Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
From Parisina: The Execution
By Lord Byron (1788–1824)
THE CONVENT-BELLS are ringing,
  But mournfully and slow;
In the gray square turret swinging,
  With a deep sound, to and fro.
  Heavily to the heart they go!        5
Hark! the hymn is singing—
  The song for the dead below,
  Or the living, who shortly shall be so!
For a departing being’s soul
The death-hymn peals, and the hollow bells knoll:        10
He is near his mortal goal;
Kneeling at the friar’s knee;
Sad to hear,—and piteous to see,—
Kneeling on the bare cold ground,
With the block before and the guards around;—        15
And the headsman with his bare arm ready,
That the blow may be both swift and steady,
Feels if the axe be sharp and true—
Since he set its edge anew:
While the crowd in a speechless circle gather,        20
To see the son fall by the doom of the father.
It is a lovely hour as yet
Before the summer sun shall set,
And his evening beams are shed
Full on Hugo’s fated head,        25
As, his last confession pouring,
To the monk his doom deploring,
In penitential holiness,
He bends to hear his accents bless
With absolution such as may        30
Wipe our mortal stains away.
*        *        *        *        *
He died, as erring man should die,
Without display, without parade;
Meekly had he bowed and prayed,
As not disdaining priestly aid,        35
Nor desperate of all hope on high.

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