She laughed the while, with an arch smile,
And kissed him with a sister’s kiss,
And said—My best Diogenes, 320
I love you well—but, if you please,
Tempt not again my deepest bliss.
’’Tis you are cold—for I, not coy,
Yield love for love, frank, warm, and true;
And Burns, a Scottish peasant boy— 325
His errors prove it—knew my joy
More, learned friend, than you.
’Boeca bacciata non perde ventura,
Anzi rinnuova come fa la luna:—
So thought Boccaccio, whose sweet words might cure a 330
Male prude, like you, from what you now endure, a
Low-tide in soul, like a stagnant laguna.
Then Peter rubbed his eyes severe.
And smoothed his spacious forehead down
With his broad palm;—’twixt love and fear, 335
He looked, as he no doubt felt, queer,
And in his dream sate down.
The Devil was no uncommon creature;
A leaden-witted thief—just huddled
Out of the dross and scum of nature; 340
A toad-like lump of limb and feature,
With mind, and heart, and fancy muddled.
He was that heavy, dull, cold thing,
The spirit of evil well may be:
A drone too base to have a sting; 345
Who gluts, and grimes his lazy wing,
And calls lust, luxury.
Now he was quite the kind of wight
Round whom collect, at a fixed aera,
Venison, turtle, hock, and claret,— 350
Good cheer—and those who come to share it—
And best East Indian madeira!
It was his fancy to invite
Men of science, wit, and learning,
Who came to lend each other light; 355
He proudly thought that his gold’s might
Had set those spirits burning.
And men of learning, science, wit,
Considered him as you and I
Think of some rotten tree, and sit 360
Lounging and dining under it,
Exposed to the wide sky.
And all the while with loose fat smile,
The willing wretch sat winking there,
Believing ’twas his power that made 365
That jovial scene—and that all paid
Homage to his unnoticed chair.
Though to be sure this place was Hell;
He was the Devil—and all they—
What though the claret circled well, 370
And wit, like ocean, rose and fell?—
Were damned eternally.
Among the guests who often stayed
Till the Devil’s petits-soupers,
A man there came, fair as a maid, 375
And Peter noted what he said,
Standing behind his master’s chair.