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Archive for the ‘Poems of Other Poets’ Category

(verse from Hard Times by Charles Dickens)

There was an old woman, and what do you think?
She lived upon nothing but victuals and drink;
Victuals and drink were the whole of her diet,
And yet this old woman would NEVER be quiet.

 

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Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we,”
…….Said Wynken,
…….Blynken,
…….And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
Never afraid are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
…….Wynken,
…….Blynken,
…….And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam,—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home:
‘Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
As if it could not be;
And some folk thought ‘twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea;
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
…….Wynken,
…….Blynken,
…….And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:—
…….Wynken,
…….Blynken,
…….And Nod.

 

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I

The God of Love-‘ah, benedicite!’
How mighty and how great a Lord is he!
For he of low hearts can make high, of high
He can make low, and unto death bring nigh;
And hard-hearts he can make them kind and free.

II

Within a little time, as hath been found,
He can make sick folk whole and fresh and sound:
Them who are whole in body and in mind,
He can make sick,-bind can he and unbind
All that he will have bound, or have unbound.

III

To tell his might my wit may not suffice;
Foolish men he can make them out of wise;-
For he may do all that he will devise;
Loose livers he can make abate their vice,
And proud hearts can make tremble in a trice.

IV

In brief, the whole of what he will, he may;
Against him dare not any wight say nay;
To humble or afflict whome’er he will,
To gladden or to grieve, he hath like skill;
But most his might he sheds on the eve of May.

V

For every true heart, gentle heart and free,
That with him is, or thinketh so to be,
Now against May shall have some stirring-whether
To joy, or be it to some mourning; never
At other time, methinks, in like degree.

VI

For now when they may hear the small birds’ song,
And see the budding leaves the branches throng,
This unto their remembrance doth bring
All kinds of pleasure mixed with sorrowing;
And longing of sweet thoughts that ever long.

VII

And of that longing heaviness doth come,
Whence oft great sickness grows of heart and home:
Sick are they all for lack of their desire;
And thus in May their hearts are set on fire,
So that they burn forth in great martyrdom.

VIII

In sooth, I speak from feeling, what though now
Old am I, and to genial pleasure slow;
Yet have I felt of sickness through the May,
Both hot and cold, and heart-aches every day,-
How hard, alas! to bear, I only know.

IX

Such shaking doth the fever in me keep
Through all this May that I have little sleep;
And also ’tis not likely unto me,
That any living heart should sleepy be
In which Love’s dart its fiery point doth steep.

X

But tossing lately on a sleepless bed,
I of a token thought which Lovers heed;
How among them it was a common tale,
That it was good to hear the Nightingale,
Ere the vile Cuckoo’s note be uttered.

XI

And then I thought anon as it was day,
I gladly would go somewhere to essay
If I perchance a Nightingale might hear,
For yet had I heard none, of all that year,
And it was then the third night of the May.

XII

And soon as I a glimpse of day espied,
No longer would I in my bed abide,
But straightway to a wood that was hard by,
Forth did I go, alone and fearlessly,
And held the pathway down by a brookside;

XIII

Till to a lawn I came all white and green,
I in so fair a one had never been.
The ground was green, with daisy powdered over;
Tall were the flowers, the grove a lofty cover,
All green and white; and nothing else was seen.

XIV

There sate I down among the fair fresh flowers,
And saw the birds come tripping from their bowers,
Where they had rested them all night; and they,
Who were so joyful at the light of day,
Began to honour May with all their powers.

XV

Well did they know that service all by rote,
And there was many and many a lovely note,
Some, singing loud, as if they had complained;
Some with their notes another manner feigned;
And some did sing all out with the full throat.

XVI

They pruned themselves, and made themselves right gay,
Dancing and leaping light upon the spray;
And ever two and two together were,
The same as they had chosen for the year,
Upon Saint Valentine’s returning day.

XVII

Meanwhile the stream, whose bank I sate upon,
Was making such a noise as it ran on
Accordant to the sweet Birds’ harmony;
Methought that it was the best melody
Which ever to man’s ear a passage won.

XVIII

And for delight, but how I never wot,
I in a slumber and a swoon was caught,
Not all asleep and yet not waking wholly;
And as I lay, the Cuckoo, bird unholy,
Broke silence, or I heard him in my thought.

XIX

And that was right upon a tree fast by,
And who was then ill satisfied but I?
Now, God, quoth I, that died upon the rood,
From thee and thy base throat, keep all that’s good,
Full little joy have I now of thy cry.

