The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 126

From Love to titled age and crime,
And an unholy pillow!--
From me, and from our misty clime,
Where weeps the silver willow!

That these lines were written in English--a language with which I had
not believed their author acquainted--afforded me little matter for
surprise. I was too well aware of the extent of his acquirements, and of
the singular pleasure he took in concealing them from observation, to
be astonished at any similar discovery; but the place of date, I must
confess, occasioned me no little amazement. It had been originally
written _London_, and afterwards carefully overscored--not, however, so
effectually as to conceal the word from a scrutinizing eye. I say, this
occasioned me no little amazement; for I well remember that, in a former
conversation with a friend, I particularly inquired if he had at any
time met in London the Marchesa di Mentoni, (who for some years previous
to her marriage had resided in that city,) when his answer, if I mistake
not, gave me to understand that he had never visited the metropolis of
Great Britain. I might as well here mention, that I have more than
once heard, (without, of course, giving credit to a report
involving so many improbabilities,) that the person of whom I speak, was
not only by birth, but in education, an _Englishman_.

* * * * *

"There is one painting," said he, without being aware of my notice of
the tragedy--"there is still one painting which you have not seen." And
throwing aside a drapery, he discovered a full-length portrait of the
Marchesa Aphrodite.

Human art could have done no more in the delineation of her
superhuman beauty. The same ethereal figure which stood before me the
preceding night upon the steps of the Ducal Palace, stood before me once
again. But in the expression of the countenance, which was beaming all
over with smiles, there still lurked (incomprehensible anomaly!) that
fitful stain of melancholy which will ever be found inseparable from the
perfection of the beautiful. Her right arm lay folded over her bosom.
With her left she pointed downward to a curiously fashioned vase.
One small, fairy foot, alone visible, barely touched the earth; and,
scarcely discernible in the brilliant atmosphere which seemed to
encircle and enshrine her loveliness, floated a pair of the most
delicately imagined wings. My glance fell from the painting to the
figure of my friend, and the vigorous words of Chapman's _Bussy
D'Ambois_, quivered instinctively upon my lips:

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