon his attendance nigh.
        "And yet I should have lik'd to see--but why?
        " 'Twere hardly handsome to keep faith with one:--
        "Come, none shall say I acted selfishly,
        "(For that among my many faults is none,)
"If I for each's sake the love of both disown.


XXVIII.

        "Perhaps I rather spoke too strong--one's words
        "When heated in discourse with parleying dames,
        "Flow rather freer than strict truth accords,
        "Describing pangs and raptures, darts and flames.
        "Yet if my conduct either lady blames,
        "Let her consider candidly the whole;
        "On their attention I had no such claims
        "As either could against her wish control
"To listen; yet they did, with all their ears and soul.


XXIX.

        "No--I am no ways blameable--I'll burn
        "The foolish creatures' sentimental scrawls:--
        "I am not such a child as now to learn
        "The dangers of the ears and eyes of walls.
        "And now whoe'er my conduct doubts or calls
        "In question, I defy the veriest spite
        "To say that aught of blame upon it falls,--
        "Discreet and noble, gentlemanly quite--
"And so the business rests--fair ladies both--good night!"


Page 83


XXX.

        And flumping into bed, a moment's time
        Consign'd him to a sound refreshing sleep,
        And midnight's loud and terror-waking chime
        Suffic'd not to disturb his slumbers deep,
        Which lasted till the dawn began to peep,
        When his squire call'd him--and his toilet made,--
        He mounted on his gallant steed, to keep
        Appointment at the gate, where all array'd,
The squadrons' glittering lines their banners gay display'd.


XXXI.

        And as upon the muster-ground he dash'd,
        Ruling his fiery steed with master's hand,
        Envy herself her teeth had vainly gnash'd,
        Nor hop'd against his merit's praise to stand.
        The elder knights who bore the chief command
        Surpris'd behold how well his rein he guides,
        And e'en the warlike monarch of the land,
        Twisting his long mustachios to both sides,
Exclaims with haughty glance, "How well that coxcomb rides!"


XXXII.

        They went to war: they fought with various fortune,
        Sometimes advancing, sometimes in retreat;
        They had allies, a genuine misfortune,
        Through whose mishaps they oft were soundly beat.
        But Florio, or in conquest or defeat,
        Prov'd himself train'd to arms in perfect school;
        And many who had shunn'd the youth to meet
        Believing him a swindler or a fool,--
Now sought him out with praises neither spare nor cool.


Page 84


XXXIII.

        Yet sometimes on a night-watch plac'd, a cloud
        Would fall across the fervour of his brain,
        When something, speaking neither long nor loud,
        Told him, the search for happiness was pain.
        He wish'd himself from war return'd again
        Where all the city's joys to joy entice;
        Yet there, he felt, 't were equally in vain,
        And that no pleasure half repaid it's price--
'Tis a sad inconvenience, waiting still on Vice.


XXXIV.

        An inconvenience to which all are liable
        Whose toil for pleasure's all the toil they know;
        Who think their wildest whimsies undeniable,--
        And Cæsar Borgia felt it long ago.
        Look at his portrait,11

[Referent should be numeral 13]

where the haughty brow
        And proud dim eye's so princely--care within
        Corroding through, has bleach'd away the glow
        From cheek and lip with yellow shades of sin--
Well worth contemplating to those who just begin.


XXXV.

        I've heard on Teviot of a shepherd's dog
        Outlaw'd for sheep-stealing, whose talents quite
        Defied the power of collar, chain, or clog,
        To keep him in his master's yard at night.
        He did not kill his victims, but would bite
        A morsel of their hearts, and drink their blood;
        Then scour away to let them die outright
        As much at leisure as they pleas'd or could,
Till he got shot, a fate much for the brute too good.


Page 85


XXXVI.

        A pretty little sermon might be made
        Out of this anecdote, as e'er was penn'd;
        But that to preach I somewhat feel afraid
        As there are those the freedom might offend.
        I fain would hope without it they may mend,
        As, nine times out of ten in chance's round
        Such courses come to an unlucky end,
        Waylaid or kidnapp'd, poison'd, shot, or drown'd,
As both the farmer's dog, and all the Borgias found.


XXXVII.

        Of all the youthful knights, none could compete
        With Florio in his rich and gay attire:
        His arms were all most perfect and complete,
        His scarf and surcoat's cost could go no higher.
        His helm, a mark for envy and desire,
        Rose o'er the points of poor Irene's crown,
        To which he had small right: a fane on fire
        Blaz'd on his shield; beneath--this motto shone,
"It came from Heaven," no doubt, alluding to his own.


XXXVIII.

        Six squires of noble birth, equipp'd more fine
        Than the King's cousins, road

[Corrected in manuscript hand in this copy of the printed text to read "rode ".]

his banner near:
        Pages and lacqueys follow'd in a line,
        And strings of mules with gorgeous toilet-gear.
        No matter when you call'd him, he'd appear
        Gay as the morning, prank'd in high array,
        And for his horses, not the worst could fear
        Comparison in fight or tourney day
E'en with the King's proud coursers, proud and deck'd as they.


Page 86


XXXIX.

        And though the equipment show'd some lack of sense,
        His means were ample as his cost was great;
        And gold that would o'erpay his vast expense
        He drew in sackfulls from his own estate.
        For the good lady, at whose open gate
        He was so kindly welcom'd, since had died,
        And with her wealth entail'd on him the hate,
        The hearty hate of all her race beside,
Who pray'd that time might bring a downfall to his pride.


XL.

        He had surpassing luck, and enemies
        Of every kind and sort abundant too;
        He'd made some deep ones by his gallantries,
        And by his mien and talents not a few:
        But still when there was any deed to do
        Desperate and hazardous, he'd volunteer,
        And with such reckless bravery go through
        Acts which seem'd miracles for one sole spear,
That faith in victory brought it, when his arm was near.


XLI.

        One night when in his tent asleep he lay,
        His page awoke him, saying that a wight,
        An old grey man, desir'd without delay
        In the King's name to see him. 'Twas midnight,
        And Florio almost felt a qualm of fright,
        For certain reasons which are yet unknown:
        "Does the King seem displeas'd?"--"Displeas'd? not quite;--
        "He's more disturb'd than angry, but the frown
"Hath never left his brow since couriers from the town


Page 87


XLII.

        "Brought him despatches, scarce an hour ago;--
        "And what they are, he has to no one said:
        "But ever since, he paces to and fro,
        "And stopping, sometimes stamps and strikes his head.
        "I, though so old a favourite, was afraid
        "To meddle with such wild unwonted mood,
        "Till calling me, in tones disturb'd, he bade
        "Me summon you as quickly as I could--
"And so I have--pray Heaven it all may end in good."


XLIII.

        Arriving at the tent, a page desir'd
        Florio alone to enter to the King,
        Who, writing in the inner tent retir'd,
        Nodded, but still wrote on.--Some moments bring
        Conclusion to the epistle--and his ring,
        His signet ring he stamp'd upon the seal,
        And to the youth majestic beckoning,
        He spoke--"I have not been the last to feel
"Respect for your high deeds, and pleasure in your zeal:


XLIV.

        "And could have wish'd, young Sir, that from my hand
        "You had receiv'd reward, before my need
        "Had given you to perform a new command,
        "Which, well accomplish'd, wins no common meed.
        "Now, at a word--do you believe your speed,
        "Your speed of life and death, can reach the town
        "In six-and-thirty hours? You rule your steed
        "With better skill than all our gallants own,
"And, if not done by you, it can be done by none."


Page 88


XLV.

        "Sire, it is possible," the youth replied,
        "Just possible, with good and prompt relays:--
        "But if they fail"--"No, no," the monarch cried,
        "Heaven will lend favour to prevent delays.
        "If you succeed, all fame, reward, and praise
        "Shall lavishly be yours, and on your breast
        "Shall every badge of knightly order blaze
        "Wherewith my power my nobles can invest,
"And aught of boon beside, whate'er your wish finds best."


XLVI.

        Reprieve from hanging ne'er made thief as glad
        As Florio was.--With lighten'd heart and brow
        He said, if his despatches could be had,
        He was quite ready to set forwards now.
        "Then," said the King, "this letter you must show
        "To the Lord Legate's Grace: nor must you shun
        "To thrust it in his hands, though by a row
        "Begirt of bishop, canon, monk and nun,
"And loud, in the King's name, command them to have done.


XLVII.

        "Seek him at St. Theresa's: the whole nest
        "Collected there in function you will find,
        "Trying by stealth to make a nun profess'd
        "Of a young maid for other fate design'd.
        "See her into my sister's care consign'd;
        "And if more cause you want your zeal to stir,
        "You need but call your knightly oath to mind
        "Which pledg'd you ladies' knight and succourer,--
"And so good fortune speed your errand and your spur!--


Page 89


XLVIII.

        "Ah--I had nigh forgot--this other letter
        "Give to my sister:--I should warn you too
        "The less you see her afterwards, the better,
        "As she might give the bearer cause to rue:
        "Now go in Heav'n's name." Florio glad withdrew,
        And a few moments saw him on his road:
        And as he gallopp'd on, he thought how few
        Had had such curious errand e'er bestow'd--
"A letter too for her! 'Tis really, truly odd.


XLIX.

        "The dame whom I left planted on the stairs!
        "There's little chance she will forgive that night--
        "But she deserved it for the odious airs
        "With which she chose my homage to requite.
        "The letter's to displease her! very right;
        "I'd like to see how she will look, displeas'd:
        "If things had turn'd out otherwise, she might
        "Have had more cause,--but something will be eas'd
"That rankles in my heart, to see her soundly teaz'd.


L.

        "For t'other silly thing, I really lov'd her--
        "She was my refuge when I'd nought to do,--
        "And, if a little sooner I had mov'd her,
        "I could have felt oblig'd, and grateful too."
        Now, gentle reader, if it chance that you
        Know such a youth, mark but his heart's disease,
        And you will find, when he's had rope enow,
        And that his mistress can no longer please,
He long will cease to love, before he cease to teaze.


Page 90


LI.

        The Princess' letter was a sharp rebuke
        "For wilfully neglecting the command
        "Intrusted to her, when the monarch took
        "His final leave before he left the land:"
        He said, "She must have known the step was plann'd,
        "And plainly to the priests her aid had lent;
        "And even at the last, a surer hand
        "Than her snail courier might to him have sent--
''He plainly saw it all; 'twas purpos'd, plann'd, and meant.


LII.

        "And if it pleas'd Heav'n's will and purpose sage
        "To send him back in safety, he would see
        "Whether a dame of a maturer age
        "Might not a cloister suit as well as she
        "Who, deep he swore, a nun should never be!"--
        You may imagine if this pleasant scroll
        Entitled Florio to much courtesy:
        Yet he rode light as if he knew the whole,
And heard not o'er his head the gathering thunders roll.


LIII.

        It is a thing we all may sometimes see,
        When great misfortunes or near deaths impend,
        The spirits rise to a wild mood of glee,
        And Nature hastes her lapsing bills to spend.
        Thus Florio, as he near'd his journey's end,
        Though spent and almost dead with his hard ride,
        Felt so rejoic'd a beauty to defend,
        To win renown and please the King beside,--
He thought his grasp could seize the moon, if he but tried.


Page 91


LIV.

        With more than mortal speed along he flew,
        The distant towers on the horizon rise
        Near and more near, until beneath his view
        The city with its domes and temples lies.
        The gate he passes swift as swallow flies,
        Nor time for question from the guard he bides
        But right to St. Theresa's church he hies,
        And straight dismounting, up the nave he strides,
While all th' astonish'd crowd to right and left divides.


LV.

        The organ through each long and vaulted aisle
        Peal'd high the solemn strain: the tapers' light
        Show'd in the noon-day radiance faint and pale,
        Through painted windows pour'd, as rainbow bright:
        The incense roll'd on high its volumes white,
        The long-rob'd priests around the altar stand:
        The Legate thron'd before it, high in sight,
        Pray'd o'er a kneeling nun with gesture bland,
And held the sable veil, dark-streaming, in his hand.


LVI.

        Now Florio, in the King's name speak, and save
        The maiden, ere the work of fate be done!
        Snatch from the horrors of her living grave
        The Monarch's favourite care, the lovely nun!--
        He seems bewitch'd: strange fears his senses stun
        Till his knees knock;--he cannot see her face--
        But chill and shuddering tremors o'er him run,
        The while the veil the Legate slow doth place,
And while th' attendant nuns adjust its folds to grace.


Page 92


LVII.

        An hour--from memory long pass'd far away--
        Rose as he saw that kneeling form inclin'd;
        'Twas on the morn of that eventful day
        Before his banner for the war he join'd:
        In the dark orange-grove while his whole mind
        And soul he strain'd to win Theresa's heart,
        And left her, calling her untrue, unkind,--
        He saw the gushing tear unbidden start,
And kneeling on the ground, she bade him straight depart.


LVIII.

        And as her kneeling form her saint invok'd,
        And pray'd for death before her courage fled,
        He felt indignant, baffled, and provok'd,
        And even did her bidding as she said.
        And now this stranger maid's brown drapery spread
        Ev'n thus upon the pavement--and the fane
        Was St. Theresa's--doubt and anxious dread
        So master'd all his mind, confus'd his brain,
That the King's mandates there no more a place retain.


LIX.

        She rose from off her knees, and turning round,
        Right upon Florio's face her eye-gleam fell--
        ''My God! Theresa!"--scarce his lips the sound
        Pronounce,--scarce audible the accents swell.
        A moment's space her looks upon him dwell
        With love unutterable--and her cheeks
        With hectic bloom quick flush'd, too surely tell
        That still within her breast her passion speaks,
And that it will for aye, till the last heart-string breaks.


Page 93


LX.

        Transfix'd to marble, on his face and hands
        Bursts the cold dew--erect his hair is grown--
        With guilt of blood upon his soul he stands--
        The very power to feel is well nigh flown.
        The rite goes on:--on a low mattress thrown
        Above her head the sable pall they spread:
        The organ sounds; they chant in solemn tone
        The funeral anthem of a soul that's fled--
'Tis o'er--they raise the pall--she stirs not--she is dead!--


LXI.

        "She's dead"--"she's dead!" in shuddering whispers spoke
        From every lip, like wild-fire spread around:
        And, like the shock of an electric stroke,
        Florio's dead trance to agony unbound:--
        He burst into a scream, whose piercing sound
        Seem'd born of tortures more acute than fire;--
        Then forcing through the crowd, the gate he found,
        And rush'd along the street, as if the dire
And cruel pangs he felt, his furious speed could tire.


Page [94]


Page 95

CANTO V.


I.

        Chas'd by a thousand fiends of vain remorse
        Florio fled on, whither he could not tell,
        Till, past the farther gate, his dizzy course
        Stumbled some half mile farther, and he fell.
        Beside a river pool, surrounded well
        With deeply foliag'd trees, the wretch was laid:
        It seem'd a place for holy peace to dwell,
        Daisies and violets o'er the turf were spread,
And the wild hawthorn wav'd its branches o'er his head.


II.

        The light soft coolness of the April breeze
        Shook the fresh leaves: one single sun-beam there
        Found entrance through the wilderness of trees,
        And on th' untroubled pool lay silvery fair.
        Then, midst the spreading curls of Florio's hair,
        While the wind mov'd the branches, it would play:--
        As if it mock'd the pangs of his despair
        A moment on his tortured brow it lay,
Then, dancing o'er the flowers, would flit again away.


Page 96


III.

        Stunn'd by his great fatigue and greater pain
        He seem'd a while bereft of sense and will;
        Till both by slow degrees return'd again,
        Bringing once more the venom'd thoughts that kill.
        And plain before his eyes he saw her still,
        Saw that last look, where love, and joy, and death
        Were struggling;--saw the blush her pale lip fill
        And paler cheek the sable veil beneath,
And heard her stifled sigh, and faint and fluttering breath.


IV.

        Words, looks, and scenes forgotten, rise in swarms,
        And anguish seem'd to waken memory's powers,
        Till, writhing frenzied with his outstretch'd arms,
        He wrench'd up handfuls of the grass and flowers.
        He thought of all the stol'n confiding hours
        Ere he, her friend belov'd, for love had sued:
        Th' inexplicable tears that fell in showers
        Whene'er his tongue forbidden themes renew'd,
And his own burning words, that all her heart subdued.


V.

        Too late he saw a royal lover's eyes
        Beset her every step with snares and fear;
        Too late he felt her faith's pure sacrifice,
        Which for his sake refus'd a King to hear;
        Too late he knew her love was truth sincere,
        Which he had dar'd to think Coquetry's art;
        And all the labour'd wiles array'd appear
        By which he stole her fond and trusting heart,
And play'd, disguis'd with love, a murderous traitor's part.


Page 97


VI.

        The glowing ringlets of his hair, where Love
        Had spread his meshes, without ruth he tore;
        Still, as some new-sprung thought fresh pain would move,
        Handful on handful strew'd the river's shore.
        Sometimes exhausted life the war gave o'er
        And lay insensible, a moment calm:
        Till the wild fit, returning as before
        And gathering force from quiet's soothing balm,
Burst into keener pangs than win a martyr's palm.


VII.

        For hours upon the grass outstretch'd he lay
        Suffering fatigue, thirst, hunger, and despair:
        Till, sinking fast to eve, declining day
        Brought darkening twilight, and a cooler air.
        His brain was over-worn:--strange figures stare,
        And mope and mow at him as low he lies,
        And one bright vision, hateful still, though fair,
        Glitters and gleams before his blood-shot eyes,
And trying to dispel it, forces him to rise.


VIII.

        Three paces bring him to the river's brink;
        In the cool wave he laves his burning brow,
        And, stooping to the water, deep doth drink:
        He looks around; tis gone; more freely now
        He breathes, and feels new life returning glow,
        And throwing off his dress finds some relief,
        Bathing within the river's gentle flow:
        And hop'd the vision, dreaded as 'twas brief,
Had been delusion all, an offspring of his grief.


Page 98


IX.

        But on th' opposing bank, where laurels old
        Grew thick embower'd, behold it re-appear:
        And Florio, once the boldest of the bold,
        Felt his blood curdling 'neath the touch of fear.
        Alas, it was the Sylph! the day and year
        Elaps'd, his promise claim'd, and he was come!
        His look was grave, majestic, and severe,
        Enough to strike and keep his rival dumb--
While sternly he pronounc'd, "I came to bring you home--


X.

