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THE WANDERER: 1. IN ITALY: COUNT RINALDO RINALDI, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tis a dark-purple, moonlighted midnight
Last Line: The eyes of mnemosyne there.
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): Italy; Travel; Italians; Journeys; Trips

'T IS a dark-purple, moonlighted midnight:
There is music about on the air.
And, where, through the water, fall flashing
The oars of each gay gondolier,
The lamp-lighted ripples are dashing,
In the musical moonlighted air,
To the music, in merriment; washing,
And splashing, the black marble stair
That leads to the last garden-terrace,
Where many a gay cavalier
And many a lady yet loiter,
Round the Palace in festival there.

'T is a terrace all paven mosaic, --
Black marble, and green malachite;
Round an ancient Venetian Palace,
Where the windows with lampions are bright.
'T is an evening of gala and festival,
Music, and passion, and light.
There is love in the nightingales' throats,
That sing in the garden so well:
There is love in the face of the moon:
There is love in the warm languid glances
Of the dancers adown the dim dances:
There is love in the low languid notes
That rise into rapture, and swell,
From viol, and flute, and bassoon.

The tree that bends down o'er the water
So black, is a black cypress-tree.
And the statue, there, under the terrace,
Mnemosyne's statue must be.
There comes a black gondola slowly
To the Palace in festival there:
And the Count Rinaldo Rinaldi
Has mounted the black marble stair.

There was nothing but darkness, and midnight,
And tempest, and storm, in the breast
Of the Count Rinaldo Rinaldi,
As his foot o'er the black marble prest: --
The glimmering black marble stair
Where the weed in the green ooze is clinging,
That leads to the garden so fair,
Where the nightingales softly are singing, --
Where the minstrels new music are stringing,
And the dancers for dancing prepare.

There rustles a robe of white satin:
There 's a footstep falls light by the stair:
There rustles a robe of white satin:
There 's a gleaming of soft golden hair:
And the Lady Irene Ricasoli
Stands near the cypress-tree there, --
Near Mnemosyne's statue so fair, --
The Lady Irene Ricasoli,
With the light in her long golden hair.

And the nightingales softly are singing
In the mellow and moonlighted air;
And the minstrels their viols are stringing;
And the dancers for dancing prepare.

"Siora," the Count said unto her,
"The shafts of ill-fortune pursue me;
The old grief grows newer and newer,
The old pangs are never at rest;
And the foes that have sworn to undo me
Have left me no peace in my breast.

They have slandered, and wronged, and maligned me:
Though they broke not my sword in my hand,
They have broken my heart in my bosom
And sorrow my youth has unmanned.
But I love you, Irene, Irene,
With such love as the wretched alone
Can feel from the desert within them
Which only the wretched have known!
And the heart of Rinaldo Rinaldi
Dreads, Lady, no frown but your own.
To others be all that you are, love --
A lady more lovely than most;
To me -- be a fountain, a star, love,
That lights to his haven the lost;
A shrine that with tender devotion,
The mariner kneeling, doth deck
With the dank weeds yet dripping from ocean,
And the last jewel saved from the wreck.

"None heeds us, beloved Irene!
None will mark if we linger or fly.
Amid all the mad masks in yon revel,
There is not an ear or an eye, --
Not one, -- that will gaze or will listen;
And, save the small star in the sky
Which, to light us, so softly doth glisten,
There is none will pursue us, Irene.
O love me, O save me, I die!
I am thine, O be mine, O beloved!

"Fly with me, Irene, Irene!
The moon drops: the morning is near,
My gondola waits by the garden
And fleet is my own gondolier!"
What the Lady Irene Ricasoli,
By Mnemosyne's statue in stone,
Where she leaned, 'neath the black cypress-tree,
To the Count Rinaldo Rinaldi
Replied then, it never was known,
And known, now, it never will be.

But the moon hath been melted in morning:
And the lamps in the windows are dead:
And the gay cavaliers from the terrace,
And the ladies they laughed with, are fled;
And the music is husht in the viols:
And the minstrels, and dancers, are gone;
And the nightingales now in the garden,
From singing have ceased, one by one:
But the Count Rinaldo Rinaldi
Still stands, where he last stood, alone,
'Neath the black cypress-tree, near the water,
By Mnemosyne's statue in stone.

O'er his spirit was silence and midnight,
In his breast was the calm of despair.
He took, with a smile, from a casket
A single soft curl of gold hair, --
A wavy warm curl of gold hair,
And into the black-bosomed water
He flung it athwart the black stair.
The skies they were changing above him;
The dawn, it came cold on the air;
He drew from his bosom a kerchief --
"Would," he sighed, "that her face was less fair!
That her face was less hopelessly fair."
And folding the kerchief, he covered
The eyes of Mnemosyne there.

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