Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE USURER, by HENRY HART MILMAN



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THE USURER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dost thou know, bianca
Last Line: And thank'd my god that I had braver riches.
Subject(s): Usury


Fazio. Dost thou know, Bianca,
Our neighbour, old Bartolo?
Bianca. O yes, yes --
That yellow wretch, that looks as he were stain'd
With watching his own gold; every one knows him,
Enough to loathe him. Not a friend hath he,
Nor kindred, nor familiar; not a slave,
Not a lean serving wench; nothing e'er enter'd
But his spare self within his jealous doors,
Except a wandering rat; and that, they say,
Was famine-struck, and died there. What of him?
Fazio. Yet he, Bianca, he is of our rich ones.
There's not a galliot on the sea but bears
A venture of Bartolo's; not an acre,
Nay, not a villa of our proudest princes,
But he hath cramp'd it with a mortgage; he,
He only stocks our prisons with his debtors.
I saw him creeping home last night; he shudder'd
As he unlock'd his door, and look'd around,
As if he thought that very breath of wind
Were some keen thief; and when he lock'd him in,
I heard the grating key turn twenty times,
To try if all were safe. I look'd again
From our high window by mere chance, and saw
The motion of his scanty, moping lantern,
And, where his wind-rent lattice was ill stuff'd
With tatter'd remnants of a money-bag,
Through cobwebs and thick dust I spied his face,
Like some dry, wither-boned anatomy,
Through a huge chest-lid, jealously and scantily
Uplifted, peering upon coin and jewels,
Ingots and wedges, and broad bars of gold,
Upon whose lustre the wan light shone muddily,
As though the New World had outrun the Spaniard,
And emptied all its mines in that coarse hovel.
His ferret eyes gloated as wanton o'er them
As a gross satyr on a sleeping nymph;
And then, as he heard something like a sound,
He clapp'd the lid to, and blew out the lantern;
But I, Bianca, hurried to thy arms,
And thank'd my God that I had braver riches.





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