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Her eyes, poor watchers, fix'd upon his looks,
Are grappled with a wonder near to grief,
As one, who pores on undecypher'd books, ,
Strains vain surmise, and dodges with belief;
So she keeps gazing with a mazy thought,
Framing a thousand doubts that end in nought.
Too stern inscription for a page so young,
The dark translation of his look was death!
But death was written in an alien tongue,
And learning was not by to give it breath;
So one deep woe sleeps buried in its seal,
Which Time, untimely, hasteth to reveal.
Meanwhile she sits unconscious of her hap,
Nursing Death's marble effigy, which there
With heavy head lies pillow'd in her lap,
And elbows all unhinged ; -- his sleeking hair
Creeps o'er her knees, and settles where his hand
Leans with lax fingers crook'd against the sand ;
And there lies spread in many an oozy trail,
Like glossy weeds hung from a chalky base,
That shows no whiter than his brow is pale;
So soon the wintry death had bleach'd his face
Into cold marble, - with blue chilly shades,
Showing wherein the freezy blood pervades.
And o'er his steadfast cheek a furrow'd pain
Hath set, and stiffen'd like a storm in ice,
Showing by drooping lines the deadly strain
Of mortal anguish ; - yet you might gaze twice
Ere Death it seem'd, and not his cousin, Sleep,
That through those creviced lids did underpeep.
But all that tender bloom about his eyes,
Is death's own vi'lets, which his utmost rite
It is to scatter when the red rose dies;
For blue is chilly, and akin to white:
Also he leaves some tinges on his lips,
Which he hath kiss'd with such cold frosty nips.
Surely,” quoth she, “ he sleeps, the senseless thing, Oppress’d and faint with toiling in the stream !" Therefore she will not mar his rest, but sing So low, her tune shall mingle with his dream ; Meanwhile, her lily fingers tasks to twine His uncrispt locks uncurling in the brine.
“ O lovely boy !" — thus she attun'd her voice, - Welcome, thrice welcome, to a sea-maid's home, My love-mate thou shalt be, and true heart's choice; How have I long'd such a twin-self should come, A lonely thing, till this sweet chance befel, My heart kept sighing like a hollow shell.
“ Here thou shalt live, beneath this secret dome,
An ocean bow'r, defended by the shade
Of quiet waters; a cool emerald gloom
To lap thee all about. Nay, be not fray'd,
Those are but shady fishes that sail by
Like antic clouds across my liquid sky!
“ Look how the sunbeam burns upon their scales,
And shows rich glimpses of their Tyrian skins,
They flash small lightnings from their vigorous tails,
And winking stars are kindled at their fins;
These shall divert thee in thy weariest mood,
And seek thy hand for gamesomeness and food.
“ Lo! those green pretty leaves with tassel bells,
My flowrets those, that never pine for drowth;
Myself did plant them in the dappled shells,
That drink the wave with such a rosy mouth,
Pearls wouldst thou have beside ? crystals to shine ?
I had such treasures once,
- now they are thine.
“ Now, lay thine ear against this golden sand,
And thou shalt hear the music of the sea,
Those hollow tunes it plays against the land, -
Is't not a rich and wondrous melody?
I have lain hours, and fancied in its tone
I heard the languages of ages gone!
“ I too can sing when it shall please thy choice,
And breathe soft tunes through a melodious shell,
Though heretofore I have but set my voice
To some long sighs, grief harmonized, to tell
How desolate I fared ; but this sweet change
Will add new notes of gladness to my range!
“ Or bid me speak and I will tell thee tales,
Which I have framed out of the noise of waves ;
Ere now, I have commun'd with senseless gales,
And held vain colloquies with barren caves;
But I could talk to thee whole days and days,
Only to word my love a thousand ways.
“ But if thy lips will bless me with their speech,
Then ope, sweet oracles ! and I'll be mute ;
I was born ignorant for thee to teach,
Nay all love's lore to thy dear looks impute;
Then ope thine eyes, fair teachers, by whose light
I saw to give away my heart aright !”