The verses—as suggested by the painting by Philip Burne-Jones,
first exhibited at the new gallery in London in 1897.
A fool there was and he made his prayer (Even as you or I!) To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair, (We called her the woman who did not care), But the fool he called her his lady fair— (Even as you or I!) Oh, the years we waste and the tears we waste, And the work of our head and hand Belong to the woman who did not know (And now we know that she never could know) And did not understand! A fool there was and his goods he spent, (Even as you or I!) Honour and faith and a sure intent (And it wasn't the least what the lady meant), But a fool must follow his natural bent (Even as you or I!) Oh, the toil we lost and the spoil we lost And the excellent things we planned Belong to the woman who didn't know why (And now we know that she never knew why) And did not understand! The fool was stripped to his foolish hide, (Even as you or I!) Which she might have seen when she threw him aside— (But it isn't on record the lady tried) So some of him lived but the most of him died— (Even as you or I!) And it isn't the shame and it isn't the blame That stings like a white-hot brand— It's coming to know that she never knew why (Seeing, at last, she could never know why) And never could understand!
This poem is in the public domain.