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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.
Ir is the hour when from the boughs
Seem sweet in every whisper'd word,
And on the leaf a browner hue,
Which follows the decline of day,
As twilight melts beneath the moon away.1
But it is not to list to the waterfall
That Parisina leaves her hall,
And it is not to gaze on the heavenly light
And if she sits in Este's bower,
'T is not for the sake of its full-blown flower : She listens but not for the nightingaleThough her ear expects as soft a tale.
There glides a step through the foliage thick,
And her cheek grows pale-and her heart beats quick; There whispers a voice through the rustling leaves.
And her blush returns, and her bosom heaves:
A moment more—and they shall meet—
'T is past her lover 's at her feet.
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.
many a lingering look they leave
And though they hope and vow, they grieve
The Heaven she fears will not forgive her,
And Hugo is gone to his lonely bed,
A husband's trusting heart beside.
And he to that embrace awakes,
He clasp'd her sleeping to his heart,
The wretch who sinks to rise no more;
He pluck'd his poniard in its sheath,
He could not slay a thing so fair-
Which, had she roused her from her trance,
Gleam'd on the dew-drops big and damp.
She spake no more-but still she slumber'dWhile, in his thought, her days are number'd.
And with the morn he sought, and found
To save themselves, and would transfer
He was not one who brook'd delay:
Upon his throne of judgment sate;
Both young and one how passing fair!
Oh, Christ! that thus a son should stand
Yet thus must Hugo meet his sire,
And still, and pale, and silently
Did Parisina wait her doom;
How changed since last her speaking eye
Glanced gladness round the glittering room! Where high-born men were proud to wait
Where Beauty watch'd to imitate
Her gentle voice, her lovely mien-