Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NUPTIAL ODE ON THE MARRIAGE OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF WALES, by WILLIAM EDMONSTOUNE AYTOUN



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NUPTIAL ODE ON THE MARRIAGE OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF WALES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Pass from the earth,deep shadows of the night
Last Line: And holiest silence seal the marriage night!
Alternate Author Name(s): Bon Gaultier (with Theodore Martin)
Subject(s): Courts & Courtiers; Edward Vii, King Of England (1841-1910); England; Wedding Song; Royal Court Life; Royalty; Kings; Queens; English; Epithalamium


I

PASS from the earth, deep shadows of the night,
Give place and vantage to the rosy dawn;
For now the sullen Winter takes his flight,
His dreary robes withdrawn:
Coy as a maiden moves the wavering Spring
With dainty step across the emerald lawn,
Her tresses fair with primrose garland plight.
Hark! how the woods and bursting thickets ring
With the glad notes of love and welcoming;
The twitter of delight, the restless call
Of myriad birds that hold their festival
When leaves begin to sprout and flowers to blow.
'O joyous time!' 'tis thus I hear them sing,
Each to its mate upon the burgeoning spray, --
'O happy time! Winter hath pass'd away,
Cold, rugged Winter, with its storms and snow,
And all the sadness of the shorten'd year.
Be glad -- be glad! the pleasant days are near,
The days of mirth, and love, and joy supreme,
The long-expected days for which we pined!
Flow on, for ever flow, thou wandering stream,
Through tangled brakes, and thickets fast entwined
With the lithe woodbine, and the clambering rose!
For thee there is no rest;
But we shall build our nest
In some dim coppice where the violet blows;
And thou shalt sing to us the livelong night,
When hush'd, and still, and folded in delight,
We pass from waking rapture to repose!'

II

So, -- while hoar Winter stumbles from the field,
Like some old tyrant, baffled and aghast,
Who, palsy-stricken, yet most loath to yield,
Points with malignant finger to the past --
Lay we the sombre weeds of mourning by,
And hail the advent of the genial sun,
No longer overcast
By woeful clouds that with their curtain dun,
And evil-omen'd pall,
Made dark the year of our calamity.
O ruthless year! sad and unblest to all;
Most fraught with anguish to the heart of One,
Who evermore shall mourn,
Reft of her lord, her lover, and her stay!
In awe and silence veil that sacred urn,
Quit the dim vault, and pass into the day!
Not ours with impious plaint to censure doom,
Or murmur, when we rather need to pray.
'GOD call'd His servant home -- HIS will be done!'
What more can mortals say?
Enough of tears are shed;
Unmeasured wailing desecrates the dead,
And vain repining but profanes the tomb!

III

Yet let the Muse with trembling fingers try
To frame a verse for him so early lost.
Good deeds immortal are -- they cannot die;
Unscathed by envious blight or withering frost
They live, and bud, and bloom; and men partake
Still of their freshness, and are strong thereby.
He who, inspired by charity and love,
Such deeds hath wrought, and for the Saviour's sake,
Hath endless glory in the realms above.
His place is now with that exalted host
Who, born to greatness, wasted not their power
In selfish luxury or idle boast,
But trod the path of wise humility.
Therefore assured already is his fame;
Therefore nor pyramid nor stately tower
Can add more honour to our ALBERT's name.
High were his thoughts, and holy was his aim
To raise and bless the people of the land:
By peaceful arts to consecrate the toil
Of those who, labouring on our English soil,
Obey in patience GOD's supreme command,
With that allegiance which becomes the free.
Then rest, embalm'd for ever, noble heart,
By all our loves; for sainted though thou art,
Our fond remembrance still reverts to thee!

IV

Oh, Royal Lady! honour'd and most dear,
Whose bitter woe no human tongue can tell, --
For whom, while bending o'er that piteous bier,
From eyes unused to weep, the tear-drops fell!
For whom a nation's prayer went up to heaven --
For whom it yet arises night and day --
Deem not our sorrow cold nor insincere
For the high welcome given
On this auspicious morning to thy son,
Our hope, our darling Prince, our joy, our pride,
And to the blooming bride,
The fair young stranger he has woo'd and won.

