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John keats

John Keats

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
20

I had a dove, and the sweet dove died,
And I have thought it died of grieving;
O what could it grieve for? Its feet were tied
With a silken thread of my own hand’s weaving:
Sweet little red feet! Why would you die?
Why would you leave me, sweet bird, why?
You liv’d alone on the forest tree,
Why, pretty thing, could you not live with me?
I kiss’d you oft, and gave you white pease;
Why not live sweetly as in the green trees?

GREAT spirits now on earth are sojourning;  
He of the cloud, the cataract, the lake,  
Who on Helvellyn’s summit, wide awake,  
Catches his freshness from Archangel’s wing;  
He of the rose, the violet, the spring,      
The social smile, the chain for Freedom’s sake:  
And lo!—whose steadfastness would never take  
A meaner sound than Raphael’s whispering.  
And other spirits there are standing apart  
Upon the forehead of the age to come;        
These, these will give the world another heart  
And other pulses. Hear ye not the hum  
Of mighty workings in the human mart?  
Listen awhile, ye nations, and be dumb.

O SORROW!
   Why dost borrow
   The natural hue of health, from vermeil lips?—
   To give maiden blushes
   To the white rose bushes?
   Or is it thy dewy hand the daisy tips?

   O Sorrow!
   Why dost borrow
   The lustrous passion from a falcon-eye?—
   To give the glow-worm light?
   Or, on a moonless night,
   To tinge, on siren shores, the salt sea-spry?

   O Sorrow!
   Why dost borrow
   The mellow ditties from a mourning tongue?—
   To give at evening pale
   Unto the nightingale,
   That thou mayst listen the cold dews among?

   O Sorrow!
   Why dost borrow
   Heart’s lightness from the merriment of May?—
   A lover would not tread
   A cowslip on the head,
   Though he should dance from eve till peep of day—
   Nor any drooping flower
   Held sacred for thy bower,
   Wherever he may sport himself and play.

   To Sorrow
   I bade good morrow,
   And thought to leave her far away behind;
   But cheerly, cheerly,
   She loves me dearly;
   She is so constant to me, and so kind:
   I would deceive her
   And so leave her,
   But ah! she is so constant and so kind.

Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side,
I sat a-weeping: in the whole world wide
There was no one to ask me why I wept,—
   And so I kept
Brimming the water-lily cups with tears
   Cold as my fears.

Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side,
I sat a-weeping: what enamour’d bride,
Cheated by shadowy wooer from the clouds,
   But hides and shrouds
Beneath dark palm-trees by a river side?

And as I sat, over the light blue hills
There came a noise of revellers: the rills
Into the wide stream came of purple hue—
   'Twas Bacchus and his crew!
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills
From kissing cymbals made a merry din—
   'Twas Bacchus and his kin!
Like to a moving vintage down they came,
Crown’d with green leaves, and faces all on flame;
All madly dancing through the pleasant valley,
   To scare thee, Melancholy!
O then, O then, thou wast a simple name!
And I forgot thee, as the berried holly
By shepherds is forgotten, when in June
Tall chestnuts keep away the sun and moon:—
   I rush’d into the folly!

Within his car, aloft, young Bacchus stood,
Trifling his ivy-dart, in dancing mood,
   With sidelong laughing;
And little rills of crimson wine imbrued
His plump white arms and shoulders, enough white
   For Venus’ pearly bite;
And near him rode Silenus on his ass,
Pelted with flowers as he on did pass
   Tipsily quaffing.

'Whence came ye, merry Damsels! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your bowers desolate,
   Your lutes, and gentler fate?'—
'We follow Bacchus! Bacchus on the wing,
   A-conquering!
Bacchus, young Bacchus! good or ill betide,
We dance before him thorough kingdoms wide:—
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
   To our wild minstrelsy!'

'Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left
   Your nuts in oak-tree cleft?'—
'For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree;
For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms,
   And cold mushrooms;
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth;
Great god of breathless cups and chirping mirth!
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
   To our mad minstrelsy!'

Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
   With Asian elephants:
Onward these myriads—with song and dance,
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians’ prance,
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles,
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files,
Plump infant laughers mimicking the coil
Of seamen, and stout galley-rowers’ toil:
With toying oars and silken sails they glide,
   Nor care for wind and tide.

