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Why were they proud ? Because fair orange-mounts
Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs ? Why were they proud ? Because red-lined 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 ?
In hungry pride and gainful cowardice,
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.
Fair Isabella in her downy nest ?
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.
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,
Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
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.
What love Lorenzo for their sister had,
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.
And many times they bit their lips alone,
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;
Into the sun-rise, o'er the balustrade
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.
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.
Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream Gurgles through straighten'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.
There in that forest did his great love cease;
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,
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.
Sorely she wept until the night came on,
She brooded o'er the luxury alone :
And to the silence made a gentle moan,
Its fiery vigil in her single breast;
Upon the time with feverish unrest -
Of higher occupants, a richer zest,
The breath of Winter comes from far away, And the sick west continually bereaves
Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay