Sunday Poem: Coventry Patmore – The Married Lover

Coventry Patmore. 1823–1896
  
The Married Lover
  
WHY, having won her, do I woo?  
  Because her spirit’s vestal grace  
Provokes me always to pursue,  
  But, spirit-like, eludes embrace;  
Because her womanhood is such          5
  That, as on court-days subjects kiss  
The Queen’s hand, yet so near a touch  
  Affirms no mean familiarness;  
Nay, rather marks more fair the height  
  Which can with safety so neglect   10
To dread, as lower ladies might,  
  That grace could meet with disrespect;  
Thus she with happy favour feeds  
  Allegiance from a love so high  
That thence no false conceit proceeds   15
  Of difference bridged, or state put by;  
Because although in act and word  
  As lowly as a wife can be,  
Her manners, when they call me lord,  
  Remind me ’tis by courtesy;   20
Not with her least consent of will,  
  Which would my proud affection hurt,  
But by the noble style that still  
  Imputes an unattain’d desert;  
Because her gay and lofty brows,   25
  When all is won which hope can ask,  
Reflect a light of hopeless snows  
  That bright in virgin ether bask;  
Because, though free of the outer court  
  I am, this Temple keeps its shrine   30
Sacred to Heaven; because, in short,  
  She ‘s not and never can be mine.
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