What guest on yonder branch alights?
’Tis thine, my love. One partridge fair.
May oft his call bring eve delights.
Our watcher ’midst the budding pear.
What’s fair is fowl and fowl is fair.
You jest, but hearken nigh, my love
What tempest ruffs the temperate air?
’Tis callers, hens, and turtledoves.
Forsooth their flourish, as the storm,
becalms my wintering maladies.
Your hand, my love: ’tis apter borne
engraced in nobler fineries...
Dear Kate. Your eyes are gifts in turn;
I hold these sundry ringlets five
as surance of the former’s warmth.
Forever in my heart you live.
The pond, my love. What gathers on
its streaming light, in nestling brood?
Has ever fairer gander, swan
imparted silence, interlude?
None has, my Kate. Naught lives that can.
How does His Grace abide his cream?
When drawn not of the sweetest hand
of maiden-suite of meet esteem?
Tonight we know their labor’s fruits.
Betimes indeed — and ere we sup
nine ladies dance, ten nobles’ boots
take flight from whence they’ve vaulted up and
pipes and drums untame the sky.
What suitor could but herein blush?
The sentient clouds attest on high:
I’ve ne’er been hailed or humbled thus.
Fowl and ring and retinue:
I pray these gifts befit His Grace.
I have, of course, a gift for you.
I take your hand, I touch your face.
I kneel, as does your sex befit.
I part silk gloves from silken hands,
and in their cupping contours fit
a ring, if thine heart would, perchance...