A Life in a Year–Betrothal, from "Picture Poesies"

Various artists/makers

Not on view

Houghton's image depicts of a man and woman seated on the grass in conversation. The print first appeared in "A Round of Days" (1866, see 65.629.1), engraved by the Dalziel Brothers and published by Routledge. It was here reissued in "Picture Poesies" (1874) as the first of two illustrations to Dora Greenell's poem "Betrothal."

"The Bookseller," 1865, p. 810 describes the related series as: "eight pictures representing the young squire at the gate and the girl at the window; the pair in the garden and the Phyllis thoughtfully gathering a rose after he has gone, the farmer's dinner and the girl's walk in the fields; the betrothal, a wood scene in which Phyllis and Corydon sit and breathe vows under a hawthorne hedge, and a walk in the moonlit fields when these two have been made one." English songs and poems from the seventeenth-century forward use Corydon and Phyllis to represent pastoral lovers.

A Life in a Year--Betrothal

Sweet is the summer, but quickly past,
There's but little left when June is over:
Can we bid the breath of the woodbine last,
Or harvest the scent of the hay and clover?

Sweet are the days that quickly fleet:
But there is a word is yet unspoken,
A word that only a word can meet,
A chain to be bound, or a spell to be broken.

Oh for that word to make me blest,
And safer forever? So many wood her,
I am but one among the rest:
Who of a maiden's heart can be sure?
Enough of dreams, and of looks, and of sighs;
There is a word that must now be spoken,
That gives me all, or that all denies--
Will a heart be won, or a heart be broken?

All things hung ripe and ready to fall,
Crimson the leaf of the maple burning;
A breath would bring the peach from the wall,
Or shake dwon the apples, ruddy turning;
And yet not a breath the corn field stirred
From its golden rest when the word was spoken,
One Autumn eve, and met by a word--
There was no love lost, and no heart broken!

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