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Fancying strange comments in her dizzy brain
Of usual shapes, till the familiar train
Of objects and of persons passed like things
Strange as a dreamer's mad imaginings,
Ginevra from the nuptial altar went;
The vows to which her lips had sworn assent
Rung in her brain still with a jarring din,
Deafening the lost intelligence within.
And so she moved under the bridal veil, Which made the paleness of her cheek more pale, And deepened the faint crimson of her mouth, And darkened her dark locks, as moonlight doth,And of the gold and jewels glittering there She scarce felt conscious, but the weary glare Lay like a chaos of unwelcome light, Vexing the sense with gorgeous undelight. A moonbeam in the shadow of a cloud Was less heavenly fair - her face was bowed, And as she passed, the diamonds in her hair Were mirrored in the polished marble stair Which led from the cathedral to the street; And even as she went her light fair feet Erased these images.
The bride-maidens who round her thronging
Some with a sense of self-rebuke and shame,
Envying the unenviable; and others
Making the joy which should have been another's
Their own by gentle sympathy; and some
Sighing to think of a unhappy home;
22 was less || were less, Rossetti.
Some few admiring what can ever lure
Maidens to leave the heaven serene and pure
Of parents' smiles for life's great cheat; a thing
Bitter to taste, sweet in imagining.
But they are all dispersed — and lo! she stands
Looking in idle grief on her white hands,
Alone within the garden now her own;
And through the sunny air, with jangling tone,
The music of the merry marriage-bells,
Killing the azure silence, sinks and swells ;-
Absorbed like one within a dream who dreams
That he is dreaming, until slumber seems
A mockery of itself — when suddenly
Antonio stood before her, pale as she.
With agony, with sorrow, and with pride,
He lifted his wan eyes upon the bride,
And said "Is this thy faith?" and then as
Whose sleeping face is stricken by the sun
With light like a harsh voice, which bids him rise
And look upon his day of life with eyes
Which weep in vain that they can dream no more,
Ginevra saw her lover, and forbore
To shriek or faint, and checked the stifling blood
Rushing upon her heart, and unsubdued
Said "Friend, if earthly violence or ill,
Suspicion, doubt, or the tyrannic will
Of parents, chance, or custom, time, or change,
Or circumstance, or terror, or revenge,
Or wildered looks, or words, or evil speech,
With all their stings and venom, can impeach
we love not. If the grave, which hides
The victim from the tyrant, and divides
The cheek that whitens from the eyes that dart
Imperious inquisition to the heart
That is another's, could dissever ours,
We love not." "What! do not the silent hours Beckon thee to Gherardi's bridal bed?
Is not that ring" a pledge, he would have
Of broken vows, but she with patient look
The golden circle from her finger took,
And said" Accept this token of my faith,
The pledge of vows to be absolved by death;
And I am dead or shall be soon knell
Will mix its music with that merry bell;
Does it not sound as if they sweetly said,
'We toll a corpse out of the marriage-bed'?
The flowers upon my bridal chamber strewn
Will serve unfaded for bier
That even the dying violet will not die
Before Ginevra." The strong fantasy
Had made her accents weaker and more weak,
And quenched the crimson life upon her cheek,
And glazed her eyes, and spread an atmosphere
Round her, which chilled the burning noon with
Making her but an image of the thought,
Which, like a prophet or a shadow, brought
News of the terrors of the coming time.
Like an accuser branded with the crime
He would have cast on a beloved friend,
Whose dying eyes reproach not to the end
The pale betrayer — he then with vain repentance
Would share, he cannot now avert, the sentence
Antonio stood and would have spoken, when
The compound voice of women and of men
Was heard approaching; he retired, while she
Was led amid the admiring company
Back to the palace, and her maidens soon
Changed her attire for the afternoon,
And left her at her own request to keep
An hour of quiet and rest. Like one asleep
With open eyes and folded hands she lay,
Pale in the light of the declining day.
Meanwhile the day sinks fast, the sun is set,
And in the lighted hall the guests are met;
The beautiful looked lovelier in the light
Of love, and admiration, and delight,
Reflected from a thousand hearts and eyes
Kindling a momentary Paradise.
This crowd is safer than the silent wood,
Where love's own doubts disturb the solitude;
On frozen hearts the fiery rain of wine
Falls, and the dew of music more divine
Tempers the deep emotions of the time
To spirits cradled in a sunny clime.
How many meet, who never yet have met,
To part too soon, but never to forget?
How many saw the beauty, power, and wit
Of looks and words which ne'er enchanted yet!
But life's familiar veil was now withdrawn.
As the world leaps before an earthquake's dawn,
And unprophetic of the coming hours
The matin winds from the expanded flowers
Scatter their hoarded incense, and awaken
The earth, until the dewy sleep is shaken
From every living heart which it possesses,
Through seas and winds, cities and wildernesses,
As if the future and the past were all
Treasured i' the instant; so Gherardi's hall
Laughed in the mirth of its lord's festival,
Till some one asked, "Where is the Bride?"
A bridesmaid went, and ere she came again
A silence fell upon the guests a pause
Of expectation, as when beauty awes
All hearts with its approach, though unbeheld;
Then wonder, and then fear that wonder quelled; -
For whispers passed from mouth to ear which drew
The color from the hearer's cheeks, and flew
Louder and swifter round the company;
And then Gherardi entered with an eye
Of ostentatious trouble, and a crowd
Surrounded him, and some were weeping loud.
They found Ginevra dead! if it be death To lie without motion, or pulse, or breath, With waxen cheeks, and limbs cold, stiff, and white, And open eyes, whose fixed and glassy light Mocked at the speculation they had owned; If it be death, when there is felt around A smell of clay, a pale and icy glare, And silence, and a sense that lifts the hair From the scalp to the ankles, as it were Corruption from the spirit passing forth, And giving all it shrouded to the earth, And leaving as swift lightning in its flight
129 winds || lands, Forman conj., waves, or sands, or strands, Rossetti conj.