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By the chords you would awaken..
There he sate all heavily,
As he heard the night-wind sigh.
Was it the wind, through some hollow stone,
Sent that soft and tender moan ?
He lifted his head, and he looked on the sea,
But it was unrippled as glass may be ;
He look'd on the long grass-it waved not a blade;
How was that gentle sound conveyed ?
He look'd to the banners—each flag lay still,
So did the leaves on Cithæron's hill,
And he felt not a breath come over his cheek ;
What did that sudden sound bespeak ?
He turned to the left-is he sure of sight?
There sate a lady, youthful and bright.
He started up with more of fear
Than if an armed foe were near.
“ God of my fathers ! what is here ?
Who art thou, and wherefore sent
So near a hostile armament ?”
His trembling hands refused to sign
The cross he deem'd no more divine;
He had resumed it in that hour,
But conscience wrung away the power.
He gazed, he saw; he knew the face
Of beauty, and the form of grace;
It was Francesca by his side,
The maid who might have been his bride!
The rose was yet upon her cheek,
But mellowed with a tenderer streak:
Where was the play of her soft lips fled?
Gone was the smile that enliven'd their red.
The ocean's calm within their view,
Beside her eye had less of blue;
But like that cold wave it stood still,
And its glance, though clear, was chill.
Around her form a thin robe twining,
Nought concealed her bosom shining ;
Through the parting of her hair,
Floating darkly downward there,
Her rounded arm showed white and bare:
And ere yet she made reply,
Once she raised her hand on high ;
It was so wan, and transparent of hue,
You might have seen the moon shine through.
" I come from my rest to him I love best,
That I may be happy, and he may be blest.
I have passed the guards, the gate, the wall ;
Sought thee in safety through foes and all.
'Tis said the lion will turn and flee
From a maid in the pride of her purity;
And the power on high, that can shield the good
Thus from the tyrant of the wood,
Hath extended its mercy to guard me as well
From the hands of the leaguering infidel.
I come and if I come in vain,
Never, oh never, we meet again!
Thou hast done a fearful deed
In falling away from thy father's creed :
But dash that turban to earth, and sign
The sign of the cross, and for ever be mine ;
Wring the black drop from thy heart,
And to-morrow unites us no more to part.”
66 And where should our bridal couch be spread ?
In the midst of the dying and the dead ?
For to-morrow we give to the slaughter and flame
The sons and the shrines of the Christian name.
None save thou and thine, I've sworn,
Shall be left upon the morn:
But thee will I bear to a lovely spot,
Where our hands shall be joined and our sorrow forgot.
There thou yet shalt be my bride,
When once again I've quell'd the pride
Of Venice; and her hated race
Have felt the arm they would debase
Scourge, with a whip of scorpions, those
Whom vice and envy made my foes.”
Upon his hand she laid her own-
Light was the touch, but it thrill'd to the bone,
And shot a chillness to his heart,
Which fixed him beyond the power to start.
Though slight was the grasp so mortal cold,
He could not loose him from its hold;
But never did clasp of one so dear
Strike on the pulse with such feeling of fear,
As those thin fingers, long and white,
Froze through his blood by their touch that night.
The feverish glow of his brow was gone,
And his heart sank so still that it felt like stone,
As he looked on the face, and beheld its hue
So deeply changed from what he knew :
Fair but faint-without the ray
Of mind, that made each feature play
Like sparkling waves on a sunny day;
And her motionless lips lay still as death,
And her words came forth without her breath,
And there rose not a heave o'er her bosom's swell,
And there seemed not a pulse in her veins to dwell.
Though her eyes shone out, yet the lids were fix'd,
And the glance that it gave was wild and unmix'd
With aught of change, as the eyes may seem,
Of the restless who walk in a troubled dream;
Like the figures on arras, that gloomily glare,
Stirred by the breath of the wintry air,
So seen by the dying lamp's fitful light,
Lifeless, but life-like, and awful to sight;
As they seem, through the dimness, about to come down
From the shadowy wall where their images frown;
Fearfully flitting to and fro,
As the gusts on the tapestry come and go.
“ If not for love of me be given
Thus much, then, for the love of heaven,
Again I say—that turban tear
From off thy faithless brow, and swear
Thine injured country's sons to spare,
Or thou art lost; and never shalt see
Not earth—that 's past_but heaven or me.
If this thou dost accord, albeit
A heavy doom 'tis thine to meet,
That doom shall half absolve thy sin,
And mercy's gate may receive thee within :
But pause one moment more, and take
The curse of Him thou didst forsake;
And look once more to heaven, and see
Its love for ever shut from thee.
There is a light cloud by the moon-
'Tis passing, and will pass full soon-
If, by the time its vapoury sail
Hath ceased her shaded orb to veil,
Thy heart within thee is not changed,
Then God and man are both avenged;
Dark will thy doom be, darker still
Thine immortality of ill.”
Alp looked to heaven, and saw on high
The sign she spake of in the sky;
But his heart was swollen, and turned aside,
By deep interininable pride.
This first false passion of his breast
Roll'd like a torrent o'er the rest.
He sue for mercy! He dismayed
By wild words of a timid maid !
He, wrong'd by Venice, vow to save
Her sons, devoted to the grave !
No_though that cloud were thunder's worst,
And charged to crush him-let it burst.
He looked upon it earnestly,
Without an accent of reply ;
He watched it passing; it is flown :
Full on his eye the clear moon shone,
And thus he spake_“ Whate'er my fate;
I am no changeling—'tis too late:
The reed in storms may bow and quiver,
Then rise again; the tree must shiver.
What Venice made me, I must be,
Her foe in all, save love to thee:
But thou art safe: oh, fly with me !"
He turned, but she is gone!
Nothing is there but the column stone.
Hath she sunk in the earth, or melted in air ?
He saw not, he knew not; but nothing is there.
Or view the Lord of the unerring bow,
The God of life, and poesy, and light-
The Sun in human limbs array'd, and brow
All radiant from his triumph in the fight;
The shaft hath just been shot—the arrow bright
With an immortal's vengeance; in his eye
And nostril beautiful disdain, and might,
And majesty, flash their full lightnings by,
Developing in that one glance the Deity.