Merrily, she waited in the quaint dell,
Merrily, she heard the distant marriage knell.
Quickly, he ran through the forested vale,
Quickly on his way to meet his Laura Belle.
Merrily, pressed lips of patience implored.
Quickly, he stumbled en route to his Belle,
Quickly, he often fell for his Laura Belle.
Merrily, she daydreamed of garlands of greens,
Merrily, twist’d in her tresses between.
Quickly, he faulter’d as to where he should lead,
Quickly, lead his Belle where to be freed.
Merrily, she sat idle with happiness to come,
Merrily, unaware of her love’s flighty run.
Quickly, the curs’ cries carried o’er the dale,
Quickly, his efforts at last stumbled and fell.
Curiously, she strained to hear what was near,
Curiously, she wandered if ‘twere her darling dear.
Slowly, but harshly his limbs were bound tight,
Slowly, he was pulled to feet upright.
Curiously, she walked near the edge of the dell,
Curiously, she followed her love from o’er the vale.
Slowly, the hooves clomped from which he was led,
Slowly, he followed without a word said.
Curiously, she followed the party to a halt,
Curiously, she gazed on the gallows blade vault.
Slowly, he approached the jaws open wide,
Slowly, he looked upon his love and cried:
Dear, I am not whom ye thot me to be,
I am the product and bane of infamy.
For years I have courted gambling and guns,
‘tis why I found it high time to run.
Never did I mean to shame you,
For you were the reason my needed attempt,
To pay off my bounty and my sins repent.
Alas, now I am utterly lost,
And thy pain was the wretched cost.
Dear, Belle, I love thee so sweet,
And I’ll continue ‘til in heav’n we meet.
Sadly, she sank to her knees,
Sadly, she heeded her loves tender pleas.
Slowly, he followed suit with head asunder the blade,
Slowly, he studied her wrenched white face.
Sadly, she wept with lover’s remorse,
Sadly, she moaned for his soul’s bitter course.
Quickly, the blade sliced through,
Quickly, the blade sliced bone and sinew.
Sadly, she keened with grief and despair,
Sadly, she vowed to follow him there.
Slowly, the sounding ring of the doleful kirk-knell,
Slowly, it followed his poor soul to hell.
Sadly, her soul was a victim of grief,
Sadly, her death was comforting and brief.
Slowly, the knell now rings double-time,
Sadly, for two souls, it must now chime.
Poet’s Notes: Laura Belle was written during a period in which I was deeply immersed in an early Romantic poetry book, and, as Dr. Gordon correctly surmised, I was reading Wordsworth at the time. I was fascinated with the early ballads and how rhythmic and melodic they sounded when read aloud. I was also reading Thomas Hardy at the time; I am a huge fan of both his poems and novels with Tess of the d’Urbervilles being my all-time favorite.
When writing "Laura Belle", I was going for an anaphoric sort of poem as one might find in a sonnet written by Shakespeare, but I did not hesitate to swap a word that has a similar meaning or sound to avoid being boring or redundant. I noticed that Wordsworth, Hardy, and Shakespeare focused on the characters and also on the scenes and settings in which their characters interacted; I tried to incorporate their styles and techniques into my own.
Editor’s Note: This one does remind me of Wordsworth more than a little--a classic, epic poem about the lives of common men and women. I like the way that the poet did not insist on hard rhymes throughout, using assonance or consonance instead when choosing the right word called for it.