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The Wooing O' Katie Post by :Stilbox Category :Poems Author :Jean Blewett Date :November 2011 Read :1554

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The Wooing O' Katie

McLeod of Dare called his son to him.
McLeod of Dare looked stern and grim,

For he was sending on mission grave
His son, and though he knew him brave

The old man trembled lest he should make
In heedless youth a grave mistake.

'Twas not for the country, nor for the king,
Nay, 'twas a more important thing

Than country, or clan, or feud, or strife,
The young man went to woo a wife.

He listened, did Neil, with scanty grace,
Haughty gloom on his handsome face,

While the old man told him where to go,
And what to say, and what to do.

"The morrow ye'll go for a lang, lang stay
Wi' your rich uncle, Donald Gray.

"He'll gie ye a welcome wairm and true,
And mate his only child wi' you.

"She's weel worth winning, for in her hand
She hauds the deed o' a' his land.

"She's far frae haun'some--a homely lass,
As you will see--but let that pass."

"Why should I wed a woman that's plain?
You didn't yourself." McLeod was vain.

He smiled and he smirked, "Ah, true, Neil, true,
But I was haun'somer nor you.

"Juist coort this cousin, and never mind
Squint or freckle, since luve is blind--

"Or ought tae be in sic case as this--
'Tis no a chance I'd hae ye miss.

"Jane's na sae braw as her cousin Kate,
But 'tis wi' Jane I'd hae ye mate;

"For Kate, poor lassie, she hasna land--
Her face is her fortune, understand.

"Gie her guid day when ye chance tae meet,
But Jane, remember, your fain tae greet

"Wi' warmer words, and a gallant air.
Go, win a wife--and a warld o' care!"

Neil listened closest to what was said
Of Kate, the poor but pretty maid.

And when he reached his good uncle's place
'Twas Kate that in his eyes found grace,

The while Jane simpered with conscious pride,
As if to say: "Behold your bride!"

In this home he dwelt for many a day,
A favorite, he, of Donald Gray.

They walked together over the hill,
Or through the valleys solemn and still,

And the old man showed him acres wide
That would be Jane's dower as a bride,

Then spoke of the cousin, poor but fair,
Her eyes of blue and her golden hair.

"She'll hae na flocks, and she'll hae na laund,
She'll hae na fortune rich and graund,

"But gin she stood in her scanty dress,
Would man o' mettle luve her less?"

The lad's heart warmed to the logic old.
What worth has land? What worth has gold?

Compared with the light in Katie's eyes,
What worth was aught beneath the skies?

Jane courted briskly day by day,
If he walked out she walked his way.

Did he sit him down to rest awhile,
She looked his way with tender smile.

Did he try to get a word with Kate,
Jane was there like the hand of fate.

One day it chanced, as he rode to mill,
He met with Kate just under the hill.

Would she mount beside him, ride along?
Yes, if he felt 'twould not be wrong.

He helped her up with a trembling arm;
Surely the day is close and warm.

Whoa, mare! steady! there's no need for haste
With two soft arms about his waist.

Neil--shame on him!--pressed Kate's finger-tips,
Then turned about and pressed her lips.

All over the road the blossoms white
Scattered themselves in sheer delight.

A bird flew singing a tender rhyme
Of meadow, mate, and nesting time.

The world looked beautiful in the glow
That heaven flung on the hills below.

Ah me, if that ride could but last a week,
Her gold hair blowing against his cheek!

The road to the mill, says worldly wise--
Nay, nay, the road to Paradise!

Travel it once if you wish to know
Something of heaven here below.

Though your eyes grow dim, and locks grow white,
You'll not forget this journey--quite.

But Neil must go to the old home place,
Meet his stern father face to face.

Altho' his cheek was a trifle pale,
Boldly enough he told his tale.

He would marry Kate--and Kate alone--
He could not love the other one.

Her eyes were crooked, her hair was red,
Freckles over her face were spread,

And the whole world held no lass for him
But Kate. Then laughed the old man grim.

"Your mither, she was a stubborn lass,
Self-willed, handsome--but let that pass.

"In a' oor battles 'twas she who won,
And Neil, you're juist your mither's son.

"But I hae na lived these mony days
Wi'oot walking in wisdom's ways.

"I saw your Kate, and like't her weel--
In luiks she's like your mither, Neil;

"The same blue een, and the same gowd hair--
But no sae fair, Neil, no sae fair.

"I tou'd your uncle to let Kate be
The lassie poor, o' low degree,

"And gie ye at once to understand
'Twas Jane who owned baith flocks and land.

"Why gie mysel' sic a senseless task?
I wunner, lad, ye've hairt tae ask.

"Gin ye was driven ye wouldna' move,
Too stubborn to even fa' in luve!

"Like a' the Campbells, ye'll hae your way--
Your mither has hers every day.

"'Tis prood ye should be, upon my word,
Tak' time to yoursel' and thank the Lord

For plans that gat ye a bonny bride--
An' heaps o' wardly gear beside."

Ah! thankful enough was Neil that day--
Joy flashed in his eager eyes of gray.

'Twas not for the land, not for the gold,
Not for the flocks that slept in fold,

Not for the wealth--the worldly gear--
But something wonderful, sweet and dear.

"Thank heaven," he cried, with a glow and thrill,
"Thank heaven for the day I rode to mill!"

(The end)
Jean Blewett's poem: Wooing O' Katie

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