The Maiden's Welcome

A poem by John Clare

Of all the swains that meet at eve
Upon the green to play,
The shepherd is the lad for me,
And I'll ne'er say him nay.
Though father glowers beneath his hat,
And mother talks of bed,
I'll take my cloak up, late or soon,
To meet my shepherd lad.

Aunt Kitty loved a soldier lad,
Who left her love for war;
A sailor loved my sister Sue,
Whose jacket smelt of tar;
But my love's sweet as land new ploughed;
He is my heart's delight,
And he ne'er leaves his love so far
But he can come at night.

So father he may glower and frown,
And mother scold about it;
The shepherd has my heart to keep,
And can I live without it?
I'm sure he will not part with it,
In spite of what they say,
And if he would as sure I am
It would not come away.

So friends may frown, while I can smile
To know I'm loved by one
Who has my heart, and him to seek
What better can be done?
And be it Spring or Summer both,
Or be it Winter cold,
If pots should freeze upon the fire
I'd meet him at the fold.

I'm fain to make my wedding gown,
Which he has bought for me,
But it will wake my mother's thoughts,
And evil they will be,
Although he has but stole my heart,
Which gives me nought of pain,
For bye and bye he'll buy the ring,
And bring my heart again.

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