Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Thankless Lady

The author of this poem, George MacDonald(18241905), is best known for his fairy tales and fantasy novels. He inspired admiration in such notables as W. H. Auden and J. R. R. Tolkien. C. S. Lewis wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master" while G. K. Chesterton cited "The Princess and the Goblin" as a book that had "made a difference to my whole existence." Even Mark Twain, who initially detested MacDonald, became friends with him, and there is some evidence that Twain was influenced by MacDonald.


      The Thankless Lady

It is May, and the moon leans down at night
    Over a blossomy land;
Leans from her window a lady white,
    With her cheek upon her hand.

"Oh, why in the blue so misty, moon?
    Why so dull in the sky?
Thou look'st like one that is ready to swoon
    Because her tear-well is dry.

"Enough, enough of longing and wail!
    Oh, bird, I pray thee, be glad!
Sing to me once, dear nightingale,
    The old song, merry mad.

"Hold, hold with thy blossoming, colourless, cold,
    Apple-tree white as woe!
Blossom yet once with the blossom of old,
    Let the roses shine through the snow!"

The moon and the blossoms they gloomily gleam,
    The bird will not be glad :
The dead never speak when the mournful dream,
    They are too weak and sad.

Listened she listless till night grew late,
    Bound by a weary spell;
Then clanked the latch of the garden-gate
    And a wondrous thing befell :

Out burst the gladness, up dawned the love,
    In the song, in the waiting show;
Grew silver the moon in the sky above,
    Blushed rosy the blossom below.

But the merry bird, nor the silvery moon,
    Nor the blossoms that flushed the night
Had one poor thanks for the granted boon :
    The lady forgot them quite!

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