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If one could have that little head of hers
Painted upon a background of pale gold,
Such as the Tuscan's early art prefers !
No shade encroaching on the matchless mould
Of those two lips, which should be opening soft
In the pure profile ; not as when she laughs,
For that spoils all : but rather as if aloft
Yon hyacinth, she loves so, leaned its staff's
Burthen of honey-coloured buds, to kiss
And capture 'twixt the lips apart for this.
Then her lithe neck, three fingers might surround,
How it should waver, on the pale gold ground,
Up to the fruit-shaped, perfect chin it lifts !
I know, Correggio loves to mass, in rifts
Of heaven, his angel faces, orb on orb
Breaking its outline, burning shades absorb :
But these are only massed there, I should think,
Waiting to see some wonder momently
Grow out, stand full, fade slow against the sky
(That's the pale ground you'd see this sweet face by),
All heaven, meanwhile, condensed into one eye
Which fears to lose the wonder, should it wink.
That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now : Frà Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“ Frà Pandolf” by design : for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 't was not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek : perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say “ Her mantle laps
“ Over my lady's wrist too much," or Paint
“ Must never hope to reproduce the faint
“ Half-flush that dies along her throat:" such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart-how shall I say?-too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed ; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 't was all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace-all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,-good! but thanked
SomehowI know not how-as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—(which I have not)—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “ Just this
“ Or that in you disgusts me; here
“ Or there exceed the mark”-and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
- E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile ? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed ;
Merely But that fo ( Nay, I
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we 'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me !
SONG FROM “ PIPPA PASSES."
Give her but a least excuse to love me !
How—can this arm establish her above me,
If fortune fixed her as my lady there,
There already, to eternally reprove me?
(“Hist!”—said Kate the queen ; But “Oh," cried the maiden, binding her tresses,
“ 'Tis only a page that carols unseen, Crumbling your hounds their messes ! ”)
Is she wronged ?—To the rescue of her honour,
My heart !
Is she poor?—What costs it to become a donour?
Merely an earth to cleave, a sea to part.
But that fortune should have thrust all this upon her!
(“Nay, list !”—bade Kate the queen ;
And still cried the maiden, binding her tresses,
“'T is only a page that carols unseen, Fitting your hawks their jesses !”
She should never have looked at me if she meant I
should not love her ! There are plenty men, you call such, I
suppose she may discover All her soul to, if she pleases, and yet leave much as she
found them : But I'm not so, and she knew it when she fixed me,
glancing round them.
What? To fix me thus meant nothing ? But I can't tell
(there's my weakness) What her look said !-no vile cant, sure, about “need
to strew the bleakness “ Of some lone shore with its pearl-seed, that the sea feels”-no
strange yearning “ That such souls have, most to lavish where there is
chance of least returning."