Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
By Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (1809–1885)
THE WORDS that trembled on your lips
Were uttered not—I know it well;
The tears that would your eyes eclipse
Were checked and smothered, e’er they fell:
The looks and smiles I gained from you        5
Were little more than others won,
And yet you are not wholly true,
Nor wholly just what you have done.
You know, at least you might have known,
That every little grace you gave,—        10
Your voice’s somewhat lowered tone,—
Your hand’s faint shake or parting wave,—
Your every sympathetic look
At words that chanced your soul to touch
While reading from some favourite book,        15
Were much to me—alas, how much!
You might have seen—perhaps you saw—
How all of these were steps of hope
On which I rose, in joy and awe,
Up to my passion’s lofty scope:        20
How after each, a firmer tread
I planted on the slippery ground,
And higher raised my venturous head,
And ever new assurance found.
May be, without a further thought,        25
It only pleased you thus to please,
And thus to kindly feelings wrought
You measured not the sweet degrees;
Yet, though you hardly understood
Where I was following at your call,        30
You might—I dare to say you should—
Have thought how far I had to fall.
And thus when fallen, faint, and bruised,
I see another’s glad success,
I may have wrongfully accused        35
Your heart of vulgar fickleness:
But even now, in calm review
Of all I lost and all I won,
I cannot deem you wholly true,
Nor wholly just what you have done.

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