        "She whose dear will is law, whose angel breast
        "Can know no change, your true and wedded wife,
        "Hath issued to her servant such behest.
        "Come, then!"--A stab from an assassin's knife
        Would have been light to this: in stormy strife
        Conflicting feelings such a whirlwind rais'd
        In Florio's brain, that had not youth and life
        Been strong within him, gasping and amaz'd
He would have dropp'd down dead, ev'n as he stood and gaz'd.


XI.

        In vain the youth to clear his voice began:--
        The Sylph resum'd;--"No answer? even so!"--
        He spoke; "Say that you found a wretched man
        "Unworthy of her.''--"That, so long ago
        "I've said a thousand times, 'tis needless now--
        "But she believes it not--from you alone
        "Conviction flows:--come, then!"--"I will not go,
        "Unless you'll leave me on some mountain thrown,
"To lie a mangled wreck of sinew, blood, and bone!"


Page 99


XII.

        "You will not go! you will not! It is well.
        "Next time I ask you hardly will refuse:
        "And till it come I bid your hate farewell,
        "And wish you joy of the sweet lot you chuse.
        " 'Tis worthy of you!"--Then his glowing hues
        Fading away, he flitted like a ghost,
        And Florio, whom a thousand thoughts confuse,
        From grief to grief, from fear to terror tost,
Stood on the river's brink, confounded, tam'd, and lost.


XIII.

        Through the thick grove now glancing lights are seen,
        And busy voices soon approach more near:
        And, breaking through the covert's tangled green,
        An armed crowd before his eyes appear,
        With sticks, and staves, and partizan, and spear,
        And lighted torch and lantern in their hands:
        They stop at bay when Florio's frenzied cheer
        They mark, as naked on the bank he stands,
And then advancing, seize, and bind him in their bands.


XIV.

        They seiz'd his vestments, and within them found
        The letters to the Princess and the Priest:
        And neither would they leave his hands unbound,
        Nor give him of his garments e'en the least.
        They were much frighten'd, and no fiercer beast
        Runs in the forest than your frighten'd man:
        And all expected to enjoy a feast
        Of rare occurrence, if their prisoner can
Be to the Legate brought, nor mar by flight their plan.


Page 100


XV.

        So naked to the town they march'd him off,
        Scarce conscious still of what was passing round,
        Until with many a bitter curse and scoff
        They brought him to a vault beneath the ground.
        There, rang'd in high solemnity, was found
        A grave tribunal, set to try his crime:
        Grimly upon their prisoner they frown'd,
        And strove in frequent and repeated chime
To make him hear his sentence, read the twentieth time.


XVI.

        At last a glimmering of the horrid truth
        Began some clearing in his brain to make,
        And show'd him that their gentle judgment's ruth
        Condemn'd him on the morrow to the stake,
        There to be burnt alive. With mind awake
        To horrors new that scar'd away the old,
        Striving from 'midst the darken'd clouds to break
        He ask'd his accusation, and was told
That witchcraft brought his doom, deserved a hundred-fold.


XVII.

        That dealing with the devil, as he did,
        Was crime accursed both by God and man,
        And by the laws divine a thing forbid
        Since laws were first ordain'd and crimes began.
        And then his accusation onward ran--
        "That by a fiend possess'd and shaken sore,
        "No one could tell from whence, nor yet they can,
        "He was disposed of at an open door
"Which never had been cross'd by such ill luck before.


Page 101


XVIII.

        "That soon its owner died--no one knew how--
        "And for the prisoner robb'd her rightful heir:
        "Who from that time successful until now,
        "Bewitch'd more women than the law could spare
        "Time to count over, and their names declare.
        "That ev'n the King himself he oft had tried
        "To captivate by a behaviour fair:
        "And knowing well his traitorous schemes to guide
"By aid of imps from hell, beyond man's skill would ride.


XIX.

        "And at the last, when to the sacred fane,
        "Compell'd by royal mandate, he was sent,
        "The wicked wizard set his snares in vain
        "The holy ceremony to prevent.
        "And when the new-made nun by Heaven's consent
        "Sent forth her soul to join th' angelic quire,
        "The fiend within him shriek'd, and forth he went
        "As one accursed, balk'd of his desire,
"Returning to his place of woe and penal fire.


XX.

        "And last of all, when Justice sent to seize
        "The miscreant wretch for trial, he was seen
        "Dancing with devils underneath the trees;
        "While Satan, as a goat with bearded mien
        "And horns and tail, stood centre on the green,
        "And play'd the pipe, while all did homage low:
        "And how the prisoner, chief of all the scene,
         "Twice for their once with face to earth did bow,--
"And all was seen as plain as if they saw it now.


Page 102


XXI.

        "Therefore he was condenm'd to be giv'n o'er
        "Unto the secular arm." His scatter'd sense
        By a strong effort calling back once more,
        He tried to make a rational defence
        (Too good to penetrate through skulls so dense),
        Urging the non-existence of the crime:
        'Twas all in vain;--their faith was too intense
        To be endanger'd at the very time
When in their reach they saw a pleasure so sublime


XXII.

        As that of burning one of Satan's crew.
        Then Florio chang'd his battery, and defied
        To single fight his foes; not one or two,
        But altogether; when by battle tried,
        He'd prove that basely in their throats they lied:
        And claim'd protection of the King, whose just
        And royal nature never would abide
        To see a knight borne down, by malice thrust,
Whose zeal he had repaid with confidence and trust.


XXIII.

        He had brought letters of importance high,
        Writ by the King, seal'd with his private seal,
        Which were ta'en from him; but the time was nigh
        When they would find the danger of their zeal.
        Again unto the King he urg'd appeal,
        And threaten'd loud his vengeance on them all:
        But arm'd in obstinacy's triple steel,
        Upon their ears his words as powerless fall
As flakes of melting snow against some fortress' wall.


Page 103


XXIV.

        One who had still kept silence, now observ'd,
        His letters seem'd not much to vex his mind,
        Since they had waited till his leisure serv'd,
        And nor for race nor bath he felt inclin'd.
        To which he answer'd firmly, he design'd
        To seek th' approval of the King alone;
        Who, when such post of trust he had assign'd,
        Had left no part of his intents unknown,
But order'd how and when the letters should be shown.


XXV.

        It was ingenious, very neatly put.
        Enough to stagger loyal men and true;
        But the old pack was stanch, and bold to boot,
        And knew what things they might or might not do.
        They seem'd to listen, just with ears enow
        To suit the ends of Justice--and, Heaven knows,
        The ends of Justice are such ends as few
        Can hope to catch in places like to those--
A sort of cul-de-sac--which all escape must close.


XXVI.

        The trial ended, in a deeper vault
        They threw the prisoner, iron'd as before:
        Condemn'd to expiate his horrid fault
        In flames on earth, and flames for evermore.
        A sable gown with flames bepainted o'er
        They gave him, and a water-flask, and bread:
        A lighted lamp they plac'd upon the floor,
        And as they left him, for his comfort said,
All preparation should in some few hours be made.


Page 104


XXVII.

        Lock after lock, hinge grated after hinge,
        Till in long silence all had died away,
        And Florio felt full many a fearful twinge
        When left alone to wait for such a day.
        But down he sat, and without much delay
        He ate the bread, and drank the water up;
        For he had borne what well might wear away
        His strength sufficiently to make him sup
Glad of his humble fare, and scant and sober cup.


XXVIII.

        The whole dispatch'd, he search'd and search'd around,
        And visited each corner of his cell,
        To try if any means could yet be found
        To fly from fate so horrible and fell:
        And all the walls with care examin'd well.
        A rugged stone near to the roof, he thought
        Might, if well manag'd, serve him for a spell,
        Could aught of rope be had, which, round it brought,
Might, lower, to a noose, with little pains be wrought.


XXIX.

        Next to his robe of flames he then applied,
        And scarce his manacles gave scope to tear
        It into stripes, which, tight together tied,
        He thought might serve his pendant weight to bear.
        His irons made him slower to prepare
        The work on which his hopes now all depend:--
        Alas, poor Florio! on that morn so fair
        He little dream'd a rope with noose at end
To greet with rapturous joy, deliverer and friend!


Page 105


XXX.

        He tore, and knotted, strengthen'd, tied, and tore,
        Till a far footstep fell upon his ear,
        And, grating on its hinge, the moving door
        Show'd certain signs of interruption near.
        It slowly open'd: with instinctive fear
        Florio, his work collected, hid away;
        And now a friar and a monk appear,
        Who carrying keys and bundle thus did say,
"Take courage yet, my son--it still is far from day.


XXXI.

        "You surely know me?--I have often seen
        "You with the Princess, who such favour show'd,
        "That I, as her confessor, oft have been
        "Uneasy at the source from whence it flow'd.
        "But she's a pious dame, and well bestow'd
        "Your pains have been to please her: she has found
        "Means to exchange your present dark abode
        "For lighter prison far above the ground,
"And to delay your death, and get your hands unbound."


XXXII.

        Florio, astonish'd, felt his chains dissolve,
        As, one by one the priest unlock'd each spring,
        And hardly yet his brain can clear resolve
        How to explain so very strange a thing.
        But this delay was much. If to the King
        He can but send, he feels success assur'd:
        And when his friends his liberation bring,
        He'll try if all, the past may not be cur'd,
And some bright fate be his, and life be yet endur'd.


Page 106


XXXIII.

         The priest his bundle down before him throws,
         And it contain'd his garments every one:
         Most thankfully he dress'd you may suppose,
         Although his purse and letters both were gone.
         Then by the other priest the way was shown
         Through passage, vault, and trap, till, issuing quite
         From the dark horror of these dens unknown,
        They found themselves in empty streets, where night
Already from the dawn prepar'd her westward flight.


XXXIV.

        And soon he found himself once more ascending
        The well-known staircase, scene of dire dismay,
        And something like a faint resolve at mending
        Began unwonted o'er his mind to stray.
        They enter'd a saloon, where drapery gay
        Hung down as if a door conceal'd to screen,
        And stooping to go through, he found the way
        A trap into an iron cage had been
Of massive bars you scarce could thrust your hand between.


XXXV.

        "What is all this?" cried Florio. " 'Tis a cage,"
        Replied the priest, "built for a tiger's den,
        "Which comes a present to our Princess sage
        "From eastern countries far beyond our ken.
        "Soon to full liberty return'd again,
        " 'Tis but a few short hours you there must bide;
        "There is good hay to make your couch till then,
        "And no permitted means shall be untried
"To make your bondage light, and soothe offended pride."


Page l07


XXXVI.

        In short, with honied words he coax'd him calm,
        And Florio ask'd for cushions, which he took
        From the low seats: and might have found some balm
        In rest and comfort, were't not for the look,
        Which something in his bosom scarce could brook.
        A cage! a den! 'twas the most strange abode!
        But yet his hay and cushions down he shook,
        Glad of repose from toil and sorrow's load,
And sleep his soothing poppies on his eyes bestow'd.


XXXVII.

        Day was nigh gone before the youth awoke,
        And hunger's calls began to say 'twas late:
        As into consciousness his slumbers broke,
        He felt the degradation of his state
        More keenly than before.--What? thus to wait
        Like a wild beast--the keeper had forgot!
        Surely the Princess, mistress of his fate,
        Would soon appear--and then, his breakfast got,
His eloquenee might try to mend his wayward lot.


XXXVIII.

        At last a step approach'd--it stopp'd--'twas she!
        It must be she--he saw in what strict ward
        His person was confined, for many a key
        In many a lock grated and creak'd full hard.
        A prison'd knight, a Princess for his guard,
        Was picturesque, and well enough--but then,
        To ogle from a cage of iron barr'd,
        Shut like a noxious brute within a den!
'Twould make the tale a jest for every class of men.


Page 108


XXXIX.

        The slowly opening door gave full to view
        The Princess rob'd in royal guise, alone--
        Behind her fast the bolts again she drew,
        Resolv'd the parley should be all her own:
        And to the cage advancing, words seem'd flown
        From both the quondam lovers. Florio bow'd,
        But something in her brow's repulsive frown
        Seem'd to forewarn him speech was scarce allow'd,
Till she had silence broke, and her intents avow'd.


XL.

        She look'd, but spoke not. Her dark olive skin
        Nor paly grief nor crimson blush betray'd:
        Her lips, scarce parted, quiver'd--and within,
        The tongue for voice seem'd powerless, or afraid.
        Her clear eyes seem'd grown smaller, and display'd
        Such twinkling light as in the lamp is seen,
        When some stray water-drop has lent its aid
        To make a sputtering fire-work, blue and green:
In short she look'd terrific, burst with spite, and mean.


XLI.

        "At last I have you!"--thus her speech began--
        "Safe cag'd. Were you so simple as believe
        "That my compassion would have sav'd a man
        "Who so had outrag'd me, were't not to weave
        "A mesh around him which should all deceive,
        "And yet should give me vengeance full and sweet?
        "Know, wretch detested, none shall dare relieve
        "Your thirst and hunger with one grain of meat
"Or drink, till lingering Death shall make my work complete.


Page 109


XLII.

        "I have forgotten, doubtless, my own folly,
        "Which took you for a true and loyal knight,
        "Inveigled by the specious melancholy
        "That cloth'd your baseness in such taking light.
        "I have forgotten, too, that famous night
        "When--but it would be waste of words to tell,
        "And all your crimes display before your sight,
        "Wretch, robber, traitor, villain, monster fell,
"More black than Lucifer, more grim and false than Hell!"


XLIII.

        'Twas now the evening hour: the slanting sun
        Shot yellow beams through every window tall,
        And faint the glimmering colours had begun
        To show their Iris hues along the wall,
        The Sylph announcing in the guarded hall.
        Florio felt strong, and turning with an air
        Of mix'd contempt and pleasantry, " 'Tis all,"
        He said, "in rule, that dames more kind than fair,
"Should, when a lover fails them, be in great despair.


XLIV.

        "But when they are no longer subjected
        "To youth's vagaries; and maturer years
        "To better contemplations should have led
        "Their cogitations heavenward, it appears
        "Scant justice thus to punish: still my fears
        "Are more for what a cruel world will say,
        "When, taking air, this curious tale it hears,
        "Of how the Princess stole a man away
"From sentence of the law, which, cozen'd by delay,


Page 110


XLV.

        "She robb'd of its just due--and, what is more,
        "A man possessing claims not quite unknown
        "Upon the lady's favour--true--the sore
        "Had been salv'd up by his dead body shown:
        "But though there are few things I would not own
        "Much pleasure in peforming for your sake,
        "I must decline this one.--The time is gone
        "In which I thought a tender speech to make,
"And so"--the Princess then began alarm to take,


XLVI.

        Lest he had friends behind her--she look'd round,
        No one was there--with tongue prepar'd to shower
        A volley, back she turn'd. Confusion bound
        The half-form'd words--Florio upheld by power
        Of sylphid wings, up at the roof, no lower
        Hung in mid air. The Princess, screaming high
        As fear and spite could make her, saw the hour
        Of all her long plann'd vengeance clean gone by,
As out of window sailing, Florio off did fly.


XLVII.

        Why should I farther lengthen out her story,
        And tell how loud she scream'd, how high, how long?
        And how her servants, in a plight most sorry,
        Found her the fragments of the cage among,
        Fall'n on the pavement in hysterics strong,
        When, arm'd with axe and crow they trooping came,
        Hearing the well-known 'larum of her tongue;
        And her confessor, patching up her fame,
Made that poor slander'd devil, Satan, bear the blame.


Page 111


XLVIII.

        Away, away, o'er hill and plain, and sea,
        Flew the light sylph, his willing burden bearing;
        Nor scruple nor refusal hinted he,
        No more to try the sylph's small patience daring.
        Far, far too frighten'd was he now for caring
        Where he arrived, so he but got away--
        And though the sylph could find no joy in sparing
        His rival's life, he knew that this delay
Would give his wish effect, and at no distant day.


XLIX.

        And as they flew, Florio began to think,
        As of a dream long past, of his first vow;
        And felt how fragile was the binding link
        He once had deem'd eternal: ne'er till now
        The thought had so come home, as to avow
        The naked truth, stripp'd of all borrow'd plumes,
        That Love is frailer than the radiant bow
        Which its bright life from double cause assumes,
But, one withdrawn, 'tis gone--nor more the sky illumes.


L.

        Let the rain clear away, the clouds divide,
        And leave the sky to the bright sun alone,
        The fading bow forsakes its hour of pride,
        And with the last tear vanishing, is gone.
        Let the clouds close, and rising tempests moan
        Through the wild masses of the troubled skies,
        And muttering thunders low begin to groan:
        Pale and more pale amid the storm it dies,
Or borne on the last ray, to happier climates flies.


Page 112


LI.

        Florio began to feel how awkward 'twere
        To meet his bride less fondly than before:
        And yet the very thoughts of love and her
        Seem'd clean divorc'd for aye and evermore.
        Then rapid in his mind repassing o'er
        Her crown, her qualities, and beauty too,
        He finish'd by resolving to restore
        As much of love as strictly was her due,
He really thought he might, and Time the rest might do.


LII.

        For her fidelity, 'twas no such bond--
        She lov'd him, and his rival would not hear--
        But she had sense, nor would be half so fond
        When wedlock's sober train in sight appear.
        At least he hop'd so--yet one cause of fear
        He found in his own matchless self--for whom
        So many tender hearts had been so near
        To self-destruction, nor could e'er give room
To other love than his, nor freedom could resume.


LIII.

        Still, Time might do it--poor, old, hard-work'd wight,
        Who's task'd until his aged sinews crack:
        Upon whose shoulders all lay loads which might
        Break the firm key-stone of a porter's back.
        All things of weight, whose lazy owners lack
        The power to move or bear them, turn or draw,
        Are giv'n to him, whose real strength's so slack,
        That e'en in ripening medlars,14 Venice' law
Consider'd Time's hard case, and gave him help of straw.


Page 113


LIV.

        They near'd the earth--a richly wooded plain15
        Between two mountain ranges shelter'd well,
        And opening to the north on the blue main,
        Seem'd safe from all the ills that e'er befel
        Earth's fairest portions--floods nor famine fell
        Could there intrude, and e'en the hot siroc,
        Fenc'd out by mountain-spirits' icy spell,
        Dar'd not o'erpass the boundaries of rock
Which spread their cooling shades o'er tree, and stream, and flock.


