A crown with pearls bedight, the girl
Was wearing, and no other stone;
High pinnacled of clear white pearl,
Wrought as if pearls to flowers were grown.
No band nor fillet else did furl
The long locks all about her thrown.
Her air demure as duke or earl,
Her hue more white than walrus-bone;
Like sheer gold thread the bright hair strown
Loose on her shoulders, lying light.
Her colour took a deeper tone
With bordering pearls so fair bedight.
Bedight was every hem, and bound,
At wrists, sides, and each aperture,
With pearls the whitest ever found,—
White all her brave investiture;
But a wondrous pearl, a flawless round,
Upon her breast was set full sure;
A man’s mind it might well astound,
And all his wits to madness lure.
I thought that no tongue might endure
Fully to tell of that sweet sight,
So was it perfect, clear and pure,
That precious pearl with pearls bedight.
Bedight in pearls, lest my joy cease,
That lovely one came down the shore;
The gladdest man from here to Greece,
The eagerest, was I, therefore;
She was nearer kin than aunt or niece,
And thus my joy was much the more.
She spoke to me for my soul’s peace,
Courtesied with her quaint woman’s lore,
Caught off the shining crown she wore,
And greeted me with glance alight.
I blessed my birth; my bliss brimmed o’er
To answer her in pearls bedight.
“O Pearl,” I said, “in pearls bedight,
Art thou my pearl for which I mourn,
Lamenting all alone at night?
With hidden grief my heart is worn.
Since thou through grass didst slip from sight,
Pensive and pained, I pass forlorn,
And thou livest in a life of light,
A world where enters sin nor scorn.
What fate has hither my jewel borne,
And left me in earth’s strife and stir?
Oh, sweet, since we in twain were torn,
I have been a joyless jeweler.”
That Jewel then with gems besprent
Glanced up at me with eyes of grey,
Put on her pearl crown orient,
And soberly began to say:
“You tell your tale with wrong intent,
Thinking your pearl gone quite away.
Like a jewel within a coffer pent,
In this gracious garden bright and gay,
Your pearl may ever dwell at play,
Where sin nor mourning come to her;
It were a joy to thee alway
Wert thou a gentle jeweler.
“But, Jeweler, if thou dost lose
Thy joy for a gem once dear to thee,
Methinks thou dost thy mind abuse,
Bewildered by a fantasy;
Thou hast lost nothing save a rose
That flowered and failed by life’s decree:
Because the coffer did round it close,
A precious pearl it came to be.
A thief thou hast dubbed thy destiny
That something for nothing gives thee, sir;
Thou blamest thy sorrow’s remedy,
Thou art no grateful jeweler.”