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TO A BROWN BEGGAR-MAID

by
 WHITE maiden with the russet hair, 
Whose garments, through their holes, declare 
That poverty is part of you, 
And beauty too.
To me, a sorry bard and mean, Your youthful beauty, frail and lean, With summer freckles here and there, Is sweet and fair.
Your sabots tread the roads of chance, And not one queen of old romance Carried her velvet shoes and lace With half your grace.
In place of tatters far too short Let the proud garments worn at Court Fall down with rustling fold and pleat About your feet; In place of stockings, worn and old, Let a keen dagger all of gold Gleam in your garter for the eyes Of rou?s wise; Let ribbons carelessly untied Reveal to us the radiant pride Of your white bosom purer far Than any star; Let your white arms uncovered shine, Polished and smooth and half divine; And let your elfish fingers chase With riotous grace The purest pearls that softly glow, The sweetest sonnets of Belleau, Offered by gallants ere they fight For your delight; And many fawning rhymers who Inscribe their first thin book to you Will contemplate upon the stair Your slipper fair; And many a page who plays at cards, And many lords and many bards, Will watch your going forth, and burn For your return; And you will count before your glass More kisses than the lily has; And more than one Valois will sigh When you pass by.
But meanwhile you are on the tramp, Begging your living in the damp, Wandering mean streets and alley's o'er, From door to door; And shilling bangles in a shop Cause you with eager eyes to stop, And I, alas, have not a sou To give to you.
Then go, with no more ornament, Pearl, diamond, or subtle scent, Than your own fragile naked grace And lovely face.

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