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.