The Criminal's Betrothed

by Marietta Holley

Marietta Holley

As on a waveless sea, a vessel strikes
Upon a treacherous rock;
Waking the sailors from their happy dreams
By the swift, terrible shock.

Dreaming of shaded village streets, and home,
Forgetting the cruel sea
Till the shock came—so woke I, yet I know
'Twas Love, I loved, not he.

'Tis not the star the wave so wildly clasps,
Only its form reflected in the stream;
'Tis not a broken heart I mourn,
Only a broken dream.

I should have died when he was brought so low,
Had it been him I loved,
Died clinging to him, as to the blasted oak
The ivy clings unmoved.

'Twas Love that looked on me with strange, sweet eyes
Burning with marvellous flame;
Love was the idol that I worshipped, though
I gave to it his name.

I gave to Love his name, his glance, his brow,
His low-toned voice, his smile,
Oh, soul be patient; I can sever them
But yet a little while—

Before I put away these outward forms
Deceiving, sweet disguises, which Love wore
Let my heart break into regretful tears
Just once, and then no more.

Just once, as fond friends watch the fading sail
Bearing away a guest of truest worth,
They give this little time to grief, and then
Return to their desolate hearth,

And build new fires, and gather dewy flowers,
Let the pure air into the vacant room,
So light, and bloom, and sweetness, all
Shall penetrate its gloom.

I will be patient, in a little time
Quiet, and full of rest,
Gods's peace will come, and, like a soft-winged bird,
Settle upon my breast.

Not always thus shall beat my restless heart
Like a wild eagle 'gainst its prison-bars;
In some calm twilight of the future time
I will sit, calm-browed, underneath the stars.

Last updated November 04, 2022