Jonquil was a shepherd lad,
White he was as the curded cream,
Hair like the buttercups he had,
And wet green eyes like a full chalk stream.
His teeth were as white as the stones that lie
Down in the depths of the sun-bright river,
And his lashes danced like a dragon-fly
With drops on the gauzy wings that quiver.
His lips were as red as round ripe cherries,
And his delicate cheek's and his rose-pink neck
Were stained with the colour of dog-rose berries
When they lie on the snow like a crimson fleck.
His feet were all stained with the cowslips and grass
To amber and verdigris,
And through his folds one day did pass
The young prince Fleur-de-lys.
Fleur-de-lys was the son of the king.
He was as white as an onyx stone,
His hair was curled like a daffodil ring,
And his eyes were like gems in the queen's blue zone.
His teeth were as white as the white pearls set
Round the thick white throat of the queen in the hall,
And his lashes were like the dark silk net
That she binds her yellow hair withal.
His lips were as red as the red rubies
The king's bright dagger-hilt that deck,
And pale rose-pink as the amethyst is
Were his delicate cheeks and his rose-pink neck.
His feet were all shod in shoes of gold,
And his coat was as gold as a blackbird's bill is,
With jewel on jewel manifold,
And wrought with a pattern of golden lilies.
When Fleur-de-lys espied Jonquil
He was as glad as a bird in May ;
He tripped right swiftly a-down the hill,
And called to the shepherd boy to play.
This fell out ere the sheep-shearing,
That these two lads did sport and toy,
Fleur-de-lys the son of the king,
And sweet Jonquil the shepherd boy.
And after they had played awhile,
Thereafter they to talking fell,
And full an hour they did beguile
While each his state and lot did tell.
For Jonquil spake of the little sheep,
And the tender ewes that know their names,
And he spake of his wattled hut for sleep,
And the country sports and the shepherds' games.
And he plucked a reed from the edge that girds
The river bank, and with his knife
Made a pipe, with a breath like the singing birds
When they flute to their loves in a musical strife.
And he told of the night so long and still
When he lay awake till he heard the feet
Of the goat-foot god coming over the hill,
And the rustling sound as he passed through the wheat.
And Fleur-de-lys told of the king and the court,
And the stately dames and the slender pages,
Of his horse and his hawk and his mimic fort,
And the silent birds in their golden, cages.
And the jewelled sword with the damask blade
That should be his in his fifteenth spring ;
And the silver sound that the gold horns made,
And the tourney lists and the tilting ring.
And after that they did devise
For mirth and sport, that each should wear
The other's clothes, and in this guise
Make play each other's parts to bear.
Whereon they stripped off all their clothes,
And when they stood up in the sun,
They were as like as one white rose
On one green stalk, to another one.
And when Jonquil as a prince was shown
And Fleur-de-lys as a shepherd lad,
Their mothers' selves would not have known
That each the other's habit had.
And Jonquil walked like the son of a king
With dainty steps and proud haut look ;
And Fleur-de-lys, that sweet youngling,
Did push and paddle his feet in the brook.
And while they made play in this wise,
Unto them all in haste did run,
Two lords of the court, with joyful cries,
That long had sought the young king's son.
And to Jonquil they reverence made
And said, ' My lord, we are come from the king,
Who is sore vexed that thou hast strayed
So far without a following.'
Then unto them said Fleur-de-lys
' You do mistake, my lords, for know
That I am the son of the king, and this
Is sweet Jonquil, my playfellow.'
Whereat one of these lords replied,
' Thou lying knave, I'll make thee rue
Such saucy words.' But Jonquil cried,
' Nay, nay, my lord, 'tis even true.'
Whereat these lords were sore distressed,
And one made answer bending knee,
' My lord the prince is pleased to jest.'
But Jonquil answered, ' Thou shalt see.'
Sure never yet so strange a thing
As this before was seen,
That a shepherd was thought the son of a king,
And a prince a shepherd boy to have been.
' Now mark me well, my noble lord,
A shepherd's feet go bare and cold,
Therefore they are all green from the sward,
And the buttercup makes a stain of gold.
' That I am Jonquil thus thou shalt know,
And that this be very Fleur-de-lys
If his feet be like the driven snow,
And mine like the amber and verdigris.'
He lifted up the shepherd's frock
That clothed the prince, and straight did show
That his naked feet all under his smock
Were whiter than the driven snow.
He doffed the shoes and the clothes of silk
That he had gotten from Fleur-de-lys,
And all the rest was as white as milk,
But his feet were like amber and verdigris.
With that they each took back his own,
And when his second change was done,
As a shepherd boy was Jonquil shown
And Fleur-de-lys the king's true son.
By this the sun was low in the heaven,
And Fleur-de-lys must ride away,
But ere he left, with kisses seven,
He vowed to come another day.