40 Greatest Poems about Wooing and Winning

As a lady, who would have forgotten the strange feelings you’ve got when a man woo you and prove his love? It tickles your heart and brings out the naiveté of an innocent love both of you would develop when time passes by. As a man, who would have forgotten when you win over your beloved lady’s heart? It seems like you already won the lottery, and it makes you feel excited to discover many things about her more.

Sometimes, we reminisce about those days when we had that chance to be wooed and win that love. So these are forty (40) greatest poems about wooing and winning. If you are interested in how poets described this kind of love through their poems, these poems are for you.

Keep reading…

The Passionate Shepherd to his Love

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That hills and valleys, dales and fields,
Woods or craggy mountains yield.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And will I make thee beds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies;
A cap of flowers and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair-linèd slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw, and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs.
And if these pleasures thee may move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherd-swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning;
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.

Christopher Marlowe

The Nymph’s Reply

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee, and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold;
And Philomel becometh dumb,
The rest complain of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.

Thy gown, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, the kirtle, and thy posies,
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs;
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last, and love still breed,
Had joys no date, nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Sir Walter Raleigh

“Where are you going, my pretty maid?”

“Where are you going, my pretty maid?”
“I am going a-milking, sir,” she said.
“May I go with you, my pretty maid?”
“You ’re kindly welcome, sir,” she said.
“What is your father, my pretty maid?”
“My father ’s a farmer, sir,” she said.
“What is your fortune, my pretty maid?”
“My face is my fortune, sir,” she said.
“Then I won’t marry you, my pretty maid.”
“Nobody asked you, sir,” she said.


The Wooing

A youth went faring up and down,
Alack and well-a-day.
He fared him to the market town,
Alack and well-a-day.
And there he met a maiden fair,
With hazel eyes and auburn hair;
His heart went from him then and there,
Alack and well-a-day.

She posies sold right merrily,
Alack and well-a-day;
But not a flower was fair as she,
Alack and well-a-day.
He bought a rose and sighed a sigh,
“Ah, dearest maiden, would that I
Might dare the seller too to buy!”
Alack and well-a-day.

She tossed her head, the coy coquette,
Alack and well-a-day.
“I’m not, sir, in the market yet,”
Alack and well-a-day.
“Your love must cool upon a shelf;
Tho’ much I sell for gold and pelf,
I ‘m yet too young to sell myself,”
Alack and well-a-day.

The youth was filled with sorrow sore,
Alack and well-a-day.
And looked he at the maid once more,
Alack and well-a-day.
Then loud he cried, “Fair maiden, if
Too young to sell, now as I live,
You’re not too young yourself to give,”
Alack and well-a-day.

The little maid cast down her eyes,
Alack and well-a-day.
And many a flush began to rise,
Alack and well-a-day.
“Why, since you are so bold,” she said,
“I doubt not you are highly bred,
So take me!” and the twain were wed,
Alack and well-a-day.

Paul Laurence Dunbar


All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
And feed his sacred flame.

Oft in my making dreams do I
Live o’er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay
Beside the ruined tower.

The moonshine stealing o’er the scene
Had blended with the lights of eve;
And she was there, my hope, my joy,
My own dear Genevieve!

She leaned against the armèd man,
The statue of the armèd knight;
She stood and listened to my lay,
Amid the lingering light.

Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope! my joy! my Genevieve!
She loves me best whene’er I sing
The songs that make her grieve.

I played a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story,—
An old rude song, that suited well
That ruin wild and hoary.

She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew, I could not choose
But gaze upon her face.

I told her of the Knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand;
And that for ten long years he wooed
The Lady of the Land.

I told her how he pined: and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another’s love
Interpreted my own.

She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
And she forgave me that I gazed
Too fondly on her face.

But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he crossed the mountain-woods,
Nor rested day nor night;

That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
In green and sunny glade,

There came and looked him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;
And that he knew it was a Fiend,
This miserable Knight!

And that unknowing what he did,
He leaped amid a murderous band,
And saved from outrage worse than death
The Lady of the Land;

And how she wept, and clasped his knees;
And how she tended him in vain:
And ever strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain;

And that she nursed him in a cave,
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest-leaves
A dying-man he lay;

—His dying words—but when I reached
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faltering voice and pausing harp
Disturbed her soul with pity!

All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrilled my guileless Genevieve;
The music and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve;

And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
Subdued and cherished long.

She wept with pity and delight,
She blushed with love, and virgin shame;
And like the murmur of a dream,
I heard her breathe my name.

Her bosom heaved,—she stepped aside,
As conscious of my look she stept,—
Then suddenly, with timorous eye
She fled to me and wept.

She half enclosed me with her arms,
She pressed me with a meek embrace;
And bending back her head, looked up,
And gazed upon my face.

’T was partly love, and partly fear,
And partly ’t was a bashful art
That I might rather feel than see
The swelling of her heart.

I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous Bride.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“My eyes! how I love you”

My eyes! how I love you,
You sweet little dove you!
There ’s no one above you,
Most beautiful Kitty.

So glossy your hair is,
Like a sylph’s or a fairy’s;
And your neck, I declare, is
Exquisitely pretty.

Quite Grecian your nose is,
And your cheeks are like roses,
So delicious—O Moses!
Surpassingly sweet!

Not the beauty of tulips,
Nor the taste of mint-juleps,
Can compare with your two lips,
Most beautiful Kate!

Not the black eyes of Juno,
Nor Minerva’s of blue, no,
Nor Venus’s, you know,
Can equal your own!

O, how my heart prances,
And frolics and dances,
When their radiant glances
Upon me are thrown!

And now, dearest Kitty,
It ’s not very pretty,
Indeed it ’s a pity,
To keep me in sorrow!

So, if you ’ll but chime in,
We ’ll have done with our rhymin’,
Swap Cupid for Hymen,
And be married to-morrow.

John Godfrey Saxe


Somebody ’s courting somebody,
Somewhere or other to-night;
Somebody ’s whispering to somebody,
Somebody ’s listening to somebody,
Under this clear moonlight.

Near the bright river’s flow,
Running so still and slow,
Talking so soft and low,
She sits with Somebody.

Pacing the ocean’s shore,
Edged by the foaming roar,
Words never used before
Sound sweet to Somebody.

Under the maple-tree
Deep though the shadow be,
Plain enough they can see,
Bright eyes has Somebody.

No one sits up to wait,
Though she is out so late,
All know she ’s at the gate,
Talking with Somebody.

Tiptoe to parlor door;
Two shadows on the floor!
Moonlight, reveal no more,—
Susy and Somebody.

Two, sitting side by side
Float with the ebbing tide,
“Thus, dearest, may we glide
Through life,” says Somebody.

Somewhere, Somebody
Makes love to Somebody,



There was a young man from the West,
Who loved a young lady with zest;
So hard did he press her
To make her say, “Yes, sir,”
That he broke three cigars in his vest.


“Love me little, love me long”

Originally Printed in 1569

Love me little, love me long!
Is the burden of my song:
Love that is too hot and strong
Burneth soon to waste.
Still I would not have thee cold,—
Not too backward, nor too bold;
Love that lasteth till ’t is old
Fadeth not in haste.
Love me little, love me long!
Is the burden of my song.

If thou lovest me too much,
’T will not prove as true a touch;
Love me little more than such,—
For I fear the end.
I ’m with little well content,
And a little from thee sent
Is enough, with true intent
To be steadfast, friend.

Say thou lovest me, while thou live
I to thee my love will give,
Never dreaming to deceive
While that life endures;
Nay, and after death, in sooth,
I to thee will keep my truth,
As now when in my May of youth:
This my love assures.

