It all comes back as the end draws near;
All comes back like a tale of old!
Shall I tell you all? Will you lend an ear?
You, with your face so stern and cold;
You, who have found me dying here ...

Lady Leona's villa at Verne -
You have walked its terraces, where the fount
And statue gleam and the fluted urn;
Its world-old elms, that are avenues gaunt
Of shadow and flame when the West is a-burn.

'T is a lonely region of tarns and trees,
And hollow hills that circle the West;
Haunted of rooks and the far-off sea's
Immemorial vague unrest;
A land of sorrowful memories.

A gray sad land, where the wind has its will,
And the sun its way with the fruits and flowers;
Where ever the one all night is shrill,
And ever the other all day brings hours
Of glimmering silence that dead days fill.

A gray sad land, where her girlhood grew
To womanhood proud, that the hill-winds seemed
To give their heart, like melody, to;
And the stars, their soul, like a dream undreamed -
The only glad thing that the sad land knew.

My Lady, you know, how nobly born!
Haughty of form, with a head that rose
Like a dream of empire; love and scorn
Made haunts of her eyes; and her lips were bows
Whence pride imperious flashed flower and thorn.

And I - oh, I was nobody: one
Her worshiper only; who chose to be
Silent, seeing that love alone
Was his only badge of nobility,
Set in his heart's escutcheon.

How long ago does the springtime look,
When we wandered away to the hills! the hills, -
Like the land in the tale in the fairy-book, -
Covered with gold of the daffodils,
And gemmed with the crocus by brae and brook!

When I gathered a branch from a hawthorn tree,
For her hair or bosom, from boughs that hung
Odorous of heaven and purity;
And she thanked me smiling; then merrily sung,
Laughingly sung, while she looked at me: -

"There dwelt a princess over the sea -
Right fair was she, right fair was she -
Who loved a squire of low degree,
But married a king of Brittany -
Ah, woe is me!

"And it came to pass on the wedding-day -
So people say, so people say -
That they found her dead in her bridal array,
Dead, and her lover beside her lay -
Ah, well-away!

"A sour stave for your sweets," she said,
Pressing the blossoms against her lips:
Then petal by petal the branch she shred,
Snowing the blooms from her finger-tips,
Tossing them down for her feet to tread.

What to her was the look I gave
Of love despised! though she seemed to start,
Seeing, and said, with a quick hand-wave,
"Why, one would think that that was your heart,"
While her face with a sudden thought grew grave.

But I answered nothing. And so to her home
We came in the twilight; falling clear,
With a few first stars and a moon's curved foam,
Over the hush of meadow and mere,
Whence the boom of the bittern would often come.

Would you think that she loved me? - Who can say? -
What a riddle unread was she to me! -
When I kissed her fingers and turned away
I wanted to speak, but - what cared she,
Though her eyes looked soft and she begged me stay!

Though she lingered to watch me - that might be
A slim moon-beam or the evening haze, -
But never my Lady's drapery
Or wistful face! - in the ivy maze....
Leona of Verne - why, what cared she!

So the days went by, and the Summer wore
Her hot heart out; and, a mighty slayer,
The Autumn harried the land and shore,
And the world was red with his wrecks; but grayer
That land with the ghosts of the nevermore.

The sheaves of the Summer had long been bound;
The harvests of Autumn had long been past;
And the snows of the Winter lay deep around,
When the dark news came and I knew at last;
And the reigning woe of my heart was crowned.

So I sought her here, the young Earl's bride;
In the ancient room at the oriel dreaming,
Pale as the blooms in her hair; and, wide,
Her robe's rich satin, flung stormily, gleaming,
Like shimmering silver, twilight-dyed.

I marked as I stole to her side that tears
Were vaguely large in her beautiful eyes;
That the loops of pearls on her throat, and years
Old lace on her bosom were heaved with sighs;
So I spoke what I thought - "Then, it appears" -

And stopped with, it seemed, my soul in my gaze -
"That you are not happy, Leona of Verne?
There is that at your heart which - well, betrays
These mocking mummeries. - Live and learn! -
And this is the truth that the poet says: -

"'I went to my love and I told with my heart,
In words of the soul, that are silent in speech,
All of my passion, too sacred for art;
But she heard me not - for I could not reach
Her in that world of which she is part.' -

"That world, where I saw you as one afar
Sees palms and waters, and knows that sands,
Pitiless sands, before him are;
Yet follows ever with helpless hands
Till he sinks at last. - You were my star,

"My hope, my heaven! - I loved you!... Life
Is less than nothing to me!"... She turned,
With a wild look, saying - "Now I am his wife
You come and tell me! - Indeed you are learn'd
In the language of hearts that's unheard!"... A Knife,

As she ceased and leaned on a cabinet, -
A curve of scintillant steel, keen, cold, -
Fell icily clashing; some curio met
Among Asian antiques, bronze and gold,
Mystical, curiously graven and set.

A Bactrian dagger, whose slightest prick
Through its ancient poison was death, I knew;
If true that she loved me - then! - And quick
To the unspoken thought she replied, "'T is true!
I have loved you long, and my soul was sick,

"Sick for the love that has made me weak,
Weak to your will even now!" - And more
She said, in my arms, that I shall not speak -
And the dagger there on the polished floor
Ever her eyes, while she spoke, would seek.

"'And it came to pass on the wedding-day'" -
Then my lips for a moment were crushed to hers -
"'That they found her dead in her bridal array,'"
She sang; then said, "You finish the verse!
Finish the song, for you know the way."

And I whispered "yes," for my mind had thought
Her own thought through - that life were a hell
To her as to me, - So the blade I caught
With a sudden hand; and she leaned, and - well,
What a little wound, and the blood it brought

To crimson her bosom! - I set her there
In that carven chair; then turned the blade, -
With its glittering haft one savage glare
Of gold and jewels, wildly inlaid, -
To my breast, for the poisonous point rent bare.

A stain of blood on her bosom, and one
Black red o'er my heart. - You see, 't is good
To die so for love!... Does the sinking sun,
Through the dull vast west burst banked with blood? -
Or is it that life will at last have done?...

So you are her husband? and - well, you see,
You see she is dead ... But your face, how white!
- Is it with hate or with misery? -
What matters it now! - For, at last, the night
Falls and the silence covers me.