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Short poem

George Meredith (1828-1909)

Modern Love: II

              1It ended, and the morrow brought the task.
              2Her eyes were guilty gates, that let him in
              3By shutting all too zealous for their sin:
              4Each sucked a secret, and each wore a mask.
              5But, oh, the bitter taste her beauty had!
              6He sickened as at breath of poison-flowers:
              7A languid humour stole among the hours,
              8And if their smiles encountered, he went mad,
              9And raged deep inward, till the light was brown
            10Before his vision, and the world, forgot,
            11Looked wicked as some old dull murder-spot.
            12A star with lurid beams, she seemed to crown
            13The pit of infamy: and then again
            14He fainted on his vengefulness, and strove
            15To ape the magnanimity of love,
            16And smote himself, a shuddering heap of pain.


1] This narrative sequence of fifty sixteen-line "sonnets" probably has its roots in the unhappy history of Meredith's unsuccessful marriage to his first wife, Mary Ellen Nicolls, Peacock's widowed daughter, who had been the inspiration for Love in the Valley. The great novel, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859), tells the same story.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: George Meredith, Modern Love, and Poems of the English Roadside, with poems and ballads (London: Chapman and Hall, 1862). end M474 M63 1862 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1862
RPO poem editor: H. Kerpneck
RP edition: 3RP 3.293.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/30

Rhyme: abbacddceffeghhg

Other poems by George Meredith