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

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.