Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BALLAD OF A DAFT GIRL, by DOROTHY ALDIS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE BALLAD OF A DAFT GIRL, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Old lay's son
Last Line: Eyes and died.
Subject(s): Children - Illegitimate; Girls; Pregnancy; Birth - Out Of Wedlock; Bastards

Old Lay's son
Went away
And brought back a wife
In the month of May.

He brought her home
In a grape colored gown
With long silk stockings
And bracelets on.

O she was a girl
For sitting in the sun
When there were dishes
To be done.

She mooned in the garden
Instead of hoeing;
And took long walks
Just to be going
With no hat on her head
And her wild hair blowing.

And when she was asked
While the men were mowing
To bring her work and sit awhile,
She HAD no sewing!

Which was bad enough
Till she got with child
And then 'twas enough
To drive a person wild.

For whoever heard
Of a new lamb borning
And nothing to put on it
On its birth morning?

O it was enough
To make your heart ache --
Not a single nightgown
Would she make.

I said -- "Do you want
Your child to be bare?"
But going her daft way
SHE didn't care.

So Saturday mornings
Whichever way the weather
We three old women
Got together.

And one made the nightgowns
And one made the bands
And I hemmed the blankets
With my own hands.

And I made eight dresses
Like Queen Anne's Lace
With soft little shirrings
For up near its face.

We finished in good time
For the baby was late;
The last days it seemed
As though we couldn't wait.

It seemed more our baby
Than that mooning girl's;
We guessed at its eyes
And hoped for curls

And spent hours wondering
How it would look
While she went around
Like a closed book,

Doing nothing
And with nothing to say;
And all of us thought:
"Poor Ed Lay."

And then one evening
When the mists were white
She went into labor
And she labored all night.

It wasn't till five
Came the small sharp cry
Makes a girl's heart
Leap clean to the sky.

And a minute later
Out popped Ed
With a face like an angel's --
"A Boy," he said.

"And you may come in
In an hour or two --
She's feeling right weak
But she wants to see you."

So in an hour
We tiptoed in.
She lay with closed eyes
As straight as a pin,

With no look at all
Of peace on her face,
And we didn't see the baby
Any place.

"He is behind
That screen," she said --
"Dressed in your clothes
From toe to head."

And there he slept
As soft as a peach
And as warm as a pebble
Just picked from the beach!

And as we were looking
"Come back," she said.
So we gathered around
Her high white bed.

"O I am grateful
For all you've done
And all your sewing
For my son.

"And I know you think
I'm a witless one --
Never sewing anything
And nothing ever done.

"And it's well I know
That people say;
'What'll ever happen
To poor Ed Lay?'

"But open that chest
And I will show
All three of you
Whether I can sew."

I opened it
And smooth and wide
There lay a shroud
Folded inside.

Stitched as fine
As a white garden pink;
And none of us knew
What to think.

We looked at her lying
There so young;
And not a single one of us
Found her tongue.

And then she spoke
Half dreamingly:
"Life is too full"
She said, "For me.

"O I was meant
To be a tree
Or the lazy waters
Under the sea --
Loving a child
Would be hard for me.

"Soon, soon in my new shroud
I shall be dressed;
And cool little worms
Shall nurse at my breast;
And I shall have peace
And dark warm rest."

Her baby was hungry
Then and cried.
But she closed her wilful
Eyes and died.

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