Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
My Kate
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
 
SHE was not as pretty as women I know,
And yet all your best made of sunshine and snow
Drop to shade, melt to naught in the long-trodden ways,
While she ’s still remember’d on warm and cold days—
                                My Kate.        5
 
Her air had a meaning, her movements a grace;
You turn’d from the fairest to gaze on her face:
And when you had once seen her forehead and mouth,
You saw as distinctly her soul and her truth—
                                My Kate.        10
 
Such a blue inner light from her eyelids outbroke,
You look’d at her silence and fancied she spoke:
When she did, so peculiar yet soft was the tone,
Tho’ the loudest spoke also, you heard her alone—
                                My Kate.        15
 
I doubt if she said to you much that could act
As a thought or suggestion: she did not attract
In the sense of the brilliant or wise: I infer
’Twas her thinking of others, made you think of her—
                                My Kate.        20
 
She never found fault with you, never implied
Your wrong by her right; and yet men at her side
Grew nobler, girls purer, as thro’ the whole town
The children were gladder that pull’d at her gown—
                                My Kate.        25
 
None knelt at her feet confess’d lovers in thrall;
They knelt more to God than they used,—that was all:
If you praised her as charming, some ask’d what you meant,
But the charm of her presence was felt when she went—
                                My Kate.        30
 
The weak and the gentle, the ribald and rude,
She took as she found them, and did them all good;
It always was so with her—see what you have!
She has made the grass greener even here … with her grave—
                                My Kate.        35
 
My dear one!—when thou wast alive with the rest,
I held thee the sweetest and loved thee the best:
And now thou art dead, shall I not take thy part
As thy smiles used to do for thyself, my sweet Heart—
                                My Kate?        40
 
 
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