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Short poem

George Meredith (1828-1909)

Modern Love: XXVI

              1Love ere he bleeds, an eagle in high skies,
              2Has earth beneath his wings: from reddened eve
              3He views the rosy dawn. In vain they weave
              4The fatal web below while far he flies.
              5But when the arrow strikes him, there's a change.
              6He moves but in the track of his spent pain,
              7Whose red drops are the links of a harsh chain,
              8Binding him to the ground, with narrow range.
              9A subtle serpent then has Love become.
            10I had the eagle in my bosom erst:
            11Henceforward with the serpent I am cursed.
            12I can interpret where the mouth is dumb.
            13Speak, and I see the side-lie of a truth.
            14Perchance my heart may pardon you this deed:
            15But be no coward:--you that made Love bleed,
            16You must bear all the venom of his tooth!


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 3.295.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/30

Rhyme: abbacddceffeghhg

Other poems by George Meredith