The Despot, by Joseph Ashby-Sterry

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Repos dans les récoltes (1865) – from Wikimedia Commons

I present today my third and last selection from The River Rhymer. Near a river, at haytime in the sunny summer, a young girl captivates the poet, who remains at her feet.

THE DESPOT

A rose-decked hat casts shadows, tender grey,
Across the golden sunshine of her smile;
Her glance e’en cynics dare not disobey,
Her dimples even iron hearts beguile:
A dainty despot, on a throne of hay,
Who conquers all by magic girlish wile!

PEARL, O Pearl!
Naught but a lissom English girl,
So sweet and simple;
Naught but the charm of a golden curl,
Of blush and dimple—
Pearl, O Pearl!

Sweet, ah, sweet!
‘Tis pleasant lolling at your feet
In summer playtime;
Ah, how the moments quickly fleet
In sunny haytime—
Sweet, ah, sweet!

Dream, ah, dream!
The sedges sing by swirling stream
A lovely brief song;
The poplars chant in sunny gleam
A lulling leaf-song—
Dream, ah, dream!

Stay, O stay!
We cannot dream all through the day,
Demure and doubtful:
When shines the sun we must make hay.
When lips are poutful—
Stay, O stay!

Source of the poem: Joseph Ashby-Sterry, The River Rhymer, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, London: W.J. Ham-Smith (1913).

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