Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “The Earthly Paradise.” IV. The King’s Visit

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

William Morris 1834–96

From “The Earthly Paradise.” IV. The King’s Visit


So long he rode he drew anigh

A mill upon the river’s brim,

That seem’d a goodly place to him,

For o’er the oily smooth millhead

There hung the apples growing red,

And many an ancient apple-tree

Within the orchard could he see,

While the smooth millwalls white and black

Shook to the great wheel’s measur’d clack,

And grumble of the gear within;

While o’er the roof that dull’d that din

The doves sat crooning half the day,

And round the half-cut stack of hay

The sparrows flutter’d twittering.

There smiling stay’d the joyous king,

And since the autumn noon was hot

Thought good anigh that pleasant spot

To dine that day, and therewith sent

To tell the miller his intent:

Who held the stirrup of the king,

Bareheaded, joyful at the thing,

While from his horse he lit adown,

Then led him o’er an elm-beam brown,

New cut in February tide,

That cross’d the stream from side to side;

So underneath the apple trees

The king sat careless, well at ease,

And ate and drank right merrily.

To whom the miller drew anigh

Among the courtiers, bringing there

Such as he could of country fare,

Green yellowing plums from off his wall,

Wasp-bitten pears, the first to fall

From off the wavering spire-like tree,

Junkets, and cream and fresh honey.