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So long a silence seemed the approach of death, QUEEN. What have I done, that thou dar'st
Such an act,
Ah me, what act, That roais so loud, and thunders in the index ? Ham. Look here, upon this picture, and on
this, THE CURSE OF KEHAMA.
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers. I CHARM thy life,
See, what a grace was seated on this brow; From the weapons of strife,
Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself ; From stone and from wood,
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill ;
A combination, and a form, indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his seal,
This was your husband. Look you now, what
follows: And water shall hear me,
Here is your husband ; like a mildewed ear, And know thee and flee thee : Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes ? And the winds shall not touch theo
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed, When they pass by thee,
And batten on this moor? Ha ! have you eyes! And the dews shall not wet thee
You cannot call it love ; for, at your age,
The hey-day in the blood is tame, it's humble,
And waits upon the judgment: and what judgment To release thee, in vain ;
Would step from this to this ? Sense, sure, you Thou shalt live in thy pain,
Else, could you not have motion : but, sure, that
Is apoplexed : for madness would not err;
Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thralled
But it reserved some quantity of choice,
That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind ?
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
O shame! where is thy blush ? Rebellious hell,
If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones, HAMLET. Leave wringing of your hands : To flaming youth let virtue be as wax, peace ! sit you down,
And melt in her own fire: proclaim no shame And let me wring your heart : for so I shall, When the compulsive ardor gives the charge, If it be made of penetrable stuff;
Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
O Hamlet, speak no more :
HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK."
( This bodiless creation ecstasy
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul; QUEEN. This is the very coinage of your brain:
Is very cunning in.
And makes as healthful music : it is not madness НАМ.
A murilerer, and a villain ; That I have uttered : bring me to the test A slave, that is not twentieth part the tithe And I the matter will re-word; which madness Of your precedent lord; a Vire of kings; Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace, A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul, That from a shelf the precious diadem stole, That not your trespass, but my madness, spreaks: And put it in his pocket!
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place, QUTEN.
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within, Hay. A king of shreds and patches, - Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;
Repent what's past; avoid what is to come; Enter Ghost.
And do not spread the compost on the weeils, Save me, and hover o'er me with your wings, To make them ranker. Forgive me this ny virtue ; You heavenly guards ! - What would your gra- For in the fatness of these pursy times, cious figure ?
Virtue itself of vice inust pardon bes, QUEEN. Alas, he's mad !
Yea, curb and woe, for leave to do him good. Ham. Do you not come your tardy son tochide, QUEEN. O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
in twain ! The important acting of your dread command ? HAM. O, throw away the worser part of it, 0, say!
And live the purer with the other half. GHOST. Do not forget : this visitation Good night : but go not to mine uncle's bed; Is but to whet thy almost blunteed purpose. Assume a virtue, if you have it not. But look, amazement on thy mother sits : Once more, good night : O, step between her and her fighting soul, And when you are desirous to be blessed, Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works, I'll blessing beg of you. Speak to her, Hamlet.
I must be cruel, only to be kind : HAM.
How is it with you, lady ? Thus bau begins, and worse remains behind. QUEEN. Alas, how is 't with you, That you do bend your eye on vacancy, And with the incorporal air do hold discourse ?
COUNTESS LAURA. Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep; And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm, It was a dreary day in Padua. Your bedded hair, like life in excrements, The Countess Laura, for a single year Starts up, and stands on end. () gentle son, Fernando's wife, upon her bridal bed, Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper Like an uprooted lily on the snow, Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look? The withered outcast of a festival, HAM. On him! on him! Look you, how pale Lay dead. She died of some uncertain ill, he glares !
That struck her almost on her wedling day, His form and cause conjoineil, preaching to stones, And clung to her, and dragged her slowly down, Would make them capable. · Do not look upon Thinning her cheeks and pinching her full lips, me;
Till, in her chance, it seemed that with a year Lest with this piteous action you convert
Full half a century was overpast.
In vain had all the doctors, far and near,
Do you see nothing there? Gathered around the mystery of her bed, Queen. Nothing at all; yet all, that is, I see. Draining her veins, her husband's treasury, HAM. Nor did you nothing hear ?
And physic's jargon, in a fruitless quest QUEEN.
