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English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

George Darley

569. The Loveliness of Love

IT is not Beauty I demand,

A crystal brow, the moon’s despair,

Nor the snow’s daughter, a white hand,

Nor mermaid’s yellow pride of hair:

Tell me not of your starry eyes,

Your lips that seem on roses fed,

Your breasts, where Cupid tumbling lies

Nor sleeps for kissing of his bed:—

A bloomy pair of vermeil cheeks

Like Hebe’s in her ruddiest hours,

A breath that softer music speaks

Than summer winds a-wooing flowers,

These are but gauds; nay, what are lips:

Coral beneath the ocean-stream,

Whose brink when your adventurer slips

Full oft he perisheth on them.

And what are cheeks but ensigns oft

That wave hot youth to fields of blood?

Did Helen’s breast, though ne’er so soft,

Do Greece or Ilium any good?

Eyes can with baleful ardour burn;

Poison can breathe, than erst perfumed;

There’s many a white hand holds an urn

With lovers’ hearts to dust consumed.

For crystal brows there’s nought within;

They are but empty cells for pride;

He who the Syren’s hair would win

Is mostly strangled in the tide.

Give me, instead of Beauty’s bust,

A tender heart, a loyal mind

Which with temptation I would trust,

Yet never link’d with error find,—

One in whose gentle bosom I

Could pour my secret heart of woes,

Like the case-burthen’d honey-fly

That hides his murmurs in the rose—

My earthly Comforter! whose love

So indefeasible might be

That, when my spirit wonn’d above

Hers could not stay, for sympathy.