Constant love is moderate ever,
And it will through life persever;
Give me that with true endeavor,—
I will it restore.
A suit of durance let it be,
For all weathers,—that for me,—
For the land or for the sea:
Lasting evermore.

Winter’s cold or summer’s heat,
Autumn’s tempests on it beat;
It can never know defeat,
Never can rebel.
Such the love that I would gain,
Such the love, I tell thee plain,
Thou must give, or woo in vain:
So to thee—farewell!


The Exchange

We pledged our hearts, my love and I,—
I in my arms the maiden clasping;
I could not tell the reason why,
But, O, I trembled like an aspen!

Her father’s love she bade me gain;
I went, and shook like any reed!
I strove to act the man,—in vain!
We had exchanged our hearts indeed.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Golden Eyes

From the Greek by Andrew Lang

Ah, Golden Eyes, to win you yet,
I bring mine April coronet,
The lovely blossoms of the spring,
For you I weave, to you I bring:
These roses with the lilies wet,
The dewy dark-eyed violet,
Narcissus, and the wind-flower wet.
Wilt thou disdain mine offering,
Ah, Golden Eyes?
Crowned with thy lover’s flowers, forget
The pride wherein thy heart is set,
For thou, like these or anything,
Hast but thine hour of blossoming,
Thy spring, and then—the long regret,
Ah, Golden Eyes!


Phillida and Corydon

In the merry month of May,
In a morn by break of day,
With a troop of damsels playing
Forth I rode, forsooth, a-maying,

When anon by a woodside,
Where as May was in his pride,
I espièd, all alone,
Phillida and Corydon.

Much ado there was, God wot!
He would love and she would not:
She said, “Never man was true:”
He says, “None was false to you.”
He said he had loved her long:
She says, “Love should have no wrong.”

Corydon he would kiss her then.
She says, “Maids must kiss no men
Till they do for good and all.”
Then she made the shepherd call
All the heavens to witness, truth
Never loved a truer youth.

Thus, with many a pretty oath,
Yea and nay, and faith and troth,—
Such as silly shepherds use
When they will not love abuse,—
Love, which had been long deluded,
Was with kisses sweet concluded;
And Phillida, with garlands gay,
Was made the lady of the May.

Nicholas Breton

The Bailiff’s Daughter of Islington

There was a youthe, and a well-beloved youthe,
And he was a squire’s son;
He loved the bayliffes daughter deare,
That lived in Islington.

Yet she was coye, and would not believe
That he did love her soe,
Noe nor at any time would she
Any countenance to him showe.

But when his friendes did understand
His fond and foolish minde,
They sent him up to faire London,
An apprentice for to binde.

And when he had been seven long yeares,
And never his love could see,—
“Many a teare have I shed for her sake,
When she little thought of mee.”

Then all the maids of Islington
Went forth to sport and playe,
All but the bayliffes daughter deare;
She secretly stole awaye.

She pulled off her gowne of greene,
And put on ragged attire,
And to faire London she would go
Her true love to enquire.

And as she went along the high road,
The weather being hot and drye,
She sat her downe upon a green bank,
And her true love came riding bye.

She started up, with colour soe redd,
Catching hold of his bridle-reine;
“One penny, one penny, kind sir,” she sayd,
“Will ease me of much paine.”

“Before I give you one penny, sweet-heart,
Praye tell me where you were borne.”
“At Islington, kind sir,” sayd shee,
“Where I have had many a scorne.”

“I prythee, sweet-heart, then tell to mee,
O tell me whether you knowe
The bayliffes daughter of Islington.”
“She is dead, sir, long agoe.”

“If she be dead, then take my horse,
My saddle and bridle also;
For I will into some farr countrye,
Where noe man shall me knowe.”

“O stave, O staye, thou goodlye youthe,
She standeth by thy side;
She is here alive, she is not dead,
And readye to be thy bride.”

“O farewell griefe, and welcome joye,
Ten thousand times therefore;
For nowe I have founde mine owne true love,
Whom I thought I should never see more.”


The Brookside

I wandered by the brookside,
I wandered by the mill;
I could not hear the brook flow,—
The noisy wheel was still;
There was no burr of grasshopper,
No chirp of any bird,
But the beating of my own heart
Was all the sound I heard.

I sat beneath the elm-tree;
I watched the long, long shade,
And, as it grew still longer,
I did not feel afraid;
For I listened for a footfall,
I listened for a word,—
But the beating of my own heart
Was all the sound I heard.

He came not,—no, he came not,—
The night came on alone,—
The little stars sat, one by one,
Each on his golden throne;
The evening wind passed by my cheek,
The leaves above were stirred,—
But the beating of my own heart
Was all the sound I heard.

Fast silent tears were flowing,
When something stood behind;
A hand was on my shoulder,—
I knew its touch was kind:
It drew me nearer,—nearer,—
We did not speak one word,
For the beating of our own hearts
Was all the sound we heard.

Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton

The Little Red Lark

O swan of slenderness,
Dove of tenderness,
Jewel of joys, arise!
The little red lark,
Like a soaring spark
Of song, to his sunburst flies;
But till thou art arisen,
Earth is a prison,
Full of my lonesome sighs:
Then awake and discover,
To thy fond lover,
The morn of thy matchless eyes.

The dawn is dark to me,
Hark! oh, hark to me,
Pulse of my heart, I pray!
And out of thy hiding
With blushes gliding,
Dazzle me with thy day.
Ah, then once more to thee
Flying I ’ll pour to thee
Passion so sweet and gay,
The larks shall listen,
And dew-drops glisten,
Laughing on every spray.

Alfred Perceval Graves

Love’s Logic

“MY dear, be sensible! Upon my word
This—for a woman even—is absurd;
His income ’s not a hundred pounds, I know.
He ’s not worth loving.”—“But I love him so!”

“You silly child, he is well made and tall;
But looks are far from being all in all.
His social standing ’s low, his family ’s low.
He ’s not worth loving.”—“And I love him so!”

“Is that he picking up the fallen fan?
My dear! he ’s such an awkward, ugly man!
You must be certain, pet, to answer ‘No.’
He ’s not worth loving.”—“And I love him so!”

“By Jove! were I a girl—through horrid hap—
I wouldn’t have a milk-and-water chap.
The man has not a single spark of ‘go.’
He ’s not worth loving.”—“Yet I love him so!”

“And were he everything to which I ’ve listened:
Though he were ugly, awkward (and he isn’t),
Poor, low-born, and destitute of ‘go,’
He is worth loving, for I love him so.”


The Night-Piece

To Julia

Her eyes the glow-worme lend thee,
The shooting-starres attend thee,
And the elves also,
Whose little eyes glow
Like the sparks of fire, befriend thee.

No Will-o’-th’-wispe mislight thee,
Nor snake nor slow-worm bite thee;
But on thy way,
Not making stay,
Since ghost there ’s none t’ affright thee!

Let not the darke thee cumber;
What though the moon does slumber?
The stars of the night
Will lend thee their light,
Like tapers cleare, without number.

Then, Julia, let me woo thee,
Thus, thus to come unto me;
And when I shall meet
Thy silvery feet,
My soule I ’le pour into thee!

Robert Herrick

Sweet Meeting of Desires

From “The Angel in the House”

I grew assured, before I asked,
That she ’d be mine without reserve,
And in her unclaimed graces basked
At leisure, till the time should serve,—
With just enough of dread to thrill
The hope, and make it trebly dear:
Thus loath to speak the word, to kill
Either the hope or happy fear.

