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XL.

“ 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.”

XLI.

The Spirit mourn’d “ Adieu !”–dissolved, and left

The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;
As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft,

Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,

And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil :
It made sad Isabella's eyelids ache,
And in the dawn she started up awake;

XLII.

“ 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;
But there is crime—a brother's bloody knife !

Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy :
I'll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes.
And greet thee morn and even in the skies."

XLIII.

When the full morning came, she had devised

How she might secret to the forest hie;
How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,

And sing to it one latest lullaby;
How her short absence might be unsurmised,

While she the inmost of the dream would try,
Resolved, she took with her an aged nurse,
And went into that dismal forest-hearse.

XLIV.

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.

XLV.

Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard,

And let his spirit, like a demon mole,
Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,

To see skull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole ;
Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marrd,

And filling it once more with human soul ?
Ah! this is holiday to what was felt
When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.

XLVI.

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 ;
Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow,

Like to a native lily of the dell:
Then with her knife, all sudden she began
To dig more fervently than misers can.

XLVII.

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.

XLVIII.

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,
And put her lean hands to the horrid thing :

Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;
At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
And Isabella did not stamp and rave.

XLIX.

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.

L.

But one,

With duller steel than the Perséan sword
They cut away no formless monster's head,

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.

LI.

In anxious secrecy they took it home,

And then the prize was all for Isabel :
She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb,

And all around each eye's sepulchral cell
Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam

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.

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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.

LIII.

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;
She had no knowledge when the day was done,

And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.

LIV.

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
Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,

From the fast mouldering head there shut from view :
So that the jewel, safely casketed,
Came forth, and in perfumed leaflets spread.

LV.

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.

H н

LVI.

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 ;
Sound mournfully upon the winds and low ;

For simple Isabel is soon to be
Among the dead : She withers, like a palm
Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.

LVIT.

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
From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,

Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower
Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside
By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.

LVIII.

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.

LIX,

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 ;
And when she left, she hurried back, as swift

As bird on wing to breast its eggs again :
And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there
Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.

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