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Of terraced cities over the sea,
Or gardens where, with his daughters three,
King Hesperus, could he come again,
Might choose to abide, nor sigh in vain
For a joy as great as his Golden Tree:
The fiery essence of fierce Spain,
The soul of sunburnt Sicily,
The French, the Rhenish vintage, all
The purple pride of Portugal
Whole troop of Powers celestial,
The slayers of sullen Pain!
Oh, what spirits strong and subtle!
Whether to quicken the pulses' play
And dance the world like a weaver's shuttle
To and fro in the dazzling loom
Where Fancy wears her wardrobe gay,
Or soften to faintness, faint as the fume
From silver censors swung alway
To music, making a mellow gloom
The too intrusive light of the day!
Some that bathe the wearied brain
And untie the knotted hair
On the pucker'd brows of Care,
Soothe from heavy eyes the stain
Of tears too long suppress'd, make fair,
With their divinest influence,
Fate's frown, or feed with nectar-food
The lips of Longing, and dispense
To the tired soul despair'd-of good,
Others that stir in the startled blood
Like tingling trumpet notes intense,
To waken the martial mood.
By the mere faint thought of it, well, I wis,
Such a heaven on earth were hardly amiss,
And I hold it no crime to set it in rhyme
That I think a man might pass his time
In company worse than this.

But, however we pass Time, he passes still,
At the same set pace, whatever the pastime,
And, whether we use him well or ill,
Some day he gives us the slip for the last time;
So even a Pope must finish his fill,
And follow his time, be it feast time or fast time,
As it happen'd with this same Pope, no doubt.
When he would not wake after that last bout,
The case was clear. So they laid him out.
"He is gone," they said, "where there's no returning.
Of the College who is the next to come?"
Then they set the bells tolling, the tapers burning,
And bore him up into Peter's dome.

After the organ's drowning note
Grew hoarse, then hush'd, in his golden throat,
And the latest loiterer, slacking his walk,
Cast one last glance at the catafalk,
And, passing the door, renew'd his talk,
Suspended by the late solemnity,
As to that last raid of Prince Colonna,
"What villages burn'd? and what hope of indemnity?"
The last new beauty fresh from Verona,
With the nimbus of red gold hair, God bless her!
And who should be the late Pope's successor?
I say, that, as soon as the crowd was gone,
And never a face remain'd in sight,
As the tapers began to be burning dim,
Just about the time of the coming on
And settling down of the ghostly light,
The sudden silence so startled him,
That the dead Pope at once rose up.

And first, he fumbled and stretch'd the hand,
Feeling for the accustom'd cup
(For the taste of the wine was yet in his mouth);
And, finding it not, and next with drouth,
Somewhat feebly he call'd out
Then, louder, longer, lustier, and
Fiercelier, east, west, north, and south.
But, no one coming to his command,
He rubb'd his eyes, and look'd about,
And saw, thro' a swimming mist each face
Of his predecessors, gone to Grace
Many a century ago,
Sternly staring at him so
(From their marble seats, a mournful row),
As who should say: "Be cheerful, pray!
Make the best of it as you may.
We are all of us here in the same sad case.
Each in his turn, we must, one by one, die,
Even the best of us
God help the rest of us!
Your turn, friend, now. Make no grimace.
Consider, sic transit gloria mundi!"
He began to grow aware of the place.
A chilly strangeness, more and more,
Crept over him, never felt before,
As he stept down to the marble floor.
He look'd up and down, above him and under,
Fill'd with uncomfortable wonder.
What should persuade him that he was dead
A horrible humming in the head,
A giddy lightness about the feet,
Last night's wine and this night's heat!
He could sniff, by the incense afloat on the air,
Some service, not yet so long o'er
But what he might have slept unaware,
Nor yet quite waked. What alone made him fear
Was that draperied, lighted, black thing there
Not quite like a couch, and much like a bier.
At any rate, "Wherefore linger here?"
He thought; and hurriedly pushing by
The curtain heavy with broidery,
He pass'd out thro' the great church door.

So, forth, on the vacant terrace there,
Overlooking the mighty slope
Of never-ending marble stair,
'Twixt the great church and the great square,
Stood the dead Pope.
On either side, glade heap'd on glade
Of colossal colonnade,
Lost at last in vague and vast
Recesses of repeated shade
By the stupendous columns cast,
In midst of which, as they sang and play'd,
Fire and sound the fountains made,
Under the low faint starlight laid
Not far above their splendours bright,
Fresh interchange of laughters light,
Mix'd with the murmur of the might
Of royal Rome, which far in sight,
Revelling under the redness wide
Of lamps now winking from hollow and height
With a voice of pride on every side
Made ready to receive the night.
So all at once, and all around,
The silence changed itself to sound,
More terrible than mere silence is
The sound of a life no longer his!
Fresh terror seized him where he stood;
Or the fear that follow'd him, shifting ground,
Fresh onslaught made; and he rested, afraid
To call or stir, like a sick owl, stray'd
From a witches' cave back again to the wood
Wherein, meanwhile, the noisy brood
Of little birds, with lusty voice,