LV.

        But all its beauties (and they were far more
        Than in one nine-legg'd verse can be recounted),
        Unseen by Florio pass'd his eyes before,
        When lighting down on earth, from air dismounted,
        It seem'd as if that day, so sweet accounted,
        Made him feel blank as debtor when hard press'd
        For a just claim, 'gainst which his all, well counted,
        Would make a shabby dividend at best,
Leaving Time, Heaven, and Patience, sureties for the rest.


LVI.

        He was alone--the Sylph no parlance staid,
        And where he disappear'd he could not see:
        He look'd around him, more than half afraid
        To see Irene under every tree.
        But yet, reflecting that the thing must be,
        Bold he set forth, and pluck'd up heart of grace,
        Soon each the view of either caught, and she
        Flew with swift feet across the verdant space,
And breathless, clasp'd his neck in long and warm embrace.


Page 114


LVII.

        And where was e'er the man whose veins drew heat
        From youth and life, who could remain unmov'd,
        When a young heart in such fair shrine that beat,
        Prov'd, throbbing on his own, how much it lov'd?
        Florio with all his soul her love approv'd:
        How could he otherwise have felt or done?
        A few short moments all his fears remov'd,
        And happiness he thought might still be won,
And all the past forgot, and life's new lease begun.


LVIII.

        Together o'er the green and flowery lawn
        They walk'd, to where their habitation stood.
        It was an ancient tower,16 (since often drawn
        And painted too, by artists bad and good:
        I've drawn it with the rest.) But then the wood
        Was cluster'd in a thicker grove around,
        The fine stone tracery was entire, nor strew'd
        With its fair ruin'd fragments all the ground,
Shaming our clumsy hands which ne'er the art have found.


LIX.

        Two languages ago, they say its name
        Meant Beautiful--a title well deserv'd;
        And though its builders perish'd, still its fame
        The appellation and its truth preserv'd.
        Here in the solitude, from sight reserv'd,
        Th' Emìr's fair daughter, Queen of Beauty, reign'd--
        And now its hall's forsaken splendour serv'd
        Our lovers to receive, who well maintain'd
Their right to keep the wreath which beauty there had gain'd.


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LX.

        For they were beautiful: she seem'd too fair,
        Too pure, too perfect for a mortal's love:
        And well she justified the Prince of air
        Who left for her the halls of light above.
        Florio was beautiful, and had he strove
        Against his own wild passions, had been bright
        As the bright angel guardian bands who rove
        The starry spheres in silence of the night,
Shedding around their orbit, joy and love and light.


LXI.

        But as they sat within the marble hall,
        Where the cool fountain's freshening waters play'd,
        Bounding in silver arches from the wall,
        And flowing through a channel all inlaid
        With gold and glittering gems, Irene made
        A less confus'd inspection of his face,
        And there she saw, what she had been afraid
        (If practis'd aught in human ill) to trace,
A slight but speaking change, which there had found a place.


LXII.

        For in his face she saw a something new--
        It was not quite a frown--but the arch'd brow
        Seem'd as some thwarting influence had pass'd through,
        And marr'd the lines so perfect until now.
        These were his eyes--but the cerulean glow
        Which stole its rays from ocean's sunny flood,
        Less bright, less blue--and yet, it was not so,--
        There wanted but the smile which all subdued,
To light them up once more, their brightness all renew'd.


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LXIII.

        The cheek had lost its lustre--all the lip
        Was shaded by mustachios thick and full,
        Which, drinking, in the beverage not to dip
        Requir'd a skill and grace which few could cull.
        This was the cause of all the change, their dull
        Harsh shade disfigured lip, and cheek, and brow:
        It must be all their fault; she knew the rule
        Of war no other semblance could allow,
But surely that was past, and he might trim them now.


LXIV.

        But though Irene felt that something wrong
        Lurk'd in her lover's perfect features, still
        Her heart protected by conviction strong,
        And blind in innocence, could fear no ill:
        And as the hours their wonted round fulfil,
        Sure that her happiness alike must glow
        Warm in his heart as her's, she lack'd the skill
        Dear-bought, to tell the substance from the show,
Loving, believing all, nor dreaming more to know.


LXV.

        They were together--all the anxious days,
        The weeping nights of weary years were o'er,
        And the extinguish'd torch again may blaze,
        And light to joys to last for evermore.
        And as she gaz'd, it was not long before
        Love's sophistry had deck'd a specious tale--
        He must have suffer'd much--nay suffer'd more
        Than she--till sorrow's power could thus prevail,
And dim his brilliant eyes, and make his cheek so pale.


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LXVI.

        Dear Florio! for her sake! how could she pay
        A love so true, so faithful, so sincere!
        She felt it was impossible; the day
        Of one short life not half the debt could clear.
        And yet perhaps in some far distant year
        'Spite of the sufferings of the time gone by,
        He might find cause to own, though paid so dear,
        That faithful love by thousand ways can hie
To happiness so true, 'twere cheap by pain to buy.


LXVII.

        And then, though plac'd secluded midst the wood,
        Secure in their own joy, what farther thought
        Could on the halcyon hours of love intrude,
        Or make them wish beyond its bounds for aught?
        And from her inmost soul she felt that nought
        Of blessing there was wanting; every clime
        The generous Sylph for means of pleasure sought,
        And had bestow'd so freely, 'twere a crime
To wish for aught of change, at least for a long time.


LXVIII.

        For in a Paradise more heavenly fair
        Than earth on any other shore can boast,
        The Sylph had chose their dwelling to prepare,
        And spread such fairy charms along the coast
        That yet they linger, nor the power have lost
        To fascinate the heart and fix the eye:
        The voyaging bark upon the ocean tost
        Sees the wide port expand, and joyfully
Drops anchor, in the deep clear pool secure to lie.


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LXIX.

        Upon the beach the hollow murmuring shell
        Gems with rose tints the margin of the deep,
        Within whose concave spire resides the spell
        That with low voice sad memory doth keep
        Of the bright ocean, where it wont to steep
        In living freshness of its native caves:
        Where fields that sickle never reach'd to reap,
         Stretch their long sailing leaves below the waves,
Soft sway'd in floating balance, while the water laves.


LXX.

        And trailing in the billows rippling cool
        Descend the boughs of broad and stately trees,
        Of foliage varied, and of fruit more full
        Than liberal Nature grants to aught but these:
        And when, o'erpassing them, the light-wing'd breeze
        Awakes the odour of their rich perfume,
        Glancing among the leaves the gazer sees
        On every bough the silver stars of bloom,
That, twin'd midst golden fruit, for endless Spring find room.


LXXI.

        And all this beauty does not bloom in vain:
        A noble city17 on the shore is spread,
        Where many a lofty street and many a fane
        With drone and minaret rears high its head,
        But from the high minar no more is sped
        The voice that calls the people unto pray'r;
        For up have risen steeples in their stead
        Which with their jangling bells alarm the air,
A torment nought but use could teach the ears to bear.


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LXXII.

        Dark is the city's origin: in Time's
        Farthest, far darkling twilight it was born,
        And many nations came from many climes
        Its beauteous site, enjoying, to adorn.
        Oft ta'en and sack'd, in ashes left forlorn,
        Oft shaken from its deep foundations down
        By earthquakes, and by hands barbaric torn,
        Still, from its ruins rais'd, the noble town
Smiles o'er its Paradise, as woe were there unknown.


LXXIII.

        Along the beach its palaces extend,
         Bearing

["Bearing " corrected in manuscript hand in this copy of the printed text to read "Rearing "]

their marble piles above the sea,
        And gardens round the bay in fragrance bend,
        Treasures of flower, and fruit, and shrub, and tree:
        Palm and pimento flourishing as free
        With flaming coral bloom, as though the sun
        Pour'd here the abundance of his tropic glee
        Ere his cool course o'er Europe he begun,
Returning to repose, his heat of glory done.


LXXIV.

        A mountain bulwark rises near the town,
        And like a giant forth to guard it stands;
        And faint along the sky-line sinking down
        Soft fall the lines of capes and rising lands:
        And inland far as the strain'd eye commands,
        Along the vale, alternate wood and lawn
        Woo to their shades: but freshest on the sands
        Breathes the cool moonlight breeze,day's glare withdrawn
While the gay dance floats round, and music sounds till dawn.


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LXXV.

        But though the city lay so near their nest,
        Nought of its neighbourhood the lovers knew,
        For thus the Sylph decreed and thought 'twere best:
        Down to the sea through path-ways not a few
        Conducted, they were engineer'd so true
        To his intent, that to all human ken,
        It seem'd a desert where the wild-flowers grew
        Untrodden and uncropp'd on hill and glen,
Far from the noisy haunts and dwelling-place of men.


LXXVI.

        And then it was he brought from far and near
        Those small and twinkling gems of ev'ry dye,18
        Which in the smooth green turf so thick appear,
        Charming the learned and unlearned eye.
        Red, purple, orange, blue, together try
        Which brightest can allure, or sweetest smell;
        And e'en the common weeds so far outvie
        Their lineage, that it seems as if a spell
Presided o'er each flower to make it bloom so well.


LXXVII.

        All round was bliss--Irene felt no change,
        Save that her passion turn'd idolatry;
        And, anxious with her lover forth to range,
        She left her long rich locks luxuriantly
        To flow around her neck unbraided free--
        Till wearied of the weight she pull'd a rose,
        And cross'd it with a bough of jasmine tree,
        And round them loose her silken tresses throws,
Flowing in glossy waves to every breeze that blows.


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LXXVIII.

        How happy fled the hours! the slanting sun
        Beyond the mountains set in floods of gold,
        Ere the short course of day seem'd well begun.
        Thus when light barks along the billows hold
        Their course, and winds so soft their wings unfold
        That scarce we feel their motion--the far shore
        Seems flying from our sight--the outlines bold
        Fade in the sky, and then are seen no more,
Till the good port is hail'd, the unconscious voyage o'er.


Page [122]


Page 123

CANTO VI


I.

        Now string the lyre anew: a different measure
        Suits the sad tenor of the sinking lay--
        Changing the chords that told of love and pleasure
        To the slow dying fall of closing day.
        Perhaps 'twere better, halting at midway,
        To leave the last catastrophe untold;
        And suffer hearts unskill'd in life's deep play
        To hope, that free from danger, tranquil roll'd
Our married lovers' lives, in happiness grown old.


II.

        It cannot be: she lov'd too fondly far
        To be endur'd by one indifferent grown--
        And what was still a more effectual bar,
        She never flatter'd--and she was his own.
        A thousand trifles daily clear had shown
        He lov'd her not; had she not been so blind
        As ne'er to doubt it possible that one
        Whom she so doted on, could be unkind,
Or guess he loath'd the bond, which his free will confin'd.


Page 124


III.

        Had she lov'd little:--had her mind been slave
        To wealth and flattery--prizing empire more
        And the heart's empire less--a tardy grave
        Had waited her upon her native shore,
        With crowns, and arms, and trophies blazon'd o'er,
        To tell how long she liv'd, how well she reign'd:
        Less beautiful--the wayward fate that tore
        Her from her parents' arms, had never pain'd
Their yearning hearts with sorrow, long as life remain'd.


IV.

        Yet why lament her? many a branch the tree
        Sees wither'd at its feet before its time;
        And many a corpse, far from its ancestry,
        Exil'd in death as life to foreign clime,
        Lies far from prayer and tear--where never chime
        Of merry bells was heard, nor solemn knell:
        What matters it, if funeral rites begrime
        With 'sembled hues of woe, when none can tell
Joy in disguise from grief, it acts its part so well


V.

        E'en my own race, though vaults of ancient date
        Ope their dark portals where their sires have lain,
        Wide scatter'd o'er the globe by various fate,
        Beneath the thin turf buried, show 'tis vain.
        The world-divided Indies, France, and Spain
        Receiv'd their bones, far from their land of birth;
        Vain was his wish expiring midst the slain,
        (To whom all proffer'd aid was nothing worth)
To drink his native spring, and lie in native earth.


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VI.

        Then why o'er poor Irene's lot bewail,
        Gliding from fancied woe to real tears?
        Or shrink unwilling from the closing tale,
        Loathing the course the shatter'd vessel steers
        Into the port, sole end of woes and fears,
        That port of safety, where we all must moor
        Has verse a glass through which plain truth appears
        So galling to the heart, that to ensure
Endurance, soften'd down, its harshness we must cure?


VII.

        Nonsense--the case occurs in every day
        That rises on us--only some are tough,
        And will not die, let happen what there may;
        These are not few:--still there are left enough
        Too fragile to encounter storms so rough,
        That pine and pine away till health is flown,
        And till life follows--while some lying stuff
        Tells on their tomb, that cough or fever grown
Triumphant o'er their strength, laid them beneath that stone.


VIII.

        E'en Dr. Johnson--that old twisted knot
        Of pride, and prejudice, and crabbedness,
        Declar'd, that in his mind he doubted not
        That more had died for love than we can guess.
        First, love is a disease that none confess;
        Second, 'tis a disease no leech can cure:
        And 'twere a shame to trust his axiom less
        For his belief in ghosts--his words are sure,
Our Pope infallible, while England's realms endure.


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IX.

        Therefore 'tis true as Fate--the Doctor said it,
        And woe betide you if you dare to doubt,
        Or turn the question other than he made it;
        Then bravely let me go my work about,
        Nor flinch, but tell the truth with courage stout,
        And make an end of my long rambling lay:
        But could I here a friendly pen find out
        To end it for me, 'twere in vain to say,
How glad to other hands I'd give the task away.


X.

        Ah, blind confiding Love! what loyal heart
        But pours deep Pity's tears thy woes upon,
        When late conviction forces thee to part
        With all the sacred treasures once thine own!
        Like drops of burning lead, that one by one
        Fall on a martyr's breast, when proofs conspire,
        Still the poor sufferer stifles tear and groan,
        Hugs self-deceit, and hopes with vain desire,
Till angels weep to see the flickering flame expire.


XI.

        Expire, and leave all dark--and then if Heaven
        Have placed the sorrow in a fragile mould,
        Repose from pain and anguish soon is given,
        Resting in narrow limits, calm as cold.
        But when the vital thread is strong to hold
        The bracing ties of life, life's farce goes on--
        But oh! within that breast 'twould scare the bold
        To see the springs at work when peace is flown,
A harrowing spectacle, reserv'd for Heaven alone.


Page 127


XII.

        That lovers are dull company, and rude,
        The well-bred world has been aware for long:
        Therefore, upon their leisure to intrude
        Were to the full as tedious as 'twere wrong.
        Yet sometimes Thought would thrust his face among
        The flowers by which their nuptials were surrounded:
        A stray unlucky word--a look--a song,
        Would wake a nest of snakes that Florio wounded,
And then his mood so strange Irene quite confounded.


XIII.

        At last there came the day, the unlucky day
        (Not many days had pass'd before it rose),
        In which he ask'd her how to find the way
        Which from the tower a parting traveller goes:
        And where the road leads forth, and whither flows
        The rivulet that murmurs through the wood?
        In short, he thought it time from their repose
        To rise, and set forth home as best they could,
The kingdom's weal to seek, and join their parents good.


XIV.

        A flood of tears her parents' names call down
        From poor Irene's eyes--"Alas!" she cried,
        "Did you not see when hither you had flown,
        "That lofty crystal walls our lives divide
        "From their dear love, and all the world beside?
        "We are alone--and though our happiness
        "Leaves not a wish that hence our feet could guide,
        "Yet, dar'd I from my heart the truth confess,
" 'Twere a deep grief to me if I had lov'd you less.


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XV.

        "But as the Sylph such mercy shows at last,
        "And watches o'er our happiness so well,
        "Perhaps, when some few years away have past"--
        Here Florio did what I'm asham'd to tell,
        Stopping Irene's mouth with words whose spell
        Was easy to his tongue, but not to ours;
        He fairly wish'd the Sylph were d----d in hell!
        And thunder'd imprecations in such showers
That she drew back aghast as the hot volley pours.


XVI.

        She stood confounded--pale--more pale her cheek
        Grew--and her lips their colour chang'd to white;
        And chilly blue each nail began to streak,
        So much did his wild violence affright.
        Already could she fancy come in sight
        The Sylph, with vengeance arm'd, to kill and slay--
        Florio rav'd on, until exhausted quite,
        His rage had left no more of curse to say,
And breath and strength were gone, and the storm died away.


XVII.

        He leant his throbbing head upon his hand,
        Covering his eyes, his fit of fury o'er,
        Nor mark'd Irene still as rooted stand,
        Fix'd to the spot where she had stood before.
        Then slow he look'd her in the face, far more
        Like a stern judge than lover: "Is this true?"
        He said--"Where is this wall? I must explore
        "It every inch, and its whole circuit view,
"And find or make a breach,--and make an exit too.


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XVIII.

        "Show me the way."--Irene strove to say
        She could not show the crystal circuit well:
        She had but known the place a single day
        Before he came--Himself might see the spell,
        Following the alleys till their close compel
        To tread roughground, and thorns.--And then she sigh'd,
        And look'd so wretched, while on earth there fell
        Some scalding tears which she half turn'd to hide,
That any heart save one vice-sear'd to soothe had tried.


XIX.

        But without further word, away he stalk'd,
        As one offended, cross'd, and hardly used;
        And down the nearest alley swiftly walk'd,
        Till among bushes tall the sight, confused,
        Lost him. Irene reason's gifts abused,
        Though weeping still, in arguing with her sense,
        That passion was short madness, and once loosed,
        Its rage o'erleap'd all bounds, nor found a fence
In prudence, love, or reason, fit to warn it thence.


XX.

        In some hours more she quite became convinc'd
        That Florio staid so long, because his rage
        Now seem'd so shameful to him, that he winc'd
        At thoughts of joining her in mood more sage
        And dared not see her--Would she had a page,
        Who, sent with some small gift, the wound might cure.
        And he, ere entering, receive a gage
        That she forgave, and could not thus endure
To lose him from her sight--her pardon swift as sure.


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XXI.

