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But ah! she is so constant and so kind.
Brimming the water-lily cups with tears
"Beneath my palm-trees by the river-side,
"And as I sat, over the light blue hills
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills
Like to a moving vintage down they came,
O then, O then, thou wast a simple name!
"Within his car aloft young Bacchus stood, Trifling his ivy-dart in dancing mood, With sidelong laughing;
Onward these myriads-with song and dance
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files,
"Mounted on panthers' furs and lions' manes,
"I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown
I saw parch'd Abyssinia rouse and sing
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce
The kings of Inde their jewel-sceptres vail,
And all his priesthood moans;
Before young Bacchus' eye-wink turning pale.-
Alone, without a peer:
And I have told thee all thou mayest hear.
THE EVE OF ST. AGNES.
St. Agnes' Eve-Ah, bitter chill it was!
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death, Past the sweet virgin's picture while his prayer he saith.
His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man;
Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees,
To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails.
Northward he turneth through a little door,
That ancient Beadsman heard the prelude soft;
Star'd, where upon their heads the cornice ress With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise n their breasts.
At length burst in the argent revelry, With plume, tiara, and all rich array, Numerous as shadows haunting fairily The brain,new stuff'd, in youth,with triumphs gy Of old romance. These let us wish away, And turn, sole-thoughted, to one lady there, Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day, On love, and wing'd St. Agnes' saintly care, As she had heard old dames full many times declare.
They told her how, upon St. Agnes' Eve, Young virgins might have visions of delight, And soft adorings from their loves receive Upon the honey'd middle of the night, If ceremonies due they did aright; As, supperless to bed they must retire, And couch supine their beauties, lily white; Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire. Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline: The music, yearning like a god in pain, She scarcely heard: her maiden eyes divine, Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train Pass by-she heeded not at all: in vain Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier, And back retir'd; not cool'd by high disdain, But she saw not: her heart was otherwhere: She sigh'd for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest of the year.
She danc'd along with vague, regardless eyes, Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short: The hallow'd hour was near at hand: she sighs Amid the timbrels, and the throng'd resort Of whisperers in anger, or in sport; Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and scorn, Hoodwink'd with faery fancy; all amort, Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn, And all the bliss to be before to-morrow morn.
So, purposing each moment to retire, She linger'd still. Meantime, across the moors, Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire For Madeline. Beside the portal doors, Buttress'd from moonlight, stands he, and implores All saints to give him sight of Madeline, But for one moment in the tedious hours, That he might gaze and worship all unseen; Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss-in sooth such things have been.
He ventures in: let no buzz'd whisper tell: All eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords Will storm his heart, love's fev'rous citadel: For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes, Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords, Whose very dogs would execrations howl Against his lineage: not one breast affords Him any mercy, in that mansion foul, Save one old beldame, weak in body and in soul.
Ah, happy chance! the aged creature came, Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand, To where he stood, hid from the torch's flame, Behind a broad hall-pillar, far beyond The sound of merriment and chorus bland: He startled her; but soon she knew his face, And grasp'd his fingers in her palsied hand, Saying, “Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this place; [race! They are all here to-night, the whole blood-thirsty Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish HilderHe had a fever late, and in the fit [brand;
He cursed thee and thine, both house and land: Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a whit More tame for his gray hairs-Alas me! flit! Flit like a ghost away."-"Ah, Gossip dear, We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit, And tell me how"-"Good saints! not here, not here; [bier." Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy
He follow'd through a lowly arched way,
Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
From wicked men like thee. Go, go!-I deem Thou canst not surely be the same that thou didst seem."
"I will not harm her, by all saints I swear," Quoth Porphyro: "O may I ne'er find grace
When my weak voice shall whisper its last prayer,
Awake with horrid shout my foemen's ears, And beard them, though they be more fang'd than wolves and bears."
"Ah! why wilt thou affright a feeble soul?
Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy,
That he might see her beauty unespied,
"It shall be as thou wishest," said the dame: "All cates and dainties shall be stored there Quickly on this feast-night: by the tambour frame Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to spare, For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare On such a catering trust my dizzy head. Wait here, my child,with patience; kneel in prayer The while: ah! thou must needs the lady wed Or may I never leave my grave among the dead."
So saying, she hobbled off with busy fear. The lover's endless minutes slowly pass'd; The dame return'd, and whisper'd in his ear To follow her; with aged eyes aghast From fright of dim espial. Safe at last, Through many a dusky gallery, they gain The maiden's chamber, silken, hush'd, and chaste; Where Porphyro took covert, pleas'd amain. His poor guide hurried back with agues in her brain.
Her falt'ring hand upon the balustrade, Old Angela was feeling for the stair, When Madeline, St. Agnes' charmed maid, Rose, like a mission'd spirit, unaware: With silver taper's light, and pious care, She turn'd, and down the aged gossip led To a safe level matting. Now prepare, Young Porphyro, for gazing on that bed; She comes, she comes again, like ring-dove fray'd and fled.
Out went the taper as she hurried in;
No uttered syllable, or, woe betide! But to her heart, her heart was voluble, Paining with eloquence her balmy side; As though a tongueless nightingale should swell Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell. A casement high and triple-arch'd there was, All garlanded with carven imag'ries
Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass, And diamonded with panes of quaint device, Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes, As are the tiger-moth's deep-damask'd wings; And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries, And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings, A shielded scutcheon blush'd with blood of queens and kings.
Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled.
Stol'n to this paradise, and so entranced,
Then by the bed-side, where the faded moon
Affray his ears, though but in dying tone:The hall door shuts again, and all the noise is gone. And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep, In blanched linen, smooth, and lavender'd, While he from forth the closet brought a heap Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd; With jellies soother than the creamy curd, And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon; Manna and dates, in argosy transferr'd From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one, From silken Samarcand to cedar'd Lebanon. These delicates he heap'd with glowing hand On golden dishes and in baskets bright Of wreathed silver: sumptuous they stand In the retired quiet of the night, Filling the chilly room with perfume light.— "And now, my love, my seraph fair, awake! Thou art my heaven, and I thine eremite: Open thine eyes, for meek St. Agnes' sake, Or I shall drowse beside thee, so my soul doth ache.” Thus whispering, his warm, unnerved arm Sank in her pillow. Shaded was her dream By the dusk curtains:-'twas a midnight charm Impossible to melt as iced stream:
The lustrous salvers in the moonlight gleam; Broad golden fringe upon the carpet lies: It seem'd he never, never could redeem From such a stedfast spell his lady's eyes; So mus'd awhile, entoil'd in woofed phantasies. Awakening up, he took her hollow lute,— Tumultuous, and, in chords that tenderest be, He play'd an ancient ditty, long since mute, In Provence call'd, "La belle dame sans mercy:" Close to her ear touching the melody;Wherewith disturb'd, she utter'd a soft moan: He ceased-she panted quick-and suddenly Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone: [stone. Upon his knees he sank, pale as smooth-sculptured
Her eyes were open, but she still beheld, Now wide awake, the vision of her sleep: There was a painful change, that nigh expell'd The blisses of her dream so pure and deep; At which fair Madeline began to weep, And moan forth witless words with many a sigh; While still her gaze on Porphyro would keep; Who knelt, with joined hands and piteous eye, Fearing to move or speak, she look'd so dreamingly.
"Ah, Porphyro!" said she, "but even now
Beyond a mortal man impassion'd far