Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
On a Very Old Wedding Ring
By George Washington Doane (1790–1859)
        The device—two hearts united.
The motto—“Dear love of mine, my heart is thine.”

I LIKE that ring, that ancient ring
  Of massive form, and virgin gold
As firm, as free from base alloy,
  As were the sterling hearts of old.
I like it—for it wafts me back,        5
  Far, far along the stream of time,
To other men, and other days,
  The men and days of deeds sublime.
But most I like it as it tells
  The tale of well-requited love;        10
How youthful fondness persevered
  And youthful faith disdain’d to rove;—
How warmly he his suit preferr’d,
  Though she, unpitying, long denied,
Till, softened and subdued, at last,        15
  He won his fair and blooming bride;—
How, till the appointed day arrived,
  They blamed the lazy-footed hours;—
How then the white-robed maiden train
  Strew’d their glad way with freshest flowers;—        20
And how, before the holy man,
  They stood in all their youthful pride,
And spoke those words, and vow’d those vows
  Which bind the husband to his bride;
All this it tells;—the plighted troth,        25
  The gift of every earthly thing,
The hand in hand, the heart in heart—
  For this I like that ancient ring.
I like its old and quaint device;
  Two blended hearts—though time may wear them,        30
No mortal change, no mortal chance,
  “Till death,” shall e’er in sunder tear them.
Year after year, ’neath sun and storm,
  Their hopes in heaven, their trust in God,
In changeless, heartfelt, holy love,        35
  These two, the world’s rough pathways trod.
Age might impair their youthful fires,
  Their strength might fail, ’mid life’s bleak weather,
Still, hand in hand, they travell’d on,—
  Kind souls! they slumber now together.        40
I like its simple posy too;
  “Mine own dear love, this heart is thine!”
Thine, when the dark storm howls along,
  As when the cloudless sunbeams shine.
“This heart is thine, mine own dear love!”        45
  Thine, and thine only, and for ever;
Thine, till the springs of life shall fail—
  Thine, till the chords of life shall sever
Remnant of days departed long,
  Emblem of plighted troth unbroken,        50
Pledge of devoted faithfulness,
  Of heartfelt, holy love, the token—
What varied feelings round it cling!
For these, I like that ancient ring.

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