XX

And, as I with the Cuckoo thus ‘gan chide,
In the next bush that was me fast beside,
I heard the lusty Nightingale so sing,
That her clear voice made a loud rioting,
Echoing thorough all the green wood wide.

XXI

Ah! good sweet Nightingale! for my heart’s cheer,
Hence hast thou stayed a little while too long;
For we have had the sorry Cuckoo here,
And she hath been before thee with her song;
Evil light on her! she hath done me wrong.

XXII

But hear you now a wondrous thing, I pray;
As long as in that swooning-fit I lay,
Methought I wist right well what these birds meant,
And had good knowing both of their intent,
And of their speech, and all that they would say.

XXIII

The Nightingale thus in my hearing spake:-
Good Cuckoo, seek some other bush or brake,
And, prithee, let us that can sing dwell here;
For every wight eschews thy song to hear,
Such uncouth singing verily dost thou make.

XXIV

What! quoth she then, what is’t that ails thee now?
It seems to me I sing as well as thou;
For mine’s a song that is both true and plain,-
Although I cannot quaver so in vain
As thou dost in thy throat, I wot not how.

XXV

All men may understanding have of me,
But, Nightingale, so may they not of thee;
For thou hast many a foolish and quaint cry:-
Thou say’st OSEE, OSEE, then how may I
Have knowledge, I thee pray, what this may be?

XXVI

Ah, fool! quoth she, wist thou not what it is?
Oft as I say OSEE, OSEE, I wis,
Then mean I, that I should be wonderous fain
That shamefully they one and all were slain,
Whoever against Love mean aught amiss.

XXVII

And also would I that they all were dead,
Who do not think in love their life to lead;
For who is loth the God of Love to obey,
Is only fit to die, I dare well say,
And for that cause OSEE I cry; take heed!

XXVIII

Ay, quoth the Cuckoo, that is a quaint law,
That all must love or die; but I withdraw,
And take my leave of all such company,
For mine intent it neither is to die,
Nor ever while I live Love’s yoke to draw.

XXIX

For lovers of all folk that be alive,
The most disquiet have and least do thrive;
Most feeling have of sorrow woe and care,
And the least welfare cometh to their share;
What need is there against the truth to strive?

XXX

What! quoth she, thou art all out of thy mind,
That in thy churlishness a cause canst find
To speak of Love’s true Servants in this mood;
For in this world no service is so good
To every wight that gentle is of kind.

XXXI

For thereof comes all goodness and all worth;
All gentiless and honour thence come forth;
Thence worship comes, content and true heart’s pleasure,
And full-assured trust, joy without measure,
And jollity, fresh cheerfulness, and mirth;

XXXII

And bounty, lowliness, and courtesy,
And seemliness, and faithful company,
And dread of shame that will not do amiss;
For he that faithfully Love’s servant is,
Rather than be disgraced, would chuse to die.

XXXIII

And that the very truth it is which I
Now say-in such belief I’ll live and die;
And Cuckoo, do thou so, by my advice.
Then, quoth she, let me never hope for bliss,
If with that counsel I do e’er comply.

XXXIV

Good Nightingale! thou speakest wondrous fair,
Yet for all that, the truth is found elsewhere;
For Love in young folk is but rage, I wis:
And Love in old folk a great dotage is;
Who most it useth, him ’twill most impair.

XXXV

For thereof come all contraries to gladness!
Thence sickness comes, and overwhelming sadness,
Mistrust and jealousy, despite, debate,
Dishonour, shame, envy importunate,
Pride, anger, mischief, poverty, and madness.

XXXVI

Loving is aye an office of despair,
And one thing is therein which is not fair;
For whoso gets of love a little bliss,
Unless it alway stay with him, I wis
He may full soon go with an old man’s hair.

XXXVII

And, therefore, Nightingale! do thou keep nigh,
For trust me well, in spite of thy quaint cry,
If long time from thy mate thou be, or far,
Thou’lt be as others that forsaken are;
Then shalt thou raise a clamour as do I.

XXXVIII

Fie, quoth she, on thy name, Bird ill beseen!
The God of Love afflict thee with all teen,
For thou art worse than mad a thousand fold;
For many a one hath virtues manifold,
Who had been nought, if Love had never been.

XXXIX

For evermore his servants Love amendeth,
And he from every blemish them defendeth;
And maketh them to burn, as in a fire,
In loyalty, and worshipful desire,
And, when it likes him, joy enough them sendeth.

XL

Thou Nightingale! the Cuckoo said, be still,
For Love no reason hath but his own will;-
For to th’ untrue he oft gives ease and joy;
True lovers doth so bitterly annoy,
He lets them perish through that grievous ill.

