Page images
PDF
EPUB

Twice shone among the nations of the world,
As the sun shines among the lesser lights
Of heaven; and shalt again. The hour shall come,
When they who think to bind the ethereal spirit,
Who, like the eagle cowering o'er his prey,
Watch with quick eye, and strike and strike again
If but a sinew vibrate, shall confess
Their wisdom folly. Even now the flame
Bursts forth where once it burnt so gloriously,
And, dying, left a splendour like the day,
That like the day diffused itself, and still
Blesses the earth—the light of genius, virtue,
Greatness in thought and act, contempt of death,
God-like example. Echoes that have slept
Since ATHENS, LACEDÆMON, were Themselves,
Since men invoked · By those in MARATHON!'
Awake along the Ægean; and the dead,
They of that sacred shore, have heard the call,
And thro’ the ranks, from wing to wing, are seen
Moving as once they were-instead of

rage Breathing deliberate valour.

E

COLL'ALTO.

“Is this neglected mirror (the broad frame
Of massy silver serves to testify
That many a noble matron of the house
Has gat before it) once, alas, was seen
What led to many sorrows.

From that time
The bat came hither for a sleeping place;
And he, who cursed another in his heart,
Said, ' Be thy dwelling, thro' the day and night,
Shunned like CoLL'ALTO.'”—'Twas in that old Pile,
Which flanks the cliff with its

battlements Flung here and there, and, like an eagle's nest, Hangs in the Trevisan, that thus the Steward, Shaking his locks, the few that Time had left, Addressed me, as we entered what was called • My Lady's Chamber. On the walls, the chairs, Much yet remained of the rich tapestry ; Much of the adventures of Sir LANCELOT In the green glades of some enchanted wood.

grey

The toilet-table was of silver wrought,
Florentine Art, when Florence was renowned ;
A gay confusion of the elements,
Dolphins and boys, and shells and fruits and flowers :
And from the ceiling, in his gilded cage,
Hung a small bird of curious workmanship,
That, when his Mistress bade him, would unfold
(So says the babbling Dame, Tradition, there)
His emerald-wings, and sing and sing again
The song that pleased her. While I stood and looked,
A gleam of day yet lingering in the West,
The Steward went on. “She had ('tis now long since)
A gentle serving-maid, the fair CRISTINE,
Fair as a lily, and as spotless too ;
None so admired, beloved. They had grown up
As play-fellows; and some there were, that said,
Some that knew much, discoursing of CristiNE,
• She is not what she seems.' When unrequired,
She would steal forth ; her custom, her delight,
To wander thro' and thro' an ancient grove
Self-planted half-way down, losing herself
Like one in love with sadness; and her veil
And vesture white, seen ever in that place,
Ever as surely as the hours came round,

Among those reverend trees, gave her below
The name of The White Lady. But the day
Is gone, and I delay thee.

In that chair
The Countess, as it might be now, was sitting,
Her gentle serving-maid, the fair CRISTINE,
Combing her golden hair; and thro' this door
The Count, her lord, was hastening, called away
By letters of great urgency to VENICE;
When in the glass she saw, as she believed,
('Twas an illusion of the Evil One-
Some say he came and crossed it at the time)
A smile, a glance at parting, given and answered,
That turned her blood to gall. That

very night The deed was done. That night, ere yet the Moon Was up on Monte Calvo, and the wolf Baying as still he does (oft is he heard, An hour and more, by the old turret-clock) They led her forth, the unhappy lost CRISTINE, Helping her down in her distress-to die.

“ No blood was spilt ; no instrument of death Lurked-or stood forth, declaring its bad purpose; Nor was a hair of her unblemished head Hurt in that hour. Fresh as a flower just blown,

And warm with life, her youthful pulses playing,
She was walled

up

within the Castle-wall.* The wall itself was hollowed secretly; Then closed again, and done to line and rule. Would'st thou descend ? 'Tis in a darksome vault Under the Chapel : and there nightly now, As in the narrow niche, when smooth and fair, And as if nothing had been done or thought, The stone-work rose before her, till the light Glimmered and went—there, nightly at that hour, (Thou smil'st, and would it were an idle tale!) In her white veil and vesture white she stands Shuddering-her eyes uplifted, and her hands Joined as in prayer; then, like a Blessed Soul Bursting the tomb, springs forward, and away Flies o'er the woods and mountains. Issuing forth, The hunter meets her in his hunting-track; † The shepherd on the heath, starting, exclaims (For still she bears the name she bore of old) • 'Tis the White Lady!'"

* Murato was a technical word for this punishment.

+ An old huntsman of the family met her in the haze of the morning, and never went out again.

She is still known by the name of Madonna Bianca.

« PreviousContinue »