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The Milk-White Doe

French Volks-Lied.

It was a mother and a maid
That walked the woods among,
And still the maid went slow and sad,
And still the mother sung.

'What ails you, daughter Margaret?
Why go you pale and wan?
Is it for a cast of bitter love,
Or for a false leman?'

'It is not for a false lover
That I go sad to see;
But it is for a weary life
Beneath the greenwood tree.

'For ever in the good daylight
A maiden may I go,
But always on the ninth midnight
I change to a milk-white doe.

'They hunt me through the green forest
With hounds and hunting men;
And ever it is my fair brother
That is so fierce and keen.'

* * * *

'Good-morrow, mother.' 'Good-morrow, son;
Where are your hounds so good?'
'Oh, they are hunting a white doe
Within the glad greenwood.

'And three times have they hunted her,
And thrice she's won away;
The fourth time that they follow her
That white doe they shall slay.'

* * * *

Then out and spoke the forester,
As he came from the wood,
'Now never saw I maid's gold hair
Among the wild deer's blood.

'And I have hunted the wild deer
In east lands and in west;
And never saw I white doe yet
That had a maiden's breast.'

Then up and spake her fair brother,
Between the wine and bread:
'Behold I had but one sister,
And I have been her dead.

'But ye must bury my sweet sister
With a stone at her foot and her head,
And ye must cover her fair body
With the white roses and red.

'And I must out to the greenwood,
The roof shall never shelter me;
And I shall lie for seven long years
On the grass below the hawthorn tree.'

Andrew Lang