Love

Original Text: 
William Wordsworth and S. T. Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads, with other poems, 2nd edn. (London: Longman and Rees, 1800). 2 vols. No./5 VICT Rare Books.
2Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
3All are but ministers of Love,
4      And feed his sacred flame.
5Oft in my waking dreams do I
6Live o'er again that happy hour,
7When midway on the mount I lay,
8      Beside the ruined tower.
9The moonshine, stealing o'er the scene
10Had blended with the lights of eve;
11And she was there, my hope, my joy,
12      My own dear Genevieve!
13She leant against the armèd man,
14The statue of the armèd knight;
15She stood and listened to my lay,
16      Amid the lingering light.
17Few sorrows hath she of her own,
18My hope! my joy! my Genevieve!
19She loves me best, whene'er I sing
20      The songs that make her grieve.
21I played a soft and doleful air,
22I sang an old and moving story--
23An old rude song, that suited well
24      That ruin wild and hoary.
25She listened with a flitting blush,
26With downcast eyes and modest grace;
27For well she knew, I could not choose
28      But gaze upon her face.
29I told her of the Knight that wore
30Upon his shield a burning brand;
31And that for ten long years he wooed
32      The Lady of the Land.
33I told her how he pined: and ah!
34The deep, the low, the pleading tone
35With which I sang another's love,
36      Interpreted my own.
37She listened with a flitting blush,
38With downcast eyes, and modest grace;
39And she forgave me, that I gazed
40      Too fondly on her face!
41But when I told the cruel scorn
42That crazed that bold and lovely Knight,
43And that he crossed the mountain-woods,
44      Nor rested day nor night;
45That sometimes from the savage den,
46And sometimes from the darksome shade,
47And sometimes starting up at once
48      In green and sunny glade,--
49There came and looked him in the face
50An angel beautiful and bright;
51And that he knew it was a Fiend,
52      This miserable Knight!
53And that unknowing what he did,
54He leaped amid a murderous band,
55And saved from outrage worse than death
56      The Lady of the Land!
57And how she wept, and clasped his knees;
58And how she tended him in vain--
59And ever strove to expiate
60      The scorn that crazed his brain;--
61And that she nursed him in a cave;
62And how his madness went away,
63When on the yellow forest-leaves
64      A dying man he lay;--
65His dying words--but when I reached
66That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
67My faltering voice and pausing harp
68      Disturbed her soul with pity!
69All impulses of soul and sense
70Had thrilled my guileless Genevieve;
71The music and the doleful tale,
72      The rich and balmy eve;
73And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
74An undistinguishable throng,
75And gentle wishes long subdued,
76      Subdued and cherished long!
77She wept with pity and delight,
78She blushed with love, and virgin-shame;
79And like the murmur of a dream,
80      I heard her breathe my name.
81Her bosom heaved--she stepped aside,
82As conscious of my look she stepped--
83Then suddenly, with timorous eye
84      She fled to me and wept.
85She half enclosed me with her arms,
86She pressed me with a meek embrace;
87And bending back her head, looked up,
88      And gazed upon my face.
89'Twas partly love, and partly fear,
90And partly 'twas a bashful art,
91That I might rather feel, than see,
92      The swelling of her heart.
93I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
94And told her love with virgin pride;
95And so I won my Genevieve,
96      My bright and beauteous Bride.

Notes

1] First printed in the Morning Post, December 21, 1799, as the Introduction to the Tale of the Dark Ladie, published with revisions under the title Love in the second edition of Lyrical Ballads, 1800. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1799
RPO poem Editors: 
Kathleen Coburn; R. S. Woof
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.462.
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