Till once, through lanes returning late,
Her laughing sisters lagged behind;
And ere we reached her father’s gate,
We paused with one presentient mind;
And, in the dim and perfumed mist
Their coming stayed, who, blithe and free,
And very women, loved to assist
A lover’s opportunity.

Twice rose, twice died, my trembling word;
To faint and frail cathedral chimes
Spake time in music, and we heard
The chafers rustling in the limes.
Her dress, that touched me where I stood;
The warmth of her confided arm;
Her bosom’s gentle neighborhood;
Her pleasure in her power to charm;

Her look, her love, her form, her touch!
The least seemed most by blissful turn,—
Blissful but that it pleased too much,
And taught the wayward soul to yearn.
It was as if a harp with wires
Was traversed by the breath I drew;
And O, sweet meeting of desires!
She, answering, owned that she loved too.

Coventry Patmore

Story of the Gate

Across the pathway, myrtle-fringed,
Under the maple, it was hinged—
The little wooden gate;
’T was there within the quiet gloam,
When I had strolled with Nelly home,
I used to pause and wait

Before I said to her good-night,
Yet loath to leave the winsome sprite
Within the garden’s pale;
And there, the gate between us two,
We ’d linger as all lovers do,
And lean upon the rail.

And face to face, eyes close to eyes,
Hands meeting hands in feigned surprise,
After a stealthy quest,—
So close I ’d bend, ere she ’d retreat,
That I ’d grow drunken from the sweet
Tuberose upon her breast.

We ’d talk—in fitful style, I ween—
With many a meaning glance between
The tender words and low;
We ’d whisper some dear, sweet conceit,
Some idle gossip we ’d repeat,
And then I ’d move to go.

“Good-night,” I ’d say; “good-night—good-bye!”
“Good-night”—from her with half a sigh—
“Good-night!” “Good-night!” And then—
And then I do not go, but stand,
Again lean on the railing, and—
Begin it all again.

Ah! that was many a day ago—
That pleasant summer-time—although
The gate is standing yet;
A little cranky, it may be,
A little weather-worn—like me—
Who never can forget

The happy— “End”? My cynic friend,
Pray save your sneers—there was no “end.”
Watch yonder chubby thing!
That is our youngest, hers and mine;
See how he climbs, his legs to twine
About the gate and swing.

Harrison Robertson

Doris: A Pastoral

I sat with Doris, the shepherd-maiden;
Her crook was laden with wreathèd flowers:
I sat and wooed her, through sunlight wheeling
And shadows stealing, for hours and hours.

And she, my Doris, whose lap encloses
Wild summer-roses of sweet perfume,
The while I sued her, kept hushed and hearkened,
Till shades had darkened from gloss to gloom.

She touched my shoulder with fearful finger;
She said, “We linger, we must not stay:
My flock ’s in danger, my sheep will wander;
Behold them yonder, how far they stray!”

I answered bolder, “Nay, let me hear you,
And still be near you, and still adore!
No wolf nor stranger will touch one yearling:
Ah! stay my darling, a moment more!”

She whispered, sighing, “There will be sorrow
Beyond to-morrow, if I lose to-day;
My fold unguarded, my flock unfolded,
I shall be scolded and sent away.”

Said I, denying, “If they do miss you,
They ought to kiss you when you get home;
And well rewarded by friend and neighbor
Should be the labor from which you come.”

“They might remember,” she answered meekly,
“That lambs are weakly, and sheep are wild;
But if they love me, it ’s none so fervent:
I am a servant, and not a child.”

Then each hot ember glowed within me,
And love did win me to swift reply:
“Ah! do but prove me; and none shall bind you,
Nor fray nor find you, until I die.”

She blushed and started, and stood awaiting,
As if debating in dreams divine;
But I did brave them; I told her plainly
She doubted vainly, she must be mine.

So we twin-hearted, from all the valley
Did rouse and rally her nibbling ewes;
And homeward drave them, we two together,
Through blooming heather and gleaming dews.

That simple duty fresh grace did lend her,
My Doris tender, my Doris true;
That I, her warder, did always bless her,
And often press her to take her due.

And now in beauty she fills my dwelling,
With love excelling, and undefined;
And love doth guard her, both fast and fervent,
No more a servant, nor yet a child.

Arthur Joseph Munby

Among the Heather

One evening walking out, I o’ertook a modest colleen,
When the wind was blowing cool, and the harvest leaves were falling:
“Is our way by chance the same? might we travel on together?”
“Oh, I keep the mountain side,” she replied, “among the heather.”

“Your mountain air is sweet when the days are long and sunny,
When the grass grows round the rocks, and the whin-bloom smells like honey;
But the winter ’s coming fast with its foggy, snowy weather,
And you ’ll find it bleak and chill on your hill, among the heather.”

She praised her mountain home, and I ’ll praise it too, with reason,
For where Molly is there ’s sunshine and flow’rs at every season.
Be the moorland black or white, does it signify a feather,
Now I know the way by heart, every part, among the heather?

The sun goes down in haste, and the night falls thick and stormy;
Yet I ’d travel twenty miles to the welcome that ’s before me;
Singing hi! for Eskydun, in the teeth of wind and weather!
Love ’ll warm me as I go through the snow, among the heather.

William Allingham

Rory O’More

Or, All for Good Luck
Young Rory O’More courted Kathleen bawn,—
He was bold as a hawk, she as soft as the dawn;
He wished in his heart pretty Kathleen to please,
And he thought the best way to do that was to tease.
“Now, Rory, be aisy!” sweet Kathleen would cry,
Reproof on her lip, but a smile in her eye,—
“With your tricks, I don’t know, in troth, what I ’m about;
Faith! you ’ve tazed till I ’ve put on my cloak inside out.”
“Och! jewel,” says Rory. “that same is the way
Ye ’ve thrated my heart for this many a day;
And ’t is plazed that I am, and why not, to be sure?
For ’t is all for good luck,” says bold Rory O’More.

“Indeed, then,” says Kathleen, “don’t think of the like,
For I half gave a promise to soothering Mike:
The ground that I walk on he loves, I ’ll be bound—”
“Faith!” says Rory, “I ’d rather love you than the ground.”
“Now, Rory, I ’ll cry if you don’t let me go;
Sure I dream every night that I ’m hating you so!”
“Och!” says Rory, “that same I ’m delighted to hear,
For dhrames always go by conthraries, my dear.
So, jewel, kape dhraming that same till ye die,
And bright morning will give dirty night the black lie!
And ’t is plazed that I am, and why not, to be sure?
Since ’t is all for good luck,” says bold Rory O’More.

“Arrah, Kathleen, my darlint, you ’ve tazed me enough;
Sure I ’ve thrashed, for your sake, Dinny Grimes and Jim Duff;
And I ’ve made myself, drinking your health, quite a baste,—
So I think after that, I may talk to the praste.”
Then Rory, the rogue, stole his arm round her neck,
So soft and so white, without freckle or speck;
And he looked in her eyes, that were beaming with light,
And he kissed her sweet lips,—don’t you think he was right?
“Now, Rory, leave off, sir,—you ’ll hug me no more,—
That ’s eight times to-day that you ’ve kissed me before.”
“Then here goes another,” says he, “to make sure!
For there ’s luck in odd numbers,” says Rory O’More.

Samuel Lover

Cooking and Courting

From Tom to Ned

Dear Ned, no doubt you ’ll be surprised
When you receive and read this letter.
I ’ve railed against the marriage state;
But then, you see, I knew no better.
I ’ve met a lovely girl out here;
Her manner is—well—very winning:
We ’re soon to be—well, Ned, my dear,
I ’ll tell you all, from the beginning.

