Jane Wilde

27 December 1821 – 3 February 1896

The Brothers

Tis midnight, falls the lamp‐light dull and sickly,
On a pale and anxious crowd,
Through the court, and round the judges, thronging thickly,
With prayers none dare to speak aloud.
Two youths, two noble youths, stand prisoners at the bar
You can see them through the gloom
In pride of life and manhood’s beauty, there they are
Awaiting their death doom.

All eyes an earnest watch on them are keeping,
Some, sobbing, turn away,
And the strongest men can hardly see for weeping,
So noble and so loved were they.
Their hands are locked together, those young brothers,
As before the judge they stand
They feel not the deep grief that moves the others,
For they die for Fatherland.

They are pale, but it is not fear that whitens
On each proud, high brow,
For the triumph of the martyr’s glory brightens
Around them even now.
They sought to free their land from thrall of stranger;
Was it treason? Let them die;
But their blood will cry to Heaven—the Avenger
Yet will hearken from on high.

Before them, shrinking, cowering, scarcely human,
The base informer bends,
Who, Judas‐like, could sell the blood of true men,
While he clasped their hands as friends.
Aye, could fondle the young children of his victim,
Break bread with his young wife,
At the moment that for gold his perjured dictum
Sold the husband and the father’s life.

There is silence in the midnight—eyes are keeping
Troubled watch till forth the jury come;
There is silence in the midnight—eyes are weeping—
“Guilty!”—is the fatal uttered doom.
For a moment o’er the brothers’ noble faces
Came a shadow sad to see;
Then silently they rose up in their places,
And embraced each other fervently.

Oh! the rudest heart might tremble at such sorrow,
The rudest cheek might blanch at such a scene:
Twice the judge essayed to speak the word—to‐morrow
Twice faltered, as a woman he had been.
To‐morrow!—Fain the elder would have spoken,
Prayed for respite, tho’ it is not death he fears;
But thoughts of home and wife his heart hath broken,
And his words are stopped by tears.

But the youngest—oh, he spake out bold and clearly:
“I have no ties of children or of wife;
Let me die—but spare the brother who more dearly
Is loved by me than life.”
Pale martyrs, ye may cease, your days are numbered;
Next noon your sun of life goes down;
One day between the sentence and the scaffold
One day between the torture and the crown!

A hymn of joy is rising from creation;
Bright the azure of the glorious summer sky;
But human hearts weep sore in lamentation,
For the Brothers are led forth to die.
Aye, guard them with your cannon and your lances
So of old came martyrs to the stake;
Aye, guard them—see the people’s flashing glances,
For those noble two are dying for their sake.

Yet none spring forth their bonds to sever
Ah! methinks, had I been there,
I’d have dared a thousand deaths ere ever
The sword should touch their hair.
It falls!—there is a shriek of lamentation
From the weeping crowd around;
They’re stilled—the noblest hearts within the nation
The noblest heads lie bleeding on the ground.

Years have passed since that fatal scene of dying,
Yet, lifelike to this day,
In their coffins still those severed heads are lying,
Kept by angels from decay.
Oh! they preach to us, those still and pallid features
Those pale lips yet implore us, from their graves,
To strive for our birthright as God’s creatures,
Or die, if we can but live as slaves.
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