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Of death among the bushes and the leaves,
To make all bare before he dares to stray
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 tine, 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.
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.
The dull of midnight, at her couch's foot
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.
Red whortle-berries droop above my head,
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.
“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.”
The atom darkness in a slow turmoil ;
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;
“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. Resolved, she took with her an aged nurse, And went into that dismal forest-hearse.
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 shouldst smile again ?”—The evening
came, And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed ; The flint was there, the berries at his head.
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.
She gazed 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;
Like to a native lily of the dell:
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.