Jane Wilde

27 December 1821 – 3 February 1896

The Sin

Neath the casement stood a Ritter,
Sings by night with sweetest tone:
“Thekla, dearest Thekla, listen,
Wilt thou be my bride, mine own?

“Castles have I, parks and forests,
Mountains veined with the red gold;
And a heart that pineth for thee,
With a wealth of love untold.
“I will deck my love in jewels,
Gold and pearl peril on brow and hand,
Broidered robes and costly girdles,
From the far‐off Paynim land.
“Here I hang upon the rose‐tree,
Love, a little golden ring;
Wilt thou take it? wilt thou wear it,
Love?” Thus did the Ritter sing.
Then upon his black steed mounting,
Kissed his hand and doffed his plume.
Lovely Thekla stole down gently,
Sought the gold ring in the gloom.
“Little ring, wilt thou deceive me?
Like the rose dost hide a thorn?”
As she takes it, close beside her
Sounds a ringing laugh of scorn.
And the fatal Mother, mocking,
Points her finger to the ring:
“What, my maiden! sold thy beauty
For that paltry glittering thing?
“Plucked the bauble from a rose‐tree?
Ring and rose and doom in all;
Roses bright from cheek of beauty,
Roses bright must fade and fall.
“Wilt thou follow me?” They glided
Over heath, through moor and wood,
Till beside an ancient windmill,
In the lone, dark night they stood.
All the mighty wheels were silent,
All the giant arms lay still
“Bride and wife, but never mother,
Maiden, swear, is such thy will?

“Dost swear?” “I swear!” They glided
Up the stairs and through the door,
With her wand the magic Mother
Draws a circle on the floor.
Grains of yellow corn, seven,
Takes she from a sack beside,
Draws the gold ring of her lover
From the finger of the bride.
“Seven children would have stolen
Light and beauty from thine eyes,
But as I cast the yellow corn
Through thy gold ring, each one dies.
Slowly creaked the mill, then faster
Whirled the giant arms on high;
Shuddering, hears the trembling maiden
Crushing bones, and infant’s cry.
Now there is a deathlike silence,
Thekla hears her heart alone
Again the weird one flings the corn,
Again that plaintive plantive infant’s moan.
Two—three—four—the mill goes faster,
Whirling, crushing.—Ah! those cries!
“Bride, thou’lt never be a mother;
Thy beauty’s saved—the seventh dies!”
Seven turns the mill hath taken,
Seven moans hath Thekla heard:
Then all is still. The moon from Heaven
Shines down calm upon the sward.
“Now take back thy ring in safety;
Mother’s joy or mother’s woe,
Wasting pain or fading beauty,
Maiden, thou shalt never know!
“Home, before the morning hour!”
Home in terror Thekla flies,
Shuddering, she hears behind her
Laugh of scorn, infants’ cries.
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