Peggy's the Lady of the Hall

And will she leave the lowly clowns
For silk and satins gay,
Her woollen aprons and drab gowns
For lady's cold array?
And will she leave the wild hedge rose,
The redbreast and the wren,
And will she leave her Sunday beaus
And milk shed in the glen?
And will she leave her kind friends all
To be the Lady of the Hall?

The cowslips bowed their golden drops,
The white thorn white as sheets;
The lamb agen the old ewe stops,
The wren and robin tweets.
And Peggy took her milk pails still,
And sang her evening song,
To milk her cows on Cowslip Hill
For half the summer long.
But silk and satins rich and rare
Are doomed for Peggy still to wear.

But when the May had turned to haws,
The hedge rose swelled to hips,
Peggy was missed without a cause,
And left us in eclipse.
The shepherd in the hovel milks,
Where builds the little wren,
And Peggy's gone, all clad in silks--
Far from the happy glen,
From dog-rose, woodbine, clover, all
To be the Lady of the Hall.

3 comments:

Roger R. said...
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Roger R. said...

I came across Peggy's 'song' by accident this morning, but was immediately struck by the usual Clare beauty and melancholy. The pictures he conjures with so few words make we wonder, as I am sure all readers must, who Peggy was, why was she taken to be "Lady of the Hall"? Beauty?

Yet she leaves such beauty in the fields and hedgerows all around.

A treat.

Nomad said...

It is a wonderful verse-- almost a song! I nearly launched into the tune of 'Jerusalem' when I first started reading it-- the arrangement of the first words, of course, suggested it, but it simply has that kind of musical impulse to it. I wonder if anyone has set it to music. Hmmm, one for a bit of inventing over the washing up and ironing, I think! Something of a lilting but lamenting, I'd say. I agree about it being an excellent taste of the beauty-with-melancholy. The title he gives her, 'Lady of the Hall', contrasting with the vividness and vivacity of the 'outdoor' life, the natural contrasted with the manufactured or 'artificial' (colour, sound, texture), makes it feel all the more like she will fade away, and wilt, finding herself imprisoned.

I agree, too, about there being a whole story that's hiding behind the verses. One wonders...!
One wonders, too, if Peggy will really be a manageable 'Lady'!