XLI

With such a master would I never be;
For he, in sooth, is blind, and may not see,
And knows not when he hurts and when he heals;
Within this court full seldom Truth avails,
So diverse in his wilfulness is he.

XLII

Then of the Nightingale did I take note,
How from her inmost heart a sigh she brought,
And said, Alas! that ever I was born,
Not one word have I now, I am so forlorn,-
And with that word, she into tears burst out.

XLIII

Alas, alas! my very heart will break,
Quoth she, to hear this churlish bird thus speak
Of Love, and of his holy services;
Now, God of Love; thou help me in some wise,
That vengeance on this Cuckoo I may wreak.

XLIV

And so methought I started up anon,
And to the brook I ran and got a stone,
Which at the Cuckoo hardily I cast,
And he for dread did fly away full fast;
And glad, in sooth, was I when he was gone.

XLV

And as he flew, the Cuckoo, ever and aye,
Kept crying ‘Farewell!-farewell, Popinjay!’
As if in scornful mockery of me;
And on I hunted him from tree to tree,
Till he was far, all out of sight, away.

XLVI

Then straightway came the Nightingale to me,
And said, Forsooth, my friend, do I thank thee,
That thou wert near to rescue me; and now,
Unto the God of Love I make a vow,
That all this May I will thy songstress be.

XLVII

Well satisfied, I thanked her, and she said,
By this mishap no longer be dismayed,
Though thou the Cuckoo heard, ere thou heard’st me;
Yet if I live it shall amended be,
When next May comes, if I am not afraid.

XLVIII

And one thing will I counsel thee also,
The Cuckoo trust not thou, nor his Love’s saw;
All that she said is an outrageous lie.
Nay, nothing shall me bring thereto, quoth I,
For Love, and it hath done me mighty woe.

XLIX

Yea, hath it? use, quoth she, this medicine;
This May-time, every day before thou dine,
Go look on the fresh daisy; then say I,
Although for pain thou may’st be like to die,
Thou wilt be eased, and less wilt droop and pine.

L

And mind always that thou be good and true,
And I will sing one song, of many new,
For love of thee, as loud as I may cry;
And then did she begin this song full high,
‘Beshrew all them that are in love untrue.’

LI

And soon as she had sung it to the end,
Now farewell, quoth she, for I hence must wend;
And, God of Love, that can right well and may,
Send unto thee as mickle joy this day,
As ever he to Lover yet did send.

LII

Thus takes the Nightingale her leave of me;
I pray to God with her always to be,
And joy of love to send her evermore;
And shield us from the Cuckoo and her lore,
For there is not so false a bird as she.

LIII

Forth then she flew, the gentle Nightingale,
To all the Birds that lodged within that dale,
And gathered each and all into one place;
And them besought to hear her doleful case,
And thus it was that she began her tale.

LIV

The Cuckoo-’tis not well that I should hide
How she and I did each the other chide,
And without ceasing, since it was daylight;
And now I pray you all to do me right
Of that false Bird whom Love can not abide.

LV

Then spake one Bird, and full assent all gave;
This matter asketh counsel good as grave,
For birds we are-all here together brought;
And, in good sooth, the Cuckoo here is not;
And therefore we a Parliament will have.

LVI

And thereat shall the Eagle be our Lord,
And other Peers whose names are on record;
A summons to the Cuckoo shall be sent,
And judgment there be given; or that intent
Failing, we finally shall make accord.

LVII

And all this shall be done, without a nay,
The morrow after Saint Valentine’s day,
Under a maple that is well beseen,
Before the chamber-window of the Queen,
At Woodstock, on the meadow green and gay.

LVIII

She thanked them; and then her leave she took,
And flew into a hawthorn by that brook;
And there she sate and sung-upon that tree-
‘For term of life Love shall have hold of me’-
So loudly, that I with that song awoke.

Unlearned Book and rude, as well I know,
For beauty thou hast none, nor eloquence,
Who did on thee the hardiness bestow
To appear before my Lady? but a sense
Thou surely hast of her benevolence,
Whereof her hourly bearing proof doth give;
For of all good she is the best alive.

Alas, poor Book! for thy unworthiness,
To show to her some pleasant meanings writ
In winning words, since through her gentiless,
Thee she accepts as for her service fit!
Oh! it repents me I have neither wit
Nor leisure unto thee more worth to give;
For of all good she is the best alive.

Beseech her meekly with all lowliness,
Though I be far from her I reverence,
To think upon my truth and stedfastness,
And to abridge my sorrow’s violence,
Caused by the wish, as knows your sapience,
She of her liking proof to me would give;
For of all good she is the best alive.

