The Home Book of Verse, Volume 2
Burton Egbert Stevenson

Part 13 out of 18


Through the fierce fever I nursed him, and then he said
I was the woman - I! - that he would wed;
He sent a boat with men for his own white priest,
And he gave my father horses, and made a feast.
I am his wife: if he has forgotten me,
I will not live for scorning eyes to see.
(Little wild baby, that knowest not where thou art going,
Lie still! lie still! Thy mother will do the rowing.)

Three moons ago - it was but three moons ago -
He took his gun, and started across the snow;
For the river was frozen, the river that still goes down
Every day, as I watch it, to find the town;
The town whose name I caught from his sleeping lips,
A place of many people and many ships.
(Little wild baby, that knowest not where thou art going,
Lie still! lie still! Thy mother will do the rowing.)

I to that town am going, to search the place,
With his little white son in my arms, till I see his face.
Only once shall I need to look in his eyes,
To see if his soul, as I knew it, lives or dies.
If it lives, we live, and if it is dead, we die,
And the soul of my baby will never ask me why.
(Little wild baby, that knowest not where thou art going,
Lie still! lie still! Thy mother will do the rowing.)

I have asked about the river: one answered me,
That after the town it goes to find the sea;
That great waves, able to break the stoutest bark,
Are there, and the sea is very deep and dark.
If he is happy without me, so best, so best;
I will take his baby and go away to my rest.
(Little wild baby, that knowest not where thou art going,
Lie still! lie still! Thy mother will do the rowing.
The river flows swiftly, the sea is dark and deep:
Little wild baby, lie still! Lie still and sleep.)

Margaret Thomson Janvier [1845-1913]


Come little babe, come silly soul,
Thy father's shame, thy mother's grief,
Born as I doubt to all our dole,
And to thyself unhappy chief:
Sing lullaby, and lap it warm,
Poor soul that thinks no creature harm.

Thou little think'st and less dost know
The cause of this thy mother's moan;
Thou want'st the wit to wail her woe,
And I myself am all alone:
Why dost thou weep? why dost thou wail?
And know'st not yet what thou dost ail.

Come, little wretch - ah, silly heart!
Mine only joy, what can I more?
If there be any wrong thy smart,
That may the destinies implore:
'Twas I, I say, against my will,
I wail the time, but be thou still.

And dost thou smile? O, thy sweet face!
Would God Himself He might thee see! -
No doubt thou wouldst soon purchase grace,
I know right well, for thee and me:
But come to mother, babe, and play,
For father false is fled away.

Sweet boy, if it by fortune chance
Thy father home again to send,
If death do strike me with his lance,
Yet may'st thou me to him commend:
If any ask thy mother's name,
Tell how by love she purchased blame.

Then will his gentle heart soon yield:
I know him of a noble mind:
Although a lion in the field,
A lamb in town thou shalt him find:
Ask blessing, babe, be not afraid,
His sugared words hath me betrayed.

Then may'st thou joy and be right glad;
Although in woe I seem to moan,
Thy father is no rascal lad,
A noble youth of blood and bone:
His glancing looks, if he once smile,
Right honest women may beguile.

Come, little boy, and rock asleep;
Sing lullaby and be thou still;
I, that can do naught else but weep,
Will sit by thee and wail my fill:
God bless my babe, and lullaby
From this thy father's quality.

Nicholas Breton [1545?-1626?]


Balow, my babe, lie still and sleep!
It grieves me sore to see thee weep.
Wouldst thou be quiet I'se be glad,
Thy mourning makes my sorrow sad:
Balow my boy, thy mother's joy,
Thy father breeds me great annoy -
Balow, la-low!

When he began to court my love,
And with his sugared words me move,
His feignings false and flattering cheer
To me that time did not appear:
But now I see most cruelly
He cares ne for my babe nor me -
Balow, la-low!

Lie still, my darling, sleep awhile,
And when thou wak'st thou'll sweetly smile:
But smile not as thy father did,
To cozen maids: nay, God forbid!
But yet I fear thou wilt go near
Thy father's heart and face to bear -
Balow, la-low!

I cannot choose but ever will
Be loving to thy father still;
Where'er he go, where'er he ride,
My love with him doth still abide;
In weal or woe, where'er he go,
My heart shall ne'er depart him fro -
Balow, la-low!

But do not, do not, pretty mine,
To feignings false thy heart incline!
Be loyal to thy lover true,
And never change her for a new:
If good or fair, of her have care
For women's banning's wondrous sair -
Balow, la-low!

Bairn, by thy face I will beware;
Like Sirens' words, I'll come not near;
My babe and I together will live;
He'll comfort me when cares do grieve.
My babe and I right soft will lie,
And ne'er respect man's cruelty -
Balow, la-low!

Farewell, farewell, the falsest youth
That ever kissed a woman's mouth!
I wish all maids be warned by me
Never to trust man's courtesy;
For if we do but chance to bow,
They'll use us then they care not how -
Balow, la-low!



A sentinel angel, sitting high in glory,
Heard this shrill wail ring out from Purgatory:
"Have mercy, mighty angel, hear my story!

"I loved, - and, blind with passionate love, I fell.
Love brought me down to death, and death to Hell;
For God is just, and death for sin is well.

"I do not rage against His high decree,
Nor for myself do ask that grace shall be;
But for my love on earth who mourns for me.

"Great Spirit! Let me see my love again
And comfort him one hour, and I were fain
To pay a thousand years of fire and pain."

Then said the pitying angel, "Nay, repent
That wild vow! Look, the dial-finger's bent
Down to the last hour of thy punishment!"

But still she wailed, "I pray thee, let me go!
I cannot rise to peace and leave him so.
O, let me soothe him in his bitter woe!"

The brazen gates ground sullenly ajar,
And upwards, joyous, like a rising star,
She rose and vanished in the ether far.

But soon adown the dying sunset sailing,
And like a wounded bird her pinions trailing,
She fluttered back, with broken-hearted wailing,

She sobbed, "I found him by the summer sea
Reclined, his head upon a maiden's knee, -
She curled his hair and kissed him. Woe is me!"

