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George Meredith (1828-1909)

Modern Love: XVI


              1In our old shipwrecked days there was an hour,
              2When in the firelight steadily aglow,
              3Joined slackly, we beheld the red chasm grow
              4Among the clicking coals. Our library-bower
              5That eve was left to us: and hushed we sat
              6As lovers to whom Time is whispering.
              7From sudden-opened doors we heard them sing:
              8The nodding elders mixed good wine with chat.
              9Well knew we that Life's greatest treasure lay
            10With us, and of it was our talk. "Ah, yes!
            11Love dies!" I said: I never thought it less.
            12She yearned to me that sentence to unsay.
            13Then when the fire domed blackening, I found
            14Her cheek was salt against my kiss, and swift
            15Up the sharp scale of sobs her breast did lift:--
            16Now am I haunted by that taste! that sound!

Notes

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 3.294.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/30

Rhyme: abbacddceffeghhg


Other poems by George Meredith