I thought I should have fainted, but I did not faint;
I stood stunned at the moment, scarcely sad,
Till I raised my wail of desolate complaint
For you, my cousin, brother, all I had.
They said I looked so pale—some say so
My lord stopped in passing to soothe me back to life:
I know I missed a ringlet from my hair
Next morning; and now I am his wife. 20
Look at my gown, Philip, and look at my ring,
I’m all crimson and gold from top to toe:
All day long I sit in the sun and sing,
Where in the sun red roses blush and blow.
And I’m the rose of roses says my lord;
And to him I’m more than the sun in the sky,
While I hold him fast with the golden cord
Of a curl, with the eyelash of an eye.
His mother said ‘fie,’ and his sisters
His highborn ladies cried ‘shame’ from their place: 30
They said ‘fie’ when they only heard my name,
But fell silent when they saw my face.
Am I so fair, Philip? Philip, did you think
I was so fair when we played boy and girl,
Where blue forget-me-nots bloomed on the brink
Of our stream which the mill-wheel sent a whirl?
If I was fair then sure I’m fairer now,
Sitting where a score of servants stand,
With a coronet on high days for my brow
And almost a sceptre for my hand. 40
You’re but a sailor, Philip, weatherbeaten brown,
A stranger on land and at home on the sea,
Coasting as best you may from town to town:
Coasting along do you often think of me?
I’m a great lady in a sheltered bower,
With hands grown white through having nought to do:
Yet sometimes I think of you hour after hour
Till I nigh wish myself a child with you.
What would I give for a heart of flesh to warm me
Instead of this heart of stone ice-cold whatever I do;
Hard and cold and small, of all hearts the worst of all.
What would I give for words, if only words would come;
But now in its misery my spirit has fallen dumb:
Oh, merry friends, go your own way, I have never a word to say.
What would I give for tears, not smiles but scalding
To wash the black mark clean, and to thaw the frost of years,
To wash the stain ingrain and to make me clean again.
Underneath the growing grass,
Underneath the living flowers,
Deeper than the sound of showers:
There we shall not count the hours
By the shadows as they pass.
Youth and health will be but vain,
Beauty reckoned of no worth:
There a very little girth
Can hold round what once the earth
Seemed too narrow to contain.