Katharine Lee Bates

(1859-1929 / United States)

My Lady Of Whims - Poem by Katharine Lee Bates

(A medieval Spanish legend slanderously setting forth the utter unreason of woman.)
ROMAQUIA sat and wept her
Lace mantilla full of tears.
King Abit laid by his scepter,
Left the Council of the Peers.
'Now what sorrow makes thee cry, mate?
Queen of Seville, sobbing so?'
''Tis your Andalusian climate.
Oh, I want to see the snow.'
'Speak thy wish and it is granted;
Thine to bid and mine to please.'
All the hills and plains he planted
With a myriad almond trees.
When the suns of February
Made them white with blossoming,
Romaquia was so merry
That she kissed the happy king.
'Every ill has its panacea,'
Wrote the learned King Abit,
Smiling on his Romaquia,
While he wondered at his wit.
Romaquia sat and wept her
Dainty fan into a dud.
King Abit threw by his scepter
With an unmajestic thud.
'What's the trouble, top of treasures?'
'See those women by the flood
Kneading bricks, but I've no pleasures.
I can't dabble in the mud.'
Loud he called his master mason
And in bower of eglantine
Built a jade and jasper basin,
Filled with rose-water and wine.
Then for mud he poured in spices,
Ginger, mace and cinnamon,
Sugar, honey, syrups, ices,
That the Queen might have her fun.
'Every ill has its panacea,'
Wrote the learned King Abit
Wondering if his Romaquia
Recognized her husband's wit.
Romaquia in her garden
Watered all the trees with salt
Till they faded, and the warden
Was beheaded for the fault
Of his lachrymose sultana.
Oleander, citron, balm,
Orange, lemon and banana,
The pomegranate, myrtle, palm,
All were drooping for distresses
That the Queen poured out in tears,
Pouting at the King's caresses
Till he longed to box her ears.
'Let me be!' she snapped.''You squeeze me,
Clumsy thing! You never try
In the very least to please me,
So of course I have to cry.'
'Every ill has its panacea,'
Wrote the rueful King Abit,
'Every ill but Romaquia.
Wives' caprices wear out wit.'

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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