by: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

      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 neighbours 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.

"Cousin Kate" is reprinted from Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems. Christina Rosetti. London: Macmillan 1879.




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