49

CANTO III.

I.


I made a vow: and now I see 'twas wrong—
Wishing that I could tell thee, gentle wight,
Who porest o'er this legend true and long,
Both names and dates which would convince thee quite:
But, unto both I bear a mortal spite,
Seeing what sharp rebukes poor authors catch,
Who, proving facts with all their strength and might,
Most curiously refitting patch to patch
Of Time's sad wrecks, can ne'er the critic's cavils match.

II.


Therefore, without a date, or name, you must
Be pleas'd to know, that once there was a queen,
So wise, so merciful, and yet so just,
That since her day none other like has been.
Some of her subjects with a peevish spleen
O'erlooking their own interests, dar'd to think
Some certain thoughts, towards certain truths which lean,
Which certain people thought it best to blink,
And in a prudent silence, all the question sink.

50

III.


But she, good soul, would needs convince them all,
And chose a way effectual and complete;
She built a wood-stack near a stanchion tall
In a frequented market-place or street;
And some with cloven caps and cloven feet
Ran all in haste the engine to contrive;
And next she summon'd to her judgment-seat
The few whom other reasoning could not drive,
And tied them to the stake, and burnt them all alive!—

IV.


This lady had a spouse, a proper man,
Who greatly lik'd the work, but in his land
The roasting business long before began,
Monopoliz'd by a still heavier hand:
Abandoning delights of stake and brand,
His Majesty sought out amusement new,
And, on his voyage homewards, gave command
An underground construction to renew,
And all in order set, where rebels he might stew.

V.


Whether he thought the fiend would not forget him
If he indulg'd too freely in such sport,
Or that he guess'd his subjects might not let him,—
(As why in Heav'n's name should they, when such sort
Of Sunday pastimes get in vogue at court?)
The hole was newly covet'd, neatly lin'd,
Seven feet by five, neither more long nor short:—
But, for no reason that I e'er could find,
This king could never catch a rebel to his mind.

51

VI.


Oh, my dear reader! what a loss is thine
That all I know I do not here disclose!
And what a sickly conscience must be mine
That obstacles before the story throws:
While one fair authoress, who I suppose,
Is read more widely than the Gazetteer,
Thinks it vain caution her sweet lips to close,
And boldly banishing both doubt and fear,
Proclaims to all who read all she could see or hear.

VII.


The race who in succession own'd the cave
Left it untenanted till this our day,
When its possessor chose it for the grave
Of one he hop'd would there pine life away.
But little did he know how long the clay
That mortal man is made of can endure,
When Heaven has lent a flash of its own ray
To form a soul so upright, strong, and pure,
That man's vain wrath it scorns, in higher strength secure.

VIII.


There in the lonely, loathsome, midnight den,
Mid fetid air, debarr'd the light of heaven,
Struck from the knowledge of all living men,
And every earthly tie in sunder riven:
While recent triumphs by a nation given
Deepen'd with contrast's force the suffering hour,
And strength was cramp'd and sleep away was driven—
Th' unshaken mind could yet assert its power,
Which darkness could not tame, nor ling'ring death devour.

52

IX.


Though the bright eyes sank hollow, far from view,
Extinguish'd all the fire that made them glow—
Though the dark hair now thin and scatter'd grew,
Touch'd on each turn with pale untimely snow;—
Though ready speech wax'd dull, and life ebb'd low,
The man to giant strength still rose amain,
Till at his dungeon's door his sceptred foe
Besought his aid to stay his tottering reign;—
Such sons are thine, and they will save thee yet, oh Spain!—

X.


'Tis glorious to behold a wave-toss'd bark
Obey the helm and the storm's rage defy,
Bearing, as in a heaven-protected ark,
Its garrison o'er billows mountain-high:
'Tis glorious to behold when danger's nigh
The column'd march, to list the trumpet's cheer:—
But man has still a higher destiny,
More noble, more remote from earth-sprung fear,
When despot tyrants rave, and free-born spirits hear.

XI.


