Diamonds and Pearls

Facts and fantasies about the most sought-after stone
“Within the midnight of her hair,
Half hidden in its deepest deeps,
A single, peerless, priceless pearl
(All filmy-eyed) forever sleeps.
Without the diamond's sparkling eyes,
The ruby's blushes, there it lies,
Modest as the tender dawn,
When her purple veil's withdrawn,—
The flower of gems, a lily cold and pale!
Yet what doth all avail,—
All its beauty, all its grace,
All the honors of its place?
He who plucked it from its bed,
In the far blue Indian ocean,
Lieth, without life or motion,
In his earthy dwelling,—dead!
And his children, one by one,
When they look upon the sun,
Curse the toil by which he drew
The treasure from its bed of blue.
“Gentle Bride, no longer wear,
In thy night-black, odorous hair,
Such a spoil! It is not fit
That a tender soul should sit
Under such accursed gem!
What need'st thou a diadem,—
Thou, within whose Eastern eyes
Thought (a starry Genius) lies,—
Thou, whom Beauty has arrayed,—
Thou, whom Love and Truth have made
Beautiful,—in whom we trace
Woman's softness, angel's grace,
All we hope for, all that streams
Upon us in our haunted dreams?
“O sweet Lady! cast aside,
With a gentle, noble pride,
All to sin or pain allied!
Let the wild-eyed conqueror wear
The bloody laurel in his hair!
Let the black and snaky vine
Round the drinker's temples twine!
Let the slave-begotten gold
Weigh on bosoms hard and cold!
But be THOU forever known
By thy natural light alone!”

One of the best judges of pearls that ever lived, out of the regular trade, was no less a person than Caesar. He was a great connoisseur, and could tell at once, when he took a pearl in his hand, its weight and value. He gave one away worth a quarter of a million dollars. Servilia, the mother of Brutus, was the lady to whom he made the regal present.

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