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That was the bridegroom. At day's brink
He and his bride were alone at last
In a bedchamber by a taper's blink.
Calmly he said that her lot was cast,
That the door she had passed was shut on her
Till the final catafalk repassed.
The world, meanwhile, its noise and stir,
Through a certain window facing the east
She might watch like a convent's chronicler.
Since passing the door might lead to a feast,
And a feast might lead to so much beside,
He, of many evils, chose the least.
Meanwhile, worse fates than a lover's fate
Whio daily may ride and lean and look
Where his lady watches behind the grate !
And she she watched the square like a book
Holding one picture, and only one,
Which daily to find she undertook.
When the picture was reached the book was done,
And she turned from it all night to scheme
Of tearing it out for herself next sun.
Weeks grew months, years, — gleam by gleam
The glory dropped from youth and love,
And both perceived they had dreamed a dream,
Which hovered as dreams do, still above,
But who can take a dream for truth?
O, hide our eyes from the next remove!
One day, as the lady saw her youth
Depart, and the silver thread that streaked
Her hair, and, worn by the serpent's tooth,
The brow so puckered, the chin so peaked,
And wondered who the woman was,
So hollow-eyed and haggard-cheeked,
Fronting her silent in the glass,
“Summon here,” she suddenly said,
“ Before the rest of my old self pass,
“Him, the carver, a hand to aid, Who moulds the clay no love will change, And fixes a beauty never to fade.
“Let Robbia's craft so apt and strange Arrest the remains of young and fair, And rivet them while the seasons range.
“ Make me a face on the window there
Waiting as ever, mute the while,
My love to pass below in the square !”
But long ere Robbia's cornice, fine
With flowers and fruits which leaves enlace,
Was set where now is the empty shrine,
(With, leaning out of a bright blue space, As a ghost might from a chink of sky, The passionate pale lady's face,
Eying ever with earnest eye
And quick-turned neck at its breathless stretch,
Some one who ever passes by,)
The Duke sighed like the simplest wretch
In Florence, “So my dream escapes !
Will its record stay?" And he bade them fetch
Some subtle fashioner of shapes,
“ Can the soul, the will, die out of a man
Ere his body find the grave that gapes ?
“ John of Douay shall work my plan, Mould me on horseback here aloft, Alive, (the subtle artisan !)
“In the very square I cross so oft ! That men may admire, when future suns Shall touch the eyes to a purpose soft,
“While the mouth and the brow are brave in bronze, Admire and say, 'When he was alive, How he would take his pleasure once !'
“ And it shall go hard but I contrive
To listen meanwhile and laugh in my tomb
At indolence which aspires to strive.”
N Santa Croce's holy precincts lie
Ashes which make it holier, dust which is
Even in itself an immortality,
Though there were nothing save the past, and this
The particle of those sublimities
Wbich have relapsed to chaos ; — here repose
Angelo's, Alfieri's bones, and his,
The starry Galileo, with his woes; Here Machiavelli's carth returned to whence it rose.
These are four minds, which, like the elements,
Might furnish forth creation ; — Italy!
Time, which hath wronged thee with ten thousand rents
Of thine imperial garment, shall deny,
And hath denied, to every other sky,
Spirits which soar from ruin: thy decay
Is still impregnate with divinity,
Which gilds it with revivifying ray;
Such as the great of yore, Canova is to-day.
But where repose the all Etruscan three,
Dante, and Petrarch, and, scarce less than they,
The Bard of Prose, creative spirit! he
Of the Hundred Tales of love, — where did they lay
Their bones, distinguished from our common clay
In death as life? Are they resolved to dust,
And have their country's marbles naught to say ?
Could not her quarries furnish forth one bust? Did they not to her breast their filial earth intrust?
Ungrateful Florence! Dante sleeps afar,
Like Scipio, buried by the upbraiding shore;
Thy factions, in their worse than civil war,
Proscribed the bard whose name forevermore
Their children's children would in vain adore
With the remorse of ages; and the crown
Which Petrarch's laureate brow supremely wore,
Upon a far and foreign soil had grown,
His life, his fame, his grave, though rifled,—not thine own.
Boccaccio to bis parent earth bequeathed
His dust, and lies it not her Great among,
Withi many a sweet and solemn requiem breathed
O’er him who formed the Tuscan's siren tongue,
That music in itself, whose sounds are song,
The poetry of speech ? No; even his tomb
Uptorn, must bear the hyena bigots wrong,
No more amidst the meaner dead find room,
Nor claim a passing sigh, because it told for whom.
And Santa Croce wants their mighty dust;
Yet for this want more noted, as of yore
The Cæsar's pageant, shorn of Brutus' bust;
Did but of Rome's best son remind her more.
Happier Ravemua ! on thy boary shore,
Fortress of falling empire, honored sleeps
The immortal exile ; -- Arqua, too, her store
Of tuneful relics proudly claims and keeps, While Florence vainly begs her banished dead, and weeps.