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Until her heart felt pity to the core
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.
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:-0 turn thee to the very tale, And taste the music of that vision pale.
They cut away no formless monster's head,
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.
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.
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 she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze; She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she saw not: bụt in peace Hung over her sweet Basil evermore, And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.
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 leaflets spread.
O Melancholy, linger here awhile !
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly! O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us— 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.
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;
For simple Isabel is soon to be
Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour!It may not be—those Baâlites 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:
As bird on wing to breast its eggs again :
And to examine it in secret place:
And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face:
And so left Florence in a moment's space,
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
O Echo, Echo, on some other day,
From isles Lethean, sigh to us - sigh!
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.”
Imploring for her Basil to the last.
In pity of her love, so overcast. And a sad ditty of this story borne 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!”