Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WEDDING FEAST: 1, by ANNA HEMPSTEAD BRANCH

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE WEDDING FEAST: 1, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Oh who art thou - thou fearful guest
Last Line: "and we will dart into the sun."
Subject(s): Marriage; Weddings; Husbands; Wives

OH who art thou -- thou fearful guest --
Too burning bright, too strangely fair?
"I am the daemon of unrest,
From the kingdom of the air."
Brightness, I bid thee from my door.
Off! off! I say, with spur and goad!
"I have come, "he cried, "to drive the bride
Over a lonely road."
But where? But where? In earth or air
Where would ye hurry me?
"To a bright place we must repair
Where She would have us be.
"Her power this night is on us both,
And I am sent by Her.
Pale wandering shape, thou shalt obey
Her flaming messenger."
Oh let me be for a single night.
For a single night, lord, let me be.
The torch is lit, the feast is bright,
My love has come to marry me!
"I cannot wait for a single night!
Her voice calls. We must be gone!
Her feast is set with lovelier light
And She is whiter than the sun."
Oh let me be for a mortal hour,
For a mortal hour, lord, let me be,
That I may bring my lover the wine
And that he may break the bread with me.
"I cannot wait for a mortal hour.
Her splendor calls us from afar.
She fain would sup from a living cup
Her radiant hands have lifted up
Like the brightness of a star."
Oh let me be for a breath of time,
For a breath of time, lord, let me be.
I shall run more warm through cold and storm
If my love has given a kiss to me.
"I cannot wait for a breath of time.
There's many a league for us to run,
Through brakes through mire,
Through frost, through fire,
To Her palace of the sun."
What shall I do in her palace bright?
Why should she bid me there?
"Love waits outside Her door to-night
In Her citadel of air.
"Unto Her breast He fain would come,
But Him She will not see,
Unless the bread She sets for Him
Shall of thy body be."
She is a witch, bright as the devil.
She shall not lay her spells on me.
She is a bubble, blown of evil,
Pale foam of an unholy sea.
"She lifts a goblet from her breast.
Like a star She holds it up.
She will not bid Him in to feast
Unless thy soul is in the cup."
Witches' feet shall never tread
From my soul its precious wine.
Her Love shall not go comforted
With holy blood of mine!
"Her lips shall never be the throne
Whereon shall rule Her great Love's kiss
Unless I snatch thee from thine own
And whirl thee through the dark abyss.
"If She lose what She desires
Her sufferings will be more than human.
She is wrought of Heavenly fires,
Greater than any mortal woman.
"She would ravage wide and high,
Dashed from Her orbit out of space.
Meteors should not burn the sky
More than the stars Her face."
Then let her lose and let her bear
Alone her strange and mighty grief.
I will not shed a single tear
To bring her soul relief.
"Thou wilt not? Nay -- beneath Her eyes
Thou art a helpless creature.
She is the music of the skies
And thou art wanton nature."
Is she of the land of faery,
That she should be so brightly cruel,
In a ghostlike palace airy,
Cloud built, set with many a jewel?
Is she charmed and is she spelled?
Is she of magic softly woven?
I will pray to my Lord God.
He shall rule her with his rod,
The way betwixt us twain be cloven.
"She is charmed and She is spelled.
She is not of the land of faery.
Yes -- She is brightly cruel --
Ghostlike, in a palace airy,
Set with stars like many a jewel.
Pray to thy Lord God.
She is of such wild magic woven
He will not rule Her with His rod
Nor shall the road to Her be cloven."
Oh goblin bright, thou fierce-eyed sprite,
I fear thee with thy spur and goad!
"I am Her Will that drives thy flight
On Her appointed road."
But who is she whose magic will
Seems such a fearful thing?
Tell her I rule my kingdom still,
The daughter of a king.
"Thy kingdom is of sea and land,
Unstable as the glittering wind.
She rules thy nature with Her hand
In the kingdom of the mind."
Who is she and what is she,
That I should follow as night the noon?
"She is deeper than the sky
And taller than the fire-white moon.
"The sunsets of the eternal years
Yield unto Her their mellow wines.
The sunrise of all living spheres
Her breast incarnadines."
I hate her that she shines so bright.
I hate her for her elfin dower.
I hate her that she rules this night
With an unearthly power.
Who is she and what is she,
Thou blazing, bright, mysterious elf?
"She is the empress over thee
Thy deep, eternal Self.
"As time from out the skies shall thresh
The stars with all their ancient fires,
She bids me scourge from out thy flesh
The throbbing of its deep desires.
"'Wherefore beware! Wherefore beware!
Her will upon this night be done.
I'll drive thee forth into the air
And we will dart into the sun."

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