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


The Suffolk Miracle

By Anonymous

Or, a Relation of a Young Man, Who, a Month after His Death, Appeared to His Sweetheart, and Carried Her on Horseback behind Him for Forty Miles in Two Hours, and Was Never Seen after but in His Grave

A WONDER stranger ne’er was known

Than what I now shall treat upon.

In Suffolk there did lately dwell

A farmer rich and known full well.

He had a daughter fair and bright,

On whom he placed his chief delight;

Her beauty was beyond compare,

She was both virtuous and fair.

There was a young man living by,

Who was so charméd with her eye,

That he could never be at rest;

He was by love so much possest.

He made address to her, and she

Did grant him love immediately;

But when her father came to hear,

He parted her and her poor dear.

Forty miles distant was she sent,

Unto his brother’s, with intent

That she should there so long remain,

Till she had changed her mind again.

Hereat this young man sadly grieved,

But knew not how to be relieved;

He sighed and sobbed continually

That his true-love he could not see.

She by no means could to him send

Who was her heart’s espouséd friend;

He sighed, he grieved, but all in vain,

For she confined must still remain.

He mourned so much that doctor’s art

Could give no ease unto his heart,

Who was so strangely terrified

That in short time for love he died.

She that from him was sent away

Knew nothing of his dying day,

But constant still she did remain,

And loved the dead, although in vain.

After he had in grave been laid

A month or more, unto this maid

He came in middle of the night,

Who joyed to see her heart’s delight.

Her father’s horse, which well she knew,

Her mother’s hood and safeguard too,

He brought with him to testify

Her parents’ order he came by.

Which when her uncle understood,

He hoped it would be for her good,

And gave consent to her straightway,

That with him she should come away.

When she was got her love behind,

They passed as swift as any wind,

That in two hours or little more,

He brought her to her father’s door.

But as they did this great haste make,

He did complain his head did ake;

Her handkerchief she then took out,

And tied the same his head about.

And unto him she thus did say:

“Thou art as cold as any clay;

When we come home a fire we ’ll have”;

But little dreamed he went to grave.

Soon were they at her father’s door,

And after she ne’er saw him more;

“I ’ll set the horse up,” then he said,

And there he left this harmless maid.

She knocked, and straight a man he cried,

“Who ’s there?” “’T is I,” she then replied;

Who wondered much her voice to hear,

And was possessed with dread and fear.

Her father he did tell, and then

He stared like an affrighted man:

Down stairs he ran, and when he see her,

Cried out, “My child, how cam’st thou here?”

“Pray, sir, did you not send for me,

By such a messenger?” said she;

Which made his hair stare on his head,

As knowing well that he was dead.

“Where is he?” then to her he said;

“He ’s in the stable,” quoth the maid.

“Go in,” said he, “and go to bed;

“I ’ll see the horse well litteréd.”

He stared about, and there could he

No shape of any mankind see,

But found his horse all on a sweat;

Which made him in a deadly fret.

His daughter he said nothing to,

Nor none else (though full well they knew

That he was dead a month before),

For fear of grieving her full sore.

Her father to the father went

Of the deceased, with full intent

To tell him what his daughter said;

So both came back unto this maid.

They asked her, and she still did say

’T was he that then brought her away;

Which when they heard they were amazed,

And on each other strangely gazed.

A handkerchief she said she tied

About his head, and that they tried;

The sexton they did speak unto,

That he the grave would then undo.

Affrighted then they did behold

His body turning into mould,

And though he had a month been dead,

This handkerchief was about his head.

This thing unto her then they told,

And the whole truth they did unfold;

She was thereat so terrified

And grievéd, that she quickly died.

Part not true love, you rich men, then;

But, if they be right honest men

Your daughters love, give them their way,

For force oft breeds their lives’ decay.