Unshriven

Original Text: 
Poems, ed. Robert A. Thompson (London and Melbourne: A. H. Massina, 1920). Sydney Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS), digital text sponsored by AustLit: http://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/ozlit
1Oh! the sun rose on the lea, and the bird sang merrilie,
2    And the steed stood ready harness'd in the hall.
3And he left his lady's bower, and he sought the eastern tower,
4    And he lifted cloak and weapon from the wall.
5'We were wed but yester-noon, must we separate so soon,
7With the blood stain on your hand, and the red streak on your brand,
8    And your guilt all unconfess'd and unforgiven?'
9'Tho' it were but yester-even we were wedded, still unshriven,
10    Across the moor this morning I must ride;
11I must gallop fast and straight, for my errand will not wait;
12    Fear naught, I shall return at eventide.'
14    Yon moor with retribution seemeth rife;
15As we've sown so must we reap, and I've started in my sleep
16    At the voice of the avenger, "Life for life." '
19And I cannot break my oath, though to leave thee I am loath,
20    There is one that I must meet upon the moor.'
21             * * * *
23    Down the avenue and through the iron gate,
24Spurr'd and belted, so he rode, steel to draw and steel to goad,
25    And across the moor he gallop'd fast and straight.
26             * * * * *
27             * * * * *
28Oh! the sun shone on the lea, and the bird sang full of glee,
29    Ere the mists of evening gather'd chill and grey;
30But the wild bird's merry note on the deaf ear never smote,
31    And the sunshine never warmed the lifeless clay.
32Ere the sun began to droop, or the mist began to stoop,
33    The youthful bride lay swooning in the hall;
34Empty saddle on his back, broken bridle hanging slack,
35    The steed returned full gallop to the stall.
36Oh! the sun sank in the sea, and the wind wailed drearilie;
37    Let the bells in yonder monastery toll,
38For the night rack nestles dark round the body stiff and stark,
39    And unshriven to its Maker flies the soul.

Notes

6] unassoiled: not absolved or pardoned.
unshriven: one who has not given confession and been absolved of sins by a priest. Back to Line
13] weal: that which is best for someone or something. Back to Line
17] ween: think or suppose. Back to Line
18] courser: a swift horse. Back to Line
22] lea: an open area of grassy land. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1867
Publication Notes: 
Sea Spray and Smoke Drift (1867)
RPO poem Editors: 
Cameron La Follette
RPO Edition: 
2012
Rhyme: 
Form: