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LIV.

And so she ever fed it with thin tears,

Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew, So that it smelt more balmy than its peers

Of Basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew Nurture besides, and life, from human fears, [view:

From the fast mouldering head there shut from So that the jewel, safely casketed, Came forth, and in perfumed leaflets spread.

LV.

O Melancholy, linger here awhile !

O Music, Music, breathe despondingly! O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,

Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us–O sigh! Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile ;

Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily, And make a pale light in your cypress glooms, Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.

LVI.

Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,

From the deep throat of sad Melpomene ! Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,

And touch the strings into a mystery ;
Sound mournfully upon the winds and low ;

For simple Isabel is soon to be
Among the dead: She withers, like a palm
Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.

LVII.

O leave the palm to wither by itself ;

Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour ! It

may not be—those Baâlites of pelf,

Her brethren, noted the continual shower From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,

Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.

LVIII.

And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much

Why she sat drooping by the Basil green, And why it flourish'd, as by magic touch ; [mean:

Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might They could not surely give belief, that such A

very nothing would have power to wean Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay, And even remembrance of her love's delay.

LIX.

Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift

This hidden whim; and long they watch'd in vain; For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,

And seldom felt she any hunger-pain: (And when she left, she hurried back, as swift

As bird on wing to breast its eggs again : And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.

LX.

Yet they contrived to steal the Basil-pot,

And to examine it in secret place : The thing was vile with green and livid spot,

And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face: The guerdon of their murder they had got,

And so left Florence in a moment's space, Never to turn again.—Away they went, With blood upon their heads, to banishment.

LXI.

O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!

O Music, Music, breathe despondingly! O Echo, Echo, on some other day,

From isles Lethean, sigh to us—sigh! Spirits of grief, sing not your “ Well-a-way!”

For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die;
Will die a death too lone and incomplete,
Now they have ta’en away her Basil sweet.

LXII.

Piteous she look'd on dead and senseless things,

Asking for her lost Basil amorously : And with melodious chuckle in the strings

Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry After the Pilgrim in his wanderings,

To ask him where her Basil was; and why 'Twas hid from her : “ For cruel ’tis,” said she, “ To steal my Basil-pot away from me.”

LXIII.

And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,

Imploring for her Basil to the last. No heart was there in Florence but did mourn

In pity of her love, so overcast. And a sad ditty of this story borne From mouth to mouth through all the country

pass'd: Still is the burthen sung—“O cruelty, To steal my Basil-pot away from me!”

THE EVE OF ST. AGNES.

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