I went to ask her out to ride
Last Wednesday—it was perfect weather.
She said she couldn’t possibly:
The servants had gone off together
(Hibernians always rush away,
At cousins’ funerals to be looking);
Pies must be made, and she must stay,
She said, to do that branch of cooking.

“O, let me help you,” then I cried:
“I ’ll be a cooker too—how jolly!”
She laughed, and answered, with a smile,
“All right! but you ’ll repent your folly;
For I shall be a tyrant, sir,
And good hard work you ’ll have to grapple;
So sit down there, and don’t you stir,
But take this knife, and pare that apple.”

She rolled her sleeve above her arm,—
That lovely arm, so plump and rounded;
Outside, the morning sun shone bright;
Inside, the dough she deftly pounded.
Her little fingers sprinkled flour,
And rolled the pie-crust up in masses:
I passed the most delightful hour
Mid butter, sugar, and molasses.

With deep reflection her sweet eyes
Gazed on each pot and pan and kettle.
She sliced the apples, filled her pies,
And then the upper crust did settle.
Her rippling waves of golden hair
In one great coil were tightly twisted;
But locks would break it, here and there,
And curl about where’er they listed.

And then her sleeve came down, and I
Fastened it up—her hands were doughy;
O, it did take the longest time!—
Her arm, Ned, was so round and snowy.
She blushed, and trembled, and looked shy;
Somehow that made me all the bolder;
Her arch lips looked so red that I—
Well—found her head upon my shoulder.

We ’re to be married, Ned, next month;
Come and attend the wedding revels.
I really think that bachelors
Are the most miserable devils!
You ’d better go for some girl’s hand;
And if you are uncertain whether
You dare to make a due demand,
Why, just try cooking pies together.


“Ca’ the yowes”

CA’ the yowes to the knowes,
Ca’ them whare the heather grows,
Ca’ them whare the burnie rows
My bonnie dearie.

As I gaed down the water side,
There I met my shepherd lad,
He rowed me sweetly in his plaid,
And he ca’d me his dearie.

Will ye gang down the water side,
And see the waves sae sweetly glide
Beneath the hazels spreading wide?
The moon it shines fu’ clearly.

I was bred up at nae sic school,
My shepherd lad, to play the fool;
And a’ the day to sit in dool,
And naebody to see me.

Ye shall get gowns and ribbons meet,
Cauf-leather shoon upon your feet,
And in my arms ye’se lie and sleep,
And ye shall be my dearie.

If ye ’ll but stand to what ye ’ve said,
I ’se gang wi’ you, my shepherd lad;
And ye may row me in your plaid,
And I shall be your dearie.

While waters wimple to the sea,
While day blinks in the lift sae hie;
Till clay-cauld death shall blin’ my ee,
Ye aye shall be my dearie.

Isabel Pagan

The Siller Croun

“And ye sail walk in silk attire,
And siller hae to spare,
Gin ye ’ll consent to be his bride,
Nor think o’ Donald mair.”

O, wha wad buy a silken goun
Wi’ a puir broken heart?
Or what ’s to me a siller croun
Gin frae my love I part?

The mind whose meanest wish is pure
Far dearest is to me,
And ere I ’m forced to break my faith,
I ’ll lay me doun an’ dee.

For I hae vowed a virgin’s vow
My lover’s fate to share,
An’ he has gi’en to me his heart,
And what can man do mair?

His mind and manners won my heart:
He gratefu’ took the gift;
And did I wish to seek it back,
It wad be waur than theft.

The langest life can ne’er repay
The love he bears to me,
And ere I ’m forced to break my faith,
I ’ll lay me doun an’ dee.

Susanna Blamire

“Duncan Gray cam’ here to woo”

Duncan Gray cam’ here to woo—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!
On blythe Yule night when we were fou—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!
Maggie coose her head fu’ high,
Looke asklent and unco skeigh,
Gart poor Duncan stand abeigh—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!

Duncan fleeched and Duncan prayed—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!
Meg was deaf as Ailsa craig—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!
Duncan sighed baith out and in,
Grat his een baith bleer’t and blin’,
Spak o’ lowpin’ o’er a linn—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!

Time and chance are but a tide—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!
Slighted love is sair to bide—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!
Shall I, like a fool, quoth he,
For a haughty hizzie dee?
She may gae to—France, for me!
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!

How it comes let doctors tell—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!
Meg grew sick as he grew heal—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!
Something in her bosom wrings,—
For relief a sigh she brings;
And O, her een they speak sic things!
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!

Duncan was a lad o’ grace—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!
Maggie’s was a piteous case—
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!
Duncan could na be her death:
Swelling pity smoored his wrath.
Now they ’re crouse and canty baith,
Ha, ha! the wooing o’t!

Robert Burns

How to Ask and Have

“Oh, ’t is time I should talk to your mother,
Sweet Mary,” says I.
“Oh, don’t talk to my mother,” says Mary,
Beginning to cry:
“For my mother says men are deceivers,
And never, I know, will consent;
She says girls in a hurry who marry
At leisure repent.”

“Then suppose I would talk to your father,
Sweet Mary,” says I.
“Oh, don’t talk to my father,” says Mary,
Beginning to cry:
“For my father, he loves me so dearly,
He ’ll never consent I should go—
If you talk to my father,” says Mary,
“He ’ll surely say ‘No.’”

“Then how shall I get you, my jewel?
Sweet Mary,” says I.
“If your father and mother ’s so cruel,
Most surely I ’ll die!”
“Oh, never say die, dear,” says Mary:
“A way now to save you I see:
Since my parents are both so contrary—
You ’d better ask me.”

Samuel Lover

Live in my Heart and Pay No Rent

’Vourneen, when your days were bright,
Never an eye did I dare to lift to you,
But now, in your fortune’s blight,
False ones are flying in sunshine that knew you;
But still on one welcome true rely,
Tho’ the crops may fail, and the cow go dry,
And your cabin be burned, and all be spent,
Come, live in my heart and pay no rent;
Come, come, live in my heart,
Live in my heart and pay no rent;
Come, come, live in my heart,
Live in my heart, mavourneen!

’Vourneen, dry up those tears,
The sensible people will tell you to wait, dear,
But ah! in the wasting of Love’s young years,
On our innocent hearts we ’re committing a chate, dear.
For hearts when they ’re young should make the vow,
For when they are old they don’t know how;
So marry at once and you ’ll not repent,
When you live in my heart and pay no rent,
Come, come, live in my heart,
Live in my heart and pay no rent,
Come, come, live in my heart,
Live in my heart, mavourneen!

Samuel Lover

Othello’s Defence

From “Othello,” Act I. Sc. 3.
Othello.—Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors,
My very noble and approved good masters,—
That I have ta’en away this old man’s daughter,
It is most true; true, I have married her:
The very head and front of my offending
Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace;
For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used
Their dearest action in the tented field;
And little of this great world can I speak,
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle;
And therefore little shall I grace my cause
In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,
I will a round unvarnished tale deliver 15
Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,
What conjuration, and what mighty magic,—
For such proceeding I am charged withal,—
I won his daughter.

* * * *
I ’ll present
How I did thrive in this fair lady’s love,
And she in mine.

