Page images
PDF

But she must lay her conscious head The guilt, the shame—the doom to her: A husband's trusting heart beside.

Concealment is no more-they speak
Bat lererd in her sleep she seems, All circumstance which may compel
And red her cheek with troubled dreams, Full credence to the tale they tell :
And mutters she in her unrest

And Azo's tortured heart and ear
A name she dare not breathe by day, Have nothing more to feel or hear.
And clasps her Lord unto the breast
Which pants for one away:
And he to that embrace awakes,

He was not one who brook'd delay : And, happy in the thought, mistakes

Within the chamber of his state, That dreaming sigh, and warm caress,

The chief of Este's ancient sway For gach as he was wont to bless;

Upon his throne of judgment sate; And conld in very fondness weep

His nobles and his guards are there, 0'e her who loves him even in sleep.

Before him is the sinful pair;
Both young, -and one how passing fair!

With swordless belt, and fetter'd hand, lle clasp'd her sleeping to his heart, Oh, Christ! that thus a son should stand And listend to each broken word:

Before a father's face! He bears – Why doth Prince Azo start,

Yet thus must Hugo meet his sire, if the Archangel's voice he heard ? And hear the sentence of his ire, had well he may-a deeper doom

The tale of his disgrace! Cald scarcely thunder o'er his tomb, And yet he secms not overcome, When he shall wake to sleep no more, | Although, as yet, his voice be dumb. bi stand the eternal throne before. And well he may, his earthly peace (pen that sound is doom'd to cease.

And still, and pale, and silently

Did Parisina wait her doom;
Hat sleeping whisper of a name
Sepeaks her guilt and Azo's shame.

How changed since last her speaking eye

Glanced gladness round the glittering room, ki chose that name? that o'er his pillow

Where high-born men were proud to wait Sunds fearful as the breaking billow, Blich rolls the plank upon the shore,

Where Beauty watch'd to imitate And dashes on the pointed rock

Her gentle voice -- her lovely mien The wretch who sinks to rise no more,

And gather from her air and gait S came upon his soul the shock.

The graces of its queen :

Then,-had her eye in sorrow wept,
A whose that name? 'tis Hugo's,-his-
I saoth he had not deem'd of this!

A thousand warriors forth had leapt,
Tu Hago's, -be, the child of one

A thousand swords had sheathless shone, ke loved his own all-evil son

And made her quarrel all their own. be offspring of his wayward youth,

Now,- what is she? and what are they? Then he betray'd Bianca's truth,

Can she command, or these obey? emaid whose folly could confide

All silent and unheeding now,

With downcast eyes and knitting brow, Alim who made her not his bride,

And folded arms, and freezing air,

And lips that scarce their scorn forbear, He pluck'd his poniard in its sheath, Her knights and dames, her court-is there:

sheathed it ere the point was bare And he, the chosen one, whose lance Sae'er unworthy now to breathe, Had yet been couch'd before her glance, rould not slay a thing so fair –

Who - were his arm a moment free axt, not smiling, sleeping there

Had died or gaind her liberty; for more: he did not wake her then,

The minion of his father's bride,-. But razed upon her with a glance He, too, is fetter'd by her side;

had she roused her from her trance, Nor sees her swoln and full eye swim frozen her sense to sleep again

Less for her own despair than him : der his brow the burning lamp Those lids- o'er which the violet vein ad on the dew-drops big and damp. Wandering, leaves a tender stain,

pake no more-but still she slumber'd - Shining through the smoothest white While in his thought, her days are That e'er did softest kiss invitenumber'd.

Now seem'd with hot and livid glow
To press, not shade, the orbs below;

Which glance so heavily, and fill,
with the morn he sought, and found, As tear on tear grows gathering still.
many a tale from those around,
le proof of all he fear'd to know,
ere present guilt, his future woe; 1 And he for her had also wept,
Le long-conniving damsels srek

But for the eyes that on him gazed : e themselves, and would transfer His sorrow, if he felt it, slept;

To save themselv

Stern and erect his brow was raised. But she is in the grave, where he, Whate'er the grief his soul avow'd, Her son, thy rival, soon shall be. He would not shrink before the crowd; Her broken heart-my sever'd head But yet he dared not look on her: Shall witness for thee from the dead Remembrance of the hours that were - How trusty and how tender were His guilt- his love-his present state Thy youthful love-paternal care. His father's wrath-all good men's hate-/'Tis true, that I have done thee wro His earthly, his eternal fate –

But wrong for wrong - this deem'd And hers, -oh, hers! - he dared not throw

bride, One look upon that deathlike brow! The other victim of thy pride, Else had his rising heart betray'd

Thou knowst for me was destined lon Remorse for all the wreck it made. | Thou sawst, and covetedst her charm

And with thy very crime - my birth,

Thou tauntedst me-as little worth; And Azo spake:-“But yesterday

| A match ignoble for her arms, I gloried in a wife and son ;

| Because, forsooth, I could not claim That dream this morning pass'd away; The lawful heirship of thy name, Ere day declines, I shall have none.

