Emma: A Ballad

Miss Porden

The song of the birds has awakened the day,
But what tempts fair Emma thus early to stray,
Why that long robe of satin more white than the snow,
Why that veil whose thin folds so transparently flow.

Why shuns she her maidens to wander alone,
And why to the river’s green brink is she gone,
While the light of her eye, and the blush on her cheek,
The hopes and the fears of a virgin bespeak.

’Twas the day that young Edward should make her his bride,
That stream and those meadows their dwelling divide,
Oh! who but her lover his Emma should cheer!
The moment approaches, why is he not here?

How serene was the sky, and how vivid its hue,
Save the light fleecy clouds that gave delight to the blue.
The fragrance of summer breathed soft in the gale,
And clear was the river that ran thro’ the vale.

On its waves of bright purple she fixes her eye.
That bark, ’tis another’s, it passes her by
“Still wont ere expected my Edward to see,
What cause now detains him from rapture and me.”

She look’d to the river, she look’d to the sky
No vessel was near her, and Phoebus was high
But his splendor fell brigth on no quick glancing sail,
That courts, or contends with, the rise of the gale.

She turn’d, and she sought her white robe to adorn,
A Rose that still shone with the dewdrops of morn,
But the thorns pierced the hand that invaded its seat,
And its petals were loosen’d, and fell at her feet.

A gust o’er the face of the river has roll’d,
The sky was o’ercast, and the breezes blew cold,
“Nay! fall not O rain! cease thou tempest, to blow
Nor give to our wedding an omen of woe.

“Alas! as that cloud dimm’d the lustre of day
My heart is oppressed while my Edward’s away,
But the sun shines again the wide prospect to cheer,
And thus I shall revive when my Edward is near.”

But what is that object, so distant and dark?
Her bosom throbb’d high — no it is not his bark,
’Tis a mass of loose weeds that are borne on the tide,
Yet the weeds of the river less heavily glide.

The waves the dark object more rapidly bore,
The current still floated it nearer to shore,
A gust on the river now drives it to land,
The water recoiling, recedes from the strand.

Oh heaven!  ’tis a corpse — yet still nearer she drew,
Still hastes to the object she trembles to view,
Scarce her tottering limbs their sad burthen could bear,
And her heart, and her speech were congeal’d by her fear.

She gazed on the youth, but all over his head,
The weeds of the river their mantle have spread,
She pauses, she dreads the green veil to remove — 
’Tis the face of poor Edward! the face of her love!

Still flush’d from the chase, he was tempted to lave,
But deep was the river, and cold was its wave,
His numb limbs no longer could strive with the tide,
But his heart still beat warm at the thought of his bride.

But how fares sweet Emma! I heard her not shriek,
No tear forced its way down her pale faded cheek,
No! her hands are in agony clasp’d on her head,
And her cold frozen glance is still fixed on the dead.

Would to heaven she could weep! oh how frantic that start!
How convulsive the laugh that now burst from her heart!
She flies from the shore, and her maidens in vain
To Reason or Pleasure would wake her again.

Yet still wander her thoughts on an object so dear,
Now she fancies him faithless, now thinks he is near,
Now deems that to save her from pirates he died,
Now talks of the hour that shall make her his bride.

One morn on the river’s green brink was she seen,
Her step more composed, and her look more serene.
“Oh hark! for the hour of our spousal is near!”
She exclaimed, “My loved Edward, why art thou not here.

“Alas! ’tis the Naiad — I know of her love,
But thought not that Edward thus faithless could prove,
On the breast of the nymph I behold thee recline,
But that breast is less warm and less tender than mine.

“Thou seest not my sorrow, thou know’st not I weep,
But I’ll follow thee love, to the caves of the deep,
For what in thine absence this valley to me,
I come to reclaim thee, or perish with thee.”

She plunged in the water — her maids on the land,
Shriek’d loud, and the boats were push’d off from the strand,
Till evening they sought her, but sought for her in vain,
She sunk in the waves, and arose not again.