Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 170. The Bride Reluctant
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
170. The Bride Reluctant
By Harriet Eleanor Hamilton-King  (b. 1840)
‘LEAVE the romance before the end;
  Leave the late roses to their fall;
Dismiss the nurselings thou dost tend;
  I hear another, closer call.
’Tis I, thy Guardian, give thee word,        5
  Thy Bridegroom seeketh thee, O sweet!
Thy Bridegroom comes,—His step I heard—
  Within thy chamber thee to meet.’
‘Another day, another time!
  ’Tis pleasant in the outer room;       10
I love the airy summer clime,
  And not the inner chamber’s gloom.
And this year’s roses will not come
  Again; but betwixt us the bond
Is fixed, and fast, and wearisome;       15
  For one is fickle, one is fond.’
‘Come to thy chamber, for He stands
  Tearful, and seeking only thee;
With ravished eyes, and outstretched hands,
  And He commands resistlessly.       20
Come to thy chamber, though it be
  Narrow, and dark, and full of pain;
He paid a heavy price for thee,
  And can He let thee go again?’
‘My Bridegroom’s bed is cold and hard,       25
  My Bridegroom’s kiss is ice and fire,
My Bridegroom’s clasp is iron-barred,
  I am consumed in His desire:
My Bridegroom’s touch is as a sword
  That pierces every nerve and limb;       30
“Depart from me,” I moan, “O Lord!”
  All the night long I spend with Him.’
‘Oh! heart of woman holdeth not
  The passion of His love for thee;
He sees thee perfect, without spot,       35
  Crowned with celestial jewelry.
The doors of Heaven could not hold
  His feet from hasting to thy side;
The ardours of the Suns are cold
  To His for thee, His hard-won bride.’       40
‘Rather am I His bondmaiden,
  Compelled by law and not by love.
Oh, would I were enfranchised; then
  With wings of silver, like a dove—
Then would I flee, past heaven’s far bound,       45
  The unendurable embrace;
Then would I hide in earth’s profound
  From the strange terror of His Face!’
‘Enter, to keep thy Bridegroom’s tryst!
  Liking or loth I thee have led:       50
He is thine own, albeit He wist
  That thy half-hearted love was dead.
What though His Bride with Him must share
  A couch of thorns without repose?
Thousands this moment death would dare       55
  To know one word of all she knows.’
‘I pine, on haunted hills to muse,
  To face the open sunrise skies;
I pine for friends that I might choose;
  I pine for little children’s eyes;       60
For free and fearless limbs—to move
  Breasting the wave, breasting the breeze:
But jealous love is cruel love,
  And He denies me all of these.’
‘Child, take thy roses, take thy toys,       65
  Take back thy life and liberty;
Thy days shall flow in simple joys,
  And undisturbed thy nights shall be.
Thy Bridegroom does thee no more wrong,
  Poor child, the victim of His Heart:       70
Look but on Him once more,—one long
  Last look, and then from Him depart.
‘Farewell—one look. But oh! this lone
  Bare desert, where I might be free!
Thy Face I see—Thy Face, my own,       75
  And naught in heaven or earth but Thee!
But O my Lord, my Life, my Love,
  Thou knowest all my weakness best;
Take back into the ark Thy dove,
  And comfort me upon Thy breast!’       80



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