The Farmer's Bride

 Charlotte Mew

Three Summers since I chose a maid, 
Too young maybe, but more's to do 
At harvest-time than bide and woo. 
     When us was wed she turned afraid 
Of love and me and all things human; 
Like the shut of a winter's day. 
Her smile went out, and 'twasn't a womanó 
      More like a little frightened fay. 
        One night, in the Fall, she runned away. 

"Out 'mong the sheep, her be," they said, 
'Should properly have been abed; 
But sure enough she wasn't there 
Lying awake with her wide brown stare. 
        So over seven-acre field and up-along across the down 
We chased her, flying like a hare 
Before our lanterns.  To Church-Town 
       All in a shiver and a scare 
We caught her, fetched her home at last 
       And turned the key upon her, fast. 

She does the work about the house 
As well as most, but like a mouse: 
      Happy enough to chat and play 
      With birds and rabbits and such as they, 
      So long as men-folk keep away. 
"Not near, not near!" her eyes beseech 
When one of us comes within reach. 
       The women say that beasts in stall 
       Look round like children at her call. 
       I've hardly heard her speak at all. 
Shy as a leveret, swift as he, 
Straight and slight as a young larch tree, 
Sweet as the first wild violets, she, 
To her wild self.  But what to me? 

The short days shorten and the oaks are brown, 
      The blue smoke rises to the low gray sky, 
One leaf in the still air falls slowly down, 
       A magpie's spotted feathers lie 
On the black earth spread white with rime, 
The berries redden up to Christmas-time. 
       What's Christmas-time without there be 
       Some other in the house than we! 

       She sleeps up in the attic there 
       Alone, poor maid.  'Tis but a stair 
Betwixt us.  Oh! my god! the down, 
The soft young down of her, the brown 
        The brown of her--her eyes, her hair, her hair!