The Deserted Bride
Suggested by a scene in the play of the hunchback. Inscribed to James Sheridan Knowles. "Love me!—No.—He never loved me!" Else he'd sooner die than stain One so fond as he has proved me With the hollow world's disdain. False one, go—my doom is spoken, And the spell that bound me broken. Wed him!—Never.—He has lost me!— Tears!—Well, let them flow!—His bride? No.—The struggle life may cost me! But he'll find that I have pride! Love is not an idle flower, Blooms and dies the self-same hour. Title, land, and broad dominion, With himself to me he gave; Stooped to earth his spirit's pinion, And became my willing slave! Knelt and prayed until he won me— Looks he coldly upon me? Ingrate!—Never sure was maiden Deeply wronged as I. With grief My true breast is overladen— Tears afford me no relief— Every nerve is strained and aching, And my very heart is breaking! Love I him?—Thus scorned and slighted— Thrown, like worthless weed, apart— Hopes and feelings seared and blighted— Love him?—Yes, with all my heart! With a passion superhuman— Constancy, "thy name is woman." Love, nor time, nor mood, can fashion— Love?—Idolatry's the word To speak the broadest, deepest passion, Ever woman's heart hath stirred! Vain to still the mind's desires, Which consume like hidden fires! Wrecked and wretched, lost and lonely, Crushed by grief's oppressive weight With a prayer for Clifford only, I resign me to my fate. Chains that bind the soul I've proven Strong as they were iron woven. Deep the wo that fast is sending From my cheek its healthful bloom; Sad my thoughts as willows bending O'er the borders of the tomb! Without Clifford, not a blessing In the world is worth possessing. Wealth!—a straw within the balance Opposed to love, 'twill strike the beam: Kindred, friendship, beauty, talents?— All to love as nothing seem; Weigh love against all else together, And solid gold against a feather. Hope is flown—away disguises Naught but death relief can give— For the love he little prizes Can not cease, and Julia live! Soon my thread of life will sever— Clifford, fare thee well—for ever!
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