95

CANTO V.

I.


Chas'd by a thousand fiends of vain remorse
Florio fled on, whither he could not tell,
Till, past the farther gate, his dizzy course
Stumbled some half mile farther, and he fell.
Beside a river pool, surrounded well
With deeply foliag'd trees, the wretch was laid:
It seem'd a place for holy peace to dwell,
Daisies and violets o'er the turf were spread,
And the wild hawthorn wav'd its branches o'er his head.

II.


The light soft coolness of the April breeze
Shook the fresh leaves: one single sun-beam there
Found entrance through the wilderness of trees,
And on th' untroubled pool lay silvery fair.
Then, midst the spreading curls of Florio's hair,
While the wind mov'd the branches, it would play:—
As if it mock'd the pangs of his despair
A moment on his tortured brow it lay,
Then, dancing o'er the flowers, would flit again away.

96

III.


Stunn'd by his great fatigue and greater pain
He seem'd a while bereft of sense and will;
Till both by slow degrees return'd again,
Bringing once more the venom'd thoughts that kill.
And plain before his eyes he saw her still,
Saw that last look, where love, and joy, and death
Were struggling;—saw the blush her pale lip fill
And paler cheek the sable veil beneath,
And heard her stifled sigh, and faint and fluttering breath.

IV.


Words, looks, and scenes forgotten, rise in swarms,
And anguish seem'd to waken memory's powers,
Till, writhing frenzied with his outstretch'd arms,
He wrench'd up handfuls of the grass and flowers.
He thought of all the stol'n confiding hours
Ere he, her friend belov'd, for love had sued:
Th' inexplicable tears that fell in showers
Whene'er his tongue forbidden themes renew'd,
And his own burning words, that all her heart subdued.

V.


Too late he saw a royal lover's eyes
Beset her every step with snares and fear;
Too late he felt her faith's pure sacrifice,
Which for his sake refus'd a King to hear;
Too late he knew her love was truth sincere,
Which he had dar'd to think Coquetry's art;
And all the labour'd wiles array'd appear
By which he stole her fond and trusting heart,
And play'd, disguis'd with love, a murderous traitor's part.

97

VI.


The glowing ringlets of his hair, where Love
Had spread his meshes, without ruth he tore;
Still, as some new-sprung thought fresh pain would move,
Handful on handful strew'd the river's shore.
Sometimes exhausted life the war gave o'er
And lay insensible, a moment calm:
Till the wild fit, returning as before
And gathering force from quiet's soothing balm,
Burst into keener pangs than win a martyr's palm.

VII.


For hours upon the grass outstretch'd he lay
Suffering fatigue, thirst, hunger, and despair:
Till, sinking fast to eve, declining day
Brought darkening twilight, and a cooler air.
His brain was over-worn:—strange figures stare,
And mope and mow at him as low he lies,
And one bright vision, hateful still, though fair,
Glitters and gleams before his blood-shot eyes,
And trying to dispel it, forces him to rise.

VIII.


Three paces bring him to the river's brink;
In the cool wave he laves his burning brow,
And, stooping to the water, deep doth drink:
He looks around; tis gone; more freely now
He breathes, and feels new life returning glow,
And throwing off his dress finds some relief,
Bathing within the river's gentle flow:
And hop'd the vision, dreaded as 'twas brief,
Had been delusion all, an offspring of his grief.

98

IX.


But on th' opposing bank, where laurels old
Grew thick embower'd, behold it re-appear:
And Florio, once the boldest of the bold,
Felt his blood curdling 'neath the touch of fear.
Alas, it was the Sylph! the day and year
Elaps'd, his promise claim'd, and he was come!
His look was grave, majestic, and severe,
Enough to strike and keep his rival dumb—
While sternly he pronounc'd, "I came to bring you home—

X.


