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The lustrous salvers in the moonlight gleam;
Broad golden fringe upon the carpet lies;
It seemed he never, never could redeem
From such a steadfast spell his lady's eyes;
So mused awhile, entoiled in woofèd fantasies.
Awakening up, he took her hollow lute,—
Tumultuous, and, in chords that tenderest be,
He played an ancient ditty, long since mute,
In Provence called "La Belle Dame sans Merci :”
Close to her ear touching the melody;
Wherewith disturbed, she uttered a soft moan:
He ceased-she panted quick-and suddenly
Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone:
Upon his knees he sank, pale as smooth sculptured stone.
Her eyes were open, but she still beheld,
Now wide awake, the vision of her sleep;
There was a painful change that nigh expelled
The blisses of her dream, so pure and deep,
At which fair Madeline began to weep,
And moan forth witless words with many a sigh ;
While still her gaze on Porphyro would keep;
Who knelt, with joinèd hands and piteous eye,
Fearing to move or speak, she looked so dreamingly.
"Ah, Porphyro!” said she, “but even now
Thy voice was a sweet tremble in mine ear,
Made tunable with every sweetest vow;
And those sad eyes were spiritual and clear;
How changed thou art! how pallid, chill, and drear !—
Give me that voice again, my Porphyro,
Those looks immortal, those complainings dear;
Oh! leave me not in this eternal woe,-
For if thou diest, my love, I know not where to go."
Beyond a mortal man impassioned far
At these voluptuous accents he arose,
Ethereal, flushed, and like a throbbing star
Seen 'mid the sapphire heaven's deep repose;
Into her dream he melted, as the rose
Blendeth its odours with the violet,—
Solution sweet. Meantime the frost wind blows
Like love's alarum, pattering the sharp sleet
Against the window-panes: St. Agnes' moon hath set.
'Tis dark; quick pattereth the flaw-blown sleet: "This is no dream; my bride, my Madeline!" 'Tis dark the icèd gusts still rave and beat. "No dream, alas! alas! and woe is mine; Porphyro will leave me here to rave and pine; Cruel! what traitor could thee hither bring? I curse not, for my heart is lost in thine, Though thou forsakest a deceivèd thing;A dove, forlorn and lost, with sick, unprunèd wing!"
"My Madeline, sweet dreamer! lovely bride!
I be for aye thy vassal blest?
Thy beauty's shield, heart-shaped, and vermeil-dyed?
Ah silver shrine, here will I take my rest,
After so many hours of toil and quest—
A famished pilgrim, saved by miracle:
Though I have found, I will not rob thy nest,
Saving of thy sweet self; if thou think'st well
To trust, fair Madeline, to no rude infidel.
"Hark! 'tis an elfin storm from faery-land,
Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed.
Arise, arise!-the morning is at hand;
The bloated wassailers will never heed;
Let us away, my love, with happy speed;
There are no ears to hear, nor eyes to see,—
Drowned all in Rhenish and the sleepy mead:
Awake! arise! my love, and fearless be;
For o'er the southern moors I have a home for thee."
She hurried at his words, beset with fears,
For there were sleeping dragons all around
At glaring watch, perhaps with ready spears.
Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found.-
In all the house was heard no human sound.
A chain-drooped lamp was flickering by each door;
The arras, rife with horseman, hawk, and hound,
Fluttered in the besieging winds' uproar;.
And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.
They glide like phantoms into the wide hall;
Like phantoms to the inner porch they glide,
Where lay the porter, in uneasy sprawl,
With a huge empty flagon by his side;
The watchful blood-hound rose, and shook his hide,
But his sagacious eye an inmate owns:
By one, and one, the bolts full easy slide: The chains lie silent on the foot-worn stones: The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans.
And they are gone; ay, ages long ago,
These lovers fled away into the storm.
That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe,
And all his warrior guests, with shade and form
Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm,
Were long benightmared. Angela the old
Died palsy-twitched, with meagre face deform:
The beadsman, after thousand aves told,
For aye unsought-for slept among his ashes cold.
BARDS OF PASSION.
BARDS of Passion and of Mirth,
Ye have left your souls on earth!
Have ye souls in heaven too,
Double-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-seer
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 slumbered, 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!