She wept, "Now let my punishment begin!
I have been fond and foolish. Let me in
To expiate my sorrow and my sin."

The angel answered, "Nay, sad soul, go higher!
To be deceived in your true heart's desire
Was bitterer than a thousand years of fire!"

John Hay [1838-1905]


She was only a woman, famished for loving,
Mad with devotion, and such slight things;
And he was a very great musician,
And used to finger his fiddle-strings.

Her heart's sweet gamut is cracking and breaking
For a look, for a touch, - for such slight things;
But he's such a very great musician
Grimacing and fingering his fiddle-strings.

Theophile Marzials [1850-


Mother, I cannot mind my wheel;
My fingers ache, my lips are dry:
O, if you felt the pain I feel!
But O, who ever felt as I?

No longer could I doubt him true -
All other men may use deceit;
He always said my eyes were blue,
And often swore my lips were sweet.

Walter Savage Lander [1775-1864]


Airly Beacon, Airly Beacon;
O the pleasant sight to see
Shires and towns from Airly Beacon,
While my love climbed up to me!

Airly Beacon, Airly Beacon;
O the happy hours we lay
Deep in fern on Airly Beacon,
Courting through the summer's day!

Airly Beacon, Airly Beacon;
O the weary haunt for me,
All alone on Airly Beacon,
With his baby on my knee!

Charles Kingsley [1819-1875]


The lover of child Marjory
Had one white hour of life brim full;
Now the old nurse, the rocking sea,
Hath him to lull.

The daughter of child Marjory
Hath in her veins, to beat and run,
The glad indomitable sea,
The strong white sun.

Bliss Carmen [1861-1929]


"Is it a sail?" she asked.
"No," I said.
"Only a white sea-gull with its pinions spread."

"Is it a spar?" she asked.
"No," said I.
"Only the slender light-house tower against the sky."

"Flutters a pennant there?"
"No," I said.
"Only a shred of cloud in the sunset red."

"Surely a hull, a hull!"
"Where?" I cried.
"Only a rock half-bared by the ebbing tide."

"Wait you a ship?" I asked.
"Aye!" quoth she.
"The Harbor Belle; her mate comes home to marry me.

"Surely the good ship hath
Met no harm?"
Was it the west wind wailed or the babe on her arm?

"The Harbor Belle!" she urged.
Naught said I. -
For I knew o'er the grave o' the Harbor Belle the sea-gulls fly.

Gustav Kobbe [1857-1918]


On the banks of Allan Water,
When the sweet spring-time did fall,
Was the miller's lovely daughter,
Fairest of them all.

For his bride a soldier sought her,
And a winning tongue had he,
On the banks of Allan Water,
None so gay as she.

On the banks of Allan Water,
When brown autumn spread his store,
There I saw the miller's daughter,
But she smiled no more.

For the summer grief had brought her,
And the soldier false was he,
On the banks of Allan Water,
None so sad as she.

On the banks of Allan Water,
When the winter snow fell fast,
Still was seen the miller's daughter,
Chilling blew the blast.

But the miller's lovely daughter,
Both from cold and care was free;
On the banks of Allan Water,
There a corse lay she.

Matthew Gregory Lewis [1775-1818]


O waly waly up the bank,
And waly waly down the brae,
And waly waly yon burn-side
Where I and my Love wont to gae!
I leaned my back unto an aik,
I thought it was a trusty tree;
But first it bowed, and syne it brak,
Sae my true Love did lichtly me.

O waly waly, but love be bonny
A little while when it is new;
But when 'tis auld, it waxeth cauld
And fades awa' like morning dew.
O wherefore should I busk my head?
Or wherefore should I kame my hair?
For my true Love has me forsook,
And says he'll never loe me mair.

Now Arthur-seat sall be my bed;
The sheets shall ne'er be pressed by me:
Saint Anton's well sall be my drink,
Since my true Love has forsaken me.
Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blaw
And shake the green leaves aff the tree?
O gentle Death, when wilt thou come?
For of my life I am wearie.

'Tis not the frost, that freezes fell,
Nor blawing snaw's inclemencie;
'Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry,
But my Love's heart grown cauld to me.
When we cam in by Glasgow town
We were a comely sight to see;
My Love was clad in black velvet.
And I mysel in cramasie.

But had I wist, before I kissed,
That love had been sae ill to win;
I had locked my heart in a case of gowd
And pinned it with a siller pin.
And, O! if my young babe were born,
And sat upon the nurse's knee,
And I mysel were dead and gane,
And the green grass growing over me!



Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fair!
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu' o' care!

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird
That sings upon the bough;
Thou minds me o' the happy days
When my fause Luve was true.

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird
That sings beside thy mate;
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o' my fate.

Aft hae I roved by bonnie Doon
To see the woodbine twine,
And ilka bird sang o' its love;
And sae did I o' mine.

Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose,
Frae aff its thorny tree;
And my fause luver staw the rose,
But left the thorn wi' me.

Robert Burns [1759-1796]


The lover of her body said:
"She is more beautiful than night, -
But like the kisses of the dead
Is my despair and my delight."

The lover of her soul replied:
"She is more wonderful than death, -
But bitter as the aching tide
Is all the speech of love she saith."

The lover of her body said:
"To know one secret of her heart,
For all the joy that I have had,
Is past the reach of all my art."

The lover of her soul replied:
"The secrets of her heart are mine, -
Save how she lives, a riven bride,
Between the dust and the divine."

The lover of her body sware:
"Though she should hate me, wit you well,
Rather than yield one kiss of her
I give my soul to burn in hell."

The lover of her soul cried out:
"Rather than leave her to your greed,
I would that I were walled about
With death, - and death were death indeed!"

The lover of her body wept,
And got no good of all his gain,
Knowing that in her heart she kept
The penance of the other's pain.

The lover of her soul went mad,
But when he did himself to death,
Despite of all the woe he had,
He smiled as one who vanquisheth.

