The Wedding Day

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The last! the last! the last!
Oh, by that little word,
How many thoughts are stirred! ~ CAROLINE SOUTHEY.

Nay, chide me not! I cannot chase
The gloom that wraps my soul away;
Nor wear, as erst, the smiling face
That best beseems this hallowed day:
Fain would my yearning heart be gay,
Its wonted welcome breathe to thine;
But sighs come blended with my lay,
And tears of anguish blot the line.
I cannot sing, as once I sung
Our bright and cheerful hearth beside;
When gladness ruled my heart and tongue,
And looks of fondest love replied:
The meaner cares of earth defied,
We heeded not its outward din,
How loud soe'er the storm might chide,
So all was calm and fair within.
A blight upon our bliss hath come;
We are not what we were of yore—
The music of our hearts is dumb;
Our fireside mirth is heard no more!
The little cricket's chirp is o'er
That filled our happy home with glee;
The dove hath fled whose pinions bore
Healing and peace for thee and me.
Our youngest born, our autumn flower,
The best beloved, because the last;
The star that shone above our bower,
When many a cherished dream had passed;
The one sweet hope, that o'er us cast
Its rainbow form of life and light,
And smiled defiance on the blast,
Hath vanished from our eager sight.
Oh! sudden was the wrench that tore
Affection's firmest links apart,
And doubly barbed the shaft we wore
Deep in each bleeding heart of heart:
For who can bear from bliss to part,
Without one sign, one warning token;
To sleep in peace, then wake, and start,
To find life's fairest promise broken?
When last this cherished day came round,
What aspirations sweet were ours;
Fate, long unkind, our hopes had crowned,
And strewn, at length, our path with flowers.
How darkly now the prospect lowers;
How thorny is our homeward way;
How more than sad the evening hours
That used to glide like bliss away.
And, half infected by our gloom,
Yon little mourner sits and sighs;
His playthings, scattered 'round the room,
No more attract his listless eyes:
Mutely his infant task he plies,
Or moves with soft and stealthy tread;
And called, in tones subdued replies,
As if he feared to wake the dead.
Where is the blithe companion gone,
Whose sports he loved to guide and share?
Where is the merry child who won
All hearts to fondness? Where, oh, where!
The empty crib, the vacant chair,
The favourite toy, alone remain,
To whisper to our hearts' despair
Of hopes we cannot feel again.
Ay, joyless is our ‘ingle nook,’
Its genial light we own no more;
Our fireside wears an altered look,
A gloom it never knew before!
The converse sweet, the cherished lore,
That once could cheer our stormiest day;
Those revels of the soul are o'er,
Those simple pleasures passed away.
Then chide me not, I cannot sing
A song befitting love and thee;
“My heart and harp have lost the string”
On which hung half their melody:
Yet soothing sweet it is to me,
Since fled the smiles of happier years,
To know that still our hearts are free,
Betide what may, to mingle tears.

© Alaric Alexander Watts