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Ca Kima United States (12/4/2012 7:12:00 PM)

I am looking for a poem about a women who's husband (or lover?) is about to be executed. Knowing that the execution will take place when the towns bells sound, she climbs the bell tower and grasps the clapper of the bell and hangs on for dear life. Her body prevents the bell from making any noise. I do not know if she dies from the injuries she sustains or not, but its a beautiful passionate poem. I cant find it via google. Thanks for your help!

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  • Freshman - 1,611 Points Laura Burns (12/4/2012 10:12:00 PM) Post reply
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    Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight
    by Rose Hartwick Thorpe

    England’s sun was slowly setting
    O’er the hills so far away,
    Filling all the land with beauty
    At the close of one sad day;
    And the last rays kissed the forehead
    Of a man and maiden fair –
    He with a step so slow and weakened,
    She with sunny, floating hair;
    He with sad bowed head, and thoughtful,
    She with lips so cold and white,
    Struggling to keep back the murmur,
    “Curfew must not ring tonight.”

    “Sexton, ” Bessie’s white lips faltered,
    Pointing to the prison old,
    With its walls so dark and gloomy –
    Walls so dark, and damp, and cold –
    “I’ve a love in that prison,
    Doomed this very night to die,
    At the ringing of the curfew,
    And no earthly help is nigh.
    Cromwell will not come till sunset”;
    And her face grew strangely white,
    As she spoke in husky whispers,
    “Curfew must not ring tonight.”

    “Bessie, ” calmly spoke the sexton –
    Every word pierced her young heart
    Like a thousand gleaming arrows,
    Like a deadly poisoned dart –
    “Long, long years I’ve rung the curfew
    From that gloomy shadowed tow’r;
    Every evening, just at sunset,
    It has told the twilight hour.
    I have done my duty ever.
    Tried to do it just and right;
    Now I’m old, I will not miss it;
    Girl, the curfew rings tonight! ”

    Wild her eyes and pale her features,
    Stern and white her thoughtful brow,
    And within her heart’s deep center,
    Bessie made a solemn vow.
    She had listened while the judges
    Read, without a tear or sigh,
    “At the ringing of the curfew
    Basil Underwood must die.”
    And her breath came fast and faster,
    And her eyes grew large and bright;
    One low murmur, scarcely spoken –
    “Curfew must not ring tonight.”

    She with light step bounded forward,
    Sprang within the old church door,
    Left the old man coming slowly,
    Paths he’d often trod before;
    Not one moment paused the maiden,
    But with cheek and brow aglow,
    Staggered up the gloomy tower,
    Where the bell swung to and fro;
    Then she climbed the slimy ladder,
    Dark, without one ray of light,
    Upward still, her pale lips saying,
    “Curfew shall not ring tonight.”

    She has reached the topmost ladder,
    O’er her hangs the great dark bell,
    And the awful gloom beneath her,
    Like the pathway down to Hell.
    See the ponderous tongue is swinging,
    ‘Tis the hour of curfew now;
    And the sight has chilled her bosom,
    Stopped her breath, and paled her brow.
    Shall she let it ring? No, never!
    Her eyes flash with sudden light,
    As she springs and grasps it firmly –
    “Curfew shall not ring tonight.”

    Out she swung, far out, the city
    Seemed a tiny speck below;
    There twixt heaven and earth suspended
    As the bell swung to and fro;
    And the half-deaf sexton ringing
    (Years he had not heard the bell)
    And he thought the twilight curfew
    Rang young Basil’s funeral knell;
    Still the maiden clinging firmly,
    Cheek and brow so pale and white,
    Still her frightened heart’s wild beating –
    “Curfew shall not ring tonight.”

    It was o’er – the bell ceased swaying,
    And the maiden stepped once more
    Firmly on the damp old ladder,
    Where for hundred years before
    Human foot had not been planted;
    And what she this night had done
    Should be told in long years after:
    As the rays of setting sun
    Light the sky with mellow beauty,
    Aged sires with heads of white,
    Tell the children why the curfew
    Did not ring that one sad night.

    O’er the distant hills came Cromwell;
    Bessie saw him, and her brow,
    Lately white with sickening terror,
    Glows with sudden beauty now.
    At his feet she told the story,
    Showed her hands all bruised and torn;
    And her sweet young face so haggard,
    With a look so sad and worn,
    Touched his heart with sudden pity,
    Lit his eyes with misty light:
    “Go, your love lives! ” cried Cromwell:
    “Curfew shall not ring tonight.”

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