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The Collected Poems of Dora Sigerson Shorter/A Ballad of Marjorie

< The Collected Poems of Dora Sigerson Shorter

A BALLAD OF MARJORIE

What ails you that you look so pale,
O fisher of the sea?”
“'Tis for a mournful tale I own,
Fair maiden Marjorie.”

“What is the dreary tale to tell,
toiler of the sea?”
“I cast my net into the waves,
Sweet maiden Marjorie.

“I cast my net into the tide.
Before I made for home;
Too heavy for my hands to raise,
I drew it through the foam.”

“What saw you that you look so pale,
Sad searcher of the sea?”
“A dead man's body from the deep
My haul had brought to me!”

“And was he young, and was he fair?”
“Oh, cruel to behold!
In his white face the joy of life
Not yet was grown a-cold.”

“Oh, pale you are, and full of prayer
For one who sails the sea.”
“Because the dead looked up and spoke.
Poor maiden Marjorie.”


“What said he, that you seem so sad,
O fisher of the sea?
(Alack! I know it was my love,
Who fain would speak to me!)”

“He said, ‘Beware a woman's mouth—
A rose that bears a thorn.’”
“Ah, me I these lips shall smile no more
That gave my lover scorn.”

“He said, ‘Beware a woman's eyes.
They pierce you with their death.’ ”
“Then falling tears shall make them blind
That robbed my dear of breath.”

“He said, ‘Beware a woman's hair—
A serpent's coil of gold.’”
“Then will I shear the cruel locks
That crushed him in their fold.”

“He said, ‘Beware a woman's heart
As you would shun the reef.’”
“So let it break within my breast,
And perish of my grief.”

“He raised his hands: a woman's name
Thrice bitterly he cried:
My net had parted with the strain;
He vanished in the tide.”

“A woman's name! What name but mine,
O fisher of the sea?”
“A woman's name, but not your name,
Poor maiden Marjorie.”