The Angel In The House. Book Ii. The Prologue. - Poem by Coventry Patmore
I Her sons pursue the butterflies,
Her baby daughter mocks the doves
With throbbing coo; in his fond eyes
She's Venus with her little Loves;
Her footfall dignifies the earth,
Her form's the native-land of grace,
And, lo, his coming lights with mirth
Its court and capital her face!
Full proud her favour makes her lord,
And that her flatter'd bosom knows.
She takes his arm without a word,
In lanes of laurel and of rose.
Ten years to-day has she been his.
He but begins to understand,
He says, the dignity and bliss
She gave him when she gave her hand.
She, answering, says, he disenchants
The past, though that was perfect; he
Rejoins, the present nothing wants
But briefness to be ecstasy.
He lauds her charms; her beauty's glow
Wins from the spoiler Time new rays;
Bright looks reply, approving so
Beauty's elixir vitæ, praise.
Upon a beech he bids her mark
Where, ten years since, he carved her name;
It grows there with the growing bark,
And in his heart it grows the same.
For that her soft arm presses his
Close to her fond, maternal breast;
He tells her, each new kindness is
The effectual sum of all the rest!
And, whilst the cushat, mocking, coo'd,
They blest the days they had been wed,
At cost of those in which he woo'd,
Till everything was three times said;
And words were growing vain, when Briggs,
Factotum, Footman, Butler, Groom,
Who press'd the cyder, fed the pigs,
Preserv'd the rabbits, drove the brougham,
And help'd, at need, to mow the lawns,
And sweep the paths and thatch the hay,
Here brought the Post down, Mrs. Vaughan's
Sole rival, but, for once, to-day,
Scarce look'd at; for the ‘Second Book,’
Till this tenth festival kept close,
Was thus commenced, while o'er them shook
The laurel married with the rose.
‘The pulse of War, whose bloody heats
‘Sane purposes insanely work,
‘Now with fraternal frenzy beats,
‘And binds the Christian to the Turk,
‘And shrieking fifes’—
But, with a roar,
In rush'd the Loves; the tallest roll'd
A hedgehog from his pinafore,
Which saved his fingers; Baby, bold,
Touch'd it, and stared, and scream'd for life,
And stretch'd her hand for Vaughan to kiss,
Who hugg'd his Pet, and ask'd his wife,
‘Is this for love, or love for this?’
But she turn'd pale, for, lo, the beast,
Found stock-still in the rabbit-trap,
And feigning so to be deceased,
And laid by Frank upon her lap,
Unglobed himself, and show'd his snout,
And fell, scatt'ring the Loves amain,
With shriek, with laughter, and with shout;
And, peace at last restored again,
The Bard, who this untimely hitch
Bore with a calm magnanimous,
(The hedgehog roll'd into a ditch,
And Venus sooth'd), proceeded thus:
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