Part 4 out of 6
The people from his grave shall hear.
Were they not worthy of his trust,
From whose seed sprang the sacred dust?
He broke the bars that separate
The humble from the high estate.
And heirs of empire round his bed
Mourn with the "disinherited."
Oh, toil-worn, patient Heart that bleeds,
Whose martyrdom even his exceeds,
Wronged, cursed, despised, misunderstood--
Oh, all-enduring multitude,
Rejoice! amid you tears, rejoice!
There issues from this grave a voice,
Proclaiming your long night is o'er,
Your day-dawn breaks from shore to shore.
You have redeemed his pledge, remained
Secure, erect, and self-sustained,
Holding more dear one thing alone,
Even than the blood of dearest son,
Revering with religious awe
The inviolable might of Law.
A MASQUE OF VENICE.
Not a stain,
In the sun-brimmed sapphire cup that is the sky--
Not a ripple on the black translucent lane
Of the palace-walled lagoon.
Not a cry
As the gondoliers with velvet oar glide by,
Through the golden afternoon.
From this height
Where the carved, age-yellowed balcony o'erjuts
Yonder liquid, marble pavement, see the light
Shimmer soft beneath the bridge,
On a labyrinth of water-ways and shuts
Half their sky off with its ridge.
We shall mark
All the pageant from this ivory porch of ours,
Masques and jesters, mimes and minstrels, while we hark
To their music as they fare.
Scent their flowers
Flung from boat to boat in rainbow radiant showers
Through the laughter-ringing air.
See! they come,
Like a flock of serpent-throated black-plumed swans,
With the mandoline, viol, and the drum,
Gems afire on arms ungloved,
Floating mantles like a great moth's streaky vans
Such as Veronese loved.
In their midst a white unruffled swan appear.
One strange barge that snowy tapestries enfold,
White its tasseled, silver prow.
Who is here?
Prince of Love in masquerade or Prince of Fear,
Clad in glittering silken snow?
Cheek and chin
Where the mask's edge stops are of the hoar-frosts hue,
And no eyebeams seem to sparkle from within
Where the hollow rings have place.
Yon gay crew
Seem to fly him, he seems ever to pursue.
'T is our sport to watch the race.
At his side
Stands the goldenest of beauties; from her glance,
From her forehead, shines the splendor of a bride,
And her feet seem shod with wings,
For she leaps into a wild and rhythmic dance,
Like Salome at the King's.
'T is his aim
Just to hold, to clasp her once against his breast,
Hers to flee him, to elude him in the game.
Ah, she fears him overmuch!
Is it jest,--
Is it earnest? a strange riddle lurks half-guessed
In her horror of his touch.
For each time
That his snow-white fingers reach her, fades some ray
From the glory of her beauty in its prime;
And the knowledge grows upon us that the dance
Is no play
'Twixt the pale, mysterious lover and the fay--
But the whirl of fate and chance.
Where the tide
Of the broad lagoon sinks plumb into the sea,
There the mystic gondolier hath won his bride.
Hark, one helpless, stifled scream!
Must it be?
Mimes and minstrels, flowers and music, where are ye?
Was all Venice such a dream?
Air and sky are swathed in gold
Fold on fold,
Light glows through the trees like wine.
Earth, sun-quickened, swoons for bliss
'Neath his kiss,
Breathless in a trance divine.
Nature pauses from her task,
Just to bask
In these lull'd transfigured hours.
The green leaf nor stays nor goes,
But it grows
Royaler than mid-June's flowers.
Such impassioned silence fills
All the hills
Burning with unflickering fire--
Such a blood-red splendor stains
The leaves' veins,
Life seems one fulfilled desire.
While earth, sea, and heavens shine,
Heart of mine,
Say, what art thou waiting for?
Shall the cup ne'er reach the lip,
But still slip
Till the life-long thirst give o'er?
Shall my soul, no frosts may tame,
Catch new flame
From the incandescent air?
In this nuptial joy apart,
Oh my heart,
Whither shall we lonely fare?
Seek some dusky, twilight spot,
Of the Autumn's Bacchic fire.
Where soft mists and shadows sleep,
Barren longing's vain desire.
Late-born and woman-souled I dare not hope,
The freshness of the elder lays, the might
Of manly, modern passion shall alight
Upon my Muse's lips, nor may I cope
(Who veiled and screened by womanhood must grope)
With the world's strong-armed warriors and recite
The dangers, wounds, and triumphs of the fight;
Twanging the full-stringed lyre through all its scope.
But if thou ever in some lake-floored cave
O'erbrowed by hard rocks, a wild voice wooed and heard,
Answering at once from heaven and earth and wave,
Lending elf-music to thy harshest word,
Misprize thou not these echoes that belong
To one in love with solitude and song.
Oft have I brooded on defeat and pain,
The pathos of the stupid, stumbling throng.
These I ignore to-day and only long
To pour my soul forth in one trumpet strain,
One clear, grief-shattering, triumphant song,
For all the victories of man's high endeavor,
Palm-bearing, laureled deeds that live forever,
The splendor clothing him whose will is strong.
Hast thou beheld the deep, glad eyes of one
Who has persisted and achieved? Rejoice!
On naught diviner shines the all-seeing sun.
Salute him with free heart and choral voice,
'Midst flippant, feeble crowds of spectres wan,
The bold, significant, successful man.
THE NEW COLOSSUS.*
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to be free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
*Written in aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund, 1883.
VENUS OF THE LOUVRE.
Down the long hall she glistens like a star,
The foam-born mother of Love, transfixed to stone,
Yet none the less immortal, breathing on.
Time's brutal hand hath maimed but could not mar.
When first the enthralled enchantress from afar
Dazzled mine eyes, I saw not her alone,
Serenely poised on her world-worshipped throne,
As when she guided once her dove-drawn car,--
But at her feet a pale, death-stricken Jew,
Her life adorer, sobbed farewell to love.
Here Heine wept! Here still we weeps anew,
Nor ever shall his shadow lift or move,
While mourns one ardent heart, one poet-brain,
For vanished Hellas and Hebraic pain.
A dream of interlinking hands, of feet
Tireless to spin the unseen, fairy woof,
Of the entangling waltz. Bright eyebeams meet,
Gay laughter echoes from the vaulted roof.
