Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ROMAUNT OF MARGRET, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE ROMAUNT OF MARGRET, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I plant a tree whose leaf
Last Line: Margret, margret.
Subject(s): Fathers & Daughters; Longing; Courts & Courtiers; Dreams; Failure; Longing; Royal Court Life; Royalty; Kings; Queens; Nightmares


I PLANT a tree whose leaf
The yew-tree leaf will suit:
But when its shade is o'er you laid,
Turn round and pluck the fruit.
Now reach my harp from off the wall
Where shines the sun aslant;
The sun may shine and we be cold!
O hearken, loving hearts and bold,
Unto my wild romaunt.
Margret, Margret.


Sitteth the fair ladye
Close to the river side
Which runneth on with a merry tone
Her merry thoughts to guide:
It runneth through the trees,
It runneth by the hill,
Nathless the lady's thoughts have found
A way more pleasant still.
Margret, Margret.


The night is in her hair
And giveth shade to shade,
And the pale moonlight on her forehead white
Like a spirit's hand is laid;
Her lips part with a smile
Instead of speakings done:
I ween, she thinketh of a voice,
Albeit uttering none.
Margret, Margret.


All little birds do sit
With heads beneath their wings:
Nature doth seem in a mystic dream,
Absorbed from her living things:
That dream by that ladye
Is certes unpartook,
For she looketh to the high cold stars
With a tender human look.
Margret, Margret.


The lady's shadow lies
Upon the running river;
It lieth no less in its quietness,
For that which resteth never:
Most like a trusting heart
Upon a passing faith,
Or as upon the course of life
The steadfast doom of death.
Margret, Margret.


The lady doth not move,
The lady doth not dream,
Yet she seeth her shade no longer laid
In rest upon the stream:
It shaketh without wind,
It parteth from the tide,
It standeth upright in the cleft moonlight,
It sitteth at her side.
Margret, Margret.


Look in its face, ladye,
And keep thee from thy swound;
With a spirit bold thy pulses hold
And hear its voice's sound:
For so will sound thy voice
When thy face is to the wall,
And such will be thy face, ladye,
When the maidens work thy pall.
Margret, Margret.


'Am I not like to thee?'
The voice was calm and low,
And between each word you might have heard
The silent forests grow;
'The like may sway the like;'
By which mysterious law
Mine eyes from thine and my lips from thine
The light and breath may draw.
Margret, Margret.


'My lips do need thy breath,
My lips do need thy smile,
And my pallid eyne, that light in thine
Which met the stars erewhile:
Yet go with light and life
If that thou lovest one
In all the earth who loveth thee
As truly as the sun,
Margret, Margret.'


Her cheek had waxed white
Like cloud at fall of snow;
Then like to one at set of sun,
It waxed red also;
For love's name maketh bold
As if the loved were near:
And then she sighed the deep long sigh
Which cometh after fear.
Margret, Margret.


'Now, sooth, I fear thee not --
Shall never fear thee now!'
(And a noble sight was the sudden light
Which lit her lifted brow.)
'Can earth be dry of streams,
Or hearts of love?' she said;
'Who doubteth love, can know not love
He is already dead.'
Margret, Margret.


'I have' ... and here her lips
Some word in pause did keep,
And gave the while a quiet smile
As if they paused in sleep, --
'I have ... a brother dear,
A knight of knightly fame!
I broidered him a knightly scarf
With letters of my name
Margret, Margret.


'I fed his gray goshawk,
I kissed his fierce bloodhound,
I sate at home when he might come
And caught his horn's far sound:
I sang him hunter's songs,
I poured him the red wine,
He looked across the cup and said,
I love thee, sister mine.'
Margret, Margret.


IT trembled on the grass
With a low, shadowy laughter:
The sounding river which rolled, for ever
Stood dumb and stagnant after:
'Brave knight thy brother is!
But better loveth he
Thy chaliced wine than thy chaunted song,
And better both than thee,
Margret, Margret.'


The lady did not heed
The river's silence while
Her own thoughts still ran at their will,
And calm was still her smile.
'My little sister wears
The look our mother wore:
I smooth her locks with a golden comb,
I bless her evermore.'
Margret, Margret.


'I gave her my first bird
When first my voice it knew;
I made her share my posies rare
And told her where they grew:
I taught her God's dear name
With prayer and praise to tell,
She looked from heaven into my face
And said, I love thee well.'
Margret, Margret.


IT trembled on the grass
With a low, shadowy laughter;
You could see each bird as it woke and stared
Through the shrivelled foliage after.
'Fair child thy sister is!
But better loveth she
Thy golden comb than thy gathered flowers,
And better both than thee,
Margret, Margret.'


Thy lady did not heed
The withering on the bough;
Still calm her smile, albeit the while
A little pale her brow:
'I have a father old,
The lord of ancient halls;
An hundred friends are in his court
Yet only me he calls.
Margret, Margret.


'An hundred knights are in his court
Yet read I by his knee;
And when forth they go to the tourney show
I rise not up to see:
'T is a weary book to read,
My tryst's at set of sun,
But loving and dear beneath the stars
Is his blessing when I've done.'
Margret, Margret.


IT trembled on the grass
With a low, shadowy laughter;
And moon and stars though bright and far
Did shrink and darken after.
'High lord thy father is!
But better loveth he
His ancient halls than his hundred friends,
His ancient halls, than thee,
Margret, Margret.'


The lady did not heed
That the far stars did fail;
Still calm her smile, albeit the while ...
Nay, but she is not pale!
'I have more than a friend
Across the mountains dim,
No other's voice is soft to me.
Unless it nameth him.'
Margret, Margret.'


'Though louder beats my heart,
I know his tread again,
And his fair plume aye, unless turned away,
For the tears do blind me then:
We brake no gold, a sign
Of stronger faith to be,
But I wear his last look in my soul,
Which said, I love but thee!'
Margret, Margret.


IT trembled on the grass
With a low, shadowy laughter;
And the wind did toll, as a passing soul
Were sped by church-bell after;
And shadows, 'stead of light,
Fell from the stars above,
In flakes of darkness on her face
Still bright with trusting love.
Margret, Margret.


'He loved but only thee!
That love is transient too.
The wild hawk's bill doth dabble still
I' the mouth that vowed thee true:
Will he open his dull eyes
When tears fall on his brow?
Behold, the death-worm to his heart
Is a nearer thing than thou,
Margret, Margret.'


Her face was on the ground --
None saw the agony;
But the men at sea did that night agree
They heard a drowning cry:
And when the morning brake,
Fast rolled the river's tide,
With the green trees waving overhead
And a white corse laid beside.
Margret, Margret.


A knight's bloodhound and he
The funeral watch did keep;
With a thought o' the chase he stroked its face
As it howled to see him weep.
A fair child kissed the dead,
But shrank before its cold.
And alone yet proudly in his hall
Did stand a baron old.
Margret, Margret.


Hang up my harp again!
I have no voice for song.
Not song but wail, and mourners pale,
Not bards, to love belong.
O failing human love!
O light, by darkness known!
O false, the while thou treadest earth!
O deaf beneath the stone!
Margret, Margret.

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