Mounted on panthers’ furs and lions’ manes,
From rear to van they scour about the plains;
A three days’ journey in a moment done;
And always, at the rising of the sun,
About the wilds they hunt with spear and horn,
   On spleenful unicorn.

I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown
   Before the vine-wreath crown!
I saw parch’d Abyssinia rouse and sing
   To the silver cymbals’ ring!
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce
   Old Tartary the fierce!
The kings of Ind their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
   And all his priesthood moans,
Before young Bacchus’ eye-wink turning pale.
Into these regions came I, following him,
Sick-hearted, weary—so I took a whim
To stray away into these forests drear,
   Alone, without a peer:
And I have told thee all thou mayest hear.

   Young Stranger!
   I’ve been a ranger
In search of pleasure throughout every clime;
   Alas! 'tis not for me!
   Bewitch’d I sure must be,
To lose in grieving all my maiden prime.

   Come then, Sorrow,
   Sweetest Sorrow!
Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast:
   I thought to leave thee,
   And deceive thee,
But now of all the world I love thee best.

   There is not one,
   No, no, not one
But thee to comfort a poor lonely maid;
   Thou art her mother,
   And her brother,
Her playmate, and her wooer in the shade.

I.
Fame, like a wayward girl, will still be coy
To those who woo her with too slavish knees,
But makes surrender to some thoughtless boy,
And dotes the more upon a heart at ease;
She is a Gypsy,-will not speak to those
Who have not learnt to be content without her;
A Jilt, whose ear was never whisper’d close,
Who thinks they scandal her who talk about her;
A very Gypsy is she, Nilus-born,
Sister-in-law to jealous Potiphar;
Ye love-sick Bards! repay her scorn for scorn;
Ye Artists lovelorn! madmen that ye are!
Make your best bow to her and bid adieu,
Then, if she likes it, she will follow you.

II.
‘You cannot eat your cake and have it too.’~Proverb.

How fever’d is the man, who cannot look
Upon his mortal days with temperate blood,
Who vexes all the leaves of his life’s book,
And robs his fair name of its maidenhood;
It is as if the rose should pluck herself,
On the ripe plum finger its misty bloom,
As if a Naiad, like a meddling elf,
Should darken her pure grot with muddy gloom:
But the rose leaves herself upon the briar,
For winds to kiss and grateful bees to feed,
And the ripe plum still wears its dim attire,
The undisturbed lake has crystal space;
Why then should man, teasing the world for grace,
Spoil his salvation for a fierce miscreed?

The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone!
   Sweet voice, sweet lips, soft hand, and softer breast,
Warm breath, light whisper, tender semi—tone,
   Bright eyes, accomplish’d shape, and lang’rous waist!
Faded the flower and all its budded charms,
   Faded the sight of beauty from my eyes,
Faded the shape of beauty from my arms,
   Faded the voice, warmth, whiteness, paradise—
Vanish’d unseasonably at shut of eve,
   When the dusk holiday– or holinight
Of fragrant—curtain’d love begins to weave
   The woof of darkness thick, for hid delight,
But, as I’ve read love’s missal through to—day,
He’ll let me sleep, seeing I fast and pray.

Asleep! O sleep a little while, white pearl!
And let me kneel, and let me pray to thee,
And let me call Heaven’s blessing on thine eyes,
And let me breathe into the happy air,
That doth enfold and touch thee all about,
Vows of my slavery, my giving up,
My sudden adoration, my great love!

BARDS of Passion and of Mirth,
Ye have left your souls on earth!
Have ye souls in heaven too,
Doubled-lived in regions new?
Yes, and those of heaven commune
With the spheres of sun and moon;
With the noise of fountains wondrous,
And the parle of voices thund’rous;
With the whisper of heaven’s trees
And one another, in soft ease
Seated on Elysian lawns
Browsed by none but Dian’s fawns;
Underneath large blue-bells tented,
Where the daisies are rose-scented,
And the rose herself has got
Perfume which on earth is not;
Where the nightingale doth sing
Not a senseless, tranced thing,
But divine melodious truth;
Philosophic numbers smooth;
Tales and golden histories
Of heaven and its mysteries.

