« ПретходнаНастави »
Face to face the lovers stood
A single minute and no more,
While the bridegroom bent as a man subdued
Bowed till his bonnet brushed the floor-
For the Duke on the lady a kiss conferred,
As the courtly custom was of yore.
In a minute can lovers exchange a word ?
If a word did pass, which I do not think,
Only one out of the thousand heard.
That was the bridegroom. At day's brink
He and his bride were alone at last
In a bed-chamber 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 could 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.
“ Freely I choose too," said the bride-
“ Your window and its world suffice,"
Replied the tongue, while the heart replied
“If I spend the night with that devil twice,
May his window serve as my loop of hell “ Whence a damned soul looks on paradise !
“ I fly to the Duke who loves me well,
“ Sit by his side and laugh at sorrow
" Ere I count another ave-bell.
“ 'T is only the coat of a page to borrow, " And tie my hair in a horse-boy's trim, “ And I save my soul-but not to-morrow
(She checked herself and her eye grew dim)
My father tarries to bless my state : “ I must keep it one day more for him.
“ Is one day more so long to wait ?
“ Moreover the Duke rides past, I know;
“ We shall see each other, sure as fate.”
She turned on her side and slept. Just so!
So we resolve on a thing, and sleep:
So did the lady, ages ago.
That night the Duke said, “Dear or cheap “ As the cost of this cup of bliss may prove “ To body or soul, I will drain it deep.”
And on the morrow, bold with love,
He beckoned the bridegroom (close on call,
As his duty bade, by the Duke's alcove)
And smiled “'T was a very funeral,
“ Your lady will think, this feast of ours,
“ A shame to efface, whate'er befall !
“ What if we break from the Arno bowers,
“ And try if Petraja, cool and green,
“ Cure last night's fault with this morning's flowers ?”
The bridegroom, not a thought to be seen
On his steady brow and quiet mouth,
Said, “ Too much favour for me so mean!
But, alas ! my lady leaves the South;
“ Each wind that comes from the Apennine
“ Is a menace to her tender youth :
“ Nor a way exists, the wise opine,
“ If she quits her palace twice this year,
“ To avert the flower of life's decline.”
Quoth the Duke, “A sage and a kindly fear.
“ Moreover Petraja is cold this spring :
“ Be our feast to-night as usual here !"
And then to himself—“Which night shall bring
“ Thy bride to her lover's embraces, fool-
“ Or I am the fool, and thou art the king !
“ Yet my passion must wait a night, nor cool
“ For to-night the Envoy arrives from France
“ Whose heart I unlock with thyself, my tool.
* I need thee still and might miss perchance.
" To-day is not wholly lost, beside,
“With its hope of my lady's countenance :
“ For I ride~what should I do but ride?
And, passing her palace, if I list, “May glance at its window—well betide!”
So said, so done : nor the lady missed
that broke from the ardent brow, Nor a curl of the lips where the spirit kissed.
Be sure that each renewed the
No morrow's sun should arise and set
And leave them then as it left them now.
But next day passed, and next day yet,
With still fresh cause to wait one day more
Ere each leaped over the parapet.
And still, as love's brief morning wore,
With a gentle start, half smile, half sigh,
They found love not as it seemed before.
They thought it would work infallibly,
But not in despite of heaven and earth :
The rose would blow when the storm passed by.
Meantime they could profit, in winter's dearth,
By store of fruits that supplant the rose :
The world and its ways have a certain worth:
And to press a point while these oppose
Were simple policy; better wait :
We lose no friends and we gain no foes.
Meantime, worse fates than a lover's fate,
Who daily may ride and pass 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 the picture at night to scheme
Of tearing it out for herself next sun.
So weeks grew months, years ; gleam by gleam
The glory dropped from their 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 a truth?
Oh, 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,
Hollow-eyed and haggard-cheeked