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And down came blazing rafters, strown
All blacken'd there and reeking lay.
The clouds beneath him seem'd so dun;
SCROPE BERDMORE DAVIES, ESQ.
THE FOLLOWING POEM
BY ONE WHO HAS LONG ADMIRED HIS TALENTS AND VALUED HIS FRIENDSHIP.
January 22, 1816.
The following poem is grounded on a circumstance mentioned in Gibbon's Antiquities of the House 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 opinion: 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 obser
vation, 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 the last act of the justice of a parent. ·GIBBON'S Miscellaneous Works, vol. iii. p. 470.
Ir is the hour when from the boughs The nightingale's high note is heard; It is the hour when lovers' vows
Seem sweet in every whisper'd word; And gentle winds, and waters near, Make music to the lonely ear. Each flower the dews have lightly wet, And in the sky the stars are met, And on the wave is deeper blue, And on the leaf a browner hue, And in the heaven that clear obscure, So softly dark and darkly pure, Which follows the decline of day, As twilight melts beneath the moon away.
But it is not to list to the waterfall
And it is not to gaze on the heavenly light
'Tis not for the sake of its full-blown flower; She listens, but not for the nightingale, Though 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; 'Tis past her lover 's at her feet.
Of aught around, above, beneath; As if all else had pass'd away,
They only for each other breathe;
And what unto them is the world beside,
With many a lingering look they leave
The lip that there would cling for ever, While gleams on Parisina's face
The Heaven she fears will not forgive
As if each calmly conscious star
He clasp'd her sleeping to his heart,
And Hugo is gone to his lonely bed,
Sounds fearful as the breaking billow, Which rolls the plank upon the shore,
And dashes on the pointed rock The wretch who sinks to rise no more,
So came upon his soul the shock. And whose that name ? 't is Hugo's, his In sooth he had not deem'd of this! 'Tis Hugo's, he, the child of one He loved his own all-evil son The offspring of his wayward youth, When he betray'd Bianca's truth, The maid whose folly could confide In him who made her not his bride.
He pluck'd his poniard in its sheath,
He could not slay a thing so fair –
Had frozen her sense to sleep again;
While in his thought her days are number'd.
And he, the chosen one, whose lance
Had yet been couch'd before her glance,
Which glance so heavily, and fill,
And he for her had also wept,
But for the eyes that on him gazed: His sorrow, if he felt it, slept;
Stern and erect his brow was raised. Whate'er the grief his soul avow'd, He would not shrink before the crowd. But yet he dared not look on her: Remembrance of the hours that were, His guilt, his love, his present state, His father's wrath, all good men's hate, His earthly, his eternal fateAnd hers, oh, hers! — he dared not throw One look upon that deathlike brow, Else had his rising heart betray'd Remorse for all the wreck it made.
And Azo spake: 'But yesterday
That dream this morning pass'd away;
there breathes not
Who would not do as I have done.
Hugo, the priest awaits on thee,
There is no spot where thou and I
Go! woman of the wanton breast; Not I, but thou his blood dost shed: Go! if that sight thou canst outlive, And joy thee in the life I give.'
the doom's pre
And here stern Azo hid his face,
For on his brow the swelling vein Throbb'd as if back upon his brain The hot blood ebb'd and flow'd again; And therefore bow'd he for a space,
A gift for which I thank thee not;
Thou know'st for me was destined long.
And with thy very crime, my birth,
Yet, were a few short summers mine, My name should more than Este's shine With honours all my own.
I had a sword and have a breast
Of all these sovereign sires of thine.
From thee in all their vigour came
But round their orbs of deepest blue
So large and slowly gather'd slid From the long dark fringe of that fair lid, It was a thing to see, not hear! And those who saw, it did surprise, Such drops could fall from human eyes. To speak she thought — the imperfect note Was choked within her swelling throat, Yet seem'd in that low hollow groan Her whole heart gushing in the tone. It ceased again she thought to speak, Then burst her voice in one long shriek, And to the earth she fell like stone Or statue from its base o'erthrown, More like a thing that ne'er had life, A monument of Azo's wife, Than her, that living guilty thing, Whose every passion was a sting, Which urged to guilt, but could not bear That guilt's detection and despair. But yet she lived, and all too soon Recover'd from that death-like swoon, But scarce to reason every sense Had been o'erstrung by pangs intense; And each frail fibre of her brain (As bowstrings, when relax'd by rain, The erring arrow launch aside) Sent forth her thoughts all wild and wide The past a blank, the future black, With glimpses of a dreary track, Like lightning on the desert path When midnight storms are mustering
To her all-jarr'd and wandering mind;
She fear'd-she felt that something ill
It is a lovely hour as yet
He bends to hear his accents bless
The parting prayers are said and over Of that false son and daring lover!