To The Bride Isabel.
by Theodore Tilton
Enclosing a heart's-ease.
O maiden, I who, many miles away,
This way-side letter of remembrance send,
To intercept thy coming wedding-day,
That hastens hither ere the roses end,
Send with it (better than a rose) a flower
Less fair, yet fitter for thy feast;
A flower worth all the gardens of the East,
And rich enough to be thy bridal dower:
For, having heart's-ease, hast thou not enough?
But heart's-ease is a perishable stuff --
A fading flower that hath not long to live --
A mocking gift that is not mine to give.
Yet as I give the emblem, I uplift
A prayer that God will add the perfect gift.
But we who pray know not for what we plead.
If He who knoweth every human need
Should overrule my gift, and make it vain,
And then bestow instead His gift of pain;
If at His finger-touch thy heart's-ease fade,
And wither into heart-break, -- O fair maid!
Who knowest now of love, but not of grief,
Go question all the sorrows of the world,
And thou shalt find that sorrowing love is chief!
As if a wedding-tress should burst its braid,
Or twisted ringlet droop and hang uncurled,
And shake its orange-blossoms to the ground,
So love at last may loose what first it bound,
And drop the joys wherewith it once was crowned.
But as a bird that hath a heavenward wing
May shed a plume, yet shall not cease to sing,
So love, despite her losses, waxeth strong,
And bears above them all a cheery song.
When thou, like other brides whose hearts have burned
With over-joy of love, hast also learned,
And wept in learning, that through all the years,
Love often hath her bosom pierced of spears,
Learn thou, by discipline of thorn and sting,
That sorrow also is a sacred thing.
There never yet was any wedding-ring
That did not make a marriage unto tears.
When thou this fading flower away shalt fling,
May love, that hath no earthly sorrow, bring
Thy bosom heart's-ease from celestial spheres.
Source:The Sexton's Tale, And Other Poems.
Sheldon And Company, New York.