Jean Ingelow

(17 March 1820 - 20 July 1897 / Boston, Lincolnshire)

The Shepard Lady - Poem by Jean Ingelow

I.

Who pipes upon the long green hill,
Where meadow grass is deep?
The white lamb bleats but followeth on—
Follow the clean white sheep.
The dear white lady in yon high tower,
She hearkeneth in her sleep.

All in long grass the piper stands,
Goodly and grave is he;
Outside the tower, at dawn of day,
The notes of his pipe ring free.
A thought from his heart doth reach to hers:
'Come down, O lady! to me.'

She lifts her head, she dons her gown:
Ah! the lady is fair;
She ties the girdle on her waist,
And binds her flaxen hair,
And down she stealeth, down and down,
Down the turret stair.

Behold him! With the flock he wons
Along yon grassy lea.
'My shepherd lord, my shepherd love,
What wilt thou, then, with me?
My heart is gone out of my breast,
And followeth on to thee.'


II.

'The white lambs feed in tender grass:
With them and thee to bide,
How good it were,' she saith at noon;
'Albeit the meads are wide.
Oh! well is me,' she saith when day
Draws on to eventide.

Hark! hark! the shepherd's voice. Oh, sweet!
Her tears dropp down like rain.
'Take now this crook, my chosen, my fere,
And tend the flock full fain;
Feed them, O lady, and lose not one,
Till I shall come again.'

Right soft her speech: 'My will is thine,
And my reward thy grace!'
Gone are his footsteps over the hill,
Withdrawn his goodly face;
The mournful dusk begins to gather,
The daylight wanes apace.


III.

On sunny slopes, ah! long the lady
Feedeth her flock at noon;
She leads it down to drink at eve
Where the small rivulets croon.
All night her locks are wet with dew,
Her eyes outwatch the moon.

Beyond the hills her voice is heard,
She sings when light doth wane:
'My longing heart is full of love,
Nor shall my watch be vain.
My shepherd lord. I see him not,
But he will come again.'


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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2012



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