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Anna Jane Vardill

The Wreath

A Third Tradition of Tabby-Hall

To Mezzorania’s sainted fane
Ianthe leads her virgin train,
While holy hands the flow’rs prepare
Which lovers’ destinies declare.
First at her feet a minstrel kneels,
Whose hand a varied wreath reveals,
Where every leaf and blossom twines,
By Flora lent when summer shines:—
“Lady, this blooming garland take,
For truth, and love, and honour’s sake!
Each leaf its secret moral tells,
In every flow’r a precept dwells.
Ere Love in eastern glory ceas’t
Stern sultans prais’d the tulip-feast;
His slaves in Persian gardens still
The tulip cup with nectar fill:
But in the Sultan’s softest bow’r
Sour-ey’d Suspicion blig’ts the flow’r;
And while tyrannic Passion burns,
The nectar’d cup to venom turns.
Nymph!—in the tulip’s changeful hue
Of jealous love the emblem view,
Streak’d with alternate dark and bright—
Remorseless rage and brief delight!
Yet when the smiling Graces reign,
Love’s tulip-feast begins again.
Lady!—for thee the tulip glows,
Twin’d with the pale half-open’d rose:
By Mezzoranian law, ’tis known
Bold Truth presents a rose full-blown;
Young timid Hope a rose-bud keeps,
And Fear shews one that hardly peeps:
The rose on Brahma’s altar lies,
The rose is Paphian Cupid’s prize;
Lady! these cluster’d roses take,
For truth, and love, and honour’s sake!”

Another from the throng advances,
 Whose dark cheek reddens with the glow
 Youth and the purple bowl bestow.
 His hand a myrtle-branch has brought—
 His eye, Love’s messenger of Thought,
Sends to her soul its flashing glances.
 Light touches wake the frolic strings,
 While thus the smiling Minstrel sings.


When Prudence turn’d Cupid out of doors,
 In a cynical fit sublime,
He gather’d in haste his flow’ry stores,
 And ran to meet flying Time.

Time laugh’d when he saw the urchin’s haste—
 “Why, whither so fast?” he cried:
“When flow’rs are gather’d and butterflies chas’d,
 My measureless speed you chide!” ….

“O gentle Time! more tardily tread,
 While my first spring garland blooms!
I’ll weave these primroses round your head,
 And this gossamer in your plumes!”

Love gave the wreath from his flowr’y store,
 To tempt old Time’s delay;
But Time flew faster than before,
 When he bore the prize away.

First Beauty’s lilies and half-blown rose
 In his withering grasp decay’d,
And the frail Narcisssus which Folly chose
 He left in the dust to fade.

Whim’s gay convolvulus chang’d its hue,
 When his cold hand touch’d the wreath;
He shook from the heart’s ease its honey-dew,
 And its fragrance ceas’d to breathe.

The roses by Love’s own fingers tied,
 Ere another hour were dead;
And the sweet briar leaves by Wit supplied
 Time scatter’d as he fled:

The canker of Shame and the thorn of Grief
 ’Midst the dying flow’rs were seen,
While only the modest myrtle-leaf
 Retain’d its triumphant green.

The myrtle, by Truth and Honour grac’d,
 Was pluck’d from Life’s fairest tree;
And Time the unfading trophy plac’d
 In the crown of Eternity!

The maiden smil’d—with hand of fire
And unknown minstrel swept his lyre—
A few wild wand’ring notes it gave,
 Such as, when silent eve is dim,
 Float in the dreaming ear of him
Who slumbers near a haunted grave.
None can that Minstrel’s footsteps trace,
No eye beholds his shrouded face,
But shadowy fingers, lank and lean,
Stretch’d o’er his magic harp are seen:
And lo!—before the silent maid
His hand a wither’d leaf has laid.


Time will not stay for myrtle-leaves,
Nor for the garland Fancy weaves:
Tho’ Love’s own hands the pencil bring,
And dip it in the hues of Spring,
 Time will not stay!

Yet round united hearts entwin’d
That blooming wreath he loves to find;
Then from the bond he steals no flow’r,
But adds another every hour
 He passes flying:

For well he knows that holy bond
Will last his earthly date beyond,
Till Hope and Joy their kingdom greet,
And Death, subdued at Mercy’s feet,
 Himself lies dying!

Time bids the minstrel’s brief wild-rose
In dark Oblivion’s lap repose;
The wreaths by vagrant Cupid spun,
The laurels by Ambition won,
 His scythe shall sever;

But when he sees their trophies bound
Bland Virtue’s stedfast altar round,
He comes with downy wings to give
His sacred seal, and bids them live
 With him for ever!

Dumb in delicious trance she stands—
The dead leaf trembles in her hands:
Once with a warrior’s crown she wove
That leaf—a pledge of holy love!
’Twas said upon his lifeless breast
That wither’d leaf was laid to rest—
She rends the garland from her hair,
And plants the sacred relic there.

The minstrel kneels—with sudden light
His eye, his hollow eye is bright;
He spurns his pilgrim-cloak, and now
The warrior’s laurel decks his brow:
His cheek is wan, his locks are hoar,
His faded form is known no more,
But he has still the voice so dear
To true Affection’s constant ear:—
The once-lov’d voice, tho’ years depart,
Still finds its echo in the heart.

“Lady! thy faithful knight has stray’d
 From hostile clime to clime,
And with a lover’s sigh delay’d
 The speed of envious Time.

Well may they long-lost wand’rer crave
 This hallow’d myrtle now,
Around his bridal couch to wave,
 And blossom on thy brow.

Sweet lady!—if they hands refuse
 Your painted flowret’s pride,
Thy heart the modest worth may chuse
 Which boasts no wealth beside.

Then take this ring of sacred hair
 To grace thy finger twin’d—
Old Time his only lock might spare
 So fair a hand to bind!

For Death or Absence cannot break
 The spell thy virtue wove;
And Time himself shall pause to take
 One myrtle-leaf from Love!


The European Magazine, Vol. 69, March 1816, pp. 247-248