The Atlantic Monthly/Volume 2/Number 1/La Cantatrice

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The Atlantic Monthly  (1858) 
La Cantatrice

La Cantatrice

By day, at a high oak desk I stand,
    And trace in a ledger line by line;
  But at five o'clock yon dial's hand
    Opens the cage wherein I pine;
  And as faintly the stroke from the belfry peals
  Down through the thunder of hoofs and wheels,
  I wonder if ever a monarch feels
        Such royal joy as mine!

  Beatrice is dressed and her carriage waits;
    I know she has heard that signal-chime;
  And my strong heart leaps and palpitates,
    As lightly the winding stair I climb
  To her fragrant room, where the winter's gloom
  Is changed by the heliotrope's perfume,
  And the curtained sunset's crimson bloom,
        To love's own summer prime.

  She meets me there, so strangely fair
    That my soul aches with a happy pain;--
  A pressure, a touch of her true lips, such
    As a seraph might give and take again;
  A hurried whisper, "Adieu! adieu!
  They wait for me while I stay for you!"
  And a parting smile of her blue eyes through
      The glimmering carriage-pane.

  Then thoughts of the past come crowding fast
    On a blissful track of love and sighs;--
  Oh, well I toiled, and these poor hands soiled,
    That her song might bloom in Italian skies!--
  The pains and fears of those lonely years,
  The nights of longing and hope and tears,--
  Her heart's sweet debt, and the long arrears
      Of love in those faithful eyes!

  O night! be friendly to her and me!--
    To box and pit and gallery swarm
  The expectant throngs;--I am there to see;--
    And now she is bending her radiant form
  To the clapping crowd;--I am thrilled and proud;
  My dim eyes look through a misty cloud,
  And my joy mounts up on the plaudits loud,
      Like a sea-bird on a storm!

  She has waved her hand; the noisy rush
    Of applause sinks down; and silverly
  Her voice glides forth on the quivering hush,
    Like the white-robed moon on a tremulous sea!
  And wherever her shining influence calls,
  I swing on the billow that swells and falls,--
  I know no more,--till the very walls
      Seem shouting with jubilee!

  Oh, little she cares for the fop who airs
    His glove and glass, or the gay array
  Of fans and perfumes, of jewels and plumes,
    Where wealth and pleasure have met to pay
  Their nightly homage to her sweet song;
  But over the bravas clear and strong,
  Over all the flaunting and fluttering throng,
      She smiles my soul away!

  Why am I happy? why am I proud?
    Oh, can it be true she is all my own?--
  I make my way through the ignorant crowd;
    I know, I know where my love hath flown.
  Again we meet; I am here at her feet,
  And with kindling kisses and promises sweet,
  Her glowing, victorious lips repeat
      That they sing for me alone!


This work was published before January 1, 1923 and it is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 155 years or less since publication.