Page images




“I fain would speak to that unhappy pair,
Who hand in hand so lightly float in air.”
In words like these, to Maro I expressed
My wish ; and thus he granted my request.
“ Wait till the Shades approach, then name the word
Of love, which rules them ; straight you will be heard.”
Soon as I saw the constant ghosts were cast
Near to our station by the baleful blast,
Swift I conjured them : “By your miseries past,
Oh, speak!” and as two doves on wings outspread
Float to their darling nest, by fondness led,
So did these sorrowing spirits leave the throng
Where Dido broods o'er Man's unpunished wrong;
Nor aught of woe concealed, nor aught refused,
Such magic power was in the words I used.
“ Oh, pitying stranger ! that in this dread place
Canst feel for blood-stained hearts, had we found grace
With the great Lord of all, we should not cease
To pray his mercy for your future peace;
For you shew mercy to our mortal sin-
But stay; while yet the tempest holds its din,
Speak what you list, ask what you reck to know,
And hear our griefs—'tis all we can bestow.
In lands where Po with ample torrent flows
To the broad sea, and finds at length repose,
We sprung; there love, by which each gentle breast
Is quickly fired, my Paolo's heart possessed
For that fair form, torn from me in such chill
And cruel fashion as afflicts me still:
True love by love must ever be repaid ;-
I learned to please him so, that still his shade
Is seen e'en here to wander by my side,
For love we lived, for love together died.
But he by whose unnatural hand we bled,
With Cain shall dwell;"_these words the Shadow said.
Thoughtful I listened, when I heard the' offence
Borne by these gentle souls, in sad suspense
I bent my eyes : the silence Virgil broke,
And questioned of my thoughts--slowly I spoke :
“ Alas!" I said, “how soft and light a train
Of sweet desires led these to endless pain !”
Then turning round, the lovers I addressed :
Your griefs, Francesca, weigh upon my breast,
And fill my eyes with tears ; vouchsafe to tell,
In love's spring-season of fond sighs what spell

First brought the bud of secret hope to flower,
And taught your hearts the presence of his power.”
“ Alas!” she said, “when only pangs remain,
The memory of past joy is sharpest pain,-
And this your master knows; yet if desire
So strong and eager prompt you to inquire
Whence sprung our love, the story you shall hear,
Though every word be followed by a tear.
One day, intent to while away the time,
Alone, yet void of fear as free from crime,
We read of Lancelot's love; oft from the book
We raised our eyes, and each commingling look
Led to a blush,-the story we pursued,
Till one short, fatal passage all subdued.
For when we read the lover crowned with bliss,
Her rapturous smile, and his more ardent kiss,
He, who is ever to my side attached,
He from my lips a kiss all trembling snatched;
No conscious slave the’ impassioned message bore,
Save that frail book : that day we read no more.
As thus one Shadow told the mournful tale,
The other did so feelingly bewail,
That pity checked my blood, my voice, my breath,
And sunk me to the ground as one in death.



STATELY as a silver swan,
O'er a river sailing on-
Fancies sweet with feelings high,
Mingled, in her dreaming eye,-
Guarded close by squire and page,
(Youth will not be schooled by age!)
Watched in vain, though watched so well,
Moves the lady Isabel !


She is dreaming, at this hour!
In her dream there is a bower,
And an overlooking star,
And the voice of a guitar,
And the murmur of a prayer ;
And a vow is uttered there;-
Soon her guards will have to tell
How 't was kept by Isabel !

« PreviousContinue »