The Silver Wedding
JAMES ALEXANDER WILLIAMSON:
ANN WHITFIELD GREGORY:
Married April 7, 1853.
Annus Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-three.
Annus Eighteen Hundred and Seventy-eight.
Content, the Nymph Autarke.
Peace, the Nymph Eirene.
Love, the Nymph Philotes.
Confidence, the Nymph Pistis.
Summer ......... Therein.
Winter .......... Cheimon.
Annus 1853 loquitur.
Ho! Eighteen Hundred Seventy-Eight, what means this concourse here?
Whereat we are by Father Time commanded to appear,
Your predecessors twenty-five, part of the long array,
Which waits for you to join it, at the close of your brief day?—
We come from that dim land, the Past, thick-peopled with dead years,
Which, born with smiles, grew old with cares, and died with sobs and tears:
We come, as unto aged men the memories come, that bring
Past joys to give delight, past griefs again the heart to sting.
Guests welcome or unwelcome we, according as we bear
Remembrances, to Serf or King, of happiness or care,
Of joys or sorrows, weal or woe, of honour or of shame,
For which some glorify the Past, some bitterly defame.
VOICES, AFAR OFF.
NORTH—The Past is the Fate of the Present;
Is a Realm no change that knows;
SOUTH—Is the Lawgiver of the Future,
The source of its joys and woes;
EAST — The dead Years are diademed Monarchs,
Whom the Years that come after obey;
WEST — And yesterday is as remote from us,
As the Stars are far away.
Annus 1878 loquitur.
You bring, as every Year's ghost brings, sad memories to all,
Of losses, disappointments, griefs, that rich and poor enthrall;
Yet here you and your comrades bring remembrance of Content,
Of good deeds done, of virtuous lives, of no days idly spent,
Of much to be with pride reviewed, of little to regret,
Of plighted vows unbroken, and of love not weary yet.
You are welcome, Years of peace and war! in this Elysium, where
Parents and children cheerfully life's chafing burdens bear;
Thou, Eighteen Fifty-three, who heardst the vows that made these one,
And Ye who know how nobly they the work of life have done.
You come as witnesses to prove that they have ever been
Fond husband, faithful, loving wife, patient, unvexed, serene;
As witnesses, renewal of those solemn vows to hear;
Though Ghosts, yet guests most welcome at the Silver Wedding's cheer.
Annus 1853 loquitur.
Let, then, the Shades of all the dark, sad days,
That make large part of every dead Year's train,
Of every woe that stings and sin that slays,
Unto the Past's dark realm retire again!
But let the Shades of Sorrows here remain,
Which, born with patience, blessings .proved and gain.
With these blest Shades let those appear that make
The home a heaven in which they do abide;
Let them here live, nor in all time forsake
The house by loving memories sanctified.
Come! fair Content, Peace, Love and Confidence,
Sisters of Hope, and born of Innocence.
Come! with the Seasons of the living Year,
And while these bring gay flowers and golden fruit,
For those who are to many friends so dear,
Let them not be indifferent or mute,
But with fair wishes kindly spoken bless
Those who so well do merit happiness.
*** Here enter, hand in hand, four young ladies, dressed in white, representing CONTENT, PEACE, LOVE, CONFIDENCE; and two representing SPRING and SUMMER, with two men representing AUTUMN and WINTER; who all enclose the husband, wife and children in a circle; and Spring, Summer and Autumn crown them with wreaths of flowers, and set at their feet baskets of fruit, at the appointed times. ***
I am the Nymph CONTENT:—
I come with treasures in my hands,—
Not gold nor gems from many lands,
But tranquil thoughts and gentle words,
That please like flowers and songs of birds;
To me the home enchantment owes,
The flowers that bloom amid the snows,
The heart's calm ease, to bravely bear
Reverses, wrongs, and daily care.
Hear what an English Poet sung,
In the days when Queen Elizabeth was young.
***Some one at a distance reads:
Sweet are the thoughts that savour of Content;
The quiet mind is richer than a crown;
Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent,
The poor estate scorns Fortune's angry frown;
Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss,
That make homes happy, ever dwell in this!
The homely house that harbors peaceful rest,
The cottage that affords no pride nor care,
The modest ways of maidens neatly drest,
The sweet consort of mirth and music rare,
These make the truest and most lasting bliss;
A mind content both crown and kingdom is.
I am the Nymph PEACE;—
There is peace in the lonely cells,
In the Convent's cloisters grey,
Where, sweet as the chime of the Convent-bells,
Life calmly glides away.
But better the peace that blesses
The family in its home,
Where the grey hairs mingle with bright brown tresses,
And the Young care not to roam;
Where the eyes of one sister are bright,
And the voice of another is sweet,
And the father reads in the soft still light,
And the children play at his feet.
The home of a mother's delight,
The haven of wedded bliss,
A home that is tranquil and gay and bright,
Even such a home as this.
I am the life of the household,
The LOVE of the husband and wife,
The love between parents and children,
The love that is dearer than life.
Eyes by me lighted grow brighter,
Hearts by me warmed are glad,
Homes where I live are lighter,
And sorrowing souls less sad.
When the bridal flowers have withered,
I do not pine away,
My flowers bloom and are gathered
In November as in May.
