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From the firm land, along the Po, the Brenta,
Crowding the common ferry. All arrived ;
And in his straw the prisoner turned and listened,
So great the stir in Venice. Old and young
Thronged her three hundred bridges; the grave
In his white turban, and the cozening. Jew,
In his red hat and threadbare gaberdine,
Hurrying along. For, as the custom was,
The noblest sons and daughters of the state,
They of patrician birth, the flower of Venice,
Whose names are written in the Book of Gold,
Were on that day to solemnize their nuptials.
At noon a distant murmur through the crowd,
Rising and rolling on, announced their coming,
And never from the first was to be seen
Such splendour or such beauty. Two and two
(The richest tapestry unrolled before them),
First came the Brides in all their loveliness ;
Each in her veil, and ly two bride-maids followed,
Only less lovely, who behind her bore
The precious caskets that within contained
The dowry and the presents. On she moved,
Her eyes cast down, and holding in her hand
A fan, that gently waved, of ostrich feathers.
Her veil, transparent as the gossamer,
Fell from beneath a starry diadem ;
And on her dazzling neck a jewel shone,
Ruby or diamond or dark amethyst ;
A jewelled chain, in many a winding wreath,
Wreathing her gold brocade.
Before the church,
That venerable pile on the sea-brink,
Another train they met, no strangers to them,
Brothers to some and to the rest still dearer;
Each in his hand bearing his cap and plume,
And, as he walked, with modest dignity
Folding his scarlet mantle, his tabarro.
They join, they enter in, and, up the aisle Led by the full-voiced choir in bright procession, Range round the altar. In his vestments there The patriarch stands: and, while the anthem flows, Who can look on unmoved ?-mothers in secret Rejoicing in the beauty of their daughters, Sons in the thought of making them their own; And they-arrayed in youth and innocence, Their beauty heightened by their hopes and fears.
At length the rite is ending. All fall down In earnest prayer, all of all ranks together ; And, stretching out his hands, the holy man Proceeds to give the general benediction ; When hark, a din of voices from without, And shrieks and groans and outcries as in battle ! And lo, the door is burst, the curtain rent, And armed ruffians, robbers from the deep, Savage, uncouth, led on by Barbarigo, And his six brothers in their coats of steel, Are standing on the threshold! Statue-like, Awhile they gaze on the fallen multitude, Each with his sabre up, in act to strike; Then, as at once recovering from the spell, Rush forward to the altar, and as soon Are gone again-amid no clash of arms Bearing away the maidens and the treasures. Where are they now ?-ploughing the distant
waves, Their sails all set, and they upon the deck Standing triumphant. To the East they go, Steering for Istria ; their accursed bark's (Well are they known, the galliot and the galley) Freighted with all that gives to life its value ! The richest argosies were poor to them !
Now might you see the matrons running wild Along the beach ; the men half armed and arming,
One with a shield, one with a casque and spear;
One with an axe hewing the mooring-chain
Of some old pinnace. Not a raft, a plank,
But on that day was drifting. In an hour
Half Venice was afloat. But long before,
Frantic with grief and scorning all control,
The youths were gone in a light brigantine
Lying at anchor near the Arsenal;
Each having sworn, and by the holy rood,
To slay or to be slain.
And from the tower
The watchman gives the signal. In the east
A ship is seen, and making for the port;
Her flag St. Mark's. And now she turns the point,
Over the waters like a sea-bird flying !
Ha, 'tis the same, 'tis theirs ! From stern to prow
Hung with green boughs, she comes-she comes,
restoring All that was lost.
Coasting, with narrow search, Friuli-like a tiger in his spring They had surprised the corsairs where they lay Sharing the spoil in blind security And casting lots—had slain them, one and all, All to the last, and flung them far and wide Into the sea, their proper element; Him first, as first in rank, whose name so long Had hushed the babes of Venice, and who yet, Breathing a little, in his look retained The fierceness of his soul.
Thus were the Brides Lost and recovered ; and what now remained But to give thanks ? Twelve breast-plates and
twelve crowns, Flaming with gems and gold, the votive offerings Of the young victors to their patron-saint, Vowed on the field of battle, were ere long Laid at his feet; and to preserve for ever The memory of a day so full of change,
From joy to grief, from grief to joy again,
Through many an age, as oft as it came round,
'Twas held religiously with all observance.
The Doge resigned his crimson for pure ermine;
And through the city in a stately barge
Of gold, were borne, with songs and symphonies,
Twelve ladies young and noble. Clad they were
In bridal white with bridal ornaments,
Each in her glittering veil ; and on the deck,
As on a burnished throne, they glided by ;
No window or balcony but adorned
With hangings of rich texture, not a roof
But covered with beholders, and the air
Vocal with joy. Onward they went, the oars
Moving in concert with the harmony,
Through the Rialto to the Ducal Palace,
And at a banquet there, served with due honour,
Sat representing, in the eyes of all,
Eyes not unwet, I ween, with grateful tears,
Their lovely ancestors, the Brides of Venice.
HERE is a flower, a little flower
With silver crest and golden eye,
That welcomes every changing hour,
And weathers every sky.
The prouder beauties of the field,
In gay but quick succession shine ;
Race after race their honours yield,
They flourish and décline.
But this small flower to Nature dear,
While moons and stars their courses run,
Enwreathes the circle of the year,
Companion of the sun.
It smiles upon the lap of May,
To sultry August spreads its charm,
Lights pale October on his way,
And twines December's arm.
The purple heath and golden broom,
On moory mountains catch the gale ;
O’er lawns the lily sheds perfume,
The violet in the vale.
But this bold floweret climbs the hill,
Hides in the forest, haunts the glen,
Plays on the margin of the rill,
Peeps round the fox's den.
Within the garden's cultured round
It shares the sweet carnation's bed ;
And blooms on consecrated ground
In honour of the dead.
The lambkin crops its crimson gem;
The wild bee murmurs on its breast;
The blue fly bends its pensile stem,
Light o'er the skylark's nest.
'Tis Flora's page-in every place,
In every season, fresh and fair ;
It opens with perennial grace,
And blossoms everywhere.
On waste and woodland, rock and plain,
Its humble buds unheeded rise;
The rose has but a summer reign;
The daisy never dies !