Warm perfumes rise; the soft unflickering glow
Of branching lights sets off the changeful charms
Of glancing gems, rich stuffs, dazzling snow
Of necks unkerchieft, and bare, clinging arms.
Hark to the music! How beneath the strain
Of reckless revelry, vibrates and sobs
One fundamental chord of constant pain,
The pulse-beat of the poet's heart that throbs.
So yearns, though all the dancing waves rejoice,
The troubled sea's disconsolate, deep voice.
Who shall proclaim the golden fable false
Of Orpheus' miracles? This subtle strain
Above our prose-world's sordid loss and gain
Lightly uplifts us. With the rhythmic waltz,
The lyric prelude, the nocturnal song
Of love and languor, varied visions rise,
That melt and blend to our enchanted eyes.
The Polish poet who sleeps silenced long,
The seraph-souled musician, breathes again
Eternal eloquence, immortal pain.
Revived the exalted face we know so well,
The illuminated eyes, the fragile frame,
Slowly consuming with its inward flame,
We stir not, speak not, lest we break the spell.
A voice was needed, sweet and true and fine
As the sad spirit of the evening breeze,
Throbbing with human passion, yet divine
As the wild bird's untutored melodies.
A voice for him 'neath twilight heavens dim,
Who mourneth for his dead, while round him fall
The wan and noiseless leaves. A voice for him
Who sees the first green sprout, who hears the call
Of the first robin on the first spring day.
A voice for all whom Fate hath set apart,
Who, still misprized, must perish by the way,
Longing with love, for that they lack the art
Of their own soul's expression. For all these
Sing the unspoken hope, the vague, sad reveries.
Then Nature shaped a poet's heart--a lyre
From out whose chords the lightest breeze that blows
Drew trembling music, wakening sweet desire.
How shall she cherish him? Behold! she throws
This precious, fragile treasure in the whirl
Of seething passions; he is scourged and stung,
Must dive in storm-vext seas, if but one pearl
Of art or beauty therefrom may be wrung.
No pure-browed pensive nymph his Muse shall be,
An amazon of thought with sovereign eyes,
Whose kiss was poison, man-brained, worldly-wise,
Inspired that elfin, delicate harmony.
Rich gain for us! But with him is it well?
The poet who must sound earth, heaven, and hell!
(After Robert Schumann.)
Blue storm-clouds in hot heavens of mid-July
Hung heavy, brooding over land and sea:
Our hearts, a-tremble, throbbed in harmony
With the wild, restless tone of air and sky.
Shall we not call him Prospero who held
In his enchanted hands the fateful key
Of that tempestuous hour's mystery,
And with him to wander by a sun-bright shore,
To hear fine, fairy voices, and to fly
With disembodied Ariel once more
Above earth's wrack and ruin? Far and nigh
The laughter of the thunder echoed loud,
And harmless lightnings leapt from cloud to cloud.
Floating upon a swelling wave of sound,
We seemed to overlook an endless sea:
Poised 'twixt clear heavens and glittering surf were we.
We drank the air in flight: we knew no bound
To the audacious ventures of desire.
Nigh us the sun was dropping, drowned in gold;
Deep, deep below the burning billows rolled;
And all the sea sang like a smitten lyre.
Oh, the wild voices of those chanting waves!
The human faces glimpsed beneath the tide!
Familiar eyes gazed from profound sea-caves,
And we, exalted, were as we had died.
We knew the sea was Life, the harmonious cry
The blended discords of humanity.
Look deeper yet: mark 'midst the wave-blurred mass,
In lines distinct, in colors clear defined,
The typic groups and figures of mankind.
Behold within the cool and liquid glass
Bright child-folk sporting with smooth yellow shells,
Astride of dolphins, leaping up to kiss
Fair mother-faces. From the vast abyss
How joyously their thought-free laughter wells!
Lulled by the overwhelming water's sound,
And some make mouths at dragons, undismayed.
Oh dauntless innocence! The gulfs profound
Reecho strangely with their ringing glee,
And with wise mermaids' plaintive melody.
What do the sea-nymphs in that coral cave?
With wondering eyes their supple forms they bend
O'er something rarely beautiful. They lend
Their lithe white arms, and through the golden wave
They lift it tenderly. Oh blinding sight!
A naked, radiant goddess tranced in sleep,
Full-limbed, voluptuous, 'neath the mantling sweep
Of auburn locks that kiss her ankles white!
Upward they bear her, chanting low and sweet:
The clinging waters part before their way,
Jewels of flame are dancing 'neath their feet.
Up in the sunshine, in soft foam, they lay
Their precious burden, and return forlorn.
Oh, bliss! oh, anguish! Mortals, LOVE is born!
Hark! from unfathomable deeps a dirge
Swells sobbing through the melancholy air:
Where Love has entered, Death is also there.
The wail outrings the chafed, tumultuous surge;
Ocean and earth, the illimitable skies,
Prolong one note, a mourning for the dead,
The cry of souls not to be comforted.
What piercing music! Funeral visions rise,
And send the hot tears raining down our cheek.
We see the silent grave upon the hill
With its lone lilac-bush. O heart, be still!
She will not rise, she will not stir nor speak.
Surely, the unreturning dead are blest.
Ring on, sweet dirge, and knell us to our rest!
Upon the silver beach the undines dance
With interlinking arms and flying hair;
Like polished marble gleam their limbs left bare;
Upon their virgin rites pale moonbeams glance.
Softer the music! for their foam-bright feet
Print not the moist floor where they trip their round:
Affrighted they will scatter at a sound,
Leap in their cool sea-chambers, nimbly fleet,
And we shall doubt that we have ever seen,
While our sane eyes behold stray wreaths of mist,
Shot with faint colors by the moon-rays kissed,
Floating snow-soft, snow-white, where these had been.
Already, look! the wave-washed sands are bare,
And mocking laughter ripples through the air.
Forth in the sunlit, rain-bathed air we stepped,
Sweet with the dripping grass and flowering vine,
And saw through irised clouds the pale sun shine.
Back o'er the hills the rain-mist slowly crept
Like a transparent curtain's slivery sheen;
And fronting us the painted bow was arched,
Whereunder the majestic cloud-shapes marched:
In the wet, yellow light the dazzling green
Of lawn and bush and tree seemed stained with blue.
Our hearts o'erflowed with peace. With smiles we spake
Of partings in the past, of courage new,
Of high achievement, of the dreams that make
A wonder and a glory of our days,
And all life's music but a hymn of praise.
