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Short poem

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

The Lady's Yes

              1" Yes !" I answered you last night ;
              2   " No !" this morning, Sir, I say !
              3Colours, seen by candle-light,
              4   Will not look the same by day.

              5When the tabors played their best,
              6   Lamps above, and laughs below --
              7Love me sounded like a jest,
              8   Fit for Yes or fit for No !

              9Call me false, or call me free --
            10   Vow, whatever light may shine,
            11No man on your face shall see
            12   Any grief for change on mine.

            13Yet the sin is on us both --
            14   Time to dance is not to woo --
            15Wooer light makes fickle troth --
            16   Scorn of me recoils on you !

            17Learn to win a lady's faith
            18   Nobly, as the thing is high ;
            19Bravely, as for life and death --
            20   With a loyal gravity.

            21Lead her from the festive boards,
            22   Point her to the starry skies,
            23Guard her, by your truthful words,
            24   Pure from courtship's flatteries.

            25By your truth she shall be true --
            26   Ever true, as wives of yore --
            27And her Yes, once said to you,
            28   SHALL be Yes for evermore.

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: Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Poems. London: Edward Moxon, 1844. PR 4180 E44a ROBA. 19th-cent. STC: 5.1.511. mfe DA 533 N55.
First publication date: 1844
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: Not in printed RP.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/6

Rhyme: abab

Other poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning