Oh, Beauty, passing beauty! sweetest Sweet! How canst thou let me waste my youth in sighs? I only ask to sit beside thy feet. Thou knowest I dare not look into thine eyes, Might I but kiss thy hand! I dare not fold My arms about thee--scarcely dare to speak. And nothing seems to me so wild and bold, As with one kiss to touch thy blessed cheek. Methinks if I should kiss thee, no control Within the thrilling brain could keep afloat The subtle spirit. Even while I spoke, The bare word KISS hath made my inner soul To tremble like a lutestring, ere the note Hath melted in the silence that it broke.
Reprinted in 1872 among 'Early Sonnets' with two alterations, "If I were loved" for "But were I loved," and "tho'" for "though".
But were I loved, as I desire to be, What is there in the great sphere of the earth, And range of evil between death and birth, That I should fear--if I were loved by thee? All the inner, all the outer world of pain Clear Love would pierce and cleave, if thou wert mine, As I have heard that, somewhere in the main, Fresh water-springs come up through bitter brine. 'Twere joy, not fear, clasped hand in hand with thee, To wait for death--mute--careless of all ills, Apart upon a mountain, though the surge Of some new deluge from a thousand hills Flung leagues of roaring foam into the gorge Below us, as far on as eye could see.
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