Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
The Chess-board
By E. Robert Bulwer, Lord Lytton (Owen Meredith) (1831–1891)
IRENE, do you yet remember
  Ere we were grown so sadly wise,
Those evenings in the bleak December,
Curtain’d warm from the snowy weather,
When you and I play’d chess together,        5
  Checkmated by each other’s eyes?
  Ah, still I see your soft white hand
Hovering warm o’er Queen and Knight,
  Brave Pawns in valiant battle stand:
The double Castles guard the wings:        10
The Bishop, bent on distant things,
Moves, sidling, through the fight,
  Our fingers touch; our glances meet,
  And falter; falls your golden hair
  Against my cheek; your bosom sweet        15
Is heaving. Down the field, your Queen
Rides slow her soldiery all between,
  And checks me unaware.
  Ah me! the little battle’s done,
Disperst is all its chivalry;        20
Full many a move, since then, have we
’Mid Life’s perplexing chequers made,
And many a game with Fortune play’d,—
  What is it we have won?
  This, this at least—if this alone;—        25
That never, never, never more,
As in those old still nights of yore,
  (Ere we were grown so sadly wise)
  Can you and I shut out the skies,
Shut out the world, and wintry weather,        30
And, eyes exchanging warmth with eyes,
Play chess, as then we play’d, together!

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