CANTO I.

I.


YE who are young, and hope for happy days,
Ye who are fair, and deem they are your due,
Ye who ascend Fame's barren mount for praise—
Stand far aloof, the lay is not for you.
Come ye, who midway on the voyage rue
That e'er, your anchors weighed, you put to sea,
And ye who on the grave of Fancy strew
Cold ashes from the fires extinct that be—
Come listen to a tale of Man's inconstancy.

II.


Ah, but for that one fault that earthy leaven,
Man might be faultless as the angels are:
Earth were no longer weary earth, but heaven;
And life too dear, and death too hard to bear.
In that same hour it enter'd Eden fair,
When Sin, and Death, and all their train of woe,
Burst in their fury on that hapless pair
Who added yet this ill to all we know,
While thinking of lost bliss, beneath their load to bow.

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III.


When mortal with immortal in one strain
Was mingled, to make man they scarce conjoined;
Though in the regions of the head and brain
The clay was seven times tried, and still refined.
But in the heart, where life's warm currents wind,
They flow through soil unequal and impure;
And mortal skill a spell has ne'er combined
To make its dearest wishes firm or sure,
Or fix them in the mood for ever to endure.

IV.


How lovely would it be, in our cold sky
To bid the sun mount to Grenada's height,
And pour on fruit and flower the ecstasy
That riots in the lands of love and light!
How lovely would it be to seize the bright
Arch'd rainbow, and enwreath it in your hair—
And so it would to fix for aye the sight
Of wandering eyes, and heart with heart to pair,
And one unchanging love through life and death to share.

V.


Love! 'tis a heavenly sprite of heavenly birth
Which has no fellowship with mortal clay:
It seldom will descend to visit earth,
But in an instant it is scar'd away.
Or if it linger with unus'd delay,
Received in some fond heart, a welcome guest,
It punishes presumption by its stay,
Till, like the phoenix in its burning nest,
Destroying and destroy'd, it blackens into rest.

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VI.


See how poor Psyche far'd—the tale is old,
But truer lay a minstrel never sung,
She seiz'd the lamp, for love was ever bold,
And high in air the haughty Cupid sprung.
Earth, air, and sea, with her wild sorrows rung
Ere Venus would relent, or Cupid hear:
Till from the god the boon she scarcely wrung
Within Hell's gates her penance-debt to clear—
Alas! 'tis still love's price, but it is bought too dear.

VII.


Still the wing'd vision, too refined to last,
Flies from the lamp, its magic colours gone;
And earth grows hell, when that illusion past
Leaves us in darkness, desolate, alone.
Thus still are hapless mortals doom'd to groan,
Some for the good they sought, but ne'er obtain'd;
While, far more wretched, some are forc'd to own
They found but poison in the fruit they gain'd,
When they, through flood and fire, to seize the branch had strain'd.

VIII.


Some centuries ago,—no matter where,
No matter when,—a prince and princess wise,
Reign'd o'er their people with such virtuous care
Their subjects deem'd them children of the skies.
Their capitol was built in curious guise,
I know not if by Moslem, Norse, or Greek:
Their kingdom teem'd with flowers, and fruits, and flies,
And like all tribes who southern language speak,
Their hearts beat warm and strong, and reason's rule was weak.

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IX.


This prince and princess had an only child,
The fair Irene hight, their pride and joy:
All favouring planets on her birth-day smiled
As though no ill her bliss could e'er destroy.
Her brother still she call'd a lovely boy
Who shar'd her mother's lap, her father's knee:
And the young Florio eager to enjoy
Rough pastimes, suited to his sex and glee,
Still yielded to the look that said, "Abide with me."

X.


They knew not when they first began to love,
And long had loved before they knew the name:
Destined its blest eternity to prove
Without a first or last, and still the same.
When riper years and other duties came,
And Florio learn'd the lance and sword to wield,
To breast the surge, the generous steed to tame,
Then must Irene learn her wish to yield,
And stay content at home, while he rode forth afield.

XI.


And when at evening, with the setting sun,
She with her mother stood the knights to greet,
(When sports of arms or hunting feats were done,)
On high balconies o'er the crowded street;
Then, as she mark'd young Florio's noble seat,
Checking his fiery steed the gates before,
Her fluttering heart would fly his glance to meet,
And when he told the day's adventures o'er,
She thought, in her delight, she could not love him more.

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XII.