The Lombard hero heard—and smil'd in scorn—
Asserting Freedom's truths with fearless tongue,
Till from his home and his lov'd country torn
His care-worn frame in dungeon vault was flung:
And all who bravely fought or sweetly sung
Of wars and faithful loves, were blighted too;
Till just, and good, and great, and bold, and young,
Fast disappear'd beneath the dire mildew
That blasted all the land, and eat her vitals through.

53

XII.


We fain would hope the gloom will have a dawn
The mists of Time's long night to chase away,
When darkness' shadows from the land withdrawn
Shall let it drink in peace the light's pure ray:
The victims must be victors, come what may,
O'er the vain impotence of despot's rage:
And oh! what rapturous joy will hail the day,
When History writes these triumphs on her page,
And leaves them grav'd in brass, proud Freedom's heritage!—

XIII.


But where Sir Florio liv'd, such things were not;
His King would not have prison'd up a mouse:
And if his lieges' duty were forgot
He banished them a season from his house.
Within their own he valued not a souse
Whate'er they did, or said, or look'd amiss:
And as for plots, he trusted to their nous ,
That, being well in plenty, peace, and bliss,
They'd mind their own affairs, nor trouble them with his.

XIV.


O Truth and History! dismal, trite, and dull,
What need were there to clog my wings with you?
Whose motion's more impeded to the full
Than fly's which labours through a pot of glue![10]

[Original referent was numeral 8, corrected in manuscript hand to read 10 in this copy of the printed text; in addition, referent actually belongs to following line in poem.]

"That simile is stol'n." It is not new:
I do confess it is a phrase convey'd.
But should the author claim it as his due,
In any likeness save his own array'd,
I will detain his goods, till proof be duly made.

54

XV.


Meantime let us return to Florio's prison—
Where he awoke in darkness, pain, and fear:
And when upon his feet he would have risen,
He knock'd his head upon the rock roof near.
Then with most lusty might he shouted clear,
"Help! help, good people, help! a wretched Prince
"Dies suffocated if no help is here.
"Help, help, hollo!"—and ne'er before or since
Such power of voice and lungs did the brave youth evince.

XVI.


At last by dint of holloing and bawling
And creeping all about on hands and knees,
He made a peasant hear his distant calling,
Who mid loose stones his way contriv'd to squeeze,
And holloing in reply, by slow degrees
His voice was answer'd, till the youth he met,
And dragg'd him upwards to the midnight breeze,
And lastly qnestion'd him, how he could get
Into so strange a scrape, with garments dripping wet.

XVII.


Their speech was different, yet so far allied,
That each from either could a meaning gain:
And first the peasant thought the gallant lied,
And next he pitied his bewilder'd brain.
How he could 'scape from shipwreck on the main,
And walk two hundred miles, and still be dripping,
Was more than he could guess; but this seem'd plain,
He was too great and rich to be caught tripping,
Into whatever brine his grandeur had been slipping.

55

XVIII.


The peasant brought him to his humble shed,
And saddled Dapple for the nearest town,
And while the women had him put to bed
He brought a leash of learn'd physicians down.
They found him scratch'd and bruis'd from heel to crown,
Raving that he was lost, betray'd, despoil'd!
And all the frighten'd household of the clown
Standing aloof, lest in his frenzy wild
He should among them pounce, and kill and eat the child.

XIX.


The doctors' tender hearts were much commov'd
To see so fine a youth in such a plight
Resolving that their patient should be mov'd
Before the hours should bring returning night.
And, will he nill he, in a litter pight
They brought him to a rich old lady's door,
Whose charity had ever thought it right
To help the wretched from her ample store,
And never did good turn with better will before.

XX.


For Florio was a fair and goodly youth
As e'er put spur on heel, or brand in belt:
His face appear'd the very glass of truth,
And all who look'd on it, its influence felt.
And 'tis a sight the hardest heart would melt,
To see great youth and beauty struggling sore
Against the ills on mind and body dealt,
Till the vex'd reason can sustain no more,
But flying from its throne, gives the vain warfare o'er.

56

XXI.


