Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
From Prologue to ‘The Wanderer’
By E. Robert Bulwer, Lord Lytton (Owen Meredith) (1831–1891)
OH, moment of sweet peril, perilous sweet!
  When woman joins herself to man; and man
Assumes the full-lived woman, to complete
  The end of life, since human life began!
When in the perfect bliss of union        5
  Body and soul triumphal rapture claim,
  When there’s a spirit in blood, in spirit a flame,
And earth’s lone hemispheres glow, fused in one!
Rare moment of rare peril!—The bard’s song,
  The mystic’s musing fancy. Did there ever        10
Two perfect souls in perfect forms belong
  Perfectly to each other? Never, never!
Perilous were such moments, for a touch
  Might mar their clear perfection. Exquisite
  Even for the peril of their frail delight.        15
Such things man feigns; such seeks: but finds not such.
No; for ’tis in ourselves our love doth grow:
  And when our love is fully risen within us,
Round the first object doth it overflow,
  Which, be it fair or foul, is sure to win us        20
Out of ourselves. We clothe with our own nature
  The man or woman its first want doth find.
  The leafless prop with our own buds we bind,
And hide in blossoms; fill the empty feature
With our own meanings; even prize defects        25
  Which keep the mark of our own choice upon
The chosen; bless each fault whose spot protects
  Our choice from possible confusion
With the world’s other creatures; we believe them
  What most we wish, the more we find they are not;        30
  Our choice once made, with our own choice we war not;
We worship them for what ourselves we give them.
Doubt is this otherwise.—When fate removes
  The unworthy one from our reluctant arms,
We die with that lost love to other loves,        35
  And turn to its defects from other charms.
And nobler forms, where moved those forms, may move
  With lingering looks: our cold farewells we wave them.
  We loved our lost loves for the love we gave them,
And not for anything they gave our love.        40
Old things return not as they were in Time.
  Trust nothing to the recompense of Chance,
Which deals with novel forms. This falling rhyme
  Fails from the flowery steeps of old romance
Down that abyss which Memory droops above;        45
  And gazing out of hopelessness down there,
  I see the shadow creep through Youth’s gold hair
And white Death watching over red-lipped Love.

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