L’ENVOY

Pleasure’s Aurora, Day of gladsomeness!
Luna by night, with heavenly influence
Illumined! root of beauty and goodnesse,
Write, and allay, by your beneficence,
My sighs breathed forth in silence,-comfort give!
Since of all good, you are the best alive.

EXPLICIT

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I

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
………………….You are,
………………….You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”

II

Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
………………….His nose,
………………….His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

III

“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
………………….The moon,
………………….The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

 

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At evening when the lamp is lit,
Around the fire my parents sit;
They sit at home and talk and sing,
And do not play at anything. 

Now, with my little gun, I crawl
All in the dark along the wall,
And follow round the forest track
Away behind the sofa back. 

There, in the night, where none can spy,
All in my hunter’s camp I lie,
And play at books that I have read
Till it is time to go to bed. 

These are the hills, these are the woods,
These are my starry solitudes;
And there the river by whose brink
The roaring lions come to drink. 

I see the others far away
As if in firelit camp they lay,
And I, like to an Indian scout,
Around their party prowled about. 

So, when my nurse comes in for me,
Home I return across the sea,
And go to bed with backward looks
At my dear land of Story-books.

 

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I dreaded that first Robin so,
But He is mastered, now,
I’m some accustomed to Him grown,
He hurts a little, though – 

I thought if I could only live
Till that first Shout got by –
Not all Pianos in the woods
Had power to mangle me – 

I dared not meet the Daffodils –
For fear their Yellow Gown
Would pierce me with a fashion
So foreign to my own – 

I wished the Grass would hurry –
So – when ’twas time to see –
He’d be too tall, the tallest one
Could stretch – to look at me – 

I could not bear the Bees should come,
I wished they’d stay away
In those dim countries where they go,
What word had they, for me? 

They’re here, though; not a creature failed –
No Blossom stayed away
In gentle deference to me –
The Queen of Calvary – 

Each one salutes me, as he goes,
And I, my childish Plumes,
Lift, in bereaved acknowledgment
Of their unthinking Drums –

 

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……When Age comes on! –
The deepening dusk is where the dawn
Once glittered splendid, and the dew,
In honey-drips from red rose-lips,
Was kissed away by me and you. –
And now across the frosty lawn
Black footprints trail, and Age comes on –
……And Age comes on!
And biting wild-winds whistle through
Our tattered hopes – and Age comes on!
……When Age comes on! –
O tide of raptures, long withdrawn,
Flow back in summer floods, and fling
Here at our feet our childhood sweet,
And all the songs we used to sing! …
Old loves, old friends – all dead and gone –
Our old faith lost – and Age comes on –
……And Age comes on!
Poor hearts! have we not anything
But longings left when Age comes on?

 

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I stood at eve, as the sun went down, by a grave where a woman lies,
Who lured men’s souls to the shores of sin with the light of her wanton eyes;
Who sang the song that the Siren sang on the treacherous Lurley height,
Whose face was as fair as a summer day, and whose heart was as black as night.

Yet a blossom I fain would pluck today from the garden above her dust –
Not the languorous lily of soulless sin, nor the blood-red rose of lust,
But a pure white blossom of holy love that grew in the one green spot
In the arid desert of Phryne’s life, where all was parched and hot.

In the summer, when the meadows were aglow with blue and red,
Joe, the hostler of the ‘Magpie,” and fair Annie Smith were wed.
Plump was Annie, plump and pretty, with cheek as white as snow;
He was anything but handsome, was the “Magpie” hostler, Joe.

But be won the winsome lassie. They’d a cottage and a cow;
And her matronhood sat lightly on the village beauty’s brow.
Sped the months and came a baby-such a blue-eyed baby boy;
Joe was working in the stables when they told him of his joy.

He was rubbing down the horses, and he gave them then and there
All a special feed of clover, just in honor of the heir.
It had been his great ambition, and he told the horses so,
That the Fates would send a baby who might bear the name of Joe.

Little Joe the child was christened, and, like babies, grew apace,
He’d his mother’s eyes of azure and his father’s honest face.
Swift the happy years went over, years of blue and cloudless sky,
Love was lord of that small cottage, and the tempest passed them by.

Passed them by for years, then swiftly burst in fury o’er their home.
Down the lane by Annie’s cottage chanced a gentleman to roam;
Thrice he came and saw her sitting by the window with her child,
And he nodded to the baby, and the baby laughed and smiled.

