Christina Rossetti




Cousin Kate  

I was a cottage maiden
   Hardened by sun and air,
Contented with my cottage mates,
   Not mindful I was fair.
Why did a great lord find me out,
   And praise my flaxen hair?
Why did a great lord find me out
   To fill my heart with care?
 
He lured me to his palace home —
   Woe's me for joy thereof —
To lead a shameless shameful life,
   His plaything and his love.
He wore me like a silken knot,
   He changed me like a glove;
So now I moan, an unclean thing,
   Who might have been a dove.
 
O Lady Kate, my cousin Kate,
   You grew more fair than I:
He saw you at your father's gate,
   Chose you, and cast me by.
He watched your steps along the lane,
   Your work among the rye;
He lifted you from mean estate
   To sit with him on high.
 
Because you were so good and pure
   He bound you with his ring:
The neighbors call you good and pure,
   Call me an outcast thing.
Even so I sit and howl in dust,
   You sit in gold and sing:
Now which of us has tenderer heart?
   You had the stronger wing.
 
O cousin Kate, my love was true,
   Your love was writ in sand:
If he had fooled not me but you,
   If you stood where I stand,
He'd not have won me with his love
   Nor bought me with his land;
I would have spit into his face
   And not have taken his hand.
 
Yet I've a gift you have not got,
   And seem not like to get:
For all your clothes and wedding-ring
   I've little doubt you fret.
My fair-haired son, my shame, my pride,
   Cling closer, closer yet:
Your father would give lands for one
   To wear his coronet.