The Farmer's Bride

Charlotte Mew

Three summers since I chose a maid,
Too young maybe - but more's to do
At harvest-time than bide and woo.
  When us was wed she turned afraid
Of love and me and all things human
Like the shut of a winter's day
Her smile went out, and 'twasn't a woman
  More like a little frightened fay
  One night, in the Fall, she runned away.

'Out 'mong the sheep, her be,' they said,
Should properly have been abed;
But sure enough, she wasn't there
Lying awake with her wide brown stare.
  So over seven-acre field and up-along across the down
We chased her, flying like a hare
Before our lanterns. To Church-Ton
  All in a shiver and a scare
We caught her, fetched her home at last
  And turned the key upon her, fast.

She does the work about the house
As well as most, but like a mouse
  Happy enough to chat and play
  With birds and rabbits and such as they
  So long as men-folk keep away
'Not near, not near!' her eyes beseech
When one of us comes within reach.
  The women say that beasts in stall
  Look round like children at her call.
  I've hardly heard her speak at all.

Shy as a leveret, swift as he,
Straight and slight as a young larch tree,
Sweet as the first wild violets, she,
To her wild self. But what to me?

The short days shorten and the oaks are brown,
  The blue smoke rises to the low grey sky,
One lead in the stll air falls slowly down,
  A magpie's spotted feather's lie
On the black earth spread white with rime,
The berries redden up to Christmas-time.
  What's Christmas-time without there be
  Some other in the house than we!

She sleeps up on the attic there
  Alone, poor maid.'Tis but a stair
Betwixt us. my God! the down,
The soft young down of her, the brown,
The brown of her - her eyes, her hair, her hair!