She mix'd his medicine, and she cook'd his broth,
And firmly mild, she taught him to obey:
Ev'n when his mood was most perverse and loth,
She somehow could contrive to have her way.
Till slow retreating, vanquish'd, from its prey,
The fever left him pale, and faint, and weak:
And Prudence plainly show'd that should he say
Aught of the Sylph, or of his sea-flight speak,
'Twould seem a wilful lie, or else a madman's freak.

XXII.


So when his kind nurse question'd, he replied
He was the most unfortunate of men:
And then he shut his languid eyes and sigh'd,
And begg'd she ne'er would touch that string again.
She waited for a day in all the pain
That curious people feel, who are too good
Or too well-bred to give their tongues the rein;—
Till, like a dyke by growing floods subdued,
The imprison'd tongue broke loose, and thus the theme renew'd.

XXIII.


She said it was not for herself she ask'd,
She only fear'd her neighbours would be prying,
And then her powers inventive would be task'd,
Their curious search to answer vainly trying.
She hated curious people—yet defying
The world's opinion seem'd to her so wrong,
That, though on his appearance quite relying,
She thought a right to confidence, less strong
Than hers, might be consider'd, and she hop'd, ere long.

57

XXIV.


She paus'd—and then he told her he was Prince
Of so and so—and that a vengeful power
(Thus far he thought it wiser truth to mince)
Had chang'd from joy to grief his nuptial hour.
His bride, he said, of all her land the flower,
The cruel spoiler's prize was borne away:—
And since that dismal time his reason's power
Was scarce sufficient his sad life to sway,
Nor how nor where he last was found, could guess or say.

XXV.


But should her heaven-directed skill be crown'd
By snatching from death's grasp a wretch unbless'd,
He would take arms beneath some chief renown'd,
And in war's tumults stun his griefs to rest.
But most it was his wish on Earth's green breast
His weary life in honour'd death to close;
For life had little value at the best,
And when beset like his with torturing woes,
'Twas vain to strive with fate, which change nor pity knows.

XXVI.


The kind old soul listen'd with brimful eyes,
And bade him pluck up heart and banish care:
The spoiler might, she said, resign his prize,
Or, in the lists defied, due penance bear.
And if his bride had aught of blame to share,
There wanted not fair ladies, right good store:
At least, she said, if she were young and fair,
A mien so beautiful she'd value more
Than if an emperor's crown were laid her feet before.

58

XXVII.


Florio had never heard such honey'd words,
For in his home no flattery was allow'd;
His friends and mates were rational young Lords,
His love was still from childhood's hour avow'd.
Irene's eyes admir'd him, but aloud
She ne'er had told him none was fair like him;
Unluckily the youth was no ways proud,
So o'er his mind, his gifts of face and limb
With not unpleasing consciousness began to swim.

XXVIII.


Ah fairest flower, youth's clear untarnish'd brow!
How many snares are set thy sheen to spoil,
As if to smirch thy brightness Care were slow,
Nor Love could blast, nor sullen passions soil!
But not the noisier vices' wild turmoil
More sure destruction work, than that sly devil
Whose flattering wreaths around its victim coil,
And all of great or good with earth can level,
And leave the chamber free for worser fiends to revel.

XXIX.


Accursed Vanity! the mother rife
Of every mean and small debasing sin;
Which poisons all the noble springs of life
Where her slow mining rot has once got in!
Then comes the speech contriv'd, the pretext thin,
The 'sembling, seeming, shuffling, cogging skill;
Contrivance long a short applause to win,
Low and more low descending for its fill,
Preying on garbage foul, and yet unsated still.

59

XXX.


'Tis thus the fiends bring evil out of good,
As angels' skill brings blessing out of curse:
Had Florio fall'n in hands less kind, he would
Have suffer'd sore for lack of aid and purse.
But when his fate seem'd kinder, it grew worse,
As greenest sward oft covers marshiest ground;
For all the gossips of his kind old nurse,
Where many noble, many fair were found,
Seem'd leagu'd to spoil the youth, and turn his head quite round.

XXXI.


For there he sat, propp'd in an easy chair
With cushions all dispos'd in law and rule,
'Mid a bright circle of attendants fair,
To smooth his pillow, and to place his stool.
And one would wait and watch his drink to cool,
And two with fan in hand would near him stay,
Some the guitar would play, and some the fool,
While in silk gown and velvet cap he lay,
Recovering strength and wasting common sense away.