"She whose dear will is law, whose angel breast
"Can know no change, your true and wedded wife,
"Hath issued to her servant such behest.
"Come, then!"—A stab from an assassin's knife
Would have been light to this: in stormy strife
Conflicting feelings such a whirlwind rais'd
In Florio's brain, that had not youth and life
Been strong within him, gasping and amaz'd
He would have dropp'd down dead, ev'n as he stood and gaz'd.

XI.


In vain the youth to clear his voice began:—
The Sylph resum'd;—"No answer? even so!"—
He spoke; "Say that you found a wretched man
"Unworthy of her.''—"That, so long ago
"I've said a thousand times, 'tis needless now—
"But she believes it not—from you alone
"Conviction flows:—come, then!"—"I will not go,
"Unless you'll leave me on some mountain thrown,
"To lie a mangled wreck of sinew, blood, and bone!"

99

XII.


"You will not go! you will not! It is well.
"Next time I ask you hardly will refuse:
"And till it come I bid your hate farewell,
"And wish you joy of the sweet lot you chuse.
" 'Tis worthy of you!"—Then his glowing hues
Fading away, he flitted like a ghost,
And Florio, whom a thousand thoughts confuse,
From grief to grief, from fear to terror tost,
Stood on the river's brink, confounded, tam'd, and lost.

XIII.


Through the thick grove now glancing lights are seen,
And busy voices soon approach more near:
And, breaking through the covert's tangled green,
An armed crowd before his eyes appear,
With sticks, and staves, and partizan, and spear,
And lighted torch and lantern in their hands:
They stop at bay when Florio's frenzied cheer
They mark, as naked on the bank he stands,
And then advancing, seize, and bind him in their bands.

XIV.


They seiz'd his vestments, and within them found
The letters to the Princess and the Priest:
And neither would they leave his hands unbound,
Nor give him of his garments e'en the least.
They were much frighten'd, and no fiercer beast
Runs in the forest than your frighten'd man:
And all expected to enjoy a feast
Of rare occurrence, if their prisoner can
Be to the Legate brought, nor mar by flight their plan.

100

XV.


So naked to the town they march'd him off,
Scarce conscious still of what was passing round,
Until with many a bitter curse and scoff
They brought him to a vault beneath the ground.
There, rang'd in high solemnity, was found
A grave tribunal, set to try his crime:
Grimly upon their prisoner they frown'd,
And strove in frequent and repeated chime
To make him hear his sentence, read the twentieth time.

XVI.


At last a glimmering of the horrid truth
Began some clearing in his brain to make,
And show'd him that their gentle judgment's ruth
Condemn'd him on the morrow to the stake,
There to be burnt alive. With mind awake
To horrors new that scar'd away the old,
Striving from 'midst the darken'd clouds to break
He ask'd his accusation, and was told
That witchcraft brought his doom, deserved a hundred-fold.

XVII.


That dealing with the devil, as he did,
Was crime accursed both by God and man,
And by the laws divine a thing forbid
Since laws were first ordain'd and crimes began.
And then his accusation onward ran—
"That by a fiend possess'd and shaken sore,
"No one could tell from whence, nor yet they can,
"He was disposed of at an open door
"Which never had been cross'd by such ill luck before.

101

XVIII.


"That soon its owner died—no one knew how—
"And for the prisoner robb'd her rightful heir:
"Who from that time successful until now,
"Bewitch'd more women than the law could spare
"Time to count over, and their names declare.
"That ev'n the King himself he oft had tried
"To captivate by a behaviour fair:
"And knowing well his traitorous schemes to guide
"By aid of imps from hell, beyond man's skill would ride.

XIX.


"And at the last, when to the sacred fane,
"Compell'd by royal mandate, he was sent,
"The wicked wizard set his snares in vain
"The holy ceremony to prevent.
"And when the new-made nun by Heaven's consent
"Sent forth her soul to join th' angelic quire,
"The fiend within him shriek'd, and forth he went
"As one accursed, balk'd of his desire,
"Returning to his place of woe and penal fire.

