BETA

Portrait of a woman shown from the waist up in front of a dimly lit background. She sits in the outdoors next to a tree. Her body is shown in profile but her head is turned so that she faces the viewer. She holds a basket full of cut flowers. Full-page illustration.

The Flower Girl of Savoy.

Fair ladies all, who love to hear1
Of knights sublime, and dragons drear ;2
Of caves, where necromancers sleep ;3
Of bowers, where sylphs and genii peep ;4
Of kingdoms won by woman’s eyes ;5
Of all the miracles of sighs ;6
Of palfreys, plumes, and lances bent7
By monarchs in the tournament ;8
Of banquets gay, and dungeons barr’d,9
Where lies the lover, evil-starr’d,10
From five to fifty tedious years,11
Till, brought to trial by his peers,12
And, all the tyrant’s charges parried,13
They pass his sentence—to be married !14
Alas ! such strains are too divine15
For this dull age of me and mine !16
Alas, the time ! the minstrel’s lays17
Are in the grave of other days !18
No more the gay Provencal string19
Makes roofs of royal chambers ring ;20
No more beneath the midnight skies21
Are sonnets sung to killing eyes ;22
Nor knights, in glittering harness arm’d,23
Sing songs, catch agues, and are charm’d ;24
Nor ladies fair from galleries peep,25
Scorning to eat, or drink, or sleep,26
Till, thanks to the propitious stars,27
They follow to the Turkish wars.28
Sweet sex ! whom I but live to please,29
For you I have no themes like these ;30
I offer but a village tale,31
To tell how truth and love prevail ;32
How more than proud the heart may be33
That never left her greenwood tree ;34
What wealth the bosom may disclose,35
Whose richest jewel is a rose.36
’Twas eve ; the fragrant breezes fann’d,37
Lake Leman, thy delicious strand ;38
The sun on Jura’s mountain-throne39
Threw round the land a fiery zone ;40
A thousand tints of glory dyed,41
Mont Blanc, thy snowy-mantled side ;42
And, purpling in the sunset glow,43
Lay the broad lake, a heaven below,44
With every cloud and every beam45
In beauty pictured, gleam for gleam46
The matchless emblem of that rest47
Which reigns in woman’s maiden breast,48
Before the heart’s wild feelings rise49
To dim her spirit’s summer skies.50
Along the mountain’s primrose side51
A village girl is seen to glide ;52
Now lifting up her deep blue eye,53
As if she long’d to wing that sky ;54
Now gazing where the sun’s broad limb55
Seems on the shadowy lake to swim ;56
Now plunging in the valley bower,57
Herself the landscape’s sweetest flower ;58
To catch within her silken net59
The butterfly, all dewy wet,60
Then crop the rose and myrtle’s bloom,61
Unmindful of the deepening gloom,62
Till the last gleam of dying day63
In twilight purple fades away.64
Yet more than twilight bathes the hill ;65
A cloud has gather’d stern and still,66
And from its depths a sudden spark67
Darts out, then leaves it doubly dark :68
The maiden’s eyes in terror gaze,69
As round her springs the yellow blaze.70
And now the thunders roar above ;71
Down to its roots is bow’d the grove ;72
The lake is ridged with sudden foam ;73
The tempest in its wrath has come.74
But deeper fears her spirit shake,75
As on the bosom of the lake76
She sees, like dust before the gale,77
A struggling bark, a shatter’d sail :78
Onward it whirls ; in vain—in vain79
It toils the little port to gain :80
In vain the maiden’s generous soul81
Now braves the blast, the thunder-roll ;82
Calls through the storm ; from height to height83
Bounds, with the speed of fairy flight ;84
Points wildly to the mountain bay ;85
The sullen storm will have its prey :86
Down bursts the whirlwind’s tenfold roar87
One shriek is heard—and all is o’er !88
Wet, weary ; dash’d with spray and foam,89
Why seeks she not her cottage-home ?90
Why pauses on the shore her tread ?91
What draws she from the surge ? —The dead !92
The dead ! —Ah ! many a bitter tear93
Were spared thee, Julie, if it were !94
A month has fled ; ’ tis lovely night,95
The stars are burning broad and bright,96
There is no murmur on the lake,97
The birds are hush’d in bower and brake.98
But whose the whispers stealing sweet,99
And whose the lightly treading feet,100
And whose the quick, heart-breathing sighs101
That on the garden’s echoes rise ?102
Ah, Julie, twas a dangerous hour103
Which brought that stranger to thy bower !104
Ah, Julie, well for thee the wave105
Had been the stranger’s early grave !106
Yet innocence is sword and shield,107
The noble heart is triple-steel’d.108
In vain love’s eloquence is tried109
To win thee from the parent side :110
The tempter feels his cause undone,111
Raves, threatens, sues, is scorn’d, and gone !112
Another month ; the air was balm,113
The lake in morning glory swam ;114
But there was woe in Julie’s eye,115
And woe had blanch’d her rosy dye,116
And on her snowy brow was laid117
The anguish of a heart betray’d :118
And like a shape of sculptured stone119
She sat in beauty, sad and lone.120
But why shall I the anguish tell121
With which the spirit says “ Farewell ? ”122
Why tell the thousand secret stings123
When truant Love has waved his wings ?124
The arrow through the heart is gone,125
Yet still the world rolls smoothly on.126
Nor shall I tell how oft she sought127
The meeting and the parting spot ;128
How oft, beside the valley-stream,129
She dream’d love’s sweet and bitter dream ;130
How oft, as evening sank to rest,131
Her foot the lake’s green margin prest ;132
How oft, awake before the sun,133
She sat upon the mountain-throne,134
And fix’d her melancholy eye135
Upon her wanderer’s distant sky.136
But what along the mountain’s side137
Seems rolling like a golden tide ?138
Down through the heathflower’s purple blooms,139
Move tissued flags and waving plumes,140
And many a touch of harmony141
Proclaims a stately pageant nigh :142
But, Julie, thine impassion’d glance143
Saw not the pomp, the charger’s prance,144
Heard not the trumpet’s echo borne145
Along the living winds of morn !146
For one is kneeling at thy feet,147
With lips where pride and passion meet ;148
With lips where passion masters pride,149
What noble wooes thee for his bride ? —150
The stranger, whom thy pity saved,151
The stranger, whom thy virtue braved.152
And did his penitence prevail ?153
Pray you, sweet maidens, end my tale !154