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And down came blazing rafters, strown
Around, and many a falling stone,
Deeply dinted in the clay,

All blacken'd there and reeking lay.
All the living things that heard
That deadly earth-shock disappear'd:
The wild birds flew; the wild dogs fled,
And howling left the unburied dead;
The camels from their keepers broke;
The distant steer forsook the yoke —
The nearer steed plunged o'er the plain,
And burst his girth, and tore his rein;
The bull-frog's note, from out the marsh,
Deep-mouth'd arose, and doubly harsh;
The wolves yell'd on the cavern'd hill
Where echo roll'd in thunder still;
The jackal's troop, in gather'd cry,
Bay'd from afar complainingly,
With a mix'd and mournful sound,
Like crying babe and beaten hound:
With sudden wing and ruffled breast,
The eagle left his rocky nest,
And mounted nearer to the sun,

The clouds beneath him seem'd so dun;
Their smoke assail'd his startled beak,
And made him higher soar and shriek
Thus was Corinth lost and won!

PARISINA

ΤΟ

1060

1070

SCROPE BERDMORE DAVIES, ESQ.

THE FOLLOWING POEM
IS INSCRIBED

BY ONE WHO HAS LONG ADMIRED HIS TALENTS AND VALUED HIS FRIENDSHIP.

January 22, 1816.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

I

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.

II

But it is not to list to the waterfall
That Parisina leaves her hall,

And it is not to gaze on the heavenly light
That the lady walks in the shadow of night.
And if she sits in Este's bower,

'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,

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And her blush returns, and her bosom heaves: A moment more, and they shall meet; 'Tis past her lover 's at her feet.

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Of aught around, above, beneath; As if all else had pass'd away,

They only for each other breathe;

III

And what unto them is the world beside,
With all its change of time and tide ? 30
Its living things, its earth and sky,
Are nothing to their mind and eye.
And heedless as the dead are they

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IV

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With many a lingering look they leave
The spot of guilty gladness past;
And though they hope and vow, they grieve,
As if that parting were the last.
The frequent sigh, the long embrace,

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.

VI

He clasp'd her sleeping to his heart,
And listen'd to each broken word:
He hears - Why doth Prince Azo start,
As if the Archangel's voice he heard?

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V

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.
But fever'd in her sleep she seems,
And red her cheek with troubled dreams,
And mutters she in her unrest
A name she dare not breathe by day,
And clasps her Lord unto the breast
Which pants for one away.
And he to that embrace awakes,
And, happy in the thought, mistakes
That dreaming sigh and warm caress
For such as he was wont to bless;
And could in very fondness weep
O'er her who loves him even in sleep.

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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.

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VII

He pluck'd his poniard in its sheath,
But sheathed it ere the point was bare;
Howe'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,

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Had frozen her sense to sleep again;
And o'er his brow the burning lamp
Gleam'd on the dew-drops big and damp.
She spake no more, but still she slum-
ber'd,

While in his thought her days are number'd.

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And he, the chosen one, whose lance

Had yet been couch'd before her glance,
Who- were his arm a moment free
Had died or gain'd her liberty;
The minion of his father's bride, -
He, too, is fetter'd by her side;
Nor sees her swoln and full eye swim
Less for her own despair than him.
Those lids, o'er which the violet vein
Wandering leaves a tender stain,
Shining through the smoothest white
That e'er did softest kiss invite,
Now seem'd with hot and livid glow
To press, not shade, the orbs below;

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Which glance so heavily, and fill,
As tear on tear grows gathering still.

180

XI

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.

XII

And Azo spake: 'But yesterday
I gloried in a wife and son;

That dream this morning pass'd away;
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Ere day declines, I shall have none.
My life must linger on alone;
Well, let that pass,

there breathes not

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one

Who would not do as I have done.
Those ties are broken
not by me;
Let that too pass; -
pared!

-

Hugo, the priest awaits on thee,
And then thy crime's reward!
Away! address thy prayers to Heaven,
Before its evening stars are met-
Learn if thou there canst be forgiven;
Its mercy may absolve thee yet.
But here, upon the earth beneath,

There is no spot where thou and I
Together, for an hour, could breathe.
Farewell! I will not see thee die
But thou, frail thing! shalt view his head-
Away! I cannot speak the rest.

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.'

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the doom's pre

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220

XIII

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,

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A gift for which I thank thee not;
Nor are my mother's wrongs forgot,
Her slighted love and ruin'd name,
Her offspring's heritage of shame;
But she is in the grave, where he,
Her son, thy rival, soon shall be.
Her broken heart, my sever'd head,
Shall witness for thee from the dead
How trusty and how tender were
Thy youthful love, paternal care.
"T is true that I have done thee wrong,
But wrong for wrong: this deem'd thy
bride,
The other victim of thy pride,

Thou know'st for me was destined long.
Thou saw'st, and covetedst her charms;

And with thy very crime, my birth,
Thou tauntedst me - as little worth;
A match ignoble for her arms,
Because, forsooth, I could not claim
The lawful heirship of thy name,
Nor sit on Este's lineal throne:

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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
That should have won as haught a crest
As ever waved along the line

Of all these sovereign sires of thine.
Not always knightly spurs are worn
The brightest by the better born;
And mine have lanced my courser's flank
Before proud chiefs of princely rank,
When charging to the cheering cry
Of" Este and of Victory!"
I will not plead the cause of crime,
Nor sue thee to redeem from time
A few brief hours or days that must
At length roll o'er my reckless dust; -

270

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From thee in all their vigour came
My arm of strength, my soul of flame;
Thou didst not give me life alone,
But all that made me more thine own.
See what thy guilty love hath done!
Repaid thee with too like a son!
I am no bastard in my soul,
For that, like thine, abhorr'd control:
And for my breath, that hasty boon
Thou gav'st and wilt resume so soon,
I valued it no more than thou,
When rose thy casque above thy brow,
And we, all side by side, have striven,
And o'er the dead our coursers driven.
The past is nothing and at last
The future can but be the past;
Yet would I that I then had died:

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But round their orbs of deepest blue
The circling white dilated grew;
And there with glassy gaze she stood
As ice were in her curdled blood.
But every now and then a tear

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

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To her all-jarr'd and wandering mind;
A chaos of wild hopes and fears.
And now in laughter, now in tears,
But madly still in each extreme,
She strove with that convulsive dream;
For so it seem'd on her to break-
Oh! vainly must she strive to wake!

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360

wrath.

-

She fear'd-she felt that something ill
Lay on her soul, so deep and chill;
That there was sin and shame she knew; 370
That some one was to die- - but who?
She had forgotten: - did she breathe?
Could this be still the earth beneath,
The sky above, and men around;
Or were they fiends who now so frown'd
On one, before whose eyes each eye
Till then had smiled in sympathy?
All was confused and undefined

380

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XVI

It is a lovely hour as yet
Before the summer sun shall set,
Which rose upon that heavy day
And mock'd it with his steadiest ray;
And his evening beams are shed
Full on Hugo's fated head,
As his last confession pouring
To the monk, his doom deploring
In penitential holiness,

He bends to hear his accents bless
With absolution such as may
Wipe our mortal stains away.
That high sun on his head did glisten
As he there did bow and listen,
And the rings of chestnut hair
Curl'd half down his neck so bare;
But brighter still the beam was thrown
Upon the axe which near him shone
With a clear and ghastly glitter
Oh! that parting hour was bitter!
Even the stern stood chill'd with awe:
Dark the crime and just the law,
Yet they shudder'd as they saw.

XVII

The parting prayers are said and over Of that false son and daring lover!

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