XX.


"And last of all, when Justice sent to seize
"The miscreant wretch for trial, he was seen
"Dancing with devils underneath the trees;
"While Satan, as a goat with bearded mien
"And horns and tail, stood centre on the green,
"And play'd the pipe, while all did homage low:
"And how the prisoner, chief of all the scene,
"Twice for their once with face to earth did bow,—
"And all was seen as plain as if they saw it now.

102

XXI.


"Therefore he was condenm'd to be giv'n o'er
"Unto the secular arm." His scatter'd sense
By a strong effort calling back once more,
He tried to make a rational defence
(Too good to penetrate through skulls so dense),
Urging the non-existence of the crime:
'Twas all in vain;—their faith was too intense
To be endanger'd at the very time
When in their reach they saw a pleasure so sublime

XXII.


As that of burning one of Satan's crew.
Then Florio chang'd his battery, and defied
To single fight his foes; not one or two,
But altogether; when by battle tried,
He'd prove that basely in their throats they lied:
And claim'd protection of the King, whose just
And royal nature never would abide
To see a knight borne down, by malice thrust,
Whose zeal he had repaid with confidence and trust.

XXIII.


He had brought letters of importance high,
Writ by the King, seal'd with his private seal,
Which were ta'en from him; but the time was nigh
When they would find the danger of their zeal.
Again unto the King he urg'd appeal,
And threaten'd loud his vengeance on them all:
But arm'd in obstinacy's triple steel,
Upon their ears his words as powerless fall
As flakes of melting snow against some fortress' wall.

103

XXIV.


One who had still kept silence, now observ'd,
His letters seem'd not much to vex his mind,
Since they had waited till his leisure serv'd,
And nor for race nor bath he felt inclin'd.
To which he answer'd firmly, he design'd
To seek th' approval of the King alone;
Who, when such post of trust he had assign'd,
Had left no part of his intents unknown,
But order'd how and when the letters should be shown.

XXV.


It was ingenious, very neatly put.
Enough to stagger loyal men and true;
But the old pack was stanch, and bold to boot,
And knew what things they might or might not do.
They seem'd to listen, just with ears enow
To suit the ends of Justice—and, Heaven knows,
The ends of Justice are such ends as few
Can hope to catch in places like to those—
A sort of cul-de-sac—which all escape must close.

XXVI.


The trial ended, in a deeper vault
They threw the prisoner, iron'd as before:
Condemn'd to expiate his horrid fault
In flames on earth, and flames for evermore.
A sable gown with flames bepainted o'er
They gave him, and a water-flask, and bread:
A lighted lamp they plac'd upon the floor,
And as they left him, for his comfort said,
All preparation should in some few hours be made.

104

XXVII.


Lock after lock, hinge grated after hinge,
Till in long silence all had died away,
And Florio felt full many a fearful twinge
When left alone to wait for such a day.
But down he sat, and without much delay
He ate the bread, and drank the water up;
For he had borne what well might wear away
His strength sufficiently to make him sup
Glad of his humble fare, and scant and sober cup.

XXVIII.


The whole dispatch'd, he search'd and search'd around,
And visited each corner of his cell,
To try if any means could yet be found
To fly from fate so horrible and fell:
And all the walls with care examin'd well.
A rugged stone near to the roof, he thought
Might, if well manag'd, serve him for a spell,
Could aught of rope be had, which, round it brought,
Might, lower, to a noose, with little pains be wrought.

XXIX.


Next to his robe of flames he then applied,
And scarce his manacles gave scope to tear
It into stripes, which, tight together tied,
He thought might serve his pendant weight to bear.
His irons made him slower to prepare
The work on which his hopes now all depend:—
Alas, poor Florio! on that morn so fair
He little dream'd a rope with noose at end
To greet with rapturous joy, deliverer and friend!

105

XXX.