But now o'er all the land alarm was spread,
The foe was landed and the field was ta'en:
Each hand was arm'd, and helmetted each head,
And all went forth for glory or for gain.
Now might young Florio as a boy remain
With boys and women in the emptied town;
But with steel glove he gathers up the rein,
And pulls with joy his iron visor down,
To show the realm his brow is worthy of a crown.

XIII.


He rushes through the thickest of the fray
Where an old knight was hard beset and press'd,
Who taught the art and rules of chivalry
To noble youths, and Florio 'mong the rest.
Against the foe he turn'd his dauntless breast,
Killing or wounding all that near him came;
Braving such weapons as our first and best
Of antiquaries scarce can tell by name.
Bladed, hook'd, crook'd, and spik'd, to murder, catch, or lame.

XIV.


And, by the way, I've often wish'd to crave
How Adam's sons contriv'd so many ways
Of sending one another to their grave,
Yet how the world such multitudes displays.
Old armouries may well our eyes amaze;
For in the devilish weapons there you find
What might dispatch all mankind in three days:
And sometimes they have seem'd so well inclin'd,
That 'tis a wonder how they ne'er have wrought their mind.

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XV.


But women put their brains to better use,
And turn'd them still such mischief tow'rds preventing:
Man was led back to social life and truce,
At their great ingenuity relenting.
Still for each cursed gin of man's inventing,
Ten changes of attire they would put on;
Till, at the sight of loveliness, repenting,
From all such wicked purpose he was won,
And dropp'd the five-edged sword, and fifty-barrell'd gun.

XVI.


From broad to long they changed their beauteous faces
When cross-bows sent to farther aim the dart:
When gunpowder was found they drew their laces
So tight, the breath seem'd ready to depart.
And hoops, and rumps, and ruffs, on every part,
And wigs of red or flaxen, straight or curl'd,
And necks made white, and cheeks made red by art,
Commemorate each engine that had hurl'd
(Wer't not for woman's wit) destruction o'er the world.

XVII.


So much for Christians: Pagan lore discloses
The same kind spirit busy every where.
Some slit their ears, some bored their very noses,
Devoted in the cause all pain to bear.
But lest you think Irene's features rare
Paid for the war in some unseemly hue,
Let me describe her, innocent and fair,
As when to meet her sire and friend she flew,
Returning from the field, and crown'd with laurels new.

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XVIII.


Not Arethusa e'er beside her fount
Show'd a more lovely face to that bright sky,
When turning to Ortygia's battled mount,
She thought of distant Elis with a sigh.
Yet though the present joy might well supply
Her features with the brilliance o'er them shed,
'Twas seldom that her dark and languid eye
Sparkled, or that along her cheek was spread
The banner bright of youth, the dye of healthful red.

XIX.


But when the pomp within the gate appears,
And round her father's neck her arms are thrown,
Her cheek is flush'd, her eyes are bright with tears
That bursting, spite of effort, would flow down.
And ne'er the goddess of the wheaten crown
Young Proserpine, a graver grace assumes,
Than when in presence of th' assembled town
Her empire o'er herself the maid resumes,
As Florio on his knee doffs his high helm and plumes.

XX.


And she her hand held forth to bid him stand,
And he arose, nor yet let go the hold,
For every throbbing finger in his hand
Said kindest welcome o'er a thousand fold.
And while she strove to look both calm and cold,
Her cheek still burn'd with joy's delightful glow,
And as the crowd its waves tumultuous roll'd,
And made the gay procession's progress slow,
More beautiful she seem'd than aught of earth below.

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XXI.


For sorrowful or gay, her shape and mien
Might well the Grecian chisel's art defy;
And if her cheek in colder clime had been
Less pale, less fire had warm'd her large black eye.
Her cluster'd chesnut locks luxuriantly
Divided on her polish'd forehead hung,
Her every motion turn'd to harmony,
And harmony's own notes were on her tongue,
Gay, and yet soft in speech, and saddening when she sung.

XXII.


Such was Irene. Let us now draw near,
Where the good King and Prince with loud acclaim
Of the whole city, peasant, burgher, peer,
Towards the palace with the ladies came.
I said before, and said it to their shame,
That in that country Reason's rule was weak,
Nor do I doubt that you will think the same,
When you have heard how very strange a freak
Now moved his Majesty to his liege town to speak.

XXIII.


He stood upon the palace stairs and sign'd,
And all were silent, anxious well to hear;
When thus the worthy monarch spoke his mind;
"My honest townsmen, and my people dear,
"Much I rejoice on my returning here
"To find you all are pleas'd with what I've done;
"And I believe it will be many a year
"Before the foe forget the fight we've won,
"Or dare against our spears again in war to run.