LONG ISLAND SOUND.
I see it as it looked one afternoon
In August,--by a fresh soft breeze o'erblown.
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.
The shining waters with pale currents strewn,
The quiet fishing smacks, the Eastern cove,
The semi-circle of its dark, green grove.
The luminous grasses, and the merry sun
In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,
Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp
Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,
Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep
Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.
All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.
Paris, from throats of iron, silver, brass,
Joy-thundering cannon, blent with chiming bells,
And martial strains, the full-voiced paean swells.
The air is starred with flags, the chanted mass
Throngs all the churches, yet the broad streets swarm
With glad-eyed groups who chatter, laugh, and pass,
In holiday confusion, class with class,
And over all the spring, the sun-floods warm!
In the Imperial palace that March morn,
The beautiful young mother lay and smiled;
For by her side just breathed the Prince, her child,
Heir to an empire, to the purple born,
Crowned with the Titan's name that stirs the heart
Like a blown clarion--one more Bonaparte.
Born to the purple, lying stark and dead,
Transfixed with poisoned spears, beneath the sun
Of brazen Africa! Thy grave is one,
Fore-fated youth (on whom were visited
Follies and sins not thine), whereat the world,
Heartless howe'er it be, will pause to sing
A dirge, to breathe a sigh, a wreath to fling
Of rosemary and rue with bay-leaves curled.
Enmeshed in toils ambitious, not thine own,
Immortal, loved boy-Prince, thou tak'st thy stand
With early doomed Don Carlos, hand in hand
With mild-browed Arthur, Geoffrey's murdered son.
Louis the Dauphin lifts his thorn-ringed head,
And welcomes thee, his brother, 'mongst the dead.
FROM ONE AUGUR TO ANOTHER.
So, Calchas, on the sacred Palatine,
Thou thought of Mopsus, and o'er wastes of sea
A flower brought your message. I divine
(Through my deep art) the kindly mockery
That played about your lips and in your eyes,
Plucking the frail leaf, while you dreamed of home.
Thanks for the silent greeting! I shall prize,
Beyond June's rose, the scentless flower of Rome.
All the Campagna spreads before my sight,
The mouldering wall, the Caesars' tombs unwreathed,
Rome and the Tiber, and the yellow light,
Wherein the honey-colored blossom breathed.
But most I thank it--egoists that we be!
For proving then and there you thought of me.
THE CRANES OF IBYCUS.
There was a man who watched the river flow
Past the huge town, one gray November day.
Round him in narrow high-piled streets at play
The boys made merry as they saw him go,
Murmuring half-loud, with eyes upon the stream,
The immortal screed he held within his hand.
For he was walking in an April land
With Faust and Helen. Shadowy as a dream
Was the prose-world, the river and the town.
Wild joy possessed him; through enchanted skies
He saw the cranes of Ibycus swoop down.
He closed the page, he lifted up his eyes,
Lo--a black line of birds in wavering thread
Bore him the greetings of the deathless dead!
CRITIC AND POET.
("Poetry must be simple, sensuous, or impassioned;
this man is neither simple, sensuous, nor impassioned;
therefore he is not a poet.")
No man had ever heard a nightingale,
When once a keen-eyed naturalist was stirred
To study and define--what is a bird,
To classify by rote and book, nor fail
To mark its structure and to note the scale
Whereon its song might possibly be heard.
Thus far, no farther;--so he spake the word.
When of a sudden,--hark, the nightingale!
Oh deeper, higher than he could divine
That all-unearthly, untaught strain! He saw
The plain, brown warbler, unabashed. "Not mine"
(He cried) "the error of this fatal flaw.
No bird is this, it soars beyond my line,
Were it a bird, 't would answer to my law."
ST. MICHAEL'S CHAPEL.
When the vexed hubbub of our world of gain
Roars round about me as I walk the street,
The myriad noise of Traffic, and the beat
Of Toil's incessant hammer, the fierce strain
Of struggle hand to hand and brain to brain,
Ofttimes a sudden dream my sense will cheat,
The gaudy shops, the sky-piled roofs retreat,
And all at once I stand enthralled again
Within a marble minster over-seas.
I watch the solemn gold-stained gloom that creeps
To kiss an alabaster tomb, where sleeps
A lady 'twixt two knights' stone effigies,
And every day in dusky glory steeps
Their sculptured slumber of five centuries.
LIFE AND ART.
Not while the fever of the blood is strong,
The heart throbs loud, the eyes are veiled, no less
With passion than with tears, the Muse shall bless
The poet-soul to help and soothe with song.
Not then she bids his trembling lips express
The aching gladness, the voluptuous pain.
Life is his poem then; flesh, sense, and brain
One full-stringed lyre attuned to happiness.
But when the dream is done, the pulses fail,
The day's illusion, with the day's sun set,
He, lonely in the twilight, sees the pale
Divine Consoler, featured like Regret,
Enter and clasp his hand and kiss his brow.
Then his lips ope to sing--as mine do now.
Therefore I dare reveal my private woe,
The secret blots of my imperfect heart,
Nor strive to shrink or swell mine own desert,
Nor beautify nor hide. For this I know,
That even as I am, thou also art.
Thou past heroic forms unmoved shalt go,
To pause and bide with me, to whisper low:
"Not I alone am weak, not I apart
Must suffer, struggle, conquer day by day.
Here is my very cross by strangers borne,
Here is my bosom-sun wherefrom I pray
Hourly deliverance--this my rose, my thorn.
This woman my soul's need can understand,
Stretching o'er silent gulfs her sister hand."
YOUTH AND DEATH.
What hast thou done to this dear friend of mine,
Thou cold, white, silent Stranger? From my hand
Her clasped hand slips to meet the grasp of thine;
Here eyes that flamed with love, at thy command
Stare stone-blank on blank air; her frozen heart
Forgets my presence. Teach me who thou art,
Vague shadow sliding 'twixt my friend and me.
I never saw thee till this sudden hour.
What secret door gave entrance unto thee?
What power in thine, o'ermastering Love's own power?
AGE AND DEATH.
Come closer, kind, white, long-familiar friend,
Embrace me, fold me to thy broad, soft breast.
Life has grown strange and cold, but thou dost bend
Mild eyes of blessing wooing to my rest.
