That I may never from thy side be driven.
Talk not of islands in a sunny sea,
Or fragrant blooms, or singing nightingales!
I love them not. My father’s marble floors
Were colder than the icy plains I’ve passed,
When thy dear footsteps fled them. Be content.
Love like our own needs not the warmth of sighs
Or soft caresses to keep pure the fire
Upon the sacred shrine; ’twill burn as bright,
Though never by the breath of kisses fanned;
’Tis not a fading blossom—nor a bird
That only sings amid the orange-flowers.
What have I still?—thy spirit, which is thou.
What have I lost?—thy body, which I loved
But as the garment which adorned thy soul.
Thou art my BERTHO still! I, thy fond Olive,
Who comes to share thy banishment with thee.
Be of good cheer. Only one century
Can OENE thrall thee. In the meanwhile, I
Shall die, and be a spirit, as thou art.
Until that time I will abide with thee;
We will on one another patient wait,
Till, hand in hand we leave these dismal shores
And celebrate our marriage-day in heaven.”
Tumultuous music filled the
OENE was coming with her virgin train,
Impatient to behold what further charms,
Her prisoned laborers at their tasks had wrought.
Blowing on quaintly curved and curious shells
Which made a sea-like music—mingled up
Of sweet, unsyllabled sounds, and long-drawn sighs,
Heavy with memories of coral reefs,
Murmuring shores, caverns, and surging deeps—
There flew, midway between the roof and floor,
A band of sprites which lived in air or sea;
With eyes like twinkling stars, and winged feet,
And sparkling fins down either shoulder-blade,
And cheeks puffed out and flushing with their toil.
Announced by these, the courtly train approached
The spot where BERTHO and his Olive stood,
Close by an emrald rock, within whose breast
A living spring slept like a smiling child.
Around the brim BERTHO had sculptured moss
And rare similitudes of southern flowers;
Shaped violets from sapphires, and from stalks,
Hung ruby roses, bright, but without soul,
As perfumeless as was that frigid land.
OENE, resplendent as a wintry moon,
Bent her proud eyes upon the waiting pair:—
“So! thou hast found thy lover, southern maid?
Are, then, these sunbeams which flow from thy head,
Pinions as well as tresses bearing thee
Across the perilous chasm which guards our cave?”