Scene: The Ash Wood of Malvern
FOR I was a gaunt, grave councillor,
Being in all things wise, and very old;
But I have put aside this folly and the cold
That old age weareth for a cloak.
I was quite strong—at least they said so— 5
The young men at the sword-play;
But I have put aside this folly, being gay
In another fashion that more suiteth me.
I have curled mid the boles of the ash wood,
I have hidden my face where the oak 10
Spread his leaves over me, and the yoke
Of the old ways of men have I cast aside.
By the still pool of Mar-nan-otha
Have I found me a bride
That was a dog-wood tree some syne. 15
She hath called me from mine old ways;
She hath hushed my rancor of council,
Bidding me praise
Naught but the wind that flutters in the leaves.
She hath drawn me from mine old ways, 20
Till men say that I am mad;
But I have seen the sorrow of men, and am glad,
For I know that the wailing and bitterness are a folly.
And I? I have put aside all folly and all grief.
I wrapped my tears in an ellum leaf 25
And left them under a stone;
And now men call me mad because I have thrown
All folly from me, putting it aside
To leave the old barren ways of men,
Because my bride 30
Is a pool of the wood; and
Though all men say that I am mad
It is only that I am glad—
Very glad, for my bride hath toward me a great love
That is sweeter than the love of women 35
That plague and burn and drive one away.
Aie-e! ’Tis true that I am gay,
Quite gay, for I have her alone here
And no man troubleth us.
Once when I was among the young men … 40
And they said I was quite strong, among the young men …
Once there was a woman …
… but I forget … she was …
… I hope she will not come again.
… I do not remember … 45
I think she hurt me once, but …
That was very long ago.
I do not like to remember things any more.
I like one little band of winds that blow
In the ash trees here: 50
For we are quite alone,
Here mid the ash trees.