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Filling the chilly room with perfume light.—
Awakening up, he took her hollow lute,— Tumultuous,—and, in chords that tenderest be, He play'd an ancient ditty, long since mute, In Provence call'd " La belle dame sans mercy:" Close to her ear touching the melody ;— Wherewith disturb'd, she utter'd a soft moan: He ceased—she panted quick—and suddenly Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone: Upon his knees he sank, pale as smooth-sculptured stone.
Her eyes were open, but she still beheld, Now wide awake, the vision of her sleep: There was a painful change, that nigh expell'd The blisses of her dream so pure and deep. At which fair Madeline began to weep, And moan forth witless words with-many a sigh; While still her gaze on Porphyro would keep; Who knelt, with joined hands and piteous eye, Fearing to move or speak, she look'd so dreamingly.
"Ah, Porphyro!" said she, "but even now Thy voice was at sweet tremble in mine ear, Made tuneable with every sweetest vow; And those sad eyes were spiritual and clear: How changed thou art! how pallid, chill, and drear! Give me that voice again, my Porphyro, Those looks immortal, those complainings dear! Oh leave me not in this eternal woe, For if thou diest, my Love, I know not where to go."
xxxvi. Beyond a mortal man impassion'd far At these voluptuous accents, he arose, Ethereal, flush'd, and like a throbbing star Seen 'mid the sapphire heaven's deep repose; Into her dream he melted, as the rose Blendeth its odour with the violet,— Solution sweet: meantime the frost-wind blows Like Love's alarum pattering the sharp sleet Against the window-panes; St. Agnes' moon hath set
xxxvu. 'Tis dark: quick pattereth the flaw-blown sleet: "This is no dream, my bride, my Madeline!" 'Tis dark: the iced gusts still rave and beat: "No dream, alas! alas! and woe is mine! Porphyro will leave me here to fade and pine.— Cruel! what traitor could thee hither bring? I curse not, for my heart is lost in thine, Though thou forsakest a deceived thing;— A dove forlorn and lost with sick unpruned wing."
"My Madeline! sweet dreamer! lovely bride!
After so many hours of toil and quest,
"Hark! 'tis an elfin-storm from faery land, Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed: Arise—arise! the morning is at hand;— The bloated wassailers will never heed :— Let us away, my love, with happy speed; There are no ears to hear, or eyes to see,— Drown'd all in Rhenish and the sleepy mead: Awake! arise! my love, and fearless be, For o'er the southern moors I have a home for thee."
She hurried at his words, beset with fears, For there were sleeping dragons all around, At glaring watch, perhaps, with ready spears— Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found, In all the house was heard no human sound. A chain-droop'd lamp was flickering by each door; The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound, Flutter'd in the besieging wind's uproar; And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.
They glide, like phantoms, into the wide hall! Like phantoms to the iron porch they glide, Where lay the Porter, in uneasy sprawl, With a huge empty flagon by his side: The wakeful bloodhound rose, and shook his hide, But his sagacious eye an inmate owns: By one, and one, the bolts full easy slide:— The chains lie silent on the footworn stones; The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans.
And they are gone: ay, ages long ago These lovers fled away into the storm. That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe, And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm, Were long be-nightmared. Angela the old Died palsy-twitch'd, with meagre face deform; The Beadsman, after thousand aves told, For aye unsought-for slept among his ashes cold.
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat grey-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer's day
Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deaden'd more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad 'mid her reeds
Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.
Along the margin-sand large foot-marks went, No further than to where his feet had stray'd, And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead, Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed; While his bow'd head seem'd listening to the Earth, His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.
It seem'd no force could wake him from his place; But there came one, who with a kindred hand Touch'd his wide shoulders, after bending low With reverence, though to one who knew it not. She was a Goddess of the infant world;