Isabella Valancy Crawford

(25 December 1850 – 12 February 1887 / Dublin, Ireland)

Bouche-Mignonne


BOUCHE-MIGNONNE lived in the mill,
Past the vineyards shady,
Where the sun shone on a rill
Jewelled 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!'

Bouche-Mignonne awoke, and quick
Glossy tresses braided.
Curious sunbeams clustered 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 turned their glossy throats,
Timorous, uncertain,
When, to hear their matin notes,
Peeped she thro' her curtain.

Shook the mill-stream sweet and clear
With its silvery laughter;
Shook the mill, from flooring sere
Up to oaken rafter.

'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 athwart the lily-beds,
Pierce the dry reeds' thicket;
Where the yellow sunlight treads,
Chants the friendly cricket.

Butterflies about her skim-
Pouf! their simple fancies
In the willow shadows dim
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,
Every blush and dimple.

'Bouche-Mignonne!' it laughing cries,
'Pierre as 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,
Curved the airy swallows,

When the lilies closed 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 greyly flits,
Jewel-eyed and hooting,
Past the green tree where she sits;
Nightingales are fluting;

Soft the wind as rustling silk
On a courtly lady;
Tinkles down the flowing milk;
Huge and still and shady

Stands the mill-wheel, resting still
From its loving labour.
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 dissemble;

'Loud and clear and sweet I'll sing
On my far way straying;
I will hide the whispered thing
Pierre to thee is saying.

'Bouche-Mignonne, good night, good night!
Every silver hour
I will toss my lilies white
'Gainst thy maiden bower.'

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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