Nor sit on Este's lineal throne: My life must linger on alone;

| Yet, were a few short summers mine Well, let that pass, there breathes not one My name should more than Este's sh Who would not do as I have done:

With honours all my own. Those ties are broken - not by me;

I had a sword - and have a breast Let that too pass :- the doom's prepared! | That should have won as haught a Hugo, the priest awaits on thee,

As ever waved along the line And then -- thy crime's reward!

Of all these sovereign sires of thine. Away! address thy prayers to Heaven,

Not always knightly spurs are worn Before its evening-stars are met

The brightest by the better born ; Learn if thou there canst be forgiven;

| And mine have lanced my courser': 1 Its mercy may absolve thee yet.

Before proud chiefs of princely rank, But here, upon the earth beneath,

When charging to the cheering cry There is no spot where thou and I

Of "Este and of Victory!” Together, for an hour, could breathe :

I will not plead the cause of crime, Farewell! I will not see thee die

Nor sue thee to redeem from time But thou, frail thing! shalt view his head –

A few brief hours or days that must Away! I cannot speak the rest :

At length roll o'er my reckless dust; Go! woman of the wanton breast;

Such maddening moments as my past Not I, but thou his blood dost shed :

They could not, and they did not, la Go! is that sight thou canst outlive,

Albeit my birth and name be base, And joy thee in the life I give.”

And thy nobility of race

Disdain'd to deck a thing like meAnd here stern Azo hid his face

Yet in my lineaments they trace For on his brow the swelling vein

Some features of my father's face, Throbb'd as if back upon his brain

And in my spirit-all of thec. The hot blood ebb’d and flow'd again ;

From thee-- this tamelessness of hear And therefore bow'd he for a space

From thee – nay, wherefore ,dost And pass'd his shaking hand along

start? His eye, to veil it from the throng;

From thee in all their vigour came While Hugo raised his chained hands,

My arm of strength, my soul of Man And for a brief delay demands

Thou didst not give me life alone, His father's ear: the silent sire

But all that made me more thine our Forbids not what his words require.

See what thy guilty love hath done!
Repaid thee with too like a son!

I am no bastard in my soul,
"It is not that I dread the death For that, like thine, abhorr'd controu
For thou hast seen me by thy side And for my breath, that hasty boon
All redly through the battle ride,

Thou gavest and wilt resume so soon And that not once a useless brand

I valued it no more than thou, Thy slaves have wrested from my hand, When rose thy casque above thy brot Hath shed more blood in cause of thine And we, all side by side, have striver Than e'er can stain the axe of mine: And o'er the dead our coursers driven Thou gavest, and mayst resume my breath, The past is nothing- and at last A gift for which I thank thee not; The future can but be the past; Nor are my mother's wrongs forgot, Yet would I that I then had died : Her slighted love and ruind name, For though thou work'dst my mothers Her offspring's heritage of shame; And made thy own my destined bride

I feel thou art my father still;

She had forgotten :-did she breathe And, harsh as sonnds thy hard decree, Could this be still the earth beneath ? Tis not uajast, although from thee. The sky above, and men around; Begot in sin, to die in shame,

Or were they fiends who now so frown'd My life begun and ends the saine:

On one, before whose eyes each eyo Aserr'd the sire, so err'd the son,

Till then had smiled in sympathy And thon must punish both in one. | All was confused and undefined, My crime seems worst to human view, To her all-jarr'd and wandering mind; But God must judge between us two!” A chaos of wild hopes and fears:

And now in laughter, now in tears,

But madly still in each extreme, He ceased and stood with folded arms, She strove with that convulsive dream; On which the circling fetters sounded; For so it seem'd on her to break: And not an ear but felt as wounded, Oh! vainly must she strive to wake! Of all the chiefs that there were rank'd, What these doll chains in meeting clank'd : Tul Parisina's fatal charms

The Convent-bells are ringing, Again attracted every eye

But mournfully and slow, Would she thus hear him doom'd to die!

In the gray square turret swinging, She stood, I said, all pale and still,

With a deep sound, to and fro. The living cause of Hugo's ill:

Heavily to the heart they go! Her eres unmoved, but full and wide,

Hark! the hymn is singing Sist once had turn d to either side –

The song for the dead below, Se once did those sweet eyelids close,

Or the living who shortly shall be so! De shade the glance o'er which they rose,

For a departing being's soul lu round their orbs of deepest blue

The death-hymn peals and the hollow The cireling white dilated grew

bells knoll: there with glassy gaze she stood

He is near his mortal goal; bi ice were in her curdled blood;

Kneeling at the Friar's knee; It every now and then a tear

Sad to hear-and piteous to see S large and slowly gather'd slid

Kneeling on the bare cold ground, From the long dark fringe of that fair lid,

With the block before and the guard aroundIn a thing to see, not hear!

