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Alone, without a peer:
Star'd, where upon their heads the cornice resa And I have told thee all thou mayest hear.
With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wie a
At length burst in the argent revelry, In search of pleasure throughout every clime:
With plume, tiara, and all rich array, Alas, 'tis not for me!
Numerous as shadows haunting fairily Bewitch'd I sure must be,
The brain,new stuff’d, in youth,with triumphs zu To lose in grieving all my maiden prime.
Of old romance. These let us wish away,
And turn, sole-thoughted, to one lady there, “ Come then, Sorrow!
Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry daj, Sweetest Sorrow!
On love, and wing'd St. Agnes' saintly care, Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast: As she had heard old dames full many times declar..
I thought to leave thee
They told her how, upon St. Agnes' Eve, But now of all the world I love thee best.
Young virgins might have visions of delight
And soft adorings from their loves receive “ There is not one,
Upon the honey'd middle of the night, No, no, not one
If ceremonies due they did aright; But thou to comfort a poor lonely maid;
As, supperless to bed they must retire, Thou art her mother,
And couch supine their beauties, lily white; And her brother,
Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require Her playmate, and her wooer in the shade." Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.
Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline: THE EVE OF ST. AGNES.
The music, yearning like a god in pain, St. Agnes' Eve-Ah, bitter chill it was!
She scarcely heard: her maiden eyes divine, The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold; [grass,
Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen
Pass by-she heeded not at all: in vain And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier, Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
And back retir’d; not cool'd by high disdain,
But she saw not: her heart was otherwhere: His rosary, and while his frosted breath, Like pious incense from a censer old,
She sigh'd for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest of the Seem'd taking fight for heaven, without a death,
year. Past the sweet virgin's picture while his prayer he
She danc'd along with vague, regardless eyes: saith.
Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short
The hallow'd hour was near at hand: she sighs His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man;
Amid the timbrels, and the throng'd resort Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees,
Of whisperers in anger, or in sport; And back returneth, meagre, barefoot, wan, Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and scorn, Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees:
Hoodwink'd with faery fancy; all amort
, The sculptur'd dead, on each side, seem to freeze,
Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn, Emprison’d in black, purgatorial rails:
And all the bliss to be before to-morrow morn. Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat'ries, He passeth by; and his weak spirit fails
So, purposing each moment to retire, To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails. She linger'd still. Meantime, across the moors, Northward he turneth through a little door,
Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire And scarce three steps, ere music's golden tongue
For Madeline. Beside the portal doors, Flatter'd to tears this aged man and poor;
Buttress’d from moonlight, stands he, and implores But no-already had his deathbell rung;
All saints to give him sight of Madeline, The joys of all his life were said and sung:
But for one moment in the tedious hours, His was harsh penance on St. Agnes' Eve:
That he might gaze and worship all unseen; Another way he went, and soon among
Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss-in sooth such Rough ashes sat he for his soul's reprieve,
things have been. And all night kept awake, for sinners' sake to grieve.
He ventures in: let no buzz'd whisper tell:
All eyes be muffed, or a hundred swords That ancient Beadsman heard the prelude soft;
Will storm his heart, love's fev'rous citadel: And so it chanc'd, for many a door was wide,
For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes, From hurry to and fro. Soon, up aloft,
Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords, The silver, snarling trumpets 'gan to chide: Whose very dogs would execrations howl The level chambers, ready with their pride,
Against his lineage: not one breast affords
Him any mercy, in that mansion foul,
Ah, happy chance! the aged creature came,
When my weak voice shall whisper its last prayer, Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand,
If one of her soft ringlets I displace,
Good Angela, believe me by these tears;
Or I will, even in a moment's space, He startled her; but soon she knew his face, Awake with horrid shout my foemen's ears, And grasp'd his fingers in her palsied hand, And beard them, though they be more fang'd than Saying, Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this wolves and bears." place;
[race! They are all here to-night, the whole blood-thirsty
“ Ah! why wilt thou affright a feeble soul ?
A poor, weak, palsy-stricken, churchyard thing, Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Hilder- Whose passing-bell may ere the midnight toll; He had a fever late, and in the fit [brand; Whose prayers for thee, each morn and evening, He cursed thee and thine, both house and land: Were never miss'd." - Thus plaining, doth she Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a whit
A gentler speech from burning Porphyro; (bring More tame for his gray hairs—Alas me! flit! So woeful, and of such deep sorrowing, Flit like a ghost away.”—“Ah, Gossip dear, That Angela gives promise she will do We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit, Whatever he shall wish, betide her weal or woe. And tell me how”-“Good saints! not here, not here;
Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy, Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy
Even to Madeline's chamber, and there hide
Him in a closet, of such privacy He follow'd through a lowly arched way,
That he might see her beauty unespied, Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume,
And win perhaps that night a peerless bride, And as she mutter'd “ Well-a-well-a-day!"
