Susanna Blamire

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Bride Cake

from

The Poetical Works of Miss Susanna Blamire, The Muse of Cumberland, ed. by Dr. Henry Lonsdale and Patrick Maxwell

How shall the muse in chinking rhyme impart
The warmth of gratitude that fires my heart,
To thee, my friend, who taught the easy way
To see my destiny as clear as day!
5 Nor need I now, with trembling steps and slow,
To yonder church's porch in terror go;
Or hail pale Cynthia in the coming year,
When first she's seen, and kindly means to hear
Each love's petition, when the kneeling maid
10 Cold ashes pours on her fantastic head,
And there invokes the goddess to unfold
Some scroll of Destiny, by Fates enroll'd,
That names the man, whom bounteous they afford,
To be her lover, husband, fool, or lord;
15 Nor need the Cake of Silence now be made,
And I quite tongue-tied backwards go to bed;
Saint Agnes, why such cruel fasts impose!
I ask thee not one secret to disclose;
Nor shall the apples e'er be pared again
20 To form a letter in my lover's name.
'Tis done! 'tis done! The Bridal Cake declares
The fixed prediction of my happy stars!
Fate lighten'd Fancy with her lucid beams,
And, lo! her shadows glided o'er my dreams, -
25 Sweet dreams inspir'd by tender nuptial ties,
How shall I paint them in their lovely dyes!
How tell Myrinda half the joys I feel,
And all the secrets of my dreams reveal!
Yet shall my pen the arduous task essay,
30 And some faint image to thy mind convey.
When Night's dark curtain clos'd Day's gilded scene,
Wrapt up in gloom and silently serene;
Calm as when Summer-evening's gentle fall
To Contemplation gives the silent call;
35 Calm as that heart devoid of lovers' cares,
That plagues not Hymen with incessant prayers;
Thus clos'd the eve, in which the Fates were kind,
And show'd a presage to my wondering mind.
When every thought of busy day was fled,
40 And the Ring'd Cake lay 'neath my dreaming head;
Sweet sleep exerted all her magic power,
And soon convey'd me to a well-known bower,
Which when I saw, my heart with pleasure thrill'd,
For there sweet Damon oft my eyes beheld.
45 With joy I started, nor approach'd too near,
For Love, I find, is close allied to Fear;
Then view'd the beauties of the lovely scene
Where Fortha glides, that sweet meandering stream,
Where Nature blooms, though far across the Tweed,
50 And opes her treasures in the Scotian mead;
Where Truth and Valour, simply, yet sublime,
Adorn a Hero in the northern clime;
Wrapp'd up in reveries of my lovely youth,
Whose heart's all softness, emblem fair of Truth;
55 Whose mind's as fertile as the teeming Spring, -
Like Autumn rich in every virtuous thing;
Humane as Mercy, kind as treasur'd Love;
Say, say, Myrinda, can he fail to move?
While thus enraptur'd, see, the youth appears,
60 Scarce can my telltale eyes withhold from tears!
Strange, yet a truth, and gains upon belief,
That joy excessive hurts as much as grief.
See, see, he comes with eager haste to meet,
And cast his heart and fortune at my feet!
65 Hear me, he cried, Belinda, deign to hear
Th'unforc'd dictates of a soul sincere;
Nor shall the tale in flattery's garb be dress'd,
For love alone directs my captive breast;
No rhetoric sets your happiness to view,
70 Or draws each prospect in chameleon hue;
Plain is the tale, nor varnish'd o'er by art,
For I'd not steal but have thee give thy heart;
Nor do I fancy, e'en if bless'd with thee,
My life thus guarded should from woes be free;
75 Whilst misery clings to every mortal here,
A chain of grief the happiest man must wear:
The gay, enchanted by romantic scenes,
Plan out life's building in their golden dreams,
And vainly think the edifice shall stand
80 Firm as if rear'd by an immortal hand;
But, ah! when sorrows blow, and woes descend,
The fabric falls, and all enchantments end;
Awak'd to woes his soul had lightly deem'd,
He rails at Fate - nor thinks his idly dream'd.
85 But let us not by folly still the voice
Which Reason whispers and directs the choice;
Be not deceived by shadows of a shade,
Elate with praise, or vanity's parade;
Through all the mazes of my changing life,
90 Be thou my fond companion and my wife;
In grief, thy sympathy will ease my heart,
In joy, new pleasure to my soul impart;
So shall my dear, my lov'd Belinda find
Her every wish re-echo'd in my mind;
95 Dispose of me, and o'er my will command;
(And here methought he seized my willing hand;)
Suffer this ring, the sweet persuader cried,
Around thy finger, and become my bride,
In holy bonds: - but here away I broke,
100 Ah! foolish I, and trembling thus awoke;
And, when my eyes beheld Sol's radiant gleam,
The vision vanish'd - lo! 'twas all a dream.

First published 1842.