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.
Coventry Patmore. 1823–1896
760. The Married Lover
WHY, having won her, do I woo? 
  Because her spirit's vestal grace 
Provokes me always to pursue, 
  But, spirit-like, eludes embrace; 
Because her womanhood is such         5
  That, as on court-days subjects kiss 
The Queen's hand, yet so near a touch 
  Affirms no mean familiarness; 
Nay, rather marks more fair the height 
  Which can with safety so neglect  10
To dread, as lower ladies might, 
  That grace could meet with disrespect; 
Thus she with happy favour feeds 
  Allegiance from a love so high 
That thence no false conceit proceeds  15
  Of difference bridged, or state put by; 
Because although in act and word 
  As lowly as a wife can be, 
Her manners, when they call me lord, 
  Remind me 'tis by courtesy;  20
Not with her least consent of will, 
  Which would my proud affection hurt, 
But by the noble style that still 
  Imputes an unattain'd desert; 
Because her gay and lofty brows,  25
  When all is won which hope can ask, 
Reflect a light of hopeless snows 
  That bright in virgin ether bask; 
Because, though free of the outer court 
  I am, this Temple keeps its shrine  30
Sacred to Heaven; because, in short, 
  She 's not and never can be mine. 
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