William Morris (1834-1896)
The Eve of Crecy
1Gold on her head, and gold on her feet,
2And gold where the hems of her kirtle meet,
3And a golden girdle round my sweet;
4 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.
5Margaret's maids are fair to see,
6Freshly dress'd and pleasantly;
7Margaret's hair falls down to her knee;
8 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.
9If I were rich I would kiss her feet;
10I would kiss the place where the gold hems meet,
11And the golden kirtle round my sweet:
12 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.
13Ah me! I have never touch'd her hand;
14When the arrière-ban goes through the land,
15Six basnets under my pennon stand;
16 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.
17And many an one grins under his hood:
18Sir Lambert du Bois, with all his men good,
19Has neither food nor firewood;
20 Ah! qu'elle est belle la Marguerite.
21If I were rich I would kiss her feet,
22And the golden girdle of my sweet,
23And thereabouts where the gold hems meet;
24 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.
25Yet even now it is good to think,
26While my few poor varlets grumble and drink
27In my desolate hall, where the fires sink,--
28 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite,--
29Of Margaret sitting glorious there,
30In glory of gold and glory of hair,
31And glory of glorious face most fair;
32 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.
33Likewise to-night I make good cheer,
34Because this battle draweth near:
35For what have I to lose or fear?
36 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.
37For, look you, my horse is good to prance
38A right fair measure in this war-dance,
39Before the eyes of Philip of France;
40 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.
41And sometime it may hap, perdie,
42While my new towers stand up three and three,
43And my hall gets painted fair to see--
44 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite--
45That folks may say: Times change, by the rood,
46For Lambert, banneret of the wood,
47Has heaps of food and firewood;
48 Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite.
1] From Morris's first volume, published in 1858. The battle of Crecy, in which Edward III was victorious over the French, was fought in August 1346.
2] kirtle. A gown.
14] Arrière-ban. The summons of the feudal vassals to war.
15] basnets. Properly, a basnet is a light helmet.
39] Philip of France. Philip VI, the king of France at the time of the battle of Crecy.
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: William Morris, The Defence of Guenevere, and Other Poems (London: Bell and Daldy, 1858). PR 5078 D4 1858 SIGS; end M677 D44 1858 Fisher Library.
First publication date:
RPO poem editor: W. J. Alexander, William Hall Clawson
RP edition: RP (1912), pp. 397-99; RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/10
Other poems by William Morris