Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
Appendix I. Early and Uncollected Verses
I DO not love thee, Isabel, and yet thou art most fair!
I know the tempting of thy lips, the witchcraft of thy hair,
The winsome smile that might beguile the shy bird from his tree;
But from their spell I know so well, I shake my manhood free.
I might have loved thee, Isabel; I know I should if aught        5
Of all thy words and ways had told of one unselfish thought;
If through the cloud of fashion, the pictured veil of art,
One casual flash had broken warm, earnest from the heart.
But words are idle, Isabel, and if I praise or blame,
Or cheer or warn, it matters not; thy life will be the same;        10
Still free to use, and still abuse, unmindful of the harm,
The fatal gift of beauty, the power to choose and charm.
Then go thy way, fair Isabel, nor heed that from thy train
A doubtful follower falls away, enough will still remain.
But what the long-rebuking years may bring to them or thee        15
No prophet and no prophet’s son am I to guess or see.
I do not love thee, Isabel; I would as soon put on
A crown of slender frost-work beneath the heated sun,
Or chase the winds of summer, or trust the sleeping sea,
Or lean upon a shadow as think of loving thee.


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