Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
Ballad of a Bridal
Edith Nesbit Bland (b. 1858)
“OH, fill me flagons full and fair,
  Of red wine and of white,
And, maidens mine, my bower prepare,
  It is my wedding night!
“Braid up my hair with gem and flower,        5
  And make me fair and fine,
The day has dawned that brings the hour
  When my desire is mine!”
They decked her bower with roses blown,
  With rushes strewed the floor,        10
And sewed more jewels on her gown
  Than ever she wore before.
She wore two roses in her face,
  Two jewels in her e’en;
Her hair was crowned with sunset rays,        15
  Her brows shone white between.
“Tapers at the bed’s foot,” she saith,
  “Two tapers at the head!”
(It seemed more like the bed of death
  Than like a bridal bed.)        20
He came. He took her hands in his:
  He kissed her on the face:
“There is more heaven in thy kiss
  Than in Our Lady’s grace!”
He kissed her once, he kissed her twice,        25
  He kissed her three times o’er,
He kissed her brow, he kissed her eyes,
  He kissed her mouth’s red flower.
“Oh, love! What is it ails thy knight?
  I sicken and I pine—        30
Is it the red wine or the white,
  Or that sweet kiss of thine?”
“No kiss, no wine or white or red
  Can make such sickness be:—
Lie down and die on thy bride-bed,        35
  For I have poisoned thee!
“And though the curse of saints and men
  Be for the deed on me,
I would it were to do again,
  Since thou wert false to me!        40
“Thou shouldst have loved or one or none,
  Nor she nor I loved twain;
But we are twain thou hast undone,
  And therefore art thou slain.
“And when before my God I stand,        45
  With no base flesh between,
I shall hold up my guilty hand,
  And He shall judge it clean!”
He fell across the bridal bed,
  Between the tapers pale.        50
“I, first, shall see our God”—he said,
  “And I will tell thy tale;
“And, if God judge thee as I do
  Then art thou justified:
I loved thee, and I was not true,        55
  And that was thy I died.
“If I might judge thee—thou shouldst be
  First of the saints on high,
But, ah, I fear God loveth thee
  Not half so dear as I!”        60


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