Modern Love: X

- 1828-1909
But where began the change; and what’s my crime?
The wretch condemned, who has not been arraigned
Chafes at his sentence. Shall I, unsustained,
Drag on Love’s nerveless body thro’ all time?
I must have slept, since now I wake. Prepare,
You lovers, to know Love a thing of moods:
Not like hard life, of laws. In Love’s deep woods,
 I dreamt of loyal Life:—the offence is there!
Love’s jealous woods about the sun are curled;
At least, the sun far brighter there did beam.—
My crime is, that the puppet of a dream,
I plotted to be worthy of the world.
Oh, had I with my darling helped to mince
That facts of life, you still had seen me go
With hindward feather and with forward tow,
Her much-adored delightful Fairy Prince!
 

More by George Meredith

Winter Heavens

Sharp is the night, but stars with frost alive
Leap off the rim of earth across the dome.
It is a night to make the heavens our home
More than the nest whereto apace we strive.
Lengths down our road each fir-tree seems a hive,
In swarms outrushing from the golden comb.
They waken waves of thoughts that burst to foam:
The living throb in me, the dead revive.
Yon mantle clothes us: there, past mortal breath,
Life glistens on the river of the death.
It folds us, flesh and dust; and have we knelt,
Or never knelt, or eyed as kine the springs
Of radiance, the radiance enrings:
And this is the soul's haven to have felt.

Modern Love: II

It ended, and the morrow brought the task.
Her eyes were guilty gates, that let him in
By shutting all too zealous for their sin:
Each sucked a secret, and each wore a mask.
But, oh, the bitter taste her beauty had!
Her sickened as at breath of poison-flowers:
A languid humour stole among the hours,
And if their smiles encountered, he went mad,
And raged, deep inward, till the light was brown
Before his vision, and the world forgot,
Looked wicked as some old dull murder-spot.
A star with lurid beams, she seemed to crown
The pit of infamy: and then again
He fainted on his vengefulness, and strove
To ape the magnanimity of love,
And smote himself, a shuddering heap of pain.
 

Modern Love: IV

All other joys of life he strove to warm,
And magnify, and catch them to his lip:
But they had suffered shipwreck with the ship,
And gazed upon him sallow from the storm.
Or if Delusion came, ’t was but to show
The coming minute mock the one that went.
Cold as a mountain in its star-pitched tent,
Stood high Philosophy, less friend than foe:
Whom self-caged Passion, from its prison-bars,
Is always watching with a wondering hate.
Not till the fire is dying in the grate,
Look we for any kinship with the stars.
Oh, wisdom never comes when it is gold,
And the great price we pay for it full worth:
We have it only when we are half earth.
Little avails that coinage to the old!
 

Related Poems

My Garden with Walls

My heart a garden is, a garden walled;
And in the wide white spaces near the gates
Grow tall and showy flowers, sun-loving flowers,
Where they are seen of every passer-by;
Who straightway faring on doth bear the tale
How bright my garden is and filled with sun.

But there are shaded walks far from the gates,
So far the passer-by can never see,
Where violets grow for thoughts of those afar,
And rue for memories of vanished days,
And sweet forget-me-nots to bid me think

With tenderness,—lest I grow utter cold
And hard as women grow who never weep.
And when come times I fear that Love is dead
And Sorrow rules as King the world's white ways,
I go with friends I love among these beds.
Where friend and flower do speak alike to me,
Sometimes with silences, sometimes with words.

'Tis then I thank my God for those high walls
That shut the friends within, the world without,
That passers-by may only see the sun.
That friends I love may share the quiet shade.