« ÎnapoiContinuați »
She locked her lips; she left me where I stood:
“Glory to God,” she sang, and past afar, Thridding the somber boskage of the wood, duude triche
Toward the morning star.
Losing her carol, I stood pensively,
As one that from a casement leans his head,
And the old year is dead.
“Alas! alas!” a low voice, full of care,
Murmured beside me: “Turn and look on me;
If what I was I be.1
“Would I had been some maiden coarse and poor!
O me, that I should ever see the light!
Do hunt me, day and night.”
She ceased in tears, fallen from hope and trust;
To whom the Egyptian: “O, you tamely died!
The dagger thro' her side.” 2
With that sharp sound the white dawn's creeping beams,
Stol'n to my brain, dissolved the mystery
Ruled in the eastern sky.
1 “Fair Rosamond,” the mistress of King Henry II of England, was killed, according to legend, by the King's wife, Eleanor.
> Fulvia was the wife of Mark Antony, and was therefore hated by the speaker-Cleopatra-as a rival.
Morn broadened on the borders of the dark
Ere I saw her who clasped in her last trance Her murdered father's head, or Joan of Arc,
A light of ancient France;
Or her who knew that Love can vanquish Death,
Who kneeling, with one arm about her king, Drew forth the poison with her balmy breath,
Sweet as new buds in spring.2
memory labors longer from the deep Gold-mines of thought to lift the hidden ore That glimpses, moving up, than I from sleep
To gather and tell o’er
Each little sound and sight. With what dull pain
Compassed, how eagerly I sought to strike Into that wondrous track of dreams again!
But no two dreams are like.
As when a soul laments, which hath been blest,
Desiring what is mingled with past years, In yearnings that can never be expressed
By signs or groans or tears;
1 Sir Thomas More was beheaded on the morning of July 6, 1535. According to one of his sixteenth-century biographers, his head, which was put on a pole and exhibited on London Bridge, was privately purchased by his favorite daughter, Margaret, within a month of its exposure, and was preserved by her in spices until her death in 1544. (Dictionary of National Biography, article on Sir Thomas More.) Margaret “was buried at St. Dunstan's, Canterbury, but in the year 1715 the vault was opened, and it is stated that she was found in her coffin, clasping the small leaden box which inclosed her father's head (from the author's note]."
2 Edward I of England, while on a crusade, was wounded by an assassin's dagger, which , was believed to have been poisoned. According to legend, his beautiful queen, Eleanor of Castile, sucked the poison from the wound and thus saved his life.
Because all words, tho' culled with choicest art,
Failing to give the bitter of the sweet, Wither beneath the palate, and the heart Faints, faded by its heat.
PAOLO AND FRANCESCA1
ANTE, guided by the shade of Virgil, is jour
neying downward through the nine circles of Hell, and has arrived at the second, to which those are doomed who have sinned through sensuality.
From the first circle thus I made descent
Down to the second, whose contracted rim
Girdles so much more woe it goads lament.2 There Minos stands and snarls with clamor grim,
Examines the transgressions at the gate,
Judges, and sends as he encircles him. Yea, when the spirit born to evil fate
Before him comes confessing all, that fell
Distinguisher among the reprobate,3 Seeing what place belongs to it in Hell,
Entwines him with his tail such times as show
How many circles down he bids it dwell.
All turn by turn to sentence for their sin:
1 The fifth canto of the Inferno. From Anderson's Divine Comedy copyright, 1921, by World Book Company, publishers, Yonkers-on-Hudson New York.
2 The pain is so great that the sufferers cry out. 3 The "fell distinguisher" is Minos.
"O thou that comest to the woeful inn!”
As soon as he beheld me, Minos cried,
Leaving the act of so great discipline, 1 “Beware to enter, beware in whom confide,
Be not deceived by wideness of the door.”
"Why dost thou also clamor?” said my Guide, “Bar not his going fated from before:
Thus it is willed up yonder where is might
To bring the will to pass, and ask no more.”And now the notes of woe begin to smite
The hollow of mine ear; now am I come
Where I am pierced by wailings infinite. I came into a place of all light dumb,
Which bellows like a sea where thunders roll
And counter-winds contend for masterdom. The infernal hurricane beyond control
Sweeps on and on with ravishment malign
Whirling and buffeting each hapless soul. When by the headlong tempest hurled supine,
Here are the shrieks, the moaning, the laments,
Here they blaspheme the puissance divine. I learned that to such sorry recompense
Are damned the sinners of the carnal sting,
Who make the reason thrall to appetence. And as great flocks of starlings on the wing
In winter time together trooping go,
So did that blast the wicked spirits fling Now here, now there, now up, and now below:
Comfort of hope to them is never known
Either of rest or even less bitter woe. And as the pilgrim cranes from zone to zone Draw out their
file and chant the dirge, : Turning aside from his duties as judge.
So saw I, and I heard them making moan, Shadows who on that storm-blast whirl and surge:
Whence I: "Who, Master, are those tempest-flung,
Round whom the black air whistles like a scourge?”— “The first,” said he, “that multitude among,
Of whom thou seekest knowledge more precise,
Was empress over many a tribe and tongue. Abandoned so was she to wanton vice
That, her own stigma so to wipe away,
Lust was made licit by her law device.1 That is Semiramis,—as annals say,
Consort of Ninus and successor too;
Where governs now the Soldan, she held sway. The next one, lo! herself for love she slew
And to Sichæus' urn her faith dismissed; 2
Next wanton Cleopatra comes to view; Now lookest thou on Helen, whose acquist Brought evil
A thousand shades, and named me every name,
Who in our life gave Love the victory. When I had heard my Teacher many a dame
Of eld enumerate, and many a knight,
Pity assailed me and almost overcame. “Poet,” began I, “fain would I invite
Speech with those twain who go a single way
1 She made sensual indulgence lawful.
2 Dido of Carthage, who, as represented in the Æneid, killed herself for love of Æneas, had
eternal fidelity to her dead husband, Sichæus.
3 The acquiring or abduction of whom.
4 Achilles did not long survive Hector. He became enamored of a daughter of Priam, and on going to the temple of Apollo to be married was treacherously slain by Paris.