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If I were one whom the loud world held wise, I should disdain to quote authorities
In commendation of this kind of love.
Why there is first the God in heaven above,
Who wrote a book called Nature -'tis to be
Reviewed, I hear, in the next Quarterly;
And Socrates, the Jesus Christ of Greece,
And Jesus Christ himself did never cease
To urge all living things to love each other,
And to forgive their mutual faults, and smother
The Devil of disunion in their souls.
I love you! - Listen, O embodied Ray Of the great Brightness; I must pass away While you remain, and these light words must be Tokens by which you may remember me.
Start not — the thing you are is unbetrayed,
If you are human, and if but the shade
Of some sublimer Spirit.
And as to friend or mistress, 'tis a form;
Perhaps I wish you were one. Some declare
You a familiar spirit, as you are ;
Others with a
Hint that, though not my wife, you are a woman
What is the color of your eyes and hair?
Why, if you were a lady, it were fair
The world should know - but, as I am afraid,
The Quarterly would bait you if betrayed;
And if, as it will be sport to see them stumble
Over all sorts of scandals, hear them mumble
29 commendation, Garnett, 1862 || the support, Mrs. Shelley, 18392. 54 if, omit, Rossetti.
Their litany of curses some guess right,
And others swear you 're a Hermaphrodite ;
Like that sweet marble monster of both sexes,
With looks so sweet and gentle that it vexes
The very soul that the soul is gone
Which lifted from her limbs the veil of stone.
It is a sweet thing, friendship, a dear balm,
A happy and auspicious bird of calm,
Which rides o'er life's ever tumultuous Ocean ;
A God that broods o'er chaos in commotion;
A flower which fresh as Lapland roses are,
Lifts its bold head into the world's frore air,
And blooms most radiantly when others die,
Health, hope, and youth, and brief prosperity;
And with the light and odor of its bloom,
Shining within the dungeon and the tomb ;
Whose coming is as light and music are
'Mid dissonance and gloom - a star
Which moves not 'mid the moving heavens alone —
A smile among dark frowns — a gentle tone
Among rude voices, a beloved light,
A solitude, a refuge, a delight.
If I had but a friend! Why, I have three
Even by my own confession; there may be
Some more, for what I know, for 'tis my mind
To call my friends all who are wise and kind,
And these, Heaven knows, at best are very few;
But none can ever be more dear than you.
Why should they be? My muse has lost her wings,
Or like a dying swan who soars and sings,
67 frore, Rossetti || pure, Mrs. Shelley, 18392.
I should describe you in heroic style,
But as it is, are you not void of guile?
A lovely soul, formed to be blessed and bless ;
A well of sealed and secret happiness;
A lute which those whom Love has taught to play
Make music on to cheer the roughest day,
And enchant sadness till it sleeps?
To the oblivion whither I and thou,
All loving and all lovely, hasten now
With steps, ah, too unequal! may we meet
In one Elysium or one winding sheet!
If any should be curious to discover
Whether to you I am a friend or lover,
Let them read Shakespeare's sonnets, taking thence
A whetstone for their dull intelligence
That tears and will not cut, or let them guess
How Diotima, the wise prophetess,
Instructed the instructor, and why he
Rebuked the infant spirit of melody
On Agathon's sweet lips, which as he spoke
Was as the lovely star when morn has broke
The roof of darkness, in the golden dawn,
Half-hidden, and yet beautiful.
I'll pawn My hopes of Heaven - you know what they are worth
That the presumptuous pedagogues of Earth,
If they could tell the riddle offered here
Would scorn to be, or, being, to appear
What now they seem and are - but let them chide,
They have few pleasures in the world beside;
Perhaps we should be dull were we not chidden; Paradise fruits are sweetest when forbidden. Folly can season Wisdom, Hatred Love.
Farewell, if it can be to say farewell
To those who
I will not, as most dedicators do,
Assure myself and all the world and you,
That you are faultless would to God they were
Who taunt me with your love! I then should wear
These heavy chains of life with a light spirit,
And would to God I were, or even as near it
As you, dear heart. Alas! what are we? Clouds
Driven by the wind in warring multitudes,
Which rain into the bosom of the earth,
And rise again, and in our death and birth,
And through our restless life, take as from heaven
Hues which are not our own, but which are given,
And then withdrawn, and with inconstant glance
Flash from the spirit to the countenance.
There is a Power, a Love, a Joy, a God,
Which makes in mortal hearts its brief abode,
A Pythian exhalation, which inspires
Love, only love a wind which o'er the wires
Of the soul's giant harp -
There is a mood which language faints beneath;
You feel it striding, as Almighty Death
His bloodless steed.
And what is that most brief and bright delight Which rushes through the touch and through the sight,
And stands before the spirit's inmost throne,
A naked Seraph? None hath ever known.
Its birth is darkness, and its growth desire;
Untamable and fleet and fierce as fire,
Not to be touched but to be felt alone,
It fills the world with glory-
- and is gone.
It floats with rainbow pinions o'er the stream
Of life, which flows, like a
Into the light of morning, to the grave
As to an ocean.
What is that joy which serene infancy.
Perceives not, as the hours content them by,
Each in a chain of blossoms, yet enjoys
The shapes of this new world, in giant toys
Wrought by the busy
Remembrance borrows Fancy's glass, to show
These forms more
Than now they are, than then, perhaps, they were.
When everything familiar seemed to be
Wonderful, and the immortality
Of this great world, which all things must inherit,
Was felt as one with the awakening spirit,
Unconscious of itself, and of the strange
Distinctions which in its proceeding change
It feels and knows, and mourns as if each were
Were it not a sweet refuge, Emily,
For all those exiles from the dull insane
Who vex this pleasant world with pride and pain, For all that band of sister-spirits known
To one another by a voiceless tone?