V

Rejoice, brave England, through thy fertile plains,
Thy stately cities and ancestral halls,
Thy humbler homes where peace with plenty reigns,
Thy shores that, firmer far than massiest walls,
Defy the foeman and engird the free!
Old land of worship, loyalty, and fame,
Let every voice unite in glad acclaim
To swell the chorus of our jubilee!
Awake the echoes that have slumber'd long,
Or answer'd faintly to another hail;
Awake them with the shout that, loud and strong,
Rang out from cliff to cliff when, sheath'd in mail,
Victorious EDWARD trod the English shore,
Fresh from the wars in France, with nobler spoil
Than ever conquering captain home did bring.
Then myriad voices rose in glad turmoil --
'THE PRINCE! THE PRINCE!' they cried; and ever more
Swell'd up the shout like ocean's gathering roar,
And burst in deluge of delirious joy;
The while, with modest grace, the hero-boy
Bare-headed rode beside the captive King!

VI

But happier days have dawn'd upon us now:
No longer rings the clangour of the fight;
No more the balefire on the mountain brow
Sends up its ruddy signal to the night;
No huge Armadas vex the narrow seas,
No angry navies thunder on the tide;
But friendly ensigns flutter in the breeze,
And barks unchallenged o'er the waters glide.
We hail'd our Prince, returning not from war
With blood-stain'd trophies wrench'd from hostile hand;
His badge of triumph was the peaceful palm,
Fresh gather'd from the Eastern emblem tree;
For he hath journey'd to the Holy Land,
And wander'd o'er its blessed hills of balm;
Hath bent before the Saviour's tomb the knee,
Drank of the Jordan's stream, and seen afar,
In stillest night, when all was hush'd and calm,
'Neath Syrian skies, the lustrous evening star
Shine in the dark expanse of Galilee.

VII

Welcome wert thou, young pilgrim, to thy home,
But higher welcome England gives to-day;
For now the long-expected hour has come;
And, in its bright array,
Moves to the altar-steps the bridal train.
O happy, happy they --
That fond and loving pair!
The princely bridegroom and his peerless bride,
So beautiful and fair.
He, England's royal son and stateliest heir,
She, daughter of the far-descended Dane.
And now the knot is tied --
The marriage-vows are ta'en;
No longer are they twain,
And nought but death shall ever them divide!

VIII

Blest be the hour! Proclaim it to the hills,
Let the loud cannon thunder forth our glee;
O'er mountains, rivers, plains, and rocks, and rills,
Speed the glad signal, speed it fast and free!
Behold! it leaps along with lightning glance,
Peal after peal in verberating roar,
From Dover rolling to the coast of France,
From Mona's isle to Erin's answering shore.
As starting swift from some oblivious trance,
Each fortress thunders, and each cliff replies;
Each lesser height prolongs the loud refrain.
Wide through the land the joyful message flies;
From where the hoary heap of Tintagell,
Great Arthur's hold, frowns o'er the western main,
To that huge buttress of the northern seas
Smote by the Pentland's swell,
Whence, dimly seen through tempest and through rain,
Loom far away the stormy Orcades.

IX

Not silent wilt thou bide, impetuous Wales!
Old hero-land, whose name, so proudly borne
By that young Prince, rings o'er the world to-day.
Still glows the ancient fire within thy dales,
Still lives the magic of Llewellyn's lay;
Then, on this gracious morn,
Let the wild rapture of the harp be heard;
And bid the Cymric bard
His highest notes essay;
For never surely did a happier theme
Melt into music in a minstrel's dream.

