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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


Fair Rosamond

By Percy’s Reliques

WHEN as king Henry rulde this land,

The second of that name,

Besides the queene, he dearly lovde

A faire and comely dame.

Most peerlesse was her beautye founde,

Her favour, and her face;

A sweeter creature in this worlde

Could never prince embrace.

Her crisped lockes like threads of golde

Appeard to each mans sight;

Her sparkling eyes, like Orient pearles,

Did cast a heavenlye light.

The blood within her crystal cheekes

Did such a colour drive,

As though the lillye and the rose

For mastership did strive.

Yea Rosamonde, fair Rosamonde,

Her name was called so,

To whom our queene, dame Ellinor,

Was known a deadlye foe.

The king therefore, for her defence,

Against the furious queene,

At Woodstocke builded such a bower,

The like was never seene.

Most curiously that bower was built

Of stone and timber strong,

An hundered and fifty doors

Did to this bower belong:

And they so cunninglye contriv’d

With turnings round about,

That none but with a clue of thread,

Could enter in or out.

And for his love and ladyes sake,

That was so faire and brighte,

The keeping of this bower he gave

Unto a valiant knighte.


“My Rosamonde, my only Rose,

That pleasest best mine eye:

The fairest flower in all the worlde

To feed my fantasye:

“The flower of mine affected heart,

Whose sweetness doth excelle:

My royal Rose, a thousand times

I bid thee nowe farwelle!

“For I must leave my fairest flower,

My sweetest Rose, a space,

And cross the seas to famous France,

Proud rebelles to abase.

“But yet, my Rose, be sure thou shalt

My coming shortlye see,

And in my heart, when hence I am,

Ile beare my Rose with mee.”


And at their parting well they mighte

In heart be grieved sore:

After that daye faire Rosamonde

The king did see no more.

For when his grace had past the seas,

And into France was gone;

With envious heart, queene Ellinor,

To Woodstocke came anone.

And forth she calls this trustye knighte,

In an unhappy houre;

Who with his clue of twined thread,

Came from this famous bower.

And when that they had wounded him,

The queene this thread did gette,

And went where ladye Rosamonde

Was like an angell sette.

But when the queene with stedfast eye

Beheld her beauteous face,

She was amazed in her minde

At her exceeding grace.

“Cast off from thee those robes,” she said,

“That rich and costlye bee;

And drinke thou up this deadlye draught,

Which I have brought to thee.”

Then presentlye upon her knees

Sweet Rosamonde did falle;

And pardon of the queene she crav’d

For her offences all.

“Take pitty on my youthfull yeares,”

Fair Rosamonde did crye;

“And lett mee not with poison stronge

Enforced bee to dye.

“I will renounce my sinfull life,

And in some cloyster bide;

Or else be banisht, if you please,

To range the worlde soe wide.

“And for the fault which I have done,

Though I was forc’d theretoe,

Preserve my life, and punish mee

As you thinke meet to doe.”

And with these words, her lillie handes

She wrunge full often there;

And downe along her lovely face

Did trickle many a teare.

But nothing could this furious queene

Therewith appeased bee;

The cup of deadlye poyson stronge,

As she knelt on her knee,

Shee gave this comelye dame to drinke;

Who tooke it in her hand,

And from her bended knee arose,

And on her feet did stand:

And casting up her eyes to heaven,

Shee did for mercye calle;

And drinking up the poison stronge,

Her life she lost withalle.

And when that death through everye limbe

Had showde its greatest spite,

Her chiefest foes did plaine confesse

Shee was a glorious wight.

Her body then they did entomb,

When life was fled away,

At Godstowe, neare to Oxforde towne,

As may be seene this day.