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What mother's eyes have watch'd in rosy sleep
Till joy, for very fulness, turn'd to weep,
Thus changed!—a fearful thing! His golden crest
Was shiver'd, and the bright scarf on his breast--
Some costly love-gift-rent :-but what of these?
There were the clustering raven-locks-the breeze
As it came in thro' lime and myrtle flowers,
Might scarcely lift them-steep'd in bloody showers
So heavily upon the pallid clay
Of the damp cheek they hung! the eye's dark ray---
Where was it?-and the lips!-they gasp'd apart,
With their light curve, as from the chisel's art,
Still proudly beautiful! but that white hue--
Was it not death's ?-that stillness-that cold dew
On the scarr'd forehead? No! his spirit broke
From its deep trance ere long, yet but awoke
To wander in wild dreams; and there he lay,
By the fierce fever as a green reed shaken,
The haughty chief of thousands-the forsaken
Of all save one!-She fled not. Day by day-
Such hours are woman's birthright-she, unknown,
Kept watch beside him, fearless and alone;
Binding his wounds, and oft in silence laving
His brow with tears that mourn'd the strong man's
He felt them not, nor mark'd the light veil'd form
Still hovering nigh; yet sometimes, when that storm
Of frenzy sank, her voice, in tones as low
As a young mother's by the cradle singing,
Would sooth him with sweet aves, gently bringing
Moments of slumber, when the fiery glow
Ebb'd from his hollow cheek.
At last faint gleams
Of memory dawn'd upon the cloud of dreams,
And feebly lifting, as a child, his head,
And gazing round him from his leafy bed,
He murmur'd forth, "Where am I? What soft strain
Pass'd, like a breeze, across my burning brain?
Back from my youth it floated, with a tone
Of life's first music, and a thought of one--
Where is she now? and where the gauds of pride
Whose hollow splendour lured me from her side?
All lost!-and this is death!--I cannot die
Without forgiveness from that mournful eye!
Away! the earth hath lost her. Was she born
To brook abandonment, to strive with scorn?
My first, my holiest love !-her broken heart
Lies low, and I-unpardon'd I depart."
But then Costanza rais'd the shadowy veil
From her dark locks and features brightly pale,
And stood before him with a smile-oh! ne'er
Did aught that smiled so much of sadness wear-
And said, "Cesario! look on me; I live
To say my heart hath bled, and can forgive.
I loved thee with such worship, such deep trust
As should be Heaven's alone-and Heaven is just! I bless thee-be at peace!"
But o'er his frame
Too fast the strong tide rush'd-the sudden shame,
The joy, th' amaze !—he bow'd his head--it fell
On the wrong'd bosom which had lov'd so well;
And love still perfect, gave him refuge there,-
His last faint breath just wav'd her floating hair.
Who should it be?-Where shouldst thou look for kindness?
When we are sick where can we turn for succour,
When we are wretched where can we complain;
And when the world looks cold and surly on us,
Where can we go to meet a warmer eye
With such sure confidence as to a mother?
"My child, my child, thou leav'st me!-I shall hear
The gentle voice no more that blest mine ear
With its first utterance; I shall miss the sound
Of thy light step amidst the flowers around,
*Originally published in the Literary Souvenir for 1828.