The Queen and Her Three Daughters

A Legend

“Now say,” quoth the Queen of Sicily,
“Now tell me, my darling daughters three,
Which first shall become a wife?”
 “Not I,” said the Princess Rosalie
“The men they may all go hang for me,
For I love too dearly my liberty,
 To shackle myself for life.”

“Nay frown not dear lady, for well do ye wot,
That ye swore ye would do the thing ye do not,
 Love, honour, obey, good Mother,
Now my heart, it would buffet my lips I’m sure,
Should they dare that honest heart to abjure
 And give my free-will to another.”

“No! — If ever I condescend to marry,
The man that I choose1 must fetch & carry
 And ‘be e’en a dog at my will.’
No! — Wedlock’s fool’s paradise well I know
And you good Queen might have told me so
 T’is at best but a gilded pill.”

The Queen reproved — but her words they were vain,
So she turned in despair, to her daughter Jane,
 “And what say’st thou, my child?”
“Dear Mother! if this fond heart I know
By the saints above, it is filled I vow
 With love to all mankind.”

“With love to all mankind!” said the joyous queen,
“Ah! me! What a blessed bride will be seen,
 When thy love is concentr’d in one —”
“Ah no! — dear Mother it never may be
My spouse on Earth thou never may’st see
 For I’ve sworn to be a nun.”

“Now loud, & deep, was the queen’s despair
And she dar’d not look on her daughter Clare,
“Cease, cease, dear Mother to tear your hair
’Tis merciless thus to tease ye.
If ever by luck, ’neath the moon I find,
A man approv’d by my heart, & my mind
 I’ll marry, if that will please ye.”

“Three princes await in the courts below,”
Said the queen as she doffed her looks of woe,
 “Say which wilt thou choose for life?
Sweet! say but the word, & even now
My crown shall encircle they youthful brow,
 And thou be to-day a wife.”

“The first, as thou know’st, is for wisdom renown’d,
And where shall a shape like the second be found,
 The third — how dauntless an air!”
“Yes — the first is a solemn owl I know,
The second an ape, from top to toe,
 And the third — in good truth is a bear.”

“Whenever by luck ’neath the moon I find,
A man approv’d by my heart & my mind,
 Dear Mother! I’ll keep my fay
But never shall monkey, or owl, or bear,
Cajole or compel your daughter Clare,
 To honour, to love, or obey.”

“No! — the heart that with mine shall unite in one,
Must be open & fair as the mid-day sun,
 Confiding & kind & true.
Each vigorous thought be with taste refin’d
That may guide and inform my weaker mind,
 Or Mother ’twill never do.”

“If our search prove fruitless, we will not part,
For as yet I am free to keep my heart,
 And it needs but a glance to know:
That to those poor wights, who keenly feel,
The wedded life, must at once reveal,
 Heav’n’s bliss — or the realms of woe —”

The queen replied — tho’ she look’d all astound,
“I’ll search for this phoenix my empire round,
 But I fear that we never shall find him;”
“Nay, nay, dear Mother, I do not despair,
We’ll journey to — — perhaps he is there,
 If he be not — why never mind him.”

  1. Vide Rule a wife and have a wife