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WRITTEN ON HEARING THE NEWS OF THE DEATH OF

NAPOLEON.

WHAT! alive and so bold, O Earth?

Art thou not over-bold !
What! leapest thou forth as of old

In the light of thy morning mirth,
The last of the flock of the starry fold ?
Ha ! leapest thou forth as of old ?
Are not the limbs still when the ghost is fled,
And canst thou more, Napoleon being dead ?
How! is not thy quick heart cold?

What spark is alive on thy hearth ?
How ! is not his death-knell knolled ?

And livest thou still, Mother Earth ?
Thou wert warming thy fingers old
O'er the embers covered and cold
Of that most fiery spirit, when it fled-
What, Mother, do you laugh now he is dead?
“ Who has known me of old,” replied Earth,

“ Or who has my story told ? It is thou who art over bold.”

And the lightning of scorn laughed forth As she sung, “ To my bosom I fold All my sons when their knell is knolled, And so with living motion all are fed, And the quick spring like weeds out of the dead. “ Still alive and still bold," shouted Earth,

“I grow bolder, and still more bold. The dead fill me ten thousandfold

Fuller of speed, and splendour, and mirth ;
I was cloudy, and sullen and cold,
Like a frozen chaos uprolled,
Till by the spirit of the mighty dead
My heart grew warm. I feed on whom I fed.
“ Ay, alive and still bold,” muttered Earth,

“Napoleon's fierce spirit rolled,
In terror, and blood, and gold,

A torrent of ruin to death from his birth.
Leave the millions who follow to mould
The metal before it be cold,
And weave into his shame, which like the dead
Shrouds me, the hopes that from his glory fled.”

Wild, pale, and wonder-stricken, even as one
Who staggers forth into the air and sun
From the dark chamber of a mortal fever,
Bewildered, and incapable, and ever
Fancying strange comments in her dizzy brain
Of usual shapes, till the familiar train
Of objects and of persons passed like things
Strange as a dreamer's mad imaginings,
Ginevra from the nuptial altar went ;
The vows to which her lips had sworn assent
Rung in her brain still with a jarring din,
Deafening the lost intelligence within.
And so she moved under the bridal veil,
Which made the paleness of her cheek more pale,
And deepened the faint crimson of her mouth,
And darkened her dark locks, as moonlight doth,-
And of the gold and jewels glittering there
She scarce felt conscious,—but the weary glare
Lay like a chaos of unwelcome light,
Vexing the sense with gorgeous undelight.
A moonbeam in the shadow of a cloud
Was less heavenly fair, her face was bowed,
And as she passed, the diamonds in her hair
Were mirrored in the polished marble stair
Which led from the cathedral to the street ;
And even as she went her light fair feet
Erased these images.

The bride-maidens who round her thronging came,
Some with a sense of self-rebuke and shame,
Envying the unenviable ; and others
Making the joy which should have been another's
Their own by gentle sympathy ; and some
Sighing to think of an unhappy home;
Some few admiring what can ever lure
Maidens to leave the heaven serene and pure
Of parents' smiles for life's great cheat ; a thing
Bitter to taste, sweet in imagining.

But they are all dispersed—and lo ! she stands Looking in idle grief on her white hands, Alone within the garden now her own ; And through the sunny air, with jangling tone, The music of the merry marriage-bells, Killing the azure silence, sinks and swells ;Absorbed like one within a dream who dreams That he is dreaming, until slumber seems A mockery of itself—when suddenly Antonio stood before her, pale as she. With agony, with sorrow, and with pride, He lifted his wan eyes upon the bride, And said—“Is this thy faith ?” and then as one Whose sleeping face is stricken by the sun With light like a harsh voice, which bids him rise And look upon his day of life with eyes Which weep in vain that they can dream no more, Ginevra saw her lover, and forbore To shriek or faint, and checked the stilling blood Rushing upon her heart, and unsubdued Said—“ Friend, if earthly violence or ill, Suspicion, doubt, or the tyrannic will

* This fragment is part of a poem which Shelley intended to write, founded on a story to be found in the first volume of a book entitled “L'Osservatore Fiorentino."

A FRAGMENT.

As a violet's gentle eye

Gazes on the azure sky, Until its hue grows like what it beholds ;

As a grey and empty mist

Lies like solid Amethyst,
Over the western mountain it enfolds,
When the sunset sleeps

Upon its snow.
As a strain of sweetest sound

Wraps itself the wind around, Until the voiceless wind be music too ;

As aught dark, vain and dull,

Basking in what is beautiful, Is full of light and love.

Of parents, chance, or custom, time, or change, From every living heart which it possesses,
Or circumstance, or terror, or revenge,

Through seas and winds, cities and wildernesses,
Or wildered looks, or words, or evil speech, As if the future and the past were all
With all their stings and venom, can impeach Treasured i'the instant ;—so Gherardi's hall
Our love,—we love not:--if the grave, which hides Laughed in the mirth of its lord's festival,
The victim from the tyrant, and divides

Till some one asked—“Where is the Bride ?” And The cheek that whitens from the eyes that dart A bride's-maid went, and ere she came again then Imperious inquisition to the heart

A silence fell upon the guests—a pause
That is another's, could dissever ours,

Of expectation, as when beauty awes
We love not. “ What! do not the silent hours All hearts with its approach, though unbeheld ;
Beckon thee to Gherardi's bridal bed ?

