“I fain would apeak to that unhappy pair,
Who hand in hand to lightly float in air.
In words like these, to Maro expressed.
My wish: and thus he granted my request.
“Wait till the Shades approach, then name the word.
Of love, which rules them; straight you will be heard.".
Soon as I saw the constant ghosts were cast.
Near to our station by the baleful blast.
Swift I conjured them: “By your miseries past.
Oh, speak!" and as two doves on wings outspread.
Float to their darling nest, by fondness led.
So did these sorrowing spirits leave the throng.
Where Dido broods o’er Man's unpunished wrong;.
Nor aught of woe concealed, nor aught refused,
Such magic power was in the woods I used.
“Oh, pitying stranger I that in this dread place.
Canst feel for blood-stained hearts, had we found grace.
With the great Lord of all we should not cease.
To pray his mercy for your future peace;
For you shew mercy to our mortal sin—
But stay; while yet the tempest holds its din,
Speak what you list, ask what you reck to know,
And hear our griefs—-’tis all we can bestow.
In lands where Po with ample torrent flows.
To the broad sea, and finds at length repose.
We sprung; there love, by which each gentle breast.
Is quickly fired, my Paolo's heart possessed.
For that fair form, torn from me in such chillA
nd cruel fashion as afflicts me still;
True love by love must ever be repaid;—
I learned to please him so, that still his shade.
Is seen e’en here to wander by my side,—
For love we lived, for love together died.
But he by whose unnatural hand we bled.
With Cain shall dwell;”—these words the.
Shadow said. Thoughtful I listened,—when I heard the’offence.
Borne by these gentle souls, in sad suspense.
I bent my eyes: the silence Virgil broke,
And questioned of my thoughts—slowly I spoke:
“Alas!” I said, “how soft and light a train.
Of sweet desires led these to endless pain!"
Then turning round, the lovers I addressed:
“Your griefs, Francesca, weigh upon my breast.
And fill my eyes with tears; vouchsafe to tell,
In love's spring-season of fond sighs what spell.
Fret brought the bud of secret hope to flower.
And taught your hearts the presence of his power."
“Alas!” she said, “when only pangs remain—
The memory of past joy is sharpest pain,—
And this your master knows; yet if desire
So strung and eager prompt you to inquire
Whence sprung our love, the story you shall hear,
Though every word be followed by a tear.
One day, intent to wile away the time.
Alone, yet void of fear as free from crime.
We read of Lancelot's love: oft from the book We
raised our eyes, and each commingling look
Led to a blush,—the story we pursued.
Till one short, fatal passage all subdued.
For when we read the kwer crowned with bliss.
Her rapturous smile, and his more ardent kis^
He, who is ever to my side attached.
He from my lipa a kiss all trembling snatched:
No conscious slave the' impassioned message
We, Save that frail book: that day we read no more.”
As thus one Shadow told the mournful tale.
The other did so feelingly bewail.
That pity checked my blood, my voice, my breath,
And sung me to the ground as one in death. — Literary Souvenir
Paolo and Francesca. The Illustrated London News does not include a caption identifying the artist or engraver. Click on image to enlarge it.
D. G. Rossetti’s Paolo and Francesca. 1849-62. Mixed media, 12 l/2 x 23 3/4 in. Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford. (A version is also in the Tate Gallery).