Treasure Island

John Clare

(13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864 / Northamptonshire / England)

The Maid Of Ocram, Or, Lord Gregory


Gay was the Maid of Ocram
As lady eer might be
Ere she did venture past a maid
To love Lord Gregory.
Fair was the Maid of Ocram
And shining like the sun
Ere her bower key was turned on two
Where bride bed lay for none.

And late at night she sought her love--
The snow slept on her skin--
Get up, she cried, thou false young man,
And let thy true love in.
And fain would he have loosed the key
All for his true love's sake,
But Lord Gregory then was fast asleep,
His mother wide awake.

And up she threw the window sash,
And out her head put she:
And who is that which knocks so late
And taunts so loud to me?
It is the Maid of Ocram,
Your own heart's next akin;
For so you've sworn, Lord Gregory,
To come and let me in.

O pause not thus, you know me well,
Haste down my way to win.
The wind disturbs my yellow locks,
The snow sleeps on my skin.--
If you be the Maid of Ocram,
As much I doubt you be,
Then tell me of three tokens
That passed with you and me.--

O talk not now of tokens
Which you do wish to break;
Chilled are those lips you've kissed so warm,
And all too numbed to speak.
You know when in my father's bower
You left your cloak for mine,
Though yours was nought but silver twist
And mine the golden twine.--

If you're the lass of Ocram,
As I take you not to be,
The second token you must tell
Which past with you and me.--
O know you not, O know you not
Twas in my father's park,
You led me out a mile too far
And courted in the dark?

When you did change your ring for mine
My yielding heart to win,
Though mine was of the beaten gold
Yours but of burnished tin,
Though mine was all true love without,
Yours but false love within?

O ask me no more tokens
For fast the snow doth fall.
Tis sad to strive and speak in vain,
You mean to break them all.--
If you are the Maid of Ocram,
As I take you not to be,
You must mention the third token
That passed with you and me.--

Twas when you stole my maidenhead;
That grieves me worst of all.--
Begone, you lying creature, then
This instant from my hall,
Or you and your vile baby
Shall in the deep sea fall;
For I have none on earth as yet
That may me father call.--

O must none close my dying feet,
And must none close my hands,
And may none bind my yellow locks
As death for all demands?
You need not use no force at all,
Your hard heart breaks the vow;
You've had your wish against my will
And you shall have it now.

And must none close my dying feet,
And must none close my hands,
And will none do the last kind deeds
That death for all demands?--
Your sister, she may close your feet,
Your brother close your hands,
Your mother, she may wrap your waist
In death's fit wedding bands;
Your father, he may tie your locks
And lay you in the sands.--

My sister, she will weep in vain,
My brother ride and run,
My mother, she will break her heart;
And ere the rising sun
My father will be looking out--
But find me they will none.
I go to lay my woes to rest,
None shall know where I'm gone.
God must be friend and father both,
Lord Gregory will be none.--

Lord Gregory started up from sleep
And thought he heard a voice
That screamed full dreadful in his ear,
And once and twice and thrice.
Lord Gregory to his mother called:
O mother dear, said he,
I've dreamt the Maid of Ocram
Was floating on the sea.

Lie still, my son, the mother said,
Tis but a little space
And half an hour has scarcely passed
Since she did pass this place.--
O cruel, cruel mother,
When she did pass so nigh
How could you let me sleep so sound
Or let her wander bye?
Now if she's lost my heart must break--
I'll seek her till I die.

He sought her east, he sought her west,
He sought through park and plain;
He sought her where she might have been
But found her not again.
I cannot curse thee, mother,
Though thine's the blame, said he
I cannot curse thee, mother,
Though thou'st done worse to me.
Yet do I curse thy pride that aye
So tauntingly aspires;
For my love was a gay knight's heir,
And my father was a squire's.

And I will sell my park and hall;
And if ye wed again
Ye shall not wed for titles twice
That made ye once so vain.
So if ye will wed, wed for love,
As I was fain to do;
Ye've gave to me a broken heart,
And I'll give nought to you.

Your pride has wronged your own heart's blood;
For she was mine by grace,
And now my lady love is gone
None else shall take her place.
I'll sell my park and sell my hall
And sink my titles too.
Your pride's done wrong enough as now
To leave it more to do.

She owneth none that owned them all
And would have graced them well;
None else shall take the right she missed
Nor in my bosom dwell.--
And then he took and burnt his will
Before his mother's face,
And tore his patents all in two,
While tears fell down apace--
But in his mother's haughty look
Ye nought but frowns might trace.

And then he sat him down to grieve,
But could not sit for pain.
And then he laid him on the bed
And ne'er got up again.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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