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Their faces wore a mystic light,
A holy look of strange surmise ;
Their robes were travel-worn; their eyes
And jewels sparkled in the night.
Anear, a glooming frame portrayed
Some fragment of fierce Roman war :
Of captain slain amid the storm
Of onset-many a bearded form,
With sword and shield together mass'd,
Afoot, or rolled in ranks of horse,
Furiously intermingled; one
Closed in by the Barbarian,
Though wound-weak, holding vantage still,
While from a somberous sunset hill
A soldier blew a warlike blast,
To signal for the succouring force.

XIII. Iscariot next; with bestial brow, And serpent-subtle, hateful smile, Told o'er the coin, that burned the while Like fire within his hands; and now A Sibyl, by the holy springs That near some desert ruin flowed, Turned her prophetic eyes to God, Raptured with rich imaginings : There, swathed in linen's spectral fold, Dread Endor's Woman, gaunt and white, With gesture like a skeleton's, Called up in necromantic tones The long-graved, kingly ghosts of old, Beneath the blue Judean night: While, through the shadows of the place, Some cowled monk, with upraised face, Hollow'd by watching, fast, and care, Seemed bursting his lean heart with prayer Before white heaps of sainted bones.

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With these were others; fancy's shade
And brilliance into pictures wrought,
With sovereign power of patient thought :
In full completion some displayed
Sudden effects of glooms and glows-
Gehenna and its star ; and some,
Still indistinct in turbid gloom,
With scarcely half the life dashed in,
Before the merchant's view arose.
A scene of revel and of sin;
Where, amid lamps and lemans light,
And serpent-faces on the watch,
A heathen King caroused at night ;
His keen eves blooded with debauch,
Like rusted dagger blades. At last,
A hideous shipwreck caught the view,
With surges rolling o'er and o'er,
A vessel, as it swung to shore,
Where through the wrathful wave were seen,
In rain and lightning's ghostly sheen,
The anguished faces of the crew;

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Dark is the chamber, though 'tis day ;
Curtained and lighted from the blue
By one thin streaming ray that through
The domed roof falls splendrously :
Unlike the gloried studios
By Tiber's yellow wave, or where,
Through alder rows and banks aglare,
The sunny rippled Arno flows.
No Grecian bust or statue shews
Its pure ideal outline there;
No Cupid smiles, no Venus glows
Voluptuous languors through the air ;
But duskily the light streams o'er
Rich turbans tumbled on the floor.
Around the stretch of shadowing walls,
Gloomy as Eblis' palace halls,
Hang garbs of many a distant land.
Great giant armour, casque and brand,
Inlaid with subtlest traceries,
Send forth a dim uncertain sheen
Beneath the skirt of ebon palls,
Swart cowls, and Jewish gabardine,
Long Moorish cloaks, and Persian shawls :
Nor there of instruments of pain
And iron anguish, screw and rack
Blood rusted, seemed there any lack;
While draped across a mirror's disk
The cincture of some Odalisque,
Smiling the coy light to its grain,
Glimmerd amid a motley train
Of skins, and mighty ocean bones,
And plumages from burning zones,
Skulls, shells, and arid skeletons,
O'erstrewn with aureate draperies.

XVI.

Then for a time the painter dashed
His canvass o'er with many a hue ;
Broad shadow-masses fell, and flashed
The keen lights over lip and eye,
As glowingly and steadily
The face beneath his pencil grew;
Through the half-open curtain slid
The silent lights, and sunnily
Without the casement voyag'd the bee
With busy hum along, or hid
In wallflowers streaked with gold and brown ;
The skylark o'er the island sang ;
"Till faintly from the distant town
The bell through smoky steeples rang
The hour of silent afternoon,

XVII. But hark! another sound of oars Comes timed along the dreamy shores ; And then, a minute past, they hear Sweet laughters through the corridors ; While treading softly through the gloom m And tranced silence of the room, Advanced the merchant's daughter dear ;A Belgian beauty rich arrayed, Blithe, buxom, fair as summer she; And following close upon her train A bronzed cavalier of Spain-A mould of youngest manhood he, Stately as some tall pinnace mast, Clothed with its sail : his ebon hair Flowed from his plumed cap upon His cloak Castilian; from his waist, With belt of scarlet subtly traced, His diamond-hilted dagger shone. In sooth, a meeter, nobler two Ne'er blessed the sunny seas that bore Their hearts to beat upon one shore, Than Lopez and his Bertha true; For matched they seemed as sun and star, As amulet and scimetar, Or as the moon, when southward rolled, Tempers the tropic's front of gold.

XVIII.

