At the wheel plied Mariline,
Beauteous and self-serene,
Never dreaming of that mien
Fit for lady or for queen.
Never sang she, but her words,
Music-laden, swept the chords
Of the heart, that eagerly
Stored the subtle melody,
Like the honey in the bee;
Never spake, but showed that she
Held the golden master-key
That unlocked all sympathy
Pent in souls where Feeling glows,
Like the perfume in the rose,
Like her own innate repose,
Like the whiteness in the snows.
Richly thoughted Mariline!
Nature's heiress! - nature's queen!
By her side, with liberal look,
Paused a student o'er a book,
Wielder of a shepherd's crook,
Reveller by grove and brook:
Hunter-up of musty tomes,
Worshipper of deathless poems:
Lover of the true and good,
Hater of sin's evil brood,
Votary of solitude,
Man, of mind-like amplitude.
With exalted eye serene
Gazed he on fair Mariline.
Swifter whirled the busy wheel,
Piled the thread upon the reel -
Saw she not his spirit kneel,
Praying for her after-weal?
Like the wife of Collatine,
Busily spun Mariline.
Hour by hour, and day by day,
Sang the maid her roundelay;
Hour by hour, and day by day,
Spun her threads of white and gray.
While the shepherd-student held
Commune with the great of eld:
Pondered on their wondrous words,
While he watched his scattered herds,
While he stemmed the surging fords.
And he knew the lore of birds,
Learned the secrets of the rills,
Conversed with the answering hills.
Like her threads of white and gray,
Passed their mingled Eves away,
One unceasing roundelay -
Winter came, it still was May!
When the spring smiled, opening up
Pink-lipped flower and acorn cup;
When the summer waked the rose
In the scented briar boughs;
When the earth, with painless throes,
Bore her golden autumn rows -
Field on field of grain, that pressed,
Childlike, to her fruitful breast -
When hale winter wrapped his form
In the mantle of the storm,
Tamed the bird, and chilled the worm,
Stopped the pulse that thrilled the germ;
As the seasons went and came,
One in heart, and hope, and aim,
Cheered they each the other on,
Where was labor to be done,
At day-break or set of sun,
Like two thoughts that merge in one.
Dignified, and soul-serene,
Busily spun Mariline.
Brightly broke the summer morn,
Like a lark from out the corn, -
Broke like joy just newly born
From the depths of woe forlorn, -
Broke with grateful songs of birds,
Lowings of well-pastured herds;
Hailed by childhood's happy looks,
Cheered by anthems of the brooks -
Chants beyond the lore of books -
Cawing crows, instead of rooks.
Glowed the heavens - rose the sun,
Mariline was up, for one.
Like a chatterer tongue-tied,
Lo, the wheel is placed aside! -
Not from indolence or pride -
Mariline must be a Bride!
Fairest maid of maids terrene!
Bride of Brides, dear Mariline!
Up the meditative air
Passed the smoke-wreaths, white and fair,
Like the spirit of the prayer
Mariline now offered there:
Passed behind the cottage eaves,
Curling through the maple leaves:
Through the pines and old elm trees,
Belies of past centuries,
Hardy oaks, that never breeze
Humbled to their gnarly knees:
Forest lords, beneath whose sheen
Flowers bloomed for Mariline.
Round the cottage, fresh and green,
Climbed the vine, the scarlet bean,
Morning-glories peeped between,
Looking out for Mariline.
Odours never felt before
Tranced the locust at the door,
Vieing with the mignonette
Bound the garden parapet,
Whose rare fragrances were met
By rich perfumes, rarer yet,
Stealing from the garden walks,
Sentineled with hollyhocks.
What a heaven the cottage seemed!
Love's own temple, where Faith dreamed
Of the coming years that beamed
On them, as pale stars have gleamed
Through unnavigated seas,
To which the prophetic breeze
Whispered of a future day,
When swift fleets would urge their way,
Through the waters cold and gray,
Like the dolphins at their play.
There the future Bride, and he,
Prince of love's knight-errantry,
Whose good shepherd arms must hold
This pet yeanling of the fold,
Gift of God so long foretold,
Gift beyond the price of gold.
There the parents, aged and hale,
Passing down life's autumn vale,
With a joy as rare and true
As their daughter's eye of blue,
With such hopes as reach up to
Heaven's gate, when, passing through,
Peris, bound for higher skies,
Win the Celestial Paradise.
Thoughtfully stood Mariline,
Whitely veiled, and soul-serene;
Love's fair world for her demesne,
Never looked she more a queen -
With her maidens by her side,
Smiling on the coming bride.
Her pet lamb, with comic mirth,
Licked her hand and scampered forth;
The fine sheep-dog, on the hearth,
Kindly eyed her for her worth.
Up the air, across the moor,
As they left the cottage door,
Chimed the merry village-hells,
Music-wrapt the neighbouring fells,
Stirred the heart's awakened cells,
Like fine strains from fairy dells.
Past the orchard, down the lane,
By fresh wavy fields of grain,
By the brook, that told its love
To the pasture, glen, and grove -
Sacred haunts, that well could prove
Vows enregistered above.
By the restless mill, where stood,
Bowing in his amplest mood,
The old miller, hat in hand,
Rich in goodness, rich in land,
On whose features, grave and bland,
Glowed a blessing for the band.
Through the village, where, behind
Many a half-uplifted blind,
Eyes, that might have lit the skies
Of Mahomet's Paradise,
Flashed behind the curtains' dyes,
With a cheerful, half-surprise.
Through the village, underneath,
Many a blooming flower-wreath,
Garlanding the arches green
Beared in honour of the queen
Of this day of days serene,
Day of days to Mariline.
To the church, whose cheering bells
Told the tale in music-swells -
Told it to the country wide,
With an earnest kind of pride -
Something not to be denied -
"Mariline must be a Bride!"
Up the aisle with solemn pace,
Meeting God there, face to face.
Never Bride more chaste or fair
Stood before His altar there,
Her ripe heart aflame with prayer,
Blessing Him for all His care:
Every earthly promise given,
Registered with joy in heaven.
From the galleries looked down,
Village belle and country clown,
Men with honest labour brown,
Far removed from mart or town:
Smiling with a zealous pride
On the shepherd and his bride -
Playmates of their early days;
For their walks in wisdom's ways,
Ever crowned with honoured bays
Of esteem and ardent praise.
Well done, servant of the Lord!
Grave expounder of His Word,
Who in distant Galilee
Graced the marriage feast, that He,
With all due solemnity,
Might commission such as thee
To do likewise, and unite
Souls like these in marriage plight.
With what manly, gentle pride,
The glad Shepherd clasps his Bride!
Love like theirs, so true and tried,
Ever true love must abide!
Ye whose souls are strong and firm,
In whom love's electric germ
Has been fanned into a flame
At the mention of a name;
Ye whose souls are still the same
As when first the Victor came,
Stinging every nerve to life,
In the beatific strife,
Till the man's divinest part
Ruled triumphant in the heart,
And, with shrinking, sudden start,
The bleak old world stood apart,
Periling the wild Ideal
By the presence of the Real:
Ye, and ye alone, can know
How these twain souls burn and glow,
Can interpret every throe
Of the full heart's overflow,
That imparts that light serene
To the brow of Mariline.