Bohemian Poems, Ancient and Modern/A Tale of Bristol

3268058Bohemian Poems, Ancient and Modern — A Tale of Bristol1849Albert Henry Wratislaw


TO love and leave one’s love afar,
Another lover near her,
And know within the heart of hearts
She loves that other dearer,

It is a woeful woeful lot,
It is a fate of sorrow,
Of wishing morn were eventide,
And ev’ry day its morrow;

And bitter tears steal down amain,
And sighs half choke the breath,
And then a man would gladly feel
The welcome hand of Death.

But evil is the wind that blows
With nought of good below,
And worthless is the heart, whose good
Affliction cannot shew.

Far other tales by Avon’s bank
An old man told to me,
Far other tales of promis’d brides,
That brides refus’d to be.

A promise broken broke a heart,
Yet broke it to contain
More love than that of one dear bride.
And constant to remain.

In constancy and love he dwelt,
A brideless bridegroom aye,
Whose bride was false to plighted troth,
And said her promise nay.

He gaz’d upon her issuing forth
From the Cathedral door;
Her arm was in another’s link’d,
Another’s name she bore;

Her false lips wore a syren smile,
Her false hand wore the ring;
In sooth it was a woeful sight,
That tears to eyes might bring.

Quoth he, as softly pacing on
That fair deceiver smil’d,
‘Henceforth each widow is my wife,
‘Each orphan is my child.’

Thus was he wedded, yet unbound
In wedlock’s mystic tie,
And ever all his wedded life
Was purest charity.

Yea, and her offspring came at length
To woe and deep distress,
And at his schools was freely taught
The paths of righteousness.

‘And thus, Sir,’ said the agèd man,
Who told to me the tale,
‘And thus it was that Christ look’d down
‘Upon the poor man’s wail.’

‘O wondrous is the Lord,’ I said,
‘And wondrous are his ways,
‘Who turneth present ill to good,
‘As penitence to praise.

‘The sorrow of the rich man’s soul
‘Hath help’d the poor man’s smart;
‘And blessèd be God’s discipline,
‘That thaws and melts the heart.’