Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems

by Isabella Valancy Crawford




Bouche-Mignonne liv’d in the mill,
    Past the vineyards shady;
Where the sun shone on a rill
    Jewell’d like a lady.
Proud the stream with lily-bud,
    Gay with glancing swallow;
Swift its trillion-footed flood,
    Winding ways to follow.
Coy and still when flying wheel
    Rested from its labour;
Singing when it ground the meal
    Gay as lute or tabor.
“Bouche-Mignonne” it called, when, red
    In the dawn were glowing,
Eaves and mill-wheel, “leave thy bed,
    “Hark to me a-flowing!” [Page 114]
Bouche-Mignonne awoke and quick
    Glossy tresses braided;
Curious sunbeams cluster’d thick
    Vines her casement shaded.
Deep with leaves and blossoms white
    Of the morning glory,
Shaking all their banners bright
    From the mill eaves hoary.
Swallows turn’d glossy throats,
    Timorous, uncertain,
When to hear their matin notes,
    Peep’d she thro’ her curtain,
Shook the mill-stream sweet and clear,
    With its silver laughter—
Shook the mill from flooring sere
    Up to oaken ratter.
“Bouche-Mignonne” it cried “come down!
    “Other flowers are stirring;
“Pierre with fingers strong and brown
    “Sets the wheel a-birring.”

Bouche-Mignonne her distaff plies
    Where the willows shiver,
Round the mossy mill-wheel flies;
    Dragon flies a quiver—
Flash a-thwart the lily beds
    Pierce the dry reed’s thicket:
Where the yellow sunlight treads
    Chants the friendly cricket.
Butterflies about her skim
    (Pouf! their simple fancies!)
In the willow shadows dim [Page 115]
    Take her eyes for pansies!
Buzzing comes a velvet bee
    Sagely it supposes
Those red lips beneath the tree
    Are two crimson roses!
Laughs the mill-stream wise and bright
    It is not so simple
Knew it, since she first saw light
    Ev’ry blush and dimple!
“Bouche-Mignonne” it laughing cries
    “Pierre as the bee is silly
“Thinks two morning stars thine eyes—
    “And thy neck a lily!”

Bouche-Mignonne when shadows crept
    From the vine-dark hollows;
When the mossy mill-wheel slept
    Curv’d the airy swallows.
When the lilies clos’d white lids
    Over golden fancies—
Homeward drove her goats and kids,
    Bright the gay moon dances.
With her light and silver feet,
    On the mill-stream flowing,
Come a thousand perfumes sweet,
    Dewy buds are blowing.
Comes an owl and grely flits
    Jewell’d ey’d and hooting—
Past the green tree where she sits
    Nightingales are fluting
Soft the wind as rust’ling silk
    On a courtly lady, [Page 116]
Tinkles down the flowing milk
    Huge and still and shady—
Stands the mill-wheel resting still
    From its loving labor,
Dances on the tireless rill
    Gay as lute or tabor!
“Bouche-Mignonne” it laughing cries
    “Do not blush and tremble;
“If the night has ears and eyes
    “I’ll for thee disemble!
“Loud and clear and sweet I’ll sing
    “Oh my far way straying,
“I will hide the whisper’d thing
    “Pierre to thee is saying.
“Bouche-Mignonne, good night, good night!
    “Ev’ry silver hour
“I will toss my lilies white
    “’Gainst thy maiden bower!” [Page 117]