* * * *
Her father loved me; oft invited me;
Still questioned me the story of my life,
From year to year;—the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he bade me tell it:
Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field;
Of hair-breadth ’scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach;
Of being taken by the insolent foe,
And sold to slavery; of my redemption thence,
And portance in my travel’s history:
Wherein of antres vast, and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven, 35
It was my hint to speak,—such was the process;
And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear,
Would Desdemona seriously incline:
But still the house affairs would draw her thence;
Which ever as she could with haste despatch,
She ’d come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse. Which I observing,
Took once a pliant hour; and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart,
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively: I did consent;
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke,
That my youth suffered. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
She swore,—in faith ’t was strange, ’t was passing strange;
’T was pitiful, ’t was wondrous pitiful:
She wished she had not heard it; yet she wished
That Heaven had made her such a man: she thanked me;
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. Upon this hint, I spake:
She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have used:
Here comes the lady, let her witness it.

William Shakespeare

Widow Machree

Widow Machree, it ’s no wonder you frown,—
Och hone! Widow Machree;
Faith, it ruins your looks, that same dirty black gown,—
Och hone! Widow Machree;
How altered your air,
With that close cap you wear,—
’T is destroying your hair,
That should be flowing free:
Be no longer a churl
Of its black silken curl,—
Och hone! Widow Machree.

Widow Machree, now the summer is come,—
Och hone! Widow Machree;
When everything smiles, should a beauty look glum?
Och hone! Widow Machree!
See, the birds go in pairs,
And the rabbits and hares;
Why, even the bears
Now in couples agree;
And the mute little fish,
Though they can’t spake, they wish,—
Och hone! Widow Machree!

Widow Machree, and when winter comes in,—
Och hone! Widow Machree,—
To be poking the fire all alone is a sin,
Och hone! Widow Machree!
Sure the shovel and tongs
To each other belongs,
And the kettle sings songs
Full of family glee;
While alone with your cup
Like a hermit you sup,
Och hone! Widow Machree!

And how do you know, with the comforts I ’ve towld,—
Och hone! Widow Machree!
But you ’re keeping some poor fellow out in the cowld?
Och hone! Widow Machree!
With such sins on your head,
Sure your peace would be fled;
Could you sleep in your bed
Without thinking to see
Some ghost or some sprite,
That would wake you at night,
Crying “Och hone! Widow Machree!”

Then take my advice, darling Widow Machree,—
Och hone! Widow Machree!—
And with my advice, faith, I wish you ’d take me,
Och hone! Widow Machree!
You ’d have me to desire
Then to stir up the fire;
And sure Hope is no liar
In whispering to me
That the ghosts would depart
When you ’d me near your heart,—
Och hone! Widow Machree!

Samuel Lover

Widow Malone

Did you hear of the Widow Malone,
Who lived in the town of Athlone,
O, she melted the hearts
Of the swains in them parts:
So lovely the Widow Malone.
So lovely the Widow Malone.

Of lovers she had a full score,
Or more,
And fortunes they all had galore,
In store;
From the minister down
To the clerk of the Crown
All were courting the Widow Malone,
All were courting the Widow Malone.

But so modest was Mistress Malone,
’T was known
That no one could see her alone,
Let them ogle and sigh,
They could ne’er catch her eye,
So bashful the Widow Malone,
So bashful the Widow Malone.

Till one Misther O’Brien, from Clare
(How quare!
It ’s little for blushing they care
Down there),
Put his arm round her waist,—
Gave ten kisses at laste,—
“O,” says he, “you ’re my Molly Malone,
My own!
O,” says he, “you ’re my Molly Malone!”

And the widow they all thought so shy,
My eye!
Ne’er thought of a simper or sigh,—
For why?
But, “Lucius,” says she,
“Since you ’ve now made so free,
You may marry your Mary Malone.
You may marry your Mary Malone.”

There ’s a moral contained in my song,
Not wrong;
And one comfort, it ’s not very long,
But strong,—
If for widows you die,
Learn to kiss, not sigh;
For they ’re all like sweet Mistress Malone,
O, they’re all like sweet Mistress Malone!

Charles Lever

I’m not Myself at all

Oh, I ’m not myself at all,
Molly dear, Molly dear!
I ’m not myself at all.
Nothing caring, nothing knowing,
’T is after you I ’m going,
Faith, your shadow ’t is I ’m growing,
Molly dear, Molly dear!
And I ’m not myself at all.
Th’ other day I went confessin’,
And I asked the father’s blessin’,
“But,” says I, “don’t give me one intirely:
For I fretted so last year,
But the half of me is here,
So give the other half to Molly Brierly.”
Oh, I ’m not myself at all!
Oh, I ’m not myself at all,
Molly dear, Molly dear!
My appetite ’s so small:
I once could pick a goose;
But my buttons is no use,
Faith, my tightest coat is loose,
Molly dear.
And I ’m not myself at all!
If thus it is I waste,
You ’d betther, dear, make haste,
Before your lover ’s gone away intirely;
If you don’t soon change your mind,
Not a bit of me you ’ll find,
And what ’ud you think o’ that, Molly Brierly?
Oh, I ’m not myself at all!

Oh, my shadow on the wall,
Molly dear, Molly dear,
Isn’t like myself at all,
For I ’ve got so very thin,
Myself says ’t isn’t him,
But that party girl so slim,
Molly dear.
And I ’m not myself at all!
If thus I smaller grew,
All fretting, dear, for you,
’T is you should make up the deficiency,
So just let Father Taaff
Make you my betther half,
And you will not the worse for the addition be—
Oh, I ’m not myself at all!
I ’ll be not myself at all,
Molly dear, Molly dear,
Till you my own I call!
Since a change o’er me there came
Sure you might change your name,
And ’t would just come to the same,
Molly dear,
’T would just come to the same:
For if you and I were one,
All confusion would be gone,
And ’t would simplify the matther intirely;
And ’t would save us so much bother,
When we ’d both be one another—
So listen now to rayson, Molly Brierly;
Oh, I ’m not myself at all!

Samuel Lover

“I prithee send me back my heart”

I prithee send me back my heart,
Since I cannot have thine;
For if from yours you will not part,
Why then shouldst thou have mine?

Yet, now I think on ’t, let it lie;
To find it were in vain;
For thou ’st a thief in either eye
Would steal it back again.

Why should two hearts in one breast lie,
And yet not lodge together?
O Love! where is thy sympathy
If thus our breasts thou sever?

But love is such a mystery,
I cannot find it out;
For when I think I ’m best resolved
I then am most in doubt.

Then farewell care, and farewell woe;
I will no longer pine;
For I ’ll believe I have her heart
As much as she has mine.

Sir John Suckling

The Courtin’

God makes sech nights, all white an’ still
Fur ’z you can look or listen;
Moonshine an’ snow on field an’ hill,
All silence an’ all glisten.

Zekle crep’ up quite unbeknown
An’ peeked in thru’ the winder,
An’ there sot Huldy all alone,
’Ith no one nigh to hender.

A fireplace filled the room’s one side,
With half a cord o’ wood in—
There warn’t no stoves (tell comfort died)
To bake ye to a puddin’.

The wa’nut logs shot sparkles out
Towards the pootiest, bless her!
An’ leetle flames danced all about
The chiny on the dresser.

Agin the chimbley crook-necks hung,
An’ in amongst ’em rusted
The ole queen’s arm thet gran’ther Young
Fetched back from Concord busted.

The very room, coz she was in,
Seemed warm from floor to ceilin’,
An’ she looked full ez rosy agin
Ez the apples she was peelin’.

’T was kin o’ kingdom-come to look
On sech a blessèd cretur,
A dogrose blushin’ to a brook
Ain’t modester nor sweeter.

He was six foot o’ man, A 1,
Clean grit an’ human natur’;
None couldn’t quicker pitch a ton,
Nor dror a furrer straighter.

He ’d sparked it with full twenty gals,
Hed squired ’em, danced ’em, druv ’em,
Fust this one, an’ then thet, by spells—
All is, he couldn’t love ’em.

