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Oh! was there ever tale of human love Which was not also tale of human tears? Died not sweet Desdemona? sorrowed not Fair, patient Imogen? and she whose name Lives among lovers, Sappho silver-voiced. Was not the wailing of her passionate lyre Ended for ever in the dull, deaf sea? Must it be thus? oh! must the cup that holds The sweetest vintage of the vine of life Taste bitter at the dregs? Is there no story, No legend, no love-passage, which shall bend Even as the bow that God hath bent in heaven O'er the sad waste of mortal histories Promising respite to the rain of tears? Meseems I do remember one! it told Of lovers led by angel hands together, Who met most strangely, and who loved most strongly To the last kiss of life:-I heard it often Down at Caserta, by the seven waters; Fioretta sang the story to her lute At the Ave-Mary. Oh! I would I had The merry music of her easy tongue, And the quick flash of her Italian eye, So should ye listen to the very last. She said-I think it was at set of sun- Down the green hill where the Velino rushes, And through the valley where he rests, and then On to the village came a way-farer Of noble bearing: young and fair he was With smoothest face and forehead; whereupon Time had not written wrinkles: at his heels The scabbard of his sword kept even time, Merrily clinking on the mountain stone With every stride-oh! but he had an eye To make a Lady look once and again Where if she looked she could not choose but love; The village girls dancing about the well Stayed the quick music of the mandoline Even at the quickest, as he passed them by; Whereat with smile, and ready compliment, And jewelled bonnet doffed, and brown curls bowed, He questioned of the leagues that lay between him And the 'Tre Mauri'-'Not a league, fair Sir, 'But you shall find the Castle and the Court 'Full to the roof, and it were very pity 'To dull such doublet with the mountain-mist 'And rust your new sword ere the sun hath seen it.' '-Nay, I must on!'-'Well, there's the haunted chamber; 'If you can look a ghost into the face 'As you can look a girl, I nothing question 'There's sleeping-room; so farewell, Signor mine.' And so with laughing lip and curled moustache Montorio left them laughing, and at night Beat with his dagger-hilt upon a door, Which opened up into the spacious court Of what was now a hostel, but had once Been Albertino's palace. Little recked he Though there were dances on the garden grass, And rustling satins, and brocades of gold In every alley; and the glint of gems, And quiet float of feathers in the hall; Only he eased him of his belt and sword, And after ortolans and Alban wine Followed the torches of the seneschal Along the rushes to an ancient room Where after many drowsy beads he slept Dreamless and still. Above him in the turret There sat two sisters beautiful-but one Most beautiful: even as the evening star Sits in her place among the silver worlds Most silvery. The Lady Violetta On wrist and arm of rounded ivory Resting her brow, read from the painted page The legend of the Milanese Manzoni Until the night was old: close at her side Sat Beatricè at the broider frame, Drawing the stained silks slow and slower still, For that her eyes were heavy: so at last, Bidding her sister seek her in the chamber, Her quiet feet left Violetta reading, With bright eyes wearied, but with heart unfilled. How long the story held her, that I know not; But long enough it was to let the sand Slide from the thrice-turned glass, and the light flicker As though it strove to live and look upon her; So that she started, and with opened lips, As when a bud opens to be a rose, Breathed from the dying lamp its little life, And stripping off the flowers from her forehead, Let the great waves of gold go to the ground, And walked in the white moonlight to her bed. And now she sleepeth, beautiful and calm, With those long glossy tresses for a night-robe, And her blue eyelids down upon her eyes; Ha! methought Beatricè's hair was black! Whose are yon sleeper's clustering curls of brown? Brown!-she has missed the chamber, and is laid By young Montorio, most unwittingly Wandering hither slumbrous and unlighted: Look, they are sleeping side by side; their hearts Beating one measure, and their warm breath meeting, And his bright locks and her long tresses tangled, Whose eyes have never met by daylight. Stay! Stir not! and speak not! oh, how shall it end? They sleep! the spangled night is melting off, And still they sleep: the holy moon looks in, In at the painted window-panes, and flings Ruby, blue, purple, emerald, amethyst, Crystal and orange colours on their limbs; And round her face a glory of white light, As one who sins not: on the tapestries Gold lights are flashing like the wings of angels, Bringing these two hearts to be single-hearted. They sleep! and it is morning! her white hand Falls light as snow on his, and sends a dream, A quick strange dream into his heart, whose joy Goes through the spirit to the sense, and lifts The curtain of his eye;-what doth he gaze on!- Is the dream vanished, but the dream's dear glory Left him for comfort? Ah! that hasty cry Hath snapped the spell! she starts,-and she is gone,- Rose-colour from the forehead to the foot.- He thinks it is a spirit, and will kneel;- But kneeling, spies a bracelet: pearl and gold Warm from the wearer, where her foot was last; So hath he kissed it lovingly, and laid it Close at his heart, and when the house was up Asked of the busy Hostess earnestly:- 'Who holds the upper chamber of the turret?'- 'The lady Violetta and her sister, 'Last night, fair Sir; but when the sun was up 'They rose, and parted from us, Venice-ward.' He wrote the name upon his heart, and wandered Away into the world to search for her.- Twice a year ended:-at Perugia There was a solemn mass at Whitsuntide, The chaunt of priests, and song of choristers Rose with the ringing of the loaded censers, And the low breathing of a people's prayers, So that the sound went through the fluted pillars, Down the long nave, out by the portal-arch, Into the square, and smote upon the ear Of one who walked disconsolate; he turned, Following as it were an angel's word, And bent his proud knee on the marble, praying; And as he prayed the weight went from his heart, And the dull longing and the baffled search Of twice twelve moons faded before the song Of her who knelt beside him, for she sang 'The Psalm of ended trials;' presently The veil was raised, and it was-Violetta, Once more Montorio was by her side! Oh! shall I tell ye how he wooed and won her, Or when he won her, how he stamped the kiss, The long-delayed and life-expected kiss Upon her rose-leaf lips, and took her wrist And clasped the bracelet on, and whispered low With a light laugh that none might understand, 'Sweet Violetta! hadst thou not lost this, 'And thy dear self beside, I had not won 'A noble, beautiful, and gentle wife.'
Edwin Arnold's other poems:
Количество обращений к стихотворению: 1488
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