        It was dark night before the youth return'd,
        And when he came, he enter'd dull and slow;
        No more upon his cheek hot choler burn'd,
        No more the flame of rage rose o'er his brow.
        Towards him she advanc'd: her arms of snow
        Around his neck she threw--he turn'd away.
        "Irene," he exclaim'd, "this childish show
        "Of love were better for another day:
"Tis now mistim'd--I'm ill dispos'd at love to play."


XXII.

        Irene then sat down--no further word
        Broke on the silence of their tardy meal:
        In vain rich dainties spread the tempting board,
        Hearts ill at ease no appetite can feel.
        Irene's pride supported her, though reel
        Her thoughts in wild confusion: all the roots
        Of her existence shaken--no appeal
        Remains to her--complaint nor murmur boots
To ease the shivering doubt that through her bosom shoots.


XXIII.

        Heavens! was it possible the Sylph judg'd right!
        Was it all true that he so oft had said!
        Was Florio chang'd to her? or was he quite
        Estrang'd from all affection? War's wild trade
        Most cruel havoc in his heart had made.
        Might it not yet be soften'd? Dared she try,
        Surely she might succeed--but still afraid,
        She shrunk from his knit brow and turbid eye,
And the half-utter'd words, unheard, unnotic'd die,


Page 131


XXIV.

        He rose and left her; sought their couch and slept,
        Or tried to sleep, nor e'en good night did say:
        Still at the board her seat unmov'd she kept,
        The lights burn'd low; the lamps scarce lent a ray:
        Lower and lower still they sunk away,
        When in the dimness of the ample hall
        She thought she saw a face--'twas faint and grey,
        And though she tried she could not see it all,
But sure it was a face--close by the darksome wall.


XXV.

        A face so grim, that once it caught her eye,
        She could not close it, nor yet look aside.
        'Twas old and wrinkled--fierce, yet leering sly,
        Grinning with a grimace that open'd wide
        A mouth where malice seem'd at home to bide:
        The expression such as fiends would wear, who see
        An angel falling, or a mortal tried
        Beyond his strength to bear: To rise and flee
Was done as soon as thought--near Florio safe to be,


XXVI.

        "Oh Florio," she exclaim'd, "a ruffian grim
        "Has burst into our hall!" He look'd amazed;
        And while she told th' adventure o'er to him,
        Sleepy upon her pallid cheeks he gazed.
        "Be not alarm'd," he said, "your fears have crazed
        "Your better reason, or th' old fellow's face
        "Could not such terror in your heart have raised.
        "He's my good friend; he penetrates all space,
"And all within their halls for him must find a place.


Page 132


XXVII.

        "I've known him long--to me he came disguised
        "In petticoats and hood: and when well known,
        "He saves a deal of trouble ill-advised,
        "And makes the world roll smooth. You wish him gone,
        "But you are wrong: as soon as he has shown
        "The fruits of his experience, you will see
        "That all which now annoys us both, far flown,
        "Conjur'd like evil sprite beneath the sea,
"Will let us live in peace, from maudlin folly free.


XXVIII.

        "His name is Disinganno. Soon or late
        "We all shake hands with him: would he knew how
        "To teach us to escape from such a fate
        "As threatens us with endless prison now!
        "Sleep mean while! but when morn's new-kindled glow
        "Illumes the east, together let us try,
        "If this accursed Sylph have left us no
        "Outlet, however difficult, to fly
"From this detested cage, this den, this hole, this stye!"


XXIX.

        He turn'd to sleep: Irene strove to find
        A like repose, in slumber's balm to share.
        The griesly face had seized upon her mind,
        And still its likeness would unbidden glare
        Upon her fearful vision, even there,
        In the last sanctuary of dying hope:
        Between the very curtains it would stare,
        And grin as if in scorn, with taunt, and mope,
And mow, until she ceas'd with its fell power to cope.


Page 133


XXX.

        "Speak out," she cried, "nor longer thus with sign
        "And gesture indicate some dreadful tale!
        "Speak out, and let me try this heart of mine,
        "If o'er its weakness I may yet prevail
        "In all the ills that threaten to assail.
        "Tell forth the worst, no word of truth unsaid;
        "And then for ever leave me to bewail
        "The fate, which brings unto our very bed
"A fiend whose gorgon eye turns life and joy to lead."


XXXI.

        "Yes, I will speak," the fearful vision said,
        "And tell thee in few words the lore I know;
        "But yet within thy heart, unhappy maid,
        "Thou feelest all that my deep lore can show.
        "Thou feelest that the sunflower droopeth low
        "While far to other lands the sun is gone;
        "Thou feelest that the storm hath chas'd the bow
        "Of hope and promise from thy dark sky flown--
"That thou art lov'd no more--that thou must love alone!


XXXII.

        "Now weep, and weep, till thy still weeping eyes
        "And aching head a fount of water turn:
        "Weep till thy tears' perennial stream supplies
        "With never-failing source some Naiad's urn:
        "Weep till the lamp of life has ceas'd to burn,
        "Weep till thy blood is dried, thy bosom stone--
        "But never shall thy tears awake return
        "Of vanish'd love, no more to be thine own--
"Thy doom is sign'd and seal'd--alone--alone--alone!"


Page 134


XXXIII.

        He disappear'd. The work of fate was done:
        The veil for evermore in sunder torn:
        Beside her lay the form which might have won
        Suffrage of beauty from the God of morn.
        Alone rang in her ears--her doom forlorn
        While link'd to him she lov'd, more hard to bear:
        She could not weep--she felt 'twould move but scorn,
        Should tear, or sigh, or groan, her pangs declare:
And then the Sylph--'twas all a labyrinth of despair!


XXXIV.

        The morn advancing, from the eastern skies
        The shadowy veil of darkness slow withdrew,
        When unrefreshing sleep weigh'd on her eyes,
        And its dull gradual torpor o'er her threw.
        She knew not that she slept: she scarcely drew
        From thence the calm which soon it had bestow'd,
        When Florio's voice pierced the thin slumber through,
        And call'd her forth, to try to find a road
To leave the prison tower, his hated, loath'd abode.


XXXV.

        She begg'd he would not ask her forth to go
        Upon a quest to which she had small will.
        It was enough for her to feel and know,
        That all his efforts were directed still
        Thence to escape, considering it an ill
        Far too unbearable with her to bide.
        "Go where you list," she said, "seek vale and hill,
        "And when your search has fail'd,--though now denied,
"Some sympathy be mine, whom years of prison tried


Page 135


XXXVI.

        "In solitude and sorrow and the last
        "Without the comfort of a jailor's voice,
        "Or sight of living creature: yet it pass'd,
        "Because my heart could still in hope rejoice,
        "That Florio lived,--and lived for me; the noise
        "Of the still rolling waves my fancy's ear
        "Would shape into his accents: had the choice
        "Of such a song as lulls the mariner
"From Syren's flute been mine, the sound had been less dear.


XXXVII.

        "The floating clouds that pass'd above the cave,
        "Sailing along the blue expanse of air,
        "These were my messengers, who still could brave
        "The power that held myself a prisoner there.
        "I bade them hie to Florio, and declare
        "With what firm constancy my griefs were borne:
        "I bade them tell him ne'er to let despair
        "Be victor, for that yet would dawn the morn,
"Which tenfold would repay the woes our hearts had torn."


XXXVIII.

        Florio, who did not well know what to say,
        And stood first on the left foot, then the right,
        Thought that he had best e'en turn and walk away,
        And shuffled off. Broad day now pour'd its light
        On tower and tree in floods of radiance bright,
        But to Irene's eyes the light was woe;
        The very sunshine seem'd to shimmer white--
        The very air seem'd poison round to blow--
The tinkling fountain stunn'd her with its endless flow.


Page 136


XXXIX.

        From room to room she wander'd, nor found rest,
        Nor could sit down, nor could refreshment taste--
        The sense of wretchedness her powers oppress'd;
        Thoughts of lost joy her strength and courage waste.
        And most of all she dreaded, that in haste
        The Sylph would come, her anguish to console:
        She saw the smile, the dreaded smile, that placed
        Its wreath upon his lips, the look that stole
In triumph from his eyes, though trying to control


XL.

        His radiant joy into a form of grief
        By way of sympathy with what she felt;
        And wish'd that instant death with sentence brief
        Might save her from the shame such pity dealt.
        And, ever and anon, on earth she knelt,
        And, too disturb'd for prayer, again she rose;
        Sometimes a thought of former days would melt
        Her very soul to tears: but ere it flows
The new-drunk poison's chill again the current froze.


XLI.

        Thus pass'd the day: the evening fell as sweet
        As though it gilt a home affection bless'd:
        Florio returning, sat him down to meat,
        And in few words his ill success confess'd.
        He said he meant for half an hour to rest,
        And then by moonlight forth again would go;
        Again Irene urgently he press'd
        To aid his search, when sooner he might know
Where the long walls might seem most practicably low.


Page 137


XLII.

        She said 'twere better he should go alone,
        For she was faint and ill for want of sleep:
        He shook his head, and in a meaning tone
        Ask'd, if 'twas her contrivance thus to keep
        Him caged for ever? rather would he leap
        From the high promontory to the sea,
        And find a tomb below the rolling deep,
        Than thus submit a very slave to be,
Subject to demons' spells from which no art can free.


XLIII.

        "I do suspect," he said, "this Sylph has found
        "Means how to please your fancy at my cost,
        "And that this crystal spell has fenced us round,
        "In order that his triumph be not lost.
        "But why enclose me too? 'Tis no such boast
        "To chain a rival, rival if he were:
        "And far, far rather I'd resign a host
        "Of wives or mistresses, than stay with her
"Who hath conspired against me with the fiends of air."


XLIV.

        She gazed at him astonish'd--then replied,
        "That if himself believed what he had said,
        " 'Twere worth an answer:" and with honest pride
        Look'd him straight in the face: his eye, afraid,
        Fell beneath her's. Then rallying round he made
        A sort of explanation, If, or And,
        Which nothing meant: next all the blame he laid
        Upon the Sylph, who cunningly had plann'd
A purgatory worse than mortal could withstand.


Page 138


XLV.

        "I do assure you," he continued, "soon
        "You will be quite as tired of it as I;
        "Nor could you find beneath the circling moon,
        "A creature who could bear it. By-and-bye
        "You will find out how wearing 'tis to sigh
        "For human intercourse, and all the joys
        "Of mingled life, which courts and camps supply:
        "Their varied interests, bustle, motion, noise,
"In place of starting here at sound of one's own voice.


XLVI.

        "I tell you now I cannot bear it--nay,
        "I will not: and if still your power remains
        "Over your winged lover, find a way
        "To set us free from these detested chains.
        "This is the mode, the only one, which gains
        "My heart, respect, esteem, or what you will;
        "Then while your bosom still the wish retains
        "To please and to oblige me, show it still,
"By seeking every means my purpose to fulfil."


XLVII.

        "Florio!" she said, "beware of what you say!
        "Perhaps we are not (as we seem) alone:
        "This is the fated hour of closing day,
        "The hour when spirits all abroad have flown.
        "Say that your love is cold, and past, and gone,
        "Is e'en your Honour dead? that you can bear
        "To stoop to acts a vassal would disown,
        "Bidding your wife to woo the Prince of Air,
"Proving him right who call'd your heart beneath her care."


Page 139


XLVIII.

        "The lovely dream of life flies far away--
        "Not self-deception can its youth renew:
        "But rob me not of my last creed and stay,
        "That I loved Honour's self in loving you.
        "Confirm not tales of jealousy as true,
        "Nor prove me duped, who ne'er would hear th' alarms
        "That call'd you base, unstable, and untrue,
        "When beauty e'en like yours had ne'er found charms
"To place you on our throne, or give me to your arms."


XLIX.

        Florio could scarcely to the purpose speak,
        But yet he tried to prove she was quite wrong:
        To find dishonour there was quite a freak,
        Considering trifles in a light too strong.
        A few fair words were not a penance long,
        And more, of course, he did not ask or want--
        He'd leave to her discretion all along
        The conduct of th' affair, but boon so scant
To call dishonour, sounded very much like cant.


L.

        And cant was, of all things, the very thing
        That least he could away with, or endure--
        'Tis what all cunning people ever bring
        To compass their own ends, through by-paths sure.
        Honour was a fine thing, no doubt--a pure,
        Of very pure and virtuous intent:
        But, when it served a purpose to secure,
        He always had observed that ladies leant
Most firmly to its stay, most rigidly unbent.


Page 140


LI.

        The truth is sad, yet had it best be told--
        The more his hopes of freedom sunk and waned,
        The more the ashes of his love grew cold,
        Till, scatter'd all, not e'en their trace remain'd.
        And, wandering round the wall, he scarce refrain'd
        From cursing in his deepest soul the tie
        Which there in bonds his spirit free retain'd:
        While she, th' unwilling cause of misery,
No more Indifference shared, but Hate came creeping nigh.


LII.

        And as he look'd at her, o'er every line
        Of his fair features, gloomy darkness sent
        Its staining clouds to veil each form divine,
        Till Beauty scarcely its enchantment lent.
        A deeper feeling far than discontent,
        Lour'd cold and turbid o'er his lip and brow:
        And eyes askance express the feelings pent
        Within his heart, while e'en her face of woe
Awoke resentment new, caused bitter words to flow.


LIII.

        "Do not suppose," he said, "that in the world
        "I've lived so long, without some profit there:
        "And women who, like you, have Honour hurl'd
        "Right in my teeth, their neighbours' faults could share.
        "And, once for all, I'll candidly declare
        "The real state in which my mind now lies:
        "Nor will I, from a squeamish scruple, spare
        "To tell the truth--when surely one so wise
"Will the plain-dealing praise, which every word supplies.


Page 141


LIV.

        "Place not your fancy on that boyish love,
        "Which as a boy and girl, we once held dear,
        "For every year that farther on we move,
        "Brings different views of life, more plain and clear.
        "We now are married. Did you ever hear
        "Of married people cooing all their lives?
        "Or married men, who, out of fondness sheer,
        "Continued constant worshipping their wives
"As goddesses of bliss from whom all joy derives?


LV.

        "Yet you, who boast such love, the only thing
        "I ever ask'd of you, can flat refuse
        "And that with taunting words of venom'd sting
        "Reflecting on my honour, while you lose
        "All hold of me for ever: and you choose
        "Here with a captive husband to remain,
        "The jailor who his life in prison mews,
        "The very lock which rivets on his chain,
"And yet expect his heart can boyish love retain!


LVI.

        "Call on the Sylph: tell him his wall to break,--
        "Then leave me, if you will, on yon hill's side:
        " 'Tis not the first time I have learn'd to make
        "My way unfriended in a world so wide.
        "And, if such prayer be still beneath your pride,
        "Call on the Fiend that gnomes and sylphs obey,
        "And make your mind up by his terms to bide,
        "Let price of liberty be what it may.
"But by fair means or foul, I will get hence away!"


Page 142


LVII.

        Irene rose--unconscious if to go
        Or stay--Her sense was stunn'd, her heart was dead--
        Toward the door she totter'd, faint and slow--
        Then stopping, placed her hands upon her head.
        Her sight was dim--and yet, as if in dread
        To see the face once worshipp'd, with her veil
        She cover'd o'er her eyes--No tear she shed,
        But stood so motionless--so soft--so pale,
She seem'd the gliding spirit of some midnight tale.


LVIII.

        Softly--yet scarce perceptibly, a soft,
        Light pressure on her powerless hand there lay,
        Such as in youth that hand had met so oft,
        Expressing all which words are poor to say.
        Nor yet the covering veil she moved away;
        And one of those dread moments o'er her past
        In which thoughts crowd so thick, that many a day
        Their bare recital given in words would last,
Though flying swifter than the storm-presaging blast.


LIX.

        Love! it was past! No--never, never more!
        The being she adored had ceased to be!
        Unreal as the forms that swim before
        The dreamer's eye from morning light that flee.
        The hand which press'd her own 'twere pain to see:
        It would but serve some bitterer drops to wring
        From her torn heart, which throbb'd with agony.
        Feeling Death wrenching up each nerve and string--
Oh Death--kind Death--she calls thee--swift deliverance bring!


Page 143


LX.

        Yes, it would kill her to behold that face
        Once more by Love illumined--he would give
        His honour for a price--and that--to place
        Him far from her detested sight to live.
        Then--let it kill! Let Death at once relieve
        The unimagined misery she bore--
        'Twas the sole boon that now she could receive--
        One hand her covering veil in sunder tore,
While clasping one the Sylph her presence stood before.


LXI.

        The evening shadows and the paly moon,
        Alike had disappear'd before his light,
        Gorgeous and glowing as the rays of noon,
        In thousand changing hues of radiance bright.
        Clouds roll'd around him, volumed thin and white,
        Peopled with all the habitants of air,
        Who, standing all prepared for joyous flight,
        Lighter than gossamer, with flowers more fair
Than earthly gardens boast, their garlands sweet prepare.


LXII.

        "Come, my own dear Irene!" thus began
        The winged genius, "come a crown to bind
        "Upon those temples, which the guilt of Man
        "Weighs drooping to the earth, a grave to find.
        "Mount with these airy myriads on the wind,
        "Their Queen their Empress! than their air more pure;
        "Where e'en stern Fate (his first decree resign'd)
        "Shall grant thy life immortal to endure
"The amaranth flower of Earth, in endless bliss secure!


Page 144


LXIII.

        She raised her head, and with an accent low,
        That trembled on the air, said, " 'Tis too late!
        "But let due punishment my proud heart bow,
        "Whose blind presumption rush'd upon its fate.
        "My debt of gratitude, already great,
        "I would increase--Destroy thy crystal wall!"
        The Sylph raised high his arm with face elate,
        And circling ran the crash that told its fall--
"Another boon,"--he said,--"thou hast not told me all!"


LXIV.

        Again she spoke--"If my dear parents live,
        "Tell them"--upon his downcast eyes with dread
        She look'd--then said, "No answer need you give,
        "I see they are at peace--that they are dead!
        "I have no home--then to the bower instead
        "Where first--yes--take me there!" and as the bower
        She named, it seem'd as if new life had sped
        Through her pale cheek; still was its memory's power
Alive when all was sere, the last remaining flower!


LXV.

