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And soft adorings from their loves re- Buttressed from moonlight, stands he, ceive
and implores Upon the honeyed middle of the night, All saints to give him sight of Madeline, If ceremonies due they did aright:
But for one moment in the tedious hours, As, supperless to bed they must retire, That he might gaze and worship all unAnd couch supine their beauties, lily seen;
Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss-in Nor look behind, nor sideways, but sooth such things have been.
require Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that He ventures in: let no buzzed whisper they desire.
All eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords Full of this whim was thoughtful Made- Will storm his heart, Love's fev'rous line:
citadel: The music, yearning like a God in For him, those chambers held barpain,
85 She scarcely heard: her maiden eyes Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords, divine,
Whose very dogs would execrations howl Fixed on the floor, saw many a sweeping Against his lineage: not one breast train
affords Pass by-she heeded not at all: in vain Him any mercy, in that mansion foul, Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier, Save one old beldame, weak in body and And back retired; not cooled by high in soul.
61 But she saw not: her heart was other- Ah, happy chance! the aged creature where:
came, She sighed for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand,
To where he stood, hid from the torch's
flame, She danced along with vague, regardless Behind a broad hall-pillar, far beyond eyes,
The sound of merriment and chorus Anxious her lips, her breathing quick bland:
95 and short:
65 He startled her; but soon she knew his The hallowed hour was near at hand:
face, she sighs
And grasped his fingers in her palsied Amid the timbrels, and the thronged hand, resort
Saying, “Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee Of whisperers in anger, or in sport;
from this place; 'Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and they are all here to-night, the whole scorn,
bloodthirsty race! Hoodwinked with faery fancy; all amort,
70 “Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Save to St. Agnes and her lambs un- Hildebrand; shorn,
He had a fever late, and in the fit And all the bliss to be before to-morrow He cursèd thee and thine, both house morn.
Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not So, purposing each moment to retire, She lingered still. Meantime, across the More tame for his gray hairs—Alas me! moors,
Ait! Had come young Porphyro, with heart Flit like a ghost away.”—“Ah, Gossip on fire
105 For Madeline. Beside the portal doors, We're safe enough; here in this arm1 deadened.
of the year.
Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy, Even to Madeline's chamber, and there
hide Him in a closet, of such privacy 105 That he might see her beauty unespied,
And win perhaps that night a peerless She turned, and down the agèd gossip bride,
195 While legioned fairies paced the cover- To a safe level matting. Now prepare, let,
Young Porphyro, for gazing on that bed; And pale enchantment held her sleepy- She comes, she comes again, like ring-dove eyed.
frayed' and fled. Never on such a night have lovers met,
Out went the taper as she hurried in; Since Merlin paid his Demon all the mon- Its little smoke, in pallid moonshine, strous debt.
She closed the door, she panted, all akin “It shall be as thou wishest,” said the To spirits of the air, and visions wide: dame:
No uttered syllable, or, woe betide! "All cates and dainties shall be stored But to her heart, her heart was voluble, there
Paining with eloquence her balmy side; Quickly on this feast-night: by the As though a tongueless nightingale tambour frame
206 Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, spare,
in her dell. For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare
A casement high and triple-arched there On such a catering trust my dizzy head. was, Wait here, my child, with patience; All garlanded with carven imag’ries kneel in prayer
Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of The while. Ah! thou must needs the knot-grass, lady wed,
And diamonded with panes of quaint Or may I never leave my grave among
device, the dead.”
180 Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes,
As are the tiger-moth's deep-damasked So saying, she hobbled off with busy wings; fear.
And in the midst, 'mong thousand The lover's endless minutes slowly heraldries, passed;
And twilight saints, and dim The dame returned, and whispered in blazonings,
A shielded scutcheon blushed with blood To follow her; with agèd eyes aghast of queens and kings. From fright of dim espial. Safe at last,
185 Full on this casement shone the wintry Through many a dusky gallery, they moon, gain
And threw warm gules on Madeline's The maiden's chamber, silken, hushed, fair breast, and chaste;
As down she knelt for heaven's grace and Where Porphyro took covert, pleased boon; amain.
Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together His poor guide hurried back with agues in pressed, her brain.
And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
And on her hair a glory, like a saint: Her falt'ring hand upon the balustrade, She seemed a splendid angel, newly Old Angela was feeling for the stair, 191 dressed, When Madeline, St. Agnes' charmed Save wings, for heaven:-Porphyro grew maid,
faint: Rose, like a missioned spirit, unaware: She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from With silver taper's light, and pious mortal taint.