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XXIV.


"They are shipp'd off, and gone: and thus we gain
"A booty rich in precious arms and gold:
"And straight shall all that may to me pertain
"To the best bidders be put up and sold.
"The money that it brings shall all be told
"To mend the roads which much require repair;
"And I advise you all who prizes hold
"To be good husbands of the wealth you share,
"Nor lay it out in gauds, but in good household ware.

XXV.


"And for that we are glad, and have much cause,
"And the great heats are past, and weather fine,
"Keeping our joy within good order's laws,
"Together in the public square we'll dine.
"We have brought home of oxen, sheep, and kine,
"What well may furnish forth a hearty meal:
"And in my cellars I have store of wine,
"And gladly to your board enough will deal
"To make your hearts rejoice but not your heads to reel."

XXVI.


Oh simple King! unmindful of your duty,
Your crown, your dignity, your state forgot!
To give your subjects all your lawful booty,
Not minding your poor ministers a jot!
Now was the moment when their heads were hot
With loud huzzas, and public joy for peace,
To have insisted on old claims forgot,
And in the taxes made a large increase,
Because war patronage must on the sudden cease.

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XXVII.


Now if the kings your neighbours should neglect
To punish this pernicious bad example,
Who more to royalty will pay respect,
Or fear upon its sacred rights to trample?
Of foolish kings we've had experience ample
In this sad constitutionizing time;
But not the silliest has given such a sample
Of folly almost equal to a crime,
Unheard of and untold, in history, prose, or rhyme.

XXVIII.


But where was then this kingdom? Greece, and Greece,
And Grecians, oft are named: the word is wide;
For that old-fashion'd race in their increase
Spread from their nook o'er half the world beside.
And the two shores Messina's straits divide
Called themselves Magna Grecia; and Marseilles
Still reckons it a proper theme of pride,
That there the Grecian feature still prevails:
Though in that latter place the imagined likeness fails.

XXIX.


The scrambling Normans next from France pour'd forth
Their legions o'er each rich and southern field,
And rul'd them with the sceptre of the north,
To which the vine and rose must ever yield.
Greeks they became, and gradual ceas'd to wield
Their iron gear, (so luxury bewitches,)
But though their hands grew soft, their heads unsteel'd,
Their northern birth appear'd midst all their riches,
The women going loose, the men still wearing breeches.

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XXX.


Then let each person please his own idea,
And where he will my king and kingdom place:
In Cyprus, Candia, Negropont, Morea,
In Italy, or Sicily, or Thrace.
But fancy not, good reader, that you'll trace
Aught of historical in what remains:
For if your wits will try to run a race
With probabilities, you'll lose your pains,
To no good purpose cudgelling your learned brains.

XXXI.


Near to the town a little quiet bay
Retires, conceal'd by wood and rising land;
Where the blue rippling waters still delay
To quit th' enchantment of its shelter'd strand.
There, at some Roman emperor's command,
The villa once had proudly rear'd its head:
But all is gone, save on the silver sand
The brilliant fragments of mosaic spread,
And gleaming through the waves with azure, green, and red.

XXXII.


Tis almost fearful to behold a place
As lone and lovely as the haunt of fays,
And yet upon the strand to see the trace
That all the nothingness of pride displays.
Nor this alone; for if your eyes you raise,
On a smooth plat, between the wood and shore,
A temple1 stands, a fane of other days,
But ruin'd now, its worship long is o'er,
And Venus and her son are fled, and gods no more.

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XXXIII.


Its circle stands on smoothest velvet sward,
And ivies mingling with the gadding vine
Each loosen'd stone from farther ruin guard,
So firmly do the leafy garlands twine.
But not when Venus still adorn'd her shrine,
Received she vows from any lovelier guest
Than when Irene, scarcely less divine,
Made this delightful spot her place of rest,
And with long wreaths of flowers the ruin'd archway drest.

XXXIV.


There, in this solitary calm retreat,
She struck the lute, and sung her artless song;
Passing the day's long vacant hours of heat,
Far from the flatteries of a courtly throng.
The wild birds love to sit the boughs among
That canopied above her sylvan throne;
And e'en her maidens never thought it long
To stay till evening's lengthen'd shades came on,
And night compell'd to rise, and homewards to be gone.

XXXV.


Soon after Florio had returned from war
She sat retired within her temple bower;
Her thoughts returned to evening's lingering star,
And all the vows it heard her lover pour;
When pressing for th' auspicious nuptial hour,
He breath'd the vows all female hearts believe,
And swore by every sacred thing and power
That her fond heart he never would deceive,
Nor give her, through her life, one single cause to grieve.