But long o’ her his veins ’ould run
All crinkly like curled maple,
The side she breshed felt full o’ sun
Ez a south slope in Ap’il.

She thought no v’ice hed such a swing
Ez hisn in the choir;
My! when he made Ole Hundred ring,
She knowed the Lord was nigher.

An’ she ’d blush scarlit, right in prayer,
When her new meetin’-bunnet
Felt somehow thru’ its crown a pair
O’ blue eyes sot upon it.

Thet night, I tell ye, she looked some!
She seemed to ’ve gut a new soul,
For she felt sartin-sure he ’d come,
Down to her very shoe-sole.

She heered a foot, an’ knowed it tu,
A-raspin’ on the scraper,—
All ways to once her feelin’s flew
Like sparks in burnt-up paper.

He kin’ o’ l’itered on the mat,
Some doubtfle o’ the sekle,
His heart kep’ goin’ pitty-pat,
But hern went pity Zekle.

An’ yit she gin her cheer a jerk
Ez though she wished him furder,
An’ on her apples kep’ to work,
Parin’ away like murder.

“You want to see my Pa, I s’pose?”
“Wall no … I come dasignin’”—
“To see my Ma? She ’s sprinklin’ clo’es
Agin to-morrer’s i’nin’.”

To say why gals act so or so,
Or don’t, ’ould he presumin’;
Mebby to mean yes an’ say no
Comes nateral to women.

He stood a spell on one foot fust,
Then stood a spell on t’ other,
An’ on which one he felt the wust
He couldn’t ha’ told ye nuther.

Says he, “I ’d better call agin;”
Says she, “Think likely, Mister;”
Thet last word pricked him like a pin,
An’ … Wal, he up an’ kist her.

When Ma bimeby upon ’em slips,
Huldy sot pale ez ashes,
All kin’ o’ smily roun’ the lips
An’ teary roun’ the lashes.

For she was jes’ the quiet kind
Whose naters never vary,
Like streams that keep a summer mind
Snow-hid in Jenooary.

The blood clost roun’ her heart felt glued
Too tight for all expressin’,
Tell mother see how metters stood,
And gin ’em both her blessin’.

Then her red come back like the tide
Down to the Bay o’ Fundy,
An’ all I know is they was cried
In meetin’ come nex’ Sunday.

James Russell Lowell

Popping Corn

And there they sat, a-popping corn,
John Styles and Susan Cutter—
John Styles as fat as any ox,
And Susan fat as butter.

And there they sat and shelled the corn,
And raked and stirred the fire,
And talked of different kinds of corn,
And hitched their chairs up nigher.

Then Susan she the popper shook,
Then John he shook the popper,
Till both their faces grew as red
As saucepans made of copper.

And then they shelled, and popped, and ate,
All kinds of fun a-poking,
While he haw-hawed at her remarks,
And she laughed at his joking.

And still they popped, and still they ate—
John’s mouth was like a hopper—
And stirred the fire, and sprinkled salt,
And shook and shook the popper.

The clock struck nine—the clock struck ten,
And still the corn kept popping;
It struck eleven, and then struck twelve,
And still no signs of stopping.

And John he ate, and Sue she thought—
The corn did pop and patter—
Till John cried out, “The corn ’s a-fire!
Why, Susan, what ’s the matter?”

Said she, “John Styles, it ’s one o’clock;
You ’ll die of indigestion;
I ’m sick of all this popping corn—
Why don’t you pop the question?”


The Friar of Orders Gray

Adapted from old ballads

It was a friar of orders gray
Walked forth to tell his beads;
And he met with a lady fair
Clad in a pilgrim’s weeds.

“Now Christ thee save, thou reverend friar;
I pray thee tell to me,
If ever at yon holy shrine
My true-love thou didst see.”

“And how should I know your true-love
From many another one?”
“O, by his cockle hat, and staff,
And by his sandal shoon.

“But chiefly by his face and mien,
That were so fair to view;
His flaxen locks that sweetly curled,
And eyes of lovely blue.”

“O lady, he is dead and gone!
Lady, he ’s dead and gone!
And at his head a green grass turf,
And at his heels a stone.

“Within these holy cloisters long
He languished, and he died,
Lamenting of a lady’s love,
And ’plaining of her pride.

“Here bore him barefaced on his bier
Six proper youths and tall,
And many a tear bedewed his grave
Within yon kirkyard wall.”

“And art thou dead, thou gentle youth?
And art thou dead and gone?
And didst thou die for love of me?
Break, cruel heart of stone!”

“O, weep not, lady, weep not so;
Some ghostly comfort seek;
Let not vain sorrow rive thy heart,
Nor tears bedew thy cheek.”

“O, do not, do not, holy friar,
My sorrow now reprove;
For I have lost the sweetest youth
That e’er won lady’s love.

“And now, alas! for thy sad loss
I ’ll evermore weep and sigh;
For thee I only wished to live,
For thee I wish to die.”

“Weep no more, lady, weep no more,
Thy sorrow is in vain;
For violets plucked, the sweetest showers
Will ne’er make grow again.

“Our joys as wingèd dreams do fly;
Why then should sorrow last?
Since grief but aggravates thy loss,
Grieve not for what is past.”

“O, say not so, thou holy friar;
I pray thee, say not so;
For since my true-love died for me,
’T is meet my tears should flow.

“And will he never come again?
Will he ne’er come again?
Ah, no! he is dead, and laid in his grave,
Forever to remain.

“His cheek was redder than the rose;
The comeliest youth was he!
But he is dead and laid in his grave:
Alas, and woe is me!”

“Sigh no more, lady, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever:
One foot on sea and one on land,
To one thing constant never.

“Hadst thou been fond, he had been false,
And left thee sad and heavy;
For young men ever were fickle found,
Since summer trees were leafy.”

“Now say not so, thou holy friar,
I pray thee say not so;
My love he had the truest heart,
O, he was ever true!

“And art thou dead, thou much-loved youth,
And didst thou die for me?
Then farewell home; for evermore
A pilgrim I will be.

“But first upon my true-love’s grave
My weary limbs I ’ll lay,
And thrice I ’ll kiss the green-grass turf
That wraps his breathless clay.”

“Yet stay, fair lady; rest awhile
Beneath this cloister wall;
The cold wind through the hawthorn blows,
And drizzly rain doth fall.”

“O, stay me not, thou holy friar,
O, stay me not, I pray,
No drizzly rain that falls on me
Can wash my fault away.”

“Yet stay, fair lady, turn again,
And dry those pearly tears;
For see, beneath this gown of gray
Thy own true-love appears.

“Here forced by grief and hopeless love,
These holy weeds I sought;
And here, amid these lonely walls,
To end my days I thought.

“But haply, for my year of grace
Is not yet passed away,
Might I still hope to win thy love,
No longer would I stay.”

“Now farewell grief, and welcome joy
Once more unto my heart;
For since I have found thee, lovely youth,
We nevermore will part.”

Thomas Percy

The Hermit

From “The Vicar of Wakefield”

“Turn, gentle Hermit of the dale,
And guide my lonely way
To where yon taper cheers the vale
With hospitable ray.

“For here forlorn and lost I tread,
With fainting steps and slow;
Where wilds, immeasurably spread,
Seem lengthening as I go.”

“Forbear, my son,” the Hermit cries,
“To tempt the dangerous gloom;
For yonder faithless phantom flies
To lure thee to thy doom.

“Here to the houseless child of want
My door is open still;
And though my portion is but scant,
I give it with good will.

