Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
A Nuptial Eve
 
Sydney Dobell (1824–74)
 
 
OH, happy, happy maid,
In the year of war and death
She wears no sorrow!
By her face so young and fair,
By the happy wreath        5
That rules her happy hair,
She might be a bride to-morrow!
She sits and sings within her moonlit bower,
Her moonlit bower in rosy June,
Yet ah, her bridal breath,        10
Like fragrance from some sweet night-blowing flower,
Moves from her moving lips in many a mournful tune!
She sings no song of love’s despair,
She sings no lover lowly laid,
No fond peculiar grief        15
Has ever touched or bud or leaf
Of her unblighted spring.
She sings because she needs must sing;
She sings the sorrow of the air
Whereof her voice is made.        20
That night in Britain howsoe’er
On any chords the fingers stray’d
They gave the notes of care.
Long since in some pale shade
Of some far twilight told,        25
She knows not when or where,
She sings, with trembling hand on trembling lute-strings laid:—
 
  The murmur of the mourning ghost
    That keeps the shadowy kine
  “Oh, Keith of Ravelston,        30
    The sorrows of thy line!”
 
  Ravelston, Ravelston,
    The merry path that leads
  Down the golden morning hill,
    And thro’ the silver meads;        35
 
  Ravelston, Ravelston,
    The stile beneath the tree,
  The maid that kept her mother’s kine,
    The song that sang she!
 
  She sang her song, she kept her kine,        40
    She sat beneath the thorn
  When Andrew Keith of Ravelston
    Rode thro’ the Monday morn;
 
  His henchmen sing, his hawk-bells ring,
    His belted jewels shine!        45
  Oh, Keith of Ravelston,
    The sorrows of thy line!
 
  Year after year, where Andrew came,
    Comes evening down the glade,
  And still there sits a moonshine ghost        50
    Where sat the sunshine maid.
 
  Her misty hair is faint and fair,
    She keeps the shadowy kine;
  Oh, Keith of Ravelston,
    The sorrows of thy line!        55
 
  I lay my hand upon the stile,
    The stile is lone and cold,
  The burnie that goes babbling by
    Says nought that can be told.
 
  Yet, stranger! here, from year to year,        60
    She keeps her shadowy kine;
  Oh, Keith of Ravelston,
    The sorrows of thy line!
 
  Step out three steps, where Andrew stood—
    Why blanch thy cheeks for fear?        65
  The ancient stile is not alone,
    ’T is not the burn I hear!
 
  She makes her immemorial moan,
    She keeps her shadowy kine;
  Oh, Keith of Ravelston,        70
    The sorrows of thy line!
 

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