Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
La Blanchisseuse
By Isabella Valancy Crawford (1850–1887)
 
MARGATON at early dawn
  Thro’ the vineyard takes her way,
With her basket piled with lawn
  And with kerchiefs red and gay,
To the stream which babbles past        5
  Grove, château, and clanking mill.
As it runs it chatters fast
  Like a woman with a will:
    “Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse,
      Here I come from Picardy!        10
    Hurry off thy wooden shoes,
      I will wash thy clothes with thee!”
 
Margaton’s a shapely maid;
  Laughter haunts her large, soft eye;
When she trips by vineyard shade        15
  Trips the sun with her, say I.
Wooden shoes she lays aside,
  Puts her linen in the rill;
And the stream, in gossip’s pride,
  Chatters to her with a will:        20
    “Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse,
      I—I know a thing or two!
    Thus, this is the latest news,
      Some one dreams of eyes of blue!”
 
Margaton her linen wrings,        25
  White between her ruddy hands;
O’er her feet the rillet sings,
  Dimpling all its golden sands;
Hawthorn blushes touch her hair,
  Birdlings twitter sweet and shrill,        30
Sunbeams seek her everywhere;
  Gossips on the wordy rill:
    “Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse,
      He who dreams has lands and flocks!
    Margaton may idly choose        35
      Pebbles in the place of rocks!”
 
Margaton her linen treads,
  Ankle-dimple deep her feet;
Nod the stately green fern-heads,
  Nod the violets damp and sweet;        40
Dewy places in the wood
  With the ruddy morning fill;
Silenter the downy brood,
  Chatters on the gossip rill:
    “Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse,        45
      He who dreams is rich and great!
    Margaton may idly choose
      Golden sorrow for a mate!”
 
Margaton her linen wrings;
  Day’s gold goblet overflows;        50
Leaves are stirred with glancing wings;
  One can smell the distant rose.
“Silly stream, the Curé said
  Just such warning yesterday!”
Rippling o’er its pebbly bed,        55
  Still the stream would have its say:
    “Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse,
      Yet another tale I know,
    Some one dreams of, runs my news,
      Golden heart in bosom’s snow!”        60
 
Margaton her linen spreads
  On the violet bank to dry;
Droop the willows low their heads,
  Curious, for her low reply:
“Dearest stream, but yesternight        65
  Whispered Jean those words to me!”
And the rillet in its flight
  Buzzed and murmured like a bee:
    “Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse,
      He who dreams is good and true!        70
    How can Margaton refuse?
      Blanchisseuse, adieu, adieu!”
 
 
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