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George Meredith (1828-1909)

Modern Love: XX


              1I am not of those miserable males
              2Who sniff at vice and, daring not to snap,
              3Do therefore hope for heaven. I take the hap
              4Of all my deeds. The wind that fills my sails
              5Propels; but I am helmsman. Am I wrecked,
              6I know the devil has sufficient weight
              7To bear: I lay it not on him, or fate.
              8Besides, he's damned. That man I do suspect
              9A coward, who would burden the poor deuce
            10With what ensues from his own slipperiness.
            11I have just found a wanton-scented tress
            12In an old desk, dusty for lack of use.
            13Of days and nights it is demonstrative,
            14That, like some aged star, gleam luridly.
            15If for those times I must ask charity,
            16Have I not any charity to give?

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