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By length I mean duration; theirs endured
And if they had, they could not have secured
As if their souls and lips each other beckon'd,
They were alone, but not alone as they
Who shut in chambers think it loneliness;
The twilight glow, which momently grew less,
ALAS! THE LOVE OF WOMEN!
(CANTO II, cxcix-cciv)
ALAS! the love of women! it is known
And if 'tis lost, life hath no more to bring
They fear'd no eyes nor ears on that lone beach,
They felt no terrors from the night; they were All in all to each other; though their speech
Was broken words, they thought a language there,And all the burning tongues the passions teach Found in one sigh the best interpreter Of nature's oracle-first love,-that all Which Eve has left her daughters since her fall.
And their revenge is as the tiger's spring, Deadly, and quick, and crushing; yet, as real Torture is theirs,-what they inflict they feel.
They are right; for man, to man so oft unjust,
Taught to conceal, their bursting hearts despond
Buys them in marriage-and what rests beyond ? A thankless husband, next a faithless lover, Then dressing, nursing, praying, and all's over.
Some take a lover, some take drams or prayers,
Some mind their household, others dissipation, Some run away, and but exchange their cares, Losing the advantage of a virtuous station; Few changes e'er can better their affairs,
Theirs being an unnatural situation,
Haidée was Nature's bride, and knew not this:
Of his gazelle-eyed daughters; she was one
Who was her chosen: what was said or done Elsewhere was nothing. She had nought to fear, Hope, care, nor love beyond,-her heart beat here.
And oh that quickening of the heart, that beat!
That Wisdom, ever on the watch to rob
Fine truths; even Conscience, too, has a tough job To make us understand each good old maxim, So good-I wonder Castlereagh don't tax 'em.
And now 'twas done on the lone shore were plighted Their hearts; the stars, their nuptial torches, shed Beauty upon the beautiful they lighted:
Ocean their witness, and the cave their bed,
By their own feelings hallow'd and united,
MARRIAGE AND THE MUSE
(CANTO III, viii—xi)
THERE's doubtless something in domestic doings
There's nothing wrong in a connubial kiss :
All tragedies are finish'd by a death,
All comedies are ended by a marriage; The future states of both are left to faith,
For authors fear description might disparage The worlds to come of both, or fall beneath,
The only two that in my recollection
Have sung of heaven and hell, or marriage, are Dante and Milton, and of both the affection
And then both worlds would punish their miscarriage; So leaving each their priest and prayer-book ready, They say no more of Death or of the Lady.
Was hapless in their nuptials, for some bar Of fault or temper ruin'd the connexion
(Such things, in fact, it don't ask much to mar); But Dante's Beatrice and Milton's Eve Were not drawn from their spouses, you conceive.
Some persons say that Dante meant theology
Unless indeed it was from his own knowledge he
(CANTO III, Xxvii—xli)
He saw his white walls shining in the sun,
His garden trees all shadowy and green; He heard his rivulet's light bubbling run,
The distant dog-bark; and perceived between The umbrage of the wood so cool and dun,
The moving figures, and the sparkling sheen Of arms (in the East all arm)—and various dyes Of colour'd garbs, as bright as butterflies.
And as the spot where they appear he nears,
Surprised at these unwonted signs of idling, He hears-alas! no music of the spheres,
But an unhallow'd, earthly sound of fiddling !
The cause being past his guessing or unriddling;
'Midst other indications of festivity, Seeing a troop of his domestics dancing
Like dervises, who turn as on a pivot, he Perceived it was the Pyrrhic dance so martial, To which the Levantines are very partial.
And still more nearly to the place advancing,
And further on a group of Grecian girls,
The first and tallest her white kerchief waving, Were strung together like a row of pearls,
Link'd hand in hand, and dancing: each too having
Down her white neck long floating auburn curls—
And here, assembled cross-legg'd round their trays,
And flasks of Samian and of Chian wine,
Above them their dessert grew on its vine ;The orange and pomegranate nodding o'er, Dropp'd in their laps, scarce pluck'd, their mellow store.
A band of children, round a snow-white ram,
There wreathe his venerable horns with flowers; While peaceful as if still an unwean'd lamb,
The patriarch of the flock all gently cowers
Or eats from out the palm, or playful lowers
Their classical profiles, and glittering dresses,
Their large black eyes, and soft seraphic cheeks, Crimson as cleft pomegranates, their long tresses.
The gesture which enchants, the eye that speaks,
Made quite a picture of these little Greeks;
Afar, a dwarf buffoon stood telling tales
To a sedate grey circle of old smokers, Of secret treasures found in hidden vales, Of wonderful replies from Arab jokers, Of charms to make good gold and cure bad ails, Of rocks bewitch'd that open to the knockers, Of magic ladies who, by one sole act, Transform'd their lords to beasts (but that's a fact).