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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

George Montgomery Davie (1848–1900)

The Ladye Love

From ‘The Yearn of the Romantic’

SHE was hardened not with knowledge of the boarding-school or college;

She was sung at oft in language that she did not understand;

But was learned in all romancing, and in dancing, and in glancing—

Stately, fair, and tender-hearted was the Ladye of the Land.

Though she dressed in shocking fashion, she inspired the deepest passion,

And a tune upon her lutelet was a very dangerous thing;

For her smiles, were all imploring, and her sigh set all adoring,

And she strung the hearts around her like the beads upon a string.

Now, at tourneys gayly quartered, she would see her lieges slaughtered,

Till the solitary relic crawled to crown her “Beauty’s Queen”;

Then, from tops of balustradings, she would sigh to serenadings,

Or, with hawk or hound and suitors, she would gallop o’er the green.

Any summer morn awaking, full of sentiment and quaking

At the ditties and the clatter of her lovers keeping guard,

She’d behold with charming satisfaction—peeping through her lattice—

Scores of guitars and of gallants shattered all about her yard!

Any day she’d feel neglected if not forcibly selected

As the booty of some Baron, who would make her will his law;

Any night she’d slumber hoping to be wakened by eloping

On the pommel of the saddle of a Knight she never saw.

Then, how charmingly exciting! setting twenty knights to fighting,

And be forced to wed the victor, who would come to claim her glove!

Or to have to sit for hours in the tallest kind of towers,

On the thinnest sort of diet, till her heart should learn to love!

They would call her cold and cruel: yet they’d fight the daily duel,

And lay vows of love eternal and despairing at her shrine;

When at last some one would win her, they would oft neglect their dinner,

And would talk for days of dying, or of far-off Palestine!

When her Liege would go crusading, or his neighbors’ lands invading,

Then from highest turret windows would she wave her lily hands:

Or, perchance, ere seeking Vandals, he would lock her safe from scandals,

And she’d pine, from quiet convents, for her lord in Paynim lands.

Thus, a-smiling and a-sighing, and a-laughing and a-crying,

With her eyes as stars or diamonds, and her hair as silk or gold—

Never maid so sentimental, never matron half so gentle,

Never love so true and tender, as the Ladye Love of old!