The following lines from Patmore’s poem were displayed with the painting when first exhibited at the Royal Academy:
She went merely to think she help’d;
And, whilst he hack’d and saw’d,
The rich Squire’s son, a young boy then,
Whole mornings, as if awed,
Stood silent by, and gazed in turn
At Gerald and on Maud.
He sometimes, in a sullen tone
He offer’d fruits, and she Received them always with an air
So unreserved and free,
That shame-faced distance soon became
The poem tells the tragic tale of Maud, the woodman’s daughter, and a squire’s son. He offers her strawberries, beginning a friendship that becomes intimate when they grow older. This intimacy results in an illegitimate child. Of course, they can never be married because of their differences in class. Maud, in madness desperation, drowns their love-child and eventually goes insane.
Coventry Patmore at Wikipedia
Coventry Patmore at the Victorian Web
Seduction and Foreshadowing Disaster in the Woodsman’s Daughter
Related Post: There is a sighting of The Woodsman’s Daughter in an Inspector Morse episode (The Way Through The Woods)