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GINEVRA

Bewildered, and incapable, and ever
Fancying strange comments in her dizzy

brain

Of usual shapes, till the familiar train
Of objects and of persons past like
things

Strange as a dreamer's mad imaginings,
Ginevra from the nuptial altar went;
The vows to which her lips had sworn

WILD, pale, and wonder-stricken, even

as one

Who staggers forth into the air and sun From the dark chamber of a mortal Their own by gentle sympathy; and fever,

some

Sighing to think of an unhappy home:
Maidens to leave the heaven serene and
Some few admiring what can ever lure

assent

Rung in her brain still with a jarring din,
Deafening the lost intelligence within.

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Were mirrored in the polished marble

stair

Which led from the cathedral to the
street;

And ever as she went her light fair feet
Erased these images.

Some with a sense of self-rebuke and
shame,

Envying the unenviable; and others
Making the joy which should have been

another's

pure

Of parents' smiles for life's great cheat; a thing

Bitter to taste, sweet in imagining.

But they are all dispersed-and, lo!

she stands

Looking in idle grief on her white

hands,

Alone within the garden now her own;
And through the sunny air, with jangling

tone,

The music of the merry marriage bells, Killing the azure silence, sinks and swells;

Absorbed like one within a dream who dreams

That he is dreaming, until slumber

seems

A mockery of itself—when suddenly
Antonio stood before her, pale as she.
With agony, with sorrow, and with
pride,

He lifted his wan eyes upon the bride,
And said "Is this thy faith?" and
then as one

Whose sleeping face is stricken by the

sun

With light like a harsh voice, which bids

him rise

And look upon his day of life with eyes
Which weep in vain that they can dream

no more,

Ginevra saw her lover, and forbore
To shriek or faint, and checked the
stifling blood

Rushing upon her heart, and unsubdued The bride- maidens who round her Said “Friend, if earthly violence or

thronging came,

ill,

Suspicion, doubt, or the tyrannic will Of parents, chance, or custom, time or change,

Or circumstance, or terror, or revenge,
Or wildered looks, or words, or evil
speech,

News of the terrors of the coming time.
Like an accuser branded with the crime
He would have cast on a beloved friend,

With all their stings and venom can Whose dying eyes reproach not to the

impeach

end

Our love, we love not:-if the grave The pale betrayer-he then with vain which hides

The victim from the tyrant, and divides The cheek that whitens from the eyes that dart

Imperious inquisition to the heart
That is another's, could dissever ours,
We love not."--"What! do not the
silent hours
Beckon thee to Gherardi's bridal bed?

39

Is not that ring' '—a pledge, he would
have said,
Of broken vows, but she with patient
look

Making her but an image of the thought, Which, like a prophet or a shadow, brought

The golden circle from her finger took, And said " Accept this token of my faith,

The pledge of vows to be absolved by

repentance

Would share, he cannot now avert, the

sentence

Antonio stood and would have spoken, when

The compound voice of women and of

'We toll a corpse out of the marriage bed?'

The flowers upon my bridal chamber

strewn

men

Was heard approaching; he retired,

while she

Was led amid the admiring company
Back to the palace, and her maidens

soon

Changed her attire for the afternoon,
And left her at her own request to

keep

An hour of quiet and rest :-like one

asleep

death;

With open eyes and folded hands she lay, And I am dead or shall be soon-my Pale in the light of the declining day.

knell

Will mix its music with that merry

Meanwhile the day sinks fast, the sun is set,

bell,

Does it not sound as if they sweetly And in the lighted hall the guests are said

met;

The beautiful looked lovelier in the light
Of love, and admiration, and delight
Reflected from a thousand hearts and

eyes

Will serve unfaded for my bier-so Kindling a momentary Paradise.

soon

This crowd is safer than the silent wood, Where love's own doubts disturb the solitude;

That even the dying violet will not die
Before Ginevra." The strong fantasy
Had made her accents weaker and more
weak,

On frozen hearts the fiery rain of wine
Falls, and the dew of music more divine

And quenched the crimson life upon her Tempers the deep emotions of the time
To spirits cradled in a sunny clime:—
How many meet, who never yet have
met,

cheek,
And glazed her eyes, and spread an
atmosphere
Round her, which chilled the burning
noon with fear,

To part too soon, but never to forget.
How many saw the beauty, power and wit

Of looks and words which ne'er en- If it be death, when there is felt around chanted yet; A smell of clay, a pale and icy glare, But life's familiar veil was now with- And silence, and a sense that lifts the drawn,

hair

As the world leaps before an earthquake's From the scalp to the ankles, as it were dawn, Corruption from the spirit passing forth, And giving all it shrouded to the earth, And leaving as swift lightning in its flight Ashes, and smoke, and darkness: in our night

And unprophetic of the coming hours, The matin winds from the expanded flowers,

Scatter their hoarded incense, and awaken

Of thought we know thus much of death,

The earth, until the dewy sleep is shaken From every living heart which it possesses,

Through seas and winds, cities and wildernesses,

As if the future and the past were all Treasured i' the instant ;-so Gherardi's hall

Laughed in the mirth of its lord's festival,
Till some one asked-"Where is the
Bride?" And then

A bride's-maid went,--and ere she came
again

A silence fell upon the guests—a pause
Of expectation, as when beauty awes
All hearts with its approach, though
unbeheld;

Loosened the springs of pity in all eyes, On which that form, whose fate they weep in vain,

Will never, thought they, kindle smiles again.

