Poem of the day

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
⁠         And feed his sacred flame.

Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o’er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay,
⁠         Beside the ruin’d tower.

The Moonshine, stealing o’er the scene,
Had blended with the lights of eve;
And she was there, my hope, my joy.
⁠         My own dear Genevieve!

She leant against the armed man.
The statue of the armed knight;
She stood and listen’d to my lay,
⁠         Amid the lingering light.

Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope! my joy! my Genevieve!
She loves me best, whene’er I sing
⁠         The songs that make her grieve.

I play’d a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story—
An old rude song, that suited well
⁠         That ruin wild and hoary.

She listen’d with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew, I could not chuse
⁠         But gaze upon her face.

I told her of the Knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand;
And that for ten long years he woo’d
⁠         The Lady of the Land.

I told her how he pined; and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another’s love,
⁠         Interpreted my own.

She listen’d with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes, and modest grace;
And she forgave me, that 1 gazed
⁠         Too fondly on her face!

But when I told the cruel scorn
That craz’d that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he cross’d the mountain-woods,
⁠         Nor rested day nor night;

That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
⁠         In green and sunny glade,

There came and look’d him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;
And that he knew it was a Fiend,
⁠         This miserable Knight!

And that unknowing what he did,
He leap’d amid a murderous band,
And sav’d from outrage worse than death
⁠         The Lady of the Land!

And how she wept, and claspt his knees;
And how she tended him in vain —
And ever strove to expiate
⁠         The scorn that crazed his brain.

And that she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest-leaves
⁠         A dying man he lay.

His dying words—but when I reach’d
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faultering voice and pausing harp
⁠         Disturb’d her soul with pity!

All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrill’d my guileless Genevieve;
The music, and the doleful tale,
⁠         The rich and balmy eve;

And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
⁠         Subdued and cherish’d long!

She wept with pity and delight,
She blush’d with love, and virgin-shame;
And like the murmur of a dream,
⁠         I heard her breathe my name.

Her bosom heav’d—she stept aside,
As conscious of my look she stept—
Then suddenly, with timorous eye
⁠         She fled to me and wept.

She half enclosed me with her arms,
She press’d me with a meek embrace;
And bending back her head, look’d up,
⁠         And gazed upon my face.

’Twas partly Love, and partly Fear,
And partly ’twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel, than see,
⁠         The swelling of her heart.

I calm’d her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin-pride.
And so I won my Genevieve,
⁠         My bright and beauteous Bride.

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