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XXXVI.


"Believe2 there's heat in snow, or chill in fire,
"Believe these circling stars have ceased to move,
"Believe that holy truth can be a liar,
"But never, never doubt my constant love.
"Not from thy sweet allegiance would I rove
"Though Venus beckon'd me from yonder sky,
"Nor think that earthly nymph nor powers above
"Could give a heaven I find not in thine eye,
"And in thy love I'll live, and in thy love I'll die."

XXXVII.


And it was true: pro tempore, 'twas true;
Nor did he then believe that he could change;
For to all loving lore the youth was new,
Which at his age was neither wrong nor strange.
He thought sincerely that in fate's wide range
No period to such passion e'er could be:
Nor did he guess what trifles can estrange
The heart, nor how impossible to free
It from its native flaw, ingrain'd Inconstancy.

XXXVIII.


His words were graven on her guileless heart,
She heard them still and still she long'd to hear;
And busy thought, where sadness had no part,
Call'd forth a sigh, and scarce repress'd a tear.
When from the thick and flowery covert near
A sigh distinctly answer'd hers again,
And, ere surprise had given its place to fear,
A rustling 'mid the boughs was heard so plain
That she arose to fly, and call her maiden train.

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XXXIX.


And as she fled, a rose-leaf from the bower
Dropp'd on her bosom as her veil she drew
Around her, and it seem'd some magic power
Her steps arrested, and her accents too.
Upon the leaf a hasty glance she threw
For it was studded all with emeralds green,
That quaintly trac'd a legend not so new
As Noah's flood, yet whose strange power has been
The strongest magic spell that humankind has seen.

XL.


"I love thee." Did she see,—or did she dream—
A shadowy form where dark the branches close?
Which may a man, or else a spirit seem,
Such was the spell, which mystery round it throws.
Till—like th'expanding of a gorgeous rose,
That, leaf by leaf, puts all its glories on—
So angel fair the noble vision grows,
That, had the maiden's heart been still her own,
In the same fated hour both heart and head were gone.

XLI.


And now, who can he be,3 th' intruding wooer
Who came when no one call'd him? Full in sight,
More beautiful he stood, in radiance newer
Than the first sun flings o'er the eastern height:
Loose, coal-black curls stood round a face of light,
The light that gleams through crimson in the sky,
And two wide wings of gold and purple bright
Spread from his shoulders as in act to fly,
As though 'twere Love alone that held him Earth so nigh.

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XLII.


"For thee alone, from heav'n to lowly earth,
'"For thee alone," thus spoke the vision'd form,
"I leave the radiance of my place of birth,
"The joyous sun-beam, and the lofty storm.
"And when rough winds thy rose bower would deform,
"And in October tear each flower away,
"Ten thousand Sylphs my bidding still perform
"To chase the stern intruders from thy bay,
"And leave thee here unharm'd, perpetual Queen of May.

XLIII.


"Think not a Prince of air his pride will bow
"Before a haughty mortal fair to pine;
"Nor think that any fragile mortal vow
"Can stand comparison with love like mine.
"Then say at once if thou wilt now resign
"Thy mortal love, immortal bliss to share,
"And come where e'en among our nymphs divine
"No beauty with thine own can e'er compare,
"Queen of my heart and realm, as absolute as fair."

XLIV.


He paus'd for answer, and she paus'd for breath,
And said at length "her heart was giv'n away,
"And nought could change her plighted faith till death."
"Ah," cried the Sylph, "you know not what you say!
" 'Tis a long time till death, and many a day
"You may repent, if heedlessly you choose.
"Grant to my love a little kind delay,
"And take this rose, as pledge that thou wilt use
"Discretion in thy faith, nor from caprice refuse.

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XLV.


"Believe me, fairest of the maids of earth,
"Thy Florio scarce deserves a vassal's hand:
"His heart, compar'd with thine, is nothing worth,
"His faith too weak against a rush to stand:
"And, wert thou now to lose thy father's land,
"The love eternal which last night he swore
"Would find it hard such trial to withstand;
"But if thy venturous heart must needs explore
"Sad truth—then think of me, and scorn my suit no more.

XLVI.


