Tamerton Church-Tower, Or, First Love

I.
We left the Church at Tamerton
In gloomy western air;
To greet the day we gallop'd on,
A merry-minded pair.
The hazy East hot noon did bode;
Our horses sniff'd the dawn;
We made ten Cornish miles of road
Before the dew was gone.
We clomb the hill where Lanson's Keep
Fronts Dartmoor's distant ridge;
Thence trotted South; walk'd down the steep
That slants to Gresson Bridge;
And paused awhile, where Tamar waits,
In many a shining coil,
And teeming Devon separates
From Cornwall's sorry soil.

II.
Our English skies contain'd, that Spring,
A Caribbean sun;
The singing birds forgot to sing,
The rivulets to run.
For three noons past, the skies had frown'd,
Obscured with blighting shades
That only mock'd the thirsty ground
And unrejoicing glades.
To-day, before the noon was nigh,
Bright-skirted vapours grew,
And on the sky hung languidly;
The sky was languid too.
Our horses dropp'd their necks, and nosed
The dusty wayside grass,
Whilst we beneath still boughs reposed
And watch'd the water pass.
We spoke of plighted Bertha: Frank
Shot pebbles in the stream;
And I lay by him on the bank,
But dreamt no lover's dream.
She was a blythe and bashful maid,
Much blushing in her glee;
Yet gracing all she did and said
With sweet sufficiency.
‘Is Blanche as fair?’ ask'd I, who yearn'd
To feel my life complete;
To taste unselfish pleasures earn'd
By service strict and sweet.
‘Well, some say fairer: she'll surprise
Your heart with crimson lips;
Fat underlids, that hold bright eyes
In laughing half-eclipse;
Alluring locks, done up with taste
Behind her dainty ears;
And manners full of wayward haste,
Tho' facile as the deer's.’

III.
‘You paint a leaflet, here and there;
And not the blossom: tell
What mysteries of good and fair
These blazon'd letters spell.’

IV.
‘Her mouth and teeth, by Cupid's bow!
Are letters spelling 'kiss;'
And, witchingly withdrawn below
Twin worlds of baby-bliss,
Her waist, so soft and small, may mean,
'O, when will some one come
To make me catch my breath between
His finger and his thumb!'’

V.
My life, 'twas like a land of dreams,
Where nothing noble throve:
Dull seem'd it as to maiden seems
The verse that's not of love.
‘See where,’ sigh'd I, ‘the water dim
Repeats, with leaden hue,
The fervid sun, the cloud's hot rim,
The gap of dazzling blue!’
Quoth Frank, ‘I do, and hence foresee
And all too plainly scan
Some sentimental homily
On Duty, Death, or Man.’
‘'Tis this;’ said I, ‘our senses mar,
Ev'n so, sweet Nature's face,
Unless by love revived they are,
Or lit by heavenly grace.
Below the hazel talks the rill;
My heart speaks not again;
The solemn cloud, the stately hill,
I look on each in vain.
Sure he for whom no Power shall strike
This darkness into day—’

‘Is damn'd,’ said Frank, who morall'd like
The Fool in an old Play.
‘That's true!’ cried I, ‘yet, as the worm
That sickens ere it change—’
‘Or as the pup that nears the term
At which pups have the mange—
Pooh! Come, Man, let us on,’ he said,
‘For now the storm is nigh!’
And whilst we rode quaint sense we read
Within the changing sky.
Above us bent a prophet wild,
Pointing to hidden harm;
Beyond, a magic woman smiled,
And wove some wondrous charm;
Past that, a censer jetted smoke:
Black convolutions roll'd
Sunwards, and caught the light, and broke
In crowns of shining gold.

VI.
The gaps of blue shrank fast in span;
The long-forgotten breeze,
By lazy starts and fits, began
To stir the higher trees.
At noon, we came to Tavistock;
And sunshine still was there,
But gloomy Dartmoor seem'd to mock
Its weak and yellow glare.
The swallows, in the wrathful light,
Were pitching up and down;
A string of rooks made rapid flight,
Due southward, o'er the town,
Where, baiting at the Tiger-Inn,
We talk'd by windows wide,
Of Blanche and all my unseen kin,
Who did our coming bide.

VII.

The heavy sign-board swung and shriek'd,
In dark air whirl'd the vane,
Blinds flapp'd, dust rose, and, straining, creak'd
The shaken window-pane;
And, just o'erhead, a huge cloud flung,
For earnest of its stores,
A few calm drops, that struck among
The light-leaved sycamores.
Hot to be gone, Frank rose and eyed
Dark cloud and swinging branch;
But less long'd he to greet his Bride
Than I to look on Blanche.
Her name, pair'd
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Coventry Patmore

Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore was an English poet and critic best known for The Angel in the House, his narrative poem about an ideal happy marriage. more…

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"Tamerton Church-Tower, Or, First Love" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 25 Jun 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/7353/tamerton-church-tower,-or,-first-love>.

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