Mankind bemoan them on the bitterness
Of death. Nay, rather let them chide the grief
Of living, chide the waste of mother-love
For babes that joy to get away to God;
The waste of work and moil and thought and thrift
And father-love for sons that heed it not,
And daughters lost and gone. Ay, let them chide
These. Yet I chide not. That which I have done
Was rightly done; and what thereon befell
Could make no right a wrong, e’en were ’t to do
I will be brief. The days drag on,
My soul forebodes her death, my lonely age.
Once I despondent in the moaning wood
Look out, and lo a caravel at sea,
A man that climbs the rock, and presently
I did greet him, proud no more.
He had braved durance, as I knew, ay death,
To land on th’ Island soil. In broken words
Of English he did ask me how she fared.
Quoth I, ’She is dying, Spaniard; Rosamund
My girl will die;’ but he is fain, saith he,
To talk with her, and all his mind to speak;
I answer, ’Ay, my whilome enemy,
But she is dying.’ ‘Nay, now nay,’ quoth he,
‘So be she liveth,’ and he moved me yet
For answer; then quoth I, ’Come life, come death,
What thou wilt, say.’
Soon made we Rosamund
Aware, she lying on the settle, wan
As a lily in the shade, and while she not
Believed for marvelling, comes he roundly in,
The tall grave Spaniard, and with but one smile,
One look of ruth upon her small pale face,
All slowly as with unaccustom’d mouth,
Betakes him to that English he hath conned,
Setting the words out plain:
Love! An so please thee, I would be thy man.
By all the saints will I be good to thee.
Come! what think you, would she come? Ay, ay.
They love us, but our love is not their life.
For the dark mariner’s love lived Rosamund.
Soon for his kiss she bloomed, smiled for his smile.
(The Spaniard reaped e’en as th’ Evangel saith,
And bore in ’s bosom forth my golden sheaf.)
She loved her father and her mother well,
But loved the Spaniard better. It was sad
To part, but she did part; and it was far
To go, but she did go. The priest was brought,
The ring was bless’d that bound my Rosamund,
She sailed, and I shall never see her more.
One soweth and another reapeth. Ay,
Too true! too true!
Ay, Oliver! I was but seven, and he was eleven;
He looked at me pouting and rosy. I blushed where I stood.
They had told us to play in the orchard (and I only seven!
A small guest at the farm); but he said, ‘Oh, a girl was no good!’
So he whistled and went, he went over the stile to the wood.
It was sad, it was sorrowful! Only a girl—only seven!
At home in the dark London smoke I had not found it out.
The pear-trees looked on in their white, and blue birds flash’d about,
And they too were angry as Oliver. Were they eleven?
I thought so. Yes, everyone else was eleven—eleven!