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
 
Extract from Amelia
By Coventry Patmore (1823–1896)
 
  WHILE, therefore, now
Her pensive footstep stirr’d
The darnell’d garden of unheedful death,
She ask’d what Millicent was like, and heard
Of eyes like her’s, and honeysuckle breath,        5
And of a wiser than a woman’s brow,
Yet fill’d with only woman’s love, and how
An incidental greatness character’d
Her unconsider’d ways.
But all my praise        10
Amelia thought too slight for Millicent,
And on my lovelier-freighted arm she leant,
For more attent;
And the tea-rose I gave,
To deck her breast, she dropp’d upon the grave.        15
“And this was her’s,” said I, decoring with a band
Of mildest pearls Amelia’s milder hand.
“Nay I will wear it for her sake,” she said:
For dear to maidens are their rivals dead.
  And so,        20
She seated on the black yew’s tortured root,
I on the carpet of sere shreds below,
And nigh the little mound where lay that other,
I kiss’d her lips three times without dispute,
And, with bold worship suddenly aglow,        25
I lifted to my lips a sandall’d foot
And kiss’d it three times thrice without dispute.
Upon my head her fingers fell like snow,
Her lamb-like hands about my neck she wreathed.
Her arms like slumber o’er my shoulders crept,        30
And with her bosom, whence the azalea breathed,
She did my face full favourably smother,
To hide the heaving secret that she wept!
  Now would I keep my promise to her Mother;
Now I arose, and raised her to her feet,        35
My best Amelia, fresh-born from a kiss,
Moth-like, full-blown in birthdew shuddering sweet,
With great, kind eyes, in whose brown shade
Bright Venus and her Baby play’d!
  At inmost heart well pleased with one another,        40
What time the slant sun low
Through the plough’d field does each clod sharply shew,
And softly fills
With shade the dimples of our homeward hills,
With little said,        45
We left the ’wilder’d garden of the dead,
And gain’d the gorse-lit shoulder of the down
That keeps the north-wind from the nestling town,
And caught, once more, the vision of the wave,
Where, on the horizon’s dip,        50
A many-sailèd ship
Pursued alone her distant purpose grave;
And, by steep steps rock-hewn, to the dim street
I led her sacred feet;
And so the Daughter gave,        55
Soft, moth-like, sweet,
Showy as damask-rose and shy as musk,
Back to her Mother, anxious in the dusk.
And now “Good night!”
Me shall the phantom months no more affright.        60
For heaven’s gates to open well waits he
Who keeps himself the key.
 
 
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