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And there a lovely cloistered court he

A fountain in the midst o'erthrown and dry,
And in the cloister briers twining round
The slender shafts; the wondrous imagery
Outworn by more than many years gone by;
Because the country people, in their fear
Of wizardry, had wrought destruction here;

And piteously these fair things had been

78 There stood great Jove, lacking his head of might,

Here was the archer, swift Apollo, lamed; The shapely limbs of Venus hid from sight By weeds and shards; Diana's ankles light Bound with the cable of some coasting ship; And rusty nails through Helen's maddening lip.


Therefrom unto the chambers did he pass, And found them fair still, midst of their decay, Though in them now no sign of man there was, And everything but stone had passed away That made them lovely in that vanished day;

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But he, when all the place he had gone o'er, And with much trouble clomb the broken stair, And from the topmost turret seen the shore And his good ship drawn up at anchor there, Came down again, and found a crypt most fair Built wonderfully beneath the greatest hall, And there he saw a door within the wall, 98

Well-hinged, close shut; nor was there in that place

Another on its hinges, therefore he

Stood there and pondered for a little space, And thought, "Perchance some marvel I shall


For surely here some dweller there must be, Because this door seems whole, and new, and sound,

While nought but ruin I can see around." 105

So with that word, moved by a strong desire,

He tried the hasp, that yielded to his hand,
And in a strange place, lit as by a fire
Unseen but near, he presently did stand;
And by an odorous breeze his face was fanned,
As though in some Arabian plain he stood,
Anigh the border of a spice-tree wood.


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"Lady," he said, "in Florence is my home, And in my city noble is my name; Neither on peddling voyage am I come, But, like my fathers, bent to gather fame; And though thy face has set my heart a-flame Yet of thy story nothing do I know, But here have wandered heedlessly enow.

"But since the sight of thee mine eyes did bless,

239 What can I be but thine? what wouldst thou have?

From those thy words, I deem from some distress

By deeds of mine thy dear life I might save;
O then, delay not! if one ever gave
His life to any, mine I give to thee;
Come, tell me what the price of love must be?

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"A queen I was, what gods I knew I loved, And nothing evil was there in my thought, And yet by love my wretched heart was moved Until to utter ruin I was brought !

Alas! thou sayest our gods were vain and


Wait, wait, till thou hast heard this tale of



293 Then shalt thou think them devilish or divine.

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"Ah! well do I remember all that night, When through the window shone the orb of June,


And by the bed flickered the taper's light,
Whereby I trembled, gazing at the moon:
Ah me! the meeting that we had, when soon
Into his strong, well-trusted arms I fell,
And many a sorrow we began to tell. 315

"Ah me! what parting on that night we had!

I think the story of my great despair

A little while might merry folk make sad;
For, as he swept away my yellow hair
To make my shoulder and my bosom bare,
I raised mine eyes, and shuddering could be-

A shadow cast upon the bed of gold:


"Then suddenly was quenched my hot desire

And he untwined his arms; the moon so pale A while ago, seemed changed to blood and fire, And yet my limbs beneath me did not fail, And neither had I strength to cry or wail, But stood there helpless, bare, and shivering, With staring eyes still fixed upon the thing. 329

"Because the shade that on the bed of gold The changed and dreadful moon was throwing down

Was of Diana, whom I did behold,

With knotted hair, and shining girt-up gown, And on the high white brow, a deadly frown Bent upon us, who stood scarce drawing breath,

Striving to meet the horrible sure death. 336

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"And then the doom foreseen upon me fell, For Queen Diana did my body change Into a fork-tongued dragon, flesh and fell.* And through the island nightly do I range, Or in the green sea mate with monsters strange, When in the middle of the moonlit night The sleepy mariner I do affright.


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And still upon his hand he seemed to feel
The varying kisses of her fingers fair;
Then turned he toward the dreary crypt and

And dizzily throughout the castle passed,
Till by the ruined fane he stood at last. 434

Then weighing still the gem within his hand, He stumbled backward through the cypress wood,

Thinking the while of some strange lovely land,

Where all his life should be most fair and good Till on the valley's wall of hills he stood, 439 And slowly thence passed down unto the bay Red with the death of that bewildering day.

The next day came, and he, who all the night

Had ceaselessly been turning in his bed,
Arose and clad himself in armour bright,
And many a danger he remembered;
Storming of towns, lone sieges full of dread,
That with renown his heart had borne him

And this thing seemed a little thing to do. 448

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