He tore, and knotted, strengthen'd, tied, and tore,
Till a far footstep fell upon his ear,
And, grating on its hinge, the moving door
Show'd certain signs of interruption near.
It slowly open'd: with instinctive fear
Florio, his work collected, hid away;
And now a friar and a monk appear,
Who carrying keys and bundle thus did say,
"Take courage yet, my son—it still is far from day.

XXXI.


"You surely know me?—I have often seen
"You with the Princess, who such favour show'd,
"That I, as her confessor, oft have been
"Uneasy at the source from whence it flow'd.
"But she's a pious dame, and well bestow'd
"Your pains have been to please her: she has found
"Means to exchange your present dark abode
"For lighter prison far above the ground,
"And to delay your death, and get your hands unbound."

XXXII.


Florio, astonish'd, felt his chains dissolve,
As, one by one the priest unlock'd each spring,
And hardly yet his brain can clear resolve
How to explain so very strange a thing.
But this delay was much. If to the King
He can but send, he feels success assur'd:
And when his friends his liberation bring,
He'll try if all, the past may not be cur'd,
And some bright fate be his, and life be yet endur'd.

106

XXXIII.


The priest his bundle down before him throws,
And it contain'd his garments every one:
Most thankfully he dress'd you may suppose,
Although his purse and letters both were gone.
Then by the other priest the way was shown
Through passage, vault, and trap, till, issuing quite
From the dark horror of these dens unknown,
They found themselves in empty streets, where night
Already from the dawn prepar'd her westward flight.

XXXIV.


And soon he found himself once more ascending
The well-known staircase, scene of dire dismay,
And something like a faint resolve at mending
Began unwonted o'er his mind to stray.
They enter'd a saloon, where drapery gay
Hung down as if a door conceal'd to screen,
And stooping to go through, he found the way
A trap into an iron cage had been
Of massive bars you scarce could thrust your hand between.

XXXV.


"What is all this?" cried Florio. " 'Tis a cage,"
Replied the priest, "built for a tiger's den,
"Which comes a present to our Princess sage
"From eastern countries far beyond our ken.
"Soon to full liberty return'd again,
" 'Tis but a few short hours you there must bide;
"There is good hay to make your couch till then,
"And no permitted means shall be untried
"To make your bondage light, and soothe offended pride."

l07

XXXVI.


In short, with honied words he coax'd him calm,
And Florio ask'd for cushions, which he took
From the low seats: and might have found some balm
In rest and comfort, were't not for the look,
Which something in his bosom scarce could brook.
A cage! a den! 'twas the most strange abode!
But yet his hay and cushions down he shook,
Glad of repose from toil and sorrow's load,
And sleep his soothing poppies on his eyes bestow'd.

XXXVII.


Day was nigh gone before the youth awoke,
And hunger's calls began to say 'twas late:
As into consciousness his slumbers broke,
He felt the degradation of his state
More keenly than before.—What? thus to wait
Like a wild beast—the keeper had forgot!
Surely the Princess, mistress of his fate,
Would soon appear—and then, his breakfast got,
His eloquenee might try to mend his wayward lot.

XXXVIII.


At last a step approach'd—it stopp'd—'twas she!
It must be she—he saw in what strict ward
His person was confined, for many a key
In many a lock grated and creak'd full hard.
A prison'd knight, a Princess for his guard,
Was picturesque, and well enough—but then,
To ogle from a cage of iron barr'd,
Shut like a noxious brute within a den!
'Twould make the tale a jest for every class of men.

108

XXXIX.


The slowly opening door gave full to view
The Princess rob'd in royal guise, alone—
Behind her fast the bolts again she drew,
Resolv'd the parley should be all her own:
And to the cage advancing, words seem'd flown
From both the quondam lovers. Florio bow'd,
But something in her brow's repulsive frown
Seem'd to forewarn him speech was scarce allow'd,
Till she had silence broke, and her intents avow'd.

XL.


