Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Almeria in the Mausoleum
By William Congreve (1670–1729)
From ‘The Mourning Bride’

Enter Almeria and Leonora

ALMERIA—It was a fancied noise, for all is hushed.
  Leonora—It bore the accent of a human voice.
  Almeria—It was thy fear, or else some transient wind
Whistling through hollows of this vaulted aisle.
We’ll listen.        5
  Almeria—No, all is hushed and still as death.—’Tis dreadful!
How reverend is the face of this tall pile,
Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads,
To bear aloft its arched and ponderous roof,        10
By its own weight made steadfast and immovable,
Looking tranquillity! It strikes an awe
And terror on my aching sight; the tombs
And monumental caves of death look cold,
And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart.        15
Give me thy hand, and let me hear thy voice;
Nay, quickly speak to me, and let me hear
Thy voice—my own affrights me with its echoes.
  Leonora—Let us return; the horror of this place,
And silence, will increase your melancholy.        20
  Almeria—It may my fears, but cannot add to that.
No, I will on: show me Anselmo’s tomb;
Lead me o’er bones and skulls and moldering earth
Of human bodies; for I’ll mix with them:
Or wind me in the shroud of some pale corse        25
Yet green in earth, rather than be the bride
Of Garcia’s more detested bed: that thought
Exerts my spirits; and my present fears
Are lost in dread of greater ill. Then show me,
Lead me, for I am bolder grown; lead on        30
Where I may kneel, and pay my vows again
To him, to Heaven, and my Alphonso’s soul.
  Leonora—I go; but Heaven can tell with what regret.
The Scene opening discovers a place of tombs; one monument fronting the view greater than the rest
Enter Heli
  Heli—I wander through this maze of monuments,
Yet cannot find him.—Hark! sure ’tis the voice        35
Of one complaining.—There it sounds: I’ll follow it.  [Exit.]
  Leonora—Behold the sacred vault, within whose womb
The poor remains of good Anselmo rest,
Yet fresh and unconsumed by time or worms!
What do I see? O Heaven! either my eyes        40
Are false, or still the marble door remains
Unclosed: the iron gates that lead to death
Beneath, are still wide-stretched upon their hinge,
And staring on us with unfolded leaves.
  Almeria—Sure, ’tis the friendly yawn of death for me;        45
And that dumb mouth, significant in show,
Invites me to the bed where I alone
Shall rest; shows me the grave, where nature, weary
And long oppressed with woes and bending cares,
May lay the burden down, and sink in slumbers        50
Of peace eternal. Death, grim death, will fold
Me in his leaden arms, and press me close
To his cold clayey breast: my father then
Will cease his tyranny; and Garcia too
Will fly my pale deformity with loathing.        55
My soul, enlarged from its vile bonds, will mount,
And range the starry orbs, and milky ways,
Of that refulgent world, where I shall swim
In liquid light, and float on seas of bliss
To my Alphonso’s soul. O joy too great!        60
O ecstasy of thought! Help me, Anselmo:
Help me, Alphonso; take me, reach thy hand;
To thee, to thee I call, to thee, Alphonso:
O Alphonso!
Osmyn ascends from the tomb
  Osmyn—Who calls that wretched thing that was Alphonso?
  Almeria—Angels, and all the host of heaven, support me!
  Osmyn—Whence is that voice, whose shrillness, from the grave,
And growing to his father’s shroud, roots up Alphonso?
  Almeria—Mercy! Providence! O speak!
Speak to it quickly, quickly! speak to me,        70
Comfort me, help me, hold me, hide me, hide me,
Leonora, in thy bosom, from the light,
And from my eyes!
  Osmyn—                Amazement and illusion!
Rivet and nail me where I stand, ye powers;  [Coming forward.
That motionless I may be still deceived.        75
Let me not stir, nor breathe, lest I dissolve
That tender lovely form of painted air,
So like Almeria. Ha! it sinks, it falls;
I’ll catch it ere it goes, and grasp her shade.
’Tis life! ’tis warm! ’tis she! ’tis she herself!        80
Nor dead nor shade, but breathing and alive!
It is Almeria, ’tis, it is my wife!

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