Charlotte Mary Mew

(15 November 1869 – 24 March 1928 / London)

The Farmer's Bride


Three summers since I chose a maid,
Too young maybe-but more's to do
At harvest-time that a bide and woo.
When us was wed she turned afraid
Of love and me and all things human;
Like the shut of winter's day
Her smile went out, and `twadn't a woman-
More like a little frightened fay.
One night, in the Fall, she runned away.

"Out 'mong the sheep, her be," they said,
Should properly have been abed;
But sureenough she wadn't there
Lying awake with her wide brown stare.
So over seven-acre field and up-along across the down
We chased her, flying like a hare
Before out lanterns. To Church-Town
All in a shiver and a scare
We caught her, fetched her home at last
And turned the key upon her, fast.

She does the work about the hosue
As well as most, but like a mouse:
Happy enough to cheat and play
With birds and rabbits and such as they,
So long as men-folk keep away
"Not near, not near!" her eyes beseech
When one of us comes within reach.
The woman say that beasts in stall
Look round like children at her call.
I've hardly heard her speak at all.
Shy as a leveret, swift as he,
Straight and slight as a young larch tree,
Sweet as the first wild violets, she,
To her wild self. But what to me?

The short days shorten and the oaks are brown,
The blue smoke rises to the low grey sky,
One leaf in the still air falls slowly down,
A magpie's spotted feathers lie
An the black earth spread white with rime,
The berries redden up to Christmas-time.
What's Christmas-time without there be
Some other in the house than we!

She sleeps up in the attic there
Alone, poor maid. `Tis but a stair
Betwixt us. Oh! my God! the down,
The soft young down of her, the brown,
The brown of her-her eyes, her hair, her hair!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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