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The song for the dead below,
Or the living who shortly shall be so !
For a departing being's soul
The death-hymn peals and the hollow bells knoll: He is near his mortal goal;
Kneeling at the friar's knee;
Sad to hear-and piteous to see-
Kneeling on the bare cold ground,
With the block before and the guards around-
And the headsman with his bare arm ready,
That the blow may be both swift and steady,
Feels if the axe be sharp and true-
Since he set its edge anew:
While the crowd in speechless circle gather
To see the Son fall by the doom of the Father.
It is a lovely hour as yet,
Before the summer sun shall set,
Which rose upon that heavy day,
And mock'd it with his steadiest ray;
And his evening beams are shed
Full on Hugo's fated head,
As his last confession pouring
To the monk, his doom deploring
In penitential holiness,
He bends to hear his accents bless
With absolution such as may
Wipe our mortal stains away.
That high sun on his head did glisten
As he there did bow and listen-
And the rings of chestnut hair
Curl'd half down his neck so bare;
But brighter still the beam was throw
Upon the axe which near him shone
With a clear and ghastly glitter.-
Oh! that parting hour was bitter!
Even the stern stood chill'd with awe.
Dark the crime, and just the law-
Yet they shudder'd as they saw.
The parting prayers are said and over
Of that false son-and daring lover!
His beads and sins are all recounted,
His hours to their last minute mounted-
His mantling cloak before was stripp'd,
His bright brown locks must now be clipp'd g
"Tis done-all closely are they shorn-
The vest which till this moment worn-
The scarf which Parisina gave-
Must not adorn him to the grave.
Even that must now be thrown aside,
And o'er his eyes the kerchief tied;
But no-that last indignity
Shall ne'er approach his haughty eye,
All feelings seemingly subdued,
In deep disdain were half renew'd,
When headsman's hands prepared to bind
Those eyes which would not brook such blind:
As if they dared not look on death.
"No-yours my forfeit blood and breath--
These hands are chain'd, but let me dis
At least with an unshackled eye-
Strike:"-and as the word he said,
Upon the block he bow'd his head;
These the last accents Hugo spoke:
"Strike:"-and flashing fell the stroke-
Roll'd the head-and, gushing, sunk
Back the stain'd and heaving trunk,
In the dust, which each deep vein
Slaked with its ensanguined rain;
His eyes and lips a moment quiver,
Convulsed and quick-then fix for ever.
He died, as erring man should die,
Without display, without parade;
Meekly had he bow'd and pray'd,
As not disdaining priestly aid,
Nor desperate of all hope on high.
And while before the prior kneeling,
His heart was wean'd from earthly feeling,
His wrathful sire-his paramour-
What were they in such an hour?
No more reproach-no more despair;
No thought but heaven-no word but prayer
Save the few which from him broke,
When, bared to meet the headsman's stroke,
He claim'd to die with eyes unbound,
His sole adieu to those around.
Still as the lips that closed in death,
Each gazer's bosom held his breath:
But yet, afar, from man to man,
A cold electric shiver ran,
As down the deadly blow descended
On him whose life and love thus ended;
And, with a hushing sound compress'd,
A sigh shrunk back on every breast;
But no more thrilling noise rose there,
Beyond the blow that to the block
Pierced through with forced and sullen shock,
Save one-what cleaves the silent air
So madly shrill-so passing wild?
That, as a mother's o'er her child,
Done to death by sudden blow,
To the sky these accents go,
Like a soul's in endless woe.
Through Azo's palace-lattice driven,
That horrid voice ascends to heaven,
And every eye is turn'd thereon;
But sound and sight alike are gone!
It was a woman's shriek—and ne'er
In madlier accents rose despair;
And those who heard it, as it past,
In mercy wish'd it were the last.
Hugo is fallen; and from that hour
No more in palace, hall, or bower,
Was Parisina heard or seen:
Her name as if she ne'er had been-
Was banish'd from each lip and ear,
Like words of wantonness or fear;
And from Prince Azo's voice, by none
Was mention heard of wife or son;
No tomb-no memory had they;
Theirs was unconsecrated clay;
At least the knight's who died that day.
