Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
‘Les Belles Roses Sans Mercie’
By Arthur Shearly Cripps (1869–1952)
A.D. 1465

        ‘O pity, pity, gentle heaven, pity!
*        *        *        *        *
Wither one rose, and let the other flourish!
If you contend, a thousand lives must wither!’
King Henry VI, Part III, Act ii, Sc. 5.    

HEIGH! brother mine, art a-waking or a-sleeping?
Mind’st that merry moon of roses a many summers fled?
Mind’st thou the green and the dancing and the leaping?
Mind’st thou the haycocks and the moon above them creeping?
Mind’st thou how soft were the pillows of our heaping?        5
Mind’st thou our dole when the merry day was sped?
I do mind how every night
Thou would’st pull me roses white,
Ancient sign of our proud line, argent rose on verdant bough!
Heigh! sweetheart mine, art a-waking or a-sleeping?        10
See’st again the roses that blossom’d long ago?
See’st again the garden with its paths so still and shady?
See’st again the dew lie as beads for night’s white lady?
See’st thou aught else but the blue eyne of thy maidie?
See’st thou their brimming in their pity of thy woe?        15
Sweet, I see thee offer up
Roses red as wine in cup,
Such befit (thou say’st it) golden head and lily brow!
Heigh ho! ye twain, that should wake in lieu of sleeping!
Rue ye that rose-time when the roses all were reft?        20
Ruest thou, sweet heart, that the favour red thou worest?
Ruest thou, my brother, that the badge of snow thou borest?
Rue ye that noon when the fight flash’d thro’ the forest?
Rue ye the maid’s tears so life-long lonely left?
Rose of white, and rose of red,        25
That did each one claim her dead,
Twining be at amity round about my window now!

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