Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A SUPPER AT MADAME DE BRINVILLIERS, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON



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A SUPPER AT MADAME DE BRINVILLIERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Small but gorgeous was the chamber
Last Line: Wine and sigh alike are death!
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia
Subject(s): Brinvilliers, Marie De (1630-1676); Poisons & Poisoning


SMALL but gorgeous was the chamber
Where the lady leant;
Heliotrope, and musk, and amber,
Made an element,
Heavy like a storm, but sweet.
Softly stole the light uncertain
Through the silken fold
Of the sweeping purple curtain;
And enwrought in gold
Was the cushion at her feet.
There he knelt to gaze on her --
He the latest worshipper.

From the table came the lustre
Of its fruit and flowers;
There were grapes, each shining cluster
Bright with sunny hours, --
Noon and night were on their hues.
There the purple fig lay hidden
'Mid its wide green leaves;
And the rose, sweet guest, was bidden,
While its breath receives
Freshness from the unshed dews.
Nothing marks the youth of these --
One bright face is all he sees.

With such colours as are dying
On a sunset sky;
With such odours as are sighing,
When the violets die,
Are the rich Italian wines.
Dark and bright they glow together,
In each graceful flask,
Telling of the summer weather,
And the autumn task,
When young maidens stripped the vines.
One small flask of cold pale green,
Only one, he has not seen.

When She woke the heart that slumber'd
In a poet's dream,
Few the summers he had number'd,
Little did he deem
Of such passion and such power;
When there hangs a life's emotion
On a word -- a breath --
Like the storm upon the ocean,
Bearing doom and death.
Youth has only one such hour;
And its shadow now is cast
Over him who looks his last.

Does he love her? -- Yes, to madness,
Fiery, fierce, and wild;
Touch'd, too, with a gentle sadness;
For his soul is mild,
Tender as his own sad song.
And that young wan cheek is wasted
With the strife within:
Well he knows his course has hasted
Through delicious sin,
Borne tumultuously along.
Never have the stars above
Chronicled such utter love.

Well the red robe folded round her
Suits her stately mien;
And the ruby chain has bound her
Of some Indian queen; --
Pale her cheek is, like a pearl.
Heavily the dusky masses
Of her night-black hair,
Which the raven's wing surpasses,
Bind her forehead fair;
Odours float from every curl.
He would die, so he might wear
One soft tress of that long hair.

Clear her deep black eyes are shining,
Large, and strangely bright;
Somewhat of the hid repining,
Gives unquiet light
To their wild but troubled glow.
Dark-fringed lids an eastern languor
O'er their depths have shed;
But the curved lip knoweth anger,
'Tis so fiercely red, --
Passion crimsons in its glow.
Tidings from that face depart
Of the death within her heart.

Does she love the boy who, kneeling,
Brings to her his youth,
With its passionate, deep feeling,
With its hope, its truth?
No; his hour has pass'd away!
Scarcely does she seek to smother
Change and scornful pride;
She is thinking of another,
With him at her side; --
He has had his day!
Love has darken'd into hate,
And her falsehood is his fate.

Even now, her hand extending,
Grasps the fated cup;
For her red lip o'er it bending,
He will drink it up, --
He will drink it to her name;
Little of the vial knowing
That has drugg'd its wave,
How its rosy tide is flowing
Onwards to the grave!
One sweet whisper from her came;
And he drank to catch her breath, --
Wine and sigh alike are death!





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