While legion’d sairies pac'd the coverlet, He found him in a little moonlight room,
And pale enchantment held her sleepy-eyed. Pale, lattic'd, chill, and silent as a tomb.
Never on such a night have lovers met, “ Now tell me where is Madeline," said he,
Since Merlin paid his Demon all the monstrous debt. “O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom Which none but secret sisterhood may see,
“ It shall be as thou wishest,” said the dame: When they St. Agnes' wool are weaving piously."
“ All cates and dainties shall be stored there
Quickly on this feast-night: by the tambour frame “ St. Agnes! ah! it is St. Agnes' Eve
Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to spare, Yet men will murder upon holy days:
For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare Thou must hold water in a witch's sieve,
On such a catering trust my dizzy head. And be liege-lord of all the Elves and Fays,
Wait here, my child,with patience; kneelin prayer To venture so: it fills me with amaze
The while: ah! thou must needs the lady wed To see thee, Porphyro!-St. Agnes' Eve!
Or may I never leave my grave among the dead." God's help! my lady fair the conjuror plays This very night: good angels her deceive!
So saying, she hobbled off with busy fear. But let me laugh awhile, I've mickle time to grieve." The lover's endless minutes slowly pass'd ; Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon,
The dame return'd, and whisper'd in his ear While Porphyro upon her face doth look,
To follow her; with aged eyes aghast Like puzzled urchin on an aged crone
From fright of dim espial. Safe at last, Who keepeth clos'd a wondrous riddle-book,
Through many a dusky gallery, they gain As spectacled she sits in chimney nook.
The maiden's chamber, silken, hush'd, and chaste; But soon his eyes grew brilliant, when she told
Where Porphyro took covert, pleas'd amain. His lady's purpose ; and he scarce could brook
His poor guide hurried back with agues in her brain. Tears, at the thought of those enchantments cold, Her falt'ring hand upon the balustrade, Avd Madeline asleep in lap of legends old.
Old Angela was feeling for the stair, Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
When Madeline, St. Agnes' charmed maid, Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart
Rose, like a mission'd spirit, unaware: Made purple riot: then doth he propose
With silver taper's light, and pious care, A stratagem, that makes the beldame start:
She turn'd, and down the aged gossip led “ A cruel man and impious thou art:
To a safe level matting. Now prepare, Sweet lady, let her pray, and sleep, and dream
Young Porphyro, for gazing on that bed; Alone with her good angels, far apart
She comes, she comes again, like ring-dove fray'd From wicked men like thee. Go, go!-I deem
and fled. Thou canst not surely be the same that thou didst
Out went the taper as she hurried in; seem.”
Its little smoke, in pallid moonshine, died: “ I will not harm her, by all saints I swear,” She closed the door, she panted, all akin Quoth Porphyro: “O may I ne'er find grace To spirits of the air and visions wide:
No uttered syllable, or, woe betide!
Affray his ears, though but in dying tone:But to her heart, her heart was voluble,
The hall door shuts again, and all the noise is gone. Paiving with eloquence her balmy side;
And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep, As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
In blanched linen, smooth, and lavender'd, Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell.
While he from forth the closet brought a beap A casement high and triple-arch'd there was, Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd; All garlanded with carven imag'ries
With jellies soother than the creamy curd, Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass, And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon; And diamonded with panes of quaint device, Manna and dates, in argosy traosferr'd Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes,
From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one, As are the tiger-moth's deep-damask'd wings; From silken Samarcand to cedar'd Lebanon. And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,
These delicates he heap'd with glowing hand And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings, A shielded scutcheon blush'd with blood of queens
On golden dishes and in baskets bright
Of wreathed silver: sumptuous they stand and kings.
In the retired quiet of the night, Full on this casement shone the wintry moon, Filling the chilly room with perfume light.And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast, “ And now, my love, my seraph fair, awake! As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon; Thou art my heaven, and I thine eremite: Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest, Open thine eyes, for meek St. Agnes' sake, And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
Or I shall drowse beside thee, so my soul doth ache." And on her hair a glory, like a saint: She seem'd a splendid angel, newly drest,
Thus whispering, his warm, unnerved arm Save wings, for heaven:—Porphyro grew faint:
Sank in her pillow. Shaded was her dream She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.
By the dusk curtains:-'twas a midnight charm
Impossible to melt as iced stream: Anon his heart revives: her vespers done,
The lustrous salvers in the moonlight gleam; Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees; Broad golden fringe upon the carpet lies: Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
It seem'd he never, never could redeem Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees
From such a stedfast spell his lady's eyes; Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees : So mus'd awhile, entoil'd in woofed phantasies. Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea-weed, Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees,
Awakening up, he took her hollow lute, In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed,
Tumultuous,-and, in chords that tenderest be, But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled.
He play'd an ancient ditty, long since mute,
In Provence call’d, “ La belle dame sans mercy:" Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest,
Close to her ear touching the melody ;In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex'd she lay, Wherewith disturb’d, she utter'd a soft moan: Until the poppied warmth of sleep oppress'd He ceased-she panted quick-and suddenly Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away; Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone: (stone. Flown, like a thought, until the morrow-day; Upon his knees he sank, pale as smooth-sculptured Blissfully haven'd both from joy and pain; Clasp'd like a missal where swart Paynims pray; Her eyes were open, but she still beheld, Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
Now wide awake, the vision of her sleep: As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again. There was a painful change, that nigh expellid
The blisses of her dream so pure and deep; Stol'n to this paradise, and so entranced,
At which fair Madeline began to weep, Porphyro gazed upon her empty dress,
And moan forth witless words with many a sigb; And listen’d to her breathing, if it chanced
While still her gaze on Porphyro would keep; To wake into a slumberous tenderness;
Who knelt, with joined hands and piteous eye, Which when he heard, that minute did he bless, Fearing to move or speak, she look'd so dreamingly. And breath'd himself: then from the closet crept, Noiseless as fear in a wide wilderness,
“Ah, Porphyro!" said she, “ but even now And over the hush'd carpet, silent, stept,
Thy voice was at sweet tremble in mine ear, And 'tween the curtains peep'd, where, lo!-how Made tuneable with every sweetest vow; fast she slept.
And those sad eyes were spiritual and clear: Then by the bed-side, where the faded moon
How chang'd thou art! how pallid, chill, and
Give me that voice again, my Porphyro, (drear! Made a dim, silver twilight, soft he set
Those looks immortal, those complainings dear! A table, and, half anguish'd, threw thereon
Oh leave me not in this eternal woe, [go." A cloth of woven crimson, gold, and jet: O for some drowsy Morphean amulet!
For if thou diest, my Love, I know not where to The boisterous, midnight, festive clarion,
Beyond a mortal man impassion'd far The kettle-drum, and far-heard clarionet,
At these voluptuous accents, he arose,
Ethereal, flush'd, and like a throbbing star
Died palsy-twitch’d, with meagre face deform; Seen mid the sapphire heaven's deep repose; The Beadsman, after thousand aves told, Into her dream he melted, as the rose
For aye unsought for slept among his ashes cold. Blendeth its odour with the violet,Solution sweet: meantime the frost-wind blows Like love's alarum pattering the sharp sleet (set.
ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE. Against the window-panes; St. Agnes' moon hath My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense as though of hemlock I had drunk, 'Tis dark: quick pattereth the flaw-blown sleet:
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains “ This is no dream, my bride, my Madeline !"
One minute past, and lethe-wards had sunk: 'Tis dark: the iced gusts still rave and beat:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, “ No dream, alas! alas! and woe is mine!
But being too happy in thine happiness,Porphyro will leave me here to fade and pine.
That thou, light-winged dryad of the trees, Cruel! what traitor could thee hither bring?
In some melodious plot I curse not, for my heart is lost in thine,
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, Though thou forsakest a deceived thing;
Singest of summer in full-throated ease. A dove forlorn and lost with sick unpruned wing."
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been My Madeline! sweet dreamer! lovely bride!
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth, Say, may I be for aye thy vassal blest? [dyed?
Tasting of Flora and the country green, Thy beauty's shield, heart-shap'd and vermeil
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth! Ah, silver shrine, here will I take my rest
O for a beaker full of the warm south, After so many hours of toil and quest,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, A famish'd pilgrim,-saved by miracle.
