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.
 
Our Lady of the Sea
By Alfred Noyes (1880–1958)
 
QUEEN VENUS wander’d away with a cry,—
  N’ostrez-vous, man bel ami?
For the purple wound in Adon’s thigh;
  Je vous en prie, pity me;
With a bitter farewell from sky to sky,        5
  And a moan, a moan from sea to sea;
N’oserez-vous, mon bel, mon bel,
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?
 
The soft Aegean heard her sigh,—
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?        10
Heard the Spartan hills reply
  Je vous en prie, pity me;
Spain was aware of her drawing nigh
  Foot-gilt from the blossoms of Italy;
N’oserez-vous, mon bel, mon bel,        15
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?
 
In France they heard her voice go by,—
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?
And on the May-wind droop and die,
  Je vous en prie, pity me;        20
Your maidens choose their loves, but I—
  White as I came from the foam-white sea,
N’oserez-vous, mon bel, mon bel,
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?
 
The warm red-meal-wing’d butterfly,—        25
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?
Beat on her breast in the golden rye,—
  Je vous en prie, pity me;
Stain’d her breast with a dusty dye
  Red as the print of a kiss might be!        30
N’oserez-vous, mon bel, mon bel,
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?
 
Is there no land, afar or nigh,—
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?
But dreads the kiss o’ the sea? Ah, why—        35
  Je vous en prie, pity me!—
Why will ye cling to the loves that die?
  Is earth all Adon to my plea?
N’oserez-vous, mon bel, mon bel,
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?        40
 
Under the warm blue summer sky,—
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?
With outstretch’d arms and a low long sigh,—
  Je vous en prie, pity me!—
Over the Channel they saw her fly        45
  To the white-cliff’d island that crowns the sea—
N’oserez-vous, mon bel, mon bel,
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?
 
England laugh’d as her queen drew nigh,—
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?        50
To the white-wall’d cottages gleaming high;
  Je vous en prie, pity me!
They drew her in with a joyful cry
  To the hearth where she sits with a babe on her knee,
She has turn’d her moan to a lullaby,        55
  She is nursing a son to the kings of the sea—
N’oserez-vous, mon bel, mon bel,
  N’oserez-vous, mon bel ami?
 
 
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