The Eve of St. Agnes

Verses 36-42

    Beyond a mortal man impassion’d far
    At these voluptuous accents, he arose,
    Ethereal, flush’d, and like a throbbing star
    Seen mid the sapphire heaven’s deep repose
    Into her dream he melted, as the rose
    Blendeth its odour with the violet,–
    Solution sweet: meantime the frost-wind blows
    Like Love’s alarum pattering the sharp sleet
Against the window-panes; St Agnes’ moon hath set.

    Tis dark: quick pattereth the flaw-blown sleet:
    "This is no dream, my bride, my Madeline!"
    ‘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 unpruned wing."

    "My Madeline! sweet dreamer! lovely bride!
    Say, may I be for aye thy vassal blest?
    Thy beauty’s shield, heart-shap’d and vermeil dyed?
    Ah, silver shrine, here will I take my rest
    After so many hours of toil and quest,
    A famish’d pilgrim,–saved by miracle.
    Though I have found, I will not rob thy nest
    Saving of thy sweet self; if thou think’st well
    To trust, fair Madeline, to no rude infidel.

    "Hark! ’tis an elfin-storm from faery land,
    Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed:
    Arise–arise! the morning is at hand;–
    The bloated wassailers will never heed:–
    Let us away, my love, with happy speed;
    There are no ears to hear, or eyes to see,–
    Drown’d all in Rhenish and the sleepy mead:
    Awake! arise! my love, and fearless be,
For o’er the southern moors I have a home for thee."

    She hurried at his words, beset with fears,
    For there were sleeping dragons all around,
    At glaring watch, perhaps, with ready spears–
    Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found.–
    In all the house was heard no human sound.
    A chain-droop’d lamp was flickering by each door;
    The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound,
    Flutter’d in the besieging wind’s uproar;
And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.

    They glide, like phantoms, into the wide hall;
    Like phantoms, to the iron porch, they glide;
    Where lay the Porter, in uneasy sprawl,
    With a huge empty flagon by his side:
    The wakeful bloodhound rose, and shook his hide,
    But his sagacious eye an inmate owns:
    By one, and one, the bolts fill easy slide:–
    The chains lie silent on the footworn stones,–
The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans.

    And they are gone: ay, ages long ago
    These lovers fled away into the storm.
    That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe,
    And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form
    Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm,
    Were long be-nightmar’d Angela the old
    Died palsy-twitch’d, with meagre face deform;
    The Beadsman, after thousand aves told,
For aye unsought for slept among his ashes cold.

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