So often hast thou come, and from my side
So many hast thou lured, I only bide
Thy beck, to follow glad thy steps divine.
Thy world is peopled for me; this world's bare.
Through all these years my couch thou didst prepare.
Thou art supreme Love--kiss me--I am thine!
As the blind Milton's memory of light,
The deaf Beethoven's phantasy of tone,
Wrought joys for them surpassing all things known
In our restricted sphere of sound and sight,--
So while the glaring streets of brick and stone
Vex with heat, noise, and dust from morn till night,
I will give rein to Fancy, taking flight
From dismal now and here, and dwell alone
With new-enfranchised senses. All day long,
Think ye 't is I, who sit 'twixt darkened walls,
While ye chase beauty over land and sea?
Uplift on wings of some rare poet's song,
Where the wide billow laughs and leaps and falls,
I soar cloud-high, free as the the winds are free.
Who grasps the substance? who 'mid shadows strays?
He who within some dark-bright wood reclines,
'Twixt sleep and waking, where the needled pines
Have cushioned all his couch with soft brown sprays?
He notes not how the living water shines,
Trembling along the cliff, a flickering haze,
Brimming a wine-bright pool, nor lifts his gaze
To read the ancient wonders and the signs.
Does he possess the actual, or do I,
Who paint on air more than his sense receives,
The glittering pine-tufts with closed eyes behold,
Breathe the strong resinous perfume, see the sky
Quiver like azure flame between the leaves,
And open unseen gates with key of gold?
The fervent, pale-faced Mother ere she sleep,
Looks out upon the zigzag-lighted square,
The beautiful bare trees, the blue night-air,
The revelation of the star-strewn deep,
World above world, and heaven over heaven.
Between the tree-tops and the skies, her sight
Rests on a steadfast, ruddy-shining light,
High in the tower, an earthly star of even.
Hers is the faith in saints' and angels' power,
And mediating love--she breathes a prayer
For yon tired watcher in the gray old tower.
He the shrewd, skeptic poet unaware
Feels comforted and stilled, and knows not whence
Falls this unwonted peace on heart and sense.
Would I had waked this morn where Florence smiles,
A-bloom with beauty, a white rose full-blown,
Yet rich in sacred dust, in storied stone,
Precious past all the wealth of Indian isles--
From olive-hoary Fiesole to feed
On Brunelleschi's dome my hungry eye,
And see against the lotus-colored sky,
Spring the slim belfry graceful as a reed.
To kneel upon the ground where Dante trod,
To breathe the air of immortality
From Angelo and Raphael--TO BE--
Each sense new-quickened by a demi-god.
To hear the liquid Tuscan speech at whiles,
From citizen and peasant, to behold
The heaven of Leonardo washed with gold--
Would I had waked this morn where Florence smile!
*Written before visiting Florence.
DON JOHN of AUSTRIA.
JOSEF RIBERA, the Spagnoletto.
LORENZO, noble young Italian artist, pupil of Ribera.
DON TOMMASO MANZANO.
LUCA, servant to Ribera.
MARIA-ROSA, daughter to Ribera.
ANNICCA, daughter to Ribera, and wife to Don Tommaso.
FIAMETTA, servant to Maria-Rosa.
Lords, Ladies, Gentlemen, Servants.
SCENE--During the first four acts, in Naples; latter part of the
fifth act, in Palermo. Time, about 1655.
The studio of the Spagnoletto. RIBERA at work before his canvas.
MARIA seated some distance behind him; a piece of embroidery is
in her hands, but she glances up from it incessantly toward her
father with impatient movements.
(RIBERA, absorbed in his work, makes no reply; she puts by her
embroidery, goes toward him and kisses him gently. He starts,
looks up at her, and returns her caress).
Already you forget,
Oh, heedless father! Did you not promise me
To lay aside your brush to-day at noon,
And tell me the great secret?
Ah, 't is true,
I am to blame. But it is morning yet;
My child, wait still a little.
'T is morning yet!
Nay, it was noon one mortal hour ago.
All patience I have sat till you should turn
And beckon me. The rosy angels breathe
Upon the canvas; I might sit till night,
And, if I spake not, you would never glance
From their celestial faces. Dear my father,
Your brow is moist, and yet your hands are ice;
Your very eyes are tired--pray, rest awhile.
The Spagnoletto need no longer toil
As in the streets of Rome for beggars' fare;
Now princes bide his pleasure.
RIBERA (throws aside his brush and palette).
Thou speak'st in season. Let me ne'er forget
Those days of degradation, when I starved
Before the gates of palaces. The germs
Stirred then within me of the perfect fruits
Wherewith my hands have since enriched God's world.
Vengeance I vowed for every moment's sting--
Vengeance on wealth, rank, station, fortune, genius.
See, while I paint, all else escapes my sense,
Save this bright throng of phantasies that press
Upon my brain, each claiming from my hand
Its immortality. But thou, my child,
Remind'st me of mine oath, my sacred pride,
The eternal hatred lodged within my breast.
Philip of Spain shall wait. I will not deign
To add to-day the final touch of life
Unto this masterpiece.
So! that is well.
Put by the envious brush that separates
Father from daughter. Now you are all mine own.
And now--your secret.
Mine? 'T is none of mine;
'T is thine, Maria. John of Austria
Desires our presence at his ball to-night.
Ay, girl, Prince John. I looked to see
A haughty joy dance sparkling in thine eyes
And burn upon thy cheek. But what is this?
Timid and pale, thou droop'st thy head abashed
As a poor flower-girl whom a lord accosts.
Forgive me. Sure, 't is you Don John desires
The prince of artists--
Art! Prate not of art!
Think'st thou I move an artist 'midst his guests?
As such I commune with a loftier race;
Angels and spirits are my ministers.
These do I part aside to grace his halls;
A Spanish gentleman--and so, his peer.
Father, I am not well; my head throbs fast,
Unwonted languor weighs upon my frame.
Anger me not, Maria. 'T is my will,
Thou shalt obey. Hell, what these women be!
No obstacle would daunt them in the quest
Of that which, freely given, they reject.
Hold! Haply just occasion bids thee seem
Unlike thyself. Speak fearlessly child;
Confide to me thy knowledge, thy surmise.
No, father, you were right. I have no cause;
Punish me--nay, forgive, and I obey.
There spake my child; kiss me and be forgiven.
