- (Frederick Locker-Lampson)






The Garter


The healthy-wealthy-wise, affirm,
That early birds secure the worm,
   And doubtless so they do;
Who scorns his couch should earn, by rights,
A world of pleasant sounds and sights
   That vanish with the dew.

Bright Phosphor, from his watch released,
Now fading from the purple East
   The morning waxing stronger;
The comely cock that vainly strives
To crow from sleep his drowsy wives,
   Who would be dosing longer.

Uxorious Chanticleer! and hark!
Upraise thine eyes, and find the lark,
   That matutine musician,
Who heavenward soars on raptures wings,
Though sought, unseen, who mounts, and sings
   In musical derision.

A daughter hastning to prepare
Her fathers humble morning fare
   The sturdy reapers meal.
In russet gown and apron blue,
The daughter sings; like Lucy, too,
   She plies her spinning-wheel.

Anon the early reaper hies
To waving fields that clasp the skies,
   Broad sheets of sunlit water.
All these were heard or seen by one
Who stole a march upon that sun,
   And thenupon that Daughter!

This dainty maid, the hamlets pride,
A lambkin trotting at her side,
   Then hied her through the park;
A fond and gentle foster-dam
May be she slumbered with her lamb,
   Thus rising with the lark!

The lambkin friskd, the damsel fain
Would wile him back,she called in vain.
   The truant gambolld farther:
One followd for the maidens sake,
A pilgrim in an Angels wake
   A happy pilgrim, rather.

The maid gave chase, the lambkin ran,
As only woolly vagrant can,
   Who never felt a crook;
But stayd at length, as twere disposed
To drink, where tawny sands disclosed
   The margent of a brook.

His mistress, who had followd fast,
Cried, Little rogue, youre caught at last;
   Im fleeter, Sir, than you.
Then straight the wanderer conveyd
Where tangled shrubs, in branching shade,
   Protected her from view

Of all save one.  She glanced around,
All fearful lest the slightest sound
   Might mortal footfall be.
Then shrinkingly she stepped aside
One moment, and her garter tied
   The truant to a tree.

Perhaps the world may wish to know
The hue of this delightful bow,
   And how it might be placed:
No, not from him, he only knows
It might be purple, blue, or rose,
   Twas tiedwith maiden taste.

Suffice it that the nymph was fair,
With dove-like eyes, and golden hair,
   And feet of lily dye:
And, though these feet were pure from stain,
She turned her to the brook again,
   And laved them dreamingly.

Awhile she sat in maiden mood,
And watchd the shadows in the flood,
   Which varied with the stream:
And as each pretty foot she dips,
The ripples ope their crystal lips
   In welcome, as twould seem.

But reveries are fleeting things,
Which come and go on Fancys wings,
   Now longer, and now shorter:
The Fair One well her day-dream nurst,
But, when the light-blown bubble burst,
   She wearied of the water;

Betook her to the spot where yet
Safe tetherd lay her snowy pet,
   To roving tastes a martyr:
But something met the damsels gaze,
Which made her cry in sheer amaze,
   Good gracious! wheres my garter?

Yes! where indeed? the echoes there,
Inquisitive, responded where?
   And mournd the missing fetter:
A something else a little space
Must render duty in its place,
   Till banishd for a better.

The blushing Fair her lamb led home,
Perhaps resolved no more to roam
   At peep of day together;
If chance so takes them, it is plain
She will not venture forth again
   Without an extra tether.

A fair white stone will mark this morn
He wears a prize, one lightly worn,
   Loves gage (though not intended);
Of course hell guard it near his heart,
Till suns and even stars depart,
   And chivalry has ended.

And knighthood hell not envy you,
The crosses, stars, and cordons bleus,
   Which pride for folly barters;
Hell bear his cross mid mundane jars,
His ribbon prize, and thank his stars
   He does not crave your garters!






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