        'Midst clouds and flowers the sylphs Irene raise,
        Their Prince beside her poising on the wing,
        The moon abash'd, hid far her sickly rays,
        The air was heavy, still and threatening.
        The nightingales no more their descant sing,
        Scared by the glare of light above them thrown
        For showers of colour'd fires the spirits fling
        With meteor-brightness to the skies unknown,
To bring their Queen in state unto her airy throne.


Page 145


LXVI.

        Joy of all brilliant hues around her play'd,
        The joy of spirits gay, and pure, and light--
        A thousand garlands of bright flowers they made,
        A thousand gambols twined before her sight.
        She stood in her long robes, all snowy bright,
        Her hair dishevell'd, and her eyes cast down.
        But, paler than her robes, her cheeks were white,
        White as the foam upon the billows thrown,
When sailing on they pass, high o'er the ocean lone.


LXVII.

        At last they near'd the bower--There, there, it stood,
        Calm, fair, and tranquil, in the moon's faint ray;
        There grew the ancient and accustom'd wood;
        There hung the vines,--there twined the ivy spray.
        Forward Irene leant--then sprang away,
        And down, and down, and down through air she fell;
        A moment on the ocean's surface lay
        Amid the flashing waters: then they swell,
And deep within their flood she bade the world farewell.


LXVIII.

        The Sylphs, less swift than swiftness of despair,
        Spring to the waves, and spread their surface o'er;
        Their Prince like lightning flew, now here, now there,
        From deep to deep, from islet rock to shore.
        In vain--his power the glassy surface bore,
        Nor farther could it penetrate the waves,
        Till hope was past, and she must be no more.
        Nor Nymph nor Triton at his bidding saves,
And writhing in his grief, in rage and woe he raves.


Page 146


LXIX.

        He stood upon a rock, and gasp'd to weep,
        But tears to spirits' griefs are still denied:
        Then vainly in the waves he strove to steep
        The anguish that each burning vein supplied.
        At last the pangs that through his substance glide
        He cast from either hand in bolts of fire,
        And, scattering them o'er land and ocean wide,
        The woods began to blaze, till high and higher
The roaring flames arose in many a volumed spire.


LXX.

        Sulphureous vapours in the labouring earth
        Rock'd, shaking to the deeps its deepest seat,
        And, bursting upwards with terrific birth,
        Flew furious their kin element to meet.
        The air was loaded with unbreathed heat,
        The sea no longer kept its bounds within;
        For still the Sylph threw fire and fiery sleet
        In showers upon the waves with hissing din,
Till scarce the ocean ends, where his own realms begin.


LXXI.

        Next, midst the fire, a fountain rear'd its head,
        Of lurid flame, that bright and brighter rose:
        A mountain,19 from its source of crumbling red,
        Forth from earth's entrails sent, increasing grows.
        While many a fiery current liquid flows
        Adown its sides, than melted ore more white,
        And still the earth in wild convulsive throes
        Shook, while in air above the new-raised height
Rose, like a spreading pine, a cloud more dark than night.


Page 147


LXXII.

        Of such as this is form'd that gloomy wood
        Where spirits damn'd their nightly conclave hold:
        Within those ancient realms where never flood
        Of cooling water its clear current roll'd.
        And now on earthly soil appearing bold,
        It raised its canopy o'er smoke and flame,
        In its dark mass the lightning thrones to fold
        Of all the powers of fire, that upward came,
To see their element earth's weaker empire tame.


LXXIII.

        The moon in dim eclipse had long been set,
        And dawn, though light was none, had long begun;
        The sun, who strove to master darkness yet,
        Seem'd a blue meteor till his course was run.
        Lightnings and thunderings still the ocean stun,
        Still flames and fiery streams the mount run o'er--
        Till the wild hurly, all its havoc done,
        Subsiding slowly, leaves the desert shore
A blacken'd tract of ashes, lovely now no more.


LXXIV.

        And as the Sylph ascending quits the place,
        He breathes his curse upon the frighted air,
        From thence all human intercourse to chase,
        And keep it sacred to his own despair.
        The temple and its grove the fire did spare,
        Leaving an isle of bliss mid ruins drear:
        But the Sylph's curse, extending even there,
        Its influence sheds till none dare venture near,
Nor fishers throw the net, nor hunters cast the spear.


Page 148


LXXV.

        Where once the ancient woods so thickly grew,
        The Solfatara spreads its noxious fields,
        And heavy vapours of each sickly hue
        The drug profuse of deadly mischief yields.
        Still the Sylph's curse terrific empire wields
        Along the shore, in air of poison'd breath:
        Against its venom health nor vigour shields,
        And he who sleeps the temple's shade beneath
Must pass from slumber's arms unconsciously to death.


LXXVI.

        Irene in the depths of ocean sleeps,
        Her tale forgotten, as her grave unknown;
        For where's the heart which o'er a sorrow weeps,
        However tragic, which is not its own?
        And Florio, probably, return'd alone,
        The vacant throne to claim as lawful heir:
        A right legitimate as e'er was known.
        Of course he lived until he died: but where,
Or when, I never heard, nor you nor I need care.


LXXVII.

        Well! here the story ends--one little page
        As an envoi remains: that done--the pen
        I'll lay aside, and solemnly engage
        Never to dip it in the ink again.
        Many there are, who, reading, will refrain
        From blaming Florio, blameable as he:
        But I redeem my pledge, and give the strain
        Illustrative of woman's lot to be,
The victim still of fate, and man's inconstancy.


Page [149]

TO
MRS. DOUGLAS MACLEAN CLEPHANE.

        To you, whose praise my verse did first expand,
        I send this web, the fabric of my brains,
        Sure that you will not take a broom in hand
        To sweep it down like cobwebs for my pains.
        And were it the best lay whose inky stains
        Had ever blotted paper, 'twere your due:
        Nay here and there perhaps a trace remains
        In fancy's airy wanderings, not a few
Of things which, little changed, I've ta'en or stol'n from you.

        As for our king of critics, he whose eye
        Train'd in the doubting science of the laws,
        Sharp as a sportsman doth his game espy,
        And pounces on poor wretches' faults and flaws:--
        Tell him I will not trust his teeth and claws,
        Which, ruthless, would unfledge each Sylphid wing;
        Moreover, like those martyrs of their cause
        Who bade defiance to Assyria's king,
Tell him, I do not care to please him in this thing.


Page 150

        For the whole story's tissued out of lies,
        Improbable, impossible, and full
        Of such anachronisms as must surprise
        The order'd inside of a reasoning skull.
        Well; who says otherwise? There's room to cull
        As perfect faults as critic could desire:
        Bad rhymes, bad lines--but yet it is not dull--
        Or, if it is, for Heaven's sake ne'er inquire
Into its faults or charms, but lodge it in the fire.


Page [151]

NOTES.


Page [157]

THE IDIOT BOY.
A TALE FOUNDED ON FACT.

        BLAME not the fates, nor call their lot unkind
Whose wants are many, and whose joys confined;
For Heaven's best gifts are equal shower'd around,
As vernal dews that bathe the thirsty ground.
On the unjust and just the rain doth fall,
The sun's bright glories shine alike on all;
The ambient air alike its current blows
On rich and poor, on brothers and on foes;--
And Love,--the last best gift of bounteous Heaven,
Alike to all the tribes of Earth is given.
Oft deem the chosen few for them alone
The heart received that last and finest tone;--
But as the dews of Heaven are equal shower'd,
And as the blessed light on all is poured,
So Love itself, despite of fate and ill,
Asserts its claim, and holds its empire still.
        Far 'mid the ocean waves an island lies,
Around whose summits hyperborean skies


Page 158

Roll their dark clouds in every gloomy form,
Shaped by the restless workings of the storm.
There, foaming waves assail the time-worn coast,
Against the rocks in madd'ning fury tost,
But still the rocks, more stern and strong than they,
Mock at their force, and cast them back in spray.
Along the isle, huge plains of shifting sand
In arid length their herbless waste expand;
And while the dæmons of the earth and sky;

[This and the following two lines are connected by a large brace in the right margin of the original printed edition.]


In frolic sport, or sharper enmity,
Drift it along, or upwards whirl it high--
No scrog, or sapling tree, or shrub is seen
To interpose one branch of cheerful green;
Till circled by some damp morass's bound,
The sandy deserts change to sinking ground.
         On this drear shore a Gothic castle stands,
The work of period rude, and ruder hands:
Mis-shapen turrets, neither round nor square,
Hang midway 'twixt the island and the air,
And crooked walls, from level rule so free,
They seem to stand alone through courtesy;
And here, a donjon's huge and dismal pile
Served to enclose the wretched of the isle,
Who forfeited, by actions much amiss,
The right to range this paradise of bliss.
         Well sung the Roman bard, that Man should find
No alien to his heart in all his kind;
But better had he said, that worldly gear
No alien heart can find where Man is near.
Oh, who could deem, who ne'er the tale had read,
That for this castled isle brave hearts had bled!

Page 159

        That treacherous wiles had robbed the rightful heir,
That lawless bands had seized his manor fair,
That he had fought and bled the tower to gain
Which they had bled and perished to retain!--
Look here, ye greedy tribe, who cross the seas
With hearts as hard and covetous as these;
Look here, ye Indian swarm, advent'rers bold,
And see how deep the sacred thirst for gold!--
This tower were lesson fitted well for you--
But could I summon here a gentler crew,
I'd point to yonder low and lonely grave,
Close on the shore, beside the restless wave.--
    There lies an idiot boy:--in sorrow's hour
His mother reared him like a drooping flower,
She loved him, as the widow loves her son,
Her last, her parting pledge of ties undone.
And still, as childhood's years too swiftly flew,
She sat and wept his vacant eye to view;
She wept--yet hoped that time would change its strain--
She wept, to find that hope was all in vain!
In nothing froward, in no gesture wild,
Gentle and patient, he was all the child.
No force he knew so strong as her command,
No pleasure loved like her caressing hand,
And, still obedient, each revolving day,
Straight to the castle's gate he took his way:
There, as the menials bade, the wood he bore,
And drew the water from the river's shore,
Received at night the dole their kindness spared,
Nor e'er would taste it, till his mother shared.--


Page 160

        Now should he rest, the day's light labour done,
Again to rise with morning's early sun,
And ask his mother's blessing on his head
Before he creeps into his humble bed:
Why then unbars he slow the cottage door
To cross with even step the twilight moor,
His supper, yet untasted, bring away,
And to yon distant cot pursue his way?
He knocks--a damsel brighter than the rose
Opes the low door, and asks him where he goes;
And knows the idiot boy she saw before
When to the castle's gate her gifts she bore
(For gifts are common in that distant land,
And greeting comes not with an empty hand).
See! how he offers kind the oaten cake,
Which the bright maid, unwilling, seems to take.
--Oh, how that eye can plead!--that vacant stare
That looked on all alike in earth or air,
Now seems so eloquent its boon to gain,
It were a cruel heart could give it pain.
She breaks and tastes, returning him the rest,
And pleased he eats when she the meal hath bless'd.
And while the damsel turns the busy wheel,
Or trims the fire or kneads the household meal,
He throws him down upon the cottage floor
To watch her eyes and gaze her features o'er:
Nor, till their hour of nightly rest is come,
Across the moor pursues his journey home.
        The morrow's eve again the cot he seeks,
To see the maiden of the rosy cheeks;


Page 161

Eats blithe the bread that she has blessed for him,
Tired, on the floor rests every wearied limb,
And then, the silent scene repeated o'er,
He treads content the long and homeward moor.

        Ne'er from that hour he missed his evening way,
But closed like these each swift-revolving day,
And roaring wind, and cold and lashing rain,
Oft interposed their stern behests in vain.


        And was this Love?--could this poor worm reveal
A passion the refin'd alone can feel?--
Yes, it was Love!--the purest and the best
Of all the kinds that fill the human breast,--
To give--was all the boon he sought to gain,
To look--the whole return he asked again.
He knew not if the maid were rich or poor,
He felt her dear--and had no sense for more.
Oh, what a soul were this, had Reason smiled
Upon the wand'rings of this changeling child!--
Ah, what a heart was lost to love and light
When such a mind was sunk in starless night!--
He had not heard the Hebrew King proclaim
That many waters cannot quench the flame,
That 'twould but serve the smile of scorn to move
To give the substance of his house for love.
That strong as Death that bondage still could be,
And cruel as the grave, stern Jealousy.--
All but the last he felt; as new frem heaven
The bounteous gift was pure and spotless given.
Unholy Jealousy first found its birth
In the foul paths of sin-defiled Earth;


Page 162

As the red canker nips the blushing rose
To blast the hour of bloom that Heaven bestows,
The one short hour that Man redeems from woe,
A gleam of sunshine o'er a waste of snow!--
--But yonder grave--All things must terminate,
And all men seal their fix'd and final fate:
Ah, happy those who seal their fate as well
As the poor changeling boy whose tale I tell!
Age did not close in grief his lingering breath,
Nor pain distress his simple heart in death--
One year beheld his guileless love arise,
And his freed soul transmitted to the skies.
In winter's cold the cot he still would find,
And scarcely felt the keen and biting wind,
Scarce marked his eye how thick the snow-flake fell
When on the path to her he loved so well.


        One night his dame forbade--her 'hest he heard,
But wept till she the cottage door unbarred,
Then from his cheek dash'd the full dropping tear,
And joyous flew across the moorland drear.
She could not see him weep--yet wept to mark
How thick the falling snow--the night how dark:
At each loud blast she fearful opes the door,
And strains her eyes o'er the deep drifted moor.
No sound nor shape her weeping eyes can find
But the white snow-flake, and the moaning wind:
And hour by hour brings on the lingering morn,
Nor yet the Idiot Boy doth home return.


        They search--they find where stiff and cold he lies,
His bed the snow, his canopy the skies;


Page 163

And as in death his features smile serene,
Still in his hand the untasted bread is seen.
Ne'er such a smile he wore in life, as now
Illum'd his pallid cheek and marble brow;
As though kind Heaven vouchsafed a parting ray,
Ere to its home his soul had ta'en its way;
Enough to thank the Author of his breath
That granted such a life, and such a death!
And yonder 'neath that sod his grave is found
Without a stone to mark the lonely mound,
But if a flower to innocence be dear,
Its gentle blossoms it should lavish here.

        Ah, Reader, dost thou weep?--the drops are kind,
And as they fall, their own reward they find:
For you who weep not--would my rambling song
Had ne'er been seen by eyes and hearts so strong!
Far other mood is needful to enjoy
The simple story of the Idiot Boy!


Written June 1st , 1814.


Page [164]

SUNSET.

     "THE time has been."--Oh, what a world of thought
Stands conjured up by these four simple words!--
"The time has been;"--yet where's the cobweb line
That chains the sight I view to words like these?--
A glorious sight!--what though the round-orb'd Sun
And all his azure realms of light and space
Be hid behind those white and fleecy clouds,
Still do his beams diverging, pour their light
Betwixt the banks of vapour; showering down
Their radiance on the calm Atlantic wave.
Pavilion fit they seem for souls of chiefs
Who shed their life-blood on the field they won.
    Far as the eye can reach 'twixt isle and isle
The varying clouds in bright confusion float,
Bank behind bank extending; while the beams,
In all the subtle tricks of light and shade
Array their forms with fancied semblances;
And still beyond their farthest outline faint
Imagination can her flight pursue,
And feel, that were not sight so far denied
There were much more to see.


Page 165

Sure that old bard
Who sung the ferlies three true Thomas saw;
Had stood upon a strand as wild and lone;
Had listened to the roaring of the waves,
And strained his sight beyond the western clouds,
When erst he sung the road to Fairyland,
That past the limits, where the Sun and Moon
Were seen no more, and living land was left
Behind;--when for sole evidence of aught
He e'er had known or seen, through that dark blank
He heard the roaring of the sea.--
    The joys of such wild verse are well attuned
To such a scene:--No unison subsists
Between the calm delights of epic lore
And the toss'd forms of fancy-wildering vapour.
No sympathy recalls the polished lay
Of Petrarch's chastened muse:--nor do the thoughts
That labour hard for utterance, clothe themselves
In the wild garb of savage Runic rhyme,
Nor in the tear-dew'd lay that whilome flow'd
So sad and sweet from that old Celtic harp
That wail'd young Oscar fallen on Lena's plain.
     No resting-place!--no harbour!--still beyond
The last remaining object of the horizon
Thought uncontroll'd may rove, nor find a spot
Like Noah's dove, to stay her flagging wing,
Till the round world she compasses, and home
Returns.----


26th October , 1812.


Page [166]

TRANSLATION FROM THE GAELIC.

THA TIGHINN FODHAM EIRIDH.


CHORUS.

AWAY , away, and haste along,
    For here no more I'll stay;
I'll braid and bind my tresses long,
    And o'er the hills away.

Oh, here's a pledge for young and old
    That quaff the blood-red wine,
The health of Moidart's Allan bold
    The dearest hope of mine!

When winds blow furious off the land
    And none the bark can steer,
The grasp of Allah's strong right hand
    Compels her home to veer.

Full many a noble maiden dight
    In tartans gay to see
'Twixt the high Moile and Canna's streight
    Hath lost her peace for thee.

Italian fair, and dames of France,
    Thy conq'ring power assert,
Dunvegan's dames have seen thy glance,
    And paid thee with their heart.


Page 167

And when to old Kelphedar came
    Such tribes of damsels gay,
Oh, came they there for Allan's fame,
    Or came they there to pray?

And when this crowd of ladies fair
    Was dancing in the hall,
On most were rings and jewels rare,
    And cambric coifs on all.


10th February , 1813.


Page [168]

TRANSLATION OF A GAELIC JACOBITE SONG.

HO AORERÌ, THA E TIGHINN.

HE comes, he comes from climes afar!
    Our promised hope, so long delay'd;
Then let us d'on our weeds of war,
    The stout claymore and belted plaid.

My life, my joy, my treasure comes!
    The rightful heir of Scotland's land;
And well the gallant's mein becomes
    The treasured shield and burnish'd brand.

Like the first days of early spring,
    Our heaven is dark though spring be nigh,
Yet through the tempest's murky wing
    The half-formed rainbow lights the sky.

The temper'd sword our chieftain wields
    Shall reap the meed of victory,
And in the bloody harvest fields
    Like sickled corn his foes shall lie.

Well may the scarlet bold brigades
    From charging clans disorder'd wheel,
For feather'd hats and silk cockades
    Are feeble fence 'gainst Highland steel.


