I I wonder do you feel to-day As I have felt since, hand in hand, We sat down on the grass, to stray In spirit better through the land, This morn of Rome and May? II For me, I touched a thought, I know, Has tantalized me many times, (Like turns of thread the spiders throw Mocking across our path) for rhymes To catch at and let go. III Help me to hold it! First it left The yellowing fennel, run to seed There, branching from the brickwork’s cleft, Some old tomb’s ruin: yonder weed Took up the floating weft, IV Where one small orange cup amassed Five beetles,—blind and green they grope Among the honey-meal: and last, Everywhere on the grassy slope I traced it. Hold it fast! V The champaign with its endless fleece Of feathery grasses everywhere! Silence and passion, joy and peace, An everlasting wash of air— Rome’s ghost since her decease. VI Such life here, through such lengths of hours, Such miracles performed in play, Such primal naked forms of flowers, Such letting nature have her way While heaven looks from its towers! VII How say you? Let us, O my dove, Let us be unashamed of soul, As earth lies bare to heaven above! How is it under our control To love or not to love? VIII I would that you were all to me, You that are just so much, no more. Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free! Where does the fault lie? What the core O’ the wound, since wound must be? IX I would I could adopt your will, See with your eyes, and set my heart Beating by yours, and drink my fill At your soul’s springs,—your part my part In life, for good and ill. X No. I yearn upward, touch you close, Then stand away. I kiss your cheek, Catch your soul’s warmth,—I pluck the rose And love it more than tongue can speak— Then the good minute goes. XI Already how am I so far Out of that minute? Must I go Still like the thistle-ball, no bar, Onward, whenever light winds blow, Fixed by no friendly star? XII Just when I seemed about to learn! Where is the thread now? Off again! The old trick! Only I discern— Infinite passion, and the pain Of finite hearts that yearn.
Robert Browning - 1812-1889
Life in a Love
Escape me? Never— Beloved! While I am I, and you are you, So long as the world contains us both, Me the loving and you the loth, While the one eludes, must the other pursue. My life is a fault at last, I fear: It seems too much like a fate, indeed! Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed. But what if I fail of my purpose here? It is but to keep the nerves at strain, To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall, And baffled, get up to begin again,— So the chase takes up one's life, that's all. While, look but once from your farthest bound, At me so deep in the dust and dark, No sooner the old hope drops to ground Than a new one, straight to the selfsame mark, I shape me— Ever Removed!