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ROBERT BRIDGES: WOOING

bridgesrobert23

Robert Bridges
(1844 – 1930)

Wooing

I know not how I came,
New on my knightly journey,
To win the fairest dame
That graced my maiden tourney.

Chivalry’s lovely prize
With all men’s gaze upon her,
Why did she free her eyes
On me, to do me honour?

Ah! ne’er had I my mind
With such high hope delighted,
Had she not first inclined,
And with her eyes invited.

But never doubt I knew,
Having their glance to cheer me,
Until the day joy grew
Too great, too sure, too near me.

When hope a fear became,
And passion, grown too tender,
Now trembled at the shame
Of a despised surrender;

And where my love at first
Saw kindness in her smiling,
I read her pride, and cursed
The arts of her beguiling.

Till winning less than won,
And liker wooed than wooing,
Too late I turned undone
Away from my undoing;

And stood beside the door,
Whereto she followed, making
My hard leave-taking more
Hard by her sweet leave-taking.

Her speech would have betrayed
Her thought, had mine been colder:
Her eyes’ distress had made
A lesser lover bolder.

But no! Fond heart, distrust,
Cried Wisdom, and consider:
Go free, since go thou must:–
And so farewell I bid her.

And brisk upon my way
I smote the stroke to sever,
And should have lost that day
My life’s delight for ever:

But when I saw her start
And turn aside and tremble;–
Ah! she was true, her heart
I knew did not dissemble.

Robert Bridges poetry
fleursdumal.nl magazine

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