She look'd, but spoke not. Her dark olive skin
Nor paly grief nor crimson blush betray'd:
Her lips, scarce parted, quiver'd—and within,
The tongue for voice seem'd powerless, or afraid.
Her clear eyes seem'd grown smaller, and display'd
Such twinkling light as in the lamp is seen,
When some stray water-drop has lent its aid
To make a sputtering fire-work, blue and green:
In short she look'd terrific, burst with spite, and mean.

XLI.


"At last I have you!"—thus her speech began—
"Safe cag'd. Were you so simple as believe
"That my compassion would have sav'd a man
"Who so had outrag'd me, were't not to weave
"A mesh around him which should all deceive,
"And yet should give me vengeance full and sweet?
"Know, wretch detested, none shall dare relieve
"Your thirst and hunger with one grain of meat
"Or drink, till lingering Death shall make my work complete.

109

XLII.


"I have forgotten, doubtless, my own folly,
"Which took you for a true and loyal knight,
"Inveigled by the specious melancholy
"That cloth'd your baseness in such taking light.
"I have forgotten, too, that famous night
"When—but it would be waste of words to tell,
"And all your crimes display before your sight,
"Wretch, robber, traitor, villain, monster fell,
"More black than Lucifer, more grim and false than Hell!"

XLIII.


'Twas now the evening hour: the slanting sun
Shot yellow beams through every window tall,
And faint the glimmering colours had begun
To show their Iris hues along the wall,
The Sylph announcing in the guarded hall.
Florio felt strong, and turning with an air
Of mix'd contempt and pleasantry, " 'Tis all,"
He said, "in rule, that dames more kind than fair,
"Should, when a lover fails them, be in great despair.

XLIV.


"But when they are no longer subjected
"To youth's vagaries; and maturer years
"To better contemplations should have led
"Their cogitations heavenward, it appears
"Scant justice thus to punish: still my fears
"Are more for what a cruel world will say,
"When, taking air, this curious tale it hears,
"Of how the Princess stole a man away
"From sentence of the law, which, cozen'd by delay,

110

XLV.


"She robb'd of its just due—and, what is more,
"A man possessing claims not quite unknown
"Upon the lady's favour—true—the sore
"Had been salv'd up by his dead body shown:
"But though there are few things I would not own
"Much pleasure in peforming for your sake,
"I must decline this one.—The time is gone
"In which I thought a tender speech to make,
"And so"—the Princess then began alarm to take,

XLVI.


Lest he had friends behind her—she look'd round,
No one was there—with tongue prepar'd to shower
A volley, back she turn'd. Confusion bound
The half-form'd words—Florio upheld by power
Of sylphid wings, up at the roof, no lower
Hung in mid air. The Princess, screaming high
As fear and spite could make her, saw the hour
Of all her long plann'd vengeance clean gone by,
As out of window sailing, Florio off did fly.

XLVII.


Why should I farther lengthen out her story,
And tell how loud she scream'd, how high, how long?
And how her servants, in a plight most sorry,
Found her the fragments of the cage among,
Fall'n on the pavement in hysterics strong,
When, arm'd with axe and crow they trooping came,
Hearing the well-known 'larum of her tongue;
And her confessor, patching up her fame,
Made that poor slander'd devil, Satan, bear the blame.

111

XLVIII.


Away, away, o'er hill and plain, and sea,
Flew the light sylph, his willing burden bearing;
Nor scruple nor refusal hinted he,
No more to try the sylph's small patience daring.
Far, far too frighten'd was he now for caring
Where he arrived, so he but got away—
And though the sylph could find no joy in sparing
His rival's life, he knew that this delay
Would give his wish effect, and at no distant day.

XLIX.


And as they flew, Florio began to think,
As of a dream long past, of his first vow;
And felt how fragile was the binding link
He once had deem'd eternal: ne'er till now
The thought had so come home, as to avow
The naked truth, stripp'd of all borrow'd plumes,
That Love is frailer than the radiant bow
Which its bright life from double cause assumes,
But, one withdrawn, 'tis gone—nor more the sky illumes.

