I Met a Lady in the Wood
I met a lady in the wood.
No mortal maid, I knew, was she;
She was no thing of flesh and blood,
No child of human ancestry.
Her beauty held my eyes in thrall.
I spoke to her sweet words, soft-toned.
She answered me no word at all,
But only looked at me and moaned.
I spoke to her about Exchange,
Of Sterling and its recent rise.
The subject was beyond her range;
She stared at me with haunting eyes.
I touched upon the price of Rye
And its effect upon the Pound.
She walked beside me silently,
Like one that treads on charméd ground.
She witched me with her elfin grace.
I spoke of Wages and the Dole
And briefly sketched for her the case
For International Control.
She gazed upon me as I talked;
Some elfin thing she seemed to be.
I knew her, by the way she walked,
A creature of the Faëry.
Through green and leafy glades we went,
Knee-deep among the dewy ferns;
I touched upon the Law of Rent
And of Diminishing Returns.
And, as we wandered through the wood
Mid oaks and elm-tree boles rotund,
Explained to her as best I could
The workings of a Sinking Fund.
I said that Rubber was depressed
By recent rumours from Malay.
She only moaned and beat her breast
And cried aloud, 'Alack-a-day!'
I said my brokers had foreseen
A rise in Oil, and asked her view
As to the trend of Margarine,
She only answered 'Willaloo!'
I took her to a green-lit glade
Where tall trees twined their branches high
And a moss-muted streamlet made
And there I paused awhile; and there
I offered her my heart and hand,
And bade her take me in her care
To dwell with her in Fairyland.
I said I was a Whale-oil King,
With gold and goods and gear in plenty.
She said she was a Mrs. Byng
And had a family of twenty.
She turned and left me where I stood.
While round her elfin pipes were fluting
She walked away into the wood,
And I walked home to Lower Tooting.
Patrick Barrington's Other Poems
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