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John Keats (1795-1821)

Meg Merrilies


              1Old Meg she was a Gipsy,
              2     And liv'd upon the Moors:
              3Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
              4     And her house was out of doors.

              5Her apples were swart blackberries,
              6     Her currants pods o' broom;
              7Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
              8     Her book a churchyard tomb.

              9Her Brothers were the craggy hills,
            10     Her Sisters larchen trees--
            11Alone with her great family
            12     She liv'd as she did please.

            13No breakfast had she many a morn,
            14     No dinner many a noon,
            15And 'stead of supper she would stare
            16     Full hard against the Moon.

            17But every morn of woodbine fresh
            18     She made her garlanding,
            19And every night the dark glen Yew
            20     She wove, and she would sing.

            21And with her fingers old and brown
            22     She plaited Mats o' Rushes,
            23And gave them to the Cottagers
            24     She met among the Bushes.

            25Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen
            26     And tall as Amazon:
            27An old red blanket cloak she wore;
            28     A chip hat had she on.
            29God rest her aged bones somewhere--
            30     She died full long agone!


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Hood's Magazine (London: H. Penshaw, 1844), as "old Meg." AP H666 MICR mfm
First publication date: 1838
RPO poem editor: J. R. MacGillivray
RP edition: 3RP 2.626.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/20

Composition date: 1818
Form: Ballad Stanzas
Rhyme: abcb, abcbdb
Form note: Keats breaks away from the regular iambics of the ballad stanza, particularly in the third line of each stanza, but the basic pattern persists.


Other poems by John Keats