But everywhere a host
Of lonely lives shall read their type in thine:
Grapes which may never swell the tale of wine,
Left out to meet the frost.
This is the street and the dwelling,
Let me count the houses o’er;
Yes,—one, two, three from the corner,
And the house that I love makes four.
That is the very window
Where I used to see her head
Bent over book or needle,
With ivy garlanded.
And the very loop of the curtain,
And the very curve of the vine,
Were full of the grace and the meaning
Which was hers by some right divine.
I began to be glad at the corner,
And all the way to the door
My heart outran my footsteps,
And frolicked and danced before,
In haste for the words of welcome,
The voice, the repose and grace,
And the smile, like a benediction,
Of that beautiful, vanished face.
Now I pass the door, and I pause not,
And I look the other way;
But ever, a waft of fragrance,
Too subtle to name or stay,
Comes the thought of the gracious presence
Which made that past time sweet,
And still to those who remember,
Embalms the house and the street,
Like the breath from some vase, now empty
Of a flowery shape unseen,
Which follows the path of its lover,
To tell where a rose has been.
A story of old Florence.
So it is come! The doctor’s glossy smile
Deceives me not. I saw him shake his head,
Whispering, and heard poor Giulia sob without,
As, slowly creaking, he went down the stair.
Were they afraid that I should be afraid?
I, who had died once and been laid in tomb?
They need not.
Little one, look not so pale.
I am not raving. Ah! you never heard
The story. Climb up there upon the bed:
Sit close, and listen. After this one day
I shall not tell you stories any more.
How old are you, my rose? What! almost twelve?
Almost a woman? Scarcely more than that
Was your fair mother when she bore her bud;
And scarcely more was I when, long years since,
I left my father’s house, a bride in May.
You know the house, beside St. Andrea’s church,
Gloomy and rich, which stands, and seems to frown
On the Mercato, humming at its base;
And hold on high, out of the common reach,
The lilies and carved shields above its door;
And, higher yet, to catch and woo the sun,
A little loggia set against the sky?
That was my play-place ever as a child;
And with me used to play a kinsman’s son,
Antonio Rondinelli. Ah, dear days!
Two happy things we were, with none to chide
Or hint that life was anything but play.