Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
True Love’s Dirge
By William Motherwell (1797–1835)
 
SOME love is light and fleets away,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
Some love is deep and scorns decay,
  Ah, well-a-day! in vain.
 
Of loyal love I sing this lay,        5
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
’Tis of a knight and lady gay,
  Ah, well-a-day! bright twain.
 
He loved her,—heart loved ne’er so well,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;        10
She was a cold and proud damsel,
  Ah, well-a-day! and vain.
 
He loved her,—oh, he loved her long,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
But she for love gave bitter wrong,        15
  Ah, well-a-day! Disdain!
 
It is not meet for knight like me,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
Though scorned, love’s recreant to be,
  Ah, well-a-day! Refrain.        20
 
That brave knight buckled on his brand,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
And fast he sought a foreign strand,
  Ah, well-a-day! in pain.
 
He wandered wide by land and sea,        25
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
A mirror of bright constancy,
  Ah, well-a-day! in vain.
 
He would not chide, he would not blame,
  Heigho! the wind and rain,        30
But at each shrine he breathed her name,
  Ah, well-a-day! Amen!
 
He would not carp, he would not sing,
  Heigho! the wind and rain,
That broke his heart with love-longing.        35
  Ah, well-a-day! poor brain.
 
He scorned to weep, he scorned to sigh,
  Heigho! the wind and rain,
But like a true knight he could die,—
  Ah, well-a-day! life ’s vain.        40
 
The banner which that brave knight bore,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
Had scrolled on it, ‘Faith Evermore.’
  Ah, well-a-day! again.
 
That banner led the Christian van,        45
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
Against Seljuck and Turcoman.
  Ah, well-a-day! bright train.
 
The fight was o’er, the day was done,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;        50
But lacking was that loyal one,—
  Ah, well-a-day! sad pain.
 
They found him on the battle-field,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
With broken sword and cloven shield,        55
  Ah, well-a-day! in twain.
 
They found him pillowed on the dead,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
The blood-soaked sod his bridal bed,
  Ah, well-a-day! the Slain.        60
 
And his pale brow and paler cheek,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
The white moonshine did fall so meek,
  Ah! well-a-day! sad strain.
 
They lifted up the True and Brave,        65
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
And bore him to his lone cold grave,
  Ah! well-a-day! in pain.
 
They buried him on that far strand,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;        70
His face turned towards his love’s own land,
  Ah, well-a-day! how vain.
 
The wearied heart was laid at rest,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
The dream of her he liked best,        75
  Ah, well-a-day! again.
 
They nothing said, but many a tear,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
Rained down on that knight’s lowly bier,
  Ah, well-a-day! amain.        80
 
They nothing said, but many a sigh,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
Told how they wished like him to die,
  Ah, well-a-day! sans stain.
 
With solemn mass and orison,        85
  Heigho! the wind and rain;
They reared to him a cross of stone,
  Ah, well-a-day! in pain.
 
And on it graved with daggers bright,
  Heigho! the wind and rain;        90
‘Here lies a true and gentle knight’
  Ah, well-a-day! Amen!
 
 
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