L.


Let the rain clear away, the clouds divide,
And leave the sky to the bright sun alone,
The fading bow forsakes its hour of pride,
And with the last tear vanishing, is gone.
Let the clouds close, and rising tempests moan
Through the wild masses of the troubled skies,
And muttering thunders low begin to groan:
Pale and more pale amid the storm it dies,
Or borne on the last ray, to happier climates flies.

112

LI.


Florio began to feel how awkward 'twere
To meet his bride less fondly than before:
And yet the very thoughts of love and her
Seem'd clean divorc'd for aye and evermore.
Then rapid in his mind repassing o'er
Her crown, her qualities, and beauty too,
He finish'd by resolving to restore
As much of love as strictly was her due,
He really thought he might, and Time the rest might do.

LII.


For her fidelity, 'twas no such bond—
She lov'd him, and his rival would not hear—
But she had sense, nor would be half so fond
When wedlock's sober train in sight appear.
At least he hop'd so—yet one cause of fear
He found in his own matchless self—for whom
So many tender hearts had been so near
To self-destruction, nor could e'er give room
To other love than his, nor freedom could resume.

LIII.


Still, Time might do it—poor, old, hard-work'd wight,
Who's task'd until his aged sinews crack:
Upon whose shoulders all lay loads which might
Break the firm key-stone of a porter's back.
All things of weight, whose lazy owners lack
The power to move or bear them, turn or draw,
Are giv'n to him, whose real strength's so slack,
That e'en in ripening medlars,14 Venice' law
Consider'd Time's hard case, and gave him help of straw.

113

LIV.


They near'd the earth—a richly wooded plain15
Between two mountain ranges shelter'd well,
And opening to the north on the blue main,
Seem'd safe from all the ills that e'er befel
Earth's fairest portions—floods nor famine fell
Could there intrude, and e'en the hot siroc,
Fenc'd out by mountain-spirits' icy spell,
Dar'd not o'erpass the boundaries of rock
Which spread their cooling shades o'er tree, and stream, and flock.

LV.


But all its beauties (and they were far more
Than in one nine-legg'd verse can be recounted),
Unseen by Florio pass'd his eyes before,
When lighting down on earth, from air dismounted,
It seem'd as if that day, so sweet accounted,
Made him feel blank as debtor when hard press'd
For a just claim, 'gainst which his all, well counted,
Would make a shabby dividend at best,
Leaving Time, Heaven, and Patience, sureties for the rest.

LVI.


He was alone—the Sylph no parlance staid,
And where he disappear'd he could not see:
He look'd around him, more than half afraid
To see Irene under every tree.
But yet, reflecting that the thing must be,
Bold he set forth, and pluck'd up heart of grace,
Soon each the view of either caught, and she
Flew with swift feet across the verdant space,
And breathless, clasp'd his neck in long and warm embrace.

114

LVII.


And where was e'er the man whose veins drew heat
From youth and life, who could remain unmov'd,
When a young heart in such fair shrine that beat,
Prov'd, throbbing on his own, how much it lov'd?
Florio with all his soul her love approv'd:
How could he otherwise have felt or done?
A few short moments all his fears remov'd,
And happiness he thought might still be won,
And all the past forgot, and life's new lease begun.

LVIII.


Together o'er the green and flowery lawn
They walk'd, to where their habitation stood.
It was an ancient tower,16 (since often drawn
And painted too, by artists bad and good:
I've drawn it with the rest.) But then the wood
Was cluster'd in a thicker grove around,
The fine stone tracery was entire, nor strew'd
With its fair ruin'd fragments all the ground,
Shaming our clumsy hands which ne'er the art have found.

LIX.