And the headsman with his bare arm And those who saw, it did surprise,

ready, Such drops could fall from human eyes.

That the blow may be both swift and steady, Lo speak she thought-the imperfect note

Feels if the axe be sharp and true As choked within her swelling throat,

Since he set its edge anew : Les seem'd in that low hollow groan

| While the crowd in a speechless circle be whole heart gushing in the tone.

gather Atraed - again she thought to speak,

To see the Son fall by the doom of the The burst her voice in one long shriek,

Father. Ad to the earth she fell like stone e statue from its base o'erthrown,

It is a lovely hour as yet ore like a thing that ne'er had life, Before the summer-sun shall set, I wonument of Azo's wife,

Which rose upon that heavy day, Das her, that living guilty thing,

And mock'd it with his steadiest ray; hoe every passion was a sting,

And his evening-beams are shed ah urged to guilt, bat could not bear Full on Hugo's fated head, but guilt's detection and despair.

As his last confession pouring het vet she lived --and all too soon | To the monk, his doom deploring Kecover'd from that death-like swoon In penitential holiness, at scarce to reason - every sense

He bends to hear his accents blegg been o'erstrung by pangs intense ; With absolution such as may had each frail fibre of her brain

Wipe our mortal stains away. bow-strings, when relax'd by rain, That high sun on his head did glisten de string arrow launch aside)

As he there did bow and listen larth her thoughts all wild and wide And the rings of chesnut hair . Le past a blank, the future black, Curled half down his neck so bare; glimpses of a dreary track,

But brighter still the beam was thrown like lightning on the desert-path,

Upon the axe which near him shone a midnight storms are mustering wrath. With a clear and ghastly glitter -e fear'd she felt that something ill Oh! that parting-hour was bitter! roa her soul, so deep and chili

Even the stern stood chill'd with awe: there was sin and shame she knew; Dark the crime, and just the lawal some one was to die--but who? Yet they shudder'd as they saw,

That there was

The parting prayers aro said and over That, as a mother's o'er ber child, Of that false son—and daring lover! Done to death by sudden blow, His beads and sins are all recounted, To the sky these accents go, His hours to their last minute mounted-. Like a soul's in endless woe. His mantling cloak before was strippid, | Through Azo's palace-lattice driven, His bright brown locks must now be clipp'd; | That horrid voice ascends to heaven, "Tis done-all closely are they shorn And every eye is turn'd thereon ; The vest which till this moment worn But sound and sight alike are gone! The scarf which Parisina gave

It was a woman's shriek--and ne'er Must not adorn him to the grave.

In madlier accents rose despair;
Even that must now be thrown aside, And those who heard it, as it past,
And o'er his eyes the kerchief tied;

In mercy wish'd it were the last.
But no— that last indignity
Shall ne'er approach his haughty eye.

Hugo is fallen; and, from that hour All feelings seemingly subdued,

No more in palace, hall, or bower, In deep disdain were half renew'd,

Was Parisina heard or seen: When headman's hands prepared to bind

Her name-as if she ne'er had beenThose eyes which would not brook such

Was banish'd from each lip and ear, blind:

Like words of wantonness or fear; As if they dared not look on death.

And from Prince Azo's voice, by none “No-yours my forfeit blood and breath

| Was mention heard of wise or son ; These hands are chain'd—but let me die

No tomb-no memory had they; At least with an unshackled eye

Theirs was unconsecrated clay; Strike:" -- and as the word he said,

At least the knight's who died that day Upon the block he bow'd his head;

But Parisina's fate lies hid These the last accents Hugo spoke:

Like dust beneath the coffin-lid: “Strike"--and flashing fell the stroke

Whether in convent she abode, Roll'd the head--and, gushing, sunk

And won to heaven her dreary road, Back the staind and heaving trunk,

By blighted and remorseful years In the dust, which each deep vein

Of scourge, and fast, and sleepless teat Slaked with its ensangnined rain;

Or if she fell by bowl or steel, His eyes and lips a moment quiver,

For that dark love she dared to feel; Convulsed and quick-then fix for ever.

Or if, upon the moment smote,

She died by tortures less remote; He died, as erring man should die, Like him she saw upon the block, Without display, without parade;

With heart that shared the headman's sl Meekly had he bow'd and pray'd,

| In quickend brokenness that came, As not disdaining priestly aid,

In pity, o'er her shatter'd frame, Nor desperate of all hope on high.

