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  Know ye all, both great and small,
    That, by lord Philip's fair command,
  This day within our city wall
By summons we have bidden all
    The fairest maidens in our land!
  Then note them well, for here they stand —
    Loyse, the fair, from St. Denis,
  And Isabeau from far Florennes,
    With Barbe who comes from Bovigny —
  To feast the eyes of greedy men;
    And Gabrielle, the chosen maid
  From that sweet city, St. Hubert,
    And Colinette from Lenalède,
  Who counts herself the fairest there;
    With many more who fain would own
Yon budding wreath and silver zone.

  Peace! Let us be on, or ere the day be flown
Our budding roses shall be overblown.

  Sir, by your leave! Sweet maid, I call on thee!

  I am Loyse from St. Denis:
    Fairest there beyond compare,
      So men say.
      So men say!
So men say!
So men say!
So men say!
  Yet their praise is naught to me,
  If to-day Philip, Lord of Mirlemont,
  Deems another maid more fair.
    Thou alone canst tell me true,
      Thou canst answer yea or nay,
    Are mine eyes of that sweet blue
      The rains of April grant to May?
    Shines my hair like ripened wheat?
Can it be my red lips meet
      Like coral laid on ivory?
    Aye, and that my little feet
      Move so very daintily?
    For this and more do all men say,
Men who dwell at St. Denis,
Else I might not dare to pray
That to-day, to-day,
      Beauty's crown should fall on me,
Should fall on me.
  And what if it be true that her eyes are softest blue,
    And her lips like winter berries shyly peeping through the snow,
  That she wears a smaller shoe than some other maidens do?
    Yet for all she is not fairest; therefore, prithee, let her go,
      Let her go,
Let her go,
Let her go,
Let her go,
Let her go
So prithee let her go.

  Aye, let her go! We waste the sunny hours
Seeking a rose amid these wind-sown flowers.

  Rise, little maid, for one and one alone
Shall win the wreath of roses and wear this silver zone.

  Next, by your grace, in order as they go,
I summon her men call proud Isabeau.

  In the hills beyond Florennes
  Where the river grasses grow soft and green!
      Soft and green!
  Once the shepherds from glen
    Crowned me Queen!
  And when I knelt beside the stream
    And saw the face that floated there
  With lips like cherries dipped in cream,
    And laughing eyes, and raven hair,
  I wondered not, those shepherd men
Had crowned me fairest of Florennes.
  And in truth, if that be so, it is plain they do not grow
    The fairest maids in Flanders where these simple shepherds
  Or perchance, for aught we know, it was very long ago,
    When this maiden first discovered that she loved herself so well.
  Or perchance, for aught we know, it was very long ago,
    When this maiden first discovered that she loved herself so well.
  Nay, blame the guilty brook; 'twere hard to scold her
For deeming true what this false stream had told her.
  Aye, yet henceforth each crone should warn her daughter;
Truth lurks in wells, but lies in running water.
  Yea, many maids are fair, yet one is fairest.
Enough for thee to win that shepherd's crown thou wearest.
    In truth, an ugly wench!
Come hither, thou.
  I am Barbe of Bovigny!
Where all other maidens say,
    The wonder why
    They wonder why!
  Our swains should send me forth today,
    That I may try,
  Philip, Lord of Mirlemont! To win that crown from thee.
    For though I think we err in this,
  Yet 'tis the fashions of our town,
    That she who wins a lover's kiss,
  On her all other maidens frown
    And say, as many there have said;
"What tho' her hair be poppy red,
  She need not smile from ear to ear,"
    Or cry, "alack, her beauty's fled,
  He should have woo'd her yesteryear."
    Yet while he kneels and sighs to me,

"Love, for thy beauty I could die!"
I wonder why, I wonder why

    I may not win that crown from thee!
  As to that we would reply, as 'tis plain to ev'ry eye;
    That these gossips do not blunder when they said her hair was
  And we fancy, bye and bye, she will weep and wonder why,
    Men should choose to go a-wooing when they never think to
    Think to wed, to wed!

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