William and Margaret, pp.148-150.

[Tea-Table Miscellany Contents]

An Old BALLAD

– 

‘TWas at the fearful midnight hour, 

When all were fast asleep, 

In glided Margaret’s grimly ghost, 

And stood at William’s feet. 

– 

Her face was pale like April morn, 

Clad in a wintry cloud; 

And clay cold was her lilly hand 

That held her sable shroud. 

– 

So shall the fairest face appear, 

When youth and years are flown: 

Such is the robe that kings must wear, 

When death has rest their crown. 

– 

Her bloom was like the springing flour 

That sips the silver dew; 

The rose was budded in her cheek, 

Just opening to the view. 

– 

But love had, like the canker worm, 

Consum’d her early prime: 

The rose grew pale, and left her cheek; 

She dy’d before her time. 

– 

Awake! – she cry’d, thy true love calls, 

Come from her midnight grave: 

Now let thy pity hear the maid, 

Thy love refus’d to save. 

– 

This is the dumb and dreary hour, 

When injur’d ghosts complain, 

And aid the secret fears of night, 

To fright the faithless man. 

– 

Bethink thee, William, of thy fault, 

Thy pledge and broken oath, 

And give me back my maiden-vow, 

And give me back my troth. 

– 

How could you say, my face was fair, 

And yet that face forsake? 

How could you win my virgin heart, 

Yet leave that heart to break? 

– 

Why did you promise love to me, 

And not that promise keep? 

Why said you, that my eyes were bright, 

Yet left these eyes to weep? 

– 

How could you swear, my lip was sweet, 

And made the scarlet pale? 

And why did I, young witless maid, 

Believe the flatt’ring tale? 

– 

That face, alas! no more is fair; 

These lips no longer red; 

Dark are my eyes, now clos’d in death, 

And every charm is fled. 

– 

The hungry worm my sister is; 

This winding-sheet I wear: 

And cold and weary lasts our night, 

Till that last morn appear. 

– 

But hark! – the cock has warn’d me hence – 

A long and late adieu! 

Come see, false man! how low she lies, 

That dy’d for love of you. 

– 

The lark sung out, the morning smil’d, 

And rais’d her glitt’ring head: 

Pale William quak’d in every limb; 

Then, raving, left his bed. 

– 

He hy’d him to the fatal place 

Where Margaret’s body lay, 

And stretch’d him o’er the green grass turf 

That wrapt her breathless clay. 

– 

And thrice he call’d on Margaret’s name, 

And thrice he wept full sore: 

Then laid his cheek on her cold grave, 

And word spoke never more. 

New Words by Different Hands

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