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At length I saw a lady within call,
Stiller than chiselled marble, standing there; A daughter of the gods, divinely tall, And most divinely fair.
Her loveliness with shame and with surprise
"I had great beauty: ask thou not my name:
"No marvel, sovereign lady! in fair field,
But she, with sick and scornful looks averse,
To her full height her stately stature draws; "My youth," she said, "was blasted with a curse: This woman was the cause.
"I was cut off from hope in that sad place, Which yet to name my spirit loathes and fears ; My father held his hand upon his face:
I, blinded with my tears,
Still strove to speak: my voice was thick with sighs
The stern black-bearded kings, with wolfish eyes, Waiting to see me die.
“The high masts flickered as they lay afloat;
The crowds, the temples, wavered, and the shore;
The bright death quivered at the victim's throat; Touched; and I knew no more.”
Whereto the other with a downward brow:
"I would the white cold heavy-plunging foam, Whirled by the wind, had rolled me deep below, Then when I left my home."
Her slow full words sank through the silence drear, As thunder-drops fall on a sleeping sea: Sudden I heard a voice that cried, "Come here, That I may look on thee.”
I turning saw, throned on a flowery rise,
A queen with swarthy cheeks and bold black eyes,
She, flashing forth a haughty smile, began:
"The ever-shifting currents of the blood
I have no men to govern in this wood:
"Nay-yet it chafes me that I could not bend One will; nor tame and tutor with mine eye That dull cold-blooded Cæsar. Prithee, friend,
Where is Mark Antony?
"The man my lover, with whom I rode sublime
On Fortune's neck: we sat as God by God: The Nilus would have risen before his time And flooded at our nod.
"We drank the Lybian Sun to sleep, and lit
“And the wild kiss, when fresh from war's alarms,
"And there he died; and when I heard my name Sighed forth with life I would not brook my fear Of the other: with a worm I balked his fame. What else was left ?-look here!"
(With that she tore her robe apart, and half
"I died a Queen. The Roman soldier found Me lying dead, my crown about my brows,
A name forever!—lying robed and crowned,
Her warbling voice, a lyre of widest range
Struck by all passion, did fall down and glance From tone to tone, and glided through all change Of liveliest utterance.
When she made pause I knew not for delight; Because with sudden motion from the ground She raised her piercing orbs and filled with light The interval of sound.
Still with their fires Love tipt his keenest darts;
Slowly my sense undazzled. Then I heard
"The torrent brooks of hallowed Israel
From craggy hollows pouring, late and soon, Sound all night long, in falling through the dell, Far-heard beneath the moon.
"The balmy moon of blessed Israel
Floods all the deep-blue gloom with beams
All night the splintered crags that wall the dell
As one that museth where broad sunshine laves The lawn by some cathedral, through the door Hearing the holy organ rolling waves
Of sound on roof and floor
Within, and anthem sung, is charmed and tied
Of music left the lips of her that died
To save her father's vow;
The daughter of the warrior Gileadite,
A maiden pure; as when she went along From Mizpeh's towered gate with welcome light, With timbrel and with song.
My words leapt forth: "Heaven heads the count of crimes
With that wild oath." She rendered answer high:
"Not so, nor once alone; a thousand times
I would be born and die.
"Single I grew, like some green plant, whose root Creeps to the garden water-pipes beneath, Feeding the flower: but ere my flower to fruit Changed, I was ripe for death.
"My God, my land, my father-these did move