Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, JANE OF FRANCE, by EMMA CATHERINE (MANLY) EMBURY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

JANE OF FRANCE, by            
First Line: Pale, cold and statue-like she sate, and her impeded breath
Last Line: But oh! Should his have been the hand to wield the avenging rod?
Alternate Author Name(s): Ianthe
Subject(s): France

PALE, 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 robbed 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,
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;
But soon her o'erfraught heart gave way, tears came to her relief,
And thus, in low and plaintive tones, she breathed her hopeless grief:

"Oh! ever have I dreaded this, since at the holy shrine
My trembling hand first felt the cold, reluctant grasp of thme,
And yet I hoped -- My own beloved, how may I teach my heart
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 dreamed the hour might yet arrive, when, sick of passion's strife,
Thy heart would turn with quiet joy to thy neglected wife.

"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 darkened scroll would other thoughts erase
The loathing that was in thine eye, whene'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.

"Woe, woe for woman's weary lot, if beauty be not hers;
Vainly within her gentle breast affection wildly stirs;
And bitterly will she deplore, amid her sick heart's dearth,
The hour that fixed 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
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.

'Yet all this have I borne for thee -- ay, for thy sake I learned
The gentleness of thought and word which once my proud heart spurned;
The treasures of an untouched 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, 'twas mockery of prayer;
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?

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