Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

a

A mockery of itself — when suddenly
Antonio stood before her, pale as she.
With agony, with sorrow, and with pride,
He lifted his wan eyes upon the bride,
And said “Is this thy faith?” and then as one
Whose sleeping face is stricken by the sun
With light like a harsh voice, which bids him rise
And look upon his day of life with eyes
Which weep in vain that they can dream no more,
Ginevra saw her lover, and forbore
To shriek or faint, and checked the stifling blood
Rushing upon her heart, and unsubdued
Said — “Friend, if earthly violence or ill,
Suspicion, doubt, or the tyrannic will
Of parents, chance, or custom, time or change,
Or circumstance, or terror, or revenge,
Or wildered looks, or words, or evil speech,
With all their stings and venom can impeach
Our love, we love not:— if the grave which hides
The victim from the tyrant, and divides
The cheek that whitens from the eyes that dart
Imperious inquisition to the heart
That is another's, could dissever ours,
We love not." “ What! do not the silent hours
Beckon thee to Gherardi's bridal bed?
Is not that ring” a pledge, he would have said,

SO soon

Of broken vows, but she with patient look
The golden circle from her finger took,
And said “Accept this token of my faith,
The pledge of vows to be absolved by death;
And I am dead or shall be soon

- my

knell Will mix it's music with that merry bell, Does it not sound as if they sweetly said

We toll a corpse out of the marriage bed ?' The flowers upon my bridal chamber strewn Will serve unfaded for my bierThat even the dying violet will not die Before Ginevra." The strong fantasy Had made her accents weaker and more weak, And quenched the crimson life upon her cheek, And glazed her eyes, and spread an atmosphere Round her, which chilled the burning noon with fear, Making her but an image of the thought, Which, like a prophet or a shadow, brought News of the terrors of the coming time. Like an accuser branded with the crime He would have cast on a beloved friend, Whose dying eyes reproach not to the end The pale betrayer - he then with vain repentance Would share, he cannot now avert, the sentence Antonio stood and would have spoken, when The compound voice of women and of men

Was heard approaching; he retired, while she
Was led amid the admiring company
Back to the palace, — and her maidens soon
Changed her attire for the afternoon,
And left her at her own request to keep
An hour of quiet and rest : - like one asleep
With open eyes and folded hands she lay,
Pale in the light of the declining day.

a

Meanwhile the day sinks fast, the sun is set, And in the lighted hall the guests are met; The beautiful looked lovelier in the light Of love, and admiration, and delight Reflected from a thousand hearts and eyes Kindling a momentary Paradise. This crowd is safer than the silent wood, Where love's own doubts disturb the solitude ; On frozen hearts the fiery rain of wine Falls, and the dew of music more divine Tempers the deep emotions of the time To spirits cradled in a sunny clime : How many meet, who never yet have met, To part too soon, but never to forget. How many saw the beauty, power and wit Of looks and words which ne'er inchanted yet; But life's familiar veil was now withdrawn, As the world leaps before an earthquake's dawn,

And unprophetic of the coming hours,
The matin winds from the expanded flowers,
Scatter their hoarded incense, and awaken
The earth, until the dewy sleep is shaken
From every living heart which it possesses,
Through seas and winds, cities and wildernesses,
As if the future and the past were all
Treasured i’ the instant ; so Gherardi's hall
Laughed in the mirth of its lord's festival,
Till some one asked “Where is the Bride ?” And

then
A bride's-maid went, - and ere she came again
A silence fell upon the guests a pause
Of expectation, as when beauty awes
All hearts with its approach, though unbeheld ;
Then wonder, and then fear that wonder quelled ; -
For whispers past from mouth to ear which drew
The colour from the hearer's cheeks, and flew
Louder and swifter round the company;
And then Gherardi entered with an eye
Of ostentatious trouble, and a crowd
Surrounded him, and some were weeping loud.

[ocr errors]

They found Ginevra dead ! if it be death, To lie without motion, or pulse, or breath, With waxen cheeks, and limbs cold, stiff, and white, And open eyes, whose fixed and glassy light

Mocked at the speculation they had owned.
If it be death, when there is felt around
A smell of clay, a pale and icy glare,
And silence, and a sense that lifts the hair
From the scalp to the ancles, as it were
Corruption from the spirit passing forth,
And giving all it shrouded to the earth,
And leaving as swift lightning in its flight
Ashes, and smoke, and darkness : in our night
Of thought we know thus much of death, — no more
Than the unborn dream of our life before
Their barks are wrecked on its inhospitable shore.
The marriage feast and its solemnity
Was turned to funeral pomp
With heavy hearts and looks, broke up ; nor they
Who loved the dead went weeping on their way
Alone, but sorrow mixed with sad surprise
Loosened the springs of pity in all eyes,
On which that form, whose fate they weep in vain,
Will never, thought they, kindle smiles again.
The lamps which half extinguished in their haste
Gleamed few and faint o'er the abandoned feast,
Showed as it were within the vaulted room
A cloud of sorrow hanging, as if gloom
Had past out of men's minds into the air.
Some few yet stood around Gherardi there,

- the company

« AnteriorContinuar »