No, nothing, but ourselves. For causes equal to the dread result. HAM. Why, look you there ! look, how it steals The Countess only smiled when they were gone,
Hugged her fair body with her little hands, My father, in his habit as he lived !
And turned upon her pillows wearily, Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal ! | As though she fain would sleep no common sleep,
[Exit Ghost. I But the long, breathless slumber of the grave.
She hinted nothing. Feeble as she was, And clung around it, buffeting the air
The Count resumed : “I came not here to grieve, “O blesséd soul ! with nothing to confess Nor see my sorrow in another's eyes. Save virtues and good deeds, which she mis- Who'll paint the Countess, as she lies to-night takes
In state within the chapel ? Shall it be So humble is she - for our human sins!” That earth must lose ber wholly ? that no hint Praying for death, she tossed upon her bed Of her gold tresses, beaming eyes, and lips Day after day ; as might a shipwrecked bark That talked in silence, and the eager soul That rocks upon one billow, and can make That ever seemed outbreaking through her clay, No onward motion towards her port of hope. And scattering glory round it, — shall all these At length, one morn, when those around her said, Be dull corruption's heritage, and we, “Surely the Countess mends, so fresh a light Poor beggars, have no legacy to show Beams from her eyes and beautifies her face,". That love she bore us? That were shame to love, One morn in spring, when every flower of earth And shame to you, my masters." Carlo stalked Was opening to the sun, and breathing up Forth from his easel stiftly as a thing Its votive incense, her impatient soul
Moved by mechanic impulse. His thin lips, Opened itself, and so exhaled to heaven. And sharpened nostrils, and wan, sunken cheeks, When the Count heard it, he reeled back a pace; And the cold glimmer in his dusky eyes, Then turned with anger on the messenger ; Made him a ghastly sight. The throng drew back Then craved his pardon, and wept out his heart As though they let a spectre through. Then he, Before the menial; tears, ah me! such tears Fronting the Count, and speaking in a voice As love sheds only, and love only once. Sounding remote and hollow, made reply : Then he bethought him, “Shall this wonder die, "Count, I shall paint the Countess. 'T is my And leave behind no shadow ? not a trace
fate, Of all the glory that environed her,
Not pleasure, no, nor duty." But the Count, That mellow nimbus circling round my star ?". Astray in woe, but understood assent, So, with his sorrow glooming in his face, Not the strange words that bore it ; and he flung He paced along his gallery of art,
His arm round Carlo, drew him to his breast, And strode among the painters, where they stood, And kissed his forehead. At which Carlo shrank : With Carlo, the Venetian, at their head, Perhaps 't was at the honor. Then the Count, Studying the Masters by the dawning light A little reddening at his public state, Of his transcendent genius. Through the groups Unseemly to his near and recent loss, Of gayly-vestured artists moved the Count, Withdrew in haste between the downcast eyes As some lone cloud of thick and leaden hue, That did him reverence as he rustled by. Packed with the secret of a coming storm, Moyes through the gold and crimson evening Night fell on Padua. In the chapel lay mists,
The Countess Laura at the altar's foot. Deadening their splendor. In a moment still Her coronet glittered on her pallid brows; Was Carlo's voice, and still the prattling crowd ; A crimson pall, weighed down with golden work, And a great shadow overwhelmed them all, Sown thick with pearls, and heaped with early As their white faces and their anxious eyes
flowers, Pursuel Fernando in his moody walk.
Draped her still body almost to the chin ; He pause, as one who balances a doubt,
And over all a thousand candles flamed Weighing two courses, then burst out with this : Against the winking jewels, or streamed down “Ye all have seen the tidings in my face ; The marble aisle, and flashed along the guard Or has the dial ceased to register
Of men-at-arms that slowly wove their turns, The workinys of my heart? Then hear the bell, | Backward and forward, through th distant gloom That almost cracks its frame in utterance ; When Carlo entered, his unsteady feet The Countess, - she is dead !” – “Dead !” Scarce bore him to the altar, and his head Carlo groaned.
Drooped down so low that all his shining curls And if a bolt from middle heaven had struck Poured on his breast, and veiled his countenance His splendid features full upon the brow, Upon his easel a half-finished work, He could not have appeared more scathed and The secret labor of his studio, blanched.