X

Loud as the rush of waters when the snow
Has left the summit of the mountains bare,
And the freed cataracts in thunder throw
The weight of winter through the quaking air,
Down to the gulfs that yawn and boil beneath --
So Scotland lifts her voice,
And with unbated breath
Bids all her sons rejoice.
Hearty and true the answer -- Joy to thee,
Heir of the BRUCE, great joy! Our feast is spread:
Yet ah, we lack the ornament and head
That should have crown'd the measure of our glee!
Take then our greeting; but the day will come
When we, with transport of tumultuous pride,
Shall welcome fondly to their northern home
Our princely chieftain and his blooming bride.
O quickly, quickly glide
On wings of love till then, celestial hours!
Swift be your flight; and when the summer spreads
Her carpet on the meads,
Strewn with the garniture of odorous flowers;
When glows with purple every mountain-side,
And the still lakes receive
In the vast mirror of their waters wide
The blush and glory of the crimson eve --
A louder, wilder cheer
Shall burst upon the ear,
And shouts of triumph herald to the sky,
The long exulting cry --
'Be joyful, ancient land, for Scotland's Prince is here!

XI

Come, Erin, come, and join the sister band!
Make the strong union of our loves complete;
Perfect as THEIRS, who, clasping hand to hand,
With guileless lips the sacred vows repeat;
And by that pledge so excellent and sweet
Bind kindred nations closer yet to stand.
Ring out the bells! Let every face be gay
To welcome this our royal holiday;
Be there no dull or lumpish laggarts here,
To vex our honest cheer,
But cast all care and dolorous thoughts away!
Begin the nuptial song;
The joyous strain prolong!
We'll drink, whate'er betide,
To bridegroom and to bride --
Fill high the cup, and let the health go round!
Then shout for joy amain --
Shout, till the rafters overhead resound,
For such a day as this ye shall not see again!

XII

O happy times, when iron-visaged war
Like a maim'd giant in his dungeon lies,
No more to urge along his creaking car
'Midst women's shrieks, and children's frighted cries!
O happy days, where peace and love combine
To rule the nations with benignant sway;
When prosperous planets ever nightly shine,
And hope awakens with the dawn of day!
Not such was England in the times of yore.
Back roll the years, as roll the clouds away --
And lo, the vision of a shelving shore!
Black ships are tossing on the surfy bay --
Thick on the strand the uncouth warriors swarm,
Stalwart and fierce, in terrible array --
See! in their van the grim Berserkars bear
The Raven banner flapping in the air --
They climb the cliffs! Arm, men of England, arm!
Rush to the fight, be resolute and bold!
No wandering pirates muster on the plain,
No puny foemen threat the Saxon hold --
Strike for your lives and homes! It is the conquering Dane!

XIII

Sons of the valiant dead!
Whose fathers Hengist led
What time the scatter'd Britons fled afar --
Vain is your boasted might;
Ye cannot win the fight,
Nor stem the torrent of that furious war.
The Danish sword hath cleft the Saxon shield,
And rank with slaughter is the trampled fen.
Few take to flight, and fewer yet will yield,
But none will strike for England's cause again.
Night settles down, and lo, the sky is red,
Gleaming from east to west with smothering fires;
The convents kindle, and the lofty spires
Of churches blaze; above the cloister'd dead
Crash down the roofs, and many a fane expires!

XIV

Then desolation lords it o'er the land;
Fell rapine stalks abroad; and who shall keep
The timorous flock, or brutal rage withstand,
When prowl the hungry wolves around the sheep?
Where is the shepherd -- ALFRED, where is he?
Where hides the king in this disastrous hour?
Behold yon hut in lonely Athelney,
The haunt and refuge of the baited boor!
There lurks the Saxon monarch with the poor,
In servile weeds, crouch'd by a squalid hearth;
Yet not forgetful of his royal birth,
And taught by stern misfortune to endure.
Again the trumpet sounds -- the Saxons throng;
The Cross, dishonour'd late, is rear'd on high;
And thousands, madden'd by their country's wrong,
Swear the deep oath, to conquer or to die.
Ravens of Denmark! Does that boding cry
Predict a triumph or a foul defeat?
Dark sweep the clouds across an angry sky;
Dashes the rain, and pelts the blinding sleet;
The thunder bellows, and the lightning glares,
But aye the bickering blade
Cleaves the strong helm, and through the corslet shares.
The Danesman's march is stay'd --
Stay'd! Call ye that a stay? The staggering host,
Like their own ships by screaming tempest tost,
Waver and break -- Make in! the day's our own!
Again night settles on the fated field --
The Saxon sword is red,
Hewn is the Danish shield.
The Cross triumphant waves above his head,
And English ALFRED hath his kingdom won!