But Parisina's fate lies hid
Like dust beneath the coffin-lid:
Whether in convent she abode,
And won to heaven her dreary road,
By blighted and remorseful years
Of scourge and fast, and sleepless tears;
Or if she fell by bowl or steel,
For that dark love she dared to feel;
Or if, upon the moment smote,
She died by tortures less remote;
Like him she saw upon the block,
With heart that shared the headsman's shock,
In quicken'd brokenness that came,
In pity, o'er her shatter'd frame,
None knew-and none can ever know:
But whatsoe'er its end below,
Her life began and closed in woe!
And Azo found another bride,
And goodly sons grew by his side;
But none so lovely and so brave
As him who wither'd in the grave;
Or if they were on his cold eye
Their growth but glanced unheeded by,
Or noticed with a smother'd sigh.
But never tear his cheek descended,
And never smile his brow unbended;
And o'er that fair broad brow were wrought
The intersected lines of thought;
Those furrows which the burning share
Of Sorrow ploughs untimely there;
Scars of the lacerating mind
Which the Soul's war doth leave behind
He was past all mirth or woe:
Nothing more remain'd below
But sleepless nights and heavy days,
A mind all dead to scorn or praise,
A heart which shunn'd itself—and yet
That would not yield-nor could forget,
Which, when it least appear'd to melt.
Intently thought-intensely felt:
The deepest ice which ever froze
Can only o'er the surface close-
The living stream lies quick below,
And flows-and cannot cease to flow.
Still was his sealed-up bosom haunted
By thoughts which nature had implantod 3
Too deeply rooted thence to vanish,
Howe'er our stifled fears we banish;
When, struggling as they rise to start,
We check those waters of the heart,
They are not dried-those tears unshed,
But flow back to the fountain-head,
And resting in their spring more pure,
For ever in its depth endure,
Unseen, unwept, but uncongeal'd,
And cherish'd most where least reveal'd.
With inward starts of feeling left,
To throb o'er those of life bereft;
Without the power to fill again
The desert gap which made his pain;
Without the hope to meet them where
United souls shall gladness share,
With all the consciousness that he
Had only pass'd a just decree;
That they had wrought their doom of i!l;
Yet Azo's age was wretched still.
The tainted branches of the tree,
If lopp'd with care, a strength may give
By which the rest shall bloom and live
All greenly fresh and wildly free:
But if the lightning, in its wrath,
The waving boughs with fury scath,
The massy trunk the ruin feels,
And never more a leaf reveals.
FARE THEE WELL
Alas! they have been friends in you
But whispering tongues can poison truth;
And constancy lives in realms above;
And life is thorny, and youth is vain:
And to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness in the brain;
But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining-
They stood aloof, the scars remaining. I
Like cliffs, which had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between,
Eat neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once hath been."'
FARE thee well! and if for ever,
Still for ever, fare thee well;
Even though unforgiving, never
'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.
Would that breast were bared before thee
Where thy head so oft hath lain,
While that placid sleep came o'er thee
Which thou ne'er canst know again:
Would that breast, by thee glanced over,
Every inmost thought could show !
Then thou wouldst at last discover
"Twas not well to spurn it so.
Though the world for this commend thee-
Though it smile upon the blow,
Even its praises must offend thee,
Founded on another's woe:
Though my many faults defaced me,
Could no other arm be found,
Than the one which once embraced me,
To inflict a cureless wound?
Yet, oh yet, thyself deceive not:
Love may sink by slow decay, But by sudden wrench, believe not
Hearts can thus be torn away;
Still thine own its life retaineth
Still must mine, though bleeding, boat; And the undying thought which paineth Is-that we no more may meet.
These are words of deeper sorrow
Than the wail above the dead; Both shall live, but every morrow Wake us from a widow'd bed.