Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Extracts from The Angel in the House: The Lover
By Coventry Patmore (1823–1896)
 
HE meets, by heavenly chance express,
  The destined maid; some hidden hand
Unveils to him that loveliness
  Which others cannot understand.
His merits in her presence grow,        5
  To match the promise in her eyes,
And round her happy footsteps blow
  The authentic airs of Paradise.
For joy of her he cannot sleep;
  Her beauty haunts him all the night;        10
It melts his heart, it makes him weep
  For wonder, worship, and delight.
O, paradox of love, he longs,
  Most humble when he most aspires,
To suffer scorn and cruel wrongs        15
  From her he honours and desires.
Her graces make him rich, and ask
  No guerdon; this imperial style
Affronts him; he disdains to bask,
  The pensioner of her priceless smile.        20
He prays for some hard thing to do,
  Some work of fame and labour immense,
To stretch the languid bulk and thew
  Of love’s fresh-born magnipotence.
No smallest boon were bought too dear,        25
  Though barter’d for his love-sick life;
Yet trusts he, with undaunted cheer,
  To vanquish heaven, and call her Wife.
He notes how queens of sweetness still
  Neglect their crowns, and stoop to mate;        30
How, self-consign’d with lavish will,
  They ask but love proportionate;
How swift pursuit by small degrees,
  Love’s tactic, works like miracle;
How valour, clothed in courtesies,        35
  Brings down the haughtiest citadel;
And therefore, though he merits not
  To kiss the braid upon her skirt,
His hope, discouraged ne’er a jot,
  Out-soars all possible desert.        40
 
 
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