Christina Rossetti: Poems

Maude Clare

Out of the church she followed them

With a lofty step and mien:

His bride was like a village maid,

Maude Clare was like a queen.

'Son Thomas,' his lady mother said,

With smiles, almost with tears:

'May Nell and you but live as true

As we have done for years;

'Your father thirty years ago

Had just your tale to tell; 10

But he was not so pale as you,

Nor I so pale as Nell.'

My lord was pale with inward strife,

And Nell was pale with pride;

My lord gazed long on pale Maude Clare

Or ever he kissed the bride.

'Lo, I have brought my gift, my lord,

Have brought my gift,' she said:

'To bless the hearth, to bless the board,

To bless the marriage-bed. 20

'Here's my half of the golden chain

You wore about your neck,

That day we waded ankle-deep

For lilies in the beck:

'Here's my half of the faded leaves

We plucked from budding bough,

With feet amongst the lily leaves,--

The lilies are budding now.'

He strove to match her scorn with scorn,

He faltered in his place: 30

'Lady,' he said,--'Maude Clare,' he said,--

'Maude Clare:'--and hid his face.

She turn'd to Nell: 'My Lady Nell,

I have a gift for you;

Though, were it fruit, the bloom were gone,

Or, were it flowers, the dew.

'Take my share of a fickle heart,

Mine of a paltry love:

Take it or leave it as you will,

I wash my hands thereof.' 40

'And what you leave,' said Nell, 'I'll take,

And what you spurn, I'll wear;

For he's my lord for better and worse,

And him I love, Maude Clare.

'Yea, though you're taller by the head,

More wise, and much more fair;

I'll love him till he loves me best,

Me best of all, Maude Clare.'