Floris in Italy


It does amaze me, when the clicking hour
Clings on the stroke of death, that I can smile.
Yet when my unset tresses hung loose-traced
Round this unsexing doublet, — while I set
This downy counterfeit upon my lip,


— Lately I fear'd
My signalling tears might ring up Floris; now
Methinks there is more peril from my laughter.┬░
Well, I know not. But all things seem to-night
Double as sharp, meaning and forcible,
With twice as fine a sense to apprehend them,
As ever I remember in my life.
Laughing or tears. I think I could do either —
So strangely elemented is my mind's weather,
That tears and laughter are hung close together.
(Comes to the bed.)
Sleep Floris while I rob you. Tighten, O sleep,
Thy impalpable oppression. Pin him down,
Ply fold on fold across his dangerous eyes,
Lodge his eyes fast; but as easy and light
As the laid gossamers of Michaelmas
Whose silver skins lie level and thick in field.
Hold him. —
I must not turn the lantern on his face. —
No I'll not hazard it. Only his hand,
(Turns the lantern on Floris' hand.)


(Trying on the ring.)
It is too large for me. What does that mean?
No time to think. I'll knot it on this ribbon,
And wear it thus, a pectoral, by my heart.

Did I say but lately
That I was so near laughter? Alas now
I find I am as ready with my tears
As the fine morsels of a dwindling cloud
That piece themselves into a race of drops
To spill o'er fields of lilies. So could I
So waste in tears over this bed of sweetness,
This flower, this Floris, this dear majesty,
This royal manhood. — 'Tis in me rebellion
To speak so, yet I'll speak it for this once;
Deep shame it were to be discover'd so,
Worse than when Floris found me in the garden
Weeping, — Even now I curse myself remembering; —
No, let that go; I have said Goodnight to shame.
Now let me see you, you large princely hand,
Since on the face it is unsafe to look;
Yet this could be no other's hand than his,
'Tis so conceived in his true lineament.┬░
I have wrong'd it of its coronet, and now
I outrage it with treasonable kissing.
Ah Floris, Floris, let me speak this little

What I do now is but the least least thing.
But since I have no scope for benefits
Though ill-contented, precious precious Floris,
Most ill-content, this least least thing I do.
Now one word more and then I am gone indeed,
Warn'd by the bright procession of the stars.
My cousin will not love you as I love,
Floris; she will not hit thy sum of worth,
Thou jacinth; nor have skill of all thy virtues,
Floris, thou late-found All-heal;

With what bold grace
This sweeter Deserter lists herself anew
Enroll'd and sexed with our ruder files┬░
And marching to false colours! those few strokes
That forge her title of inheritance
To Manhood, on the upper lip, — they look'd
Most like the silver plighted tuft about┬░
The mouthed centre of a violet.


— O Guinevere
I read that the recital of thy sin,
Like knocking thunder all round Britain's welkin,
Jarr'd down the balanced storm; the bleeding heavens
Left not a rood with curses unimpregnate;
There was no crease or gather in the clouds
But dropp'd its coil of woes: and Arthur's Britain
The mint of current courtesies, the forge
Where all the virtues were illustrated
In blazon, gilt and mail'd shapes of bronze,┬░
Abandon'd by her saints, turn'd black and blasted,
Like scalded banks topp'd once with principal flowers:
Such heathenish misadventure dogg'd one sin.┬░

(iii)Floris in Italy . Floris, having found by chance that Giulia loves him, reasons with himself (or perhaps with Henry) in defence of his not returning her love. Her beauty is urged.

Say beauty lies but in the meet of lines,┬░
In careful-spaced sequences of sound.
These rather are the arc where beauty shines,
The temper'd soil where only her flower is found.
Allow at least it has one term and part
Beyond, and one within the looker's eye;
And I must have the centre in my heart
To turn the compass on the all-starr'd sky:┬░
For only try by gazing to divide┬░
One star by daylight from the strong blue air,
And find it will not therefore be descried
Because its place is known and charted there.
No, love prescriptive, love with place assign'd,┬░
Love by monition, heritage, or lot,
Love by prenatal serfdom still confined
Even to the tillage of the sweetest spot, —
It is a regimen on the imperfect wind,┬░
Piecing the elements out by plan and plot.
Though self-made bands at last may true love bind,
New love is free love, or true love 'tis not.Henry.

Such spider's web he ties across his sight,┬░
And gives for tropes his judgment all away,
Gilds with some sparky fancies blinding night,
And stumbling swears he walks by light of day.
A learned fool indeed and well-bred churl
That swinishly refuses such a pearl!
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