Then wonder, and then fear that wonder quelled;-
Is not that ring"--a pledge, he would have said, For whispers passed from mouth to ear which drew
Of broken vows, but she with patient look

The colour from the hearer's cheeks, and flew
The golden circle from her finger took,

Louder and swifter round the company;
And said—“ Accept this token of my faith, And then Gherardi entered with an eye
The pledge of vows to be absolved by death ; Of ostentatious trouble, and a crowd
And I am dead or shall be soon-my knell Surrounded him, and some were weeping loud.
Will mix its music with that merry bell ;
Does it not sound as if they sweetly said,

They found Ginevra dead ! if it be death,
• We toll a corpse out of the marriage bed ?' To lie without motion, or pulse, or breath,
The Powers upon my bridal chamber strewn With waxen cheeks, and limbs cold, stiff, and white,
Will serve unfaded for my bier-80 soon

And open eyes, whose fixed and glassy light
That even the dying violet will not die

Mocked at the speculation they had owned.
Before Ginevra." The strong fantasy

If it be death, when there is felt around
Had made her accents weaker and more weak, A smell of clay, a pale and icy glare,
And quenched the crimson life upon her cheek, And silence, and a sense that lifts the hair
And glazed her eyes, and spread an atmosphere From the scalp to the ankles, as it were
Round her, which chilled the burning noon with Corruption from the spirit passing forth,
fear,

And giving all it shrouded to the earth,
Making her but an image of the thought,

And leaving as swift lightning in its flight Which, like a prophet or a shadow, brought Ashes, and smoke, and darkness : in our night News of the terrors of the coming time.

Of thought we know thus much of death,—no more Like an accuser branded with the crime

Than the unborn dream of our life before
He would have cast on a beloved friend,

Their barks are wrecked on its inhospitable shore.
Whose dying eyes reproach not to the end The marriage feast and its solemnity
The pale betrayer-he then with vain repentance

Was turned to funeral pomp—the company,
Would share, he cannot now avert, the sentence With heavy hearts and looks, broke up; nor they
Antonio stood and would have spoken, when Who loved the dead went weeping on their way
The compound voice of women and of men Alone, but sorrow mixed with sad surprise
Was heard approaching ; he retired, while she Loosened the springs of pity in all eyes,
Was led amid the admiring company

On which that form, whose fate they weep in vain,
Back to the palace,--and her maidens soon Will never, thought they, kindle smiles again.
Changed her attire for the afternoon,

The lamps which, half extinguished in their haste, And left her at her own request to keep

Gleamed few and faint o'er the abandoned feast, An hour of quiet and rest :- like one asleep

Showed as it were within the vaulted room With open eyes and folded hands she lay,

A cloud of sorrow hanging, as if gloom Pale in the light of the declining day.

Had passed out of men's minds into the air.

Some few yet stood around Gherardi there,
Meanwhile the day sinks fast, the sun is set, Friends and relations of the dead,--and he,
And in the lighted hall the guests are met ; A loveless man, accepted torpidly
The beautiful looked lovelier in the light

The consolation that he wanted not,
Of love, and admiration, and delight,

Awe in the place of grief within him wrought. Reflected from a thousand hearts and eyes Their whispers made the solemn silence seem Kindling a momentary Paradise.

More still some wept, [

] This crowd is safer than the silent wood,

Some melted into tears without a sob,
Where love's own doubts disturb the solitude ; And some with hearts that might be heard to throb
On frozen hearts the fiery rain of wine

Leant on the table, and at intervals
Falls, and the dew of music more divine

Shuddered to hear through the deserted halls Tempers the deep emotions of the time

And corridors the thrilling shrieks which came
To spirits cradled in a sunny clime :-

Upon the breeze of night, that shook the flame
How many meet, who never yet have met, Of every torch and taper as it swept
To part too soon, but never to forget!

From out the chamber where the women kept ;-
How many saw the beauty, power, and wit Their tears fell on the dear companion cold
Of looks and words which ne'er enchanted yet ! Of pleasures now departed ; then was knolled
But life's familiar veil was now withdrawn, The bell of death, and soon the priests arrived,
As the world leaps before an earthquake's dawn, And finding death their penitent had shrived,
And unprophetic of the coming hours,

Returned like ravens from a corpse whereon
The matin winds from the expanded flowers A vulture has just feasted to the bone.
Scatter their hoarded incense, and awaken And then the mourning women came.-
The earth, until the dewy sleep is shaken

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THE DIRGE.

TO-MORROW.

OLD winter was gone

WHERE art thou, beloved To-morrow? In his weakness back to the mountains hoar, When young and old, and strong and weak, And the spring came down

Rich and poor, through joy and sorrow, From the planet that hovers upon the shore

Thy sweet smiles we ever seek,Where the sea of sunlight encroaches

In thy place--ah! well-a-day !
On the limits of wintry night ;-

We find the thing we fled— To-day.
If the land, and the air, and the sea,
Rejoice not when spring approaches,
We did not rejoice in thee,
Ginevra !

A BRIDAL SONG.
She is still, she is cold

On the bridal couch,
One step to the white death-bed,

The golden gates of sleep unbar
And one to the bier,

Where strength and beauty met together,
And one to the charnel—and one, Oh where? Kindle their image like a star
The dark arrow fied

In a sea of glassy weather.
In the noon.

Night, with all thy stars look down,

Darkness, weep thy holiest dew,Ere the sun through heaven once more has rolled, Never smiled the inconstant moon The rats in her heart

On a pair so true. Will have made their nest,

Let eyes not see their own delight ;-
And the worms be alive in her golden hair ; Haste, swift Hour, and thy flight
While the spirit that guides the sun

Oft renew.
Sits throned in his flaming chair,
She shall sleep.

Fairies, sprites, and angels, keep her!

Holy stars, permit no wrong!
And return to wake the sleeper,

Dawn,-ere it be long.
O joy ! O fear! what will be done
In the absence of the sun !

Come along!

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