XXXII.


A little pride had serv'd his wits to mend,
And set him high above such toys as these:
(I do not mean the ladies, Heaven forefend!
Whom all true knights are bound to serve and please.)
With every woman, pity's a disease.
And love of mystery, or more or less:
And all with one accord on Florio seize,
To aid a victim whom the fates oppress
With such mysterious woe and picturesque distress.

60

XXXIII.


What will not folly and occasion do
Time pass'd and pass'd; Irene was not there:—
And Florio held his bond untouch'd and true
While prizing her beyond all rivals fair.
As for his farther faith, 'twas somewhat spare—
Buzzing about like bee from flower to flower:
And if reproach'd with change, would roundly swear
That he was truth's own pattern, with a shower
Of oaths and obtestations that would last an hour.

XXXIV.


Or strike his brow and mournful sigh, and say,
None could now bear a mood so chang'd and sad,
For he had suffer'd misery in his day
Enough to drive a sterner nature mad.
And last, as if the ruin of the lad
Were doom'd, he lighted on some ends of rhyme,
And shap'd them to a madrigal less bad
Than many a one applauded in their time,
And show'd it to his friends, who prais'd it as sublime.

XXXV.


Oh reverend parents, guardians, uncles, tutors,
Who harmless pastime for your pupils chuse,
Let not your charges e'er become the suitors
Of that disorder'd baggage call'd the Muse.
Their inspiration thwart, their rhymes abuse,
And, if confirm'd disease your skill resist,
A powerful tincture of the birch infuse,
And lay it on as strongly as you list,
Nor spare, to work a cure, fatigue of arm or fist.

61

XXXVI.


And though it seem so hard a prohibition,
Not one good verse were lost if this were done,
Though many a rhymster would escape perdition,
And balk'd reviewers miss a world of fun.
But sooner shall the river backwards run
Than force can stop the heav'n-born poet's song;
And sooner might you veil the mid-day sun
Careering high the realms of light along,
Than bind in silence' chain the heav'n-inspired tongue.

XXXVII.


And what did poor Irene all this while,
A prisoner, sad, forsaken, and alone?
Striving with hope her sorrows to beguile,
Though Hope and all its joys had long been flow'n.
Her lute unstrung no longer wak'd the tone
That sung her bosom's torturers to sleep,
And oft within the cave of rugged stone
Which first receiv'd her from the Ocean's deep,
She would a dark nook find, and wring her hands, and weep.

XXXVIII.


And o'er her brow and pallid cheek were spread
Tints that nor health nor happiness can give;
Ethereal pure, as from the blessed dead
A soul return'd, on earth a saint would live.
The Sylph his own rash act can scarce forgive,
And curses deep on Florio ne'er doth spare.
And vows to turn his skin into a sieve,
If e'er again intruding, he should dare
To seek Irene's love, in prison or elsewhere.

62

XXXIX.


But she, unconscious he had been so near,
Wasted her soul away in guesses vain;
And he, whom all the day she held so dear,
At night in restless dreams return'd again.
She dreamt she was at large, and oft and plain
Saw her heart's idol, but with mien so chang'd,
So different grown, that tears as fast as rain
Delug'd her pillow, while her fancy rang'd,
To see her Florio dead, or dying, or estrang'd.

XL.


Sometimes she dream'd his bloody corse she found
With recent murder all defac'd and red,
And busy with her bridal veil she bound
The wounds cut deep upon his breast and head.
And then, like Manfred, he would tell the bed
Where his bleach'd bones in wind and rain lay bare;
And she would wander on to seek the dead,
And wade through rising floods, and see him there
Carried away—away—through the dark boisterous air.

XLI.


One day the Sylph with pain and wonder view'd
Upon her cheek the stain of many a tear;
And though he fear'd with questions to intrude,
He strove to find the cause of her sad cheer.
For she, who lack'd not pride and felt not fear,
Had kept her sorrows sacred from his sight,
And, knowing well the time he would appear,
Her tears were shed in cover of the night,
To meet her foe with eyes compos'd, and calm, and bright.

