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PATMORE, Coventry

An Evening Scene

The sheep-bell tolleth curfew-time;

The gnats, a busy rout,

Fleck the warm air; the dismal owl

Shouteth a sleepy shout;

The voiceless bat, more felt than seen,

Is flitting round about.

The aspen leaflets scarcely stir:

The river seems to think:

Athwart the dusk, broad primroses

Look coldly from the brink,

Where, list'ning to the freshet's noise,

The quiet cattle drink.

The bees boom past, the white moths rise

Like spirits from the ground;

The gray flies hum their weary tune,

A distant-dream-like sound;

And far, far off to the slumb'rous eve,

Bayeth an old guard-hound.

The Angel in the House:

He meets, by heavenly chance express,

The destined maid; some hidden hand

Unveils to him that loveliness

Which others cannot understand.

His merits in her presence grow,

To match the promise in her eyes,

And round her happy footsteps blow

The authentic airs of Paradise.

For joy of her he cannot sleep;

Her beauty haunts him all the night;

It melts his heart, it makes him weep

For wonder, worship, and delight.

O, paradox of love, he longs,

Most humble when he most aspires,

To suffer scorn and cruel wrongs

From her he honours and desires.

Her graces make him rich, and ask

No guerdon; this imperial style

Affronts him; he disdains to bask,

The pensioner of her priceless smile.

He prays for some hard thing to do,

Some work of fame and labour immense,

To stretch the languid bulk and thew

Of love’s fresh-born magnipotence.

No smallest boon were bought too dear,

Though barter’d for his love-sick life;

Yet trusts he, with undaunted cheer,

To vanquish heaven, and call her Wife.

He notes how queens of sweetness still

Neglect their crowns, and stoop to mate;

How, self-consign’d with lavish will,

They ask but love proportionate;

How swift pursuit by small degrees,

Love’s tactic, works like miracle;

How valour, clothed in courtesies,

Brings down the haughtiest citadel;

And therefore, though he merits not

To kiss the braid upon her skirt,

His hope, discouraged ne’er a jot,

Out-soars all possible desert.