Alice Cary

(1820-1871 / USA)

The Bridal Veil


WE'RE married, they say, and you think you have won me,-
Well, take this white veil from my head, and look on me;
Here's matter to vex you, and matter to grieve you,
Here's doubt to distrust you, and faith to believe you,-
I am all as you see, common earth, common dew;
Be wary, and mould me to roses, not rue!

Ah! shake out the filmy thing, fold after fold,
And see if you have me to keep and to hold,-
Look close on my heart- see the worst of its sinning,-
It is not yours to-day for the yesterday's winning-
The past is not mine- I am too proud to borrow-
You must grow to new heights if I love you to-morrow.

I have wings flattened down and hid under my veil:
They are subtle as light- you can never undo them,
And swift in their flight- you can never pursue them,
And spite of all clasping, and spite of all bands,
I can slip like a shadow, a dream, from your hands.

Nay, call me not cruel, and fear not to take me,
I am yours for my life-time, to be what you make me,-
To wear my white veil for a sign, or a cover,
As you shall be proven my lord, or my lover;
A cover for peace that is dead, or a token
Of bliss that can never be written or spoken.

Submitted: Friday, April 11, 2014

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