Said from the canvas, so that none might err, “Dead ! — dead !” He staggered to his easel. “ I am the Countess Laura.” Carlo kneeled, frame,
And gazed upon the picture ; as if thus,
Through those cleareyes, he saw the way to heaven. | Made eager struggles to maintain thy bloom, Then he arose ; and as a swimmer comes And gladdened heaven dropped down in gracious Forth from the waves, he shook his locks aside,
dews Emerging from his dream, and standing firm On its transplanted darling ? Hear me now! Upon a purpose with his sovereign will. I say this but in justice, not in pride, He took his palette, murmuring, “Not yet!" Not to insult thy high nobility, Confidingly and softly to the corpse ;
But that the poise of things in God's own sight And as the veriest drudge, who plies his art May be adjusted ; and hereafter I Against his fancy, he addressed himself May urge a claim that all the powers of heaven With stolid resolution to his task.
Shall sanction, and with clarions blow abroad. --Turning his vision on his memory,
Laura, you loved me! Look not so severe, And shutting out the present, till the dead, With your cold brows, and deadly, close-drawu The gilded pall, the lights, the pacing guard,
lips ! And all the meaning of that solemn scene You proved it, Countess, when you died for it, Became as nothing, and creative Art
Let it consume you in the wearing strife Resolved the whole to chaos, and reformed It fought with duty in your ravaged heart. The elements according to her law :
I knew it ever since that summer day So Carlo wrought, as though his eye and hand I painted Lila, the pale beggar's child, Were Heaven's unconscious instruments, and At rest beside the fountain ; when I felt worked
O Heaven ! — the warmth and moisture of your The settled purpose of Omnipotence.
breath And it was wondrous how the red, the white, Blow through my hair, as with your eager soul – The ochre, and the umber, and the blue, Forgetting soul and body go as one — From mottled blotches, hazy and opaque, You leaned across my easel till our cheeks — Grew into rounded forms and sensuous lines; Ah me! 't was not your purpose – touched, and How just beneath the lucid skin the blood
clung! Glimmered with warmth ; the scarlet lips apart Well, grant’t was genius ; and is genius nanght! Bloomed with the moisture of the dews of life ; I ween it wears as proud a diadem How the light glittered through and underneath Here, in this very world - as that you wear. The golden tresses, and the deep, soft eyes A king has held my palette, a grand-duke Became intelligent with conscious thought, Has picked my brush up, and a pope has begged And somewhat troubled underneath the arch The favor of my presence in his Rome. Of eyebrows but a little too intense
I did not go ; I put my fortune by. For perfect beauty ; how the pose and poise I need not ask you why : you knew too well. Of the lithe figure on its tiny foot
It was but natural, it was no way strange, Suggested life just ceased from motion ; so That I should love you. Everything that saw, That any one might cry, in marvelling joy, Or had its other senses, loved you, sweet, “That creature lives, — has senses, mind, a soul And I among them. Martyr, holy saint, — To win God's love or dare hell's subtleties!” I see the halo curving round your hearl, The artist paused. The ratifying “Good !” I loved you once; but now I worship you, Trembled upon his lips. He saw no touch For the great deed that held my love aloof, To give or soften. “It is done,” he cried, And killed you in the action! I absolve
'My task, my duty! Nothing now on earth Your soul from any taint. For from the day Can taunt me with a work left unfulfilled !” Of that encounter by the fountain-side The lofty flame, which bore him up so long,
Until this moment, never turned on me Died in the ashes of humanity ;
Those tender eyes, unless they did a wrong And the mere man rocked to and fro again To nature by the cold, defiant glare Upon the centre of his wavering heart.
