by Marietta Holley

Marietta Holley

I might strive as well to melt to softness the soulless breast
Of some fair and saintly image, carven out of stone,
With my smile, as to stir you heart from its icy rest,
Or win a tender glance from your royal eyes, Ione;
But your sad smile lures me on, as toward some fatal rock
Is the fond wave drawn, but to break with passionate moan.
Break! to be spurned from its cold feet with a stony shock,
As you would spurn my suppliant heart from your feet, Ione.

Ione, there is a grave in the churchyard under the hill,
The villagers shun like the unblest haunt of a ghost,
Dropped there out of a dark spring night, I remember still,
For a foreign ship had anchored that night on the coast;
On the gray stone tablet is written this one word "Rest.—
Did he who sleeps underneath seek for it vainly here?
What is the secret hidden there in the buried breast,
The secret deeper sunken by dripping rains each year.

When autumn's bending boughs and harvests burdened the ground
An early laborer, chancing to pass that way alone,
Saw a small glove gleaming whitely upon the mound,
And into the delicate wrist was woven "Ione,—
And he said as he dropped it again his eye did mark—
For this unknown, unhallowed grave had been shunned by all—
A narrow footpath winding through to the lofty wall,
That guards the wild grandeur and gloom of your father's park.

'Tis well to put small faith in a simple rustic's eye,
This story your father heard, and haughtily denied,
The grass waves rankly now, and gives the fellow the lie,
How many secrets the tall, deceitful grasses hide,
Patting the turf that covers a maiden's innocent rest,
And creeping and winding old haunted ruins among,
As silently smooth's the mould above the murdered breast,
Smothering down to deeper silence a buried wrong.

In your father's gallery once, I saw your pictured face,
Ione you were not always so sad and pale as this,
No beauty in all the long line of your noble race
Had eyes so softly bathed in bright bewitchment of bliss,
You were just nineteen, they said—it was painted in Spain
The year before you came—it was on your foreign tour,
By an artist too low to be reached by your disdain,
A delicate, passionate-hearted boy, proud and poor.

So said the rumors floating to us across the sea,
You had only an invalid mother with you there,
I fancy that then you set your heart's pure feelings free
For the first time, far from your proud old father's care,
For you used to wander down the shaded garden ways,
Your slight hand closely clasped by the fair-haired English youth,
His blue eyes bent on your blushing face, so rumor says,
Though such light birds are not to be trusted much in truth.

Your face is not the face that looked from the antique frame,
Ione, and even that is gone from the oaken wall;
That picture that never was painted for gold or fame,
So vowed the artist friend who went with me to the hall,
But the pain on your white brow sits regally I ween,
The smile on your perfect lips is perilously sweet,
My slavish glances crown you my love, my fate, my queen,
As you pass in peerless beauty adown the village street.

Last updated April 01, 2023