Richard Hovey [1864-1900]

As suggested By The Painting By Philip Burne-Jones

A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I!)

Oh the years we waste and the tears we waste,
And the work of our head and hand,
Belong to the woman who did not know
(And now we know that she never could know)
And did not understand.

A fool there was and his goods he spent
(Even as you and I!)
Honor and faith and a sure intent
(And it wasn't the least what the lady meant),
But a fool must follow his natural bent
(Even as you and I!)

Oh the toil we lost and the spoil we lost,
And the excellent things we planned,
Belong to the woman who didn't know why
(And now we know she never knew why)
And did not understand.

The fool was stripped to his foolish hide
(Even as you and I!)
Which she might have seen when she threw him aside, -
(But it isn't on record the lady tried)
So some of him lived but the most of him died -
(Even as you and I!)

And it isn't the shame and it isn't the blame
That stings like a white-hot brand.
It's coming to know that she never knew why
(Seeing at last she could never know why)
And never could understand.

Rudyard Kipling [1865-1936]


She wanders in the April woods,
That glisten with the fallen shower;
She leans her face against the buds,
She stops, she stoops, she plucks a flower.
She feels the ferment of the hour:
She broodeth when the ringdove broods;
The sun and flying clouds have power
Upon her cheek and changing moods.
She cannot think she is alone,
As o'er her senses warmly steal
Floods of unrest she fears to own.
And almost dreads to feel.

Along the summer woodlands wide
Anew she roams, no more alone;
The joy she feared is at her side,
Spring's blushing secret now is known.
The thrush's ringing note hath died;
But glancing eye and glowing tone
Fall on her from her god, her guide.
She knows not, asks not, what the goal,
She only feels she moves towards bliss,
And yields her pure unquestioning soul
To touch and fondling kiss.

And still she haunts those woodland ways,
Though all fond fancy finds there now
To mind of spring or summer days,
Are sodden trunk and songless bough.
The past sits widowed on her brow,
Homeward she wends with wintry gaze,
To walls that house a hollow vow,
To hearth where love hath ceased to blaze:
Watches the clammy twilight wane,
With grief too fixed for woe or tear;
And, with her forehead 'gainst the pane,
Envies the dying year.

Alfred Austin [1835-1913]


You were always a dreamer, Rose - red Rose,
As you swung on your perfumed spray,
Swinging, and all the world was true,
Swaying, what did it trouble you?
A rose will fade in a day.

Why did you smile to his face, red Rose,
As he whistled across your way?
And all the world went mad for you,
All the world it knelt to woo.
A rose will bloom in a day.

I gather your petals, Rose - red Rose,
The petals he threw away.
And all the world derided you;
Ah! the world, how well it knew
A rose will fade in a day!

Dora Sigerson Shorter [1862-1918]


One pale November day
Flying Summer paused,
They say:
And growing bolder,
O'er rosy shoulder
Threw her lover such a glance
That Autumn's heart began to dance.
(O happy lover!)

A leafless peach-tree bold
Thought for him she smiled,
I'm told;
And, stirred by love,
His sleeping sap did move,
Decking each naked branch with green
To show her that her look was seen!
(Alas, poor lover!)

But Summer, laughing fled,
Nor knew he loved her!
'Tis said
The peach-tree sighed,
And soon he gladly died:
And Autumn, weary of the chase,
Came on at Winter's sober pace
(O careless lover!)

Margaret Deland [1857-


She sang of lovers met to play
"Under the may bloom, under the may,"
But when I sought her face so fair,
I found the set face of Despair.

She sang of woodland leaves in spring,
And joy of young love dallying;
But her young eyes were all one moan,
And Death weighed on her heart like stone.

I could not ask, I know not now,
The story of that mournful brow;
It haunts me as it haunted then,
A flash from fire of hellbound men.

Roden Noel [1834-1894]


The wind is awake, pretty leaves, pretty leaves,
Heed not what he says; he deceives, he deceives:
Over and over
To the lowly clover
He has lisped the same love (and forgotten it, too)
He will soon be lisping and pledging to you.

The boy is abroad, pretty maid, pretty maid,
Beware his soft words; I'm afraid, I'm afraid:
He has said them before
Times many a score,
Ay, he died for a dozen ere his beard pricked through,
And the very same death he will die for you.

The way of the boy is the way of the wind,
As light as the leaves is dainty maid-kind;
One to deceive,
And one to believe -
That is the way of it, year to year;
But I know you will learn it too late, my dear.

John Vance Cheney [1848-1922]

From "The Vicar of Wakefield"

When lovely woman stoops to folly
And finds too late that men betray, -
What charm can soothe her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt away?

The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from every eye,
To give repentance to her lover
And wring his bosom, is - to die.

Oliver Goldsmith [1728-1774]


Back she came through the trembling dusk;
And her mother spoke and said:
"What is it makes you late to-day,
And why do you smile and sing as gay
As though you just were wed?"
"Oh mother, my hen that never had chicks
Has hatched out six!"

Back she came through the flaming dusk;
And her mother spoke and said:
"What gives your eyes that dancing light,
What makes your lips so strangely bright,
And why are your cheeks so red?"
"Oh mother, the berries I ate in the lane
Have left a stain."

Back she came through the faltering dusk;
And her mother spoke and said:
"You are weeping; your footstep is heavy with care -
What makes you totter and cling to the stair,
And why do you hang your head?"
"Oh mother - oh mother - you never can know -
I loved him so!"

Louis Untermeyer [1885-


"Daughter, thou art come to die:
Sound be thy sleeping, lass."
"Well: without lament or cry,
Mother, let me pass."

"What things on mould were best of all?
(Soft be thy sleeping, lass.)"
"The apples reddening till they fall
In the sun beside the convent wall.
Let me pass."

"Whom on earth hast thou loved best?
(Sound be thy sleeping, lass.)"
"Him that shared with me thy breast;
Thee and a knight last year our guest.
He hath an heron to his crest.
Let me pass."

