Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1034. The Handsel Ring
 
By George Houghton
 
 
“HERE, O lily-white lady mine,
Here by thy warrior sire’s own shrine,
Handsel I thee by this golden sign,
        This sunshiny thing.”
Weeping she reached her hand so slim,        5
Smiled, though her eyes were wet and dim,
Saying: “I swear, by Heaven, by him,
        And by this handsel ring!”
 
But as she bended her eyes abashed,
Out of his fingers the jewel flashed,        10
On the gray flags of the kirk it clashed,
        That treacherous thing;
Clashed, and bounded, and circled, and sped,
Till through a crevice it flamed and fled,—
Down in the tomb of the knightly dead        15
        Darted the handsel ring.
 
“Matters not, darling! Ere day be o’er,
Goldsmiths shall forge for thy hands a score;
Let not thy heart be harried and sore
        For a little thing!”        20
“Nay! but behold what broodeth there!
See the cold sheen of his silvery hair!
Look how his eyeballs roll and stare,
        Seeking thy handsel ring!”
 
“I see nothing, my precious, my own!        25
’T is a black vision that sorrow hath sown;
Haste, let us hence, for dark it hath grown,
        And moths are on wing.”
“Nay, but his shrunken fist, behold,
Looses his lance-hilt and scatters the mould!        30
What is that his long fingers hold?
        Christ! ’t is our handsel ring!”
 
And when the bridegroom bends over her,
Neither the lips nor the eyelids stir;
Naught to her, now, but music and myrrh,—        35
        Needless his handsel ring.
 

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