Mary and Lady Mary


The Lady Mary's placid eyes
Beam with no hopes, no memories;
Beneath their lids no tear-drops flow
For Love or Pity, Joy or Woe.
She never knows, too barren she,
The fruitfulness of sympathy;
She never weeps for others' pain,
Or smiles, except in her disdain.

Her face is pallid as the pearl,
Her hair is sleek, without a curl;
With finger-tip she condescends
To touch the fingers of her friends,
As if she feared their palms might brand
Some moral stigma on her hand;
Her pulse is calm, milk-white her skin,
She hath not blood enough to sin.

A very pattern, sage and staid,
Of all her sex — a model maid;
Clear star — bright paragon of men —
She breaks no law of all the ten;
Pure to the sight as snow-peak'd hill —
As inaccessible and chill —
In sunshine — but repelling heat —
And freezing in her own conceit.

If ever known to breathe a sigh,
It was for lack of flattery.
Though cold, insensible and dull,
Admirers call her beautiful;
She sucks their incense, breathes it, doats
On her own praise, that gently floats
On Fashion's wave — and lies in wait
To catch admirers of her state.

In published charities, her name
Stands foremost, for she buys her fame;
At church men see her thrice a-week,
In spirit proud, in aspect meek;
Wearing Devotion like a mask,
So marble cold, that sinners ask,
Beholding her at Mercy's throne,
" Is this a woman or a stone?"

But different, far, the little maid,
That dwells unnoticed in the shade
Of Lady Mary's pomp and power;
A Mary, too, a simple flower,
With face all health, with cheeks all smile,
Undarkened by one cloud of guile;
And ruddy lips that seem to say,
" Come kiss me, children, while ye may."

A cordial hand, a chubby arm,
And hazel eyes, large, soft, and warm;
Dark hair in curls, a snow-like bust,
A look all innocence, all trust,
Lit up at times by sunny mirth,
Like summer smiling on the earth;
A ringing laugh, whose every note
Bursts in clear music from her throat.

A painter's daughter — poor, perchance,
But rich in native elegance;
God bless the maid — she may not be
Without some touch of vanity.
She twines red rose-buds in her hair,
And smiles to know herself so fair;
And quite believes, like other belles,
The pleasant tale her mirror tells.

A very woman, full of tears,
Hopes, blushes, tendernesses, fears,
Griefs, laughter, kindness, joys and sighs,
Loves, likings, friendships, sympathies;
A heart to feel for every woe,
And pity, if not dole, bestow;
A hand to give from scanty store,
A look to wish the offering more.

In artless faith and virtue strong,
Too loving to do Love a wrong;
She takes delight in simple things,
And in the sunshine works and sings.
Sweet bird! so meekly innocent,
The foulest hawk that ever rent
A trusting heart, would gaze, and fly,
And spare her in her purity.

Take Lady Mary ye who will,
Her woods, her castle on the hill,
Her lands o'er half a county spread —
And wither in her loveless bed;
But give me Mary, frank and free,
Her beauty, grace, and modesty;
I pass My Lady in the mart —
I take the Woman with the heart.
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