   Thus ye live on high, and then
On the earth ye live again;
And the souls ye left behind you
Teach us, here, the way to find you,
Where your other souls are joying,
Never slumber’d, never cloying.
Here, your earth-born souls still speak
To mortals, of their little week;
Of their sorrows and delights;
Of their passions and their spites;
Of their glory and their shame;
What doth strengthen and what maim.
Thus ye teach us, every day,
Wisdom, though fled far away.

   Bards of Passion and of Mirth,
Ye have left your souls on earth!
Ye have souls in heaven too,
Double-lived in regions new!

Standing aloof in giant ignorance,
Of thee I hear and of the Cyclades,
As one who sits ashore and longs perchance
To visit dolphin-coral in deep seas.
So thou wast blind;—but then the veil was rent,
For Jove uncurtain’d Heaven to let thee live,
And Neptune made for thee a spumy tent,
And Pan made sing for thee his forest-hive;
Aye on the shores of darkness there is light,
And precipices show untrodden green
There is a budding morrow in the midnight,
There is a triple sight in blindness keen;
Such seeing hadst thou, as it once befel
To Dian, Queen of Earth, and Heaven, and Hell.

I

There was a naughty boy,
A naughty boy was he,
He would not stop at home,
He could not quiet be—
He took
In his knapsack
A book
Full of vowels
And a shirt
With some towels,
A slight cap
For night cap,
A hair brush,
Comb ditto,
New stockings
For old ones
Would split O!
This knapsack
Tight at’s back
He rivetted close
And followed his nose
To the north,
To the north,
And follow’d his nose
To the north.

II

There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
For nothing would he do
But scribble poetry—
He took
An ink stand
In his hand
And a pen
Big as ten
In the other,
And away
In a pother
He ran
To the mountains
And fountains
And ghostes
And postes
And witches
And ditches
And wrote
In his coat
When the weather
Was cool,
Fear of gout,
And without
When the weather
Was warm—
Och the charm
When we choose
To follow one’s nose
To the north,
To the north,
To follow one’s nose
To the north!

III

There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
He kept little fishes
In washing tubs three
In spite
Of the might
Of the maid
Nor afraid
Of his Granny—good—
He often would
Hurly burly
Get up early
And go
By hook or crook
To the brook
And bring home
Miller’s thumb,
Tittlebat
Not over fat,
Minnows small
As the stall
Of a glove,
Not above
The size
Of a nice
Little baby’s
Little fingers—
O he made
’Twas his trade
Of fish a pretty kettle
A kettle—
A kettle
Of fish a pretty kettle
A kettle!

IV

There was a naughty boy,
And a naughty boy was he,
He ran away to Scotland
The people for to see—
There he found
That the ground
Was as hard,
That a yard
Was as long,
That a song
Was as merry,
That a cherry
Was as red,
That lead
Was as weighty,
That fourscore
Was as eighty,
That a door
Was as wooden
As in England—
So he stood in his shoes
And he wonder’d,
He wonder’d,
He stood in his
Shoes and he wonder’d.

I.
Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!
Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love’s eye!
They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
Without some stir of heart, some malady;
They could not sit at meals but feel how well
It soothed each to be the other by;
They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep
But to each other dream, and nightly weep.

II.
With every morn their love grew tenderer,
With every eve deeper and tenderer still;
He might not in house, field, or garden stir,
But her full shape would all his seeing fill;
And his continual voice was pleasanter
To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;
Her lute-string gave an echo of his name,
She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same.

III.
He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch,
Before the door had given her to his eyes;
And from her chamber-window he would catch
Her beauty farther than the falcon spies;
And constant as her vespers would he watch,
Because her face was turn’d to the same skies;
And with sick longing all the night outwear,
To hear her morning-step upon the stair.

IV.
A whole long month of May in this sad plight
Made their cheeks paler by the break of June:
“To morrow will I bow to my delight,
”To-morrow will I ask my lady’s boon."—
“O may I never see another night,
”Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love’s tune."—
So spake they to their pillows; but, alas,
Honeyless days and days did he let pass;

V.
Until sweet Isabella’s untouch’d cheek
Fell sick within the rose’s just domain,
Fell thin as a young mother’s, who doth seek
By every lull to cool her infant’s pain:
“How ill she is,” said he, “I may not speak,
”And yet I will, and tell my love all plain:
“If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears,
”And at the least 'twill startle off her cares."

