Maude Clare by Christina Rossetti
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.
â€œSon Thomas, â€ his lady mother said,
With smiles, almost with tears:
â€œMay Nell and you but live as true
As we have done for years;
â€œYour father thirty years ago
Had just your tale to tell;
But he was not so pale as you,
Nor I so pale as Nell.â€
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.
â€œLo, I have brought my gift, my lord,
Have brought my gift, â€ she said:
To bless the hearth, to bless the board,
To bless the marriage-bed.
â€œHereâ€™s my half of the golden chain
You wore about your neck,
That day we waded ankle-deep
For lilies in the beck:
â€œHereâ€™s my half of the faded leaves
We plucked from the budding bough,
With feet amongst the lily leaves, -
The lilies are budding now.â€
He strove to match her scorn with scorn,
He faltered in his place:
â€œLady, â€ he said, - â€œMaude Clare, â€ he said, -
â€œMaude Clare, â€ â€“ and hid his face.
She turnâ€™d to Nell: â€œMy Lady Nell,
I have a gift for you;
Though, were it fruit, the blooms were gone,
Or, were it flowers, the dew.
â€œTake my share of a fickle heart,
Mine of a paltry love:
Take it or leave it as you will,
I wash my hands thereof.â€
â€œAnd what you leave, â€ said Nell, â€œIâ€™ll take,
And what you spurn, Iâ€™ll wear;
For heâ€™s my lord for better and worse,
And him I love Maude Clare.
â€œYea, though youâ€™re taller by the head,
More wise and much more fair:
Iâ€™ll love him till he loves me best,
Me best of all Maude Clare.