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“ I love my Walter profoundly,--you, Maude, though you
faltered a week, For the sake of ... what was it ? an eyebrow ? or, less
still, a mole on a cheek ?
" And since, when all's said, you're too noble to stoop to
the frivolous cant About crimes irresistible, virtues that swindle, betray and
“I determined to prove to yourself that, whate'er you
might dream or avow By illusion, you wanted precisely no more of me than
you have now.
“ There ! look me full in the face !-in the face. Under
stand, if you can, That the eyes of such women as I am, are clean as the
palm of a man.
“ Drop his hand, you insult him. Avoid us for fear we
should cost you a scarYou take us for harlots, I tell you, and not for the women
“ You wronged me : but then I considered ... there's
Walter! And so at the end, I vowed that he should not be mulcted, by me, in the
hand of a friend.
“ Have I hurt you indeed? We are quits then. Nay,
friend of my Walter, be mine! Come, Dora, my darling, my angel, and help me to ask BIANCA AMONG THE NIGHTINGALES.
him to dine."
THE cypress stood up like a church
That night we felt our love would hold,
And wash the whole world clean as gold ;
Broad slopes until the hills grew strong :
Throbbed each to either, flame and song.
Upon the angle of its shade
The cypress stood, self-balanced high ;
up, half down, as double made,
Such leaps of blood, so blindly driven,
Most passionate earth or intense heaven.
We paled with love, we shook with love,
We kissed so close we could not vow ;
God's Ever guarantees this Now.”
Drove straight and full their long clear call,
And love was awful in it all.
O cold white moonlight of the north,
Refresh these pulses, quench this hell !
O coverture of death drawn forth
Across this garden-chamber . . . well! But what have nightingales to do
In gloomy England, called the free .. (Yes, free to die in! ...) when we two
Are sundered, singing still to me? And still they sing, the nightingales.
I think I hear him, how he cried
My own soul's life” between their notes. Each man has but one soul supplied,
And that's immortal. Though his throat 's On fire with passion now, to her
He can't say what to me he said ! And yet he moves her, they aver.
The nightingales sing through my head, The nightingales, the nightingales.
He says to her what moves her most.
He would not name his soul within Her hearing,-rather pays her cost
With praises to her lips and chin. Man has but one soul, 't is ordained,
And each soul but one love, I add ; Yet souls are damned and love's profaned.
These nightingales will sing me mad! The nightingales, the nightingales.
I marvel how the birds can sing.
There's little difference, in their view,
As vital flames into the blue,
Like saturated sponges here
Is he too in this land, 't is clear.
My native Florence ! dear, foregone!
I see across the Alpine ridge How the last feast-day of St. John
Shot rockets from Carraia bridge. The luminous city, tall with fire,
Trod deep down in that river of ours, While many a boat with lamp and choir
Skimmed birdlike over glittering towers. I will not hear these nightingales.
I seem to float, we seem to float
Down Arno's stream in festive guise ; A boat strikes Alame into our boat
And that lady seems to rise As then she rose. The shock had flashed
A vision on us! What a head, What leaping eyeballs I-beauty dashed
To splendour by a sudden dread. And still they sing, the nightingales.
As for me,
Too bold to sin, too weak to die;
Such women are so.
That moment, loving perfectly.
Gold ringlets . . rarer in the south
To sweetness by her English mouth. And still they sing, the nightingales.
She had not reached him at my heart
With her fine tongue, as snakes indeed Kill Alies ; nor had I, for my part,
Yearned after, in my desperate need,
And followed him as he did her
To coasts left bitter by the tide, Whose very nightingales, elsewhere
Delighting, torture and deride! For still they sing, the nightingales.
A worthless woman ! mere cold clay
As all false things are ! but so fair,
Who gaze upon her unaware.
To have her looks! She lied and stole,
The rank saliva of her soul.
I would not for her white and pink,
Though such he likes—her grace of limb, Though such he has praised-nor yet, I think,
For life itself, though spent with him, Commit such sacrilege, affront
God's nature which is love, intrude 'Twixt two affianced souls, and hunt
Like spiders, in the altar's wood. I cannot bear these nightingales.
If she chose sin, some gentler guise
She might have sinned in, so it seems : She might have pricked out both my eyes,
And I still seen him in my dreams!
Nor left me angry afterward :
His breath upon me, were not hard. (Our Lady hush these nightingales !)