"And, if thou fearest in the air to fly,
"And would'st not yet thy sire and mother leave,
"Here to thy favourite bower I'll hover nigh
"And mortal vigilance with a wish deceive."
Then she found words;—"Vile slave! who canst believe
"That such a wretch earth on its surface bears,
"And dar'st to think 'tis I!" "I will relieve
"Thee soon," he said, "from both thy rage and fears,—
"But tell me, ere I go, thine age?"—" 'Tis sixteen years."

XLVII.


He smiled: and if she fear'd his fiery glance
When his dark eyes were drown'd in softest dew,
How could she bear the smile that half askance,
Half pity, and all scorn, the spirit threw?
Then faint and fainter each bright colour grew
As on his spreading pinions he arose;
And as he faded into ether blue,
Making an instant's pause, he downwards throws
(First having kiss'd it twice) the bright rejected rose.

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XLVIII.


Her maidens met her, and the deadly pale
That blanch'd her lips, soon call'd them all around:
The fatal rose-leaf still hung to her veil,
The fatal rose among her hair was bound.
On every leaf a legend still they found,
And every legend spoke the words of pride;
As "Love me," "Thou art mine," "Thy head is crown'd
"E'en with this rose, my Queen;" "False Florio," "Bride
"I hail thee;" and much more of the same kind beside.

XLIX.


She seiz'd the flower, and leaf from leaf she tore,
And flung it from her far into the sea.
"Perish," she cried, "I hate thee now the more,
"Thy flower, thy love, thy treachery, and thee!
"And could I think one moment it might be,
"I would not cast thy gift alone away:
"This breast at once from life and love I'd free,
"And leave the dwelling of this mortal clay,
"Beneath these rolling waves a broken heart to lay."

L.


She hurried home, and on her mother's neck
She told the story of her strange distress,
And wept until she thought her heart would break,
His words 'gainst Florio's honour to confess.
" 'Tis not," she sobb'd, "that I would love him less,
"Or trust him less, for aught that fiend can do;
"But if each reason you had heard him press
"To prove that Florio never could be true,
"You'd know it was a fiend, believe and pity too."

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LI.


The wond'ring Queen could credit scarce her ears
And question'd o'er each damsel of the train,
And yet so very strange the whole appears,
That every answer made the facts less plain.
"Fairies, we know, have been, and may again,"
She wisely said, "but let us to the King,
"His wisdom may this mystery explain
"Of flying men, who, lighting from the wing,
"Disturbing quiet peace, so much confusion bring."

LII.


The worthy king was grievously surpris'd
When maids and mistress full confession make,
And, though of easy credence, still surmis'd
The possibility of some mistake.
A man with wings! might not his daughter take
Some other object for this winged man?
She was in love, and saw, whilst scarce awake,
Some rover with a cloak, some gull, some swan,—
Or, 'twas a woman's whim, and fathom that who can.

LIII.


But since her brain was so diseas'd for love
'Twere best on all accounts to end it soon,
And every chance of mischief to remove:
Moreover, since their marriage was a boon
That all the realm desir'd, that afternoon
He sent for Florio, and inform'd him straight,
That ere the waning of another moon,
It was his will, for reasons good of state,
That the long-purpos'd marriage should no longer wait.

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LIV.


Then, there was gladness over tower and town:
The old rejoic'd they liv'd to see the day;
The young all wish'd such lot might be their own,
A maid so blooming, or a youth so gay.
And they, the cause of all this glad array,
(A case but rarely seen,) were happy too;
But she would ne'er alone an instant stay,
Nor suffer Florio to escape her view:
She said she might have dreamt, but fear'd to dream anew.

LV.


The vows, which half my readers have heard spoken
Profusely eloquent, he vow'd away;
The other half, most like, the like have broken,
And verse were wasted such old tales to say.
They, like the bright last tints of closing day,
Or like the dolphin on the dry deck lying.
Or like th' Æolian harp that sinks the lay
Lower and lower, tremulously sighing,
So bright, so sweet, are loveliest in their dying.

LVI.


At last the day was come, the wreaths prepar'd,
The incense smok'd, the lighted altars glow'd;
The order all arrang'd, the duties shar'd,
The feast made ready, and the alms bestow'd:
In every street with wine the fountains flow'd,
From every window silken draperies hung;
And last, from out the palace portals rode
The glittering pomp, the joyful crowd among,
While caps were flung in air, and merry bells were rung.

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LVII.


Then midst the throng appear'd a blooming page,
Leading a milk-white steed all trapp'd with gold:
His air was grave, his mien demure and sage,
As though some tale of weight he would unfold.
And with a bearing, modest, firm, and bold,
Before the King he reverent bent his knee;
Then with proud grace his embassage he told,
How the fair steed a wedding gift should be,
If the great Princess deign'd accept such courtesy.

