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Coventry Patmore

(23 July 1823 - 26 November 1896 / Essex, England)

A Dream


Amid the mystic fields of Love
I wander'd, and beheld a grove.
Breathlessly still was part, and part
Was breathing with an easy heart;
And there below, in lamblike game,
Were virgins, all so much the same,
That each was all. A youth drew nigh,
And on them gazed with wandering eye,
And would have pass'd, but that a maid,
Clapping her hands above her, said,
‘My time is now!’ and laughing ran
After the dull and strange young man,
And bade him stop and look at her.
And so he call'd her lovelier
Than any else, only because
She only then before him was.
And, while they stood and gazed, a change
Was seen in both, diversely strange:
The youth was ever more and more
That good which he had been before;
But the glad maiden grew and grew
Such that the rest no longer knew
Their sister, who was now to sight
The young man's self, yet opposite,
As the outer rainbow is the first,
But weaker, and the hues reversed.
And whereas, in the abandon'd grove,
The virgin round the Central Love
Had blindly circled in her play,
Now danced she round her partner's way;
And, as the earth the moon's, so he
Had the responsibility
Of her diviner motion. ‘Lo,’
He sang, and the heavens began to glow,
‘The pride of personality,
Seeking its highest, aspires to die,
And in unspeakably profound
Humiliation Love is crown'd!
And from his exaltation still
Into his ocean of good-will
He curiously casts the lead
To find strange depths of lowlihead.’

To one same tune, but higher, ‘Bold,’
The maiden sang, ‘is Love! For cold
On Earth are blushes, and for shame
Of such an ineffectual flame
As ill consumes the sacrifice!’

Submitted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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