Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 2/Her bridal

HER BRIDAL.

The clanging steeple dins the air,
The banners flutter gay,
The maidens scatter roses fair
Along their homeward way;

And courtly bends the gallant, proud
To lead so sweet a bride;
She turns upon the greeting crowd
No gentle look aside;

No tender glance of love apart
To her high lord the while,
For memory of one trusting heart
That thrill’d ’neath such a smile,

He who first dared to seek her love,—
To seek it? ay, to win,—
Whom now (O pain all pain above!)
To think of is to sin.

He turns away, too stern for tears,
With haggard looks and wan,
A simple boy, it seems, in years,
In grief an agèd man.

Long life may yet be his, to give
The wreck of faith full scope,
Long years of suffering to live
And nurse the widow’d hope:

Long, long unsolac’d vigils yet,
Visions of sadden’d eyes
To mock the mourner’s mad regret
With guilty sympathies.

For seems not ever life too long
That lingers on a waste,
And such a sorrow’s hand too strong
To be full soon displaced?

Not falling on some foreign strand,
In battle’s reddest glow,
With dinted brand in fainting hand,
And face towards the foe;

Not sinking with some shatter’d ship,
Were it so hard to part
From her whose name were on the lip,
Whose image on the heart:

Not bending o’er the hopeless bed,
Watching the dear one die,—
Kneeling beside the dear one dead,
Were half the agony

That sears the soul, and burns the brow,
At consciousness of this,
That lips once his are shrinking now
Beneath a barter’d kiss!

Ralph A. Benson.