Sing; how ‘a would sing!
How ‘a would raise the tune
When we rode in the waggon from harvesting
By the light o’ the moon!
Dance; how ‘a would dance!
If a fiddlestring did but sound
She would hold out her coats, give a slanting glance,
And go round and round.
Laugh; how ‘a would laugh!
Her peony lips would part
As if none such a place for a lover to quaff
At the deeps of a heart.
Julie, O girl of joy,
Soon, soon that lover he came.
Ah, yes; and gave thee a baby-boy,
But never his name . . .
–Tolling for her, as you guess;
And the baby too . . . ‘Tis well.
You knew her in maidhood likewise?–Yes,
That’s her burial bell.
“I suppose,” with a laugh, she said,
“I should blush that I’m not a wife;
But how can it matter, so soon to be dead,
What one does in life!”
When we sat making the mourning
By her death-bed side, said she,
“Dears, how can you keep from your lovers, adorning
In honour of me!”
Bubbling and brightsome eyed!
But now–O never again.
She chose her bearers before she died
From her fancy-men.
NOTE.–It is, or was, a common custom in Wessex, and probably other country places, to prepare the mourning beside the death-bed, the dying person sometimes assisting, who also selects his or her bearers on such occasions.
“Coats” (line 7).–Old name for petticoats.