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The Stag-Eyed Lady: A Moorish Tale
by [?]


For Ali had a sword, much like himself,
A crooked blade, guilty of human gore–
The trophies it had lopp’d from many an elf
Were struck at his head-quarters by the score–
Not yet in peace belaid it on the shelf,
But jested with it, and his wit cut sore;
So that (as they of Public Houses speak)
He often did his dozen butts a week.


Therefore his slaves, with most obedient fears,
Came with the sack the lady to enclose;
In vain from her stag-eyes “the big round tears
Coursed one another down her innocent nose”;
In vain her tongue wept sorrow in their ears;
Though there were some felt willing to oppose,
Yet when their heads came in their heads, that minute,
Though ’twas a piteous case, they put her in it.


And when the sack was tied, some two or three
Of these black undertakers slowly brought her
To a kind of Moorish Serpentine; for she
Was doom’d to have a winding sheet of water.
Then farewell, earth–farewell to the green tree–
Farewell, the sun–the moon–each little daughter!
She’s shot from off the shoulders of a black,
Like bag of Wall’s-End from a coalman’s back.


The waters oped, and the wide sack full-fill’d
All that the waters oped, as down it fell;
Then closed the wave, and then the surface rill’d
A ring above her, like a water-knell;
A moment more, and all its face was still’d,
And not a guilty heave was left to tell
That underneath its calm and blue transparence
A dame lay drowned in her sack, like Clarence.


But Heaven beheld, and awful witness bore,–
The moon in black eclipse deceased that night,
Like Desdemona smother’d by the Moor–
The lady’s natal star with pale afright
Fainted and fell–and what were stars before,
Turn’d comets as the tale was brought to light;
And all looked downward on the fatal wave,
And made their own reflections on her grave.


Next night, a head–a little lady head,
Push’d through the waters a most glassy face,
With weedy tresses, thrown apart and spread,
Comb’d by ‘live ivory, to show the space
Of a pale forehead, and two eyes that shed
A soft blue mist, breathing a bloomy grace
Over their sleepy lids–and so she rais’d
Her aqualine nose above the stream, and gazed.


She oped her lips–lips of a gentle blush,
So pale it seem’d near drowned to a white,–
She oped her lips, and forth there sprang a gush
Of music bubbling through the surface light;
The leaves are motionless, the breezes hush
To listen to the air–and through the night
There come these words of a most plaintive ditty,
Sobbing as they would break all hearts with pity: