The Angel In The House. Book I. Canto XI.

Preludes.

I The Daughter of Eve
The woman's gentle mood o'erstept
Withers my love, that lightly scans
The rest, and does in her accept
All her own faults, but none of man's.
As man I cannot judge her ill,
Or honour her fair station less,
Who, with a woman's errors, still
Preserves a woman's gentleness;
For thus I think, if one I see
Who disappoints my high desire,
‘How admirable would she be,
‘Could she but know how I admire!’
Or fail she, though from blemish clear,
To charm, I call it my defect;
And so my thought, with reverent fear
To err by doltish disrespect,
Imputes love's great regard, and says,
‘Though unapparent 'tis to me,
‘Be sure this Queen some other sways
‘With well-perceiv'd supremacy.’
Behold the worst! Light from above
On the blank ruin writes ‘Forbear!
‘Her first crime was unguarded love,
‘And all the rest, perhaps, despair.’
Discrown'd, dejected, but not lost,
O, sad one, with no more a name
Or place in all the honour'd host
Of maiden and of matron fame,
Grieve on; but, if thou grievest right,
'Tis not that these abhor thy state,
Nor would'st thou lower the least the height
Which makes thy casting down so great.
Good is thy lot in its degree;
For hearts that verily repent
Are burden'd with impunity
And comforted by chastisement.
Sweet patience sanctify thy woes!
And doubt not but our God is just,
Albeit unscathed thy traitor goes,
And thou art stricken to the dust.
That penalty's the best to bear
Which follows soonest on the sin;
And guilt's a game where losers fare
Better than those who seem to win.

II Aurea Dicta
'Tis truth (although this truth's a star
Too deep-enskied for all to see),
As poets of grammar, lovers are
The fountains of morality.
Child, would you shun the vulgar doom,
In love disgust, in death despair?
Know, death must come and love must come,
And so for each your soul prepare.
Who pleasure follows pleasure slays;
God's wrath upon himself he wreaks;
But all delights rejoice his days
Who takes with thanks, and never seeks.
The wrong is made and measured by
The right's inverted dignity.
Change love to shame, as love is high
So low in hell your bed shall be.
How easy to keep free from sin!
How hard that freedom to recall!
For dreadful truth it is that men
Forget the heavens from which they fall.
Lest sacred love your soul ensnare,
With pious fancy still infer
‘How loving and how lovely fair
‘Must He be who has fashion'd her!’
Become whatever good you see,
Nor sigh if, forthwith, fades from view
The grace of which you may not be
The subject and spectator too.
Love's perfect blossom only blows
Where noble manners veil defect.
Angels may be familiar; those
Who err each other must respect.
Love blabb'd of is a great decline;
A careless word unsanctions sense;
But he who casts Heaven's truth to swine
Consummates all incontinence.
Not to unveil before the gaze
Of an imperfect sympathy
In aught we are, is the sweet praise
And the main sum of modesty.

The Dance.

I
‘My memory of Heaven awakes!
‘She's not of the earth, although her light,
‘As lantern'd by her body, makes
‘A piece of it past bearing bright.
‘So innocently proud and fair
‘She is, that Wisdom sings for glee
‘And Folly dies, breathing one air
‘With such a bright-cheek'd chastity;
‘And though her charms are a strong law
‘Compelling all men to admire,
‘They go so clad with lovely awe
‘None but the noble dares desire.
‘He who would seek to make her his
‘Will comprehend that souls of grace
‘Own sweet repulsion, and that 'tis
‘The quality of their embrace
‘To be like the majestic reach
‘Of coupled suns, that, from afar,
‘Mingle their mutual spheres, while each
‘Circles the twin obsequious star;
‘And, in the warmth of hand to hand,
‘Of heart to heart, he'll vow to note
‘And reverently understand
‘How the two spirits shine remote;
‘And ne'er to numb fine honour's nerve,
‘Nor let sweet awe in passion melt,
‘Nor fail by courtesies to observe
‘The space which makes attraction felt;
‘Nor cease to guard like life the sense
‘Which tells him that the embrace of love
‘Is o'er a gulf of difference
‘Love cannot sound, nor death remove.’

II
This learn'd I, watching where she danced,
Native to melody and light,
And now and then toward me glanced,
Pleased, as I hoped, to please my sight.

III
Ah, love to speak was impotent,
Till music did a tongue confer,
An
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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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"The Angel In The House. Book I. Canto XI." Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 22 Aug. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/7365/the-angel-in-the-house.--book-i.--canto-xi.>.

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