63

XLII.


She said it was not tears—or if it were,
They were but drops from an oppressive cloud
Of fearful dreams;—"but ne'er from these infer,"
She said, "that my firm heart is chang'd or bow'd:
"But all points plainly to my coming shroud.
"My head is ill at ease, my hands are fire,
"And on my brain such fever'd fancies crowd
"As clearly show, unless thy suit should tire,
"That I from death shall gain the boon I most desire."

XLIII.


"Irene," said the Sylph, "if you will swear
"To tell the truth, unvarnish'd, of your dream,
"I now repeat and solenmly declare
"I am not half so wicked as I seem.
"And more, I'll tell you how the truth can gleam
"Through the dead silence of the sleeper's heart;
"On earth it long has proved a fertile theme
"For talking nonsense with the terms of art,
"And all the wisest, widest from the truth depart.

XLIV.


"Those spirits whom you see, who dance so deft,
"Who, though like angels, are like imps still more,
"Sometimes assume the place by reason left
"When man lies down, the day's long labours o'er.
"And gently through his head, his brain before,
"(Like showman's glass,) a world of shapes they draw,
"And he especially whose conscience sore
"Winces with secret wounds unsear'd and raw,
"Shapes meanings out of nought, and trembles at a straw.

64

XLV.


"But when these active sprites some notice have
"Of what he says and does when broad awake,
"With merry glee some nimble-witted knave
"Contrives a shadow from the truth to take.
"A kinsman dies far off—a horse can make
"But a snail's journey when compar'd to theirs,
"And welcome or unwelcome news they break
"To see what feeling forth unbidden fares,
"Before the waking man his purpos'd face prepares.

XLVI.


"Sometimes I have a pleasure sought and found
"In seeing smiles play o'er a woe-worn face,
"Placing the sleeper on th' enchanted ground,
"That in the gloomy day he might not pace.
"Then friends long-sever'd change the warm embrace,
"And Death awhile lays down his scythe and crown;—
"But more diverting is the strange grimace
"That the old miser screws for treasures flown,
"Which, dearer than his soul, he held secure his own.

XLVII.


"I once remember teazing an old king
"With a fair daughter, yet not fair like you,
"Till from my idle fun he forc'd to spring
"A prophecy, and its fulfilment too.
"But with your dream I have had nought to do,
"And much desire to know its bent and aim;
"So tell its whole adventures strictly true,
"And I will show you whence the vision came,
"And if 'tis false, will soon the culprit catch and tame."

65

XLVIII.


"Then promise," said the maid, "that thou wilt hear
"In patient silence while my tale I tell:"—
He nodded:—"though a name must meet thine ear
"Which for sufficient cause thou lik'st not well.
"Of whom I often dream;—and some foul spell
"Presents him still so changed, so wretched grown,
"That deep forebodings in my bosom swell
"That it is truth, and that thy work alone
"Hath made such fearful wreck of him I call'd my own."

XLIX.


"Last night I dream'd I stood on that dear shore, [11]

[Original referent was numeral 9, corrected in manuscript hand to read 11 in this copy of the printed text.]

"Lovelier than limners paint, or poets feign,
"Where the waves gently kiss the dripping floor
"Cover'd with gems of every tint and strain:
"Where the grey olive, bending o'er the main,
"Proclaims sweet peace and love to land and sea,
"And the rich vintage, ripening on the plain,
"Hangs its full clusters thick from tree to tree,
"Binding the poplars tall with wreaths of joy and glee.

L.


"The wine-cup's wreath, the ivy, spreads its hue
"O'er the grey rocks the citadel that crown;
"The aloe and the fig united grew,
"On the calm deeps of ocean looking down:
"The hills were blue, the skies without a frown,
"The tints of eve descending soft and pale,
"Till, o'er the flaming mount her visage shown,
"The rising moon withdrew her lucid veil,
"And pour'd her tranquil light o'er rock, and sea, and dale.

66

LI.