Page 169

The thundering bombs and cannons' noise
    May shake the soul that knows to fear,
And mountain echo's answering voice
    Shall stun the leagur'd foeman's ear.

Not new to arms our chief, I ween,
    Our fair-haired Prince has dealt the blow;
Nor new his hard-hoofed charger keen
    To swift pursuit of routed foe.


July , 1813.


Page 170

TRANSLATION OF THE GAELIC SONG

AGUS O MHÒRAG.

THOUGH thou'rt far across the ocean,
    Wert thou on thy native coast,
Rising clans in swift commotion
    Soon would face the scarlet host.

Soon the web of strife and battle
    Wove in destin'd loom would be,
Mill'd in hostile weapons' rattle,
    Crimson dyed in sanguine sea.

Clanronald with his crest of heather
    At thy signal flies to arms,
Barasdale's young knights together
    March to glory's stern alarms.

Soon to grace thy lion standard
    Sleat's grey warriors cross the sea,
Though their infant cradled landlord
    Knows not yet his clan or thee.

Brave Mackinnon joins thy muster,
    Let who will remain at home,
Cameron's spears in warlike cluster
    From each mountain fastness come.


Page 171

Stout Glengary's banner waving
    Spreads its well-known folds to view,
And Glencoe, thy foemen braving,
    Sends thee forth her warriors true.

Largie, Tarbert, chiefs victorious,
     Leave for thee their halls of ease,
Doubt not thou an issue glorious,
    Followed by such hosts as these.


November , 1813.


Page [172]

TRANSLATION OF TIlE GAELIC SONG

GE FADA MO CHOISEACHD.

NOW sinks the wild combat to silence and rest,
     And the field by the dead and the dying is prest,
Where, mid the sad relics of slaughter I lie,
     And the corpse of my friend and companion is nigh.

O love of the fair, and delight of the wise,
    Hast thou fall'n in thy vigour, no more to arise?--
Loud, loud, the lament that thy people will spread
    When they hear their young chieftain in battle is dead.

And mine will lament when their leader they see
    With a crutch in that hand where a broad-sword should be.
When Slàtan's high steep I gaze wistfully o'er,
    And sigh for the strength that shall aid me no more.

The spoiler came past, and no mercy had he,
    And the night-breeze is cold on the wound in my knee,
But though smarting and chill,--and so dark the nightfall,
    To see thee lie slaughtered, is keener than all.


December , 1818.


Page [173]

THE WINTERS' JOURNEY.

TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF UHLAND

COLD is the air, and long
    The solitary road,
The ice is black and strong,
    The blasts are all abroad.

And pale in yellow grey
    Sinks, early dim, the Sun,
And closed the wintry day
    Long ere the journey's done.

The leafless woods are past,
    And lights appear afar,
The town gates ope at last,
    The wheels roll o'er the bar.

And near the blazing brands
     My fingers I unfold,
And warm my frozen hands--
    But still my heart is cold.


Page [174]

THE POOR MAN'S LAY.

TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF UHLAND.

I AM a poor and lonely man
    And lonely still I go,
Yet feel as though 'twere in my heart
    Right merry days to know.

In my dear parents' house I lived
    A frolic child I ween,
But bitter trials have cumber'd me
    Since they have buried been.

I see the flowers in gardens bloom
    The golden corn I see,
But the dry barren road between
    Is all that's left to me.

Yet when my sadden'd mood I hide
    'Midst crowds of happier men,
I envy not, but from my heart
    I give them all good den.

Oh, Heavenly Father! ne'er will I
    Myself forgotten call,
For comfort in all worldly woe
    Thy Heaven bestows on all.


Page 175

In every little village stands
    Thy holy house of prayer;
The organ and the choral song
    For every ear are there.

The sun, the moon, the twinkling stars,
    Shed friendly light on me,
And when the bell of evening rings
    Then speak I, Lord, with thee.

And time will pass and ope to me
    The joyful halls of rest,
Where at thy board I'll sit me down
    In wedding garment drest.


Page [176]

TRANSLATION FROM GOETHE.

HOW comes it that thou art so sad
    When round all joy appears?
And why, upon thy heavy lids
    Is seen the trace of tears?
"And if I will to weep alone
    "It is mine own annoy,
"And there are tears that flow so sweet
    "They wear the guise of joy."

Thy careful friends do bid thee forth,
    O come into their throng,
And this thy cause of secret grief,
    Trust it their hearts among.
"Ye shout and drink, and think the while
    "That ye can ease my pain,
"Alas, I weep not aught I've lost,
    "But what I ne'er shall gain."

Come, rouse thee from this heavy mood
    Stout heart can marvels do,
At thy young years of April prime
    Men have the gift to woo.
"Alas, I have no heart to woo,
    "My aim is all too high,
"As bright and far as yonder stars
    "That gem the deep dark sky."


Page 177

Nor hurt nor harm the stars can do,
    And healing is their light,
With thankfulness, and awe, and joy,
    We hail them in the night.
"With awe, and joy, and thankfulness,
    "I gaze the live-long day,
"But I must weep the weary night
    "So long as weep I may."


Page [178]

ODE OF HAFIZ.

VERSIFIED FROM A PROSE TRANSLATION BY SIR W. JONES.

RISE , boy! the rays of morning shine,
The tulip's cup is full of wine!--

Ah! would I now foresaw the day
When, scorn and scruple far away,
My love would change her cold disdain,
Nor be so heavenly fair in vain!--

Remember, sweet, how Time hath torn
The diadem by Cæsar worn,
And low in dust beside it laid
The sceptre that our Cyrus sway'd.

Then oh, be wise! the morning bird
Intoxicate with love is heard;--
Then oh, awake! the eternal doom
Too soon may seize our fleeting bloom.

How gracefully thy footsteps move!--
Thou sweetest branch of vernal grove,
May cold December's biting air
Ne'er nip thy buds of blossom fair!


Page 179

Trust not to Fortune's fawning wiles,
Nor slumber in her treacherous smiles,
Ah, woe to him who fondly deems
That she will last as now she seems!--

To-morrow's dawn perhaps will rise
To Cuther's stream in Paradise;
Perhaps the maids of Heaven be ours,
And banks of everlasting flowers.

But shall we therefore turn to-day
From damsels bright and kind as they?
Or cease to quaff the sparkling wine
That Cuther's stream can ne'er outshine?

Our youth * in yonder zephyr* breeze
Restored at once the memory sees;
More wine, my boy! yet more again,
To glad our souls and raise our strain.

* Sabi,--Saba, a play on words.

* Sabi,--Saba, a play on words.

Admire not yonder splendid rose
That dignified in grandeur blows;
For soon the wind her leaves will beat,
And spread them all beneath our feet.

But bring a larger cup, I pray,
For memory of great Hatem Tai;+
And fold + the gloomy book of those
Whose gift the needy never knows.

+ Tai, to fold: another play on words. Hatem Tai was an Arabian prince celebrated for extreme liberality, who flourished shortly before the Hegira. His daughter lived contemporary with Mahommed. For several anecdotes of him, and one of his poetical pieces, see Carlyle's Arabian Specimens , p. 10. + Tai, to fold: another play on words. Hatem Tai was an Arabian prince celebrated for extreme liberality, who flourished shortly before the Hegira. His daughter lived contemporary with Mahommed. For several anecdotes of him, and one of his poetical pieces, see Carlyle's Arabian Specimens , p. 10.


Page 180

'Tis from the purple wine, I trow,
The Argavan * has stole its hue;
Its native sweets it can impart
From my love's cheek unto her heart.

* The Argavan, a purple flower.

Attend!--the minstrels of the bower
Their choicest numbers lavish pour,
And now the dulcimer and flute
Join in the strain with harp and lute.

Our sofa to the garden bring
And place it in the bower of spring;
In thicket where the jasmines grow,
And violets spring, and roses blow.

And where the reed and cypress tall
That range around our rural hall,
Like active slaves their forms incline
To wait our 'hest, and pour our wine.

O Hafiz!--sure these measures gay
Will spread from distant Rûm and Reï,
Till Fame's loud voice shall waft them o'er
To Egypt's stream and China's shore,

Till the wide world shall hear and own
Thy sweet alluring sorcery's tone!


Page [181]

TRANSLATION OF PETRARCH'S CANZONE

"CHIARE, FRESCHE, E DOLCI ACQUE."

    CLEAR , fresh, and gentle wave,
    That the fair form enclosed
    Of her, sole lady of the world to me:--
    Light stem that whilome gave
    Supporting aid where she reposed,--
        (I sigh in memory;)
    Herbage and flowerets fair,
    That hung her robe and angel bosom o'er,
    And sacred ambient air,
    Where love my heart pierced through her eyes;--
        List, list once more
To the last doleful lay my grief shall solemnize.

     If 'tis my fate of woe,
     And Heaven decree it so,
That Love should close these lids in tears,
    Oh, let this harass'd frame,
    When all its sorrows cease,
    Amongst you rest in peace,
And the free soul return to whence it came


Page 182

    Less hard the mortal hour appears
    While this sweet hope is mine;
    In the dark parting strife,
    My spirit, tired of life,
Ne'er to more sweet refreshment can consign
    Nor to a dearer cell,
The toil-worn bones to which it bids farewell.

    And then may come the time,
    That to this favoured clime
My fair and meek destroyer will draw nigh,
    There, where she saw me stand,
    Will turn her beaming eye
    To seek me.--On the strand,
    The rugged rocks beneath,
A heap of earth she sees;--and Love will breathe
    From her full heart a sigh so dear,
    That gentle violence shall be done to Heaven,
    And all my sins forgiven,
As with her lovely veil she wipes the falling tear.

    There, as she sat beneath the tree,
    (Oh, sweet and bitter memory!)
Blossoms shower'd down in tints divinely bright.
    So humble there she seemed,
    While glory o'er her streamed,
Cover'd with flowers, and love and light.
    Some on her garment's hem,
    Some in her tresses sheen,
    That seem'd as though with many a gem
    Their wreath had braided been.


Page 183

    Some on the green grass fell, some on the river;
    Some with vague motion wandering round
    Appear'd to bless the sacred ground,
As though they said, "Here Love shall reign for ever!"

    And then I cried with swelling heart,
    Where almost fear had part,
    "Behold a creature born of Paradise!"
    Confused I gazed upon her radiant face,
    Hung on her voice, her smile, her eyes,
Till time and truth no more my sense could trace,--
    All was oblivion dim, save her alone.
    At last I sighing said,
    "How came I here, and when?"--
    I thought from earth my soul had fled,
    And into heavenly bliss was gone;
    And evermore since then
    That turf has been to me so passing fair,
Rest, elsewhere sought in vain, still, still I find it there.

My lay, wert thou at my desire adorned,
    Thy verse would not be scorned
    Though issuing from this woody glen,--
The city thou might'st seek, and boldly mix with men.


28th February , 1821.


Page [184]

LINES

WRITTEN AMONG THE RUINS OF ROME.

THE sun-shine's bright, but where it falls
It gilds but grey and ruin'd walls.
The convent's high and gloomy tower
But serves to root the bright wild flower,
The wondrous space of ragged stone
With ivy wreaths is thick o'ergrown:
Sole sign of life, the insect's hum,
That shows all other sound is dumb.
    And through the bright green leaves you spy
Nought but the wrecks of time gone by.--
Why flaunt they thus their pennons gay,
Like Desolation's flag, to play
And boast that in the ravaged scene
The ivy wreath alone is green?
Then tear it from the ancient ground
Where Bacchus' brows its garlands bound,
For who could deem, these boughs to see,
They once were wreaths for joy and glee!
Yes, tear it down--nor let it wave
O'er prostrate Glory's lowly grave:
O'er ruin'd gates and mouldering mounds
That traced th' Eternal City's bounds:


Page 185

O'er temples fall'n, and columns prone,
And long, long lines of arching stone,
Which Luxury and heedless Pride
Stretch'd o'er the fields where Valour died.
    Nor look beyond * --the farthest ray,
That warms the western shore with day,
But Desolation's triumph sees,
And lightens wrecks more sad than these,
Though all so recent, that no bough
Of the bright ivy shades them now.
A few short years--the ready mould
Not yet prepared, the roots will hold,
And its green pennons, wide unfurl'd
Shall flourish o'er a ruin'd world:
O'er ravaged lands, and bloody plains,
And smoking cities' sad remains;
O'er altars spoil'd, and blasted corn,
And crowds that shriek'd by hunger torn--
And o'er the exhausted conqueror's head
Who, still alive among the dead,
Bleeds drop by drop his strength away
In inward wounds of sure decay.
Like the Greek soldier, last of those
Who closed the pass from Persian foes,
Already struck by ruthless fate
His hard-earn'd triumph comes too late--
He writes his victory in his gore,
And sinks the last, to rise no more.

* These lines (written in February, 1817) refer to the state of Spain, then not recovered from the desolation caused by the French invasion under Napoleon.


Page [186]

THE OUTLAW.*

COME sit within this dim alcove, where all the glare is lost
That from the festal torches' fire along the crowd is tost,
And if thou needs must know, sweet maid, what face the mask conceals,
And if thou needs must know what name my parentage reveals,
First swear upon this crucifix, which round my neck I wear,
That never shall thy faithful tongue the fatal words declare.--
And yet, though I would trust thee, dear, with life, and soul, and heart,
I cannot find the hardihood that secret to impart.
My name is long forgotten, or remains but on the grave
Which tenantless my kindred raised, their house's fame to save.
And where shall I begin, sweet maid? for all my griefs arise
From one who was as fair as thou, but far more cold and wise:
For a long year my tale she heard, and seem'd as she approved--
I thought her coldness modesty, nor doubted that she loved.--
One night, when late returning from a friendly cup of wine,
I saw the light which should be quench'd within her window shine.
I saw her lattice open, and beneath the casement stood
The friend whom I had dearest held, the chieftain of my blood.
Had I believed that such a snake from such a house could rise,
I might have watch'd the traitor's steps, and guarded safe my prize;
But princely honour flourish'd in the branches of our tree,
And in each swelling vein I felt no traitor thence could be.
Two brothers watching stood apart, who, guarding him from harm,
By signal made of my approach, convey'd a quick alarm.

* This poem is founded on a Roman ballad of little poetical merit.


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I fear'd them not, but question'd loud who dar'd the faith to prove
Of one whom all the city knew betrothed to my love!
Short question serv'd, short answer pass'd, my dagger-hilt was strong,
I struck the felon on the face amidst his ruffian throng.
I would not he had died before his bloody mouth had worn
The deep disgrace of such a blow as ne'er his name had borne.
And then my faithful dagger, which had never known a stain,
Struck through and through the recreant's heart, and through and through again.
A few short steps I saw him run, then springing with a bound,
He fell stiff dead and motionless upon the slippery ground.
I planted firm for my defence my back against the wall,--
I dealt my vengeance recklessly, expecting still to fall;
The guard came up, and pistol-shots along the night were heard,
But had I borne a charmed life, I could not less have fear'd.
I cannot tell their numbers, for I neither saw nor felt,
Invulnerable seem'd my arm, and deep the blows I dealt;
Till seeing where the gather'd crowd less thickly seem'd to throng,
I rush'd in frantic haste the empty midnight streets along.
From street to street, from turn to turn, at last I gain'd the port
Where Tiber's hardy boatmen to Ripetta's wharf resort.
And next, as though my worthless life were Heaven's peculiar care,
I found a friend who shelter'd me, and gave me harbour there.
His boat was loaded with its freight, the Sabine shore to seek,
And ere the morning sun was high he loos'd her from the creek.
And while a favouring wind the sails right up the stream impell'd,
He comforted my wretchedness, and from despair withheld.
He gave me store of weapons good, of gunpowder and ball,--
He gave me all my plight required, whatever should befall.
And lastly, landing on the bank, he guided me aright
Into the forest wilderness, to save my life by flight.
'Twas little that I cared for life, and yet I would not die
A base and common spectacle to glut the vulgar eye,--


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So in the forest wilderness a banish'd man I stood,
My only safety solitude, my only home the wood.
Lord, Lord, how dark the twilight closed, how darkly fell the night!
I would have giv'n my chance of life, could I have purchased light.
It seem'd the hours stood motionless, the sun forgot to rise,
To drive th' eternal darkness from the heavy cloudy skies.
At last it came, the slow grey dawn--and when the sun was high
I slunk into a darksome cave, to hide from every eye.
But yestereve, my love was blest, my hands no blood had shed,
And here I stood a murderer from justice who had fled.
Yet still my soul no guilt confess'd, nor could I yet refrain
From wishing that the felon lived, to kill him once again.
And days to days were added, and the months began to pass,
My home within the darksome cave, my bed upon the grass,
Wild nuts and berries were my food, and pinch'd by hunger sore,
I often long'd the time were come to give the struggle o'er.
The winter's rain, the winter's snow beat cold upon my shed,
The stormy winds were pitiless, and whistled round my head;
And oft with racking pain throughout my aching limbs I found
How wretched is the outlaw's fate who sleeps upon the ground.
My tangled hair and bushy beard had overgrown my face,
And suffering left upon my cheeks its deep and hollow trace--
In rags my tatter'd vesture hung, my arms alone were good,
And daily as I polish'd them, they tempted me to blood;
Nay, start not, gentle listener, nor think me callous grown,
The only blood I long'd to shed was in good sooth my own.--
At last an armed band was sent, commission'd straight to take
The grisly wight whom some had seen to skulk within the brake.
I would their courage had been task'd to gain some nobler end,
Nor forced my hand to do them hurt, my freedom to defend.
Ten men they were, all arm'd, and skill'd their quarry's lair to find:
I stood to wait for their approach a mass of rock behind,
The friendly bushes shaded me, an aim I coolly took,
I shot the leader of the band, just as he cross'd the brook--


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He fell his length within the stream, his followers turned back,
And through the green wood's wilderness I chose a farther track.
Their bodies lay unburied there, not one remain'd to tell
The place where by a single arm his slaughter'd comrades fell.
It was a work of butchery, but I was used to blood,
And well the fools deserved their fate, who such as me withstood.
I think the judge would scarce condemn, or call me guilty still,
I cannot see what guilt can be a murderous band to kill--
Yet though my deed was justified, before my eyes I saw
Writ on each tree, each precipice, the strict forbidding law.
'Twas all delusion if thou wilt, but it pursued me near;
I fled from it in vain, the words would still in fire appear.
From rock to rock, from hill to hill I ran, but still it came,
Still, traced on every cloud, it glared in characters of flame.
I cannot tell the period that in this new torment pass'd--
Sometimes I think that years on years their added burden cast.
I went at times to sleep in caves where memory pass'd away,
And woke in other countries far, 'mid paths unknown to stray.
At last a mountain lake I reach'd, a solitary spot,
But whence or where the waters flow'd the outlaw heeded not.
'Twas then in deep despair I thought to give the struggle o'er,
To throw life as a burden down, and fight for it no more.
Within the lake's deep waters, where in haggard guise I stood,
I flung my trusty burnish'd arms far o'er the tranquil flood;
And as the flood closed over them, my heart began to melt,
And on my pale and hollow cheek, long stranger tears I felt.
Beside the lake, upon the sod, in trance of thought I lay;
From my oppress'd and aching breast, a load had pass'd away.
It seem'd as if an angry sky no more its terrors aim'd,
But me, a wretched wanderer, my guardian angel claim'd.
I long'd a human face to see, which long I sought to shun,
I felt as if my life anew its course had just begun,--
I ponder'd what I next should do, but ere my way I chose,
From the deep lake's entangled shore, a cry for help arose.


