Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MAID OF KIRCONNEL, by PHOEBE CARY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE MAID OF KIRCONNEL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Fair kirtle, hastening to the sea
Last Line: And make us bleed to death!
Subject(s): Love; Death

FAIR Kirtle, hastening to the sea,
Through lands of sunniest green,
But for thy tender witchery
"Fair Helen of Kirconnel lea,"
A happier fate had seen.

And wood-bower sweet, whose vines displayed
A royal wreath of flowers;
Why did you lure the dreaming maid,
So oft beneath your haunted shade,
To pass the charmed hours?

For hidden, like the feathery choir,
There from the noontide's glance,
She lit the heart's first vestal fire,
And fed its flame of soft desire,
With dreams of old romance.

Poor, frightened doe, that sought the shade
Of that sequestered place;
And led the tender, timid maid,
Blushing, surprised, and half afraid,
To meet the hunter's face.

Not thine the fault, but thine the deed,
Blind, harmless innocent;
When to that bosom, doomed to bleed,
With cruel, swift, unerring speed,
The fatal arrow went.

Why came no warning voice to save,
No cry upon the blast,
When Helen fair, and Fleming brave,
Sat on the dead Kirconnel's grave,
And spake, and kissed their last?

O Mary, gone in life's young bloom,
O "Mary of the lea,"
Couldst thou not leave one hour the tomb,
To save her from that hapless doom,
So soon to sleep by thee?

Vain, vain, to say what might have been,
Or strive with cruel Fate;
Evil the world hath entered in,
And sin is death, and death is sin,
And love must trust and wait.

For here the crown of lovers true
Still hides its flowers beneath --
The sharpest thorns that ever grew,
The thorns that pierce us through and through,
And make us bleed to death!

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