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Fair Rosamond

by Marriott Edgar
Illustrations by John Hassall

Some nosey-parkering varlet
Some nosey-parkering varlet

Fair Rosamond refers to the beautiful Rosamund Clifford, a mistress of King Henry II of England in the mid-12th century. Given that Henry spent much of that time travelling around Europe, we cannot be certain how far this adulterous relationship went.

This poem supports the legend that Henry built a labyrinth in his Oxfordshire palace garden for her entertainment. Folks really knew how to enjoy themselves in those days!

She ended her days, as the poem states, in a nearby convent.

You've heard of King Henry II
And the story of how he got fond
Of one of his customer's daughters,
A lass called the "Fair Rosamond".

'Twere a lovely romance while it lasted,
The course of true love ran serene,
Till some nosey-parkering varlet
Started carrying tales to the Queen.

The Queen were at first incred-u-lous.
She said "What a tale to invent!"
The King would not stoop to such baseness
At any rate, not during Lent."

But one morning she picked up a doublet
As he'd dropped on his bedroom settee;
It had three golden hairs on the shoulder
And a strong smell of 'Soir de Paree."

She went to the King in a passion
And showed him this evidence clear,
And swore by her distaff and wimple
That she weren't having none of that theer.

She said "If I catch that young woman,
She'll leave no more hairs on your coat
Her trying to pinch other folks' monarchs
I'll give her a swim in the moat.

A strong smell of soir de paree
A strong smell of soir de paree
Fixing the bobbin on dress
Fixing the bobbin on dress

So he took Rosie off to the country,
To an old-fashioned manor of his,
With an 'ampton Court Maze in the garden
As he kept for occasions like this.

But the Queen wasn't fooled for a moment,
She knew all about Henry's ways;
She slipped off herself the next morning
And secretly watched that there maze.

She were hiding in t'macaracapa
When Rosie came out for the milk,
And she fixed to her dress as she passed her
The end of a bobbin of silk.

Poor Rosie went back not suspecting
The trail she were leaving behind,
And the Queen slowly followed her gloating
At what she expected to find.

The Queen follows Rosie
The Queen follows Rosie
Rose, meet the wife
Rose, meet the wife

The King he were toasting a muffin,
And Rosie were wetting the tea,
When in walked the Queen her face shining
With a look of malevolent glee.

She'd a basin of poison in one hand,
In the other, a glittering knife
The King kind of goggled a moment,
Then turned and said "Rose... meet the wife!"

The Queen shoved the basin at Rosie,
And held the knife out by its point
It were plain she had no' but two choices,
The soup or a cut off the joint.

The Fair Rosamond begged for mercy.
She said, "What you've heard is not true,
Our friendship were purely platonic."
A yarn which in them days was new.

The King told the same tale as Rosie
"And if that's not the truth, Queen," he cried,
"May I die on this spot where I'm standing!"
As he said it he skipped to one side.

The Queen at the finish believed them,
But to save further messing around,
She packed Rosie off to a Convent
And had the maze burnt to the ground.

He skipped to one side
He skipped to one side

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