The Little Lamb

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Where a mountain valley lies
Beautiful as Paradise,
To a pasture green and deep,
Came three shepherds with their sheep.
One was out of Hungary,
Moldave was the second herd,
Vrancian mountaineer the third.
Now the herd of Hungary,
And the Vrancian, jealously,
Vow to kill the young Moldave
When the sun a-setting lies;
He is hateful in their eyes,
For he is so rich and brave;
Many well-horned sheep he leads,
Trusty dogs and goodly steeds;
But a white lamb, curly-fleeced,
Of the Moldave's flock the least,
Through three days no grass will eat,
Only sadly bleat and bleat.
"Whitest little lamb of mine,
Tell to me that pain of thine;
For three days, so mournfully
Crying, thou hast followed me;
Here the grass is green and sweet,
Art thou sick and wilt not eat,
Dearest little lamb of mine?"
"Shepherd, O my shepherd dear!
Lead the sheep afar from here;
Yonder in the great, dark wood,
For us there is pasture good;
Shade for us and thee is there;
Master, listen to my prayer.
Of thy dogs, the bravest, best,
Take with thee, and trustiest;
For the man of Hungary,
And the Vrancian, cruelly
At nightfall will murder thee."
"Curly lambkin, if indeed
Thou canst in the future read;
If Fate wills I die to-day,
In this meadow, thou must say
Bold to him of Hungary,
Boldly to the mountaineer,
That they lay my body here,
Close beside my herd-hut small,
So I may stay near you all;
Stay among my sheep and still
Lie and listen underground
To my dogs upon the hill.
See thou, when my grave is made,
Over me my three flutes laid;
One all wrought of beechen wood
Sings how love is true and good;
One that's carved of ivory
Tells the heart's pain, tenderly;
One of elder-tree that loud
Sounds of joy and courage proud.
When the wind comes softly creeping,
And awakes my flutes from sleeping,
All my sheep will gather round,
Shedding tears upon the ground.
Lambkin, no word shalt thou tell
In what wise my death befell;
Say I wed a royal bride,
Wooed of all the world beside;
Say that when our faith was given,
A bright star fell out of Heaven;
Sun and moon stood holding there
A marriage-wreath above my hair;
Mountains tall were priests to me;
Guests were pine and alder-tree;
Torches were the flaming stars,
Thousand birds my lute-players.
If thou should'st my mother meet,
With her woolen girdle brown,
And her poor eyes weeping down
Bitter tears; on trembling feet,
Through the meadows hastening,
All the people questioning:
'Who has seen my shepherd-lad?
Is no other like to him,
My young shepherd, straight and slim,
Fit to leap through ring and ring;
Like the milk-foam his white skin,
Black his hair as raven's wing,
Like ripe corn his bearded chin,
Brown his eyes as mulberries,
Brown and dark those eyes of his.'
To her, pitying, thou shalt say
A fair queen I wed to-day,
In a far-off land that lies
Beautiful as Paradise.
To my mother never tell
How from Heaven a bright star fell;
How the peaks were priests to me,
My guests pine and alder-tree;
How my torches were the stars,
And the birds my lute-players."