The Bride’s Dirge
The Western Islanders imagine that an apparition resembling a Mermaid, called Flora, or the Spirit of the Green Isle, always precedes the death of a young and lovely Bride. This apparition has been lately seen.
[On the death of Princess Charlotte of Wales]
A Voice said from the silver sea,
“Woe to thee, Green Isle!—woe to thee!”
The Warden from his watch-tow’r bent,
But land, and wave, and firmament,
So calmly slept, he might have heard
The swift wing of the mountain-bird.—
Nor breeze nor breath his beacon stirr’d,
Yet from th’ unfathom’d caves below,
Thrice came that drear, death-boding word
And the long echoes answer’d, “WOE!”
The Warden from his tow’r looks round,
And now he hears the slow waves bringing
Each to the shore a silver sound,—
The Spirit of the Isle is singing.—
In depths which man has never found!
—When she sits in the pomp of her ocean-bed,
With her scarf of light around her spread,
The mariner thinks on the misty tide,
He sees the moon’s soft rainbow glide:
Her song in the noon of night he hears,
And trembles while his bark he steers.—
I come in the morn!—I come in the hour
When the blossoms of beauty rise,
I gather the fairest and richest flower
Where Heav’n’s dew purest lies.—
Then rest thee, Bride!
In thy Beauty’s pride,
Thou wilt rest to-night by Flora’s side!
The eye I touch must be soft and blue,
As the sky where the stars are gleaming;
And the breast must be fair as the fleecy clouds
Where the angels of bliss lie dreaming:
And the spirit within as pure and bright
As the stream that leaps among tufts of roses,
And sparkles along, all life and light,
Then calm in its open bed reposes.
Ah!—rest thee, Bride!
By thy true love’s side,
To-morrow a shroud his hope shall hide!
I saw them wreathing a crown for thee,
With the riches of empires in it;
But thy bridal robe was a winding sheet,
And the loves that crown’d thee sat to spin it.
They heap’d with garlands thy purple bed,
And ev’ry flower on earth they found thee,
But ev’ry flow’r in the wreath shall fade,
Save those thy bounty scatter’d round thee.
Yet sweetly sleep,
While my hour I keep,
For angels to-night shall watch and weep.
A Green Isle!—woe to thy hope and pride!
To-day thy rose was bright and glowing;
The bud was full, the root was wide,
And the stream of love around it flowing:—
To-morrow thy tower shall stand alone,
Thy hoary oak shall live and flourish,
But the dove from its branches shall be gone,
The rose that deck’d its stem shall perish.
Nov. 6th, 1817