Sometimes I doubt thou playest upon my love
Willfully, knowing me as soft as clay,
Whom the world knows of marble. In such moods,
I see my spirit mirror's first, and then
From thy large eyes thy sainted mother's soul
Can I be like to her?
I only knew her faded, white, and grave,
And so she still floats vaguely through my dreams,
With eyes like your own angels', and a brow
Worthy an aureole.
An earthly crown,
My princess, might more fitly rest on thine.
Annicca hath her colors, blue-black hair,
And pale, brown flesh, and gray, untroubled eyes;
Yet thou more often bring'st her to mind,
For all the tawny gold of thy thick locks,
Thy rare white face, and brilliant Spanish orbs.
Thine is her lisping trick of voice, her laugh,
The blithest music still this side of heaven;
Thine her free, springing gait, though therewithal
A swaying, languid motion all thine own,
Recalls Valencia more than Italy.
Like and unlike thou art to her, as still
My memory loves to hold her, as she first
Beamed like the star of morning on my life.
Hot, faint, and footsore, I had paced since dawn
The sun-baked streets of Naples, seeking work,
Not alms, despite the beggar that I looked.
Now 't was nigh vespers, and my suit had met
With curt refusal, sharp rebuff, and gibes.
Praised be the saints! for every drop of gall
In that day's brimming cup, I have upheld
A poisoned beaker to another's lips.
Many a one hath the Ribera taught
To fare a vagabond through alien streets;
A god unrecognized 'midst churls and clowns,
With kindled soul aflame, and body faint
Or lack of bread. Domenichino knows,
And Gessi, Guido, Annibal Caracci--
Dear father, calm yourself. You had begun
To tell me how you saw my mother first.
True, I forgot it not. Why, I AM calm;
The old man now can well be grave and cold,
Or laugh at his own youth's indignities,
Past a long lifetime back. 'T was vespers' hour,
Or nigh it, when I reached her father's door.
Kind was his greeting, the first cordial words
I heard in Naples; but I took small heed
Of speech or toe, for all my sense was rapt
In wonder at the angel by his side
Who smiled upon me. Large, clear eyes that held
The very soul of sunlight in their depths;
Low, pure, pale brow, with masses of black hair
Flung loosely back, and rippling unconfined
In shadowy magnificence below
The slim gold girdle o'er the snow-soft gown.
Vested and draped about her throat and waist and wrists,
A stately lily ere the dew of morn
Hath passed away--such was thy mother, child.
Would I were like her! But what said she, father?
How did she plead for you?
Ah, cunning child,
I see thy tricks; thou humorest my age,
Knowing how much I love to tell this tale,
Though thou hast heard it half a hundred times.
I find it sweet to hear as you to tell,
Believe me, father.
'T was to pleasure her,
Signor Cortese gave me all I lacked
To prove my unfamed skill. A savage pride,
Matched oddly with my rags, the haughtiness
Wherewith I claimed rather than begged my tools,
And my quaint aspect, oft she told me since,
Won at a glance her faith. Before I left,
She guessed my need, and served me meat and wine
With her own flower-white hands. The parting grace
I craved was granted, that my work might be
The portrait of herself. Thou knowest the rest.
Why did she leave us, father? Oh, how oft
I yearn to see her face, to hear her voice,
Hushed in an endless silence! Strange that she,
Whose rich love beggared our return, should bear
Such separation! Though engirdled now
By heavenly hosts of saints and seraphim,
I cannot fancy it. What! shall her child,
Whose lightest sigh reechoed in her heart,
Have need of her and cry to her in vain?
Now, for God's sake, Maria, speak not thus;
Let me not see such tears upon thy cheek.
Not unto us it has been given to guess
The peace of disembodied souls like hers.
The vanishing glimpses that my fancies catch
Through heaven's half-opened gates, exalt even me,
Poor sinner that I am. And what are these,
The painted shadows that make all my life
A glory, to the splendor of that light?
For thee, my child, has not my doting love
Sufficed, at least in part, to fill the breach
Of that tremendous void? What dost thou lack?
What help, what counsel, what most dear caress?
What dost thou covet? What least whim remains
Ungratified, because not yet expressed?
None, none, dear father! Pardon me! Thy love,
Generous and wise as tender, shames my power
To merit or repay. Fie o my lips!
Look if they be not blistered. Let them smooth
With contrite kisses the last frown away.
We must be young to-night--no wrinkles then!
Genius must show immortal as she is.
Thou wilt unman me with thy pretty ways.
I had forgot the ball. Yea, I grow old;
This scanty morning's work has wearied me.
Once I had thought it play to dream all day
Before my canvas and then dance till dawn,
And now must I give o'er and rest at noon.
Enter LUCA, ushering in LORENZO, who carries a portfolio.
[LORENZO ceremoniously salutes RIBERA and MARIA. Exit LUCA.]
Master, I bring my sketch.
[Opens his portfolio and hands a sketch to RIBERA.]
Humph! the design is not so ill-conceived;
I note some progress; but your drawing's bad--
Yes, bad, sir. Mark you how this leg hangs limp,
As though devoid of life; these hands seem clenched,
Not loosely clasped, as you intended them.
[He takes his pencil and makes a few strokes.
Thus should it stand--a single line will mend.
And here, what's this? Why, 't is a sloven's work.
You dance too many nights away, young gallant.
You shirk close labor as do all your mates.
You think to win with service frivolous,
Snatched 'twixt your cups, or set between two kisses,
The favor of the mistress of the world.
Your pardon, master, but you do me wrong.
Mayhap I lack the gift. Alas, I fear it!
But not the patience, not the energy
Of earnest, indefatigable toil,
That help to make the artist.
'S death! He dares
Belie me, and deny the testimony
Of his own handiwork, whose every line
Betrays a sluggard soul, an indolent will,
A brain that's bred to idleness. So be it!
Master Lorenzo tells the Spagnoletto
His own defects and qualities! 'T were best
He find another teacher competent
To guide so apt, so diligent a scholar.
Dear father, what hath given thee offence?
Cast but another glance upon the sketch;
Surely it hath some grace, some charm, some promise.
Daughter, stand by! I know these insolent slips
Of young nobility; they lack the stuff
That makes us artists. What! to answer me!
When next I drop a hint as to his colors,
The lengthening or the shortening of a stroke,
He'll bandy words with me about his error,
To prove himself the master.