"What leavest thou of fame or hoard?
(Soft be thy sleeping, lass.)"
"My far-blown shame for thy reward;
To my brother, gold to get him a sword.
Let me pass."

"But what wilt leave thy lover, Grim?
(Sound be thy sleeping, lass.)"
"The hair he kissed to strangle him.
Mother, let me pass."

William Laird [1888-


She was young and blithe and fair,
Firm of purpose, sweet and strong;
Perfect was her crown of hair,
Perfect most of all her song.

Yesterday beneath an oak,
She was chanting in the wood:
Wandering harmonies awoke;
Sleeping echoes understood.

To-day without a song, without a word,
She seems to drag one piteous fallen wing
Along the ground, and, like a wounded bird,
Move silent, having lost the heart to sing.

She was young and blithe and fair,
Firm of purpose, sweet and strong;
Perfect was her crown of hair,
Perfect most of all her song.

Harold Monro [1879-1932]


Life is not dear or gay
Till lovers kiss it,
Love stole my life away
Ere I might miss it.
In sober March I vowed
I'd have no lover,
Love laid me in my shroud
Ere June was over.

I felt his body take
My body to it,
And knew my heart would break
Ere I should rue it;
June roses are not sad
When dew-drops steep them,
My moments were so glad
I could not keep them.

Proud was I love had made
Desire to fill me,
I shut my eyes and prayed
That he might kill me.
I saw new wonders wreathe
The stars above him.
And oh, I could not breathe
For kissing of him.

Is love too sweet to last,
Too fierce to cherish,
Can kisses fall too fast
And lovers perish?
Who heeds since love disarms
Death, ere we near him?
Within my lover's arms
I did not fear him!

But since I died in sin
And all unshriven,
They would not let me win
Into their heaven;
They would not let my bier
Into God's garden,
But bade me tarry here
And pray for pardon.

I lie and wait for grace
That shall surround me,
His kisses on my face,
His arms around me;
And sinless maids draw near
To drop above me
A virginal sad tear
For envy of me.

Richard Middleton [1882-1911]


My love gave me a passion-flower.
I nursed it well - so brief its hour!
My eyelids ache, my throat is dry:
He told me that it would not die.

My love and I are one, and yet
Full oft my cheeks with tears are wet -
So sweet the night is and the bower!
My love gave me a passion-flower.

So sweet! Hold fast my hands. Can God
Make all this joy revert to sod,
And leave to me but this for dower -
My love gave me a passion-flower.

Margaret Fuller [1871-


I knew his house by the poplar-trees,
Green and silvery in the breeze;

"A heaven-high hedge," were the words he said,
"And holly-hocks, pink and white and red. . . ."

It seemed so far from McChesney's Hall -
Where first he told me about it all.

A long path runs inside from the gate, -
He still can take it, early or late;

But where in the world is the path for me
Except the river that runs to the sea!

Zoe Akins [1886-


I would unto my fair restore
A simple thing:
The flushing cheek she had before!
No more, no more,
On our sad shore,
The carmine grape, the moth's auroral wing.

Ah, say how winds in flooding grass
Unmoor the rose;
Or guileful ways the salmon pass
To sea, disclose;
For so, alas,
With Love, alas,
With fatal, fatal Love a girlhood goes.

Louise Imogen Guiney [1861-1920]


"On love is fair, and love is rare;" my dear one she said,
"But love goes lightly over." I bowed her foolish head,
And kissed her hair and laughed at her. Such a child was she;
So new to love, so true to love, and she spoke so bitterly.

But there's wisdom in women, of more than they have known,
And thoughts go blowing through them, are wiser than their own,
Or how should my dear one, being ignorant and young,
Have cried on love so bitterly, with so true a tongue?

Rupert Brooke [1887-1915]


Wander, oh, wander, maiden sweet,
In the fairy bower, while yet you may;
See in rapture he lies at your feet;
Rest on the truth of the glorious youth,
Rest - for a summer day.
That great clear spirit of flickering fire
You have lulled awhile in magic sleep,
But you cannot fill his wide desire.
His heart is tender, his eyes are deep,
His words divinely flow;
But his voice and his glance are not for you;
He never can be to a maiden true;
Soon will he wake and go.
Well, well, 'twere a piteous thing
To chain forever that strong young wing.
Let the butterfly break for his own sweet sake
The gossamer threads that have bound him;
Let him shed in free flight his rainbow light,
And gladden the world around him.
Short is the struggle and slight is the strain;
Such a web was made to be broken,
And she that wove it may weave again
Or, if no power of love to bless
Can heal the wound in her bosom true,
It is but a lorn heart more or less,
And hearts are many and poets few,
So his pardon is lightly spoken.

Henry Sidgwick [1838-1901]


I sing no longer of the skies,
And the swift clouds like driven ships,
For there is earth upon my eyes
And earth between my singing lips.
Because the King loved not my song
That he had found so sweet before,
I lie at peace the whole night long,
And sing no more.
The King liked well my song that night;
Upon the palace roof he lay
With his fair Queen, and as I might
I sang, until the morning's gray
Crept o'er their faces, and the King,
Mocked by the breaking dawn above,
Clutched at his youth and bade me sing
A song of love.

Well it might be - the King was old,
And though his Queen was passing fair,
His dull eyes might not catch the gold
That tangled in her wayward hair,
It had been much to see her smile,
But with my song I made her weep.
Our heavens last but a little while,
So now I sleep.

More than the pleasures that I had
I would have flung away to know
My song of love could make her sad,
Her sweet eyes fill and tremble so.
What were my paltry store of years,
My body's wretched life to stake,
Against the treasure of her tears,
For my love's sake?

Not lightly is a King made wise;
My body ached beneath his whips,
And there is earth upon my eyes,
And earth between my singing lips.
But I sang once - and for that grace
I am content to lie and store
The vision of her dear, wet face,
And sing no more.

Richard Middleton [1882-1911]


Annie Shore, 'twas, sang last night
Down in South End saloon;
A tawdry creature in the light,
Painted cheeks, eyes over bright,
Singing a dance-hall tune.

