The Lament Of The Maiden-Daughter

O my father, why do they bear thee hence?
O father, from this thy hearth and thy haven?

Thou, so tall, so proud, so brave, so strong!
Thou to lie still, silent, stiff upon a pallet!
Thou thunderless, as they bore thee along
Thou, with thy voice blood-kin to a mallet!

Thou to hear unmoved our moaning wail
Thou, to heed not my mother’s broken cry!
Thou, O my father, sooner than us fail
Thou wouldst have cloven earth and sky!

O my father, why do they bear thee hence?
O father, from this thy hearth and thy haven?

They bear thee hence, cruel cold callous men
They are deaf to our entreaties and tears;
They – art of their heartless number, then
They who’ll not spare a word for our fears?

They’ll not bury thee ‘neath that rude soil?
They know thy hatred for a speck on thy coat
They know how thou woudst with fury recoil
They know – and the wretches, they gloat!

O my father, why do they bear thee hence?
O father, from this thy hearth and thy haven?

O father! The very walls of thy house
O father! Cannot abide to bid farewell
O father! Will their quiet grief not rouse
O father! The soul that lived in this shell?

O father! The cherry-goblet, spilling over
O father! The orange and a half upon the wall
O father! The Lord’s house framed in clover
O father! “Return! ” they cry; hear them call!

O my father, why do they bear thee hence?
O father, from this thy hearth and thy haven?

Surrounded, strangled, stifled by strangers
Surrounded by life’s scorching suns I stand
Surrounded, O my father, by a host of dangers
Surrounded – thy daughter, and thou not at hand!

Surrounded, slashed by frost, by wind and hail
Surrounded with death, like autumn-stripped bark
Surrounded by axes, by a shendful flood of mail
Surrounded, bare, like Noah without his ark!

O my father, why do they bear thee hence?
O father, from this thy hearth and thy haven?

Still through the mists clouding my eye
Still through the bleeding wreck of my heart
Still for thy sake I hold my head high
Still thou wouldst have me play this part!

Still thy daughter, smiling and stiff-spined
Still calm, dutiful as thou badst me be
Still thy daughter, with thy edicts entwined
Still about my heart in adversity!

O my father, why do they bear thee hence?
O father, from this thy hearth and thy haven?

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