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

May Probyn

“Is It Nothing to You?”

WE were playing on the green together,

My sweetheart and I—

Oh! so heedless in the gay June weather,

When the word went forth that we must die.

Oh! so merrily the balls of amber

And of ivory tossed we to the sky,

While the word went forth in the King’s chamber,

That we both must die.

Oh! so idly, straying through the pleasaunce,

Plucked we here and there

Fruit and bud, while in the royal presence

The King’s son was casting from his hair

Glory of the wreathen gold that crowned it,

And, ungirdling all his garments fair,

Flinging by the jewelled clasp that bound it,

With his feet made bare,

Down the myrtled stairway of the palace,

Ashes on his head,

Came he, through the rose and citron alleys,

In rough sark of sackcloth habited,

And in a hempen halter—oh! we jested,

Lightly, and we laughed as he was led

To the torture, while the bloom we breasted

Where the grapes grew red.

Oh! so sweet the birds, when he was dying,

Piped to her and me—

Is no room this glad June day for sighing—

He is dead, and she and I go free!

When the sun shall set on all our pleasure

We will mourn him— What, so you decree

We are heartless— Nay, but in what measure

Do you more than we?