Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LOVE-LETTER, by HENRY AUSTIN DOBSON



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THE LOVE-LETTER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: If this should fail, why, then I scarcely know
Last Line: In forma pauperis. We are but mortal!
Alternate Author Name(s): Dobson, Austin


'J'ai vu les moeurs de mon tems, et j'ai publie cette lettre.'
-- LA NOUVELLE HELOISE.

IF this should fail, why then I scarcely know
What could succeed. Here's brilliancy (and banter),
Byron ad lib., a chapter of Rousseau; --
If this should fail, then tempora mutantur;
Style's out of date, and love, as a profession,
Acquires no aid from beauty of expression.

'The men who think as I, I fear, are few,'
(Cynics would say 'twere well if they were fewer);
'I am not what I seem,' -- (indeed, 'tis true;
Though, as a sentiment, it might be newer);
'Mine is a soul whose deeper feelings lie
More deep than words' -- (as these exemplify).

'I will not say when first your beauty's sun
Illumed my life,' -- (it needs imagination);
'For me to see you and to love were one,' --
(This will account for some precipitation);
'Let it suffice that worship more devoted
Ne'er throbbed', et cetera. The rest is quoted.

'If Love can look with all-prophetic eye,' --
(Ah, if he could, how many would be single!)
'If truly spirit unto spirit cry,' --
(The ears of some most terribly must tingle!)
'Then I have dreamed you will not turn your face.'
This next, I think, is more than commonplace.

'Why should we speak, if Love, interpreting,
Forestall the speech with favour found before?
Why should we plead? -- it were an idle thing,
If Love himself be Love's ambassador!'
Blot, as I live! Shall we erase it? No; --
'Twill show we write currente calamo.

'My fate, -- my fortune, I commit to you,' --
(In point of fact, the latter's not extensive);
'Without you I am poor indeed,' -- (strike through,
'Tis true but crude -- 'twould make her apprehensive);
'My life is yours -- I lay it at your feet,'
(Having no choice but Hymen or the Fleet).

'Give me the right to stand within the shrine,
Where never yet my faltering feet intruded;
Give me the right to call you wholly mine,' --
(That is, Consols and Three-per-Cents included);
'To guard your rest from every care that cankers, --
To keep your life,' -- (and balance at your banker's).

'Compel me not to long for your reply;
Suspense makes havoc with the mind -- (and muscles);
'Winged Hope takes flight,' -- (which means that I must fly,
Default of funds, to Paris or to Brussels);
'I cannot wait! My own, my queen -- PRISCILLA!
Write by return.' And now for a Manilla!

'Miss Blank,' at 'Blank.' Jemima, let it go;
And I, meanwhile, will idle with 'Sir Walter';
Stay, let me keep the first rough copy, though --
'Twill serve again. There's but the name to alter;
And Love, -- that starves, -- must knock at every portal,
In forma pauperis. We are but mortal!





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