Goblin Market, and other poems, by Christina Rossetti

Cousin Kate

I was a cottage maiden

    Hardened by sun and air,

Contented with my cottage mates,

    Not mindful I was fair.

Why did a great lord find me out,

    And praise my flaxen hair?

Why did a great lord find me out

    To fill my heart with care?

He lured me to his palace home —

    Woe’s me for joy thereof —

To lead a shameless shameful life,

    His plaything and his love.

He wore me like a silken knot,

    He changed me like a glove;

So now I moan, an unclean thing,

    Who might have been a dove.

O Lady Kate, my cousin Kate,

    You grew more fair than I:

He saw you at your father’s gate,

    Chose you, and cast me by.

He watched your steps along the lane,

    Your work among the rye;

He lifted you from mean estate

    To sit with him on high.

Because you were so good and pure

    He bound you with his ring:

The neighbours call you good and pure,

    Call me an outcast thing.

Even so I sit and howl in dust,

    You sit in gold and sing:

Now which of us has tenderer heart?

    You had the stronger wing.

O cousin Kate, my love was true,

    Your love was writ in sand:

If he had fooled not me but you,

    If you stood where I stand,

He’d not have won me with his love

    Nor bought me with his land;

I would have spit into his face

    And not have taken his hand.

Yet I’ve a gift you have not got,

    And seem not like to get:

For all your clothes and wedding-ring

    I’ve little doubt you fret.

My fair-haired son, my shame, my pride,

    Cling closer, closer yet:

Your father would give lands for one

    To wear his coronet.


Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33