“Then turn to-night, and freely share
Whate’er my cell bestows;
My rushy couch and frugal fare,
My blessing and repose.

“No flocks that range the valley free
To slaughter I condemn;
Taught by that Power that pities me,
I learn to pity them:

“But from the mountain’s grassy side
A guiltless feast I bring;
A scrip with herbs and fruits supplied,
And water from the spring.

“Then, pilgrim, turn, thy cares forego;
All earth-born cares are wrong:
Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long.”

Soft as the dew from heaven descends,
His gentle accents fell:
The modest stranger lowly bends,
And follows to the cell.

Far in a wilderness obscure
The lonely mansion lay;
A refuge to the neighboring poor,
And strangers led astray.

No stores beneath its humble thatch
Required a master’s care:
The wicket, opening with a latch,
Received the harmless pair.

And now, when busy crowds retire
To take their evening rest,
The Hermit trimmed his little fire,
And cheered his pensive guest;

And spread his vegetable store,
And gayly pressed and smiled;
And, skilled in legendary lore,
The lingering hours beguiled.

Around, in sympathetic mirth,
Its tricks the kitten tries;
The cricket chirrups on the hearth;
The crackling fagot flies.

But nothing could a charm impart
To soothe the stranger’s woe;
For grief was heavy at his heart,
And tears began to flow.

His rising cares the Hermit spied,
With answering care opprest:
“And whence, unhappy youth,” he cried,
“The sorrows of thy breast?

“From better habitations spurned,
Reluctant dost thou rove?
Or grieve for friendship unreturned,
Or unregarded love?

“Alas! the joys that fortune brings
Are trifling, and decay;
And those who prize the paltry things
More trifling still than they.

“And what is friendship but a name,
A charm that lulls to sleep;
A shade that follows wealth or fame,
And leaves the wretch to weep?

“And love is still an emptier sound,
The modern fair one’s jest;
On earth unseen, or only found
To warm the turtle’s nest.

“For shame, fond youth! thy sorrows hush,
And spurn the sex,” he said;
But while he spoke, a rising blush
His lovelorn guest betrayed.

Surprised, he sees new beauties rise,
Swift mantling to the view;
Like colors o’er the morning skies,
As bright, as transient too.

The bashful look, the rising breast,
Alternate spread alarms:
The lovely stranger stands confest
A maid in all her charms.

“And, ah! forgive a stranger rude,
A wretch forlorn,” she cried;
“Whose feet unhallowed thus intrude
Where heaven and you reside.

“But let a maid thy pity share,
Whom love has taught to stray;
Who seeks for rest, but finds despair
Companion of her way.

“My father lived beside the Tyne,
A wealthy lord was he;
And all his wealth was marked as mine,—
He had but only me.

“To win me from his tender arms,
Unnumbered suitors came;
Who praised me for imputed charms,
And felt, or feigned, a flame.

“Each hour a mercenary crowd
With richest proffers strove:
Among the rest young Edwin bowed,
But never talked of love.

“In humble, simplest habit clad,
No wealth or power had he;
Wisdom and worth were all he had,
But these were all to me.

“And when beside me in the dale
He carolled lays of love,
His breath lent fragrance to the gale
And music to the grove.

“The blossom opening to the day,
The dews of heaven refined,
Could naught of purity display
To emulate his mind.

“The dew, the blossoms of the tree,
With charms inconstant shine;
Their charms were his, but, woe to me!
Their constancy was mine.

“For still I tried each fickle art,
Importunate and vain;
And while his passion touched my heart,
I triumphed in his pain:

“Till, quite dejected with my scorn,
He left me to my pride;
And sought a solitude forlorn,
In secret, where he died.

“But mine the sorrow, mine the fault,
And well my life shall pay;
I ’ll seek the solitude he sought,
And stretch me where he lay.

“And there forlorn, despairing, hid,
I ’ll lay me down and die;
’T was so for me that Edwin did,
And so for him will I.”

“Forbid it, Heaven!” the Hermit cried,
And clasped her to his breast:
The wondering fair one turned to chide,—
’T was Edwin’s self that pressed.

“Turn, Angelina, ever dear,
My charmer, turn to see
Thy own, thy long-lost Edwin here,
Restored to love and thee.

“Thus let me hold thee to my heart,
And every care resign:
And shall we never, never part,
My life,—my all that ’s mine?

“No, never from this hour to part,
We ’ll live and love so true:
The sigh that rends thy constant heart
Shall break thy Edwin’s too.”

Oliver Goldsmith

The Laird o’ Cockpen

The Laird o’ Cockpen he ’s proud and he ’s great,
His mind is ta’en up with the things o’ the state;
He wanted a wife his braw house to keep,
But favor wi’ wooin’ was fashious to seek.

Doun by the dyke-side a lady did dwell,
At his table-head he thought she ’d look well;
M’Clish’s ae daughter o’ Claverse-ha’ Lee,
A penniless lass wi’ a lang pedigree.

His wig was weel pouthered, and guid as when new;
His waistcoat was white, his coat it was blue;
He put on a ring, a sword, and cocked hat,—
And wha could refuse the Laird wi’ a’ that?

He took the gray mare, and rade cannilie,—
And rapped at the yett o’ Claverse-ha’ Lee;
“Gae tell Mistress Jean to come speedily ben:
She ’s wanted to speak wi’ the Laird o’ Cockpen.”

Mistress Jean she was makin’ the elder-flower wine;
“And what brings the Laird at sic a like time?”
She put aff her apron, and on her silk gown,
Her mutch wi’ red ribbons, and gaed awa’ down.

And when she cam’ ben, he boued fu’ low,
And what was his errand he soon let her know.
Amazed was the Laird when the lady said, Na,
And wi’ a laigh curtsie she turnèd awa’.

Dumfoundered he was, but nae sigh did he gi’e;
He mounted his mare, and rade cannilie,
And aften he thought, as he gaed through the glen,
“She ’s daft to refuse the Laird o’ Cockpen.”

And now that the Laird his exit had made,
Mistress Jean she reflected on what she had said;
“O, for ane I ’ll get better, it ’s waur I ’ll get ten;
I was daft to refuse the Laird o’ Cockpen.”

Neist time that the Laird and the lady were seen,
They were gaun arm and arm to the kirk on the green;
Now she sits in the ha’ like a weel-tappit hen,
But as yet there ’s nae chickens appeared at Cockpen.

Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne

The Earl o’ Quarterdeck

A New Old Ballad

The wind it blew, and the ship it flew;
And it was “Hey for hame!
And ho for hame!” But the skipper cried,
“Haud her oot o’er the saut sea faem.”

Then up and spoke the King himsel’:
“Haud on for Dumferline!”
Quo the skipper, “Ye ’re king upo’ the land—
I’m king upo’ the brine.”

And he took the helm intil his hand,
And he steered the ship sae free;
Wi’ the wind astarn, he crowded sail,
And stood right out to sea.

Quo the king, “There ’s treason in this I vow:
This is something underhand!
’Bout ship!” Quo the skipper, “Yer grace forgets
Ye are king but o’ the land!”

And still he held to the open sea;
And the east-wind sank behind;
And the west had a bitter word to say,
Wi’ a white-sea roarin’ wind.

And he turned her head into the north.
Said the king: “Gar fling him o’er.”
Quo the fearless skipper: “It ’s a’ ye ’re worth!
Ye ’ll ne’er see Scotland more.”

The king crept down the cabin-stair,
To drink the gude French wine.
And up she came, his daughter fair,
And luikit ower the brine.

She turned her face to the drivin’ hail,
To the hail but and the weet;
Her snood it brak, and, as lang ’s hersel’,
Her hair drave out i’ the sleet.