XV

Depart, ye shadows of the olden time!
Faint as the forms in weird Agrippa's glass,
Evoked from Hades by enchanted rhyme,
Like vapour melting into air, they pass.
No dark fantastic vision of the night
Now casts its glamour o'er the gazer's eye.
Fair as a poet's dream, serenely bright,
Veiled in the charm of maiden modesty,
The Rose of Denmark comes, the royal Bride!
O loveliest Rose! our paragon and pride,
Choice of the Prince whom England holds so dear --
What homage shall we pay
To one who has no peer?
What can the bard or wilder'd minstrel say
More than the peasant, who, on bended knee,
Breathes from his heart an earnest prayer for thee?
Words are not fair, if that they would express
Is fairer still; so lovers in dismay.
Stand all abash'd before that loveliness
They worship most, but find no words to pray.
Too sweet for incense! Take our loves instead,
Most freely, truly, and devoutly given;
Our prayers for blessings on that gentle head,
For earthly happiness and rest in Heaven!
May never sorrow dim those dovelike eyes,
But peace as pure as reigned in Paradise,
Calm and untainted on creation's eve,
Attend thee still! May holy angels keep
Watch o'er thy path, and guard thee in thy sleep!
Long years of joy and mutual love be thine,
And all that mortals ask or can receive
Of benediction from the Hand Divine!

XVI

Most happy Prince! who such a priceless gem
Hast set within thy royal diadem;
Heir of illustrious kings, what words can tell
The joy that fills the nation's heart this day!
If the fond wish of those who love thee well
Could call down blessings; as the bounteous May
Showers blossom on the turf -- as ocean spray
Flies glittering o'er the rocks -- as summer rain
Falls sweetly soft on some sequestered dell,
Bidding the languid herb revive again --
Then never surely Prince were blest like thee!
For in thy gentle nature well we see
The manhood, worth, and valour of thy sires,
Temper'd with such a winsome nobleness
(The glow without the rage of bickering fires),
That shame it were and sin to love thee less.
And though no human hand can lift the veil
Of the dark future, or unfold the page
Of that most awful book, wherein the tale,
To be accomplish'd. of the coming age
Stands in eternal characters of doom --
Though no prophetic voices from the tomb,
Or mystic oracles of dim presage,
Can tell us what shall be -- our trust is high,
Yea, in the Highest! HE will be thy shield,
Thy strength, thy stay, though all the world combine.
Believing that, we fear no enemy:
No foreign war, nor treason unreveal'd,
Can shake thy house, or mar thy royal line:
Dread none, great Prince; our hearts and loves are thine!

XVII

Cease then, my strain! too weak, perchance, and rude,
To be the descant on a theme so sweet;
A sorry tribute, though the will be good,
This day of highest festival to greet,
When Youth and Beauty at the altar meet,
And all the land is ringing with acclaim.
Unequal as thou art and incomplete,
What haughty tongue shall censure thee or blame,
Since lowliest gifts with richest offerings vie?
Cease and be done! For lo, the western sky
Is purpling down to darkness, and the glare
Of myriad lamps is flashing in the air,
And on the distant hills the bonfires blaze.
Swift stars rush upwards with a fiery train,
Dispersed in clusters of effulgent rays,
And meteors bursting into golden rain.
So gleams the startled firmament: but soon
Supreme in heaven shall glide the tranquil moon,
All meaner fires eclipsed. On plain and hill
She sheds her peaceful light --
Hushed be each irksome noise; let all be still;
And holiest silence seal the marriage night!





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