Elinor Wylie ( )

The Puritans Ballad

My love came up from Barnegat, 
The sea was in his eyes; 
He trod as softly as a cat 
And told me terrible lies.

His hair was yellow as new-cut pine 
In shavings curled and feathered; 
I thought how silver it would shine 
By cruel winters weathered.

But he was in his twentieth year, 
Ths time Im speaking of; 
We were head over heels in love with fear 
And half a-feared of love.

My hair was piled in a copper crown -- 
A devilish living thing -- 
And the tortise-shell pins fell down, fell down, 
When that snake uncoiled to spring.

His feet were used to treading a gale 
And balancing thereon; 
His face was as brown as a foreign sail 
Threadbare against the sun.

His arms were thick as hickory logs 
Whittled to little wrists; 
Strong as the teeth of a terrier dog 
Were the fingers of his fists.

Within his arms I feared to sink 
Where lions shook their manes, 
And dragons drawn in azure ink 
Lept quickened by his veins.

Dreadful his strength and length of limb 
As the sea to foundering ships; 
I dipped my hands in love for him 
No deeper than the tips.

But our palms were welded by a flame 
The moment we came to part, 
And on his knuckles I read my name 
Enscrolled with a heart.

And something made our wills to bend, 
As wild as trees blown over; 
We were no longer friend and friend, 
But only lover and lover.

In seven weeks or seventy years -- 
God grant it may be sooner! -- 
Ill make a hankerchief for you 
From the sails of my captains schooner.

Well wear our loves like wedding rings 
Long polished to our touch; 
We shall be busy with other things 
And they cannot bother us much.

When you are skimming the wrinkled cream 
And your ring clinks on the pan, 
Youll say to yourself in a pensive dream, 
How wonderful a man!

When I am slitting a fishs head 
And my ring clanks on the knife, 
Ill say with thanks as a prayer is said, 
How beautiful a wife!

And I shall fold my decorous paws 
In velvet smooth and deep, 
Like a kitten that covers up its claws 
To sleep and sleep and sleep.

Like a little blue pigeon you shall bow 
Your bright alarming crest; 
In the crook of my arm youll lay your brow 
To rest and rest and rest.

Will he never come back from Barnegat 
With thunder in his eyes, 
Treading as soft as a tiger cat, 
To tell me terrible lies?

Elinor Wylie's other poems:
  1. Address to My Soul
  2. Escape
  3. The Lost Path
  4. Nadir
  5. Valentine

 . Poem to print (Print)

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To English version


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