Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Bride-song (from The Prince’s Progress)
By Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–1894)
 
DAY is over, the day that wore.
What is this that comes through the door,
The face covered, the feet before?
  This that coming takes his breath;
This Bride not seen, to be seen no more        5
  Save of Bridegroom Death?
 
Veiled figures carrying her
Sweep by yet make no stir;
There is a smell of spice and myrrh,
  A bride-chant burdened with one name;        10
The bride-song rises steadier
  Than the torches’ flame:—
 
“Too late for love, too late for joy,
  Too late, too late!
You loitered on the road too long,        15
  You trifled at the gate:
The enchanted dove upon her branch
  Died without a mate;
The enchanted princess in her tower
  Slept, died, behind the grate;        20
Her heart was starving all this while
  You made it wait.
 
“Ten years ago, five years ago,
  One year ago,
Even then you had arrived in time,        25
  Though somewhat slow;
Then you had known her living face
  Which now you cannot know:
The frozen fountain would have leaped,
  The buds gone on to blow,        30
The warm south wind would have awaked
  To melt the snow.
 
“Is she fair now as she lies?
  Once she was fair;
Meet queen for any kingly king,        35
  With gold-dust on her hair.
Now these are poppies in her locks,
  White poppies she must wear;
Must wear a veil to shroud her face
  And the want graven there:        40
Or is the hunger fed at length,
  Cast off the care?
 
“We never saw her with a smile
  Or with a frown;
Her bed seemed never soft to her,        45
  Though tossed of down;
She little heeded what she wore,
  Kirtle, or wreath, or gown;
We think her white brows often ached
  Beneath her crown,        50
Till silvery hairs showed in her locks
  That used to be so brown.
 
“We never heard her speak in haste;
  Her tones were sweet,
And modulated just so much        55
  As it was meet:
Her heart sat silent through the noise
  And concourse of the street.
There was no hurry in her hands,
  No hurry in her feet;        60
There was no bliss drew nigh to her,
  That she might run to greet.
 
“You should have wept her yesterday,
  Wasting upon her bed:
But wherefore should you weep to-day        65
  That she is dead?
Lo we who love weep not to-day,
  But crown her royal head.
Let be these poppies that we strew,
  Your roses are too red:        70
Let be these poppies, not for you
  Cut down and spread.”
 
 
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