[This Victorian Web version of The Angel in the House is based on the Project Gutenberg e-text, which was produced by David Price (e-mail ccx074@coventry.ac.uk), from the 1891 Cassell & Company edition. GPL created the html, added links, and made corrections in the text after comparing it with other editions.]

                                                

Preludes

                                                

I. Love's Perversity.

How strange a thing a lover seems
     To animals that do not love!
Lo, where he walks and talks in dreams,
     And flouts us with his Lady's glove;
How foreign is the garb he wears;
     And how his great devotion mocks
Our poor propriety, and scares
     The undevout with paradox!
His soul, through scorn of worldly care,
     And great extremes of sweet and gall,
And musing much on all that's fair,
     Grows witty and fantastical;
He sobs his joy and sings his grief,
     And evermore finds such delight
In simply picturing his relief,
     That 'plaining seems to cure his plight;
He makes his sorrow, when there's none;
     His fancy blows both cold and hot;
Next to the wish that she'll be won,
     His first hope is that she may not;
He sues, yet deprecates consent;
     Would she be captured she must fly;
She looks too happy and content,
     For whose least pleasure he would die;
Oh, cruelty, she cannot care
     For one to whom she's always kind!
He says he's nought, but, oh, despair,
     If he's not Jove to her fond mind!
He's jealous if she pets a dove,
     She must be his with all her soul;
Yet 'tis a postulate in love
     That part is greater than the whole;
And all his apprehension's stress,
     When he's with her, regards her hair,
Her hand, a ribbon of her dress,
     As if his life were only there;
Because she's constant, he will change,
     And kindest glances coldly meet,
And, all the time he seems so strange,
     His soul is fawning at her feet;
Of smiles and simple heaven grown tired,
     He wickedly provokes her tears,
And when she weeps, as he desired,
     Falls slain with ecstasies of fears;
He blames her, though she has no fault,
     Except the folly to be his;
He worships her, the more to exalt
     The profanation of a kiss;
Health's his disease, he's never well
     But when his paleness shames her rose;
His faith's a rock-built citadel,
     Its sign a flag that each way blows;
His o'erfed fancy frets and fumes;
     And Love, in him, is fierce, like Hate,
And ruffles his ambrosial plumes
     Against the bars of time and fate.

                                                

II. The Power of Love.

Samson the Mighty, Solomon
     The Wise, and Holy David all
Must doff their crowns to Love, for none
     But fell as Love would scorn to fall!
And what may fallen spirits win,
     When stripes and precepts cannot move?
Only the sadness of all sin,
     When look'd at in the light of Love.

                                                

The Love-Letters.

                              1

'You ask, Will admiration halt,
     Should spots appear within my Sun?
Oh, how I wish I knew your fault,
     For Love's tired gaze to rest upon!
Your graces, which have made me great,
     Will I so loftily admire,
Yourself yourself shall emulate,
     And be yourself your own desire.
I'll nobly mirror you too fair,
     And, when you're false to me your glass,
What's wanting you'll by that repair,
     So bring yourself through me to pass.
O dearest, tell me how to prove
     Goodwill which cannot be express'd;
The beneficial heart of love
     Is labour in an idle breast.
Name in the world your chosen part,
     And here I vow, with all the bent
And application of my heart
     To give myself to your content.
Would you live on, home-worshipp'd, thus,
     Not proudly high nor poorly low?
Indeed the lines are fall'n to us
     In pleasant places! Be it so.
But would you others heav'nward move,
     By sight not faith, while you they admire?
I'll help with zeal as I approve
     That just and merciful desire.
High as the lonely moon to view
     I'll lift your light; do you decree
Your place, I'll win it; for from you
     Command inspires capacity.
Or, unseen, would you sway the world
     More surely? Then in gracious rhyme
I'll raise your emblem, fair unfurl'd
     With blessing in the breeze of time.
Faith removes mountains, much more love;
     Let your contempt abolish me
If ought of your devisal prove
     Too hard or high to do or be.'

                              2

I ended. 'From your Sweet-Heart, Sir,'
     Said Nurse, 'The Dean's man brings it down.'
I could have kiss'd both him and her!
     'Nurse, give him that, with half-a-crown.'
How beat my heart, how paused my breath,
     When, with perversely fond delay,
I broke the seal, that bore a wreath
     Of roses link'd with one of bay.

                              3

'I found your note. How very kind
     To leave it there! I cannot tell
How pleased I was, or how you find
     Words to express your thoughts so well.
The Girls are going to the Ball
     At Wilton. If you can, DO come;
And any day this week you call
     Papa and I shall be at home.
You said to Mary once--I hope
     In jest--that women SHOULD be vain:
On Saturday your friend (her Pope),      The Bishop dined with us again.
She put the question, if they ought?
     He turn'd it cleverly away
(For giddy Mildred cried, she thought
     We MUST), with "What we must we may."
'Dear papa laugh'd, and said 'twas sad
     To think how vain his girls would be,
Above all Mary, now she had
     Episcopal authority.
But I was very dull, dear friend,
     And went upstairs at last, and cried.
Be sure to come to-day, or send
     A rose-leaf kiss'd on either side.
Adieu! I am not well. Last night
     My dreams were wild: I often woke,
The summer-lightning was so bright;
     And when it flash'd I thought you spoke.'


Victorian Overview Coventry Patmore Next section

Last updated 8 August 2004