Then, after greetings past, they went
Away together through the gloom
And stillness of the motley room,
On tiptoe-tread, and wiled the hour
With sweetest talk and whisperings ;
Perused the galleries' pictured lore,
With faces dashed in wonderment;
And turned the painter's trumpery o'er,
In half-alarmed surmise. At last,
An antique lute, touched by a hand,
Viberates through all its dusty strings,
Sudden as from a passing blast.
O precious prize, O happy cast
Of chance to find it !-Quick they stand
Within a window o'er the meer,
And quickly wakes the painter's ear
To scraps of gay Castilian song,
And ballads full of wrath and wrong,
And Moorish ditties wild and long,
And sad as desert wind. But soon
The lights begin to shrink away,
The airs to rise with drooping day,
The shadows strengthen in the moon :
As, dipp'd in waves of fire and grey,
Low in the west the fading sun
Proclaims the painter's labour done.

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In faith I would it were mine own,
In memories' sake, for', --master mine,
So sweet I fancy me its tone
Will sound with one gweet voice I know,
Mingled with moonlit air divine,
That here I offer for its gain
A goodly cask of Spanish wine.
Good painter, spare me that disdain-
We merchants deal in barter som
And if the exchange may seem too poor,
Drink it as interest for the loan,
And back I'll bring the lute the day
When thou shalt image with thine art
This fairest lady of my heart.”

XX. The artist smiled within his beard, And turning on the group a weird Bright eye, that shone a moment, cased In comic wrinkles round it traced, Said, “Faith, if you with wine will pay For this poor brush and palette's use, You'll turn my toil to holiday : But if for such reward I paint Her face-or that of other saint, 'Tis nectar, radiant as the skies That tint the grapes of Paradise, Which you must pour not Spanish juice.” “ Alas !” exclaimed the youth, “alas ! My galleon voyages not so far 'Tis Spain, not Heaven, fills my glass; But if we e'er should reach the star Where nectar flows, be sure we'll send A cask celestial to our friend." Then, taking light the lady's hand, Like some sweet lily, summer fann'l, A minute fondled 'twixt his own Its jewelled whiteness ; with a smile, Soft waved it to and fro the while, Laughed, bowed, and in the pause was gone.

XXI. Then home they sailed by twilight capes, And meadows sloping to the wave, And rocky bluff, and dripping cave. The clouds are washed in wave-like shapes By tides of the retreating wind,Grey weather scarfs the wet lowland And loamy fields, and faintly glows The moon upon the stream that flows, Where the dim bridge and turret stand Far off on the horizon's rim,While o'er the plashy trenched flats Old windmills spread their wings like bats Along the twilight hovering dim. Now seaward in the scattered glare The fog-bank gathers thick and grey, And restlessly a rising air Gusts from the beach, from sandy bay, Low reach, and shadowing headland, where The long wash of the waves is heard,

And from the marshes black and damp
The herons' cry. Far off they see
The red dot of the lighthouse lamp
In gloom and surge, and fitfully
The wat'ry stillness round is stirred
By wing of some belated bird ;
Swiftly and sullenly hurrying home
Over the hollows of wave and foam.

XXII.
But soon the narrowing channel spreads
A smoother path; they glide along
By dock and bastion green and strong,
And seaward-fronting fortress grim,
And tiled houses on the heights,
With closing doors and flitting lights,
And drawbridge clattering o'er their heads :
Above the taper-pointing spars
Of anchor'd shipping bleak and dim
The night-cloud spreads, and on its rim
A scattered line of wat'ry stars.
Around the rolling hulls they hear
The guttural plash of waves anear,
While near them too, and bright before,
Beacons the mansion's torch-lit door.
The pointed windows, cosy bright,
The spacious inner all alight,
And all alive with bells that ring,
And homely voices echoing,
As from the swinging barge they spring,
Their sprayey mantles cast aside,
And up the oaken stairs they go
To chambers tapestried and wide,
Where flames the broad hearth's ruddy glow
On festal table thickly set
With silver cup and cabinet
Of ebon carve antique, and stirs
A smile upon old portraits faint ;-
Reddening all window and all wall,
And broad floor carpeted with furs,
Up to the gilded rafters quaint.

XXIII.
But when the feast had passed away,
The house been hushed, the lover-guest
Departed, and her sire at rest,
Sweet Bertha, light of foot, and gay
With memories of her holiday,
Her sweet lips blossomed in a smile,
Trips to a casement near, the while,
And drawing light the fluttering blind,
Looks toward the painter's lonely home;
But dim is all ; the scattered sky
Seems moving in a stormy swoon,
And like a burning ship the moon
Drowns westward, sinking slow behind
Billows of shadows rolling by
Till nought is seen across the foam,
Save one low steady streaming star,
Piercing the north; and o'er the bar
The widening heavens blank and blind,
Blue darkness, and a roar of wind.

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