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Oh, sweetly sounds the human voice, when long our deaden'd ear
No voice, save of the wolf and owl, has learnt to watch or hear!
Towards the thicket bank I rush'd, and piercing through its shade,
I found within its wilderness a little open glade--
And scatter'd on the shelter'd grass, a flock of sheep was there,
And struggling in the waters deep, a maid of beauty rare,
Again she cried for help, and sank--to help her quick I flew--
And soon in safety to the bank my lovely burden drew.
Long lay she there insensible, at last she oped her eyes,
And scream'd in terror, when she saw my wild and sad disguise:
I strove to calm her terrors, and my words were not in vain,
The maiden's courage seem'd revived,--she dared to look again,--
And spite of all my savage mien, her face less fear express'd,
Believing me no worse to be than wretched and distress'd.
"Poor man," she said, "if aught I have, or aught I am can aid,
"You shall not find your kindness saved from death a thankless maid.
"My master's sheep I may not give, but share my lonely meal,
"And how to prove my gratitude your prudence must reveal."
I fold her that I wish'd to hide where I might see her near,
And pray'd her for a little space to speak that I might hear.
I told her that the wilderness had been my dwelling long,
And that it was a heaven to me to hear a human tongue.
She prattled on, and won me from the depth of my despair;
I felt that yet the world contain'd much that is good and fair:
From her rich master's board each day she brought me down a dole,
And softly from her artless lips the words of comfort stole.
"A lamb was drowning in the lake," she said, "when I beheld,
"And flew to save the creature's life, by prudence not withheld:
"Beneath my feet the ground gave way, I sank the waves beneath,
"And thou, good friend, wert there to save my struggling life from death.
" 'Twas on the gracious Virgin's help I call'd in my distress,
"And present help was sent to me from the lone wilderness.


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"Betake thee to thy prayers, good friend, she will not let thee pine,
"And if thy prayers are all too weak, they shall be help'd by mine,
"And if a careful messenger thy errand safe can do,
"And if an earnest advocate thy friends to ruth may woo,
"And if a faithful counsellor may help thee, thou shalt see
"Thy messenger, thy counsellor, thine advocate in me."
    It matters not to tell the path, which, follow'd when begun,
Through this poor grateful girl's address my desperate cause has won.
But though in Rome's proud city I might show my head again,
A prouder feeling in my heart compels me to refrain.--
Once more will I behold the haunts where my gay youth was pass'd,
Once more will look on these fair scenes, a moment, 'tis the last:
Once more beneath the covering mask I'll see the circle gay
Where of the place which once I held all trace is swept away.
The fairest hand I'll clasp in mine, the gayest dance will join,
The loveliest face will gaze upon, that loveliest face is thine.
'Tis true thy brow is somewhat sad, thy cheek a little pale,
Yet in that face a sympathy has drawn from me my tale.--
No, no! the mask cannot be rais'd, the visage that it hides
Would blight thine eyes to look upon, those eyes where pity bides.
No, no! the mask must never fall, the ghastly face to show
Of one the world has long forgot, and thou must never know.
But if again the reeling dance thou wouldest lead once more,
And trace the whirling giddy round along the polish'd floor;
Again I'll clasp the fairest hand of all the crowd in mine,
Again the mazes intricate with nimble feet will join;
And if to-morrow's dawning light that takes thee to thy home
Give leisure for the thought of him who there shall never come,--
Turn that kind thought into a prayer, such as an angel prays,
For thy mysterious partner's sake, that shunn'd his mask to raise;
Pray that the peace of Heaven may teach him calm his lot to bear,
Beneath St. Francis' weeds of brown, which by that hour he'll wear.


Mola di Gaeta, 7th June , 1829.



Page [192]


Page [193]

APPENDIX.

THE following tale, contained in the first volume of the Cabinet des Fées, and written by the Comtesse de MURAT, suggested the story of Irene.
LE PALAIS DE LA VENGEANCE.

IL fut autrefois un roi et une reine d'Islande, qui, après vingt ans de mariage, eurent une fille dont la naissance leur donna d'autant plus de joie, qu'ils désespéroient depuis long-temps d'avoir des enfans qui succédassent un jour à leur royaume. La jeune princesse fut nommée IMIS; ses charmes naissans promirent, dès son enfance, toutes les merveilles que l'on vit briller en elle dans un âge un peu plus avancé. Rien n'auroit été digne d'elle dans tout l'univers, si l'Amour, qui crut de son honneur de pouvoir assujettir un jour à son empire une si merveilleuse personne, n'eût pris soin de faire naître dans cette même cour un prince aussi charmant que la princesse Imis étoit aimable. Il s'appeloit Philax, et il étoit fils d'un frère du roi d'Islande; il avoit deux ans de plus que la princesse, et ils furent élevés ensemble avec toutes les libertés que donne l'enfance et la proximité du sang. Les premiers mouvemens de leurs coeurs furent donnés à l'admiration et à la tendresse. Ils ne pouvoient rien voir de si beau qu'eux-mêmes, aussi ne trouvoient-ils rien ailleurs qui pût les détourner d'une passion qu'ils sentoient l'un et l'autre, même sans savoir encore comment on la devoit nommer. Le roi et la reine voyoient naître cet amour avec plaisir; ils aimoient le jeune Philax; il étoit prince de leur sang, et jamais un enfant n'avoit donné de si belles espérances. Tout sembloit d'accord avec l'amour, pour rendre


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un jour Philax le plus heureux de tous les hommes. La princesse avoit environ douze ans, quand la reine, qui l'aimoit avec une tendresse infinie, voulut consulter sur sa destinée, une fée dont la science prodigieuse faisoit alors grand bruit. Elle partit pour l'aller trouver. Elle mena avec elle Imis, qui, dans la douleur de quitter Philax, s'étonna mille et mille fois que l'on pût songer à l'avenir quand le présent étoit agréable. Philax démeura auprès du roi, et tousles plaisirs de la cour ne le consolèrent point de l'absence de la princesse.

La reine arriva au château de la fée; elle y fut magnifiquement reçue; mais la fée ne s'y trouva pas. Elle habitoit d'ordinaire sur le sommet d'une montagne à quelque distance de son château, où elle démeuroit seule, occupée de ce profond savoir, qui la rendoit si célèbre par tout le monde. Dès qu'elle sut l'arrivée de la reine, elle revint: la reine lui présenta la princesse, lui apprit son nom, l'heure de sa naissance, que la fée savoit aussi bien qu'elle, quoiqu'elle n'y eût point été; (mais la fée de la montagne savoit tout). Elle promit à la reine, de lui rendre réponse dans deux jours, et puis elle retourna sur le sommet de sa montagne. Au commencement du troisième jour, elle revint, fit descendre la reine dans un jardin, et lui donna dès tablettes de feuilles de palmier bien fermées; mais elle lui ordonna de ne les ouvrir qu'en présence du roi. La reine, pour satisfaire du moins en quelque façon sa curiosité, lui fit diverses questions sur la fortune de sa fille. Grande reine, lui dit la fée de la montagne, je ne vous saurois dire précisément de quelle espèce de malheur la princesse est menacée; je vois seulement que l'amour aura beaucoup de part dans les événemens de sa vie, et que jamais beauté n'a fait naître de si violentes passions que celles que doit inspirer Imis. Il ne failloit point être fée pour promettre des amans à cette princesse; ses yeux sembloient déjà exiger de tous les coeurs l'amour que la fée assuroit que l'on auroit pour elle. Cependant Imis, beaucoup moins inquiète de sa destinée que de l'absence de Philax, s'amusoit à cueillir des fleurs; mais occupée de sa tendresse et de l'impatience de partir, elle oublia le bouquet qu'elle avoit commencé de faire, et jeta, en rêvant, les fleurs qu'elle avoit d'abord amassées avec plaisir. Elle


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alla rejoindre la reine, qui disoit adieu à la fée de la montagne. La fée embrassa Imis, et la regardant avec l'admiration qu'elle méritoit: Puisqu'il ne m'est pas possible (dit-elle après quelque moment d'un silence qui avoit quelque chose de mystérieux), puisqu'il ne m'est pas possible, belle princesse, de changer en ta faveur l'ordre des destinées, du moins je tâcherai de te faire éviter les malheurs qu'elles te préparent. Après ces mots, elle cueillit elle-même une touffe de muguet, et s'adressant à la jeune Imis: Portez toujours ces fleurs que je vous donne, lui dit-elle; elles ne se flétriront jamais; et tant que vous les aurez sur vous, elles vous garantiront de tous les maux dont le destin vous menace. Elle attacha ensuite le bouquet sur la coiffure d'Imis, et les fleurs obéissant aux intentions de la fée, dès qu'elles furent sur la tête de la princesse, s'ajusterènt d'elle-mêmes, et formèrent une espèce d'aigrette, dont la blancheur sembloit ne servir qu'à faire voir que rien ne pouvoit effacer celle du teint de la belle Imis. La reine partit après avoir encore remercié mille fois la fée, et revint en Islande, où toute la tour attendoit avec impatience le retour de la princesse. Jamais la joie ne parut plus brillante et plus aimable que dans les yeux d'Imis et de son amant. On n'expliqua qu'au roi le mystère de l'aigrette de muguet; elle faisoit un effet si agréable sur les beaux cheveux bruns de la princesse, que tout le monde la prit pour un simple ornement qu'elle avoit choisi elle-même dans les jardins de la fée. La princesse parla beaucoup plus à Philax dès chagrins qu'elle avoit sentis en ne le voyant pas, que dès malheurs que lui promettoient les destinées. Philax en fut pourtant alarmé; mais la joie de se trouver étoit présente, les malheurs encore incertains; ils les oublièrent, et s'abandonnèrent au doux plaisir de se revoir. Cependant la reine rendit compte au roi de son voyage, et lui donna les tablettes de la fée. Le roi les ouvrit, et y trouva ees paroles écrites en lettres d'or:--

        Le destin pour Imis sous un espoir flatteur,
        Cache une peine rigoureuse;
        Elle deviendra malheureuse
        Par le long cours de son bonheur.


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Le roi et la reine furent fort affligés de cet oracle, et cherchèrent vainement à le pouvoir expliquer. Ils n'en dirent rien à la princesse, pour ne lui pas donner une inutile douleur. Un jour que Philax étoit allé à la chasse, ce qui lui arrivoit assez souvent, Imis se promenoit seule dans un labyrinthe de myrtes; elle étoit fort triste, parce qu'elle trouvoit que Philax tardoit trop à revenir, et elle se reprochoit une impatience qu'il ne partageoit pas avec elle. Elle étoit occupée de sa rêverie, quand elle entendit une voix qui lui dit. Pourquoi vous affligez-vous, belle princesse? si Philax n'est pas assez sensible au bonheur d'être aimé de vous, je viens vous offrir un coeur mille fois plus reconnoissant, un coeur vivement touché de vos charmes, et une fortune assez brillante, pour devoir être désirée par toute autre que par vous, dont tout le monde doit reconnoître l'empire. La princesse fut très-surprise d'entendre cette voix; elle croyoit être seule dans le labyrinthe; et comme elle n'avoit point parlé, elle s'étonnoit encore plus que cette voix eût répondu à sa pensée. Elle regarda autour d'elle, et elle vit paroître en l'air un petit homme monté sur un hanneton. N'ayez point peur, belle Imis, lui dit-il, vous n'avez point d'amant plus soumis que moi; et quoique ce soit aujourd'hui la première fois que je parois devant vous, il y a long-temps que je vous aime et que je vous vois tous les jours. Que vous m'étonnez, lui dit la princesse! Quoi! vous me voyez tous les jours, et vous savez ce que je pense! Si cela est, vous avez dû voir qu'il est inutile d'avoir de l'amour pour moi. Philax, à qui j'ai donné mon coeur, est trop aimable, pour pouvoir cesser d'en être le maître; et quoique je ne sois pas contente de lui, je ne l'ai jamais tant aimé. Mais, dites-moi qui vous êtes, et où vous m'avez vue? Je suis Pagan l'Enchanteur, lui dit-il, et mon pouvoir s'étend sur tout le monde, hors sur vous. Je vous vis dans les jardins de la fée de la montagne. Jétois caché dans une des tulipes que vous cueillîtes; je pris d'bord pour un heureux présage le hasard qui vous avoit fait choisir la fleur où j'étois. Je me flattai que vous m'emporteriez avec vous; mais vous étiez trop occupée du plaisir de


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penser à Philax; vous jetâtes les fleurs après les avoir cueillies, et vous me laissâtes dans le jardin, le plus amoureux de tous les hommes. Depuis ce moment, j'ai senti que rien ne pouvoit me rendre heureux que l'ésperance d'être aimé de vous. Pensez à moi, belle Imis, s'il vous est possible; et permettez-moi de vous faire souvenir quelquefois de mon amour. Après ces mots il disparut, et la princesse retourna au palais, où la rue de Philax qu'elle retrouva, dissipa la peur qu'elle avoit eue. Elle avoit tant d'empressement de l'entendre se justifier du long-temps qu'il avoit passé à la chasse, qu'elle pensa oublier de lui conter son aventure. Mais, enfin, elle lui apprit ce qui lui venoit d'arriver dans le labyrinthe des myrtes. Le jeune prince, malgré son courage, craignit un rival aîlé, contre lequel il ne pourroit disputer sa princesse qu'aux dépens de sa vie. Mais l'aigrette de muguet le rassuroit contre les enchantemens, et la tendresse qu'Imis avoit pour lui ne lui permettoit pas de craindre son changement. Le lendemain de l'aventure du labyrinthe, la princesse, en s'éveillant, vit voler, dans sa chambre, douze petites nymphes, assises sur dès mouches à miel, qui portoient dans leurs mains de petites corbeilles d'or. Elles s'approchèrent du lit d'Imis, la saluèrent, et puis allèrent mettre les corbeilles sur une table de marbre blanc, qui parut au milieu de la chambre. Dès qu'elles furent posées, elles devinrent d'une grandeur ordinaire. Les nymphes, après avoir quitté les corbeilles, saluèrent encore Imis; et une d'entr'elles, s'approchant de son lit plus près que les autres, laissa tomber dessus quelque chose, puis elles s'envolèrent. La princesse, malgré l'étonnement que lui donnoit un spectacle si nouveau, prit ce que la nymphe avoit laissé tomber auprès d'elle; c'étoit une émeraude d'une beauté merveilleuse. Elle s'ouvrit dès que la princesse y toucha; elle trouva qu'elle renfermoit une feuille de rose, sur laquelle elle lut ces vers:--

            Que l'univers apprenne, avec étonnement,
            Du pouvoir de vos yeux les effets incroyables;
            Vous me rendez, en vous aimant,
            Les tourmens mêmes desirable.


