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Bianca’s Dream: A Venetian Story
by [?]


I.

Bianca!–fair Bianca!–who could dwell
With safety on her dark and hazel gaze,
Nor find there lurk’d in it a witching spell,
Fatal to balmy nights and blessed days?
The peaceful breath that made the bosom swell,
She turn’d to gas, and set it in a blaze;
Each eye of hers had Love’s Eupyrion in it,
That he could light his link at in a minute.

II.

So that, wherever in her charms she shone,
A thousand breasts were kindled into flame;
Maidens who cursed her looks forgot their own,
And beaux were turn’d to flambeaux where she came;
All hearts indeed were conquer’d but her own,
Which none could ever temper down or tame:
In short, to take our haberdasher’s hints,
She might have written over it,–“from Flints.”

III.

She was, in truth, the wonder of her sex,
At least in Venice–where with eyes of brown
Tenderly languid, ladies seldom vex
An amorous gentle with a needless frown;
Where gondolas convey guitars by pecks,
And Love at casements climbeth up and down,
Whom for his tricks and custom in that kind,
Some have considered a Venetian blind.

IV.

Howbeit, this difference was quickly taught,
Amongst more youths who had this cruel jailer,
To hapless Julio–all in vain he sought
With each new moon his hatter and his tailor;
In vain the richest padusoy he bought,
And went in bran new beaver to assail her–
As if to show that Love had made him smart
All over–and not merely round his heart.

V.

In vain he labor’d thro’ the sylvan park
Bianca haunted in–that where she came,
Her learned eyes in wandering might mark
The twisted cypher of her maiden name,
Wholesomely going thro’ a course of bark:
No one was touched or troubled by his flame,
Except the Dryads, those old maids that grow
In trees,–like wooden dolls in embryo.

VI.

In vain complaining elegies he writ,
And taught his tuneful instrument to grieve,
And sang in quavers how his heart was split,
Constant beneath her lattice with each eve;
She mock’d his wooing with her wicked wit,
And slash’d his suit so that it matched his sleeve,
Till he grew silent at the vesper star,
And, quite despairing, hamstring’d his guitar.

VII.

Bianca’s heart was coldly frosted o’er
With snows unmelting–an eternal sheet,
But his was red within him, like the core
Of old Vesuvius, with perpetual heat;
And oft he longed internally to pour
His flames and glowing lava at her feet,
But when his burnings he began to spout.
She stopp’d his mouth, and put the crater out.

VIII.

Meanwhile he wasted in the eyes of men,
So thin, he seem’d a sort of skeleton-key
Suspended at death’s door–so pale–and then
He turn’d as nervous as an aspen tree;
The life of man is three score years and ten,
But he was perishing at twenty-three,
For people truly said, as grief grew stronger,
“It could not shorten his poor life–much longer.”

IX.

For why, he neither slept, nor drank, nor fed,
Nor relished any kind of mirth below;
Fire in his heart, and frenzy in his head,
Love had become his universal foe,
Salt in his sugar–nightmare in his bed,
At last, no wonder wretched Julio,
A sorrow-ridden thing, in utter dearth
Of hope,–made up his mind to cut her girth!

X.

For hapless lovers always died of old,
Sooner than chew reflection’s bitter cud;
So Thisbe stuck herself, what time ’tis told,
The tender-hearted mulberries wept blood;
And so poor Sappho when her boy was cold,
Drown’d her salt tear drops in a salter flood,
Their fame still breathing, tho’ their breath be past,
For those old suitors lived beyond their last.