Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “Modern Love.” III. The Coin of Pity

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

George Meredith 1828–1909

From “Modern Love.” III. The Coin of Pity


THEY say that Pity in Love’s service dwells,

A porter at the rosy temple’s gate.

I miss’d him going: but it is my fate

To come upon him now beside his wells;

Whereby I know that I Love’s temple leave,

And that the purple doors have clos’d behind.

Poor soul! if in those early days unkind

Thy power to sting had been but power to grieve,

We now might with an equal spirit meet,

And not be match’d like innocence and vice.

She for the Temple’s worship was paid price,

And takes the coin of Pity as a cheat.

She sees thro’ simulation to the bone:

What ’s best in her impels her to the worst.

Never, she cries, shall Pity soothe Love’s thirst,

Or foul hypocrisy for truth atone!