"Bright silver lines edg'd every rock and cave,
"And silvery light the citadel o'erspread,
"Save where an antre, yawning like the grave,
"O'er the near rocks a browner horror shed.
"Beneath its portal wide a footpath led,
"Beneath its arch a cresset light was held,
"And though my heart, recoiling back with dread,
"Shrank from the awful form and words of eld,
"Unwilling I advanc'd, by some strong charm compell'd.

LII.


"And who art thou that seek'st the Sybil's cell?"
Said the tall spectre, threat'ning as she stood:
"Com'st thou prepared to hear a prophet tell
"The' impending fate that not to know were good?
"Whate'er thy grief, however high the flood
"That from thine eyes has wash'd the light away—
'' From my dark cavern in no gayer mood
"Thy trembling limbs shall bear thee to the day,
"And thou wilt wish unheard the doom my voice shall say.

LIII.


"The happiest maid that earth did ever hold,
"The happiest youth that sun e'er shone upon,
"Had they but seen their fate's long web unroll'd
"And all their future woes in story spun:—
"Had they but seen how the bright sands would run
"Ere the turn'd hour-glass reach'd to even-tide:—
"Scar'd at the sight, ere life were well begun
"They back had started from its ills untried,
"And on the first green sod had laid their heads and died."

67

LIV.


"Oh tell me not," I said, "of my own woe,
"For I can bear my fate; nor yet repine;
" 'Tis of another I would seek to know,
"Whose lot was happy till 'twas link'd with mine.
"Not yet, not yet his doom to grief consign,
"Though sternly Fate has brush'd away the dew
"That should have gemm'd an Orient so divine.
"Say that his cheek will flush with joy anew,
"And sorrow seem a dream, forgotten and untrue."

LV.


The Sybil paus'd, and held her lamp on high,
And gaz'd upon my face while thus she said,
"Alas, poor child of frail mortality,
"Too fragile in life's rugged path to tread!
"The storm already on thy fenceless head
"Hath beat too roughly, yet thou wouldst brave more!
"Till no kind hand be near the pall to spread
"When thy last hour and thy last strife are o'er,
"Far as in life, in death, from every friendly shore.

LVI.


"Strive to forget that inauspicious hour
"When the vain bond was seal'd, so soon to sever,
"When thou didst fondly deem a word had power
"To bind two hearts for ever and for ever.
"And love and hope and fear in fitful fever
"Thrill'd through thy heart from morn's first dawning grey,
"And as thou saw'st it break so joyous, never
"Could'st thou have deem'd it was thy parting day,
"Which tear nor prayer of thine could for one hour delay.

68

LVII.


"Thy strong affections, like the ivy spray
"Would cast their wreaths around a slender reed,
"Which beauty, grace, and genius' dazzling ray
"Cover with barren flowers which bear no seed:
"For not the god who led the flocks to feed
"Of Pheræ's monarch, own'd a form more fair;
"And many a wound in her poor heart must bleed
"Who with such glittering mate her fate would share,
"Unless her heart forewarn'd, the sevenfold buckler bear."

LVIII.


"Oh that 'twere mine!" in agony I spoke,
"Dread Sybil, hear my prayer and shield me now!"
"Straight through the darksome cave a radiance broke,
"An armed maid appear'd in light's full glow,
"Off from her arm the buckler she did throw—
"The brazen burden struck me to the ground:
"My breath was crush'd, and Death sat on my brow—
"Thick darkness fill'd with many a fearful sound
"Clos'd—and the scream that wak'd me echoed still around."

LIX.


She ceas'd: the Sylph frown'd; and each fringed lid
Dropp'd low, and brightness left his cheek and eye,
As when the sun by rain-charg'd clouds is hid
In the quick changes of a stormy sky.
"To read thy dream," he said, " if thou wouldst try,
"My oft-repeated speech the key affords,
"Which some eaves-dropping imp, officiously
"Has seiz'd, and like a minstrel, form'd to chords
"And harmony the sense of unconnected words.

69

LX.