LVIII.


"For he, most gracious Lord, your cousin King,
"Though ill at ease, and bed-rid many a day,
"So that he cannot come his gifts to bring,
"Sends the kind greetings that he may not say.
"And the fair Princess must not say him nay,
"But the white steed to-day her palfrey make:
"So gentle is his mood that lady gay
"May fearless in her hand the bridle take,—
"With this long chain of pearls, for her old kinsman's sake."

LIX.


" 'Tis well," the King replied, "and very kind:
"Arise, good youth, and lead the steed beside;
"A fairer palfrey never king design'd
"In nuptial pomp to bear a royal bride.
"And though we are set forth, yet not denied
"His kind request, fair messenger, shall be:
"And instant when the marriage knot is tied,
"Returning home, the people all shall see
"Her ride the milk-white steed, the bridle led by thee."

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LX.


And from his knee the long-hair'd youth arose,
And o'er his arm he threw the bridle rein,
And onward with the bridal pomp he goes
The brightest spot of all the glittering train.
He would not enter, but would still remain
Where each dismounted at the temple's gate,
And when the menials spoke, no word again
He answer'd, and upon him took such state,
That all began to wonder, and the most to hate.

LXI.


He lean'd his back against the snowy steed
Whose long embroider'd trappings swept the ground,
And of the whisper'd wonder took no heed
That in low tones began to circle round.
As though his mind revolv'd some thought profound,
His eyes upon the earth were downward bent;
His dark and pencil'd brows contracted frown'd,
At once resolv'd all converse to prevent,
And freedom to repel, and question to resent.

LXII.


At last from out the porch returning, pour'd
The assembled court, rejoic'd the knot was tied,
And, leaning on the arm of her new lord,
The star of all the pomp, the blushing bride.
The page, advancing with a step of pride,
Threw the pearl chain the princess' neck around,
And, ere his boldness could be well denied,
He lightly lifted her from off the ground,
And set her on the steed, and look'd defiance round.

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LXIII.


Then Florio struck his hilt, and redden'd deep,
And bit his lip and seiz'd the bridle rein:—
"And if this page no better measure keep"
He thought " 'twere base my anger to restrain.
"But from my hand the rein he shall not gain
"Let our good king have promis'd as he may;"—
But, scarce the thought had darted through his brain,
When on the croupe, light as an elfin fay,
The page sprang up, and cried "Away, my steed, away!"

LXIV.


Two wings from 'neath the trailing foot-cloth rose,
The princess scream'd as high they mount in air,
But all so swift the sailing courser goes
That help and hope were none, and all despair.
The monarch tore his robes, the queen her hair,
"Mount every knight, and forth!" the bridegroom cries.
And long before the readiest could prepare,
Firm in his stirrups set behold him rise,
And spurring like a madman, through the gate he flies.

LXV.


And, one by one, from bow like arrow sent,
Knight after knight the city gateway clear'd;
And after them, all with the same intent,
A crowd worse mounted spurring hard appear'd;
And next a motley mass (so much endear'd
The princess was to all) pour'd o'er the plain:
And thousands ran on foot, as though they fear'd
That shame with every laggard would remain
Unless they show'd their zeal, though all believ'd it vain.

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LXVI.


But the good king and queen in piteous plight
Sat on the steps, by sorrow's weight oppress'd.
She rav'd and wept till evening's fading light,
He sunk his head in silence on his breast;
And when his anxious friends their fear express'd
Of the night damps, and made remonstrance mild,
He rais'd his head, and still th' inquirer press'd
To ride—to ride and leave him! offering wild
His town, his provinces, his kingdom for his child.

LXVII.


Now, gentle reader, close the book awhile,
The muse has first grown dull and then ta'en flight;
And could you view the scene for many a mile,
You would agree that the coy dame was right.
High mountains close around us; on each height
Some scatter'd pines make head against the snow:
The ground is patter'd all with mud and white,
The flowers and bushes seem afraid to grow,
And the chill'd river's wave has scarcely strength to flow.

LXVIII.


And yet that river is th' Adigé! this
The merry month of May, the nurse of flowers!
But May we've left behind in realms of bliss,
And blossoms thrive not on a road like ours.
Above the dark ravine the rain-cloud lours,
And all is comfortless, and bleak, and bold:
And, ere the storm its icy burden pours,
I haste to guard my fingers from the cold,
And high o'er breast and chin my trusty cloak to fold.

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