The Three Friends Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


The sword slew one in deadly strifeA
One perished by the bowlB
The third lies self slain by the knifeA
For three the bells may tollB
I loved her better than my lifeA
And better than my soulB
Aye father hast thou come at lastC
'Tis somewhat late to prayD
Life's crimson tides are ebbing fastC
They drain my soul awayD
Mine eyes with film are overcastC
The lights are waning greyD
This curl from her bright head I shoreE
And this her hands gave mineF
See one is stained with purple goreE
And one with poison'd wineF
Give these to her when all is o'erG
How serpent like they twineF
We three were brethren in armsH
And sworn companions weI
We held this motto 'Whoso harmsH
The one shall harm the three '-
Till matchless for her subtle charmsH
Beloved of each was sheI
These two were slain that I might kissJ
Her sweet mouth I did wellK
I said 'There is no greater blissJ
For those in heaven that dwell'K
I lost her then I said 'There isL
No fiercer pang in hell '-
We have upheld each other's rightsM
Shared purse and borrow'd bladeN
Have stricken side by side in fightsM
And side by side have prayedN
In churches We were Christian knightsM
And she a Christian maidN
We met at sunrise he and IO
My comrade 'twas agreedP
The steel our quarrel first should tryO
The poison should succeedP
For two of three were doom'd to dieO
And one was doomed to bleedP
We buckled to the doubtful frayD
At first with some remorseQ
But he who must be slain or slayD
Soon strikes with vengeful forceQ
He fell I left him where he layD
Among the trampled gorseQ
Did passion warp my heart and headR
To madness And if soQ
Can madness palliate bloodshedR
It may be I shall knowQ
When God shall gather up the deadR
From where the four winds blowQ
We met at sunset he and IO
My second comrade trueS
Two cups with wine were brimming highO
And one was drugg'd we knewS
Not which nor sought we to descryS
Our choice by lot we drewS
And there I sat with him to supT
I heard him blithely speakU
Of bygone days the fatal cupT
Forgotten seem'd his cheekU
Was ruddy father raise me upT
My voice is waxing weakU
We drank his lips turned livid whiteV
His cheeks grew leaden ashW
He reel'd I heard his temples smiteV
The threshold with a crashW
And from his hand in shivers brightV
I saw the goblet flashW
The morrow dawn'd with fragrance rareS
The May breeze from the westV
Just fann'd the sleepy olives whereS
She heard and I confess'dV
My hair entangled with her hairS
Her breast strained to my breastV
On the dread verge of endless gloomX
My soul recalls that hourS
Skies languishing with balm of bloomX
And fields aflame with flowerS
And slow caresses that consumeX
And kisses that devourS
Ah now with storm the day seems rifeA
My dull ears catch the rollK
Of thunder and the far sea strifeA
On beach and bar and shoalK
I loved her better than my lifeA
And better than my soulK
She fled I cannot prove her guiltV
Nor would I an I couldV
See life for life is fairly spiltV
And blood is shed for bloodV
Her white hands neither touched the hiltV
Nor yet the potion brew'dV
Aye turn me from the sickly southY
Towards the gusty northZ
The fruits of sin are dust and drouthZ
The end of crime is wrathZ
The lips that pressed her rose like mouthZ
Are choked with blood red frothZ
Then dig the grave pit deep and wideV
Three graves thrown into oneA2
And lay three corpses side by sideV
And tell their tale to noneA2
But bring her back in all her prideV
To see what she hath doneA2

Adam Lindsay Gordon


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