George Meredith

The Three Maidens

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There were three maidens met on the highway;
The sun was down, the night was late:
And two sang loud with the birds of May,
O the nightingale is merry with its mate.

Said they to the youngest, Why walk you there so still?
The land is dark, the night is late:
O, but the heart in my side is ill,
And the nightingale will languish for its mate.

Said they to the youngest, Of lovers there is store;
The moon mounts up, the night is late:
O, I shall look on man no more,
And the nightingale is dumb without its mate.

Said they to the youngest, Uncross your arms and sing;
The moon mounts high, the night is late:
O my dear lover can hear no thing,
And the nightingale sings only to its mate.

They slew him in revenge, and his true-love was his lure;
The moon is pale, the night is late:
His grave is shallow on the moor;
O the nightingale is dying for its mate.

His blood is on his breast, and the moss-roots at his hair;
The moon is chill, the night is late:
But I will lie beside him there:
O the nightingale is dying for its mate.

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George Meredith