BLACK CAT POEMS
html website builder
Rosa Vertner Jeffrey
Wearily, drearily, mournfully fair,
By a deep river roves young Lilla Clare
At midnight. Oh! why is she wandering there?
Gently the long jetty tresses unfurl,
And veil her white bosom with many a curl,
Like dark waters drifting o'er islands of pearl.
And the fair brow, 'neath their glorious shroud,
Gleams white as yon moon, in his watch-tower proud,
Looking to earth o'er a rampart of cloud,
From her storm-castle, (whose battlement mars
The wondrous flash from night's turret of stars),
Sad as a victim through dull prison bars.
Shivering, quivering, plaintively there,
O'er the swift river comes wailing the air,
Flying in gusts, like wild shrieks of despair.
And 'neath the frost-tinted grove where she stood
Tall, trembling trees dropped their leaves in a flood,--
Crimson leaves, dropping like showers of blood.
As if the lightning had cleft with its dart
One of bright Autumn's full, warm veins apart,
Leaving the rich drops to gush from her heart.
Soon o'er the moon and the stars seem to creep,
Huge inky clouds, like the billows that sweep
Where stately armadas go down in the deep.
But the night's darkness, and winds' dismal wail,
Of her who stands shuddering there in the gale
Tell not, whose eyes look so mournful a tale.
Beautiful, frail, while the storm-cannons boom
Graceful she stands by that river's deep gloom,
Like a Parian vase, by a rain-darkened tomb.
Lamps in yon castle a gay throng reveal,
Floods of soft light through its high windows steal,
And on the night wind, hark! music's loud peal!
See, 'tis a bridal, for there side by side,
Haughty Lord Alfred and fair Effie Clide
Stand to be wedded in beauty and pride.
Scarcely less bright than the coronal there
Gleameth the lustre of Effie's soft hair,
And 'neath rare pearls is her bosom most fair.
Their hands were united; the holy man said,
"Can any find cause why they should not be wed?"
And through the halls a deep silence was shed,
Breathless, oppressive; and then, loud and clear,
Shrieked a voice loudly, "Oh, let me come near,
Lilla, his wife! I am here, I am here!
"Fearfully, tearfully, blushing with pride,
From the gray chapel I come forth his bride.
Lord Alfred, now dare you wed Effie Clide?
"Secret our bridal: ah, weary and sad
My warm heart has grown, once hopeful and glad."
"Away!" cried Lord Alfred, "away, she's mad!"
For lo! in the midst of that company fair,
The rain oozing out from her cloud of black hair,
Cold as a statue stood young Lilla Clare.
To "her mate" she had flown like a storm-beaten dove,
And found him deserting the ark of her love.
Ah! whither now shall her weary wings rove?
Wretched, forsaken, and yet did he say,
"She's mad! away with her!" They turned to obey,
But she swept past them and went on her way,
Mournfully, scornfully. Stern man, hast thou
Forgotten her fondness, thine own solemn vow?
Where hast thou driven that proud victim now?
Fair Effie wept till her perjured lord swore
He never had seen crazy Lilla before.
Then was the priest interrupted no more.
The tempest passed by, and morning did fold
The earth in her vesture of purple and gold,
But in the village the chapel bell tolled.
Dost hear it, Lord Alfred, the haughty and strong,
Where sweepeth thy gay wedding-pageant along?
Dost mark yonder wond'ring and grief-stricken throng
Hard by the river, whose eddies are bright
As dimples adorning a smile of delight?
No voice from its bosom doth tell of last night,
Yet on the rocks where the cataracts bound
In the gray dawn some rude fisherman found
Poor Lilla Clare, broken-hearted and drowned!
poems by Rosa Vertner Jeffrey