Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SUTTEE, by LYDIA HUNTLEY SIGOURNEY

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THE SUTTEE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: She sat upon the pile by her dead lord
Last Line: That burning mother's scream.
Subject(s): Mothers; Nature; Soul; War

She sat upon the pile by her dead lord,
And in her full, dark eye, and shining hair
Youth revell'd. -- The glad murmur of the crowd
Applauding her consent to the dread doom,
And the hoarse chanting of infuriate priests
She heeded not, for her quick ear had caught
An infant's wail. -- Feeble and low that moan,
Yet it was answer'd in her heaving heart,
For the Mimosa in its shrinking fold
From the rude pressure, is not half so true,
So tremulous, as is a mother's soul
Unto her wailing babe. -- There was such wo
In her imploring aspect, -- in her tones
Such thrilling agony, that even the hearts
Of the flame-kindlers soften'd, and they laid
The famish'd infant on her yearning breast.
There with his tear-wet cheek he lay and drew
Plentiful nourishment from that full fount
Of infant happiness, -- and long he prest
With eager lip the chalice of his joy. --
And then his little hands he stretch'd to grasp
His mother's flower-wove tresses, and with smile
And gay caress embraced his bloated sire, --
As if kind Nature taught that innocent one
With fond delay to cheat the hour which seal'd
His hopeless orphanage. -- But those were near
Who mock'd such dalliance, as that Spirit malign
Who twined his serpent length mid Eden's bowers
Frown'd on our parents' bliss. -- The victim mark'd
Their harsh intent, and clasp'd the unconscious babe
With such convulsive force, that when they tore
His writhing form away, the very nerves
Whose deep-sown fibres rack the inmost soul
Uprooted seem'd. --
With voice of high command
Tossing her arms, she bade them bring her son, --
And then in maniac rashness sought to leap
Among the astonish'd throng. -- But the rough cord
Compress'd her slender limbs, and bound her fast
Down to her loathsome partner. -- Quick the fire
In showers was hurl'd upon the reeking pile; --
But yet amid the wild, demoniac shout
Of priest and people, mid the thundering yell
Of the infernal gong, -- was heard to rise
Thrice a dire death-shriek. -- And the men who stood
Near the red pile and heard that fearful cry,
Call'd on their idol-gods, and stopp'd their ears,
And oft amid their nightly dream would start
As Frighted Fancy echoed in her cell
That burning mother's scream.

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