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George Meredith (1828-1909)

Modern Love: XXXIV


              1Madam would speak with me. So, now it comes:
              2The Deluge or else Fire! She's well, she thanks
              3My husbandship. Our chain on silence clanks.
              4Time leers between, above his twiddling thumbs.
              5Am I quite well? Most excellent in health!
              6The journals, too, I diligently peruse.
              7Vesuvius is expected to give news:
              8Niagara is no noisier. By stealth
              9Our eyes dart scrutinizing snakes. She's glad
            10I'm happy, says her quivering under-lip.
            11"And are not you?" "How can I be?" "Take ship!
            12For happiness is somewhere to be had."
            13"Nowhere for me!" Her voice is barely heard.
            14I am not melted, and make no pretence.
            15With commonplace I freeze her, tongue and sense.
            16Niagara or Vesuvius is deferred.

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 3.296.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/30

Rhyme: abbacddceffeghhg


Other poems by George Meredith