None knew-and none can ever know: And while before the Prior kneeling, But whatsoe'er its end below, His heart was wean'd from earthly feeling; | Her life began and closed in woe! His wrathful sire-his paramour--What were they in such an hour? No more reproach--no more despair;

And Azo found another bride, No thought but heaven-no word but prayer

| And goodly sons grew by his side; Save the few which from him broke,

But none so lovely and so brave When, bared to meet the headman's stroke,

As him who wither'd in the grave; He claim'd to die with eyes unbound,

Or if they were-on his cold eye
His sole adieu to those around.

Their growth but glanced unheeded by
Or noticed with a smother'd sigh.

But never tear his cheek descended, Still as the lips that closed in death, And never smile his brow unbended; Each gazer's bosom held his breath : And o'er that fair broad brow were WTO But yet, afar, from man to man,

The intersected lines of thought; A cold electric shiver ran,

Those furrows which the burning shar As down the deadly blow descended

Of sorrow ploughs untimely there; On him whose life and love thus ended; Scars of the lacerating mind And with a hushing sound comprest, Which the soul's war doth leave behind A sigh shrunk back on every breast; He was past all mirth or woe: But no more thrilling noise rose there, Nothing more remain'd below Beyond the blow that to the block

But sleepless nights and heavy days, Pierced through with forced and sullen A mind all dead to scorn or praise,

shock,

A heart which shunn'd itself and yet Save one: - what cleaves the silent air That would not yield-nor could forgel So madly shrill-so passing wild ?

Which when it least appeard to melt,

Intently thought-intensely felt :

To throb o'er those of life bereft; The deepest ice which ever froze

Without the power to fill again Can only o'er the surface close

The desert gap which made his pain; The living stream lies quick below, Without the hope to meet them where And flows-and cannot cease to flow. United souls shall gladness share, Sill was his seald-up bosom haunted With all the consciousness that he By thoughts which Nature hath implanted; Had only pass'd a just decree; Two deeply rooted thence to vanish, That they had wrought their doom Boweer our stifled tears we banish;

of ill; When, struggling as they rise to start, Yet Azo's age was wretched still. fie check those waters of the heart, The tainted branches of the tree, They are not dried-those tears unshed If lopp'd with care, a strength may give, But flow lack to the fountain-head, By which the rest shall bloom and live And resting in their spring more pure, All greenly fresh and wildly free: Por ever in its depth endure,

But if the lightning, in its wrath, Innen, uswept, but uncongeald,

The waving boughs with fury scathe, And cherish'd most where least reveal'd. | The massy trunk the ruin feels. Tith inward starts of feeling left, | And never more a leaf reveals.

THE PRISONER OF CHILLON.

SONNET ON CHILLON.

That father perish'd at the stake [TEESAL spirit of the chainless mind!

For tenets he would not forsake; brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art,

et. And for the same his lineal race le there thy habitation is the heart

In darkness found a dwelling-place ; I heart which love of thee alone can We were seven--who now are one, bind;

Six in youth, and one in age, had when thy sons to fetters are consign'd

Finish'd as they had begun, fo fetters, and the damp vault's dayless

| Proud of Persecution's rage;

| One in fire, and two in field, gloom, Abrir country conquers with their martyr

Their belief with blood have seal'd; dom,

Dying as their father died, ku Preedom's fame finds wings on every

For the God their foes denied ; wind.

Three were in a dungcon cast, Cillia! thy prison is a holy place,

of whom this wreck is left the last. and thy sad floor an altar- for 'twas trod, Soil his very steps have left a trace

There are seven pillars of gothic mold,
Wien, as if thy cold pavement were a sod, In Chillon's dungeons deep and old ;
Bonnivard S-May none those marks There are seven columns, massy and gray,
efface!

Dim with a dull imprison'd ray,
Par they appeal from tyranny to God. A sunbeam which hath lost its way,

And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left;
Creeping o'er the floor so damp,

Like a marsh's meteor-lamp:
My hair is gray, but not with years, And in each pillar there is a ring,

And in each ring there is a chain;

That iron is a cankering thing, 's have grown from sudden fears : For in these limbs its teeth remain, utahs are bow'd, though not with toil, With marks that will not wear away, trusted with a vile repose,

Till I have done with this new day, Be they have been a dungeon's spoil,

Which now is painful to these eyes, ad mine has been the fate of those

Which have not seen the sun so rise whom the goodly earth and air

For years - I cannot count them o'er, e bann'd, and barr'd-forbidden fare ; I lost their long and heavy score, d this was for my father's faith,

When my last brother droop'd and died, Aferd chains and courted death ; | And I lay living by his side.

Sterrew it white a single night,

« PreviousContinue »