Alfred Austin

(30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913 / Headingley)

A Rare Guest - Poem by Alfred Austin

Love, that all men think they know,
Is a rare guest here below;
But with mortals when it stays,
These are its unerring ways.

I
Love builds secret, half afraid,
In the covert, in the shade,
Fostering, where none know it is,
Solitary gladnesses.
Pry not on its brooding breast,
Lest it should desert its nest.
Then, all seen, you naught can save;
'Twas a cradle;-'tis a grave.

II
Love loves tumult closed with rest,
Spreads its wings and bares its breast
To the unrelenting strain
Of the passionate hurricane.
Though its plumes are frayed like foam,
On it presses still for home,
Upward, slowly-onward, fast-
Till, when it descries at last
Tall tops swaying to and fro,
Down it drops to nest below.
Then the wind that rocks the tree
Is to it a lullaby.

III
Fancy talks itself away,
Love hath ever naught to say,
Save again the hushed caress,
And the sweet long silences,
Glistening gaze of trustful eyes,
Where none questions, none replies
Like, enraptured with its lot,
Star that shines but speaketh not.

IV
Men wax rich by thrifty living;
Love is opulent from giving,
Keeps its store from growing less
By unceasing lavishness;
Richest when it squanders all,
Never ruined prodigal.

V
Lastly, Love, if it could choose,
Would not, as gross worldlings use,
Summon smiles and state to be
Sponsors to felicity.
These it fain would keep apart
From the nuptials of the heart,
Or, if they perforce attend,
Find them rather foe than friend.
For, without the world's disfavour,
Sweet love loses half its savour.

Love, that all men think they know,
Is a rare guest here below;
But with mortals when it stays,
These are its unerring ways.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 8, 2010



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