Mary Robinson ( )


The Mistletoe


    (A Christmas Tale)

A farmers wife, both young and gay,
And fresh as opning buds of May;
Had taken to herself, a Spouse,
And plighted many solemn vows,
That she a faithful mate would prove,
In meekness, duty, and in love!
That she, despising joy and wealth,
Would be, in sickness and in health,
His only comfort and his Friend--
But, mark the sequel,--and attend!

This Farmer, as the tale is told--
Was somewhat cross, and somewhat old!
His, was the wintry hour of life,
While summer smiled before his wife;
A contrast, rather formd to cloy
The zest of matrimonial joy!

Twas Christmas time, the peasant throng
Assembled gay, with dance and Song:
The Farmers Kitchen long had been
Of annual sports the busy scene;
The wood-fire blazd, the chimney wide
Presented seats, on either side;
Long rows of wooden Trenchers, clean,
Bedeckd with holly-boughs, were seen;
The shining Tankards foamy ale
Gave spirits to the Goblin tale,
And many a rosy cheek--grew pale.

It happend, that some sport to shew
The ceiling held a MISTLETOE.
A magic bough, and well designd
To prove the coyest Maiden, kind.
A magic bough, which DRUIDS old
Its sacred mysteries enrolld;
And which, or gossip Fames a liar,
Still warms the soul with vivid fire;
Still promises a store of bliss
While bigots snatch their Idols kiss.

This MISTLETOE was doomd to be
The talisman of Destiny;
Beneath its ample boughs were told
Full many a timid Swain grew bold;
Full many a roguish eye askance
Beheld it with impatient glance,
And many a ruddy cheek confest,
The triumphs of the beating breast;
And many a rustic rover sighd
Who askd the kiss, and was denied.

First MARGRY smild and gave her Lover
A Kiss; then thankd her stars, twas over! 
Next, KATE, with a reluctant pace,
Was tempted to the mystic place;
Then SUE, a merry laughing jade
A dimpled yielding blush betrayd;
While JOAN her chastity to shew
Wishd the bold knaves would serve her so,
Shed teach the rogues such wanton play!
And well she could, she knew the way.

The FARMER, mute with jealous care,
Sat sullen, in his wicker chair;
Hating the noisy gamesome host
Yet, fearful to resign his post;
He envied all their sportive strife
But most he watchd his blooming wife,
And trembled, lest her steps should go,
Incautious, near the MISTLETOE.

Now HODGE, a youth of rustic grace
With form athletic; manly face;
On MISTRESS HOMESPUN turnd his eye
And breathd a soul-declaring sigh!
Old HOMESPUN, markd his listning Fair
And nestled in his wicker chair;
HODGE swore, she might his heart command--
The pipe was droppd from HOMESPUNS hand!

HODGE prest her slender waist around;
The FARMER checkd his draught, and frownd!
And now beneath the MISTLETOE
Twas MISTRESS HOMESPUNS turn to go;
Old Surly shook his wicker chair,
And sternly utterd--Let her dare!

HODGE, to the FARMERS wife declard
Such husbands never should be spard;
Swore, they deservd the worst disgrace,
That lights upon the wedded race;
And vowd--that night he would not go
Unblest, beneath the MISTLETOE.

The merry group all recommend
An harmless Kiss, the strife to end:
Why not ? says MARGRY, who would fear,
A dangrous moment, once a year?
SUSAN observd, that ancient folks
Were seldom pleasd with youthful jokes;
But KATE, who, till that fatal hour,
Had held, oer HODGE, unrivalld powr,
With curving lip and head aside
Lookd down and smild in conscious pride,
Then, anxious to conceal her care,
She hummd--what fools some women are!

Now, MISTRESS HOMESPUN, sorely vexd,
By pride and jealous rage perplexd,
And angry, that her peevish spouse
Should doubt her matrimonial vows,
But, most of all, resolved to make
An envious rivals bosom ache;
Commanded Hodge to let her go,
Nor lead her to the Mistletoe;

Why should you ask it oer and oer?
Cried she, weve been there twice before!
Tis thus, to check a rivals sway,
That Women oft themselves betray;
While VANITY, alone, pursuing,
They rashly prove, their own undoing.



Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. Sonnet 13. Bring, Brick to Deck My Brow
  2. Ode to Valour
  3. Sonnet 9. Ye, Who in Alleys Green
  4. Sonnet 35. What Means the Mist
  5. To Cesario


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