If my defect
Be an hereditary grain i' the blood,
Even as you say, I must abide by it;
But if patrician habits more than birth
Beget such faults, then may I dare to hope.
Not mine, I knew, I felt, to clear new paths,
To win new kingdoms; yet were I content
With such achievement as a strenuous will,
A firm endeavor, unfaltering love,
And an unwearying spirit might attain.
Cast me not lightly back. Banish me not
From this, my home of hope, of inspiration!
What, my ungentle father! Will you hear,
And leave this worthy signor's suit unanswered?
Well, he may bide. Sir, I will speak with you
Anon upon this work. I judged in haste.
Yea, it hath merit. I am weary now;
To-morrow I shall be in fitter mood
To give you certain hints.
[LORENZO bows his thanks and advances to address MARIA. RIBERA
silences and dismisses him with a wave of the hand. Exit LORENZO.]
Should I o'ersleep
Mine hour, Maria, thou must awaken me;
But come what may, I will be fresh to-night,
To triumph in thy triumph.
Could I have told,
Then when he bade me? Nay, what is to tell?
He had flouted me for prizing at such height
Homage so slight from John of Austria, even.
A glance exchanged, a smile, a fallen flower
Dropped from my hair, and pressed against his lips.
The Prince! my father gloats upon that name.
Were he no more than gentleman, I think
I should be glad. I cannot tell to-day
If I be sad or gay. Now could I weep
Warm, longing tears; anon, a fire of joy
Leaps in my heart and dances through my veins.
Why should I nurse such idle thoughts? Tonight
We are to meet again. Will he remember?--
Nay, how should he forget? His heart is young;
His eyes do mirror loyalty. Oh, day!
Quicken thy dull, slow round of tedious hours!
God make me beautiful this happy night!
My father's sleeping saint rebukes my thought.
Strange he has left his work, against his wont,
Revealed before completed. I will draw
[She stands irresolute before the picture with her hand on the
Beautiful, oh, beautiful!
The far, bright, opened heavens--the dark earth,
Where the tranced pilgrim lies, with eyelids sealed,
His calm face flushed with comfortable sleep,
His weary limbs relaxed, his heavy head
Pillowed upon the stone. Oh, blessed dream
That visits his rapt sense, of airy forms,
Mounting, descending on the shining ladder,
With messages of peace. I will be true
Unto my lineage divine, and breathe
The passion of just pride that overfills
HIS soul inspired.
While she stands before the canvas, reenter, unperceived by
Oh, celestial vision!
What brush may reproduce those magic tints,
Those lines ethereal?--
MARIA (turns suddenly).
Is it not marvellous,
Signor Lorenzo? I would draw the curtain,
But, gazing, I forgot.
You are the first,
After the master and myself, to look
Upon this wonder.
LORENZO (with enthusiasm, looking for he first time at the picture).
Ah, what an answer this
For envious minds that would restrict his power
To writhing limbs and shrivelled flesh! Repose,
Beauty, and large simplicity are here.
Yes, that is art! Before such work I stand
And feel myself a dwarf.
There, you are wrong.
My father even, who knows his proper worth,
Before his best achievements I have seen
In like dejection; 't is the curse of genius.
Oft have I heard the master grace your name
With flattering addition.
'T is your goodness,
And not the echo of his praise, that speaks.
My work was worthless--'t was your generous voice
Alone secured the master's second glance.
Nay, signor, frankly, he esteems your talent.
Because you are of well-assured means
And gentle birth, he will be rude to you.
Not without base is the deep grudge he owes
To riches and prosperity.
Why do I bear such harsh, injurious terms
As he affronts me with? Why must I seem
In mine own eyes a craven? Spiritless,
Dishonorably patient? 'T is not his fame,
His power, his gift, his venerable years
That bind me here his willing slave. Maria,
'T is thou, 't is thou alone! 'T is that I love thee,
And exile hence is death!
[A pause. He kneels at her feet. She looks at him kindly but
makes no reply.]
At thy dear feet
I lay my life with its most loyal service,
The subject of thy pleasure.
You are too humble.
Too humble! Do you seek mine utter ruin,
With words whose very tone is a caress?
I say all. I love you!--you have known it.
Why should I tell you? Yet, to-day you seem
Other than you have been. A milder light
Beams from your eyes--a gentler grace is throned
Upon your brow--your words fall soft as dew
To melt my fixed resolve.
You find me, signor,
In an unguarded mood. I would be true
To you; and to myself; yet, know no answer.
Anon, I will be calm; pray you withdraw.
Till when? Remember what mad hopes and fears
Meantime will riot in my brain.
LORENZO (kisses her hand).
A faithful heart,
A name untainted, a fair home--yea, these
Are what I need. Oh, lily soul in heaven,
Who wast on earth my mother, guide thy child!
While MARIA sits rapt in thought, enter from behind her, ANNICCA,
who bends over her and kisses her brow.
What, sister! lost in dreams by daylight? Fie!
Who is the monarch of thy thoughts?
My thoughts are bounden to no master yet;
They fly from earth to heaven in a breath.
Now are they all of earth. Hast heard the tidings?
Yea--of the Prince's ball? We go together.
Braid in thy hair our mother's pearls, and wear
The amulet ingemmed with eastern stones;
'T will bring good fortune.
Tell me, ere we go,
What manner of man is John of Austria?
Scarce man at all--a madcap, charming boy;
Well-favored--you have seen him--exquisite
In courtly compliment, of simple manners;
You may not hear a merrier laugh than his
From any boatman on the bay; well-versed
In all such arts as most become his station;
Light in the dance as winged-foot Mercury,
Eloquent on the zither, and a master
Of rapier and--
A puppet could be made
To answer in all points your praise of him.
Hath he no substance as of a man?
What may that be to us?
He is our Prince.
The promise of his youth is to outstrip
The hero of Lepanto; bright and bold
As fire, he is the very soul, the star
Of Spanish chivalry; his last achievement
Seems still the flower of his accomplishments.
Musician, soldier, courtier, yea, and artist.
"He had been a painter, were he not a prince,"
Says Messer Zurbaran. The Calderona,
His actress-mother, hath bequeathed to him
Her spirit with her beauty, and the power
To win and hold men's hearts.
I knew it, sister!
His eye hath a command in it; his brow
Seems garlanded with laurel.
What is this?
