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“What right have you, madam, gazing in your palace
mirror daily, Getting so by heart your beauty which all others must
adore, While you draw the golden ringlets down your fingers,
to vow gaily You will wed no man that's only good to God, and no
“Why, what right have you, made fair by that same God,
the sweetest woman Of all women He has fashioned, with your lovely spirit
face Which would seem too near to vanish if its smile were
not so human, And your voice of holy sweetness, turning common words
“What right can you have, God's other works to scorn,
despise, revile them In the gross, as mere men, broadly—not as noble men,
forsooth,As mere arias of the outer world, forbidden to
ssoil them In the hope of hving, dying, near that sweetness of your
“ Have you any answer, madam? If my spirit were less
earthly, If its instrument were gifted with a better silver string, I would kneel down where I stand, and say-Behold me!
I am worthy Of thy loving, for I love thee. I am worthy as a king.
“As it is—your ermined pride, I swear, shall feel this
stain upon her, That I, poor, weak, tost with passion, scorned by me and
you again, Love you, madam, dare to love you, to my grief and your
dishonour, To my endless desolation, and your impotent disdain !”
More mad words like these-mere madness! friend, I
need not write them fuller, For I hear my hot soul dropping on the lines in showers
of tears. Oh, a woman ! friend, a woman ! why, a beast had scarce
been duller Than roar bestial loud complaints against the shining of
But at last there came a pause.
I stood all vibrating with thunder Which my soul had used. The silence drew her face up
like a call. Could you guess what word she uttered ? She looked up,
as if in wonder, With tears beaded on her lashes, and said—“ Bertram !"
it was all.
If she had cursed me, and she might have, or if even
with queenly bearing, Which at need is used by women, she had risen up and
said, 'Sir, you are my guest, and therefore I have given you a
full hearing : Now, beseech you, choose a name exacting somewhat
less, instead !” —
I had borne it : but that“ Bertram "—why, it lies there on
A mere word, without her accent, and you cannot judge
the weight Of the calm which crushed my passion : I seemed
drowning in a vapour ; And her gentleness destroyed me whom her scorn made
So, struck backward and exhausted by that inward flow
of passion Which had rushed on, sparing nothing, into forms of
abstract truth, By a logic agonising through unseemly demonstration, And by youth's own anguish turning grimly grey the hairs
By the sense accursed and instant, that if even I spake
wisely I spake basely-using truth, if what I spake indeed was
true, To avenge wrong on a woman-her, who sat there
weighing nicely A poor manhood's worth, found guilty of such deeds as I
could do !
By such wrong and woe exhausted—what I suffered and
occasioned,As a wild horse through the city runs with lightning in
And then dashing at a church's cold and passive wall,
impassioned, Strikes the death into his burning brain, and blindly
drops and dies-
So I fell, struck down before her-do you blame me,
friend, for weakness ? 'T was my strength of passion slew me !—fell before her
like a stone ; Fast the dreadful world rolled from me on its roaring
wheels of blackness : When the light came I was lying in this chamber and
Oh, of course she charged her lacqueys to bear out the
sickly burden, And to cast it from her scornful sight, but not beyond the
gate ; She is too kind to be cruel, and too haughty not to
pardon Such a man as I; 't were something to be level to her hate.
But for me—you are conscious why, my friend, I write
this letter, How my life is read all backward, and the charm of life
undone. I shall leave her house at dawn ; I would to-night, if I
were betterAnd I charge my soul to hold my body strengthened for
When the sun has dyed the oriel, I depart, with no last
gazes, No weak moanings (one word only, left in writing for
her hands), Out of reach of all derision, and some unavailing praises, To make front against this anguish in the far and foreign Blame me not. I would not squander life in grief, I am
abstemious. I but nurse my spirit's falcon that its wing may soar again. There's no room for tears of weakness in the blind eyes
of a Phemius : Into work the poet kneads them, and he does not die
Bertram finished the last pages, while along the silence
Still in hot and heavy splashes fell the tears on every leaf. Having ended he leans backward in his chair, with lips
that quiver From the deep unspoken, ay, and deep unwritten
thoughts of grief.
Soh ! how still the lady standeth! 'T is a dream-a
dream of mercies ! 'Twixt the purple lattice-curtains how she standeth still
and pale ! 'T is a vision, sure, of mercies, sent to soften his self
curses, Sent to sweep a patient quiet o'er the tossing of his wail.
“Eyes,” he said, “now throbbing through me! are ye
eyes that did undo me ? Shining eyes, like antique jewels set in Parian statue
stone ! Underneath that calm white forehead are ye ever burning
torrid O’er the desolate sand-desert of my heart and life un
done ? "