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'Tis over; and her lovely cheek is now
On her hard pillow-there, alas, to be
Nightly, through many and many a dreary hour,
Wan, often wet with tears, and (ere at length
Her place is empty, and another comes)
In anguish, in the ghastliness of death;
Hers never more to leave those mournful walls,
Even on her bier.
'Tis over; and the rite,
With all its pomp and harmony, is now
Floating before her. She arose at home,
To be the show, the idol of the day;
Her vesture gorgeous, and her starry head-
No rocket, bursting in the midnight-sky,
So dazzling. When to-morrow she awakes,
She will awake as though she still was there,
Still in her father's house; and lo, a cell
Narrow and dark, nought through the gloom discernd,
Nought save the crucitix, the rosary,
And the grey habit lying by to shroud
Her beauty and grace.
When on her knees she fell,
Entering the solemn place of consecration,
And from the latticed gallery came a chant
Of psalms, most saint-like, most angelical,
Verse after verse sung out, how holily!
The strain returning, and still, still returning,
Methought it acted like a spell upon her,
And she was casting off her earthly dross;
Yet was it sad as sweet, and ere it closed
Came like a dirge. When her fair head was shorn,
And the long tresses in her hands were laid,
That she might fling them from her, saying, “ Thus,
Thus I renounce the world and worldly things!"
When, as she stood, her bridal ornaments,
Were, one by one, removed, even to the last,
That she might say, flinging them from her, “ Thus,
Thus I renounce the world !” When all was changed,
And, as a nun, in homeliest guise she knelt,
Veil'd in her veil, crown'd with her silk r crown,
Her crown of lilies as the spouse of Christ,
Well might her strength forsake her, and her knees
Fail in that hour! Well might the holy man,
He, at whose feet she knelt, give as by stealth
('Twas in her utmost need; nor, while she lives,
Will it go from her, fleeting as it was)
That faint but fatherly smile, that smile of love
Like a dream the whole is fied;
And they, that came in idleness to gaze
Upon the victim dress'd for sacrifice,
Are mingling in the world; thou in thy cell
Forgot, Teresa. Yet, among them all,
None were so form’d to love and to be loved,
None to delight, adorn; and on thee now
A curtain, blacker than the night, is dropp'd
For ever! In thy gentle bosom sleep
Feelings, affections, destined now to die,
To wither like the blossom in the bud,
Those of a wife, a mother; leaving there
A cheerless void, a chill as of the grave,
A languor and a lethargy of soul,
Death-like, and gathering more and more, till Death
Comes to release thee. Ah, what now to thee,
What now to thee the treasure of thy youth?
But thou canst not yet reflect
Calmly; so many things, strange and perverse,
That meet, recoil, and go but to return,
The monstrous birth of one eventful day,
Troubling thy spirit—from the first, at dawn,
The rich arraying for the nuptial feast,
To the black pall, the requiem.
All in turn
Revisit thee, and round thy lowly bed
Hover, uncallid. The young and innocent heart,
How is it beating! Has it no regrets?
Discoverest thou no weakness lurking there?
But thine exhausted frame has sunk to rest.
Peace to thy slumbers !
The sunbeams streak the azure skies,
And line with light the mountain's brow:
With hounds and horns the hunters rise,
And chase the roebuck through the snow.
From rock to rock, with giant-bound,
High on their iron poles they pass;
Mute, lest the air, convulsed by sound,
Rend from above a frozen mass.
The goats wind slow their wonted way
Up craggy steeps and ridges rude;
Mark'd by the wild wolf for his prey,
From desert cave or hanging wood.
And while the torrent thunders loud,
And as the echoing cliffs reply,
The huts peep o'er the morning cloud,
Perch’d, like an eagle's nest, on high.
Say, what remains when Hope is fled?"
She answer'd, “ Endless weeping !"
For in the herdsman's eye she read
Who in his shroud lay sleeping.
At Embsay rung the matin-bell,
The stag was roused on Barden-fell;
The mingled sounds were swelling, dying,
And down the Wharfe a hern was flying;
When near the cabin in the wood,
In tartan clad and forest green,
With hound in leash and hawk in hood
The Boy of Egremond was seen.
Blithe was his
song, a song
But where the rock is rent in two,
And the river rushes through,
His voice was heard no more!
'Twas but a step! the gulf he pass’d;
But that step-it was his last !
As through the mist he wing'd his way
(A cloud that hovers night and day),
The hound hung back, and back he drew
The master and his merlin too.
That narrow place of noise and strife
Received their little all of life!
There now the matin-bell is rung;
The “ Miserere!” duly sung;
And holy men in cowl and hood
Are wandering up and down the wood.
But what avail they? Ruthless lord !
Thou didst not shudder when the sword
Here on the young its fury spent,
The helpless and the innocent.
Sit now and answer groan for groan,
The child before thee is thy own.
And she who wildly wanders there,
The mother in her long despair,
Shall oft remind thee, waking, sleeping,
Of those who by the Wharfe were weeping;
Of those who would not be consoled
When red with blood the river rollid.
ITALY IN THE MIDDLE AGES.
Yet, when Slavery came,
Worse follow'd. Genius, valour, left the land,
Indignant-all that had from age to age
Adorn'd, ennobled; and headlong they fell,
Tyrant and slave. For deeds of violence,
Done in broad day and more than half redeem'd
By many a great and generous sacrifice
Of self to others, came the unpledged bowl,
The stab of the stiletto. Gliding by
Unnoticed, in slouch'd hat and muffling cloak,
That just discover'd, Caravaggio-like,
A swarthy cheek, black brow, and eye of flame,
The Bravo took his stand, and o'er the shoulder
Plunged to the hilt, or from beneath the ribs
Slanting (a surer path, as some averr’d)
Struck upward-then slunk off; or, if pursued,
Made for the sanctuary, and there along
The glimmering aisle, among the worshippers
Wander'd with restless step and jealous look,
Dropping thick gore.
Misnamed to lull suspicion,
In every palace was The Laboratory,
Where he within brew'd poisons swift and slow,
That scatter'd terror till all things seem'd poisonous,
And brave men trembled if a hand held out
A nosegay or a letter; while the great
Drank from the Venice-glass, that broke, that shiver'd,
If aught malignant, aught of thine, was there,
Cruel Tophana; and pawn'd provinces
For the miraculous gem that to the wearer
Gave signs infallible of coming ill-
That clouded, though the vehicle of death
Were an invisible perfume.
The guest to whom at sleeping-time 'twas said,
But in an under voice (a lady's page
Speaks in no louder), “Pass not on. That door
Leads to another which awaits your coming,
One in the floor—now left, alas, unbolted,
No eye detects it-lying under-foot,
Just as you enter, at the threshold stone;
Ready to fall and plunge you into darkness,
Darkness and long oblivion !
Where lurk'd not danger? through the fairy-land,