She turned her face frae the drivin’ win’—
“What ’s that ahead?” quo she.
The skipper he threw hansel’ frae the win’,
And he drove the helm a-lee.

“Put to yer hand, my lady fair!
Put to yer hand,” quo he;
“Gin she dinna face the win’ the mair,
It ’s the waur for you and me.”

For the skipper kenned that strength is strength,
Whether woman’s or man’s at last.
To the tiller the lady she laid her han’,
And the ship laid her cheek to the blast.

For that slender body was full o’ soul,
And the will is mair than shape;
As the skipper saw when they cleared the berg,
And he heard her quarter scrape.

Quo the skipper: “Ye are a lady fair,
And a princess grand to see;
But ye are a woman, and a man wad sail
To hell in yer company.”

She liftit a pale and queenly face;
Her een flashed, and syne they swim.
“And what for no to heaven?” she says,
And she turned awa’ frae him.

But she took na her han’ frae the good ship’s helm,
Until the day did daw;
And the skipper he spak, but what he said
It was said atween them twa.

And then the good ship she lay to,
With the land far on the lee;
And up came the king upo’ the deck,
Wi’ wan face and bluidshot ee.

The skipper he louted to the king:
“Gae wa’, gae wa’,” said the king.
Said the king, like a prince, “I was a’ wrang,
Put on this ruby ring.”

And the wind blew lowne, and the stars cam’ oot,
And the ship turned to the shore;
And, afore the sun was up again,
They saw Scotland ance more.

That day the ship hung at the pier-heid,
And the king he stept on the land.
“Skipper, kneel down,” the king he said,
“Hoo daur ye afore me stand?”

The skipper he louted on his knee,
The king his blade he drew:
Said the king, “How daured ye contre me?
I ’m aboard my ain ship noo.

“I canna mak ye a king,” said he,
“For the Lord alone can do that;
And besides ye took it intil yer ain han’
And crooned yersel’ sae pat!

“But wi’ what ye will I redeem my ring;
For ance I am at your beck.
And first, as ye loutit Skipper o’ Doon,
Rise up Yerl o’ Quarterdeck.”

The skipper he rose and looked at the king
In his een for all his croon;
Said the skipper, “Here is yer grace’s ring,
And yer daughter is my boon.”

The reid blude sprang into the king’s face,—
A wrathful man to see:
“The rascal loon abuses our grace;
Gae hang him upon yon tree.”

But the skipper he sprang aboard his ship,
And he drew his biting blade;
And he struck the chain that held her fast,
But the iron was ower weel made.

And the king he blew a whistle loud;
And tramp, tramp, down the pier,
Cam’ twenty riders on twenty steeds,
Clankin’ wi’ spur and spear.

“He saved your life!” cried the lady fair;
“His life ye daurna spill!”
“Will ye come atween me and my hate?”
Quo the lady, “And that I will!”

And on cam’ the knights wi’ spur and spear,
For they heard the iron ring.
“Gin ye care na for yer father’s grace,
Mind ye that I am the king.”

“I kneel to my father for his grace,
Right lowly on my knee;
But I stand and look the king in the face,
For the skipper is king o’ me.”

She turned and she sprang upo’ the deck,
And the cable splashed in the sea.
The good ship spread her wings sae white,
And away with the skipper goes she.

Now was not this a king’s daughter,
And a brave lady beside?
And a woman with whom a man might sail
Into the heaven wi’ pride?

George MacDonald

Aux Italiens

At Paris it was, at the opera there;
And she looked like a queen in a book that night,
With the wreath of pearl in her raven hair,
And the brooch on her breast so bright.

Of all the operas that Verdi wrote,
The best, to my taste, is the Trovatore;
And Mario can soothe, with a tenor note,
The souls in purgatory.

The moon on the tower slept soft as snow;
And who was not thrilled in the strangest way,
As we heard him sing, while the gas burned low,
“Non ti scordar di me”?

The emperor there, in his box of state,
Looked grave, as if he had just then seen
The red flag wave from the city gate,
Where his eagles in bronze had been.

The empress, too, had a tear in her eye:
You ’d have said that her fancy had gone back again,
For one moment, under the old blue sky,
To the old glad life in Spain.

Well! there in our front-row box we sat
Together, my bride betrothed and I;
My gaze was fixed on my opera hat,
And hers on the stage hard by.

And both were silent, and both were sad;—
Like a queen she leaned on her full white arm,
With that regal, indolent air she had;
So confident of her charm!

I have not a doubt she was thinking then
Of her former lord, good soul that he was,
Who died the richest and roundest of men,
The Marquis of Carabas.

I hope that, to get to the kingdom of heaven,
Through a needle’s eye he had not to pass;
I wish him well for the jointure given
To my lady of Carabas.

Meanwhile, I was thinking of my first love
As I had not been thinking of aught for years;
Till over my eyes there began to move
Something that felt like tears.

I thought of the dress that she wore last time,
When we stood ’neath the cypress-trees together,
In that lost land, in that soft clime,
In the crimson evening weather;

Of that muslin dress (for the eve was hot);
And her warm white neck in its golden chain;
And her full soft hair, just tied in a knot,
And falling loose again;

And the jasmine flower in her fair young breast;
(O the faint, sweet smell of that jasmine flower!)
And the one bird sings alone to his nest;
And the one star over the tower.

I thought of our little quarrels and strife,
And the letter that brought me back my ring;
And it all seemed then, in the waste of life,
Such a very little thing!

For I thought of her grave below the hill,
Which the sentinel cypress-tree stands over:
And I thought, “Were she only living still,
How I could forgive her and love her!”

And I swear, as I thought of her thus, in that hour,
And of how, after all, old things are best,
That I smelt the smell of that jasmine flower
Which she used to wear in her breast.

It smelt so faint, and it smelt so sweet,
It made me creep, and it made me cold!
Like the scent that steals from the crumbling sheet
Where a mummy is half unrolled.

And I turned and looked: she was sitting there,
In a dim box over the stage; and drest
In that muslin dress, with that full soft hair,
And that jasmine in her breast!

I was here, and she was there;
And the glittering horseshoe curved between!—
From my bride betrothed, with her raven hair
And her sumptuous scornful mien,

To my early love with her eyes downcast,
And over her primrose face the shade,
(In short, from the future back to the past,)
There was but a step to be made.

To my early love from my future bride
One moment I looked. Then I stole to the door,
I traversed the passage; and down at her side
I was sitting, a moment more.

My thinking of her, or the music’s strain,
Or something which never will be exprest,
Had brought her back from the grave again,
With the jasmine in her breast.

She is not dead, and she is not wed!
But she loves me now, and she loved me then!
And the very first word that her sweet lips said,
My heart grew youthful again.

The marchioness there, of Carabas,
She is wealthy, and young, and handsome still;
And but for her—well, we ’ll let that pass;
She may marry whomever she will.

But I will marry my own first love,
With her primrose face, for old things are best;
And the flower in her bosom, I prize it above
The brooch in my lady’s breast.

The world is filled with folly and sin,
And love must cling where it can, I say:
For beauty is easy enough to win;
But one isn’t loved every day.

And I think, in the lives of most women and men,
There ’s a moment when all would go smooth and even,
If only the dead could find out when
To come back and be forgiven.

But O, the smell of that jasmine flower!
And O, that music! and O, the way
That voice rang out from the donjon tower,
Non ti scordar di me,
Non ti scordar di me!

E. Robert Bulwer, Lord Lytton (Owen Meredith)

So, here is the greatest compilation of poems about wooing and winning.

Let me know which one is your favorite! ;).


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