The Banks Of Ivory

A poem by John Clare

'T was on the banks of Ivory, 'neath the hawthorn-scented shade,
Early one summer's morning, I met a lovely maid;
Her hair hung o'er her shoulders broad, her eyes like suns did shine,
And on the banks of Ivory, O I wished the maid was mine.

Her face it wore the beauty of heaven's own broken mould;
The world's first charm seemed living still; her curls like hanks of gold
Hung waving, and her eyes glittered timid as the dew,
When by the banks of Ivory I swore I loved her true.

"Kind sir," she said, "forsake me, while it is no pain to go,
For often after kissing and such wooing there comes woe;
And woman's heart is feeble; O I wish it were a stone;
So by the banks of Ivory I'd rather walk alone.

For learned seems your gallant speech, and noble is your trim,
And thus to court an humble maid is just to please your whim;
So go and seek some lady fair, as high in pedigree,
Nor stoop so low by Ivory to flatter one like me."

"In sooth, fair maid, you mock at me, for truth ne'er harboured ill;
I will not wrong your purity; to love is all my will:
My hall looks over yonder groves; its lady you shall be,
For on the banks of Ivory I'm glad I met with thee."

He put his hands unto his lips, and whistled loud and shrill,
And thirty six well-armed men came at their master's will,
Said he "I've flattered maids full long, but now the time is past,
And the bonny hills of Ivory a lady own at last.

My steed's back ne'er was graced for a lady's seat before;
Fear not his speed; I'll guard thee, love, till we ride o'er the moor,
To seek the priest, and wed, and love until the day we die."
So she that was but poor before is Lady Ivory.

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