George Meredith

(12 February 1828 – 18 May 1909 / Portsmouth, England)

Modern Love IX: He Felt the Wild Beast


He felt the wild beast in him betweenwhiles
So masterfully rude, that he would grieve
To see the helpless delicate thing receive
His guardianship through certain dark defiles.
Had he not teeth to rend, and hunger too?
But still he spared her. Once: 'Have you no fear ?'
He said: 'twas dusk; she in his grasp; none near.
She laughed: 'No, surely; am I not with you?'
And uttering that soft starry 'you,' she leaned
Her gentle body near him, looking up;
And from her eyes, as from a poison-cup,
He drank until the flittering eyelids screened.
Devilish malignant witch and oh, young beam
Of heaven's circle-glory! Here thy shape
To squeeze like an intoxicating grape
I might, and yet thou goest safe, supreme.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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