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, Though I have found, I will not rob thy nest
And purple-stained mouth; Saving of thy sweet self; if thou think'st well
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, To trust, fair Madeline, to no rude infidel."
And with thee fade away into the forest dim: “ Hark! 'tis an elfin-storm from faery land,
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed:
What thou among the leaves hast never known, Arise-arise! the morning is at hand;
The weariness, the fever, and the fret The bloated wassaillers will never heed :
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Let us away, my love, with happy speed;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, There are no ears to hear, or eyes to see,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and Drown'd all in Rhenish and the sleepy mead:
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow [dies; Awake! arise! my love, and fearless be,
And leaden-eyed despairs, For o'er the southern moors I have a home for thee."
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, She hurried at his words, beset with fears,
Or new love pine at them beyond to-morrow. For there were sleeping dragons all around,
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his bards,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: A chain-droop'd lamp was flickering by each door;
Already with thee! tender is the night, The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, Flutter'd in the besieging wind's uproar;
Cluster'd around by all her starry fays; And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.
But here there is no light, They glide, like phantoms, into the wide hall;
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown Like phantoms, to the iron porch, they glide;
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy Where lay the porter, in uneasy sprawl,
ways. With a huge empty flagon by his side:
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, The wakeful bloodhound rose, and shook his hide, Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But his sagacious eye an inmate owns:
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet and one, the bolts full easy slide :
Wherewith the seasonable month endows The chains lie silent on the footworn stones; The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans. White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; And they are gone: ay, ages long ago
Fast fading vi »lets cover'd up in leaves; These lovers fled away into the storm.
And mid-May's eldest child, That night the baron dreamt of many a woe,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm, Darkling I listen; and, for many a time Were long be-nightmar'd. Angela the old I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Calld him soft names in many a mused rhyme, She will bring thee, all together,
All delight of summer weather;
All the buds and bells of May, To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
From dewy sward or thorny spray; While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad All the heaped Autumn's wealth, In such an ecstasy!
With a still, mysterious stealth: Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain She will mix these pleasures up To thy high requiem become a sod.
Like three fit wines in a cup,
And thou shalt quaff it:-thou shalt hear Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird!
Distant harvest-carols clear;
Rustle of the reaped corn ;
And, in the same moment-hark!
'Tis the early April lark, Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for
Or the rooks, with busy caw,
Foraging for sticks and straw.
Thou shalt, at one glance, behold
The daisy and the marigold; Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
White-plum'd lilies, and the first Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
Hedge-grown primrose that hath burst; To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Shaded hyacinth, alway Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
Sapphire queen of the mid-May; As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
And every leaf, and every flower Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Pearled with the self-same shower.
Thou shalt see the field-mouse peep
And the snake all winter-thin
Cast on sunny bank its skin;
Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see
When the hen-bird's wing doth rest
Quiet on her mossy nest;
Then the hurry and alarm Pleasure never is at home:
When the bee-hive casts its swarm; At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,
Acorns ripe down-pattering,
While the autumn breezes sing.
Every thing is spoilt by use:
Where's the cheek that doth not fade, O sweet Fancy! let her loose;
Too much gaz’d at: where's the maid Summer's joys are spoilt by use,
Whose lip mature is ever new ? And the enjoying of the spring
Where's the eye, however blue, Fades as does its blossoming;
Doth not weary? where's the face Autumn's red-lipp'd fruitage too,
One would meet in every place? Blushing through the mist and dew,
Where's the voice, however soft, Cloys with tasting: what do then?
One would hear so very oft? Sit thee by the ingle, when
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth The sear faggot blazes bright,
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth. Spirit of a winter's night;
Let, then, winged Fancy find When the soundless earth is muffled,
Thee a mistress to thy mind: And the caked snow is shuffled
Dulcet-eyed as Ceres' daughter, From the ploughboy's heavy shoon;
Ere the God of Torment taught her When the Night doth meet the Noon
How to frown and how to chide; In a dark conspiracy
With a waist and with a side To banish Even from her sky.
White as Hebe's, when her zone Sit thee there, and send abroad,
Slipt its golden clasp, and down With a mind self-overaw'd,
Fell her kirtle to her feet, Fancy, high-commission'd:-send her!
While she held the goblet sweet, She has vassals to attend her:
And Jove grew languid.-Break the mesh She will bring, in spite of frost,
Of the Fancy's silken leash; Beauties that the earth hath lost;
Quickly break her prison-string