"Open the coffin and shroud until
I look on the dead again
Ere we place her in Grenada's vaults,
Where sleep the Monarchs of Spain;
For unto King Charles must I swear
That I myself have seen
The regal brow of the royal corpse,
Our loved, lamented Queen."
The speaker was Borgia, Gaudia's Duke,
A noble and gallant knight,
Whose step was welcome in courtly halls,
As his sword was keen in fight.
To him had his Monarch given the task
Of conveying to the tomb.
The Princess ravished from his arms
In the pride of youthful bloom.
While they slowly raised the coffin lid,
Borgia stood silent by,
Recalling the beauty of the dead
With low, half-uttered sigh -
Longing to look on that statue fair
That wanted but life's warm breath,
That matchless form which he hoped to find
Beautiful e'en in death.
'Tis done, and with silent, rev'rent step
To the coffin draws he near,
And sadly looks in its depths, where lies
Spain's Queen, his sovereign dear.
But what does he see? What horrors drear
Are those that meet his eye,
For he springs aside and shades his brow
With a sharp, though stifled, cry?
Ah' youth and beauty, in spirit gaze
On what that coffin holds -
On the fearful object that now lies
In the shroud's white ample folds:
Nay, turn not away with loathing look,
Lest that hideous sight you see,
In a few short years from now, alas!
It is what we all shall be.
Let us learn as Francis Borgia learned,
By that lifeless form of clay,
To despise the changing things of earth,
All doomed to swift decay -
Deep into his heart the lesson sank,
Effacing earthly taint,
And Spain's Court lost a gallant knight,
While the Church gained a Saint!