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Poem by Andrew Lang

Benedetta Ramus

Mysterious Benedetta! who
That Reynolds or that Romney drew
Was ever half so fair as you,
Or is so well forgot?
These eyes of melancholy brown,
These woven locks, a shadowy crown,
Must surely have bewitched the town;
Yet you're remembered not.

Through all that prattle of your age,
Through lore of fribble and of sage
I've read, and chiefly Walpole's page,
Wherein are beauties famous;
I've haunted ball, and rout, and sale;
I've heard of Devonshire and Thrale,
And all the Gunnings' wondrous tale,
But nothing of Miss Ramus.

And yet on many a lattice pane
'Fair Benedetta,' scrawled in vain
By lovers' diamonds, must remain
To tell us you were cruel.
But who, of all that sighed and swore -
Wits, poets, courtiers by the score -
Did win and on his bosom wore
This hard and lovely jewel?

Why, dilettante records say
An Alderman, who came that way,
Woo'd you and made you Lady Day;
You crowned his civic flame.
It suits a melancholy song
To think your heart had suffered wrong,
And that you lived not very long
To be a City dame!

Perchance you were a Mourning Bride,
And conscious of a heart that died
With one who fell by Rodney's side
In blood-stained Spanish bays.
Perchance 'twas no such thing, and you
Dwelt happy with your knight and true,
And, like Aurora, watched a crew
Of rosy little Days!

Oh, lovely face and innocent!
Whatever way your fortunes went,
And if to earth your life was lent
For little space or long,
In your kind eyes we seem to see
What Woman at her best may be,
And offer to your memory
An unavailing song! 

Andrew Lang

Andrew Lang's other poems:
  1. In Ithaca
  2. Les Roses de Sâdi
  3. Ballade of the Tweed
  4. Ballade of His Books
  5. Dizain

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