The Betrothed.

—— They were lovers ;1
And May’s bright morn, and genial month of love,2
Was destined by the young and happy pair3
To seal their nuptial vows. Short sight, alas !4
Hath human wisdom !— Ere that season came,5
A chilling blight pass’d o’er the maid, and Death6
Rode, triumphing, the winter’s hollow blast !7
Soon as the first spring-buds put forth their bloom,8
And the young linnet mid the bushes sang ;9
When Nature, casting off her russet garb,10
Put the green robe of her gay bridal on ;11
In the fair marble brow, and hectic cheek,12
And the unearthly lustre of her eye,13
Death’s faithful herald spoke; but veil’d his dart,14
Like him of old *, who hid his warrior-sword15
Beneath a festal garland. To the maid16
No ghastly shape he wore ;  for, clad in smiles,17
Amid the song of birds, the breath of flowers,18
And borne on zephyr’s soft and balmy wing,19
The awful conqueror came !— She saw him not,20
Nor shrank at his approach !— No heavy weight21
Press’d on her heart, that, pure as mountain-snow22
Ere sun’s rays have kiss’d it, knew no guile.23
* Harmodius.
Alas !  on him, the lover !— not on her,24
Fell the destroyer’s stroke! how would he sit,25
The live-long day, counting each flutt’ring pulse,26
And watching, with hope’s keen and eager gaze,27
Till hope itself expired, her fading form !—28
As day by day, and hour by hour, a part29
Of earth’s frail dross, like silver tried by fire,30
And seven times purified, was cast away ;—31
For, purged by suff’ring, mortal flesh assumes32
A more angelic nature !  As of yore,33
The guests were in the bridal garb array’d ;34
Against the bridegroom came, so wears the form,35
Before its final change from earth to heaven,36
A shadowy type of immortality !—37
Oft would the lover press to his sad heart38
Her thin transparent hand ;— then turn aside39
To check the starting tear, lest it should wake40
A chord of sorrow in that gentle breast.41
Thus time roll’d on ;— and summer’s glowing noon42
Gave place to yellow autumn ;— yet it brought43
No healthful change to her ;  but gradual still44
Life’s current ebb’d away !— One balmy eve,45
When autumn’s parting clouds borrow’d the hues46
Of summer’s golden sunset, from the world47
Her gentle spirit pass’d, melting away48
Like rainbow tints from heaven !— —49