A table, and, half anguished, threw thereon
255 A cloth of woven crimson, gold, and
jet: O for some drowsy Morphean amulet! The boisterous, midnight, festive clar
ion, The kettle-drum, and far-heard clar
ionet, Affray his ears, though but in dying tone:
260 The hall door shuts again, and all the noise
Anon his heart revives: her vespers
done, Of all its wreathèd pearls her hair she
frees; Unclasps her warmèd jewels one by one; Loosens her fragrant bodice; by degrees Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees:
230 Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea
weed, Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and
sees, In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed, But dares not look behind, or all the
charm is filed. Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest,
235 In sort of wakeful swoon, perplexed
she lay, Until the poppied warmth of sleep
oppressed Her soothèd limbs, and soul fatigued
away; Flown, like a thought, until the mor
row-day; Blissfully havened both from joy and pain;
240 Clasped like a missal where swart
Paynims pray; Blinded alike from sunshine and from
rain, As though a rose should shut, and be a
bud again. Stol'n to this paradise, and so en
tranced, Porphyro gazed upon her empty dress, And listened to her breathing, if it chanced
246 To wake into a slumberous tenderness; Which when he heard, that minute did
he bless, And breathed himself: then from the
closet crept, Noiseless as fear in a wide wilderness, 250 And over the hushed carpet, silent,
stepped, And 'tween the curtains peeped, where,
lo!-how fast she slept. Then by the bedside, where the faded
moon Made a dim, silver twilight, soft he set
And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep, In blanchèd linen, smooth, and lav
endered, While he from forth the closet brought
a heap Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd;
265 With jellies soother than the creamy
curd, And lucent syrups, tinct with cinnamon; Manna and dates, in argosy transferred From Fez; and spicèd dainties, every
one, From silken Samarcand to cedared Lebanon.
These delicates he heaped with glowing
hand On golden dishes and in baskets bright Of wreathèd silver: sumptuous they
stand In the retired quiet of the night, Filling the chilly room with perfume light.
275 “And now, my love, my seraph fair,
awake! Thou art my heaven, and I thine
eremite: Open thine eyes, for meek St. Agnes?
sake, Or I shall drowse beside thee, so my soul
Thus whispering, his warm, unnerved arm
280 Sank in her pillow. Shaded was her
dream By the dusk curtains:—'twas a mid
night charm Impossible to melt as iced stream:
The lustrous salvers in the moonlight How changed thou art! how pallid, gleam;
chill, and drear! Broad golden fringe upon the carpet Give me that voice again, my Porphyro, lies:
285 Those looks immortal, those complainIt seemed he never, never could re
ings dear! deem
Oh leave me not in this eternal woe, From such a steadfast spell his lady's For if thou diest, my Love, I know not eyes;
where to go."
315 So mused awhile, entoiled in woofèd phantasies.
Beyond a mortal man impassioned far
At these voluptuous accents, he arose, Awakening up, he took her hollow lute, - Ethereal, flushed, and like a throbbing Tumultuous, and, in chords that ten- star derest be,
Seen 'mid the sapphire heaven's deep He played an ancient ditty, long since repose; mute,
Into her dream he melted, as the rose 320 In Provence called, “La belle dame sans Blendeth its odor with the violet,merci,"
Solution sweet: meantime the frostClose to her ear touching the melody;— wind blows Wherewith disturbed she uttered a soft Like Love's alarum, pattering the sharp moan:
sleet He ceased-she panted quick-and Against the window-panes; St. Agnes' ’ suddenly
moon hath set. Her blue affrayèd eyes wide open shone:
'Tis dark: quick pattereth the flawUpon his knees he sank, pale as smooth- blown sleet:
325 sculptured stone.
“This is no dream, my bride, my
Madeline!” Her eyes were open, but she still be- 'Tis dark: the icèd gusts still rave and held,
beat: Now wide awake, the vision of her “No dream, alas! alas! and woe is mine! sleep:
Porphyro will leave me here to fade and There was a painful change, that nigh pine. expelled
300 Cruel! what traitor could thee hither The blisses of her dream so pure and bring?
I curse not, for my heart is lost in thine, At which fair Madeline began to weep, Though thou forsakest a deceived And moan forth witless words with thing; — many a sigh;
A dove forlorn and lost with sick unWhile still her gaze on Porphyro would pruned wing."
keep; Who knelt, with joined hands and "My Madeline! sweet dreamer! lovely piteous eye,
bride! Fearing to move or speak, she looked so Say, may I be for aye thy vassal blest? dreamingly.
Thy beauty's shield, heart-shaped and vermeil dyed?
336 “Ah, Porphyro!” said she, “but even Ah, silver shrine, here will I take my rest
After so many hours of toil and quest, Thy voice was at sweet tremble in minę A famished pilgrim,-saved by miracle. ear,
Though I have found, I will not rob thy Made tunable with every sweetest nest
Saving of thy sweet self; if thou think'st And those sad eyes were spiritual and well clear:
To trust, fair Madeline, to no rude infidel.