A girl played by the water - years ago
She sat with flowers, Brother and his friend
Not far away, but somewhere out of sight.
The Queen was walking, taking in the air,
And saw the girl sat by the creek alone.
She worried for her, long unused herself
To walking anywhere without a train
Like that which followed her in silence now.
"Ophelia," she called, "Art thou quite safe?
Pray, why art thou alone here on this bank:
The water by thy side, dost thou not see
Its danger for a girl as young as thou?"
The girl looked up and saw the stately Queen,
But could not recognise her from the court,
For as she was so young she had not been.
"I must ask how you know my name, madam,
For we have not been introduced, I think."
The servants in the garden gasped as one,
But unlike them, no insult took the Queen.
She laughed and said, "'Tis true, fair maid, in faith.
My name is Gertrude and thy family
Is one which I am well acquainted with:
Thou hast thy mother's aspect, plain to see."
Ophelia then bowed her head, ashamed,
"Forgive my words," in penitence she asked,
"I oft forget whom I must know and whom
My parents would prefer for me to fear.
Please take this chain of daisies in repair."
She offered up the flowers, earnest gift,
And Gertrude gracefully accepted them.
"In answer to your question, I am safe;
I know the water's danger and the weight
That all my clothes in water would become.
I sit here to enjoy the smells and sight
Of all the flowers bright in bloom near here:
A girl must educate herself in all."
"Well said, Ophelia," the Queen replied,
"I hope thy study much improves thy mind
And brings thou happiness when thou hast grown."
And with these words the Queen then took her leave.
There are no words to utter as they stand
Together by the bank, Ophelia
And by her side the Queen, acquainted now
Officially by schemes of one dead man.
Her years of study all have come to naught
But what she may express without a word
By off'ring pansies in a crowded room.
The Queen may only watch as still the girl
Stands on the bank and casts her flowers down,
A life of learning scattered in the flow.
"No happiness for me," Ophelia
Informs the Queen, in case she did not know,
Before she steps herself into the glass,
The mirror of the stream that shatters quick
And breaks the image of a girl the Queen
Believed she saw until catastrophe
Came thundering upon their Denmark home.
So Gertrude cries, but makes
No move to keep the girl from danger she
Has willingly embraced. For God himself
May call each suicide a deviant,
Denier of his will upon this earth,
But Gertrude knows that circumstance can kill
As surely as a knife. She'll understand
A little more with every day that dawns:
This girl did not bring death upon herself.