Felicia Dorothea Hemans

(25 September 1793 – 16 May 1835 / Liverpool, England)

The Coronation Of Inez De Castro


There was music on the midnight;
From a royal fane it roll'd,
And a mighty bell, each pause between,
Sternly and slowly toll'd.
Strange was their mingling in the sky,
It hush'd the listener's breath;
For the music spoke of triumph high,
The lonely bell, of death.

There was hurrying through the midnight:-
A sound of many feet;
But they fell with a muffled fearfulness,
Along the shadowy street;
And softer, fainter, grew their tread,
As it near'd the Minster-gate,
Whence broad and solemn light was shed
From a scene of royal state.

Full glow'd the strong red radiance
In the centre of the nave,
Where the folds of a purple canopy
Sweep down in many a wave;
Loading the marble pavement old
With a weight of gorgeous gloom;
For something lay 'midst their fretted gold,
Like a shadow of the tomb.

And within that rich pavilion
High on a glittering throne,
A woman's form sat silently,
Midst the glare of light alone.
Her Jewell'd robes fell strangely still-
The drapery on her breast
Seem'd with no pulse beneath to thrill,
So stone-like was its rest.

But a peal of lordly music
Shook e'en the dust below,
When the burning gold of the diadem
Was set on her pallid brow!
Then died away that haughty sound,
And from th' encircling band,
Stept Prince and Chief, 'midst the hush profound,
With homage to her hand.

Why pass'd a faint cold shuddering
Over each martial frame,
As one by one, to touch that hand,
Noble and leader came?
Was not the settled aspect fair?
Did not a queenly grace,
Under the parted ebon hair.
Sit on the pale still face?

Death, Death! canst
thou
be lovely
Unto the eye of Life?
Is not each pulse of the quick high breast
With thy cold mien at strife?
-It was a strange and fearful sight,
The crown upon that head,
The glorious robes and the blaze of light,
All gather'd round the Dead!

And beside her stood in silence
One with a brow as pale,
And white lips rigidly compress'd,
Lest the strong heart should fail;
King Pedro with a jealous eye
Watching the homage done
By the land's flower and chivalry
To her, his martyr'd one.

But on the face he look'd not
Which once his star had been:
To every form his glance was turn'd,
Save of the breathless queen;
Though something, won from the grare's embrace,
Of her beauty still was there,
Its hues were all of that shadowy place,
'Twas not for
him
to bear.

Alas! the crown, the sceptre,
The treasures of the earth,
And the priceless love that pour'd those gifts,
Alike of wasted worth!
The rites are closed-bear back the Dead
Unto the chamber deep,
Lay down again the royal head,
Dust with the dust to sleep.

There is music on the midnight-
A requiem sad and slow.
As the mourners through the sounding aisle
In dark procession go,
And the ring of state, and the starry crown,
And all the rich array,
Are borne to the house of silence down,
With her, that queen of clay.

And tearlessly and firmly,
King Pedro led the train-
But his face was wrapt in his folding robe,
When they lower'd the dust again.
-'Tis hush'd at last, the tomb above,
Hymns die, and steps depart:
Who call'd thee strong as Death, O Love?

Mightier
thou wert and art!

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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