VI.
So said he one fair morning, and all day
His heart beat awfully against his side;
And to his heart he inwardly did pray
For power to speak; but still the ruddy tide
Stifled his voice, and puls’d resolve away—
Fever’d his high conceit of such a bride,
Yet brought him to the meekness of a child:
Alas! when passion is both meek and wild!

VII.
So once more he had wak’d and anguished
A dreary night of love and misery,
If Isabel’s quick eye had not been wed
To every symbol on his forehead high;
She saw it waxing very pale and dead,
And straight all flush’d; so, lisped tenderly,
“Lorenzo!”—here she ceas’d her timid quest,
But in her tone and look he read the rest.

VIII.
“O Isabella, I can half perceive
”That I may speak my grief into thine ear;
“If thou didst ever any thing believe,
”Believe how I love thee, believe how near
“My soul is to its doom: I would not grieve
”Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear
“Thine eyes by gazing; but I cannot live
”Another night, and not my passion shrive.

IX.
“Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,
”Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,
“And I must taste the blossoms that unfold
”In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time."
So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,
And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme:
Great bliss was with them, and great happiness
Grew, like a lusty flower in June’s caress.

X.
Parting they seem’d to tread upon the air,
Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart
Only to meet again more close, and share
The inward fragrance of each other’s heart.
She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair
Sang, of delicious love and honey’d dart;
He with light steps went up a western hill,
And bade the sun farewell, and joy’d his fill.

XI.
All close they met again, before the dusk
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
All close they met, all eves, before the dusk
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,
Unknown of any, free from whispering tale.
Ah! better had it been for ever so,
Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.

XII.
Were they unhappy then?—It cannot be—
Too many tears for lovers have been shed,
Too many sighs give we to them in fee,
Too much of pity after they are dead,
Too many doleful stories do we see,
Whose matter in bright gold were best be read;
Except in such a page where Theseus’ spouse
Over the pathless waves towards him bows.

XIII.
But, for the general award of love,
The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
Though Dido silent is in under-grove,
And Isabella’s was a great distress,
Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove
Was not embalm’d, this truth is not the less—
Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers,
Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.

XIV.
With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt
In torched mines and noisy factories,
And many once proud-quiver’d loins did melt
In blood from stinging whip;—with hollow eyes
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.

XV.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
And went all naked to the hungry shark;
For them his ears gush’d blood; for them in death
The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
Half-ignorant, they turn’d an easy wheel,
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.

XVI.
Why were they proud? Because their marble founts
Gush’d with more pride than do a wretch’s tears?—
Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts
Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs?—
Why were they proud? Because red-lin’d accounts
Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?—
Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,
Why in the name of Glory were they proud?

XVII.
Yet were these Florentines as self-retired
In hungry pride and gainful cowardice,
As two close Hebrews in that land inspired,
Paled in and vineyarded from beggar-spies,
The hawks of ship-mast forests—the untired
And pannier’d mules for ducats and old lies—
Quick cat’s-paws on the generous stray-away,—
Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.

XVIII.
How was it these same ledger-men could spy
Fair Isabella in her downy nest?
How could they find out in Lorenzo’s eye
A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt’s pest
Into their vision covetous and sly!
How could these money-bags see east and west?—
Yet so they did—and every dealer fair
Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.

XIX.
O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon,
And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,
And of thy roses amorous of the moon,
And of thy lilies, that do paler grow
Now they can no more hear thy ghittern’s tune,
For venturing syllables that ill beseem
The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.

XX.
Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
There is no other crime, no mad assail
To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:
But it is done—succeed the verse or fail—
To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet;
To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,
An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.

XXI.
These brethren having found by many signs
What love Lorenzo for their sister had,
And how she lov’d him too, each unconfines
His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad
That he, the servant of their trade designs,
Should in their sister’s love be blithe and glad,
When 'twas their plan to coax her by degrees
To some high noble and his olive-trees.

