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Ashlar Home > Poems > Rob Morris > The Tessera

The Tessera

By Rob Morris

Parting on the sounding shore
Brothers twain were sighing
Mingle with the ocean's roar,
Words of love undying
A ring of gold was severed then
And each to each the giver,
His faith renewed in mystic sign
Which bound the heart forever.
Broken thus the Token be,
While o'er the earth we wander
One to thee and one to me
Rudely torn asunder
But though divided, we are one
This scar the bond expresses,
When all our painful wandering's done,
Will close and leave no traces!
Warmly in thy bosom hide,
The golden voice, I love thee!
Keep it there whate'er betide,
To guard thee and to prove thee!
And should the Token e'er be lost,
The ring that now is riven,
I'll know that death hath sent the frost,
And look for thee in Heaven!
Parted on the sounding shore,
Each the Token keeping,
Met these Brothers nevermore
In death they're widely sleeping.
But yet love's victory was won,
The scar that bond expresses,
Their long and painful wanderings done
Has closed and left no traces!

Commentary

The ancient practice of sealing devoted friendship between parting friends, by separating some metallic substances, as a ring, a coin, and the like, and dividing the fragments between the parties, is not altogether disused. In the rural districts of England and Scotland it is a custom of lovers, and many a poor laborer, whose body lies buried in the soil of the western continent, bore upon his person at his dying hour this token of betrothal with one who shall never again meet him on earth.
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