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“ I know what was, I feel full well what is,
And I should rage, if spirits could go mad; Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,
That paleness warms my grave, as though I had A seraph chosen from the bright abyss
To be my spouse : thy paleness makes me glad : Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel A greater love through all my essence steal.”
The Spirit mourn’d “ Adieu !”–dissolved, and left
The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;
Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil :
“ Ha! ha!” said she, “I knew not this hard life,
I thought the worst was simple misery; I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife
Portion'd us—happy days, or else to die;
Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy :
When the full morning came, she had devised
How she might secret to the forest hie;
And sing to it one latest lullaby;
While she the inmost of the dream would try,
See, as they creep along the river side,
How she doth whisper to that aged dame, And, after looking round the champaign wide,
Shows her a knife.-_" What feverous hectic flame Burns in thee, child ?—what good can thee betide
That thou shouldst smile again ?”—The evening came, And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed ; The flint was there, the berries at his head.
Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard,
And let his spirit, like a demon mole,
To see skull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole ;
And filling it once more with human soul ?
She gazed into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
One glance did fully all its secrets tell ; Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know
Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well ;
Like to a native lily of the dell:
Soon she turn’d up a soiled glove, whereon
Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies ; She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,
And put it in her bosom, where it dries And freezes utterly unto the bone
Those dainties made to still an infant's cries : Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care, But to throw back at times her veiling hair.
That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
Until her heart felt pity to the core At sight of such a dismal labouring,
And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,
Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;
Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance?
Why linger at the yawning tomb so long? O for the gentleness of old Romance,
The simple plaining of a minstrel's song! Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,
For here, in truth, it doth not well belong To speak:-0 turn thee to the very tale, And taste the music of that vision pale.
With duller steel than the Perséan sword
whose gentleness did well accord With death, as life. The ancient harps have said, Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord:
If Love impersonate was ever dead, Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan’d. 'Twas love; cold,—dead indeed, but not dethroned.
In anxious secrecy they took it home,
And then the prize was all for Isabel :
And all around each eye's sepulchral cell
With tears, as chilly as a dripping well, She drench'd away : and still she comb'd and kept Sighing all day—and still she kiss'd and wept.
Then in a silken scarf,—sweet with the dews
Of precious flowers pluck’d in Araby, And divine liquids come with odorous ooze
Through the cold serpent-pipe refreshfully,– She wrapp'd it up; and for its tomb did choose
A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by, And cover'd it with mould, and o’er it set Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.
And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees, And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew, So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
Of Basil-tufts in Florence ; for it drew
From the fast mouldering head there shut from view :
O Melancholy, linger here awhile !
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly! O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us—0 sigh ! Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile ;
Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily, And make a pale light in your cypress glooms, Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.
Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,
From the deep throat of sad Melpomene ! Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,
And touch the strings into a mystery ;
For simple Isabel is soon to be
O leave the palm to wither by itself ;
Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour! It may not be—those Baâlites of pelf,
Her brethren, noted the continual shower
Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower
And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much
Why she sat drooping by the Basil green, And why it flourish'd, as by magic touch ;
Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might mean : They could not surely give belief, that such
A very nothing would have power to wean Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay, And even remembrance of her love's delay.
Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift
This hidden whim; and long they watch'd in vain; For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,
And seldom felt she any hunger-pain ;
As bird on wing to breast its eggs again :