Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
 
Portugal: Coimbra
The Coronation of Inez de Castro
Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)
 
THERE was music on the midnight,
  From a royal fane it rolled;
And a mighty bell, each pause between,
  Sternly and slowly tolled.
Strange was their mingling in the sky,        5
  It hushed the listener’s breath;
For the music spoke of triumph high,
  The lonely bell,—of death!
 
There was hurrying through the midnight
  A sound of many feet;        10
But they fell with a muffled fearfulness
  Along the shadowy street:
And softer, fainter grew their tread,
  As it neared the minster gate,
Whence a broad and solemn light was shed        15
  From a scene of royal state.
 
Full glowed the strong red radiance
  In the centre of the nave,
Where the folds of a purple canopy
  Swept down in many a wave,        20
Loading the marble pavement old
  With a weight of gorgeous gloom;
For something lay midst their fretted gold,
  Like a shadow of the tomb.
 
And within that rich pavilion,        25
  High on a glittering throne,
A woman’s form sat silently,
  Midst the glare of light alone.
Her jewelled robes fell strangely still,—
  The drapery on her breast        30
Seemed with no pulse beneath to thrill,
  So stone-like was its rest!
 
But a peal of lordly music
  Shook e’en the dust below,
When the burning gold of the diadem        35
  Was set on her pallid brow!
Then died away that haughty sound;
  And from the encircling band
Stepped prince and chief, midst the hush profound,
  With homage to her hand.        40
 
Why passed a faint, cold shuddering
  Over each martial frame,
As one by one, to touch that hand,
  Noble and leader came?
Was not the settled aspect fair?        45
  Did not a queenly grace,
Under the parted ebon hair,
  Sit on the pale still face?
 
Death! Death! canst thou be lovely
  Unto the eye of life?        50
Is not each pulse of the quick high breast
  With thy cold mien at strife?
—It was a strange and fearful sight,
  The crown upon that head,
The glorious robes, and the blaze of light,        55
  All gathered round the dead!
 
And beside her stood in silence
  One with a brow as pale,
And white lips rigidly compressed,
  Lest the strong heart should fail:        60
King Pedro, with a jealous eye,
  Watching the homage done
By the land’s flower and chivalry
  To her, his martyred one.
 
But on the face he looked not        65
  Which once his star had been;
To every form his glance was turned
  Save of the breathless queen:
Though something, won from the grave’s embrace,
  Of her beauty still was there,        70
Its hues were all of that shadowy place,
  It was not for him to bear.
 
Alas! the crown, the sceptre,
  The treasures of the earth,
And the priceless love that poured those gifts,        75
  Alike of wasted worth!
The rites are closed,—bear back the dead
  Unto the chamber deep!
Lay down again the royal head,
  Dust with the dust to sleep!        80
 
There is music on the midnight,—
  A requiem sad and slow,
As the mourners through the sounding aisle
  In dark procession go;
And the ring of state, and the starry crown,        85
  And all the rich array,
Are borne to the house of silence down,
  With her, that queen of clay!
 
And tearlessly and firmly
  King Pedro led the train;        90
But his face was wrapped in his folding robe
  When they lowered the dust again.
’T is hushed at last the tomb above,—
  Hymns die, and steps depart:
Who called thee strong as Death, O Love?        95
  Mightier thou wast and art.
 
 
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