Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
Hartley Coleridge. 1796–1849
643. The Solitary-Hearted
SHE was a queen of noble Nature's crowning, 
A smile of hers was like an act of grace; 
She had no winsome looks, no pretty frowning, 
Like daily beauties of the vulgar race: 
But if she smiled, a light was on her face,         5
A clear, cool kindliness, a lunar beam 
Of peaceful radiance, silvering o'er the stream 
Of human thought with unabiding glory; 
Not quite a waking truth, not quite a dream, 
A visitation, bright and transitory.  10
But she is changed,—hath felt the touch of sorrow, 
No love hath she, no understanding friend; 
O grief! when Heaven is forced of earth to borrow 
What the poor niggard earth has not to lend; 
But when the stalk is snapt, the rose must bend.  15
The tallest flower that skyward rears its head 
Grows from the common ground, and there must shed 
Its delicate petals. Cruel fate, too surely, 
That they should find so base a bridal bed, 
Who lived in virgin pride, so sweet and purely.  20
She had a brother, and a tender father, 
And she was loved, but not as others are 
From whom we ask return of love,—but rather 
As one might love a dream; a phantom fair 
Of something exquisitely strange and rare,  25
Which all were glad to look on, men and maids, 
Yet no one claim'd—as oft, in dewy glades, 
The peering primrose, like a sudden gladness, 
Gleams on the soul, yet unregarded fades;— 
The joy is ours, but all its own the sadness.  30
'Tis vain to say—her worst of grief is only 
The common lot, which all the world have known; 
To her 'tis more, because her heart is lonely, 
And yet she hath no strength to stand alone,— 
Once she had playmates, fancies of her own,  35
And she did love them. They are past away 
As Fairies vanish at the break of day; 
And like a spectre of an age departed, 
Or unsphered Angel wofully astray, 
She glides along—the solitary-hearted.  40
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