Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CHEATED ELSIE, by FRANCIS THOMPSON



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CHEATED ELSIE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Elsie was a maiden fair
Last Line: Beware, beware -- a heart will break!


ELSIE was a maiden fair
As the sun
Shone upon:
Born to teach her swains despair
By smiling on them every one;
Born to win all hearts to her
Just because herself had none;
All the day she had no care,
For she was a maiden fair
As the sun
Shone upon,
Heartless as the brooks that run.

All the maids, with envy tart,
Sneering said, 'She has no heart.'
All the youths, with bitter smart,
Sighing said, 'She has no heart!'
Could she care
For their sneers or their despair
When she was a maiden fair
As the sun
Shone upon,
Heartless as the brooks that run?

But one day whenas she stood
In a wood
Haunted by the fairy brood,
Did she view, or dream she viewed
In a vision's
Wild misprisions,
How a pedlar, dry and rude
As a crook'd branch taking flesh,
Caught the spirit in a mesh,
Singing of -- 'What is't ye lack?'
Wizard-pack
On twisted back,
Still he sang, 'What is't ye lack?

'Lack ye land or lack ye gold,
What I give, I give unsold;
Lack ye wisdom, lack ye beauty,
To your suit he
Gives unpaid, the pedlar old!'

Fairies.

Beware, beware! the gifts he gives
One pays for, sweetheart, while one lives!

Elsie.

What is it the maidens say
That I lack?

Pedlar.

By this bright day,
Can so fair a maiden lack?
Maid so sweet
Should be complete.

Elsie.

Yet a thing they say I lack.
In thy pack, --
Pedlar, tell --
Hast thou ever a heart to sell?

Pedlar.

Yea, a heart I have, as tender
As the mood of evening air.

Elsie.

Name thy price!

Pedlar.

The price, by Sorrow!
Only is, the heart to wear.

Elsie.

Not great the price, as was my fear.

Fairies.

So cheap a price was ne'er so dear.
Beware, beware,
O rash and fair!
The gifts he gives,
Sweetheart, one pays for while one lives!

Scarce the present did she take,
When the heart began to ache.

Elsie.

Ah, what is this? Take back thy gift!
I had not, and I knew no lack;
Now I have, I lack for ever!

Fairies.

The gifts he gives, he takes not back.

Elsie.

Ah! why the present did I take,
And knew not that a heart would ache?

Fairies.

Ache! and is that all thy sorrow? --
Beware, beware -- a heart will break!





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