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La princesse ne pouvoit revenir de sa surprise; enfin elle appela les dames qui la servoient; elles furent aussi étonnées qu'Imis à la vue de la table et dès corbeilles. Le roi, la reine, et Philax accoururent au bruit de cette aventure; la princesse ne supprima dans son récit que la lettre de son amant; c'étoit au seul Philax qu'elle croyoit en devoir rendre compte. Les corbeilles furent examinées avec soin, et elles se trouvèrent toutes remplies de pierreries d'une beauté extraordinaire, et d'un si grand prix, qu'elles redoublèrent encore l'étonnement des spectateurs. La princesse n'y voulut point toucher: et ayant trouvé un moment où personne ne l'écoutoit, elle s'approcha de Philax, et lui donna l'émeraude et la feuille de rose. Il lut la lettre de son rival avec beaucoup de peine. Imis, pour le consoler, déchira devant lui la feuille de rose. Mais que ce sacrifice leur coûta cher! Il se passa quelques jours sans que la princesse entendit parler de Pagan; elle crut que ses mépris pour lui auroient éteint son amour, et Philax se flatta de la même espérance. Ce prince retourna à la chasse, comme il avoit accoutumé. Il s'arrêta seul au bord d'une fontaine pour se rafraîchir. Il avoit sur lui l'émeraude que la princesse lui avoit donnée, et se souvenant de ce sacrifice avec plaisir, il la tira de sa poche pour la regarder; mais à peine l'eut-il tenue un moment, qu'elle lui échappa des mains, et dès qu'elle eut touché la terre, elle se changea en un chariot. Deux monstres aîlés sortirent de la fontaine, et s'y attelèrent eux-mêmes. Philax regardoit sans peur: car il étoit incapable d'en avoir; mais il ne put s'empêcher de sentir quelque émotion, quand il se vit transporter dans le chariot d'émeraude, par une force invincible; et aussitôt élevé en l'air où les monstres aîlés firent voler le chariot, avec une facilité et une rapidité prodigieuse. Cependant la nuit arriva, et les chasseurs, après avoir cherché Philax par tout le bois inutilement, revinrent au palais, où ils crurent qu'il pourroit être retourné. Ils ne l'y trouvèrent pas, et personne ne l'avoit vu depuis qu'il étoit allé avec eux à la chasse. Le roi ordonna que l'on retournât chercher le prince. Toute la cour prit part à son inquiétude; l'on retourna dans le bois, on courut aux environs, on n'en revint qu'au point du jour, et sans avoir appris aucunes


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nouvelles du prince. Imis avoit passé la nuit à se déspérer de l'absence de son amant, dont elle ne pouvoit comprendre la cause. Elle étoit alors sur une terrasse du palais, pour voir revenir ceux qui étoient allé chercher Philax, et elle se flattoit de le voir arriver avec eux; mais rien ne peut exprimer l'excès de la douleur dont elle fut saisie, quand elle ne vit point arriver Philax, et qu'on lui dit, qu'il avoit été impossible d'apprendre ce qu'il étoit devenu. Elle s'evanouit, on l'emporta, et une de ses femmes qui s'empressoit de la mettre au lit, détacha de dessus la tête de la princesse, l'aigrette de muguet qui la garantissoit des enchantemens. Dès qu'elle fut ôtée, un nuage obscurcit la chambre, et Imis disparut. Le roi et la reine furent au dès désespoir de cette perte, et ne purent jamais s'en consoler. La princesse en revenant de son évanouissement, se trouva dans une chambre de corail de diverses couleurs, parquetée de nacre de perles, environnée de nymphes qui la servoient avec un profond respect. Elles étoient belles, et vêtues d'habits magnifiques et galans. D'abord Imis demanda où elle étoit. Vous êtes dans un lieu où l'on vous adore, lui dit une dès nymphes: ne craignez rien, belle princesse, vous y trouverez tout ce que vous pouvez désirer. Philax est done ici? (dit alors la princesse, avec un mouvement de joie qui parut dans ses yeux); je ne souhaite que le bonheur de le revoir. C'est vous souvenir trop long-temps d'un ingrat (dit alors Pagan, en se faisant voir à la princesse), et puisque ce prince vous a quitté, il n'est plus digne de l'amour que vous avez pour lui. Joignez le dépit et les soin de votre gloire à la passion que j'ai pour vous; régnez à jamais dans ces lieux, belle princesse, vous y trouverez des richesses immenses, et tous les plaisirs imaginables seront attachés à vos pas. Imis ne répondit au discours de Pagan que par dès larmes. Il la quitta, de peur d'aigrir sa douleur. Les nymphes restèrent auprès d'elle, et essayèrent par leurs soins de la consoler. On lui servit un repas magnifique, elle refusa de manger; mais enfin le lendemain, le désir de voir encore Philax la fit résoudre à vivre; elle mangea, et les nymphes, pour dissiper sa douleur, la menèrent en divers endroits du palais; il étoit tout bâti de coquillages luisans, mêlés avec des pierres précieuses


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de différentes couleurs; ce qui faisoit le plus bel effet du monde; tous les meubles en étoient d'or, et d'un travail si merveilleux, qu'on voyoit bien qu'il ne pouvoit venir que de la main des fées. Les nymphes, après avoir fait voir à Imis le palais, la conduisirent dans des jardins dont la beauté ne peut être représentée. Elle y trouva un char fort brillant, attelé de six cerfs, qu'un nain conduisoit. On la pria d'entrer dans le char; Imis obéit, les nymphes s'y assirent à ses pieds; on les mena sur le bord de la mer, où une nymphe apprit à la princesse que Pagan régnoit dans cette île, dont il avoit fait, par la force de son art, le plus beau lieu de l'univers. Un bruit d'instrumens interrompit le discours de la nymphe; toute la mer parut couverte de petites barques de corail, couleur de feu, remplies de tout ce qui pouvoit composer une fête maritime fort galante. Au milieu des petites barques, il y en avoit une beaucoup plus grande que les autres, sur laquelle les chiffres d'Imis paroissoient partout formés avec des perles; elle étoit traînée par deux dauphins. Elle s'approcha du rivage: la princesse y entra avec les nymphes. Dès qu'elle y fut, une superbe colation parut devant elle; et elle entendit un concert merveilleux qui se faisoit dans les barques qui entouroient la sienne. On n'y chanta que ses louanges; mais Imis ne fit attention à rien. Elle remonta dans son char, et retourna à son palais accablée de tristesse. Le soir, Pagan se présenta encore devant elle. Il la trouva plus insensible à son amour qu'elle ne lui avoit encore paru; mais il ne se rebuta point, et se flatta sur la foi de sa constance. II ignoroit encore qu'en amour, les plus constans ne sont pas toujours les plus heureux, il donnoit chaque jour dès fêtes à la princesse, dès divertissemens dignes d'attirer l'admiration de tout le monde, excepté de celle pour qui on les inventois; Imis n'étoit touchée que de l'absence de son amant. Cependant ce malheureux prince avoit été conduit par les monstres aîlés dans une forêt, dont Pagan étoit le maître. Elle s'appeloit la forêt triste. Dès que Philax y fut arrivé, le chariot d'émeraude et les monstres disparurent. Le prince surpris de cette aventure, appela tout son courage à son secours, et c'étoit le seul secours sur lequel il pouvoit compter dans ce lieu-là. Il parcourut d'abord quel-


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ques routes de la forêt; elle étoit affreuse, et le soleil n'en pénétroit jamais l'obscurité. Il n'y trouva personne, pas même des animaux d'aucune espèce; il sembloit que les animaux même eussent de l'horreur pour un si triste séjour. Philax y vécut des fruits sauvages qu'il y trouva. Il passoit les jours dans une douleur mortelle; l'absence de la princesse le mettoit au désespoir, et quelquefois avec son épée qui lui étoit démeurée, il s'amusoit à graver le nom d'Imis sur des arbres qui n'etoient pas destinés pour un usage si tendre; mais quand on aime véritablement, on fait quelquefois servir à l'amour les choses du monde qui lui paroissent le plus contraires. Cependant le prince avançoit tous les jours dans la forêt; et il y avoit environ un an qu'il l'habitoit, lorsqu'une nuit il entendit des voix plaintives, dont il ne put distinguer les paroles. Quelques effrayantes que dussent être ces plaintes pendant la nuit, et dans un lieu où le prince n'avoit jamais vu personne, le désir de n'être plus seul, et de trouver du moins des malheureux comme lui, avec qui il pût se plaindre de ses infortunes, lui fit attendre le jour avec impatience, pour chercher ceux qu'il avoit entendus. Il marcha vers l'endroit de la forêt, d'où il crut que pouvoient venir les voix. Il marcha toute la journée inutilement; mais enfin, sur le soir, il trouva dans un lieu où les arbres s'éclaircissoient, les débris d'un château qui paroissoit avoir été fort spacieux et fort superbe. Il entra dans une cour, dont les murs qui étoient de marbre vert, paroissoient encore assez entiers; il n'y trouva que des arbres d'une hauteur prodigieuse, plantés sans ordre en divers endroits de la cour. Il s'avanca plus loin vers un lieu où il vit quelque chose d'élevé sur un piedestal de marbre noir; c'étoient des armes confusément amassées les unes sur les autres, des casques, des boucliers, des épées à l'antique, qui formoient une espèce de trophée mal arrangée. Il regarda s'il n'y auroit point quelque inscription, qui pût l'instruire du nom de ceux à qui avoient appartenu autrefois ces armes. II en trouva une gravée sur le piedestal, dont le temps avoit à demi-effacé les caractères, et ce fut avec beaucoup de peine qu'il y lut ces paroles:--


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À L'IMMORTELLE MÉMOIRE DE LA GLOIRE DE LA FÉE CÉORÉ.
C'EST ICI

            Que dans une même journée
                 Elle triompha de l'amour
            Et punit ses amans infidelles.

Cette inscription n'instruisoit point Philax de tout ce qu'il vouloit savoir; aussi auroit-il continué de marcher dans la forêt, si la nuit ne fût arrivée. Il s'assit au pied d'un cyprès, et à peine y eut-il été un moment, qu'il entendit les mêmes voix qu'il avoit ouïes la nuit précédente. Il en fut moins surpris, que de s'appercevoir que c'etoient ces arbres mêmes qui se plaignoient, comme des hommes auroient pu faire. Le prince se leva, mit l'epée à la main, et frappa sur le cyprès qui étoit le plus près de lui; il alloit redoubler ses coups quand l'arbre lui cria: Arrête, arrête, n'outrage pas un prince malheureux, et qui n'est plus en état de se défendre. Philax s'arrêta, et s'accoutumant à cette surprenante aventure, demanda au cyprès par quelles merveilles il étoit homme et arbre tout ensemble? Je veux bien te l'apprendre, lui dit le cyprès, et puisque depuis deux mille ans voici la prèmiere occasion que me donne le destin de me plaindre de mes malheurs, je ne veux pas la perdre. Tous ces arbres, que tu vois ici, furent des princes considérables dans leur siècle, par le rang qu'ils tenoient dans le monde, et par leur valeur. La fée Céoré régnoit dans cette contrée: elle étoit belle; mais son savoir la rendoit encore plus renommee que sa beauté. Aussi usa-t-elle d'autres charmes pour nous assujettir à ses loix. Elle étoit devenue amoureuse du jeune Orizée, prince digne d'une meilleure fortune par ses admirables qualités. (C'est premièrement, ajouta le cyprès, ce chêne que tu vois à côté de moi.) Philax regarda le chêne, et lui entendit pousser un grand soupir que lui arracha sans doute le souvenir de son infortune. La fée, pour attirer ce prince à sa cour, continua le cyprès, fit publier un tournoi; nous courûmes tous à cette petite occasion d'acquérir de la gloire; Orizée fut du nombre dès princes qui disputèrent le prix. (C'étoit des armées fées, qui rendoient invulnérables.) Je fus malheureusement vainqueur. Céoré, irritée de ce que le destin ne s'étoit pas


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déclaré d'accord avec ses inclinations, résolut de se venger sur nous de ce crime de la fortune; elle enchanta dès glaces de miroirs, dont une galerie de son château étoit toute remplie. Ceux qui la voyoient représentée seulement une fois dans ces glaces fatales, ne pouvoient se défendre de sentir pour elle une violente passion. Ce fut dans ce lieu qu'elle nous reçut le lendemain du tournoi; nous la vîmes tous dans ces glaces, et nous la trouvâmes si belle, que ceux d'entre nous, qui jusqu'alors avoient été indifferéns, cessèrent de l'être en un moment, et ceux qui avoient aimé, devinrent aussi facilement infidelles. Nous ne pensâmes plus à quitter la cour de la fée, nous ne songions qu'à lui plaire. En vain les affaires de nos états nous rappeloient dans nos royaumes: tout nous paroissoit indigne de nous, hors l'espérance d'être aimes de Céoré. Orizée fut le seul qu'elle favorisa, et la passion des autres princes ne servoit à la fée, qu'à faire des sacrifices à cet amant, qui lui étoit si cher, et qu'à répandre dans tout le monde le bruit de sa beauté. L'amour semblant pendant quelque temps avoir adouci l'humeur cruelle de Céoré; mais après quatre ou cinq années, elle reprit sa première férocité; elle se vengea de légers déplaisirs sur des rois ses voisins, par des meurtres épouvantables; et abusant du pouvoir que ses enchantemens lui donnoient sur nous, elle nous rendoit les ministres de ses cruautés. Orizée tâchoit en vain d'arrêter ses injustices: elle l'aimoit; mais elle ne lui obéissoit point. Un jour que je revenois de combattre et de vaincre pour ses intérêts un géant qu'elle m'avoit envoyé défier au combat, je lui fis apporter les armes du vaincu. Elle étoit seule dans la galerie des miroirs. Je mis les armes du géant à ses pieds, et lui parlai de mon amour avec une ardeur incroyable, qui sans doute s'augmentoit par la force des enchantemens du lieu où j'étois. Mais bien loin de me témoigner quelque reconnoissance pour le succès de mon combat, et pour l'amour que j'avois pour elle, Céoré me traita avec dès mépris insupportables; et se retirant dans un cabinet, elle me laissa seul dans la galerie, dans un désespoir et une fureur qui ne se peuvent exprimer. J'y démeurai long temps sans savoir quelle résolution je voulois prendre; car les enchantemens de la fée ne nous permettoient pas de vouloir combattre


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Orizée. Soigneuse de la vie de son amant, la cruelle Céoré nous rendoit jaloux et nous ôtoit ce désir, si naturel aux hommes, de se venger d'un rival heureux. Enfin, après avoir marché quelque temps dans la galerie, me souvenant que c'étoit dans ce lieu que j'avois commencé d'être amoureux de la fée; c'est ici, m'écriai-je, que j'ai pris le funeste amour qui me désespère; et vous, glaces funestes, qui m'avez tant de lois représenté l'injuste Céoré avec cette beauté qui séduit mon coeur et ma raison, je vous punirai du crime de l'avoir offerte à mes regards avec trop de charmes. A ces mots, prenant la massue du géant, que j'avois fait apporter pour présenter à la fée, j'en donnai quelques coups dans les glaces. A peine furent-elles cassées, que je me sentis plus de haine pour Céoré que je n'avois eu d'amour pour elle. Les princes, mes rivaux, sentirent dans ce même instant rompre leurs fers, et Orizée lui-même fut honteux de l'amour que la fée avoit pour lui. Céoré essaya en vain d'arrêter son amant par ses larmes; il fut insensible à sa douleur, et malgré ses cris, nous partions tous ensemble pour fuir ce funeste séjour, quand en passant dans la cour où nous sommes, le ciel parut tout en feu, un tonnerre épouvantable se fit entendre, et il nous fut impossible de changer de place. La fée parut en l'air, montée sur un grand serpent, et s'adressant à nous, avec un son de voix qui marquoit sa fureur: Princes inconstans, nous dit-elle, je vais punir, par une peine qui ne finira jamais, le crime que vous avez commis en rompant mes chaînes, qu'il vous étoit trop glorieux de porter; et toi, ingrat Orizée, je triomphe enfin de l'amour que tu m'avois donné. Contente de cette victoire, je vais te faire éprouver les mêmes malheurs qu'à tes rivaux, et j'ordonne , ajouta-t-elle, en mémoire de cette aventure, que quand l'usage des miroirs sera connu dans tout l' univers, la perte de ces glaces fatales soit toujours un assuré présage de l'infidélité d' un amant. La fée se perdit en l'air, Après avoir prononce ces paroles. Nous fûmes changés en arbres, et la cruelle Céoré nous laissa sans doute la raison pour nous faire souffrir davantage. Les temps ont détruit ce superbe château, qui fut le témoin de nos disgrâces; et tu es le seul qui soit dans cette affreuse forêt, depuis deux mille ans que nous y sommes.


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Philax alloit répondre aux discours du cyprès, quand il fut tout-d'uncoup transporté dans un jardin fort agréable; il y trouva une belle nymphe, qui s'approchant de lui d'un air gracieux. Si vous voulez, Philax, lui dit-elle, je vous ferai voir la princesse Imis dans trois jours. Le prince, transporté de joie à une proposition si peu attendue, se jeta à ses pieds pour lui témoigner sa reconnoissance. Dans ce même instant Pagan étoit en l'air, caché dans un nuage avec la princesse Imis, il lui avoit dit mille fois que Philax étoit infidelle; elle avoit toujours réfusé de le croire, sur la parole d'un amant jaloux: il la conduisoit en ce lieu pour la convaincre, disoit-il, de la légéreté d'un prince qu'elle lui préféroit si injustement. La princesse vit Philax d'un air content, aux pieds de la nymphe; elle fut au désespoir de ne pouvoir plus se tromper sur la chose du monde qu'elle craignoit le plus. Pagan ne l'avoit pas mise à un distance de la terre, où il lui fût possible d'entendre ce que Philax et la nymphe se disoient; c'étoit par ses ordres qu'elle s'étoit présentée à ce prince. Pagan ramena Imis dans son île, où après l'avoir convaincue de l'infidélité de Philax, il trouva qu'il avoit seulement redoublé la douleur de cette belle princesse, et qu'elle n'en étoit pas plus sensible pour lui. Désespéré de voir que cette infidélité prétendue, dont il avoit espéré un plus doux succès, lui devenoit inutile, il résolut de se venger de la constance de ces deux amans: il n'étoit pas cruel, comme la fée Céoré son aïeule; aussi imagina-t-il une autre vengeance que celle dont elle avoit puni ses malheureux amans; il ne voulut pas faire périr ni la princesse qu'il avoit si tendrement aimée, ni même Philax qu'il avoit assez fait souffrir; et bornant sa vengeance à détruire une passion qui avoit été si contraire à la sienne, il éleva dans son île un palais de crystal, prit soin d'y mettre tout ce qui peut être agréable à la vie, hors le moyen d'en pouvoir sortir; il y renferma nymphes et des nains pour servir Imis et son amant, et quand tout fut disposé pour les y recevoir, il les y transporta l'une et l'autre: ils se crurent d'abord au comble du bonheur, et rendirent mille grâces à la douce colère de Pagan. Cependant il ne voulut pas sitôt les


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voir ensemble, il comprit que de jour en jour ce spectacle deviendroit moins cruel pour lui; il s'éloigna du palais de crystal, après avoir d'un coup de baguette gravé cette inscription:--

            Les tourmens, les ennuis, les malheurs de l'absence,
            D'Imis et de Philax troublèrent les beaux jours.
                Sans pouvoir vaincre leur constance,
            Pagan fut offensé de leur persévérance.
            Et pour détruire enfin de si tendres amours,
            Il les a dans ces lieux, témoin de sa vengeance,
                Condamnés à se voir toujours.

On dit qu'au bout de quelques années, Pagan fut aussi vengé qu'il avoit désiré de l'être; et que la belle Imis et Philax, aecomplissant la prédiction de la fée de la montagne, souhaitèrent avec autant d'ardeur de retrouver l'aigrette de muguet, pour détruire des enchantemens agréables, qu'ils l'avoient conservée autrefois avec soin, pour se garantir des malheurs qui leur avoient été prédits.

            Avant ce temps fatal, les amans trop heureux
            Brûloient toujours des mêmes feux,
            Rien ne troubloit le cours de leur bonheur extrême;
            Pagan leur fit trouver le secret malheureux,
            De s'ennuyer du bonheur même.

PRlNTED BY MILLS, JOWETT, AND MILLS,
BOLT-COURT, FLEET STREET.