Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
 
VI. Lovers
The Milkmaid’s Song
Sydney Dobell (1824–1874)
 
TURN, turn, for my cheeks they burn,
Turn by the dale, my Harry!
Fill pail, fill pail,
He has turned by the dale,
And there by the stile waits Harry.        5
Fill, fill,
Fill pail, fill,
For there by the stile waits Harry!
The world may go round, the world may stand still,
But I can milk and marry,        10
Fill pail,
I can milk and marry.
 
Wheugh, wheugh!
O, if we two
Stood down there now by the water,        15
I know who ’d carry me over the ford
As brave as a soldier, as proud as a lord,
Though I don’t live over the water.
Wheugh, wheugh! he ’s whistling through.
He ’s whistling “The Farmer’s Daughter.”        20
Give down, give down,
My crumpled brown!
He shall not take the road to the town,
For I ’ll meet him beyond the water.
Give down, give down,        25
My crumpled brown!
And send me to my Harry.
The folk o’ towns
May have silken gowns,
But I can milk and marry,        30
Fill pail,
I can milk and marry.
 
Wheugh, wheugh! he has whistled through,
He has whistled through the water.
Fill, fill, with a will, a will,        35
For he ’s whistled through the water,
And he ’s whistling down
The way to the town,
And it ’s not “The Farmer’s Daughter!”
Churr, churr! goes the cockchafer,        40
The sun sets over the water,
Churr, churr! goes the cockchafer,
I ’m too late for my Harry!
And, O, if he goes a-soldiering,
The cows they may low, the bells they may ring,        45
But I ’ll neither milk nor marry,
Fill pail,
Neither milk nor marry.
 
My brow beats on thy flank, Fill pail,
Give down, good wench, give down!        50
I know the primrose bank, Fill pail,
Between him and the town.
Give down, good wench, give down, Fill pail,
And he shall not reach the town!
Strain, strain! he ’s whistling again,        55
He ’s nearer by half a mile.
More, more! O, never before
Were you such a weary while!
Fill, fill! he ’s crossed the hill,
I can see him down by the stile,        60
He ’s passed the hay, he ’s coming this way,
He ’s coming to me, my Harry!
Give silken gowns to the folk o’ towns,
He ’s coming to me, my Harry!
There ’s not so grand a dame in the land,        65
That she walks to-night with Harry!
Come late, come soon, come sun, come moon,
O, I can milk and marry,
Fill pail,
I can milk and marry.        70
 
Wheugh, wheugh! he has whistled through,
My Harry! my lad! my lover!
Set the sun and fall the dew,
Heigh-ho, merry world, what ’s to do
That you ’re smiling over and over?        75
Up on the hill and down in the dale,
And along the tree-tops over the vale
Shining over and over,
Low in the grass and high in the bough,
Shining over and over,        80
O world, have you ever a lover?
You were so dull and cold just now,
O world, have you ever a lover?
I could not see a leaf on the tree,
And now I could count them, one, two, three,        85
Count them over and over,
Leaf from leaf like lips apart,
Like lips apart for a lover.
And the hillside beats with my beating heart,
And the apple-tree blushes all over,        90
And the May bough touched me and made me start,
And the wind breathes warm like a lover.
 
Pull, pull! and the pail is full,
And milking ’s done and over.
Who would not sit here under the tree?        95
What a fair, fair thing ’s a green field to see!
Brim, brim, to the rim, ah me!
I have set my pail on the daisies!
It seems so light,—can the sun be set?
The dews must be heavy, my cheeks are wet,        100
I could cry to have hurt the daisies!
Harry is near, Harry is near,
My heart ’s as sick as if he were here,
My lips are burning, my cheeks are wet,
He hasn’t uttered a word as yet,        105
But the air ’s astir with his praises.
My Harry!
The air ’s astir with your praises.
 
He has scaled the rock by the pixy’s stone,
He ’s among the kingcups,—he picks me one,        110
I love the grass that I tread upon
When I go to my Harry!
He has jumped the brook, he has climbed the knowe,
There ’s never a faster foot I know,
But still he seems to tarry.        115
O Harry! O Harry! my love, my pride,
My heart is leaping, my arms are wide!
Roll up, roll up, you dull hillside,
Roll up, and bring my Harry!
They may talk of glory over the sea,        120
But Harry ’s alive, and Harry ’s for me,
My love, my lad, my Harry!
Come spring, come winter, come sun, come snow,
What cares Dolly, whether or no,
While I can milk and marry?        125
Right or wrong, and wrong or right,
Quarrel who quarrel, and fight who fight,
But I ’ll bring my pail home every night
To love, and home, and Harry!
We ’ll drink our can, we ’ll eat our cake,        130
There ’s beer in the barrel, there ’s bread in the bake.
The world may sleep, the world may wake,
But I shall milk and marry,
And marry,
I shall milk and marry.        135
 
 
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