XXII.
And many a jealous conference had they,
And many times they bit their lips alone,
Before they fix’d upon a surest way
To make the youngster for his crime atone;
And at the last, these men of cruel clay
Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone;
For they resolved in some forest dim
To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him.

XXIII.
So on a pleasant morning, as he leant
Into the sun-rise, o’er the balustrade
Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent
Their footing through the dews; and to him said,
“You seem there in the quiet of content,
”Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade
“Calm speculation; but if you are wise,
”Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.

XXIV.
“To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount
”To spur three leagues towards the Apennine;
“Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count
”His dewy rosary on the eglantine."
Lorenzo, courteously as he was wont,
Bow’d a fair greeting to these serpents’ whine;
And went in haste, to get in readiness,
With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman’s dress.

XXV.
And as he to the court-yard pass’d along,
Each third step did he pause, and listen’d oft
If he could hear his lady’s matin-song,
Or the light whisper of her footstep soft;
And as he thus over his passion hung,
He heard a laugh full musical aloft;
When, looking up, he saw her features bright
Smile through an in-door lattice, all delight.

XXVI.
“Love, Isabel!” said he, “I was in pain
”Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow:
“Ah! what if I should lose thee, when so fain
”I am to stifle all the heavy sorrow
“Of a poor three hours’ absence? but we’ll gain
”Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow.
“Good bye! I’ll soon be back.”—"Good bye!" said she:—
And as he went she chanted merrily.

XXVII.
So the two brothers and their murder’d man
Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno’s stream
Gurgles through straiten’d banks, and still doth fan
Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream
Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan
The brothers’ faces in the ford did seem,
Lorenzo’s flush with love.—They pass’d the water
Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.

XXVIII.
There was Lorenzo slain and buried in,
There in that forest did his great love cease;
Ah! when a soul doth thus its freedom win,
It aches in loneliness—is ill at peace
As the break-covert blood-hounds of such sin:
They dipp’d their swords in the water, and did tease
Their horses homeward, with convulsed spur,
Each richer by his being a murderer.

XXIX.
They told their sister how, with sudden speed,
Lorenzo had ta’en ship for foreign lands,
Because of some great urgency and need
In their affairs, requiring trusty hands.
Poor Girl! put on thy stifling widow’s weed,
And 'scape at once from Hope’s accursed bands;
To-day thou wilt not see him, nor to-morrow,
And the next day will be a day of sorrow.

XXX.
She weeps alone for pleasures not to be;
Sorely she wept until the night came on,
And then, instead of love, O misery!
She brooded o’er the luxury alone:
His image in the dusk she seem’d to see,
And to the silence made a gentle moan,
Spreading her perfect arms upon the air,
And on her couch low murmuring, “Where? O where?”

XXXI.
But Selfishness, Love’s cousin, held not long
Its fiery vigil in her single breast;
She fretted for the golden hour, and hung
Upon the time with feverish unrest—
Not long—for soon into her heart a throng
Of higher occupants, a richer zest,
Came tragic; passion not to be subdued,
And sorrow for her love in travels rude.

XXXII.
In the mid days of autumn, on their eves
The breath of Winter comes from far away,
And the sick west continually bereaves
Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay
Of death among the bushes and the leaves,
To make all bare before he dares to stray
From his north cavern. So sweet Isabel
By gradual decay from beauty fell,

XXXIII.
Because Lorenzo came not. Oftentimes
She ask’d her brothers, with an eye all pale,
Striving to be itself, what dungeon climes
Could keep him off so long? They spake a tale
Time after time, to quiet her. Their crimes
Came on them, like a smoke from Hinnom’s vale;
And every night in dreams they groan’d aloud,
To see their sister in her snowy shroud.

XXXIV.
And she had died in drowsy ignorance,
But for a thing more deadly dark than all;
It came like a fierce potion, drunk by chance,
Which saves a sick man from the feather’d pall
For some few gasping moments; like a lance,
Waking an Indian from his cloudy hall
With cruel pierce, and bringing him again
Sense of the gnawing fire at heart and brain.