You kindle with his praise, your whole heart glows
In light and color on your face, your words
Take wing and fly as bold as reckless birds.
What! can so rash a thought, a dream so wild,
So hopeless an ambition, tempt your soul?
Pray you, what thought, what dream, and what ambition?
I knew not I had uttered any such.
Nor have you in your speech; your eyes now veiled,
Where the light leaped to hear me voice his fame,
Your blushes and your pallor have betrayed
That which should lie uncounted fathom deep--
The secret of a woman's foolish heart.
And there it lies, my sibyl sister, still!
Your plummet hath not reached it. Yes, 't is love
Flaunts his triumphant colors in my cheek,
And quickens my lame speech--but not for him,
Not for the Prince--so may I vaunt his worth
With a free soul.
Favored of earth and heaven, true and loving,
Hath cast his heart at my imperial feet;
And if to-morrow find me as to-day,
I will e'en stoop and raise it to mine own.
Not he, indeed!
Did not I say favored of earth and heaven?
That should mean other gifts than bags of gold,
Or a straight-featured mask. Nor will it be
Any you name, though you should name him right.
Must it not lie--how many fathom deep--
The secret of a woman's foolish heart?
Kiss me, Maria. You are still a child.
You cannot vex me, wilful as you be.
Your choice, I fear not, doubtless 't will prove wise,
Despite your wild wit, for your heart is pure,
And you will pause with sure deliberate judgment
Before you leave our father.
Does love steal
So gently o'er our soul? What if he come
A cloud, a fire, a whirlwind, to o'erbear
The feeble barriers wherewith we oppose him,
And blind our eyes and wrest from us our reason?
Fear not, Annicca, for in no such guise
He visits my calm breast; but yet you speak
Somewhat too sagely. Did such cautious wisdom
Guide your own fancy?
Jest no more, Maria.
Since I became a wife, is much made clear,
Which a brief year ago was dark and vague.
Tommaso loves me--we are happier
Then I had dreamed; yet matching now with then,
I see his love is not that large, rich passion
Our father bore us.
You regret your home?
No, no! I have no wish and no regret.
I speak for you. His is a sovereign soul,
And all his passions loom in huger shape
Than lesser men's. He brooks no rivalry
With his own offspring, and toward me his love
Hath ebbed, I mark, to a more even flow,
While deeper, stronger, sets the powerful current
Toward you alone. Consider this, Maria,
Nor wantonly discrown that sacred head
Of your young love to wreathe some curled boy's brow.
Think you his wish were that I should not wed?
Nay, that I say not, for his pride aspires
To see you nobly mated.
MARIA (after a pause).
Him will I wed
Whose name is ancient, fair, and honorable,
As the Ribera's is illustrious--
Him who no less than I will venerate
That white, divine old head. In art his pupil,
In love his son; tender as I to watch,
And to delay the slow extinguishing
Of that great light.
There spake his darling child!
What is't o'clock? If he should sleep too late--
He bade me rouse him--
Haste to seek him, then.
'T is hard on sunset, and he looks for thee
With his first waking motion. Till to-night.
A hall in RIBERA'S house. Enter LUCA and FIAMETTA.
But did you see her?
Nay, I saw her sister, Donna Annicca.
Tush, man! never name her beside my lady Maria-Rosa. You have lost
the richest feast in the world for hungry eyes. Her gown of cloth
o' silver clad her, as it were, with light; there twinkled about
her waist a girdle stiff with stones--you would have said they
breathed. Mine own hands wreathed the dropping pearls in her hair,
and pearls again were clasped around her throat. But no, I might
tell thee every ornament--her jeweled fan, her comb of pearls, her
floating veil of gauze, and still the best of all would escape us.
Thou speakest more like her page than her handmaiden.
Thou knowest not woman truly, for all thy wit. I speak most like a
woman when I weigh the worth of beauty and rich apparel. Heigh-ho!
I have felt the need of this. Thou, good Luca, who might have
been my father, canst understand me? HE was poor as thou. Why
shouldst thou be his lackey, his slave? My hand were as dainty as
hers, if it could but be spared its daily labor.
Yes, poor child, I understand thee, and yet thou art wrong. He is
more slave to pride than I am to him. I know him well, Fiametta,
after so many years of service, and to-day I pity him more than I
fear him. Why, girl, my task is sport beside his toil! If my
limbs be weary, I sleep; but I have seen him sit before his canvas
with straining eyes and the big beads standing on his brow. When
at last he gave o'er, and I have smoothed his pillow, and served
and soothed him, what sleep could he snatch? His brain is haunted
with evil visions, whereof some be merely of his own imaginings,
and others the phantoms of folk who are living or have lived, and
who rouse his jealousy or mayhap his remorse, God only knows! If
that be genius--to be alive to pain at every pore, to be possessed
of a devil that robs you of your sleep and grants no space between
the hours of grinding toil--I thank the saints I am a simple man!
I grant thee thou mayst be right concerning him; he hath indeed a
strange, sour mien. I shudder when he turns suddenly, as his wont
is, and bends his evil eyes on me. The holy father tells me such
warnings come from God. No matter how slight the service he asks
of me, my flesh creeps and my limbs refuse to move, till I have
whispered an Ave. But what of Lady Maria-Rosa? Both heaven and
earth smile upon her. To-night she wears a poor girl's dowry, a
separate fortune, on her head, her neck, her hands, yes, on her
little jeweled feet. One tiny shoe of hers would make me free to
wed my lad.
If he have but eyes, I warrant thee he finds jewels enough in thy
bright face. Tell me his name.
Nay, that is my secret.
He must be a poor-souled lad if he will wait till thou hast earned
A poor-souled lad! my good Vicenzo--ah! but no matter; thou knowest
him, Luca, my Lord Lorenzo's page. There!--is he poor, or mean, or
plain, or dull? He claims no dowry, he--but I have my pride, as well
as the great ones.
May the saints preserve thee from such as theirs! I am heartily glad
of thy good fortune. I am not sure whether thou or Lady Marie-Rosa
be the most favored. Well, the end proves all.
Enter on one side ANNICCA and DON TOMMASO, attired for the ball;
on the other side, RIBERA.
What do ye here, my children? Haste away!
Maria waits you for the ball; folk say
'T will be the bravest show e'er seen in Naples.
I warrant you the Spagnoletto brings
The richest jewels--what say'st thou, my son?
