Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Saybrook, Conn.

Bride Brook

By George Parsons Lathrop (1851–1898)

WIDE as the sky Time spreads his hand,

And blindly over us there blows

A swarm of years that fill the land,

Then fade, and are as fallen snows.

Behold, the flakes rush thick and fast;

Or are they years that come between,

When, peering back into the past,

I search the legendary scene?

Nay; marshalled down the open coast,

Fearless of that low rampart’s frown,

The winter’s white-winged, footless host

Beleaguers ancient Saybrook town.

And when the settlers wake, they stare

On woods half-buried, white and green,

A smothered world, an empty air:

Never had such deep drifts been seen!

But “Snow lies light upon my heart!

An thou,” said merry Jonathan Rudd,

“Wilt wed me, winter shall depart,

And love like spring for us shall bud.”

“Nay, how,” said Mary, “may that be?

Nor minister nor magistrate

Is here, to join us solemnly;

And snow-banks bar us, every gate.”

“Winthrop at Pequot Harbor lies,”

He laughed. And with the morrow’s sun

He faced the deputy’s dark eyes:

“How soon, sir, may the rite be done?”

“At Saybrook? There the power’s not mine,”

Said he. “But at the brook we ’ll meet,

That ripples down the boundary line;

There you may wed, and Heaven shall see ’t.”

Forth went, next day, the bridal train

Through vistas dreamy with gray light.

The waiting woods, the open plain,

Arrayed in consecrated white,

Received and ushered them along;

The very beasts before them fled,

Charmed by the spell of inward song

These lovers’ hearts around them spread.

Four men with netted foot-gear shod

Bore the maid’s carrying-chair aloft;

She swayed above, as roses nod

On the lithe stem their bloom-weight soft.

At last beside the brook they stood,

With Winthrop and his followers;

The maid in flake-embroidered hood,

The magistrate well cloaked in furs,

That, parting, showed a glimpse beneath

Of ample, throat-encircling ruff

As white as some wind-gathered wreath

Of snow quilled into plait and puff.

A few grave words, a question asked,

Eyelids that with the answer fell

Like falling petals,—form that tasked

Brief time;—yet all was wrought, and well!

Then “Brooklet,” Winthrop smiled and said,

“Frost’s finger on thy lip makes dumb

The voice wherewith thou shouldst have sped

These lovers on their way; but, come,

“Henceforth forever be thou known

By name of her here made a bride;

So shall thy slender music’s moan

Sweeter into the ocean glide!”

Then laughed they all, and sudden beams

Of sunshine quivered through the sky.

Below the ice the unheard stream’s

Clear heart thrilled on in ecstasy;

And lo, a visionary blush

Stole warmly o’er the voiceless wild,

And in her rapt and wintry hush

The lonely face of Nature smiled.

Ah, Time, what wilt thou? Vanished quite

Is all that tender vision now;

And like lost snow-flakes in the night,

Mute lie the lovers as their vow.

And O them little, careless brook,

Hast thou thy tender trust forgot?

Her modest memory forsook,

Whose name, known once, thou utterest not?

Spring wakes the rill’s blithe minstrelsy;

In willow bough or alder bush

Birds sing, with golden filigree

Of pebbles ’neath the flood’s clear gush;

But none can tell us of that name

More than the “Mary.” Men still say

“Bride Brook” in honor of her fame;

But all the rest has passed away.