So at last it grew to know him-little Joe was nearly four-
He would call the “pretty gemlum’ as he passed the open door,
And one day he ran and caught him, and in child’s play pulled him in,
And the baby Joe had prayed for brought about the mother’s sin.

‘Twas the same old wretched story that for ages bards had sung,
‘Twas a woman weak and wanton, and a villain’s tempting tongue;
‘Twas a picture deftly painted for a silly creature’s eyes
Of the Babylonian wonders, and the joy that in them lies.

Annie listened and was tempted-she was tempted and she fell,
As the angel fell from heaven to the blackest depths of hell;
She was promised wealth and splendour, and a life of guilty sloth,
Yellow gold for child and husband-and the woman left them both.

Home one eve came Joe the hostler, with a cheery cry of “Wife!”
Finding that which blurred forever all the story of his life.
She had left a silly letter, — through the cruel scrawl he spelt;
Then he sought his lonely bedroom, joined his horny hands, and knelt.

“Now, 0 Lord, 0 God, forgive her, for she ain’t to blame,” he cried;
“For I owt to seen her trouble, and ‘a’ gone away and died.
Why, a wench like her-God bless her! ’twasn’t likely as her’d rest
With that bonnie head forever on a hostler’s rugged breast.”

“It was kind of her to bear me all this long and happy time;
So, for my sake please to bless her, though you count her deed a crime-,
If so be I don’t pray proper, Lord, forgive me; for you see
I can talk all right to ‘osses; but I’m nervouslike with Thee.”

Ne’er a line came to the cottage, from the woman who had flown;
Joe, the baby, died that winter, and the man was left alone.
Ne’er a bitter word he uttered, but in silence kissed the rod,
Saving what he told the horses-saving what he told his God.

Far away, in mighty London, rose the woman into fame,
For her beauty won men’s homage, and she prospered in her shame.
Quick from lord to lord she flitted, higher still each prize she won,
And her rivals paled beside her, as the stars beside the sun.

Next she trod the stage half naked, and she dragged a temple down
To the level of a market for the women of the town.
And the kisses she had given to poor hostler Joe for naught
With their gold and priceless jewels rich and titled rou’es bought.

Went the years with flying footsteps while her star was at its height,
Then the darkness came on swiftly, and the gloaming turned to night.
Shattered strength and faded beauty tore the laurels from her brow;
Of the thousands who had worshipped never one came near her now.

Broken down in health and fortune, men forgot her very name,
Till the news that she was dying woke the echoes of her fame;
And the papers, in their gossip, mentioned how an actress lay
Sick to death in humble lodgings, growing weaker every day.

One there was who read the story in a far-off country place,
And that night the dying woman woke and looked upon his face.
Once again the strong arms clasped her that had clasped her years ago,
And the weary head lay pillowed on the breast of hostler Joe.

All the past had he forgiven, all the sorrow and the shame;
He had found her sick and lonely, and his wife he now could claim,
Since the grand folks who had known her, one and all, had slunk away,
He could clasp his long-lost darling, and no man would say him nay.

In his arms death found her lying, in his arms her spirit fled;
And his tears came down in torrents as he knelt beside her dead.
Never once his love had faltered, through her base, unhallowed life,
And the stone above her ashes bears the honored name of wife.

That’s the blossom I fain would pluck today, from the garden above her dust;
Not the languorous lily of soulless sin, nor the blood-red rose of lust;
But a sweet white blossom of holy love, that grew in the one green spot
In the arid desert of Phryne’s life, where all was parched and hot.

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I saw a ship a-sailing,
A-sailing on the sea,
And oh! it was all laden
With pretty things for thee! 

There were comfits in the cabin,
And apples in the hold;
The sails were made of silk,
And the masts were made of gold. 

The four-and-twenty sailors
That stood between the decks
Were four-and-twenty white mice,
With chains about their necks. 

The captain was a duck,
With a packet on his back,
And when the ship began to move,
The captain said, “Quack! Quack!”

 

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Part I

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro’ the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil’d,
Slide the heavy barges trail’d
By slow horses; and unhail’d
The shallop flitteth silken-sail’d
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower’d Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers ” ‘Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott.”

Part II

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving thro’ a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair’d page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower’d Camelot;
And sometimes thro’ the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror’s magic sights,
For often thro’ the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed:
“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.

Part III

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro’ the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel’d
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter’d free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon’d baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell’d shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn’d like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro’ the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
“Tirra lirra,” by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.

Part IV

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance—
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right—
The leaves upon her falling light—
Thro’ the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken’d wholly,
Turn’d to tower’d Camelot.
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross’d themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott.”

 

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