Open main menu
For works with similar titles, see The Bride.

I came, but she was gone. In her fair home,
There lay her lute, just as she touched it last,
At summer twilight, when the woodbine cups
Fill'd with pure fragrance. On her favourite seat
Lay the still open work-box, and that book
Which last she read, its pencil'd margin mark'd
By an ill-quoted passage—trac'd, perchance,
With hand unconscious, while her lover spake
That dialect which brings forgetfulness
Of all beside. It was the cherish'd home,
Where from her childhood she had been the star
Of hope and joy. I came—and she was gone.
Yet I had seen her from the altar led,
With silvery veil but slightly swept aside,
The fresh, young rose-bud, deepening in her cheek,
And on her brow the sweet and solemn thought
Of one who gives a priceless gift away.
And there was silence 'mid the gather'd throng.
The stranger, and the hard of heart, did draw
Their breath suppressed, to see the mother's lip
Turn ghastly pale, and the majestic sire
Shrink as with smother'd sorrow, when he gave
His darling to an untried guardianship,
And to a far-off clime. Haply his thought
Travers'd the grass-grown prairies, and the shore
Of the cold lakes; or those o'erhanging cliffs,
And pathless mountain-tops, that rose to bar
Her log-rear'd mansion from the anxious eye
Of kindred and of friend. Even triflers felt
How strong and beautiful is woman's love.
Which, taking in its hand its thornless joys,
The tenderest melodies of tuneful years,
Yea! and its own life also—lays them all
Meek and unblenching, on a mortal's breast,
Reserving nought, save that unspoken hope
Which hath its root in God. Mock not with mirth
A scene like this, ye laughter-loving ones;
The licens'd jesters lip, the dancer's heel—
What do they here? Joy, serious and sublime,
Such as doth nerve the energies of prayer,
Should swell the bosom, when a maiden's hand,
Fill'd with life's dewy flow'rets, girdeth on
That harness which the ministry of death
Alone unlooseth, but whose fearful power
May stamp the sentence of eternity.

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.