Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
 
IV. Wooing and Winning
Love
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834)
 
ALL thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
    And feed his sacred flame.
 
Oft in my making dreams do I        5
Live o’er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay
    Beside the ruined tower.
 
The moonshine stealing o’er the scene
Had blended with the lights of eve;        10
And she was there, my hope, my joy,
    My own dear Genevieve!
 
She leaned against the armèd man,
The statue of the armèd knight;
She stood and listened to my lay,        15
    Amid the lingering light.
 
Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope! my joy! my Genevieve!
She loves me best whene’er I sing
    The songs that make her grieve.        20
 
I played a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story,—
An old rude song, that suited well
    That ruin wild and hoary.
 
She listened with a flitting blush,        25
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew, I could not choose
    But gaze upon her face.
 
I told her of the Knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand;        30
And that for ten long years he wooed
    The Lady of the Land.
 
I told her how he pined: and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another’s love        35
    Interpreted my own.
 
She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
And she forgave me that I gazed
    Too fondly on her face.        40
 
But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he crossed the mountain-woods,
    Nor rested day nor night;
 
That sometimes from the savage den,        45
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
    In green and sunny glade,
 
There came and looked him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;        50
And that he knew it was a Fiend,
    This miserable Knight!
 
And that unknowing what he did,
He leaped amid a murderous band,
And saved from outrage worse than death        55
    The Lady of the Land;
 
And how she wept, and clasped his knees;
And how she tended him in vain:
And ever strove to expiate
    The scorn that crazed his brain;        60
 
And that she nursed him in a cave,
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest-leaves
    A dying-man he lay;
 
—His dying words—but when I reached        65
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faltering voice and pausing harp
    Disturbed her soul with pity!
 
All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrilled my guileless Genevieve;        70
The music and the doleful tale,
    The rich and balmy eve;
 
And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,        75
    Subdued and cherished long.
 
She wept with pity and delight,
She blushed with love, and virgin shame;
And like the murmur of a dream,
    I heard her breathe my name.        80
 
Her bosom heaved,—she stepped aside,
As conscious of my look she stept,—
Then suddenly, with timorous eye
    She fled to me and wept.
 
She half enclosed me with her arms,        85
She pressed me with a meek embrace;
And bending back her head, looked up,
    And gazed upon my face.
 
’T was partly love, and partly fear,
And partly ’t was a bashful art        90
That I might rather feel than see
    The swelling of her heart.
 
I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,        95
    My bright and beauteous Bride.
 
 
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