Theodore Tilton



The Broken Vow

by Theodore Tilton

A woman's soliloquy

This spot is where we parted; and I think
That had he not turned back, to give the chain
That bound our hearts another golden link,
I might have suffered, when it snapped, less pain.
But, parting here, he loitered in the lane,
Then stopped, and, leaning on the garden gate,
He whistled like a robin to his mate;
Till I, with merry mocking of his call,
Ran down to meet him at the garden wall.

Uplifting both his hands, he seized a vine
And shook a storm of dew upon my hair;
Then, spying roses near, O maidenl mine!
He said, I pluck for thee a bud so fair,
That had it grown in any Eastern clime, --
Where love is writ in flowers instead of rhyme, --
And were it folded, thus, within thy hand,
Mayhap a woman's wit would understand
That her departing lover hies to bring,
With swift returning steps, her wedding ring!

I heard, and trembled, and stood queenly crowned,
But cast my eyes, bewildered, to the ground,
And asked myself, How could it be that I,
So lowly-born, should mate with one so high!

I turned my face to brush away a tear.
He bent his bead, and whispered in my ear,
Dear love, my loitering feet, so loth to go,
Shall speed me back before the bud shall blow.

He went. That day was like a golden dream --
And he the light that set the day aglow,
And I the mote that floated in his beam.

Then on the marble mantel of my room
I placed the bud, and nursed it into bloom,
And kissed the very thorns from day to day;
And yet the laggard truant staid away.
At first I saw the calyx swell and crack --
And break the promise of his coming back.

Then through the empty days, I asked myself,
Why comes he not? At last the chilly shelf
Whereon the fiery petals fell had grown
Like sandal wood for fragrance, or the stone
That pilgrims kiss within the prophet's tomb.
Outspread like pages of the book of doom,
The leaves too sweetly told my bitter fate.
His feet returned not to the garden gate;
His face I have not looked upon since then;
His name is written with the rich and great;
His fame is high among the famous men.
O Thou who sittest on the judgment throne!
Forbid my heart to harbor human hate,
But henceforth let me trust in Thee alone.


The Sexton's Tale, And Other Poems.
Copyright 1867
Sheldon And Company, New York.