Orion, and Other Poems

by Charles G.D. Roberts


 

A BALLAD OF THREE MISTRESSES


 

 
FILL high to its quivering brim
    The crimson chalice, and see
The warmth and whiteness of limb
    Light-draped luxuriously;
    Hark the voice love-shaken for thee,                                           
5
My heart,—and thou liest ere long
    In the close captivity
Of wine, and woman, and song.

Though sweetly the dark wine swim,
    More sweet, more tyrannous she                                                
10
Who, till the moon wax dim,
    Rules man from east sea to west sea.
    And strong tho’ the red wine be,
Ne’ertheless is woman more strong,
    Most fair of the Jove-given three,—                                           
15
Of wine, and woman, and song.

But the rhyme of thy Rhine-sung hymn
    Is more sweet than thyself, Lorelie !
As over the night’s blue rim
    Thou chantest voluptuously;                                                       
20

    So stronger is song for me
To bind with a subtiler thong,—
    Her only may I not flee
Of wine, and woman, and song.

ENVOI

Then her must I serve without plea                                                  
25
    Who doeth her servants much wrong,
Queen Song of the Jove-given three,—
    Of wine, and woman, and song.