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Ballade de Marguerite

by Oscar Wilde, 1881

I AM weary of lying within the chase
 When the knights are meeting in market-place.

 Nay, go not thou to the red-roofed town
 Lest the hooves of the war-horse tread thee down.

 But I would not go where the Squires ride,
 I would only walk by my Lady’s side.

 Alack! and alack! thou art over bold,
 A Forester’s son may not eat off gold.

 Will she love me the less that my Father is seen,
 Each Martinmas day in a doublet green?

 Perchance she is sewing at tapestrie,
 Spindle and loom are not meet for thee.

 Ah, if she is working the arras bright
 I might ravel the threads by the fire-light.

 Perchance she is hunting of the deer,
 How could you follow o’er hill and meer?

 Ah, if she is riding with the court,
 I might run beside her and wind the morte.

 Perchance she is kneeling in S. Denys,
 (On her soul may our Lady have gramercy!)

 Ah, if she is praying in lone chapelle,
 I might swing the censer and ring the bell.

 Come in my son, for you look sae pale,
 The father shall fill thee a stoup of ale.

 But who are these knights in bright array?
 Is it a pageant the rich folks play?

 ’Tis the King of England from over sea,
 Who has come unto visit our fair countrie.

 But why does the curfew toll sae low
 And why do the mourners walk a-row?

 O ’tis Hugh of Amiens my sister’s son
 Who is lying stark, for his day is done.

 Nay, nay, for I see white lilies clear,
 It is no strong man who lies on the bier.

 O ’tis old Dame Jeannette that kept the hall,
 I knew she would die at the autumn fall.

 Dame Jeannette had not that gold-brown hair,
 Old Jeannette was not a maiden fair.

 O ’tis none of our kith and none of our kin,
 (Her soul may our Lady assoil from sin!)

 But I hear the boy’s voice chaunting sweet,
 “Elle est morte, la Marguerite.”

 Come in my son and lie on the bed,
 And let the dead folk bury their dead.

 O mother, you know I loved her true:
 O mother, hath one grave room for two?

Published in Poems

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