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The following poem is grounded on a circumstance mentioned in Gibbon's "Antiquities of the House of Brunswick."—I am aware, that in modern times the delicacy or fastidiousness of the reader may deem such subjects unfit for the purposes of poetry. The Greek dramatists, and some of the best of our old English writers, were of a different opinion: as Alfieii and Schiller have also been, more recently, upon the continent. The following extract will explain the facts on which the story is founded. The name of Azo is substituted for Nicholas, as more metrical.
"Under the reign of Nicholas III. Ferrara was polluted "with a domestic tragedy. By the testimony of an "attendant, and his own observation, the Marquis of "Este discovered the incestuous loves of his wife Pa"risina, and Hugo his bastard son, a beautiful and "valiant youth. They were beheaded in the castle by "the sentence of a father and husband, who published "his shame, and survived their execution. He was "unfortunate, if they were guilty; if they were inno"cent, he was still more unfortunate: nor is there any "possible situation in which I can sincerely approve the "last act of the justice of a parent."—Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, vol. 3d. p. 470, new edition.
It is the hour when from the boughs
The nightingale's high note is heard;
It is the hour when lovers' vows
Seem sweet in every whisper'd word;
And gentle winds, and waters near,
Make music to the lonely ear.
Each flower the dews have lightly wet,
And in the sky the stars are met,
And on the wave is deeper blue,
And on the leaf a browner hue,
And in the heaven that clear obscure,
So softly dark, and darkly pure,
Which follows the decline of day,
As twilight melts beneath the moon away. II.
But it is not to list to the waterfall 15
That Parisina leaves her hall,
And it is not to gaze on the heavenly light
That the lady walks in the shadow of night;
And if she sits in Este's bower,
Tis not for the sake of its full-blown flower— 20
She listens—but not for the nightingale—
Though her ear expects as soft a tale.
There glides a step through the foliage thick,
And her cheek grows pale—and her heart beats quick.
There whispers a voice through the rustling leaves,
And her blush returns, and her bosom heaves: 26
A moment more—and they shall meet—
'Tis past—her lover's at her feet.
And what unto them is the world beside
With all its change of time and tide? 30
Its living things—its earth and sky—
Are nothing to their mind and eye.
And heedless as the dead are they
Of aught around, above, beneath;
As if all else had passed away,
They only for each other breathe;
Their very sighs are full of joy
So deep, that did it not decay,
That happy madness would destroy
The hearts w hich feel its fiery sway:
Of guilt, of peril, do they deem
In that tumultuous tender dream?
Who that have felt that passion's power,
Or paused, or feared in such an hour?
Or thought how brief such moments last:
But yet—they are already past!
Alas! we must awake before
We know such vision comes no more.
With many a lingering look they leave
The spot of guilty gladness past;
And though they hope, and vow, they grieve,
As if that parting were the last.
The frequent sigh—the long embrace—
The lip that there would cling for ever,
While gleams on Parisina's face
The Heaven she fears will not forgive her3
As if each calmly conscious star
And Hugo is gone to his lonely bed,