George Meredith

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

Modern Love XXII: What May the Woman


What may the woman labour to confess?
There is about her mouth a nervous twitch.
'Tis something to be told, or hidden:--which?
I get a glimpse of hell in this mild guess.
She has desires of touch, as if to feel
That all the household things are things she knew.
She stops before the glass. What sight in view?
A face that seems the latest to reveal!
For she turns from it hastily, and tossed
Irresolute, steals shadow-like to where
I stand; and wavering pale before me there,
Her tears fall still as oak-leaves after frost.
She will not speak. I will not ask. We are
League-sundered by the silent gulf between.
Yon burly lovers on the village green,
Yours is a lower, and a happier star!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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