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And freezes utterly unto the bone

Those dainties made to still an infant's cries : Then 'gan she work again ; nor stay'd her care, But to throw back at times her veiling hair.

That old nurse stood beside her wondering,

Until her heart felt pity to the core
At sight of such a dismal labouring,

And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,
And put her lean hands to the horrid thing :

Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore ;
At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
And Isabella did not stamp and rave.

Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance?

Why linger at the yawning tomb so long?
O for the gentleness of old Romance,

The simple plaining of a minstrel's song!

(XLVII) The sixth line has been a topic of censure ; but I think wrongly. Taken in itself apart from the poem, it might be held to be an inopportune description ; but in the context of this most tragic and pathetic story, it has to me a surpassing fitness-a fitness astonishing in the work of a youth of Keats's age in 1818. The idea of maternity thus connected as it were by chance with the image of this widowed girl on the borders of insanity emphasizes in the most beautiful way the helpless misery of a life wrecked by the wickedness of others, and throws into ghastly contrast the joy of what should have been and the agony of what was.

(XLVIII) Hunt observes here—“ It is curious to see how the simple pathos of Boccaccio, or (which is the same thing) the simple intensity of the heroine's feelings, suffices our author more and more, as he gets to the end of his story. And he has related it as happily, as if he had never written any poetry but that of the heart."

Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,

For here, in truth, it doth not well belong To speak :-0 turn thee to the very tale, And taste the music of that vision pale.

With duller steel than the Perséan sword

They cut away no formless monster's head,
But one, whose gentleness did well accord

With death, as life. The ancient harps have said, Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord:

If Love impersonate was ever dead, Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan'd. 'Twas love; cold,-dead indeed, but not dethron'd.

In anxious secrecy they took it home,

And then the prize was all for Isabel :
She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb,

And all around each eye's sepulchral cell
Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam

With tears, as chilly as a dripping well,
She drench'd away and still she comb'd, and kept
Sighing all day—and still she kiss'd, and wept.

Then in a silken scarf,-sweet with the dews

Of precious flowers pluck'd in Araby,
And divine liquids come with odorous ooze

Through the cold serpent-pipe refreshfully,

(XLIX) “The very tale" will be found as wish to “turn" to it.

the Appendix for such

She wrapp'd it up; and for its tomb did choose

A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by, And cover'd it with mould, and o'er it set Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.

And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,

And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells where waters run,

And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
She had no knowledge when the day was done,

And the new morn she saw not : but in peace
Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.

And so she ever fed it with thin tears,

Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
So that it smelt more balmy than its peers

Of Basil-tufts in Florence ; for it drew Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,

From the fast mouldering head there shut from view : So that the jewel, safely casketed, Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.

O Melancholy, linger here awhile !

O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,

Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us–O sigh!

(LIV) Whether the “

savage and tartarly" assailants of Keats's day availed themselves of the word leafits in the 8th line for an accusation of word-coining, I do not know; but as far as I have been able to ascertain this diminutive of leaf is peculiar to the present passage.

Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile ;

Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily, And make a pale light in your cypress gloonis, Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.

LVI. Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,

From the deep throat of sad Melpomene ! Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,

And touch the strings into a mystery ;
Sound mournfully upon the winds and low;

For simple Isabel is soon to be
Among the dead : She withers, like a palm
Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.

O leave the palm to wither by itself;

Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour!-
It may not be—those Baälites of pelf,

Her brethren, noted the continual shower
From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,

Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower
Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside
By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.

And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much

Why she sat drooping by the Basil green,
And why it flourish'd, as by magic touch ;

Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might mean: They could not surely give belief, that such

A very nothing would have power to wean
Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay, ,
And even remembrance of her love's delay.

Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift

This hidden whim; and long they watch'd in vain ;
For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,

And seldom felt she any hunger-pain;
And when she left, she hurried back, as swift

As bird on wing to breast its eggs again;
And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there
Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.

Yet they contriy'd to steal the Basil-pot,

And to examine it in secret place :
The thing was vile with green and livid spot,

yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face:
The guerdon of their murder they had got,

And so left Florence in a moment's space,
Never to turn again.-Away they went,
With blood upon their heads, to banishment.

O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!

O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
O Echo, Echo, on some other day,

From isles Lethean, sigh to us— sigh!
Spirits of grief, sing not your “Well-a-way!”

For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die ;
Will die a death too lone and incomplete,
Now they have ta'en away her Basil sweet.

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Piteous she look'd on dead and senseless things,

Asking for her lost Basil amorously;
And with melodious chuckle in the strings

Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry

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