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Short poem

George Meredith (1828-1909)

Modern Love: L

              1Thus piteously Love closed what he begat:
              2The union of this ever-diverse pair!
              3These two were rapid falcons in a snare,
              4Condemned to do the flitting of the bat.
              5Lovers beneath the singing sky of May,
              6They wandered once; clear as the dew on flowers:
              7But they fed not on the advancing hours:
              8Their hearts held cravings for the buried day.
              9Then each applied to each that fatal knife,
            10Deep questioning, which probes to endless dole.
            11Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul
            12When hot for certainties in this our life!--
            13In tragic hints here see what evermore
            14Moves dark as yonder midnight ocean's force,
            15Thundering like ramping hosts of warrior horse,
            16To throw that faint thin line upon the shore!


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