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ALICE BRAND.

6

I.
Merry it is in the good greenwood,

When the mavis and merle1 are singing,
When the deer sweeps by, and the hounds are in cry,

And the hunter's horn is ringing. 'O Alice Brand ! my native land

Is lost for love of you ;
And we must hold by wood and wold,

As outlaws wont to do.
'O Alice ! 'twas all for thy locks so bright,

And 'twas all for thine eyes so blue,
That on the night of our luckless flight,

Thy brother bold I slew.
Now must I teach to hew the beech,

The hand that held the glaive,3
For leaves to spread our lowly bed,

And stakes to fence our cave.
• And for vest of pall,4 thy fingers small,

That wont on harp to stray,
A cloak must shear from the slaughtered deer,

To keep the cold away.'
• Richard ! if my brother died,

'Twas but a fatal chance ; For darkling 5 was the battle tried,

And Fortune sped the lance.
* If pall and vair 6 no more I wear,

Nor thou the crimson sheen,
As warm, we'll say, is the russet gray,

As gay the forest-green.
And, Richard, if our lot be hard,

And lost thy native land,
Still Alice has her own Richard,

And he his Alice Brand.'

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'Tis merry, 'tis merry, in good greenwood,

So blithe Lady Alice is singing ;
On the beech's pride, and oak’s brown side,

Lord Richard's axe is ringing.

Up spoke the moody? Elfin King,

Who woned 8 within the hill-
Like wind in the porch of a ruined church,

His voice was ghostly shrill.

“Why sounds yon stroke on beech and oak,

Our moonlight circle's screen ?
Or who comes here to chase the deer,

Beloved of our Elfin Queen ?
Or who may dare on wold to wear

The fairies' fatal green ?

• Up, Urgan, up! to yon mortal hie,

For thou wert christened man;
For cross or sign thou wilt not fly,

For muttered word or ban.10

• Lay on him the curse of the withered heart,

The curse of the sleepless eye:
Till he wish and pray that his life would part,

Nor yet find leave to die.'

III.

'Tis merry, 'tis merry, in good greenwood,

Though the birds have stilled their singing;
The evening blaze doth Alice raise,

And Richard is fagots bringing.
Up Urgan starts ; that hideous dwarf

Before Lord Richard stands,
And, as he crossed and blest himself,
I fear not sign,' quoth the grisly elf,11
" That is made with bloody hands.'

But out then spoke she, Alice Brand,

That woman void of fear: • And if there's blood upon his hand,

'Tis but the blood of deer.'

Now loud thou liest, thou bold of mood !

It cleaves unto his hand,
The stain of thine own kindly blood,

The blood of Ethert Brand.'

Then forward stepped she, Alice Brand,

And made the holy sign-
*And if there's blood on Richard's hand,

A spotless hand is mine.
And I conjure thee, Demon elf,

By Him whom Demons fear,
To shew us whence thou art thyself,

And what thine errand here ?'

IV.

• 'Tis merry, 'tis merry, in Fairy-land,

When Fairy birds are singing, When the court doth ride by their monarch's side,

With bit and bridle ringing :
And gaily shines the Fairy-land-

But all is glistening show,
Like the idle gleam that December's beam

Can dart on ice and snow.

And fading, like that varied gleam,

Is our inconstant shape,
Who now like knight and lady seem,

And now like dwarf and ape.

*It was between the night and day,

When the Fairy King has power,
That I sank down in a sinful fray,12
And, 'twixt life and death, was snatched away

To the joyless Elfin bower.

102

THE SONG OF THE SHIRT.

“But wist 13 I of a woman bold,

Who thrice my brow durst sign,
I might regain my mortal mold, 14

As fair a form as thine.'

She crossed him once-she crossed him twice

That lady was so brave;
The fouler grew his goblin hue,

The darker grew the cave.
She crossed him thrice, that lady bold;

He rose beneath her hand
The fairest knight on Scottish mold,16

Her brother, Ethert Brand !
Merry it is in good greenwood,

When the mavis and merle are singing,
But merrier were they in Dunfermline gray,
When all the bells were ringing.

Scott. 1 Mavis and merle, thrush and black- Hie, hasten. bird.

10 Ban, curse. 2 Wold, a wooded region; A.S. weald. 11 El, a diminutive wandering spirit 8 Glaive, broadsword.

of the fairy race. 4 Pall, fine cloth.

12. Fray, quarrel. 5 Darkling, in the dark.

13 Wist, knew. 6 Vair, fur.

14 Mold, mould, shape. 7 Moody, ill-natured, angry.

15 Mold, mould, ground. 8 Woned, dwelt.

THE SONG OF THE SHIRT.1

With fingers weary and worn, with eyelids heavy and red,
A Woman sat, in unwomanly rags, plying her needle and

thread : Stitch-stitch-stitch ! in poverty, hunger, and dirt ; And still, with a voice of dolorous pitch,2 she sang the Song

of the Shirt.' Work—work-work! while the cock is crowing aloof; And work-work-work! till the stars shine through the roof. It's oh to be a slave along with the barbarous Turk, Where woman has never a soul to save, if this is Christian

work!

• Work-work-work! till the brain begins to swim ;
Work-work-work! till the eyes are heavy and dim.
Seam, and gusset, and band-band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep, and sew them on in a dream!
"O men with sisters dear-Omen with mothers and wives !
It is not linen you 're wearing out, but human creatures' lives !
Stitch-stitch-stitch ! in poverty, hunger, and dirt,
Sewing at once, with a double thread, a shroud as well as a

shirt.

‘But why do I talk of Death-that phantom of grisly bone ?
I hardly fear his terrible shape, it seems so like my own-
It seems so like my own, because of the fasts I keep :
Alas ! that bread should be so dear, and flesh and blood so

cheap! Work-work-work! my labour never flags : And what are its wages ? A bed of straw-a crust of bread

-and rags;

That shattered roof--and this naked floor-a table- -a broken

chair And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank for sometimes

falling there!

“Work-work-work! from weary chime to chime,3
Work-work-work! as prisoners work for crime.
Band, and gusset, and seam_seam, and gusset, and band,
Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumbed, as well as the

weary hand.

• Work-work-work! in the dull December light, And work-work-work! when the weather is warm and

bright; While underneath the eaves the brooding swallows cling, As if to shew me their sunny backs, and twit me with the

Spring. "O but to breathe the breath of the cowslip and rose

sweetWith the sky above my head, and the grass beneath my feet;

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