Second to None

George Cosbuc

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Her shoulders with fair braids are graced,
Lithe as the wheat-stem is her waist,
Her sable apron laced with taste --
She's all in all for me.
When she is near, I take alarm;
When she is off, I come to harm;
When others take her by the arm,
Priests pray to set me free!

A three hours' talk and she's away,
While I pretend to go, yet stay
And watch her plodding on her way
Till I see her no more.
She is quite poor, yet on my life
I'll take her for my wedded wife,
Though wicked men, with love at strife,
About our love feel sore!

The gossips chat and disagree;
My brothers all speak ill of me,
And Father mighty cross is he,
While, genuflecting, Mother
Entreats the icons, fasts, forlorn
And cries, "you's better ne'er been born!
You work your will, you thing of scorn!
You work your will, oh brother!"

I work my will? What if I do?
I'll somehow manage to pull through!
And if I don't, I shall live too,
A poor man in my cot.
To seek my brothers' help? Not I!
I'll never share with them their pie!
I'll work my will and shall not die
With brooding o'er my lot!

My kin would bury me alive!
The fright they're asking me to wive
May love me, but how could we thrive
When I don't love her any?
Could I enjoy her land? sow? reap?
And what's the good of cows and sheep?
When your own wife you hold so cheap,
Then nothing's worth a penny!

Or are there such as can decree
That what they like is law to me?
Even you, bishop, cannot be
That sort, nor can you, sire!
Let people gossip and make fun,
My sweetheart second is to none,
And ere I part with what I've won,
I'll set the thorp afire!

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