The Lover’s Sacrifice

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  DONNA SOL.  Together let us fly!

  HERNANI. Together? No! the hour is past for flight.
Dearest, when first thy beauty smote my sight,
I offered, for the love that bade me live,
Wretch that I was, what misery had to give:
My wood, my stream, my mountain. Bolder grown,
By thy compassion to an outlaw shown,
The outlaw's meal beneath the forest shade,
The outlaw's couch far in the greenwood glade,
I offered. Though to both that couch be free,
I keep the scaffold block reserved for me.

  DONNA SOL. And yet you promised?

  HERNANI _(falls on his knee.)_  Angel! in this hour,
Pursued by vengeance and oppressed by power--
Even in this hour when death prepares to close
In shame and pain a destiny of woes--
Yes, I, who from the world proscribed and cast,
Have nursed one dark remembrance of the past,
E'en from my birth in sorrow's garment clad,
Have cause to smile and reason to be glad;
For you have loved the outlaw and have shed
Your whispered blessings on his forfeit head.

  DONNA SOL. Let me go with you.

  HERNANI.  No! I will not rend
From its fair stem the flower as I descend.
Go--I have smelt its perfume. Go--resume
All that this grasp has brushed away of bloom.
Wed the old man,--believe that ne'er we met;
I seek my shade--be happy, and forget!

© Victor Marie Hugo