Two languages ago, they say its name
Meant Beautiful—a title well deserv'd;
And though its builders perish'd, still its fame
The appellation and its truth preserv'd.
Here in the solitude, from sight reserv'd,
Th' Emìr's fair daughter, Queen of Beauty, reign'd—
And now its hall's forsaken splendour serv'd
Our lovers to receive, who well maintain'd
Their right to keep the wreath which beauty there had gain'd.

115

LX.


For they were beautiful: she seem'd too fair,
Too pure, too perfect for a mortal's love:
And well she justified the Prince of air
Who left for her the halls of light above.
Florio was beautiful, and had he strove
Against his own wild passions, had been bright
As the bright angel guardian bands who rove
The starry spheres in silence of the night,
Shedding around their orbit, joy and love and light.

LXI.


But as they sat within the marble hall,
Where the cool fountain's freshening waters play'd,
Bounding in silver arches from the wall,
And flowing through a channel all inlaid
With gold and glittering gems, Irene made
A less confus'd inspection of his face,
And there she saw, what she had been afraid
(If practis'd aught in human ill) to trace,
A slight but speaking change, which there had found a place.

LXII.


For in his face she saw a something new—
It was not quite a frown—but the arch'd brow
Seem'd as some thwarting influence had pass'd through,
And marr'd the lines so perfect until now.
These were his eyes—but the cerulean glow
Which stole its rays from ocean's sunny flood,
Less bright, less blue—and yet, it was not so,—
There wanted but the smile which all subdued,
To light them up once more, their brightness all renew'd.

116

LXIII.


The cheek had lost its lustre—all the lip
Was shaded by mustachios thick and full,
Which, drinking, in the beverage not to dip
Requir'd a skill and grace which few could cull.
This was the cause of all the change, their dull
Harsh shade disfigured lip, and cheek, and brow:
It must be all their fault; she knew the rule
Of war no other semblance could allow,
But surely that was past, and he might trim them now.

LXIV.


But though Irene felt that something wrong
Lurk'd in her lover's perfect features, still
Her heart protected by conviction strong,
And blind in innocence, could fear no ill:
And as the hours their wonted round fulfil,
Sure that her happiness alike must glow
Warm in his heart as her's, she lack'd the skill
Dear-bought, to tell the substance from the show,
Loving, believing all, nor dreaming more to know.

LXV.


They were together—all the anxious days,
The weeping nights of weary years were o'er,
And the extinguish'd torch again may blaze,
And light to joys to last for evermore.
And as she gaz'd, it was not long before
Love's sophistry had deck'd a specious tale—
He must have suffer'd much—nay suffer'd more
Than she—till sorrow's power could thus prevail,
And dim his brilliant eyes, and make his cheek so pale.

117

LXVI.


Dear Florio! for her sake! how could she pay
A love so true, so faithful, so sincere!
She felt it was impossible; the day
Of one short life not half the debt could clear.
And yet perhaps in some far distant year
'Spite of the sufferings of the time gone by,
He might find cause to own, though paid so dear,
That faithful love by thousand ways can hie
To happiness so true, 'twere cheap by pain to buy.

LXVII.


And then, though plac'd secluded midst the wood,
Secure in their own joy, what farther thought
Could on the halcyon hours of love intrude,
Or make them wish beyond its bounds for aught?
And from her inmost soul she felt that nought
Of blessing there was wanting; every clime
The generous Sylph for means of pleasure sought,
And had bestow'd so freely, 'twere a crime
To wish for aught of change, at least for a long time.

LXVIII.


For in a Paradise more heavenly fair
Than earth on any other shore can boast,
The Sylph had chose their dwelling to prepare,
And spread such fairy charms along the coast
That yet they linger, nor the power have lost
To fascinate the heart and fix the eye:
The voyaging bark upon the ocean tost
Sees the wide port expand, and joyfully
Drops anchor, in the deep clear pool secure to lie.

118

LXIX.


