Earl Cassilis's Lady
Meeting her on the heath at the day's end,
After the one look and the one sigh, he said,
Did a spine prick you from the goosefeather bed?
Were the rings too heavy on your hand?
Were you unhappy, that you had to go?
Was it the music called you down the stair,
Or the hot ginger that they gave you then?
Was it for pleasure that you followed them
Putting off your slippers at the door
To dance barefoot and blood-foot in the snow?
What then? What glamoured you? No glamour at all;
Only that I remembered I was young
And had to put myself into a song.
How could time bear witness that I was tall,
Silken, and made for love, if I did not so?
I do not know.
-Sylvia Townsend Warner
Sylvia Townsend Warner (no relation that I know of...) is better known as a novelist, but her poems are good, too.
Earl Cassilis (pronounced Castle) is a hereditary Scottish lordship; Jean Hamilton, the wife of the 6th Earl (born 1668) somehow got herself connected with a Child ballad about being abducted by gypsies, and then from there made it into this poem. But, except maybe for the pronunciation of Cassilis, you don't really need to know any of that...
Jennifer has a poem about Pooh that definitely got copied into my commonplace book.
A character in one of my recent Mavis Gallant stories was reading Sylvia Townsend Warner, so I am doubly pleased to find her here today!ReplyDelete
Interesting! Not a combination that would have occurred to me.Delete
I've been following your Mavis Gallant series with pleasure. I should get to know her better; I've read very little of hers.