Marion Dale.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


MARION DALE, I remember you once
In the days when you blushed like a rose half blown,
Long ere that wealthy respectable dunce
Sponged up your beautiful name in his own.

I remember you, Marion Dale,
So artless and cordial, so modest and sweet;
You did not walk in that glittering mail
That covers you now from your head to your feet.

Well I remember your welcoming smile
When Alice and Annie and Edward and I
Walked over to see you,—you lived but a mile
From my uncle’s old house and the grove that stood nigh.

I was no lover of yours (pray excuse me);
You and I differed on many a view.
I never gave you a chance to refuse me,
Already I loved one less changeful than you.

Still it was ever a pride and a pleasure
Just to be near you, the rose of our vale.
Often I thought, “Who will own such a treasure?
Who win the fresh heart of our Marion Dale?”

I wonder now if you ever remember,
Ever sigh over fifteen years ago;
Whether your June is all turned to December;
Whether your hopes are rewarded, or no.

Gone are those winters of chats and of dances,
Gone are those summers of picnics and rides;
Gone the aroma of life’s young romances,
Gone the swift flow of our passionate tides.

Marion Dale, no longer our Marion,
You have gone your way, and I have gone mine.
Lowly I’ve labored, while fashion’s gay clarion
Sounded your name through the waltz and the wine.

Now, when I meet you, your smile it is colder;
Statelier, prouder, your features have grown;
Rounder each white and magnificent shoulder;
Barer your bosom than once, I must own.

Jewelled and satined, your tresses gold-netted,
Queenly mid flattering voices you move;
Half to your own native graces indebted,
Half to the station and fortune you love.

“Marion” we called you. My wife was “dear Alice.”
I was plain Phil. We were intimate all.
Strange, as we send in our cards at your palace,
For “Mrs. Prime Goldbanks of Bubblemere Hall.”

Six golden lackeys illumine the doorway.
Sure, one would think, by the glances they throw,
We had slid down from the mountains of Norway,
And had forgotten to shake off the snow.

They will permit us to enter, how ever;
Usher us into her splendid saloon.
There we sit waiting and waiting forever,
As one would watch for the rise of the moon.

‘T is n’t, we know, her great day for receiving;
Still she ‘sat home, and a little unbends.
While she is dressing, perhaps she is weaving
Some speecl1 that will suit her “American friends.”

Smiling you meet us, but not quite sincerely.
Low-voiced you greet us, but this is the ton.
This, we must feel it, is courtesy merely,
Not the glad welcome of days that are gone.

We are in England,—the land where they freeze one,
When they’ve a mind to, with fashion and form.
Yet, if you choose, you can thoroughly please one.
Currents run through you, still youthful and warm.

So one would think at least, seeing you moving
Radiant and gay at the Countess’s féte.
Was all that babble so very improving?
Where was the charm, that you lingered so late?

Ah! well enough, as you dance on in joyance;
Still well enough, at your dinners and calls.
Fashion and riches will mask much annoyance.
Float on, fair lady, whatever befalls.

Yet, Lady Marion, for hours and for hours
You are alone with your husband and lord.
There is a skeleton hid in yon flowers,
There is a spectre at bed and at board.

Needs no confessing to tell there is acting
Somewhere about you a tragedy grim.
All your bright rays have a sullen refracting;
Everywhere looms up the image of him,—

Him whom you love not;—there is no concealing.
How could you love him apart from his gold?
Nothing now left but your firefly wheeling,
Flashing one moment, then pallid and cold.

Yet you’ve accepted the life that he offers;
Sunk to his level, not raised him to yours.
All your fair flowers have their roots in his coffers.
Empty the gold-dust—and then what endures?

So then we leave you. Your world is not ours.
Alice and I will not trouble you more.
Not like your spring is the scent of these flowers
Down the broad stairway. Quick, open the door!

Here in the free air we’ll pray for you, lady,—
You who are changed to us, gone from us, lost.
Soon the Atlantic will part us, already
Parted by gulfs that can never be crossed.

All Sub-Works of The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875):
PDF Sub-Works open in a new tab. Close the tab when done viewing to return here.