Upon the beach the hollow murmuring shell
Gems with rose tints the margin of the deep,
Within whose concave spire resides the spell
That with low voice sad memory doth keep
Of the bright ocean, where it wont to steep
In living freshness of its native caves:
Where fields that sickle never reach'd to reap,
Stretch their long sailing leaves below the waves,
Soft sway'd in floating balance, while the water laves.

LXX.


And trailing in the billows rippling cool
Descend the boughs of broad and stately trees,
Of foliage varied, and of fruit more full
Than liberal Nature grants to aught but these:
And when, o'erpassing them, the light-wing'd breeze
Awakes the odour of their rich perfume,
Glancing among the leaves the gazer sees
On every bough the silver stars of bloom,
That, twin'd midst golden fruit, for endless Spring find room.

LXXI.


And all this beauty does not bloom in vain:
A noble city17 on the shore is spread,
Where many a lofty street and many a fane
With drone and minaret rears high its head,
But from the high minar no more is sped
The voice that calls the people unto pray'r;
For up have risen steeples in their stead
Which with their jangling bells alarm the air,
A torment nought but use could teach the ears to bear.

119

LXXII.


Dark is the city's origin: in Time's
Farthest, far darkling twilight it was born,
And many nations came from many climes
Its beauteous site, enjoying, to adorn.
Oft ta'en and sack'd, in ashes left forlorn,
Oft shaken from its deep foundations down
By earthquakes, and by hands barbaric torn,
Still, from its ruins rais'd, the noble town
Smiles o'er its Paradise, as woe were there unknown.

LXXIII.


Along the beach its palaces extend,
Bearing

["Bearing" corrected in manuscript hand in this copy of the printed text to read "Rearing"]

their marble piles above the sea,
And gardens round the bay in fragrance bend,
Treasures of flower, and fruit, and shrub, and tree:
Palm and pimento flourishing as free
With flaming coral bloom, as though the sun
Pour'd here the abundance of his tropic glee
Ere his cool course o'er Europe he begun,
Returning to repose, his heat of glory done.

LXXIV.


A mountain bulwark rises near the town,
And like a giant forth to guard it stands;
And faint along the sky-line sinking down
Soft fall the lines of capes and rising lands:
And inland far as the strain'd eye commands,
Along the vale, alternate wood and lawn
Woo to their shades: but freshest on the sands
Breathes the cool moonlight breeze,day's glare withdrawn
While the gay dance floats round, and music sounds till dawn.

120

LXXV.


But though the city lay so near their nest,
Nought of its neighbourhood the lovers knew,
For thus the Sylph decreed and thought 'twere best:
Down to the sea through path-ways not a few
Conducted, they were engineer'd so true
To his intent, that to all human ken,
It seem'd a desert where the wild-flowers grew
Untrodden and uncropp'd on hill and glen,
Far from the noisy haunts and dwelling-place of men.

LXXVI.


And then it was he brought from far and near
Those small and twinkling gems of ev'ry dye,18
Which in the smooth green turf so thick appear,
Charming the learned and unlearned eye.
Red, purple, orange, blue, together try
Which brightest can allure, or sweetest smell;
And e'en the common weeds so far outvie
Their lineage, that it seems as if a spell
Presided o'er each flower to make it bloom so well.

LXXVII.


All round was bliss—Irene felt no change,
Save that her passion turn'd idolatry;
And, anxious with her lover forth to range,
She left her long rich locks luxuriantly
To flow around her neck unbraided free—
Till wearied of the weight she pull'd a rose,
And cross'd it with a bough of jasmine tree,
And round them loose her silken tresses throws,
Flowing in glossy waves to every breeze that blows.

121

LXXVIII.


How happy fled the hours! the slanting sun
Beyond the mountains set in floods of gold,
Ere the short course of day seem'd well begun.
Thus when light barks along the billows hold
Their course, and winds so soft their wings unfold
That scarce we feel their motion—the far shore
Seems flying from our sight—the outlines bold
Fade in the sky, and then are seen no more,
Till the good port is hail'd, the unconscious voyage o'er.

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