For whispers past from mouth to ear The lamps which half extinguished in which drew

their haste

Then wonder, and then fear that wonder quelled;

-no more

Than the unborn dream of our life before

Their barks are wrecked on its inhospitable shore.

The marriage feast and its solemnity Was turned to funeral pomp-the company

With heavy hearts and looks, broke up; nor they

Who loved the dead went weeping on their way

Alone, but sorrow mixed with sad surprise

The colour from the hearer's cheeks, Gleamed few and faint o'er the abanand flew doned feast,

Showed as it were within the vaulted

Louder and swifter round the company;
And then Gherardi entered with an eye
Of ostentatious trouble, and a crowd
Surrounded him, and some were weep-
ing loud.

room

A cloud of sorrow hanging, as if gloom Had past out of men's minds into the air.

Some few yet stood around Gherardi there,

They found Ginevra dead! ifit be death, To lie without motion, or pulse, or breath,

Friends and relations of the dead,and he,

With waxen cheeks, and limbs cold, A loveless man, accepted torpidly The consolation that he wanted not,

stiff, and white,

And open eyes, whose fixed and glassy Awe in the place of grief within him wrought.

light

Mocked at the speculation they had Their whispers made the solemn silence owned.

seem

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Of every torch and taper as it swept From out the chamber where the women kept;

Their tears fell on the dear companion cold

Of pleasures now departed; then was

A vulture has just feasted to the bone.
And then the mourning women came.

THE DIRGE

EVENING: PONTE A MARE,
PISA
I

THE sun is set; the swallows are asleep;

knolled

The bell of death, and soon the priests arrived,

The bats are flitting fast in the gray air; The slow soft toads out of damp corners creep,

And finding death their penitent had shrived,

And evening's breath, wandering here and there

Returned like ravens from a corpse Over the quivering surface of the stream, whereon Wakes not one ripple from its summer dream.

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The dark arrow fled
In the noon.

Where the sea of sunlight encroaches
On the limits of wintry night;-
If the land, and the air, and the sea,
Rejoice not when spring approaches,
We did not rejoice in thee,

Ginevra!

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II

There is no dew on the dry grass tonight,

Nor damp within the shadow of the trees;

The wind is intermitting, dry, and light; And in the inconstant motion of the breeze

The dust and straws are driven up and down,

And whirled about the pavement of the

town.

III

Within the surface of the fleeting river
The wrinkled image of the city lay,
Immovably unquiet, and for ever

It trembles, but it never fades away;
Go to the...

You, being changed, will find it then

as now.

She is still, she is cold

On the bridal couch, One step to the white deathbed,

And one to the bier,

IV

And one to the charnel-and one, oh The chasm in which the sun has sunk is shut

where ?

By darkest barriers of cinereous cloud, Like mountain over mountain huddledbut

Growing and moving upwards in a crowd,

And over it a space of watery blue, Which the keen evening star is shining through.

THE BOAT ON THE SERCHIO OUR boat is asleep on Serchio's stream, Its sails are folded like thoughts in a dream,

The helm sways idly, hither and thither; Dominic, the boatman, has brought the mast,

And the oars and the sails; but 'tis sleeping fast,

Like a beast, unconscious of its tether.

To tower, and cavern, and rift and tree,
The owl and the bat fled drowsily.
Day had kindled the dewy woods,

And the rocks above and the stream
below,

And the vapours in their multitudes, And the Apennine's shroud of sum

mer snow,

And clothed with light of aëry gold The mists in their eastern caves uprolled.

Like a flock of rooks at a farmer's gun Night's dreams and terrors, every one, Fled from the brains which are their prey

From the lamp's death to the morning

Day had awakened all things that be, The lark and the thrush and the swallow free,

And the milkmaid's song and the mower's scythe,

And the matin-bell and the mountain bee: Fire-flies were quenched on the dewy

corn, Glow-worms went out on the river's brim,

Like lamps which a student forgets to trim:

The beetle forgot to wind his horn, The crickets were still in the meadow and hill:

ray.

All rose to do the task He set to each,

Who shaped us to his ends and not

The stars burnt out in the pale blue air, And made their home under the green And the thin white moon lay withering there,

hillside.

our own;

The million rose to learn, and one to teach

What none yet ever knew or can be known.

And many rose

Whose woe was such that fear became desire ;

Melchior and Lionel were not among

those ;

They from the throng of men had stepped aside,

It was that hill, whose intervening brow Screens Lucca from the Pisan's envious eye,

Which the circumfluous plain waving below,

Like a wide lake of green fertility, With streams and fields and marshes bare, Divides from the far Apennines— which lie Islanded in the immeasurable air.

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