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.