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VIII.

“ O Isabella ! I can half perceive

That I may speak my grief into thine ear; If thou didst ever anything believe,

Believe how I love thee, believe how near My soul is to its doom : I would not grieve

Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear Thine eyes by gazing ; but I cannot live Another night, and not my passion shrive.

IX.

“ Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,

Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime, And I must taste the blossoms that unfold

In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time.” So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,

And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme : Great bliss was with them, and great happiness Grew, like a lusty flower in June's caress.

X.

Parting they seem'd to tread upon the air,

Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart Only to meet again more close, and share

The inward fragrance of each other's heart. She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair

Sang, of delicious love and honey'd dart ; He with light steps went up a western hill, And bade the sun farewell, and joy'd his fill.

XI.

All close they met again, before the dusk

Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil, All close they met, all eves, before the dusk

Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,

Unknown of any, free from whispering tale.
Ah! better had it been for ever so,
Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.

XII.

Were they unhappy then ?-It cannot be

Too many tears for lovers have been shed, Too many sighs give we to them in fee,

Too much of pity after they are dead, Too many doleful stories do we see,

Whose matter in bright gold were best be read ; Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse Over the pathless waves towards him bows.

XIII.

But, for the general award of love,

The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
Though Dido silent is in under-grove,

And Isabella's was a great distress,
Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove

Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the lessEven bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers, Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.

XIV.

With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,

Enriched from ancestral merchandise,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt

In torched mines and noisy factories,
And many once proud-quiver'd loins did melt

In blood from stinging whip; with hollow eyes
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.

XV.

For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,

And went all naked to the hungry shark; For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death

The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe

A thousand men in troubles wide and dark: Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel, That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.

XVI.

Why were they proud ? Because their marble founts

Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears? Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts

Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs ?
Why were they proud ? Because red-lined accounts

Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?
Why were they proud ? again we ask aloud,
Why in the name of Glory were they proud ?

XVII.

Yet were these Florentines as self-retired

In hungry pride and gainful cowardice, As two close Hebrews-in that land inspired,

Paled in and vineyarded from beggar-spies ; The hawks of ship-mast forests—the untired

And pannier'd mules for ducats and old lies-Quick cat’s-paws on the generous stray-away, Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.

XVIII.

How was it these same ledger-men could spy

Fair Isabella in her downy nest?
How could they find out in Lorenzo's eye

A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt's pest
Into their vision covetous and sly!

How could these money-bags see east and west ? Yet so they did-and every dealer fair Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.

XIX.

O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!

Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon, And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,

And of thy roses amorous of the moon, And of thy lilies, that do paler grow

Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune, For venturing syllables that ill beseem The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.

XX.

Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale

Shall move on soberly, as it is meet; There is no other crime, no mad assail

To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet : But it is done_succeed the verse or fail

To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet; To stead thee as a verse in English tongue, An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.

XXI.

These brethren having found by many signs

What love Lorenzo for their sister had, And how she loved him too, each unconfines

His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad That he, the servant of their trade designs,

Should in their sister's love be blithe and glad, When 't was their plan to coax her by degrees To some high noble and his olive-trees.

XXII.

And many a jealous conference had they,

And many times they bit their lips alone, Before they fix'd upon a surest way

To make the youngster for his crime atone;
And at the last, these men of cruel clay

Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone;
For they resolved in some forest dim
To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him.

XXIII.

So on a pleasant morning, as he leant

Into the sun-rise, o'er the balustrade
Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent

Their footing through the dews; and to him said, “ You seem there in the quiet of content,

Lorenzo, and we are most loath to invade Calm speculation; but if you are wise, Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.

XXIV.

“ To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount

To spur three leagues towards the Apennine; Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count

His dewy rosary on the eglantine.”
Lorenzo, courteously as he was wont,

Bow'd a fair greeting to these serpents' whine;
And went in haste, to get in readiness,
With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman's dress.

XXV.

And as he to the court-yard pass'd along,

Each third step did he pause, and listen’d oft If he could hear his lady's matin-song,

Or the light whisper of her footstep soft ;
And as he thus over his passion hung,

He heard a laugh full musical aloft ;
When, looking up, he saw her features bright
Smile through an in-door lattice all delight.

XXVI.

“ Love, Isabel !” said he, “ I was in pain

Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow :
Ah! what if I should lose thee, when so fain

I am to stifle all the heavy sorrow
Of a poor three hours' absence? but we'll gain

Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow.
Good bye! I'll soon be back.”—“Good bye!” said she :
And as he went she chanted merrily.

XXVII.

So the two brothers and their murder'd man

Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream Gurgles through straiten'd banks, and still doth fan

Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan

The brothers' faces in the ford did seem, Lorenzo's flush with love. They pass'd the water Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.

K

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