Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 8/England's suttee


Ho, Seeva—deck the chamber!
Ho, flash the red wine up!
Whilst the fiery goblet sparkles,
And fury crowns the cup:
Wreathe fast the bridal chaplet,
And shout the loud acclaim—
To-night another victim
Shall come to thee in flame!


Where eyes with love are lighting,
And tender glances meet,
And the dizzy valse flies faster
To the sweep of silken feet;
In the flush of airy triumph,
She comes, supreme, elect,
A gleam of gauzy splendour,
A sacrifice, full deckt.

And lo! the pile awaiting—
Already round her crowd
The ministers of torture,
The weavers of her shroud;
They press . . . Ah, God, the fire!
Too late they shriek her name;
Wild thro’ the frenzied tumult
She flies a living flame! . . .

Enough. The curtain closes,
The trembling guests are fled;
A mother seeks her daughter—
The living clasps the dead:
Slain, in the first sweet promise
Of life, and love untried,—
In the blossom of her beauty—
To-morrow’s noon, a bride.

A bride! ay—for thee, lovely,
A bridegroom truly comes,
With pomp of stately pageant,
In pride of sable plumes;
The solemn priest stands ready,
The wedding-guests are there,
But hearts with grief are breaking,
And one shall wed Despair.

And long for thee shall Sorrow
Sit mute at hearth and hall;
For thee the lip shall tremble,
The blinding tear shall fall;
And the fresh spring shall come over,
And the flowers with summer’s breath,—
But thou shalt know no spring-time
Whose bridal fere was Death.

H. Cholmondeley Pennell.