With which they chilled me. Never heard I word He put aside his palette, as if thus
Of softness spoken by those gentle lips; He stepped from sacred vestments, and assumed Never received a bounty from that hand A mortal function in the common world. Which gave to all the world. I know the cause. “Now for my rights !” he muttered, and ap- You did your duty, not for honor's sake, proached
Nor to save sin or suffering or remorse, The noble body. “O lily of the world ! Or all the ghosts that haunt a woman's shame, So withered, yet so lovely! what wast thou But for the sake of that pure, loyal love To those who came thus near thee — for I stood Your husband bore you. Queen, by grace of God, Without the pale of thy half-royal rank - I bow before the lustre of your throne ! When thou wast budding, and the streams of life 1 kiss the edges of your garment-hem,
And hold myself ennobled! Answer me, Do with her at thy pleasure !” Something grand, If I had wronged you, you would answer me And radiant as a sunbeam, touched the head Out of the dusty porches of the tomb :
He bent in awful sorrow. “Mortal, see Is this a dream, a falsehood ? or have I
“Dare not! As Christ was sinless, abjure Spoken the very truth?” “The very truth!” These vile abominations! Shall she bear A voice replied ; and at his side he saw Life's burden twice, and life's temptations twice, A forin, half shadow and half substance, stand, While God is justice ?” “Who has made you Or, rather, rest ; for on the solid earth
judge It had no footing, more than some dense mist Of what you call God's good, and what you
think That wavers o'er the surface of the ground God's evil ? One to him, the source of both, It scarcely touches. With a reverent look The God of good and of permitted ill. The shadow's waste and wretched face was bent Have you no dream of days that might have been, Above the picture; as though greater awe Had
you and Laura filled another fate?. Subdued its awful being, and appalled,
Some cottage on the sloping Apennines, With memories of terrible delight
Roses and lilies, and the rest all love? And fearful wonder, its devouring gaze.
I tell you that this tranquil dream may be “You make what God makes, beauty,” said Filled to repletion. Speak, and in the shade the shape.
Of my dark pinions I shall bear you hence, “And might not this, this second Eve, console And land you where the mountain-goat himself The emptiest heart? Will not this thing ontlast Struggles for footing." Heoutspread his wings, The fairest creature fashioned in the flesh ? And all the chapel darkened, as though hell Before that figure, Time, and Death himself, Had swallowed up the tapers ; and the air Stand baffled and disarmed. What would you ask Grew thick, and, like a current sensible, More than God's power, from nothing to create?" Flowed round the person, with a wash and dash, The artist gazed upon the boding form,
As of the waters of a nether sea. And answered : “Goblin, if you had a heart, Slowly and calmly through the dense obscure, That were an idle question. What to me Dove-like and gentle, rose the artist's voice : Is my creative power, bereft of love?
“I dare not bring her spirit to that shame! Or what to God would be that selfsame power, Know my full meaning, - I who neither fear If so bereaved ?" “And yet the love, thus Your mystic person nor your dreadful power. mourned,
Nor shall I now invoke God's potent name You calmly forfeited. For had you said For my deliverance from your toils. I stand To living Laura in her burning ears — Upon the founded structure of his law, One half that you professed to Laura dead, Established from the first, and thence defy She would have been your own. These contraries | Your arts, reposing all my trust in that :” Sort not with my intelligence. But speak, The darkness eddied off ; and Carlo saw Were Laura living, would the same stale play The figure gathering, as from outer space, Of raging passion tearing out its heart
Brightness on brightness; and his former shape Upon the rock of duty be performed ?"
Fell from him, like the ashes that fall off, “ The same, O phantom, while the heart I bear And show a core of mellow fire within. Trembled, but turned not its magnetic faith Adown his wings there poured a lanıbent flood, From God's fixel centre.” “If I wake for you That seemed as molten gold, which plashing fell This Laura, — give her all the bloom and glow Upon the floor, enringing him with flame; Of that midsummer day you hold so dear, And o'er the tresses of his beaming head The smile, the motion, the impulsive soul, Arose a stream of many-colored light, The love of genius, – yea, the very love, Like that which crowns the morning. Carlo stood The mortal, hungry, passionate, hot love, Steadfast, for all the splendor, reaching up She bore you, flesh to flesh, - would you receive The outstretched palms of his untainted soul That gift, in all its glory, at my hands ?" Towards heaven for strength. A moment thus ; A smile of malice curled the tempter's lips,
then asked, And glittered in the caverns of his eyes, With reverential wonder quivering through Mocking the answer. Carlo paled and shook ; His sinking voice, Who, spirit, and what, art A woful spasm went shuddering through his thou?" frame,
“I am that blessing which men fly from, Curdling his blood, and twisting his fair face
Death." With nameless torture. But he cried aloud, “Then take my hand, if so God orders it; Out of the clouds of anguish, from the smoke For Laura waits me.' * But, bethink thee, man, Of very martyrdom, “O God, she is thine ! What the world loses in the loss of thee !