They fade not, this home perfuming,
As they did so long ago,
Here they shall still be blooming,
When Winter brings his snow.
I am the Nymph CONFIDENCE:—
I drive away distrust and doubt,
That into homes like serpents crawl;
And jealousy, that coils about
The heart and turns the blood to gall.
Mine are the true and loving eyes,
Through which one looks in on the Soul,
The loyal troth that Time defies,
The faith that can mistrust control.
Here I abide, a constant guest,
With Peace and Love, and sweet Content;
By us this home shall still be blest,
Beyond the reach of accident.
Annus 1878 loquitur.
Now let my seasons four their homage pay,
Bringing their offerings meet;
First SPRING, a maiden sprightly, blithe and gay,
With delicate dancing feet;
Then SUMMER, on whose lips departing May
Pressed kisses long and sweet;
Then AUTUMN, sober-clad in russet grey,
Then WINTER, white with sleet.
Loquitur Earine, Spring.
When the man was the maiden wooing,
And life was a troop of bright hours, I smiled on and favored the suing,
And crowned them with garlands of 'flowers. Again I bring roses and pansies,
Carnations and hyacinths, too, Fair types of all delicate fancies,
To crown these now wedded anew.
White rosebuds and lilies the rarest,
Camellias, violets blue,'
For these, among maidens the fairest,
Whose eyes are so tender and true.
May the world not for them lose its brightness,
As the years chase each other away,
Nor their hearts lose the innocent lightness,
That makes them so happy to-day.
Loquitur Thereia, Summer.
When the Spring died, and I was queen,
Twenty-five years ago,
And the flowers still bloomed, and the leaves were green,
And the birds sang loud or low,
The maiden was matron, and home was gay,
And the hours swifted-footed danced away.
To wife and husband I brought fruits then,
Golden and green and purple and red,
Now flowers and fruits I bring again,
After so many years have fled.
Their summer of life is ended,—
May its memories that remain,
Of joys and sorrows blended,
Give more of pleasure than pain.
Loquitur Phthinoporon, Autumn.
When the days in October grow shorter and colder,
And leaves are crimsoned by frost,
May these friends whom we love, growing grayer and older,
No days have to count as lost!
May the world still for them be a good world to live in,
With good in it always to do,
A good world to help and to comfort and give in,
With praise for the honest and true.
May they be never sick of hope deferred,
Nor in the field or vineyard toil in vain;
Nor words of kindness be by them unheard,
Nor thanklessness of children give them pain.
Loquitur Cheimon, Winter.
When I, with storm of snow and sleet
And wind loud-howling reign,
And pavements are icy in every street,
And rivers rebel in vain,
In the inter-spaces between the storms,
When the sky is cold and clear,
May these not want the fire that warms,
And the good old-fashioned cheer!
Nor the good old wishes become but forms,
'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy New Year.'
For the Poet has said and sung
These words, that are wise and true,
'The Old need not envy the Young,
'The Old need not scorn the new;
'For hearts can be warm when days are cold,
'And the night may hallow the day,
'Till the heart, though at even-tide weary and old,
'May rise in the morning gay,
'To its work in the bright new day.'
Loquitur Annus 1853.
Thus said the Poet, in the olden time,
When sense not sound builded the stately rhyme,—
The cottage nestling in the lowly dale,
'Ill fortune never fears, because so low;
The anchored mind, dreading no fickle gale,
'Sleeps safe when Fate doth Princes overthrow;'
Content still smiles, when portly statesmen feel
That fear and danger tread upon their heel.
If Fortune frowns and scowls, may that to these work good!
If Fortune flattering smiles, may it not prove a snare!
May crosses bravely borne, ills patiently withstood,
And length of peaceful days for new life them prepare!
May hope gild every cloud, Faith make the future bright,
And patience them maintain in quiet and delight;
While, till their changeless love shines into perfect day,
Bravely they hand in hand do walk their homeward way,
And hear, behind the bells in wintry Autumn ringing,
The soft sweet chorus of the loving angels singing.
Ring, bells! your glad carillons,
For two fond hearts made one,
The old, old story telling,
In Paradise begun.
To holy church now cometh
The soldier with his bride,
Up the aisle gravely pacing,
Unto the altar side.
Worth against many rivals,
Wins more than golden fruit:
Grace, virtue, genius, beauty,
Reward his patient suit.
Queen over hearts long reigning,
She lays her sceptre down,
One heart must now content her,
One love be all her crown.
Must we say 'Good-bye!' Darling?
Ah! word so hard to say!
Must we, so long adoring,
Give YOU to him, to-day?
Dear heart of child so loving,
So tender and so true,
Heart that is ever seeking,
Some generous act to do:
Dear eyes so bright in gladness,
To loved ones' faults so blind,
So eloquent in sadness,
When fortune was unkind.
Hands that were never weary
Of toil for other's sake;
Tongue that with sweet tones pleading,
Bitter words never spake:
We part with her in sorrow,
We give her up with tears,
Losing with her the blessing
Of all the coming years.
Take, then, this gift most precious,
Be to her kind and true!
And as you guard and keep her,
May God be good to you!
Albert Pike's Other Poems
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