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of the year.

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Full of this whim was thoughtful Made- He ventures in: let no buzzed whisper line:

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tell; The music, yearning like a god in pain, All eyes be muffled; or a hundred swords She scarcely heard; her maiden eyes Will storm his heart, Love's fev'rous divine,

citadel. Fixed on the floor, saw many a sweeping For him, those chambers held barbarian train

hordes, Pass by — she heeded not at all. In vain Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords, Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier, Whose very dogs would execrations howl And back retired, — not cooled by high dis- Against his lineage: not one breast affords dain,

Him any mercy, in that mansion foul, But she saw not; her heart was other- Save one old beldame, weak in body and in where:

soul. She sighed for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest

Ah, happy chance! the agèd creature came,

Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand, VIII

To where he stood, hid from the torch's She danced along with vague, regardless Alame, eyes,

Behind a broad hall-pillar, far beyond Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and The sound of merriment and chorus short.

bland.

95 The hallowed hour was near at hand. She He startled her; but soon she knew his sighs

face, Amid the timbrels, and the thronged resort And grasped his fingers in her palsied Of whisperers in anger, or in sport;

hand, 'Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and Saying, “Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from scorn,

this place: Hoodwinked with faery fancy; all amort, They are all here tonight, the whole bloodSave to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn, thirsty race! And all the bliss to be before tomorrow

"Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish

Hildebrand,

He had a fever late, and in the fit So, purposing each moment to retire, He cursed thee and thine, both house and She lingered still. Meantime, across the

land; moors,

Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a Had come young Porphyro, with heart on whit fire

More tame for his gray hairs - Alas me! For Madeline. Beside the portal doors,

Ait! Buttressed from moonlight, stands he, and Flit like a ghost away.” — “Ah, Gossip implores

dear, All saints to give him sight of Madeline, We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair But for one moment in the tedious hours, sit, That he might gaze and worship all un- And tell me how". “Good Saints! not seen;

here, not here: Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss — in Follow me, child, or else these stones will sooth such things have been.

be thy bier.”

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morn.

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Sudden a thought came like a full-blown

rose, Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart Made purple riot; then doth he propose

Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy, Even to Madeline's chamber, and there

hide

a

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in prayer

Him in a closet, of such privacy

With silver taper's light, and pious care, That he might see her beauty unespied, She turned, and down the agèd gossip And win perhaps that night a peerless led

195 bride,

To a safe level matting. Now prepare, While legioned fairies paced the coverlet, Young Porphyro, for gazing on that bed; And pale enchantment held her sleepy- She comes, she comes again, like ringdove eyed.

frayed and fled.
Never on such a night have lovers met,
Since Merlin paid his demon all the mon-
strous debt.

Out went the taper as she hurried in;
Its little smoke, in pallid moonshine,

died; "It shall be as thou wishest,” said the

She closed the door, she panted, all akin dame:

To spirits of the air and visions wide: “All cates and dainties shall be stored

No uttered syllable, or

- woe betide! there

But, to her heart, her heart was voluble, Quickly on this feast-night; by the tam

Paining with eloquence her balmy side; bour frame

As though a tongueless nightingale should Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to

swell spare,

Her throat in vain, and die heart-stifled in For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare

her dell. On such a catering trust my dizzy head. Wait here, my child, with patience; kneel

A casement high and triple arched there The while: ah! thou must needs the lady was, wed,

All garlanded with carven imag'ries Or may I never leave my grave among the

Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of dead.”

knot-grass, And diamonded with panes of quaint de

vice, So saying she hobbled off with busy fear.

Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes, The lover's endless minutes slowly passed:

As are the tiger-moth's deep-damasked The Dame returned, and whispered in his wings;

And in the midst, 'mong thousand herTo follow her, with aged eyes aghast

aldries From fright of dim espial. Safe at last, 185

And twilight saints and dim emblazonThrough many a dusky gallery, they gain

ings, The maiden's chamber, silken, hushed, and

A shielded scutcheon blushed with blood chaste;

of queens and kings. Where Porphyro took covert, pleased

amain. His poor guide hurried back with agues in Full on this casement shone the wintry her brain.

moon, And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair

breast, Her falt'ring hand upon the balustrade, As down she knelt for heaven's grace and Old Angela was feeling for the stair, 191 boon; When Madeline, St. Agnes' charmed maid, Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together Rose, like a missioned spirit, unaware.

prest,

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'Tis dark; quick pattereth the flaw-blown

sleet: “This is no dream, my bride, my Made

line!” '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 un

pruned wing."

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