Out of the church she followed them
With a lofty step and mien:
His bride was like a village maid,
Maude Clare was like a queen.
‘Son Thomas,’ his lady mother said,
With smiles, almost with tears:
‘May Nell and you but live as true
As we have done for years;
‘Your father thirty years ago
Had just your tale to tell;
But he was not so pale as you,
Nor I so pale as Nell.’
My lord was pale with inward strife,
And Nell was pale with pride;
My lord gazed long on pale Maude Clare
Or ever he kissed the bride.
‘Lo, I have brought my gift, my lord,
Have brought my gift,’ she said:
‘To bless the hearth, to bless the board,
To bless the marriage-bed.
‘Here’s my half of the golden chain
You wore about your neck,
That day we waded ankle-deep
For lilies in the beck:
‘Here’s my half of the faded leaves
We plucked from budding bough,
With feet amongst the lily leaves, —
The lilies are budding now.’
He strove to match her scorn with scorn,
He faltered in his place:
‘Lady,’ he said, — ‘Maude Clare,’ he said, —
‘Maude Clare:’ — and hid his face.
She turn’d to Nell: ‘My Lady Nell,
I have a gift for you;
Though, were it fruit, the bloom were gone,
Or, were it flowers, the dew.
‘Take my share of a fickle heart,
Mine of a paltry love:
Take it or leave it as you will,
I wash my hands thereof.’
‘And what you leave,’ said Nell, ‘I’ll take,
And what you spurn, I’ll wear;
For he’s my lord for better and worse,
And him I love, Maude Clare.
‘Yea, though you’re taller by the head,
More wise, and much more fair;
I’ll love him till he loves me best,
Me best of all, Maude Clare.’
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59