Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XIX. The Shrouding
Song of the Shroud
By Alma Strettell (1856–1939)
 
From the French of Hélène Vacaresco
A Roumanian Folk-Song
(while spinning it)

THOU snow-white apple-blossom,
Unto the ground art fallen,
Down to the earth art fallen,
Thou snow-white apple-blossom.
 
Snow-white as thou art, so shall be my shroud;        5
Yea, white as apple-blossoms,
    White as a bridal wreath.
Thou wilt be soft for me, my gentle shroud,
Say, wilt thou not? nor chafe my limbs, when I
Have fallen asleep, and know of nothing more;        10
Whilst in the village houses, round about,
They light the fire without me, and draw near
    To tell their tales and spin?
But whilst I sit and spin thee, winding-sheet,
Shall I not tell thee, too, some fairy-tale?        15
 
    Thou snow-white apple-blossom,
    Down to the earth art fallen,
    Unto the ground art fallen,
    Thou snow-white apple-blossom.
 
Dear winding-sheet of mine,        20
Well shalt thou cover me
    When cold my heart shall be!
But now upon my heart, while yet ’tis warm,
    I clasp thee tenderly;
And since thou art to sleep        25
There in my grave with me,
Then look thy fill once more at this fair earth
That in the grave thou mayst remember her,
And down in that deep grave mayst gladden me
    With telling of the earth.        30
But when thou speakest to me in my grave,
    O shroud, O little shroud,
Tell me not of my home,
Nor of my casement, swinging in the wind,
Nor of the moon, that loves        35
    To steal in through that casement;
Nor of the brook, where silver moonbeams bathe,
And where I used to drink.
Tell me not of my mother—tell me not
Of him, the bridegroom chosen out for me.        40
For then I should be sorry that I slept
Low in the grave with thee, my winding-sheet.
Yet speak to me
As though thou knewest naught of all these things—
Somewhat on this wise:        45
How that the world is not worth longing for,
For it is always winter there;
How that the moon for sweetheart hath the cloud,
And that my mother mourned me scarce an hour,
And that my bridegroom came not        50
To lay his fur-cap down upon my grave
That so the soul might think it was her nest.
    Speak thus, my shroud,
And soundly will I sleep and heavily
    Deep in my grave with thee,        55
And love thee as the wand’rer loves the well.
Wouldst have me love thee so, speak thus to me.
 
    Thou snow-white apple-blossom,
    Unto the ground art fallen,
    Down to the earth art fallen,        60
    Thou snow-white apple-blossom.
 
 
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