The Blind Man’s Bride

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WHEN first, beloved, in vanish'd hours
The blind man sought thy love to gain,
They said thy cheek was bright as flowers
New freshen'd by the summer rain:
They said thy movements, swift yet soft,
Were such as make the wingéd dove
Seem, as it gently soars aloft,
The image of repose and love.

They told me, too, an eager crowd
Of wooers praised thy beauty rare,
But that thy heart was all too proud
A common love to meet or share.
Ah! thine was neither pride nor scorn,
But in thy coy and virgin breast
Dwelt preference, not of PASSION born,
The love that hath a holier rest!

Days came and went;--thy step I heard
Pause frequent, as it pass'd me by:--
Days came and went;--thy heart was stirr'd,
And answer'd to my stifled sigh!
And thou didst make a humble choice,
Content to be the blind man's bride,
Who loved thee for thy gentle voice,
And own'd no joy on earth beside.

And well by that sweet voice I knew
(Without the happiness of sight)
Thy years, as yet, were glad and few,--
Thy smile, most innocently bright:
I knew how full of love's own grace
The beauty of thy form must be;
And fancy idolized the face
Whose loveliness I might not see!

Oh! happy were those days, beloved!
I almost ceased for light to pine
When thro' the summer vales we roved,
Thy fond hand gently link'd in mine.
Thy soft, "Good night" still sweetly cheer'd
The unbroken darkness of my doom;
And thy "Good morrow, love," endear'd
Each sunrise that return'd in gloom!

At length, as years roll'd swiftly on,
They spoke to me of Time's decay--
Of roses from thy smooth cheek gone,
And ebon ringlets turn'd to grey.
Ah! then I bless'd the sightless eyes
Which could not feel the deepening shade,
Nor watch beneath succeeding skies
Thy withering beauty faintly fade.

I saw no paleness on thy cheek,
No lines upon thy forehead smooth,--
But still the BLIND MAN heard thee speak
In accents made to bless and soothe:
Still he could feel thy guiding hand
As thro' the woodlands wild we ranged,--
Still in the summer light could stand,
And know thy HEART and VOICE unchanged.

And still, beloved, till life grows cold,
We'll wander 'neath a genial sky,
And only know that we are old
By counting happy years gone by:
For thou to me art still as fair
As when those happy years began,--
When first thou cam'st to soothe and share
The sorrows of a sightless man!

Old Time, who changes all below,
To wean men gently for the grave,
Hath brought us no increase of woe,
And leaves us all he ever gave:
For I am still a helpless thing,
Whose darken'd world is cheer'd by thee--
And thou art she whose beauty's spring
The blind man vainly yearn'd to see!

© Caroline Norton