Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
IV. The Man with Three Friends
By Dora Greenwell (1821–1882)
(A Story told in the “Gesta Romanorum”)

TO one full sound and quietly
  That slept, there came a heavy cry,
“Awake! arise! for thou hast slain
A man.” “Yea, have I to mine own pain,”
He answered; “but of ill intent        5
  And malice am I that naught forecast
As is the babe innocent.
“From sudden anger our strife grew.
  I hated not, in times past,
Him whom unwittingly I slew.”        10
“If it be thus indeed, thy case
  Is hard,” they said; “for thou must die,
Unless with the Judge thou can’st find grace.
  Hast thou, in thine extremity,
Friends soothfast for thee to plead?”        15
Then said he, “I have friends three:
  One 1 whom in word, and will, and deed
From my youth I have served, and loved before
  Mine own soul, and for him striven;
  To him was all I got given;        20
And the longer I lived, I have loved him more.
And another 2 have I, whom, sooth to tell,
I love as I love my own heart well,
And the third, 3 I cannot now call
To mind that ever loved at all        25
He hath been of me, or in aught served;
And yet, maybe, he hath well deserved
That I should love him with the rest.
“Now will I first to the one loved best.”
Said the first, “And art thou so sore bestead?        30
  See, I have gained of cloth good store,
  So will I give thee three ells and more
(If more thou needest) when thou art dead,
  To wrap thee. Now hie away from my door:
“I have friends many, and little room.”        35
  And the next made answer, weeping sore
“We will go with thee to the place of doom:
  There must we leave thee evermore.”
  “Alack,” said the man, “and well-a-day!”
  But the third only answered, “Yea”;        40
And while the man spake, all to start soon,
Knelt down and buckled on his shoon,
  And said, “By thee in the Judgment Hall
I will stand, and hear what the Judge decree;
And if it be death, I will die with thee,        45
  Or for thee, as it may befall.”
Note 1. The world. [back]
Note 2. Wife and children. [back]
Note 3. Christ. [back]

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