XXXV.
It was a vision.—In the drowsy gloom,
The dull of midnight, at her couch’s foot
Lorenzo stood, and wept: the forest tomb
Had marr’d his glossy hair which once could shoot
Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom
Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute
From his lorn voice, and past his loamed ears
Had made a miry channel for his tears.

XXXVI.
Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake;
For there was striving, in its piteous tongue,
To speak as when on earth it was awake,
And Isabella on its music hung:
Languor there was in it, and tremulous shake,
As in a palsied Druid’s harp unstrung;
And through it moan’d a ghostly under-song,
Like hoarse night-gusts sepulchral briars among.

XXXVII.
Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright
With love, and kept all phantom fear aloof
From the poor girl by magic of their light,
The while it did unthread the horrid woof
Of the late darken’d time,—the murderous spite
Of pride and avarice,—the dark pine roof
In the forest,—and the sodden turfed dell,
Where, without any word, from stabs he fell.

XXXVIII.
Saying moreover, “Isabel, my sweet!
”Red whortle-berries droop above my head,
“And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet;
”Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed
“Their leaves and prickly nuts; a sheep-fold bleat
”Comes from beyond the river to my bed:
“Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom,
”And it shall comfort me within the tomb.

XXXIX.
“I am a shadow now, alas! alas!
”Upon the skirts of human-nature dwelling
“Alone: I chant alone the holy mass,
”While little sounds of life are round me knelling,
“And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass,
”And many a chapel bell the hour is telling,
“Paining me through: those sounds grow strange to me,
”And thou art distant in Humanity.

XL.
“I know what was, I feel full well what is,
”And I should rage, if spirits could go mad;
“Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,
”That paleness warms my grave, as though I had
“A Seraph chosen from the bright abyss
”To be my spouse: thy paleness makes me glad;
“Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel
”A greater love through all my essence steal."

XLI.
The Spirit mourn’d “Adieu!”—dissolv’d, and left
The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;
As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft,
Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,
And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil:
It made sad Isabella’s eyelids ache,
And in the dawn she started up awake;

XLII.
“Ha! ha!” said she, “I knew not this hard life,
”I thought the worst was simple misery;
“I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife
”Portion’d us—happy days, or else to die;
“But there is crime—a brother’s bloody knife!
”Sweet Spirit, thou hast school’d my infancy:
“I’ll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes,
”And greet thee morn and even in the skies."

XLIII.
When the full morning came, she had devised
How she might secret to the forest hie;
How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,
And sing to it one latest lullaby;
How her short absence might be unsurmised,
While she the inmost of the dream would try.
Resolv’d, she took with her an aged nurse,
And went into that dismal forest-hearse.

XLIV.
See, as they creep along the river side,
How she doth whisper to that aged Dame,
And, after looking round the champaign wide,
Shows her a knife.—"What feverous hectic flame
“Burns in thee, child?—What good can thee betide,
”That thou should’st smile again?"—The evening came,
And they had found Lorenzo’s earthy bed;
The flint was there, the berries at his head.

XLV.
Who hath not loiter’d in a green church-yard,
And let his spirit, like a demon-mole,
Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,
To see skull, coffin’d bones, and funeral stole;
Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr’d,
And filling it once more with human soul?
Ah! this is holiday to what was felt
When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.

XLVI.
She gaz’d into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
One glance did fully all its secrets tell;
Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know
Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well;
Upon the murderous spot she seem’d to grow,
Like to a native lily of the dell:
Then with her knife, all sudden, she began
To dig more fervently than misers can.

XLVII.
Soon she turn’d up a soiled glove, whereon
Her silk had play’d in purple phantasies,
She kiss’d it with a lip more chill than stone,
And put it in her bosom, where it dries
And freezes utterly unto the bone
Those dainties made to still an infant’s cries:
Then 'gan she work again; nor stay’d her care,
But to throw back at times her veiling hair.

XLVIII.
That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
Until her heart felt pity to the core
At sight of such a dismal labouring,
And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,
And put her lean hands to the horrid thing:
Three hours they labour’d at this travail sore;
At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
And Isabella did not stamp and rave.

XLIX.
Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance?
Why linger at the yawning tomb so long?
O for the gentleness of old Romance,
The simple plaining of a minstrel’s song!
Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,
For here, in truth, it doth not well belong
To speak:—O turn thee to the very tale,
And taste the music of that vision pale.

