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Poem by Rose Terry Cooke


Basile Renaud


The summer sun bedecks Anjou,
The harvest time keeps promise true,
And I have kept my faith with you
Basile Renaud!
The sun forsakes my dungeon walls,
Across the fosse no shadow falls,
I hear no answer to my calls,
Basile Renaud!
 
My name was Clara Madaillon.
I had a sister, I had one
Who should have been a hooded nun,
That made us three:
Marie and I dwelt in the tower,
But Angelique forsook her dower,
And in a convent made her bower,
The convent of St. Brie.
 
There came a lover to our lands,
I wove my hair in shining bands
And put bright jewels on my hands,
Basile Renaud!
You looked at me as at a star,
You said I was as cold and far;
I laugh now, thinking what you are,
Basile Renaud!
 
He gave me a betrothal ring,
I learned for him to smile and sing;
"Proud Clara, have you found your king?"
They said to me.
So from the nuns came Angelique
For her farewells; oh! she was meek,
With yellow tresses down her cheek,
And blue eyes soft to see!
 
My love beheld her tender face,
Her little hands and gentle grace,--
How dared you give her my right place,
Basie Renaud?
I scoffed at her, I hated him;
And Marie said--"His eyes are dim;
Were't me--" So ran thy requiem,
Basile Renaud!
 
We took our counsel, nor would show
More signs of vengeance than the snow
That hides a traveller far below
Its shining drift.
The winter nights came on too fast,
But they two did not hear the blast
That howled, and howled, and shivered past,
And muttered in the rift.
 
One night we were both grave and gay,
For Angelique had gone away,
And one was sad, but two would play,
Basile Renaud.
The firelight flickered in the hall,
The sconces burned with torches tall;
I, blinded, hunted to the wall
Basile Renaud.
 
"Will you be hunter?" Marie said;
She tied the kerchief round his head;
I had a knife--and it grew red--
But not with flame.
His brow bent down upon my arm.
I laughed to see the working charm.
He had no will to do us harm,
Nor breath to murmur blame.
 
They haled us to a prison high,
Where all day long thick shadows lie,
And in broad daylight we shall die,
Basile Renaud!
But I had vengeance! though there be
Only one sister left of three--
Angelique in the nunnery--
Basile Renaud! 



Rose Terry Cooke


Rose Terry Cooke's other poems:
  1. Fastrada's Ring
  2. Exogenesis
  3. Samson Agonistes
  4. The Lesson
  5. Ebb and Flow


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