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Sets ere one-half is seen ; but, ere thou go,
Enter the house — prithee, forget it not —
And look a while upon a picture there.
'Tis of a lady in her earliest youth,128
The very last of that illustrious race,
Done by ZAMPIERI but by whom I care not.
He who observes it, ere he passes on,
Gazes his fill, and comes and comes again,
That he may call it up when far away. .
She sits, inclining forward as to speak,
Her lips half-open, and her finger up,
As though she said “Beware!” her vest of gold
Broidered with flowers, and clasped from head to foot,
An emerald-stone in every golden clasp;
And on her brow, fairer than alabaster,
A coronet of pearls. But then her face,
So lovely, yet so arch, so full of mirth,
The overflowings of an innocent heart -
It haunts me still, though many a year has fled,
Like some wild melody!
Alone it hangs
Over a mouldering heirloom, its companion,
An oaken-chest, half-eaten by the worm,
But richly carved by ANTONY of Trent
With scripture-stories from the life of Christ;
A chest that came from VENICE, and had held
The ducal robes of some old ancestor.
That by the way
it may be true or false But don't forget the picture; and thou wilt not, When thou hast heard the tale they told me there.
She was an only child; from infancy The joy, the pride, of an indulgent sire.
Her mother dying of the gift she gave,
That precious gift, what else remained to him?
The young GINEVRA was his all in life,
Still as she grew, forever in his sight;
And in her fifteenth year became a bride,
Marrying an only son, FRANCESCO DORIA,
Her playmate from her birth, and her first love.
Just as she looks there in her bridal dress,
She was all gentleness, all gayety,
Iler pranks the favorite theme of every tongue.
But now the day was come, the day, the hour;
Now, frowning, smiling, for the hundredth time,
The nurse, that ancient lady, preached decorum ;
And, in the lustre of her youth, she gave
Her hand, with her heart in it, to FRANCESCO.
Great was the joy; but at the bridal feast, When all sate down, the bride was wanting there. Nor was she to be found! Her father cried, " 'Tis but to make a trial of our love !" And filled his glass to all; but his hand shook, And soon from guest to guest the panic spread. T was but that instant she had left FRANCESCO, Laughing and looking back and flying still, Her ivory-tooth imprinted on his finger But now, alas! she was not to be found; Nor from that hour could anything be guessed But that she was not! Wcary of his life, FRANCESCO flew to VENICE, and forthwith Flung it away in battle with the Turk. ORSINI lived ; and long was to be seen An old man wandering 12% as in quest of something, Something he could not find — he knew not what.
When he was gone, the house remained a while
Silent and tenantless — then went to strangers.
Full fifty years were past, and all forgot,
When on an idle day, a day of search
'Mid the old lumber in the gallery,
That mouldering chest was noticed ; and 't was said
By one as young, as thoughtless as GINEVRA,
“Why not remove it from its lurking-place ?"
’T was done as soon as said ; but on
but on the way It burst, it fell; and, lo! a skeleton, With here and there a pearl, an emerald-stone, A golden clasp, clasping a shred of gold. All else had perished — save a nuptial ring, And a small seal, her mother's legacy, Engraven with a name, the name of both, "GİNEVRA.” There, then, had she found a grave! Within that chest had she concealed herself, Fluttering with joy, the happiest of the happy ; When a spring-lock, that lay in ambush there, Fastened her down forever!
'Twas night; the noise and bustle of the day
Were o'er. The mountebank no longer wrought
Miraculous cures he and his stage were gone;
And he who, when the crisis of his tale
Came, and all stood breathless with bope and fear,
Sent round his cap; and he who thrummed his wire
And sang, with pleading look and plaintive strain,
Melting the passenger. Thy thousand cries, 9
So well portrayed, and by a son of thine,
Whose voice had swelled the hubbub in his youth,
Were hushed, BOLOGNA, silence in the streets,
The squares, when, hark! the clattering of fleet hoofs ;
And soon a courier, posting as from far,
Housing and holster, boot and belted coat
And doublet, stained with many a various soil,
Stopt and alighted. 'Twas where hangs aloft
That ancient sign, the pilgrim, welcoming
All who arrive there, all perhaps save those
Clad like himself, with staff and scallop-shell,
Those on a pilgrimage. And now approached
Wheels, through the lofty porticos resounding,
Arch beyond arch, a shelter or a shade
As the sky changes. To the gate they came;
And, ere the man had half his story done,
Mine host received the master
one long used
To sojourn among strangers, everywhere
(Go where he would, along the wildest track)
Flinging a charm that shall not soon be lost,
And leaving footsteps to be traced by those
Who love the haunts of genius; one who saw,
Observed, nor shunned the busy scenes of life,
But mingled not, and ’mid the din, the stir,
Lived as a separate spirit.
Much had passed
Since last we parted; and those five short years ----
Much had they told ! His clustering locks were turned
Gray; nor did aught recall the youth that swam
From SESTOS to ABYDOS. Yet his voice,
Still it was sweet; still from his eye the thought
Flashed lightning-like, nor lingered on the way,
Waiting for words. Far, far into the night
We sat, conversing -- no unwelcome hour, ,
The hour we met; and when Aurora rose,
Rising, we climbed the rugged Apennine.
Well I remember how the golden sun
Filled with its beams the unfathomable gulfs,
As on we travelled, and along the ridge,
Mid groves of cork and cistus and wild-fig,
His motley household came. - Not last nor least,
BATTISTA, who, upon the moonlight-sea
OF VENICE, had so ably, zealously,
Served, and, at parting, thrown his oar away
To follow through the world; who without stain
Had worn so long that honorable badge,
The gondolier's, in a patrician house
Arguing unlimited trust.190 -- Not last nor least,
Thou, though declining in thy beauty and strength,
Faithful MORETTO, to the latest hour
Guarding his chamber-door, and now along
The silent, sullen strand of MISSOLONGHI
Howling in grief. - He had just left that place
Of old renown, once in the ADRIAN sea,
RAVENNA! where from DANTE's sacred tomb
He had so oft, as many a verse declares, 182
Drawn inspiration ; where, at twilight-time,
Through the pine-forest wandering with loose rein,
Wandering and lost, he had so oft beheld
(What is not visible to a poet's eye ?)
The spectre-knight, the hell-hounds and their prey, ,
The chase, the slaughter, and the festal mirth
Suddenly blasted.133 T was a theme he loved,
But others claimed their turn; and many a tower,