Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DOVECOTT MILL: 14. THE WIFE, by PHOEBE CARY



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DOVECOTT MILL: 14. THE WIFE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Brightly the morning sunshine glowed
Last Line: "wife of the miller of dovecote mill!"
Subject(s): Inheritance & Succession; Widows & Widowers


Brightly the morning sunshine glowed,
As slowly, thoughtfully, Bethy trode
Towards the mill by the winter road.

Now she sees the mansion proud and gray,
And its goodly acres stretching away,
And she knows that these are hers to-day.

Glad visions surely before her rise,
For bright in her cheek the color lies,
And a strange new light in her tender eyes.

Now she is rich, and a lady born,
Does she think of her last year's wedding morn,
And the house where she came a bride, with scorn?

And to him, unfit for a lady, grand,
To whom she gave her willing hand,
Though he brought her neither house nor land?

How will she meet him? what is his fate,
Who eager leans o'er the rustic gate
To watch her coming? Hush and wait!

No word she says as over the sill,
And into the cottage low and still,
She walks by the Miller of Dovecote Mill.

Why does she tremble, the goodman's dame,
And turn away as she speaks his name?
Is it for love, or alas! for shame?

"Last night," she says, "as I watched for thee,
Came those from the great house hurriedly,
Who said that the master sent for me:

"That his life was burned to a feeble flame,
But sleeping or waking all the same,
And day and night he called my name.

"So I followed wondering, where they led,
And half bewildered, half in dread,
I stood at midnight by his bed.

"What matter, to tell what he said again;
The dreams perchance of a wandering brain!
Only one thing is sure and plain.

"Of his gold and land and houses fine,
All that he had, to-day is thine,
Since in dying he made them mine.

"I would that the gift were in thy name,
Yet mine or thine it is all the same;
And we must not speak of the dead with blame.

"And who but thee should be his heir?
Thou hast served him ever with faithful care,
And he had no son his name to bear!"

Slowly, as one who marveled still,
Answered the Miller of Dovecote Mill,
"'T is a puzzle, tell it how you will,

"Why his child could never better fare
Than thou, with wealth enough and to spare,
For it is not I but thou who art heir.

"'T is not so strange it should come to thee,
Thou wert fit for a lady, as all could see,
And rich or poor, too good for me."

Meek before him she bowed her head;
"I want nor honor nor gold," she said,
"I take my lot as it is instead.

"Keep gold and lands and houses fine,
But give me thy love, as I give thee mine,
And my wealth shall still be more than thine!

"And if I had been in a mansion bred,
And not in a humble cot," she said,
"I think we two should still have wed.

"For if I had owned the acres grand,
Instead of the gardener's scanty land,
I had given them all for thy heart and hand.

"So, heiress or lady, what you will,
This only title I covet still,
Wife of the Miller of Dovecote Mill!"





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