Anita and Giovanni
Through the dusky purple glimmer
Of a twilight sky,
Clear uprise the fountain's shimmer,
Jets of spray flashed high.
In the gardens zephyrs only
Fanned the myrtle leaves,
Through the hush of meadows lonely,
Sighed the golden sheaves.
In the vineyards grapes were purpling
'Mid the foliage green,
Mountains dim stood up encircling
Dreamy vales between.
On a bank with flowers laden,
By the Arno's tide,
Sat a cavalier and maiden
Musing, side by side.
He was strong-limbed, but false-hearted,
Lithe and willowy she;
Naught save truth could have imparted
Her expression free
From a shadow of dissembling,
Yet Love ruled her gaze,
And her veiled eyes mused, resembling
Star-gleams through the haze.
Unsuspicious was the lover
That the maid knew well
Of the wrong his smiles would cover;
So he begged her tell
Why she sat mute in the gleaming,
Heeding not his words;
Why her very glance seemed roaming
With the restless birds.
Ay, the lover's looks were tender,
Well he could disguise;
Yet there gleamed a tragic splendor
In the maiden's eyes.
"Giovanni, thou decevest",
Calmly said she then;
"If in women thou believest,
I believe not men!"
Slow she raised her long dark lashes,
Showing weird brown eyes,
Where a glance like lightning flashes,
Vied with calm surprise.
And her gaze, than words far keener,
Pierced her lover through.
"Canst thou love the fair Hermina,
And Anita too?
"Shall I tell thee of thy wooing,
O false lover mine?
How thou cam'st in capture suing,
And my heart was thine?
Shall I tell thee how I shivered
When I heard the same
Tender words to which I'd quivered,
Breathed to her I name?
"'Twas the sunset hour and slowly
Strolled we through the meadows fair,
While the vesper bell so holy,
Poured its pleading on the air.
O'er the waves the cadence trembled,
And the sky was golden-red,
And our loving words resembled
Lispings of the birds o'erhead.
"Ling'ring in the citron bower,
Thou didst clasp my hand in thine,
Placing in my hair a flower,
And `Carissima, be mine,
For I love thee only, only!--
Soft thou murmur'dst in my ear,
And my heart, before so lonely,
Gave its all without a fear.
"Last eve, 'mid the grape leaves sitting,
Plunged in tender reveries,
Gazed I on the moonbeams flitting--
Tinted crystals-- o'er the seas.
Sad the nightingale was singing,
And I caught his pensive mood,
Melancholy music bringing
Charms that cannot be withstood.
"Sudden heard I voices quiver,
Were they in the air or nigh?
Something made me pale and shiver,
Something told me thou wert by.
Did no pitying spirit warn thee?
Hope offtimes our fear belies;
Yet the nightingale gazed on me
With compassion in his eyes.
"Thou didst clasp her hand, false lover,
Place a flower in her hair;
O'er her thou didst fondly hover,
And I gasped in wild despair.
'Fair Hermina, thy sweet glances,
All my soul with rapture fill;
None like thee,'-- thou saidst-- `entrances
Love me, bid my fears be still!'
"That was all I heard no longer,
And I hungered for love's sake;
Yea! my love grew fiercer, stronger,
And I knew my heart would break
Unless peace came with the dawning;
So, resolved to break the chain,
I cast love away, grasped scorning;
Scorn can conquer deepest pain"
Then the lady paused: the lover
Blanching, called her name.
"Sweet Anita, do not cover
My best love with shame;
For I knew not what I uttered
In the grove, yestreen.
Love me, love me," low he muttered,
"Try me, noble queen!"
"Cease! false cavalier, thy weeping!
Love has changed to scorn;
That heart is not worth the keeping,
Would to two belong.
If the lady's eyes are sweeter,
Go! thy suit renew!
Who would win the proud Anita
Can no other woo!"