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If thou shouldst ever come by choice or chance
Stop at a palace near the Reggio-gate,
Dwelt in of old by one of the Orsini.
Its noble gardens, terrace above terrace,
And rich in fountains, statues, cypresses,
Will long detain thee:
A summer sun
Sets ere one half is seen; but, ere thou go,
Enter the house — prithee, forget it not -
And look a while upon a picture there.
'Tis of a lady in her earliest youth,
The very last of that illustrious race,
Done by Zampieri — but by whom I care not.
He who observes it, ere he passes on,
Gazes his fill, and comes and comes again,
That he may call it up, when far away.
She sits, inclining forward as to speak,
Her lips half-open, and her finger up,
As though she said “ Beware!" Her vest of gold
'Broidered with flowers, and clasped from head to foot,
An emerald-stone in every golden clasp;
And on her brow, fairer than alabaster,
A coronet of pearls. But then her face,
So lovely, yet so arch, so full of mirth,
The overflowing of an innocent heart
It haunts me still, though many a year has fled,
Like some wild melody!
Alone it hangs
Over a mouldering heir-loom, its companion,
An oaken-chest, half eaten by the worm,
But richly carved by Antony of Trent
With Scripture-stories from the life of Christ;
A chest that came from Venice, and had held
The ducal robes of some old ancestor.
That by the way - it may be true or false —
But don't forget the picture; and thou wilt not,
When thou hast heard the tale they told me there.
She was an only child ; from infancy
The joy, the pride of an indulgent sire.
Her mother dying of the gift she gave,
That precious gift, what else remained to him?
Ginevra was his all in life,
Still as she grew, for ever in his sight;
And in her fifteenth year became a bride,
Marrying an only son, Francesco Doria,
Her playmate from her birth, and her first love.
Just as she looks there in her bridal dress,
She was all gentleness, all gaiety,
Her pranks the favourite theme of every tongue.
But now the day was come, the day, the hour;
Now, frowning, smiling, for the hundredth time,
The nurse, that ancient lady, preached decorum;
And, in the lustre of her youth, she gave
Her hand, with her heart in it, to Francesco.
Great was the joy; but at the bridal feast, When all sat down, the bride was wanting there, Nor was she to be found! Her father cried, 6 'T is but to make a trial of our love !".
And filled his glass to all; but his hand shook,
And soon from guest to guest the panic spread.
'Twas but that instant she had left Francesco,
Laughing and looking back, and flying still,
Her ivory-tooth imprinted on his finger.
But now, alas! she was not to be found;
Nor from that hour could anything be guessed
But that she was not! Weary of his life,
Francesco flew to Venice, and forthwith
Flung it away in battle with the Turk.
Orsini lived; and long mightst thou have seen
An old man wandering as in quest of something,
Something he could not find — he knew not what.
When he was gone the house remained a while
Silent and tenantless -- then went to strangers.
Full fifty years were past, and all forgot,
When on an idle day, a day of search
'Mid the old lumber in the gallery,
That mouldering chest was noticed ; and 't was said
By one as young, as thoughtless as Ginevra,
“Why not remove it from its lurking place ?"
'T was done as soon as said; but on the way
It burst, it fell; and lo, a skeleton,
With here and there a pearl, an emerald-stone,
A golden clasp, clasping a shred of gold !
All else had perished — save a nuptial ring,
And a small seal, her mother's legacy,
Engraven with a name, the name of both,
“Ginevra." There then had she found a grave!
Within that chest had she concealed herself,
Fluttering with joy the happiest of the happy;
When a spring-lock that lay in ambush there,
Fastened her down for ever!
ALMOST at the root Of that tall pine, the shadow of whose bare And slender stem, while here I sit at eve, Oft stretches towards me, like a strong straight path Traced faintay in the greensward, there, beneath A plain blue stone, a gentle dalesman lies, From whom in early childhood was withdrawn The precious gift of hearing. He grew up From year to year in loneliness of soul; And this deep mountain valley was to him Soundless, with all its streams. The bird of dawn Did never rouse this cottager from sleep With startling summons; not for his delight The vernal cuckoo shouted; not for him Murmured the labouring bee. When stormy winds Were working the broad bosom of the lake Into a thousand thousand sparkling waves, Rocking the trees, or driving cloud on cloud Along the sharp edge of yon lofty crags, The agitated scene before his eye Was silent as a picture: evermore Were all things silent, wheresoe'er he moved. Yet, by the solace of his own pure thoughts Upheld, he duteously pursued the round 29
Of rural labours; the steep mountain side
Ascended with his staff and faithful dog ;
The plough he guided, and the scythe he swayed;
And the ripe corn before his sickle fell
Among the jocund reapers.
SONNET COMPOSED UPON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE.
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty :
This city now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still !
My neart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.