I who have robbed you of one gem, need scarce
Re-word, sir, how I prize it.
Why, 't is true.
Robbed me, thou sayst? So hast thou. She was mine--
The balanced beauty of her flesh and spirit,
That was my garland, and I was her all,
Till thou, a stranger, stole her heart's allegiance,
Suborned--Forgive me, I am old, a father,
Whose doting passions blind. I am not jealous,
Believe me, sir. When we Riberas give,
We give without retraction or reserve,
Were it our life-blood. I rejoice with thee
That she is thine; nor am I quite bereft,
I have some treasure still. I do repent
So heartily of my discourteous speech,
That I will crave your leave before I kiss
Your wife's soft palm.
ANNICCA (kissing him repeatedly).
Why, father, what is this?
Can Don Tommaso's wife so soon forget
She is the Spagnoletto's child?
I can bear praise, thou knowest, from all save thee
And my Maria. My grave son, I fear,
Will mock these transports. Pray go in with me.
No one of us but has this night a triumph.
Let us make ready.
Ball in the Palace of DON JOHN. Dance. DON JOHN and MARIA
together. DON TOMMASO, ANNICCA. LORDS and LADIES, dancing or
Were it not better to withdraw awhile,
After our dance, unto the torch-lit gardens?
The air is fresh and sweet without.
I like this heavy air, rich with warm odors,
The broad, clear light, the many-colored throng.
I might have breathed on mine own balcony
The evening breeze.
Still at cross purposes.
When will you cease to flout me?
When I prize
A lover's sigh more dear than mine own pleasure.
See, the Signora Julia passed again.
She is far too pale for so much white, I find.
Donna Aurora--ah, how beautiful!
That spreading ruff, sprinkled with seeds of gold,
Becomes her well. Would you believe it, sir,
Folk say her face is twin to mine--what think you?
For me, the huge earth holds but one such face.
You know it well.
The hall is overfilled;
Go we without.
[They pass on.]
Thrice he hath danced with her.
She is not one of us--her face is strange;
Colored and carven to meet most men's desire--
Is't not, my lord? Certes, it loses naught
For lack of ornament. Pray, ask her name,
If but for my sake.
I have already asked.
She is the daughter to the Spagnoletto,
Ah, I might have guessed.
The form and face are matched with the apparel,
As in a picture. 'T was the master's hand,
I warrant you, arranged with such quaint art,
Such seeming-careless care, the dead, white pearls
Within her odd, bright hair.
[They pass on.]
Now hope, now fear
Reigned lord of my wild dreams. One name still sang
Like the repeated strain of some caged bird,
Its sweet, persistent music through my brain.
One vanishing face upon the empty air
Shone forth and faded night and day. And you,
Did you not find me hasty, over-bold?
Nay, tell me all your thought.
You know, my lord,
I am no courtier, and belike my thought
Might prove too rustic for a royal ear.
Speak on, speak on!
Though you should rail, your voice would still outsing
Rebeck and mandoline.
Is it not strange?
I knew you not, albeit I might have guessed,
If only from the simple garb of black,
And golden collar, 'midst the motley hues
Of our gay nobles. I know not what besides,
But this first won me. Be not angered, sir;
But, as I looked, I never ranked you higher
Than simple gentleman. I asked your name;
Then, when you Highness stooped to pick my flower,
My lord, that moment was my thought a traitor,
For it had fain discrowned you.
May God's angels
Reward such treason. Say me those words again.
Let the rich blush born of that dear confession
Again dye cheek and brow, and fade and melt
Forever, even as then.
We are watched, my lord.
This is no place, no hour, for words like these.
When, where then, may we meet?
[They pass on.]
The Palace Gardens. Interrupted sounds of music and revelry
come though the open windows of the ball-room, seen in the
background. RIBERA, pacing the stage, occasionally pausing
to look in upon the dancers.
This is revenge. Is she not beautiful,
Ye gods? The beggar's child matched with a prince!
Throb not so high, my heart, 'neath envious eyes
Fixed on thy triumph! Now am I well repaid
For my slow, martyred years. Was I not wrung
by keener tortures than my savage brush,
Though dipped in my heart's blood, might reproduce!
No twisted muscle, no contorted limb,
No agony of flesh, have I yet drawn,
That owed not its suggestion to some pang
Of my pride crucified, my spirit racked,
My entrails gnawed by the blind worm of hate,
Engendered of oppression. That is past,
But not forgotten; though to-night I please
To yield to gentler influence, to own
The strength of beauty and the power of joy,
And welcome gracious phantasies that throng
And hover over me in airy shapes.
The spirits of earth and heaven contend to-night
For mastery within me; ne'er before
Have I been more the Spagnoletto, fired
With noble wrath, with the consuming fever
And fierce delight of vengeance.
From this point
I see her clearly--the auroral face
A-light with smiles, the imperial head upraised;
Her languid hand sways the broad, silken fan,
Whose wing-like movement stirs above her brow
The fine, bright curls, as though warm airs of heaven
Around her breathed. He leads her 'midst the throng.
So, they have gone; but I will follow them,
And watch them from afar.
Enter from the opposite side DON JOHN and MARIA.
I dread to ask
What quivers on my lips. My heart is free,
My heart is free, my lord.
It never beat less calmly at the sound
Of any voice till now. I laugh to think
This very morn I fancied it had met
Fear naught--a simple boy,
A pupil of my father's.
I was mad
To dream it could be otherwise. Forgive me;
I, a mere stranger in they life, am jealous
Of all thy present and thy past.
Listen, my lord;
You shall hear all. What hour, think you, he chose
To urge his cause? The same wherein I learned
Your Highness had commanded for to-night
Our presence. My winged thoughts were flying back
To Count Lodovico's; again I saw you,
My white rose at your lips, your grave eyes fixed
Most frankly, yet most reverently, on mine.
Again my heart sank as I heard the name,
The Prince of Austria; and while I mused,
He spake of love. Oh, I am much to blame!
My mood was soft;--although I promised naught,
I listened, yea, I listened. Good, my lord,
Do you not pity him?
Thanks, and thanks again,
For thy confession! Now no spot remains
On the unblemished mirror of my faith.
Since that dear night, I with one only thought
Have gained the sum of knowledge and opinions
Touching thine honored father, with such scraps
As the gross public voice could dole to me