Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
The Eve of Crecy
By William Morris (1834–1896)
 
GOLD on her head, and gold on her feet,
And gold where the hems of her kirtle meet,
And a golden girdle round my sweet;—
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.
 
Margaret’s maids are fair to see,        5
Freshly dress’d and pleasantly;
Margaret’s hair falls down to her knee;—
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.
 
If I were rich I would kiss her feet,
I would kiss the place where the gold hems meet,        10
And the golden girdle round my sweet—
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.
 
Ah me! I have never touch’d her hand,
When the arriere-ban goes through the land,
Six basnets under my pennon stand;—        15
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.
 
And many an one grins under his hood:
‘Sir Lambert de Bois, with all his men good,
Has neither food nor firewood;’—
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.        20
 
If I were rich I would kiss her feet,
And the golden girdle of my sweet,
And thereabouts where the gold hems meet;
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.
 
Yet even now it is good to think,        25
While my few poor varlets grumble and drink
In my desolate hall, where the fires sink,—
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.
 
Of Margaret sitting glorious there,
In glory of gold and glory of hair,        30
And glory of glorious face most fair;—
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.
 
Likewise to-night I make good cheer,
Because this battle draweth near:
For what have I to lose or fear?—        35
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.
 
For, look you, my horse is good to prance
A right fair measure in this war-dance,
Before the eyes of Philip of France;—
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.        40
 
And sometime it may hap, perdie,
While my new towers stand up three and three,
And my hall gets painted fair to see—
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite
 
That folks may say: ‘Times change, by the rood!        45
For Lambert, banneret of the wood,
Has heaps of food and firewood;—
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite;
 
‘And wonderful eyes, too, under the hood
Of a damsel of right noble blood:’        50
St. Ives, for Lambert of the wood!—
    Ah! qu’elle est belle La Marguerite.
 
 
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