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The following poem is grounded on a circumstance mentioned in Gibbon's “ Antiquities of the House of Brunswick."-I am aware that in modern times the delicacy or fastidiousness of the reader may
deem such subjects unfit for the purposes of poetry. The Greek dramatists, and some of the best of our old English writers, were of a different opi-nion: as Alfieri and Schiller have also been, more recently, upon the Continent. The following extract will explain the facts on which the story is founded. The name of Azo is substituted for Nicholas, as more metrical.
“Under the reign of Nicholas III. Ferrara was polluted with a domestic tragedy. By the testimony of an attendant, and his own observation, the Marquis of Este discovered the incestuous loves of his wife Parisina, and Hugo his bastard son, a beautiful and valiant youth. They were beheaded in the castle by the sentence of a father and husband, who published his shame, and survived their execution. He was unfortunate, if they were guilty; if they were innocent, he was still more unfortunate ; nor is there any possible situation in which I can sincerely approve that last act of the justice of a parent.”—GIBBON'S Miscellaneous Works, vol. iii. p. 470, new edition.
It is the hour when from the boughs
The nightingale's high note is heard :
Seem sweet in every whisper'd word,
But it is not to list to the waterfall
And what unto them is the world beside,
Its living things—its earth and sky
Of aught around, above, beneath;
They only for each other breathe : Their
very sighs are full of joy So deep, that, did it not decay, That happy madness would destroy
The hearts which feel its fiery sway. Of guilt, of peril, do they deem, In that tumultuous tender dream? Who, that have felt that passion's power, Or paused or fear'd in such an hour, Or thought how brief such moments last ? But yet—they are already past ! Alas! we must awake before We know such vision comes no more.
With many a lingering look they leave
The spot of guilty gladness past ;
As if that parting were the last.
The lip that there would cling for ever, While gleams on Parisina's face
The Heaven she fears will not forgive her, As if each calmly conscious star Beheld her frailty from afar— The frequent sigh, the long embrace, Yet binds them to their trysting-place. But it must come, and they must part In fearful heaviness of heart, With all the deep and shuddering chill Which follows fast the deeds of ill.
And Hugo is gone to his lonely bed,
To covet there another's bride : But she must lay her conscious head
A husband's trusting heart beside.
And mutters she in her unrest
And clasps her lord unto the breast
And he to that embrace awakes,
He clasp'd her sleeping to his heart,
And listen'd to each broken word :
As if the Archangel's voice he heard ?
And dashes on the pointed rock
So came upon his soul the shock.
his own all-evil son-
He pluck'd his poniard in its sheath,
But sheathed it ere the point was bareHowe'er unworthy now to breathe,
He could not slay a thing so fair
At least, not smiling-sleeping there : Nay, more—he did not wake her then,
But gazed upon her with a glance
Which, had she roused her from her trance,
She spake no more—but still she slumberd While, in his thought, her days are number'd.
And with the morn he sought, and found
To save themselves, and would transfer
The guilt—the shame—the doom to her :
He was not one who brook'd delay :
Within the chamber of his state,
Upon his throne of judgment sate ;
Before a father's face!
The tale of his disgrace !
And still, and pale, and silently
Did Parisina wait her doom ;
Glanced gladness round the glittering room! Where high-born men were proud to waitWhere Beauty watch'd to imitate
Her gentle voice, her lovely mienAnd gather from her air and gait
The graces of its queen: Then, had her
in sorrow wept,