Collected Poems of Henry Derozio: Preface by Manu Samriti Chander; Edited by Amardeep Singh

The Bridal

'I never told you a horrid story which I heard at Malta. There was a beautiful girl, the daughter of a merchant in the place, so unfortunate as to inspire two brothers with the same passion. The younger, of a light and gay disposition, succeed- ed in winning her affections. The other might feel more deeply, but he said less, and was no adept in the craft of courtship; in short he was the unfortunate suitor: the damsel gave her hand to his rival; but if they had been united in the month of May (the Maltese, from some superstition or other, never are married in this month), the union could not have proved more ill-omened. On the happy eve, the bridegroom was missed from the dance, and the anxious company watched in vain for his return. The music ceased, the party broke up, and the lady retired solitarily to her chamber: nothing was seen of her husband till the morning, when he was found murdered in the garden, and the knife in his breast recognised as his brother's. The parents were the prosecutors of the sole remaining son : he was found guilty, and executed. They soon after lost their senses, and the wretched bride wears the habit of a nun, for which she exchanged her nuptial garment.'—An Autumn in Greece

Merrily pealed the marriage bell, 
And beauty's footsteps softly fell; 
Gay lights were sparkling in the hall, 
And bridal wreaths festoon'd the wall; 
Rose-odours, wine, the gladsome throng 
With bright eyes, and the flow of song 
Made all appear as passing fair, 
As if young joys were revelling there. 

   Unmoved by song, or dance, or lute, 
The bride sate mournfully and mute; 
Her heart and thoughts were far away, 
Where all might guess, but none might say; 
'Twas luxury for her to weep, 
And heave the sigh, long, slow, and deep; 
The rose was braided in her hair, 
Which well a darker wreath might wear; 
White flowers were scattered in her way, 
Alas! she was as pale as they! 
They withered, and as soon must she, 
For hers was utter misery— 
Her eye with a sad tear was glazed, 
As o'er the sea she fondly gazed, 
Like Hope expecting Love's return, 
With thoughts that in her bosom burn. 

   On speed the hours, the cups are crowned, 
The lutes are soft, and songs go round; 
The flowers are fair, the lamps are bright:— 
Why comes the bridegroom not to-night? 

   The moonlight's swimming o'er the stream- 
She wakes not yet from sorrow's dream; 
Unawed by fear, she still is keeping 
Her vigil lone of woe and weeping! 
The guests have left the silent hall, 
The wreaths have withered on each wall, 
The lights are quenched ;—the laugh, the glee 
And all the tones of revelry 
Are hushed—the sprightly songs are o'er: 
Cold as the flowers upon the floor, 
White as the moonshine wildly roaming, 
The girl awaits her bridegroom's coming. 

   The night hath passed in hopes and tears, 
And morning's grey sky now appears; 
He comes not—high her bosom swells 
With that which there unbidden dwells, 
That pang all other pangs above, 
The fearfulness of love, young love! 
'Tis fragrant daylight's earliest hour— 
The dew-gem's set on many a flower, 
The sky is clear—there's just a breath 
To break the crystal wave beneath; 
'Tis morn—he comes not—fears are high— 
Such omen bodes sad evil nigh! 
They seek him with much anxious care, 
And to the garden's shade repair, 
With less of hope than dark despair. 
Each path is search'd, each dubious spot 
Is soon explored—they find him not. 
One yet remains—it is the grove 
He consecrated unto love: 
They hither wend, but sad and slow, 
And hope grows weaker as they go. 
Their hearts are heavy, dull with fear; 
But ha! what does the bridegroom here? 
With blood-stained garment he is found 
All prostrate on the fatal ground; 
They raise him, but 'tis vain to trace 
The features fixed, the pale, cold face; 
His spirit from its gaol of clay 
Hath, like a shadow, passed away! 

   A knife with clotted blood lay near— 
The murderer's hand was surely here; 
Th' assassin's arm hath dealt the blow, 
And laid the youthful lover low! 
'Twas thus at first, in haste, they deemed, 
And so, in sooth, at first it seemed; 
But when they looked upon the knife, 
The brother sought the brother's life; 
His guilty hand hath made him bleed, 
And he shall rue the deadly deed.' 

*. *. *. *. * 
*. *. *. *. * 

   One month hath passed.—'Tis night—on high 
The stars are studded in the sky 
Like gems in regal canopy; 
'Tis night—the west wind's voice is low, 
Like the last moan of mortal woe; 
The little ripple on the shore 
Just breaks, and then is heard no more; 
'Tis night—the moon appears above 
Pale as a maiden's cheek in love; 
That moon is gleaming o'er the grave, 
Where sleeps the bridegroom, young and 
Whom Love had not the power to save. 
And ah! that moon shines coldly too 
On the dark tomb of him who slew: 
Of him whose hand had been imbrued 
With his young guiltless brother's blood: 
He at the shrine of Justice fell: 
But oh! the tale is sad to tell, 
Led by his wretched parents there, 
His fate was fixed—and Mercy's prayer 
Arose not—if it once arose, 
'Twas all unheard 'mid mingled woes; 
And he, the victim of his crime, 
By Justice fell—in manhood's prime. 
But who shall paint his parents' grief? 
That never found e'en slight relief? 
Reft of two sons in evil day, 
They saw their only hopes decay, 
And one loved child, upon his name 
Had left an everlasting shame. 
They mourn'd till sorrow's self was vain, 
And reason fled their maddened brain. 

   But where is she, the bride, the flower 
That bloomed so fair in Love's green bower? 
Alas, the bride of one short hour! 
To God her days and nights are given, 
A sinless candidate for heaven! 
But none can deem what still must be 
Her madness and her misery; 
That state of being which can bring 
No joy to soothe, no pang to sting; 
Life's darksome night of dull unchanging sorrow 
The night that brings with death a brighter morrow.

September, 1826. 

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