L.
With duller steel than the Persèan sword
They cut away no formless monster’s head,
But one, whose gentleness did well accord
With death, as life. The ancient harps have said,
Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord:
If Love impersonate was ever dead,
Pale Isabella kiss’d it, and low moan’d.
'Twas love; cold,—dead indeed, but not dethroned.

LI.
In anxious secrecy they took it home,
And then the prize was all for Isabel:
She calm’d its wild hair with a golden comb,
And all around each eye’s sepulchral cell
Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam
With tears, as chilly as a dripping well,
She drench’d away:—and still she comb’d, and kept
Sighing all day—and still she kiss’d, and wept.

LII.
Then in a silken scarf,—sweet with the dews
Of precious flowers pluck’d in Araby,
And divine liquids come with odorous ooze
Through the cold serpent pipe refreshfully,—
She wrapp’d it up; and for its tomb did choose
A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by,
And cover’d it with mould, and o’er it set
Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.

LIII.
And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
And moisten’d it with tears unto the core.

LIV.
And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
Of Basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew
Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,
From the fast mouldering head there shut from view:
So that the jewel, safely casketed,
Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.

LV.
O Melancholy, linger here awhile!
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us—O sigh!
Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile;
Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily,
And make a pale light in your cypress glooms,
Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.

LVI.
Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,
From the deep throat of sad Melpomene!
Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,
And touch the strings into a mystery;
Sound mournfully upon the winds and low;
For simple Isabel is soon to be
Among the dead: She withers, like a palm
Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.

LVII.
O leave the palm to wither by itself;
Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour!—
It may not be—those Baalites of pelf,
Her brethren, noted the continual shower
From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,
Among her kindred, wonder’d that such dower
Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside
By one mark’d out to be a Noble’s bride.

LVIII.
And, furthermore, her brethren wonder’d much
Why she sat drooping by the Basil green,
And why it flourish’d, as by magic touch;
Greatly they wonder’d what the thing might mean:
They could not surely give belief, that such
A very nothing would have power to wean
Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay,
And even remembrance of her love’s delay.

LIX.
Therefore they watch’d a time when they might sift
This hidden whim; and long they watch’d in vain;
For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,
And seldom felt she any hunger-pain;
And when she left, she hurried back, as swift
As bird on wing to breast its eggs again;
And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there
Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.

LX.
Yet they contriv’d to steal the Basil-pot,
And to examine it in secret place:
The thing was vile with green and livid spot,
And yet they knew it was Lorenzo’s face:
The guerdon of their murder they had got,
And so left Florence in a moment’s space,
Never to turn again.—Away they went,
With blood upon their heads, to banishment.

LXI.
O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
O Echo, Echo, on some other day,
From isles Lethean, sigh to us—O sigh!
Spirits of grief, sing not your “Well-a-way!”
For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die;
Will die a death too lone and incomplete,
Now they have ta’en away her Basil sweet.

LXII.
Piteous she look’d on dead and senseless things,
Asking for her lost Basil amorously:
And with melodious chuckle in the strings
Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry
After the Pilgrim in his wanderings,
To ask him where her Basil was; and why
'Twas hid from her: “For cruel 'tis,” said she,
“To steal my Basil-pot away from me.”

LXIII.
And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,
Imploring for her Basil to the last.
No heart was there in Florence but did mourn
In pity of her love, so overcast.
And a sad ditty of this story born
From mouth to mouth through all the country pass’d:
Still is the burthen sung—"O cruelty,
“To steal my Basil-pot away from me!”

BEFORE he went to feed with owls and bats
Nebuchadnezzar had an ugly dream,
Worse than an Hus’if’s when she thinks her cream
Made a Naumachia for mice and rats.
So scared, he sent for that 'Good King of Cats’
Young Daniel, who soon did pluck away the beam
From out his eye, and said he did not deem
The sceptre worth a straw his Cushions old door-mats.
A horrid nightmare similar somewhat
Of late has haunted a most motley crew,
Most loggerheads and Chapmen we are told
That any Daniel tho’ he be a sot
Can make the lying lips turn pale of hue
By belching out ‘ye are that head of Gold.’

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charactry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.