Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The White Rose over the Water
 
George Walter Thornbury (1828–76)
 
 
Edinburgh, 1744
 
 
THE OLD men sat with hats pull’d down,
  Their claret cups before them:
Broad shadows hid their sullen eyes,
  The tavern lamps shone o’er them,
As a brimming bowl, with crystal fill’d,        5
  Came borne by the landlord’s daughter,
Who wore in her bosom the fair white rose,
  That grew best over the water.
 
Then all leap’d up, and join’d their hands
  With hearty clasp and greeting,        10
The brimming cups, outstretch’d by all,
  Over the wide bowl meeting.
“A health,” they cried, “to the witching eyes
  Of Kate, the landlord’s daughter!
But don’t forget the white, white rose        15
  That grows best over the water.”
 
Each others’ cups they touch’d all round,
  The last red drop outpouring;
Then with a cry that warm’d the blood,
  One heart-born chorus roaring—        20
“Let the glass go round, to pretty Kate,
  The landlord’s black-eyed daughter;
But never forget the white, white rose
  That grows best over the water.”
 
Then hats flew up and swords sprang out,        25
  And lusty rang the chorus—
“Never,” they cried, “while Scots are Scots,
  And the broad Frith’s before us.”
A ruby ring the glasses shine
  As they toast the landlord’s daughter,        30
Because she wore the white, white rose
  That grew best over the water.
 
A poet cried, “Our thistle ’s brave,
  With all its stings and prickles;
The shamrock with its holy leaf        35
  Is spar’d by Irish sickles.
But bumpers round, for what are these
  To Kate, the landlord’s daughter,
Who wears at her bosom the rose as white,
  That grows best over the water?”        40
 
They dash’d the glasses at the wall,
  No lip might touch them after;
The toast had sanctified the cups
  That smash’d against the rafter;
Then chairs thrown back, they up again        45
  To toast the landlord’s daughter,
But never forgot the white, white rose
  That grew best over the water.
 

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