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Alfred Noyes (Альфред Нойес)

A Ride for the Queen

    Queen of queens, oh lady mine,
      You who say you love me,
    Here's a cup of crimson wine
      To the stars above me;
    Here's a cup of blood and gall
      For a soldier's quaffing!
    What's the prize to crown it all?
      Death? I'll take it laughing!
    I ride for the Queen to-night!

    Though I find no knightly fee
      Waiting on my lealty,
    High upon the gallows-tree
      Faithful to my fealty,
    What had I but love and youth,
      Hope and fame in season?
    She has proved that more than truth
      Glorifies her treason!

    Would that other do as much?
      Ah, but if in sorrow
    Some forgotten look or touch
      Pierce her heart to-morrow
    She might love me yet, I think;
      So her lie befriends me,
    Though I know there's darker drink
      Down the road she sends me.

    Ay, one more great chance is mine
      (Can I faint or falter?)
    She shall pour my blood like wine,
      Make my heart her altar,
    Burn it to the dust! For, there,
      What if o'er the embers
    She should stoop and--I should hear--
      "_Hush! Thy love remembers!_"

    One more chance for every word
      Whispered to betray me,
    While she buckled on my sword
      Smiling to allay me;
    One more chance; ah, let me not
      Mar her perfect pleasure;
    Love shall pay me, jot by jot,
      Measure for her measure.

    Faith shall think I never knew,
      I will be so fervent!
    Doubt shall dream I dreamed her true
      As her war-worn servant!
    Whoso flouts her spotless name
      (Love, I wear thy token!)
    He shall face one sword of flame
      Ere the lie be spoken!

    All the world's a-foam with may,
      (Fragrant as her bosom!)
    Could I find a sweeter way
      Through the year's young blossom,
    Where her warm red mouth on mine
      Woke my soul's desire?...
    Hey! The cup of crimson wine,
      Blood and gall and fire!

    Castle Doom or Gates of Death?
      (Smile again for pity!)
    "Boot and horse," my lady saith,
      "Spur against the City,
    Bear this message!" God and she
      Still forget the guerdon;
    Nay, the rope is on the tree!
      That shall bear the burden!
    I ride for the Queen to-night!

Alfred Noyes's other poems:
  1. Moving through the Dew
  2. Necromancy
  3. Art, the Herald
  4. The Trumpet Call
  5. Apes and Ivory

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