Battledore 1

No breath of wind, within, without;
No stirring twig, no insect hum;
The very beehives dumb;
Till shrill and sharp, with shriek and shout,
The laughing sisters come.

Swarth, heavy-tressed runs Alison,
Not corn than Blanche more debonair,
They fill the voiceless air,
Scarcely a scant scarf bound upon
Their joyous, rebel hair.

" Here, sister, here. " " No, here i' the shade. "
" Look, sister, gather up your skirt;
It trails upon the dirt. "
" Ah, malapert, now you have made
My hand bleed; I am hurt "

" Sweet Alison, your hose is rent. "
" Sweet Blanche, but look you, do you this:
Loosen your girdle, sis,
And draw your gown through. " Indolent
Blanche laughs at her excess.

Their heart-shaped bats, bent, bound and strung
With ravelled bow-cord, light and stout
To drive the ball about,
Winged plaything from the soutar wrung
With supplicating pout.

Drum! Drum! How it spins! How straight it flies!
How blue 'tis! Bluer than the sky!
" Sister, you strike awry. "
Hither and thither, hands and eyes,
And never feet more spry

The chatelaine creeps forth a space,
Down the strait stair, with looks askance
For peeping eyes. " Constance! "
The girls cry out, " come, take a place. "
Her eyes fixed, as in trance;

Thoughts flocking of Provençal fields,
Of her own youth, grown nigh and nigher,
Gathering her fine attire,
The weary Lady Constance yields
Unto a great desire.

Truth, she is little apt, although
She strive, and make a brave array
Of skill; the breathless day
Catches her throat for to and fro,
This way and that way. " Nay... "

One hand clasped on her face, and one
Against her waist, the frighted twain
Of girls, seeing her pain,
Shriek, cry: " Swift! Water! " Alison
Wrings at her hands in vain.

" A little sickness, child; 'til naught;
'Tis well. Dear Christ! if't be a wight,
Moris shall he be hight;
If't be a lass, Ysold. For aught
I joy, 't may be this night. "
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.