I'd be forgetting Annie's singing -
I'd not have thought again -
But for the thing that cried and fluttered
Through all the shrill refrain:
Youth crying above foul words, cheap music,
And innocence in pain.

They sentenced Johnnie Doon today
For murder, stark and grim:
Death's none too dear a price, they say,
For such-like men as him to pay:
No need to pity him!

And Johnnie Doon I'd not be pitying -
I could forget him now -
But for the childish look of trouble
That fell across his brow,
For the twisting hands he looked at dumbly
As if they'd sinned, he knew not how.

Patrick Orr [18


Emmy's exquisite youth and her virginal air,
Eyes and teeth in the flash of a musical smile,
Come to me out of the past, and I see her there
As I saw her once for a while.

Emmy's laughter rings in my ears, as bright,
Fresh and sweet as the voice of a mountain brook,
And still I hear her telling us tales that night,
Out of Boccaccio's book.

There, in the midst of the villainous dancing-hall,
Leaning across the table, over the beer,
While the music maddened the whirling skirts of the ball,
As the midnight hour drew near,

There with the women, haggard, painted and old,
One fresh bud in a garland withered and stale,
She, with her innocent voice and her clear eyes, told
Tale after shameless tale.

And ever the witching smile, to her face beguiled,
Paused and broadened, and broke in a ripple of fun,
And the soul of a child looked out of the eyes of a child,
Or ever the tale was done.

O my child, who wronged you first, and began
First the dance of death that you dance so well?
Soul for soul: and I think the soul of a man
Shall answer for yours in hell.

Arthur Symons [1865-


I walked with Maisie long years back
The streets of Camden Town,
I splendid in my suit of black,
And she divine in brown.

Hers was a proud and noble face,
A secret heart, and eyes
Like water in a lonely place
Beneath unclouded skies.

A bed, a chest, a faded mat,
And broken chairs a few,
Were all we had to grace our flat
In Hazel Avenue.

But I could walk to Hampstead Heath,
And crown her head with daisies,
And watch the streaming world beneath,
And men with other Maisies.

When I was ill and she was pale
And empty stood our store,
She left the latchkey on its nail,
And saw me nevermore.

Perhaps she cast herself away
Lest both of us should drown:
Perhaps she feared to die, as they
Who die in Camden Town.

What came of her? The bitter nights
Destroy the rose and lily,
And souls are lost among the lights
Of painted Piccadilly.

What came of her? The river flows
So deep and wide and stilly,
And waits to catch the fallen rose
And clasp the broken lily.

I dream she dwells in London still
And breathes the evening air,
And often walk to Primrose Hill,
And hope to meet her there.

Once more together we will live,
For I will find her yet:
I have so little to forgive;
So much, I can't forget.

James Elroy Flecker [1884-1915]



I wish I were where Helen lies,
Night and day on me she cries;
O that I were where Helen lies,
On fair Kirconnell lea!

Cursed be the heart that thought the thought,
And cursed the hand that fired the shot,
When in my arms burd Helen dropped,
And died to succor me!

O think na ye my heart was sair,
When my Love dropped and spak nae mair!
There did she swoon wi' meikle care,
On fair Kirconnell lea.

As I went down the water side,
None but my foe to be my guide,
None but my foe to be my guide,
On fair Kirconnell lea;

I lighted down my sword to draw,
I hacked him in pieces sma',
I hacked him in pieces sma',
For her sake that died for me.

O Helen fair, beyond compare!
I'll mak a garland o' thy hair,
Shall bind my heart for evermair,
Until the day I dee!

O that I were where Helen lies
Night and day on me she cries;
Out of my bed she bids me rise,
Says, Haste, and come to me!"

O Helen fair! O Helen chaste!
If I were with thee, I'd be blest,
Where thou lies low and taks thy rest,
On fair Kirconnell lea.

I wish my grave were growing green,
A winding-sheet drawn owre my e'en,
And I in Helen's arms lying,
On fair Kirconnell lea.

I wish I were where Helen lies!
Night and day on me she cries;
And I am weary of the skies,
For her sake that died for me.



"Willy's rare, and Willy's fair,
And Willy's wondrous bonny;
And Willy hecht to marry me,
Gin e'er he married ony.

"Yestreen I made my bed fu' braid,
This night I'll make it narrow;
Fpr a' the livelang winter night
I lie twined of my marrow.

"Oh came you by yon water-side?
Pu'd you the rose or lily?
Or came you by yon meadow green?
Or saw you my sweet Willy?"

She sought him east, she sought him west,
She sought him braid and narrow;
Syne in the cleaving of a craig,
She found him drowned in Yarrow.



"Annan Water's wading deep,
And my Love Annie's wondrous bonny;
And I am laith she should wet her feet,
Because I love her best of ony."

He's loupen on his bonny gray,
He rade the right gate and the ready;
For all the storm he wadna stay,
For seeking of his bonny lady.

And he has ridden o'er field and fell,
Through moor, and moss, and many a mire;
His spurs of steel were sair to bide,
And from her four feet flew the fire.

"My bonny gray, now play your part!
If ye be the steed that wins my dearie,
With corn and hay ye'll be fed for aye,
And never spur shall make you wearie."

The gray was a mare, and a right gude mare;
But when she wan the Annan Water,
She could not have ridden the ford that night
Had a thousand merks been wadded at her.

"O boatman, boatman, put off your boat,
Put off your boat for golden money!"
But for all the gold in fair Scotland,
He dared not take him through to Annie.

"Oh, I was sworn so late yestreen,
Not by a single oath, but mony!
I'll cross the drumly stream tonight,
Or never could I face my honey."

The side was stey, and the bottom deep,
From bank to brae the water pouring;
The bonny gray mare she swat for fear,
For she heard the water-kelpy roaring.

He spurred her forth into the flood,
I wot she swam both strong and steady;
But the stream was broad, and her strength did fail,
And he never saw his bonny lady!