"It needs no Sybil, lamp-lit in a cave,
"To tell the fortune of a love like thine:
" 'Tis rightly told, or I had scorch'd the knave
"Till his sing'd wings had drown'd him in the brine.
"But oh, 'tis strange that thou wilt not resign
"This snare of fancied bliss, which thy pure soul
"Hath form'd from its own treasures, line by line
"And tint by tint, creating new the whole,
"Till thy own work's thy tyrant, strong beyond control.

LXI.


"I lov'd thee when I saw thee in thy bower
"Bright as a lily shelter'd from the blast;
"But now, far dearer is the drooping flower
"That all its glory on the earth has cast.
"Thy love is no delusion; it will last,
"(Curse on the spite that robs me of its sweets!)
"Till Time and all its mockeries are past,
"And till removed from earth's dull air, it meets
"The guerdon high which angels' happiness completes.

LXII.


"But upon earth the wandering sons of heaven
"No longer choose their mates the Sun below;
"And love like thine still from its nest is driven
"To pine away and perish in the snow.
"But never from my hand shall come the blow
"That lays thy head untimely in the grave:—
"Then dry thy tears, and learn at last to know
" 'Twas a kind fortune that such guardian gave,
"Who strives so hard with Fate, thy lot from ill to save.

70

LXIII.


"If for a year and day thou yet wilt live
"(So long I strive to save thee) constant still,
"I will undo my work, and freely give
"Back to thy love the rival I might kill.
"Now, love me as thou ought'st, who, to fulfil
"Thy heart's dear wishes, sacrifice my own:
"But when the moment comes, as come it will,
"That Florio's heart and love thy truth disown,
"Then swear to follow me, and share my cloudy throne."

LXIV.


The maid, whose joy had flush'd o'er face and brow,
Shrank from the pledging hand he proffer'd free:
"I cannot teach," she said, "my tongue to vow
"A truth in falsehood that can never be.
"Fears, most unworthy both of thee and me,
"Have made me like a jealous secret keep
"Conceal'd, a love more boundless than the sea,—
"Until thou hast forgot how dear, how deep
"The hopes that night and day in passionate tears I steep.

LXV.


"The oak, that strikes its roots so far in ground,
"Clasps not more firmly than he holds my heart,
"And not a fibre could be thence unbound
"But drops of life blood from the wound would start.
"How little skill'd in woman's love thou art
"Who deem'st his perjury could my faith remove!
"Wide, wide as east from west let his depart,
"Nay, doubly wider let his falsehood rove,—
"I well might cease to live, but never cease to love!"

71

LXVI.


The Sylph who late had stood before her, bright
In plumes of orient gold, and rainbow dyes,
Began to change to the dull hues of night,
And all the brilliance of his glory flies.
"Oh, could I weep! could I but weep" he cries,
"The tears that mortals shed, 't were some relief!
"But elemental flame my blood supplies,
"And scorching arrows, darting swift and brief
"From every burning vein, will burst my heart with grief!

LXVII.


"Oh for the polar sea, or Zembla's snow!"
And as he spoke, black dyed each outspread wing,
And the smooth curls that wont to crown his brow,
In serpent tresses haggard shadows fling:
And then, as if he fled from adder's sting,
He shot on high, nor downward deign'd to look,
And the four winds from prison seem'd to spring
While o'er the clouds his sable wings he shook,
And lightnings through the storm their forked pathway took.

LXVIII.


Clouds over clouds their heavy masses roll'd
Along the billows of the roaring deep,
But still amid their darkly-hanging fold
The semblance of the sable wings they keep.
The tortur'd sea seem'd rising in a heap,
The lowring clouds descended lower still,
Till the black trumpets of the tempest sweep
Along the waves, which boil, and toil, and swill,
As swoll'n with murky loads, the greedy clouds they fill.

72

LXIX.


Woe to the spot where bursts the raging flood
Which to the Sylph supplies the want of tears!
Irene deep within the cavern stood,
And strove to hide her eyes and close her ears.
Yet peal on peal of thunder loud she hears,
And lightnings whizzing through the sheeted rain,—
Till, with a gush that seems to 'whelm the spheres,
The high-rais'd deluge rushes down again,
Sweeping rocks, ruins, trees, loud crashing to the main.