momentary expectation of a visiter, or to sounds which must have had
existence in his imagination alone.
It was during one of these reveries or pauses of apparent abstraction,
that, in turning over a page of the poet and scholar Politian's
beautiful tragedy "The Orfeo," (the first native Italian tragedy,)
which lay near me upon an ottoman, I discovered a passage underlined in
pencil. It was a passage towards the end of the third act--a passage of
the most heart-stirring excitement--a passage which, although tainted
with impurity, no man shall read without a thrill of novel emotion--no
woman without a sigh. The whole page was blotted with fresh tears; and,
upon the opposite interleaf, were the following English lines,
written in a hand so very different from the peculiar characters of my
acquaintance, that I had some difficulty in recognising it as his own:--
Thou wast that all to me, love,
For which my soul did pine--
A green isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine,
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers;
And all the flowers were mine.
Ah, dream too bright to last!
Ah, starry Hope, that didst arise
But to be overcast!
A voice from out the Future cries,
"Onward!"--but o'er the Past
(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies,
For alas! alas! with me
The light of life is o'er.
"No more--no more--no more,"
(Such language holds the solemn sea
To the sands upon the shore,)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,
Or the stricken eagle soar!
Now all my hours are trances;
And all my nightly dreams
Are where the dark eye glances,
And where thy footstep gleams,
In what ethereal dances,
By what Italian streams.
Alas! for that accursed time
They bore thee o'er the billow,
And the silken, sad uncertain Rustling of each purple.Page 1
" [Illustration: 9015] Presently my soul grew stronger; Hesitating then no longer, "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly Your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I was napping, And so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, Tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you"-- Here I opened .Page 2
" [Illustration: 0020] Open here I flung the shutter, .Page 3
" .Page 4
Much I marvelled this ungainly Fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning-- Little relevancy bore; For we cannot help agreeing That no sublunary being Ever yet was blessed with seeing Bird above his chamber door-- Bird or beast upon the sculptured Bust above his chamber door, With such name as "Nevermore.Page 5
master Whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster, So when hope he would adjure, Stern despair returned, Instead of the sweet hope he dared adjure, That sad answer, "Nevermore.Page 6
whose velvet violet lining, With the lamplight gloating o'er, _She_ shall press, ah, nevermore! [Illustration: 0026] [Illustration: 0027] Then methought the air grew denser, Perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by angels whose faint footfalls Tinkled on the tufted floor.Page 7
" Quoth the Raven, " Nevermore.Page 8
And the lamplight o'er him streaming Throws his shadow on the floor, And my soul from out that shadow That lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted--nevermore! [Illustration: 0035].