My love he built me a bonnie bower,
And clad it a' wi' lily flower;
A brawer bower ye ne'er did see,
Than my true-love he built for me.

There came a man, by middle day,
He spied his sport, and went away;
And brought the king that very night,
Who brake my bower, and slew my knight.

He slew my knight, to me sae dear;
He slew my knight, and poin'd his gear:
My servants all for life did flee,
And left me in extremitie.

I sewed his sheet, making my mane;
I watched the corpse, mysel alane;
I watched his body night and day;
No living creature came that way.

I took his body on my back,
And whiles I gaed, and whiles I sat;
I digged a grave, and laid him in,
And happed him with the sod sae green.

But think na ye my heart was sair,
When I laid the moul' on his yellow hair?
O, think na ye my heart was wae,
When I turned about, away to gae?

Nae living man I'll love again,
Since that my lovely knight is slain;
Wi' ae lock o' his yellow hair
I'll chain my heart for evermair.


From "The Maid's Tragedy"

Lay a garland on my hearse
Of the dismal yew;
Maidens, willow branches bear;
Say, I died true.

My love was false, but I was firm
From my hour of birth.
Upon my buried body lie
Lightly, gentle earth!

John Fletcher [1579-1625]

From the "What-d'ye-call-it"

'Twas when the seas were roaring
With hollow blasts of wind,
A damsel lay deploring,
All on a rock reclined.
Wide o'er the foaming billows
She cast a wistful look;
Her head was crowned with willows,
That trembled o'er the brook.

"Twelve months are gone and over,
And nine long tedious days;
Why didst thou, venturous lover,
Why didst thou trust the seas?
Cease, cease thou cruel ocean,
And let my lover rest;
Ah! what's thy troubled motion
To that within my breast?

"The merchant robbed of pleasure,
Sees tempests in despair;
But what's the loss of treasure,
To losing of my dear?
Should you some coast be laid on,
Where gold and diamonds grow,
You'd find a richer maiden,
But none that loves you so.

"How can they say that nature
Has nothing made in vain;
Why then, beneath the water,
Should hideous rocks remain?
No eyes the rocks discover
That lurk beneath the deep,
To wreck the wandering lover,
And leave the maid to weep."

All melancholy lying,
Thus wailed she for her dear;
Repaid each blast with sighing,
Each billow with a tear.
When, o'er the white wave stooping,
His floating corpse she spied,
Then, like a lily drooping,
She bowed her head, and died.

John Gay [1685-1732]


Thy braes were bonnie, Yarrow stream,
When first on them I met my lover:
Thy braes how dreary, Yarrow stream,
When now thy waves his body cover!
Forever now, O Yarrow stream!
Thou art to me a stream of sorrow;
For never on thy banks shall I
Behold my love, the flower of Yarrow.

He promised me a milk-white steed,
To bear me to his father's bowers;
He promised me a little page,
To squire me to his father's towers;
He promised me a wedding-ring, -
The wedding-day was fixed to-morrow;
Now he is wedded to his grave,
Alas! his watery grave, in Yarrow.

Sweet were his words when last we met:
My passion I as freely told him:
Clasped in his arms, I little thought
That I should never more behold him!
Scarce was he gone, I saw his ghost;
It vanished with a shriek of sorrow;
Thrice did the water-wraith ascend,
And gave a doleful groan through Yarrow.

His mother from the window looked,
With all the longing of a mother;
His little sister weeping walked
The greenwood path to meet her brother.
They sought him east, they sought him west,
They sought him all the forest thorough;
They only saw the cloud of night,
They only heard the roar of Yarrow!

No longer from thy window look, -
Thou hast no son, thou tender mother!
No longer walk, thou little maid;
Alas! thou hast no more a brother.
No longer seek him east or west,
And search no more the forest thorough;
For, wandering in the night so dark,
He fell a lifeless corse in Yarrow.

The tear shall never leave my cheek,
No other youth shall be my marrow:
I'll seek thy body in the stream,
And then with thee I'll sleep in Yarrow.
The tear did never leave her cheek,
No other youth became her marrow;
She found his body in the stream,
And now with him she sleeps in Yarrow.

John Logan [1748-1788]


My love lies in the gates of foam,
The last dear wreck of shore;
The naked sea-marsh binds her home,
The sand her chamber door.

The gray gull flaps the written stones,
The ox-birds chase the tide;
And near that narrow field of bones
Great ships at anchor ride.

Black piers with crust of dripping green,
One foreland, like a hand,
O'er intervals of grass between
Dim lonely dunes of sand.

A church of silent weathered looks,
A breezy reddish tower,
A yard whose mounded resting-nooks
Are tinged with sorrel flower.

In peace the swallow's eggs are laid
Along the belfry walls;
The tempest does not reach her shade,
The rain her silent halls.

But sails are sweet in summer sky,
The lark throws down a lay;
The long salt levels steam and dry,
The cloud-heart melts away.

But patches of the sea-pink shine,
The pied crows poise and come;
The mallow hangs, the bind-weeds twine,
Where her sweet lips are dumb.

The passion of the wave is mute;
No sound or ocean shock;
No music save the trilling flute
That marks the curlew flock.

But yonder when the wind is keen,
And rainy air is clear,
The merchant city's spires are seen,
The toil of men grows near.

Along the coast-way grind the wheels
Of endless carts of coal;
And on the sides of giant keels
The shipyard hammers roll.

The world creeps here upon the shout,
And stirs my heart to pain;
The mist descends and blots it out,
And I am strong again.

Strong and alone, my dove, with thee;
And though mine eyes be wet,
There's nothing in the world to me
So dear as my regret.

I would not change my sorrow sweet
For others' nuptial hours;
I love the daisies at thy feet
More than their orange flowers.

My hand alone shall tend thy tomb
From leaf-bud to leaf-fall,
And wreathe around each season's bloom
Till autumn ruins all.

Let snowdrops early in the year
Droop o'er her silent breast;
And bid the later cowslip rear
The amber of its crest.

