Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Extracts from The Angel in the House: Love’s Perversity
By Coventry Patmore (1823–1896)
 
HOW strange a thing a lover seems
  To animals that do not love!
Lo, where he walks and talks in dreams,
  And flouts us with his Lady’s glove;
How foreign in the garb he wears;        5
  And how his great devotion mocks
Our poor propriety, and scares
  The undevout with paradox!
His soul, through scorn of worldly care,
  And great extremes of sweet and gall,        10
And musing much on all that ’s fair,
  Grows witty and fantastical;
He sobs his joy and sings his grief,
  And evermore finds such delight
In simply picturing his relief        15
  That ’plaining seems to cure his plight;
He makes his sorrow, when there ’s none;
  His fancy blows both cold and hot;
Next to the wish that she ’ll be won,
  His first hope is that she may not;        20
He sues, yet deprecates consent;
  Would she be captured she must fly;
She looks too happy and content,
  For whose last pleasure he would die.
Oh, cruelty, she cannot care        25
  For one to whom she ’s always kind!
He says he ’s nought, but, oh, despair,
  If he ’s not Jove to her fond mind!
He ’s jealous if she pets a dove,
  She must be his with all her soul;        30
Yet ’tis a postulate in love
  That part is greater than the whole;
And all his apprehension’s stress,
  When he ’s with her, regards her hair,
Her hand, a ribbon of her dress,        35
  As if his life were only there;
Because she ’s constant, he will change,
  And kindest glances coldly meet,
And, all the time he seems so strange,
  His soul is fawning at her feet;        40
Of smiles and simple heaven grown tired,
  He wickedly provokes her tears,
And when she weeps, as he desired,
  Falls slain with ecstasies of fears;
He blames her, though she has no fault,        45
  Except the folly to be his;
He worships her, the more to exalt
  The profanation of a kiss;
Health ’s his disease; he ’s never well
  But when his paleness shames her rose;        50
His faith ’s a rock-built citadel,
  Its sign a flag that each way blows;
His o’erfed fancy frets and fumes;
  And Love, in him, is fierce, like Hate,
And ruffles his ambrosial plumes        55
  Against the bars of time and fate.
 
 
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