Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
Jane of France
By Emma C. Embury (1806–1863)
PALE, 1 cold and statue-like she sate, and her impeded breath
Came gaspingly, as if her heart was in the grasp of death,
While listening to the harsh decree that robb’d her of a throne,
And left the gentle child of kings in the wide world alone.
And fearful was her look; in vain her trembling maidens moved,        5
With all affection’s tender care, round her whom well they loved;
Stirless she sate, as if enchained by some resistless spell,
Till with one wild, heart-piercing shriek in their embrace she fell.
How bitter was the hour she woke from that long dreamless trance;
The veriest wretch might pity then the envied Jane of France;        10
But soon her o’erfraught heart gave way, tears came to her relief,
And thus in low and plaintive tones she breath’d her hopeless grief:
“Oh! ever have I dreaded this, since at the holy shrine
My trembling hand first felt the cold, reluctant clasp of thine;
And yet I hoped—My own beloved, how may I teach my heart        15
To gaze upon thy gentle face and know that we must part?
“Too well I knew thou lovedst me not, but ah! I fondly thought
That years of such deep love as mine some change ere this had wrought:
I dream’d the hour might yet arrive, when sick of passion’s strife,
Thy heart would turn with quiet joy to thy neglected wife.        20
“Vain, foolish hope! how could I look upon thy glorious form,
And think that e’er the time might come when thou wouldst cease to charm?
For ne’er till then wilt thou be freed from beauty’s magic art,
Or cease to prize a sunny smile beyond a faithful heart.
“In vain from memory’s darken’d scroll would other thoughts erase        25
The loathing that was in thine eye, where’er it met my face:
Oh! I would give the fairest realm, beneath the all-seeing sun,
To win but such a form as thou mightst love to look upon.
“Wo, wo for woman’s weary lot if beauty be not hers;
Vainly within her gentle breast affection wildly stirs;        30
And bitterly will she deplore, amid her sick heart’s dearth,
The hour that fix’d her fearful doom—a helot from her birth.
“I would thou hadst been cold and stern,—the pride of my high race
Had taught me then from my young heart thine image to efface;
But surely even love’s sweet tones could ne’er have power to bless        35
My bosom with such joy as did thy pitying tenderness.
“Alas! it is a heavy task to curb the haughty soul,
And bid th’ unbending spirit bow that never knew control;
But harder still when thus the heart against itself must rise,
And struggle on, while every hope that nerved the warfare dies.        40
“Yet all this have I borne for thee—aye, for thy sake I learn’d
The gentleness of thought and word which once my proud heart spurn’d;
The treasures of an untouch’d heart, the wealth of love’s rich mine,
These are the offerings that I laid upon my idol’s shrine.
“In vain I breathed my vows to heaven, ’t was mockery of prayer;        45
In vain I knelt before the cross, I saw but Louis there:
To him I gave the worship that I should have paid my God
But oh! should his have been the hand to wield the avenging rod?”
Note 1. Embury (formerly Miss Manly) is of New York. Her poems, published under the name of Ianthe in various periodicals, have lately appeared in a volume. [back]

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