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"O Isabella! I can half perceive
That I may speak my grief into thine ear;
If thou didst ever anything believe,
Believe how I love thee, believe how near
My soul is to its doom : I would not grieve
Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear
Thine eyes by gazing ; but I cannot live
Another night, and not my passion shrive.
"Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold, Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,
And I must taste the blossoms that unfold
In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time.'
So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,
Great bliss was with them, and great happiness
Grew, like a lusty flower in June's caress.
Parting they seem'd to tread upon the air,
Only to meet again more close, and share
She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair
He with light steps went up a western hill,
And bade the sun farewell, and joy'd his fill.
All close they met again, before the dusk
All close they met, all eves, before the dusk
Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,
Unknown of any, free from whispering tale.
Ah! better had it been for ever so,
Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.
Were they unhappy then ?—It cannot be—
Too many sighs give we to them in fee,
Too many doleful stories do we see,
Whose matter in bright gold were best be read;
Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse
Over the pathless waves towards him bows.
But, for the general award of love,
The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the lessEven bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers, Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.
With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt
And many once proud-quiver'd loins did melt
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the anchored driftings of the flood.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death
Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel,
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.
Why were they proud? Because their marble founts Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears?
Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs? s
Why were they proud? Because red-lined accounts Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?
Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,
Why in the name of Glory were they proud?
Yet were these Florentines as self-retired
As two close Hebrews-in that land inspired,
The hawks of ship-mast forests—the untired
Quick cat's-paws on the generous stray-away,—
Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.
How was it these same ledger-men could spy
Pair Isabella in her downy nest?
A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt's pest
How could these money-bags see east and west? Yet so they did—and every dealer fair Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.
O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon, And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,
And of thy roses amorous of the moon, And of thy lilies, that do paler grow
Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune, For venturing syllables that ill beseem The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.
Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
There is no other crime, no mad assail
To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:
But it is done—succeed the verse or fail—
To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,
An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.
These brethren having found by many signs
And how she loved him too, each unconfines
That he, the servant of their trade designs,
When't was their plan to coax her by degrees
To some high noble and his olive-trees.
And many a jealous conference had they,
Before they fix'd upon a surest way
To make the youngster for his crime atone;
And at the last, these men of cruel clay
For they resolved in some forest dim
To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him.
So on a pleasant morning, as he leant
Into the sun-rise, o'er the balustrade
Their footing through the dews; and to him said, "You seem there in the quiet of content,
Lorenzo, and we are most loath to invade Calm speculation; but if you are wise, Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.
"To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount
Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count
Lorenzo, courteously as he was wont,
Bow'd a fair greeting to these serpents' whine;
And went in haste, to get in readiness,
With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman's dress.
And as he to the court-yard pass'd along,
If he could hear his lady's matin-song,
And as he thus over his passion hung,
When, looking up, he saw her features bright
Smile through an in-door lattice all delight.
"Love, Isabel!" said he, " I was in pain
Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow:
Ah! what if I should lose thee, when so fain
Of a poor three hours' absence? but we'll gain
Good bye! I'll soon be back."—" Good bye!" said she:
And as he went she chanted merrily.
So the two brothers and their murder'd man
Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream
Gurgles through straiten'd banks, and still doth fan
Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan
Lorenzo's flush with love. They pass'd the water
Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.