A Man’s Wooing.

You said, last night, you did not think1
In all the world of men2
Was one true lover—true alike3
In deed and word and pen ;—4
One knightly lover, constant as5
The old knights, who sleep sound :6
Some women, said you, there might be—7
Not one man faithful found :8
Not one man, resolute to win,9
Or, winning, firm to hold10
The woman, not all women—sought11
Herself and not her gold :12
Not one whose noble life and pure13
Had power so to control14
To humble loving loyalty15
Her free, but reverent soul,16
That she beside him gladly moved17
Both sovereign and slave ;18
In faith unfettered, homage dear,19
Each claiming what each gave.20
And then you dropped your eyelids
And stood, a maiden brave,22
Proud, sweet :— unloving and unloved23
Descending to the grave.24
I let you speak, and ne’er replied ;25
I watched you for a space,26
Until that passionate glow, like youth,27
Had faded from your face.28
No anger show’d I—nor complaint :29
My heart’s beats shook no breath,30
Although I knew that I had found31
Her, who brings life or death ;32
The woman, true as life or death ;33
The love, strong as these twain,34
Against which seas of mortal fate35
Beat harmlessly in vain.36
Not one true man :” I hear it still,37
Your voice’s clear cold sound,38
Upholding all your constant swains39
And good knights underground.40
Not one true lover :”——woman, turn ;41
I love you. Words are small ;42
’Tis life speaks plain : In twenty years43
Pethaps you may know all.44
I seek you. You alone I seek :45
All other women, fair46
Or wise, or good, may go their way,47
Without my thought or care.48
But you I follow day by day,49
And night by night I keep50
My heart’s chaste mansion lighted, where51
Your image lies asleep.52
Asleep !  If e’er to wake He knows53
Who Eve to Adam brought,54
As you to me : the embodiment55
Of boyhood’s dear sweet thought,56
And youth’s fond dream and manhood’s
That still half hopeless shone58
Till every rootless vain ideal59
Commingled into one.60
You ; who are so diverse from me,61
Yet seem as much my own62
As this my soul, which formed apart63
Dwells in its bodily throne ;—64
Or rather, for that perishes,65
As these our two lives are66
So strangely, marvellously drawn67
Together from afar ;68
Till week by week and month by month69
We liker seem to grow,70
As two hill streams, flushed with rich
Each into the other flow.72
I swear no oaths, I tell no lies,73
Nor boast I never knew74
A love-dream—we all dream in youth-75
But waking, I found you,76
The real woman, whose first touch77
Aroused to highest life78
My real manhood. Crown it then,79
Good angel, friend, love, wife.80
Imperfect as I am, and you,81
Perchance, not all you seem,82
We two together, garner up83
Our past’s bright, broken dream84
We two together dare to look85
Upon the years to come,86
As travellers, met in far countrie,87
Together look towards home.88
Come home, the old tales were not false,89
Yet the new faith is true ;90
Those saintly souls who made men
Were women such as you.92
For the great love that teaches love93
Deceived not, ne’er deceives :94
And she who most believes in man95
Makes him what she believes.96
Come ! if you come not, I can wait ;97
My faith, like life, is long ;98
My will—not little ; my hope much ;99
The patient are the strong.100
Yet come, ah come !  The years run fast,101
And hearths grow swiftly cold102
Hearts too : but while blood beats in
It holds you and will hold.104
And so before you it lies bare—105
Take it or let it lie,106
It was an honest heart : and yours107
To all eternity.108