Come hither, linnets tufted-red;
Drift by, O wailing tern;
Set pure vale lilies at her head,
At her feet lady-fern.

Grow, samphire, at the tidal brink,
Wave pansies of the shore,
To whisper how alone I think
Of her for evermore.

Bring blue sea-hollies thorny, keen,
Long lavender in flower;
Gray wormwood like a hoary queen,
Stanch mullein like a tower.

O sea-wall, mounded long and low,
Let iron bounds be thine;
Nor let the salt wave overflow
That breast I held divine.

Nor float its sea-weed to her hair,
Nor dim her eyes with sands;
No fluted cockle burrow where
Sleep folds her patient hands.

Though thy crest feel the wild sea's breath,
Though tide-weight tear thy root,
Oh, guard the treasure-house, where death
Has bound my Darling mute.

Though cold her pale lips to reward
With love's own mysteries,
Ah, rob no daisy from her swand,
Rough gale of eastern seas!

Ah, render sere no silken bent
That by her head-stone waves;
Let noon and golden summer blent
Pervade these ocean graves.

And, ah, dear heart, in thy still nest,
Resign this earth of woes,
Forget the ardors of the west,
Neglect the morning glows.

Sleep and forget all things but one,
Heard in each wave of sea, -
How lonely all the years will run
Until I rest by thee.

John Byrne Leicester Warren [1835-1895]

From "Aella"

Oh sing unto my roundelay;
Oh drop the briny tear with me;
Dance no more at holiday;
Like a running river be!
My love is dead,
Gone to his death-bed,
All under the willow tree!

Black his hair as the winter night,
White his throat as the summer snow,
Red his cheek as the morning light,
Cold he lies in the grave below.

Sweet his tongue as the throstle's note;
Quick in dance as thought can be;
Deft his tabor, cudgel stout,
Oh, he lies by the willow tree.

Hark! the raven flaps his wing
In the briery dell below;
Hark! the death-owl loud doth sing,
To the night-mares as they go.

See! the white moon shines on high;
Whiter is my true love's shroud;
Whiter than the morning sky,
Whiter than the evening cloud.

Here, upon my true love's grave,
Shall the barren, flowers be laid;
Not one holy saint to save
All the coldness of a maid.

With my hands I'll twist the briers
Round his holy corpse to gre;
Elfin fairy, light your fires,
Here my body still shall be.

Come, with acorn-cup and thorn,
Drain my heartes blood away;
Life and all its good I scorn,
Dance by night, or feast by day.

Water-witches, crowned with reeds,
Bear me to your deadly tide.
I die! I come! my true love waits!
Thus the damsel spake, and died.

Thomas Chatterton [1752-1770]


Ye banks and braes and streams around
The castle o' Montgomery,
Green be your woods, and fair your flowers,
Your waters never drumlie!
There simmer first unfauld her robes,
And there the langest tarry;
For there I took the last fareweel
O' my sweet Highland Mary.

How sweetly bloomed the gay green birk,
How rich the hawthorn's blossom,
As underneath their fragrant shade
I clasped her to my bosom!
The golden hours on angel's wings
Flew o'er me and my dearie;
For dear to me as light and life
Was my sweet Highland Mary.

Wi' mony a vow and locked embrace
Our parting was fu' tender;
And, pledging aft to meet again,
We tore oursels asunder;
But, O! fell Death's untimely frost,
That nipped my flower sae early!
Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay,
That wraps my Highland Mary!

O pale, pale now, those rosy lips,
I aft hae kissed sae fondly!
And closed for aye the sparkling glance
That dwelt on me sae kindly;
And moldering now in silent dust
That heart that lo'ed me dearly!
But still within my bosom's core
Shall live my Highland Mary.

Robert Burns [1759-1796]


Thou lingering star, with lessening ray,
That lov'st to greet the early morn,
Again thou usher'st in the day
My Mary from my soul was torn.
O Mary! dear departed shade!
Where is thy place of blissful rest?
See'st thou thy lover lowly laid?
Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast?

That sacred hour can I forget,
Can I forget the hallowed grove,
Where by the winding Ayr we met,
To live one day of parting love!
Eternity will not efface
Those records dear of transports past;
Thy image at our last embrace, -
Ah! little thought we 'twas our last!

Ayr, gurgling, kissed his pebbled shore,
O'erhung with wild woods, thickening green;
The fragrant birch, and hawthorn hoar,
Twined amorous round the raptured scene;
The flowers sprang wanton to be pressed,
The birds sang love on every spray, -
Till soon, too soon, the glowing west
Proclaimed the speed of winged day.

Still o'er these scenes my memory wakes,
And fondly broods with miser care!
Time but the impression stronger makes,
As streams their channels deeper wear.
My Mary! dear departed shade!
Where is thy place of blissful rest?
See'st thou thy lover lowly laid?
Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast?

Robert Burns [1759-1796]


Strange fits of passion have I known:
And I will dare to tell,
But in the lover's ear alone,
What once to me befell.

When she I loved looked every day
Fresh as a rose in June,
I to her cottage bent my way,
Beneath an evening moon.

Upon the moon I fixed my eye,
All over the wide lea;
With quickening pace my horse drew nigh
Those paths so dear to me.

And now we reached the orchard-plot;
And, as we climbed the hill,
The sinking moon to Lucy's cot
Came near, and nearer still.

In one of those sweet dreams I slept,
Kind Nature's gentlest boon!
And all the while my eyes I kept
On the descending moon.

My horse moved on; hoof after hoof
He raised, and never stopped:
When down behind the cottage roof,
At once, the bright moon dropped.

What fond and wayward thoughts will slide
Into a lover's head!
"O mercy!" to myself I cried,
"If Lucy should be dead!"

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and oh,
The difference to me!

I traveled among unknown men,
In lands beyond the sea;
Nor, England! did I know till then
What love I bore to thee.

'Tis past, that melancholy dream!
Nor will I quit thy shore
A second time; for still I seem
To love thee more and more.

Among thy mountains did I feel
The joy of my desire;
And she I cherished turned her wheel
Beside an English fire.

Thy mornings showed, thy nights concealed,
The bowers where Lucy played;
And thine too is the last green field
That Lucy's eyes surveyed.

Three years she grew in sun and shower;
Then Nature said, "A lovelier flower
On earth was never sown;
This child I to myself will take;
She shall be mine, and I will make
A lady of my own.

"Myself will to my darling be
Both law and impulse: and with me
The girl, in rock and plain,
In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,
Shall feel an overseeing power
To kindle or restrain.

"She shall be sportive as the fawn
That wild with glee across the lawn
Or up the mountain springs;
And hers shall be the breathing balm,
And hers the silence and the calm
Of mute insensate things.

"The floating clouds their state shall lend
To her; for her the willow bend;
Nor shall she fail to see
Even in the motions of the storm
Grace that shall mold the maiden's form
By silent sympathy.

"The stars of midnight shall be dear
To her; and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place
Where rivulets dance their wayward round
And beauty born of murmuring sound
Shall pass into her face.

"And vital feelings of delight
Shall rear her form to stately height,
Her virgin bosom swell;
Such thoughts to Lucy I will give
While she and I together live
Here in this happy dell."

Thus Nature spake - The work was done -
How soon my Lucy's race was run!
She died, and left to me
This heath, this calm and quiet scene;
The memory of what has been,
And never more will be.

A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, or force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.

William Wordsworth [1770-1850]

From "The Heart of Midlothian"

Proud Maisie is in the wood,
Walking so early;
Sweet Robin sits on the bush,
Singing so rarely.

"Tell me, thou bonny bird,
When shall I marry me?"
- "When six braw gentlemen
Kirkward shall carry ye."

Who makes the bridal bed,
Birdie, say truly?"
- "The gray-headed sexton
That delves the grave duly.

"The glow-worm o'er grave and stone
Shall light thee steady;
The owl from the steeple sing
Welcome, proud lady!"

Walter Scott [1771-1832]


Earl March looked on his dying child,
And, smit with grief to view her -
The youth, he cried, whom I exiled
Shall be restored to woo her.

She's at the window many an hour
His coming to discover;
And he looked up to Ellen's bower
And she looked on her lover -

But ah! so pale, he knew her not,
Though her smile on him was dwelling!
And I am then forgot - forgot?
It broke the heart of Ellen.

In vain he weeps, in vain he sighs,
Her cheek is cold as ashes;
Nor love's own kiss shall wake those eyes
To lift their silken lashes.

Thomas Campbell [1777-1844]

From "The Examination of Shakespeare"

I loved him not; and yet now he is gone
I feel I am alone.
I checked him while he spoke; yet could he speak,
Alas! I would not check.
For reasons not to love him once I sought,
And wearied all my thought
To vex myself and him: I now would give
My love, could he but live
Who lately lived for me, and when he found
'Twas vain, in holy ground
He hid his face amid the shades of death.
I waste for him my breath
Who wasted his for me; but mine returns,
And this lorn bosom burns
With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep,
And waking me to weep
Tears that had melted his soft heart: for years
Wept he as bitter tears.
Merciful God! Such was his latest prayer,
These may she never share!
Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold,
Than daisies in the mold,
Where children spell, athwart the churchyard gate,
His name and life's brief date.
Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe'er you be,
And, oh! pray too for me!

Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]


She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps,
And lovers are round her, sighing:
But coldly she turns from their gaze, and weeps,
For her heart in his grave is lying.

She sings the wild songs of her dear native plains,
Every note which he loved awaking; -
Ah! little they think, who delight in her strains,
How the heart of the minstrel is breaking.

He had lived for his love, for his country he died,
They were all that to life had entwined him;
Nor soon shall the tears of his country be dried,
Nor long will his love stay behind him.

Oh! make her a grave where the sunbeams rest,
When they promise a glorious morrow;
They'll shine o'er her sleep, like a smile from the West,
From her own loved island of sorrow.

Thomas Moore [1779-1852]


At the mid hour of night, when stars are weeping, I fly
To the lone vale we loved, when life shone warm in thine eye;
And I think oft, if spirits can steal from the regions of air
To revisit past scenes of delight, thou wilt come to me there,
And tell me our love is remembered even in the sky.

Then I sing the wild song 'twas once such rapture to hear,
When our voices commingling breathed like one on the ear;
And, as Echo far off through the vale my sad orison rolls,
I think, O my love! 'tis thy voice from the Kingdom of Souls
Faintly answering still the notes that once were so dear.

Thomas Moore [1779-1852]


Ah, happy youths, ah, happy maid,
Snatch present pleasure while ye may;
Laugh, dance, and sing in sunny glade,
Your limbs are light, your hearts are gay;
Ye little think there comes a day
('Twill come to you, it came to me)
When love and life shall pass away:
I, too, once dwelt in Arcady.

Or listless lie by yonder stream,
And muse and watch the ripples play,
Or note their noiseless flow, and deem
That life thus gently glides away -
That love is but a sunny ray
To make our years go smiling by.
I knew that stream, I too could dream,
I, too, once dwelt in Arcady.

Sing, shepherds, sing; sweet lady, listen;
Sing to the music of the rill,
With happy tears her bright eyes glisten,
For, as each pause the echoes fill,
They waft her name from hill to hill -
So listened my lost love to me,
The voice she loved has long been still;
I, too, once dwelt in Arcady.

John Addington Symonds [1840-1893]


There's a grass-grown road from the valley -
A winding road and steep -
That leads to the quiet hill-top,
Where lies your love asleep. . . .
While mine is lying, God knows where,
A hundred fathoms deep.

I saw you kneel at a grave-side -
How still a grave can be,
Wrapped in the tender starlight,
Far from the moaning sea!
But through all dreams and starlight,
The breakers call to me.

Oh, steep is your way to Silence -
But steeper the ways I roam,
For never a road can take me
Beyond the wind and foam,
And never a road can reach him
Who lies so far from home.

Ruth Guthrie Harding [1882-


Back to Full Books