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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 his lands for one To wear his coronet.

by Christina Rossetti
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