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XXXIX.

A
“ I am a shadow now, alas ! alas !

Upon the skirts of human nature dwelling
Alone : I chant alone the holy mass,

While little sounds of life are round me knelling, And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass, And many a chapel bell the hour is telling, [me, Paining me through : those sounds grow strange to And thou art distant in Humanity.

XL.

I know what was, I feel full well what is,

And I should rage, if spirits could go mad; Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,

That paleness warms my grave, as though I bad A seraph chosen from the bright abyss

To be my spouse : thy paleness makes me glad : Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel A greater love through all my essence steal.”

XLI.

The Spirit mourn'd“Adieu!”—dissolved and left

The atom darkness in a slow turmoil ;
As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft,

Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,

And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil : It made sad Isabella's eyelids ache, And in the dawn she started up awake;

XLII.

“ Ha ! ha!” said she, “I knew not this hard life,

I thought the worst was simple misery ; I thought soine Fate with pleasure or with strife

Portion'd us—happy days, or else to die ; But there is crime—a brother's bloody knife!

Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy: I'll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes, And greet thee morn and even in the skies.”

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XLIII.

When the full morning came, she had devised

How she might secret to the forest hie;
How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,

And sing to it one latest lullaby ;
How her short absence might be unsurmised,

While she the inmost of the dream would try.
Resolved, she took with her an aged nurse,
And went into that dismal forest-hearse.

XLIV.

See, as they creep along the river side,

How she doth whisper to that aged dame, And, after looking round the champaign wide,

Shows her a knife.“What feverous hecticflame Burns in thee, child ?--what good can thee betide That thou shouldst smile again?”—The evening

came, And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed ; The flint was there, the berries at his head.

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Who hath not loiter'd in a green churchyard,

And let his spirit, like a demon mole,
Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,

To see skull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole ;
Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marrd,

And filling it once more with human soul ?
Ah! this is holiday to what was felt
When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.

XLVI.

She gazed into the fresh-thrown mould, as though

One glance did fully all its secrets tell ;
Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know

Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well ;
Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow,

Like to a native lily of the dell:
Then with her knife, all sudden she began
To dig more fervently than misers can.

XLVII.

Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon

Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies;
She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,

And put it in her bosom, where it dries
And freezes utterly unto the bone

Those dainties made to still an infant's cries :
Then 'gan she work again ; nor stay'd her care,
But to throw back at times her veiling hair.

XLVIII.

That old nurse stood beside her wondering,

Until her heart felt pity to the core
At sight of such a dismal labouring,

And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar, Good | And put her lean hands to the horrid thing :

Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;
At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
And Isabella did not stamp and rave.

XLIX.

Ah! wherefore all this

wormy circumstance?
Why linger at the yawning tomb so long ?
O for the gentleness of old Romance,

The simple plaining of a minstrel's song!
Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,

For here, in truth, it doth not well belong
To speak :-0 turn thee to the very tale,
And taste the music of that vision pale.

L.

With duller steel than the Perséan sword

They cut away no formless monster's head, But one, whose gentleness did well accord [said,

With death, as life. The ancient harps have Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord :

If Love impersonate was ever dead, Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan’d. 'Twas love; cold,—dead indeed, but not dethron’d.

LI.

In anxious secrecy they took it home,

And then the prize was all for Isabel : She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb,

And all around each eye's sepulchral cell Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam

With tears, as chilly as a dripping well, She drench'd away: and still she comb'd and kept Sighing all day-and still she kiss'd and wept.

LII.

Then in a silken scarf,-sweet with the dews

Of precious flowers pluck'd in Araby, And divine liquids come with odorous ooze

Through the cold serpent-pipe refreshfully, She wrapp'd it up; and for its tomb did choose

A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by, And cover'd it with mould, and o'er it set Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.

LIII.

And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,

And she forgot the blue above the trees, And she forgot the dells where waters run,

And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze; She had no knowledge when the day was done,

And the new morn she saw not: but in peace Hung over her sweet Basil evermore, And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.

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