The Princess on the Headland

By George Sterling

My mother the queen is dead.
    My father the king is old.
    He fumbles his cirque of gold
And dreams of a year long fled.
The young men stare at my face,
    But cannot meet my glance—
    Cavan tall as a lance,
Orra swift in the race.

Death was ever my price,
    Since my maidenhood began:
    At the thought of a Gaelic man
My heart is sister of ice.
'T is another for whom I wait,
    Tho I have not kissed his sword:
    He or none is my lord,
Tho our night be soon or late.

The star grows great in my breast:
    It is crying clearly now
    To the star on the burnished prow
Of his galley far in the West.
The capes of the North are dim,
    And the windward beaches smoke
    Where the last long roller spoke
The tidings it held of him.

Sorrow I know he brings,
    Battle, despair and change,—
    Beauty cruel and strange,
And the shed bright blood of kings.
Breast, be white for his sake!
    Mouth, be red for the kiss!
    Soul, be strong for your bliss!
Heart, be ready to break!

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