Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “The Earthly Paradise.” V. Song: to Psyche

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

William Morris 1834–96

From “The Earthly Paradise.” V. Song: to Psyche


O PENSIVE, tender maid, downcast and shy,

Who turnest pale e’en at the name of love,

And with flush’d face must pass the elm-tree by

Asham’d to hear the passionate gray dove

Moan to his mate, thee too the god shall move,

Thee too the maidens shall ungird one day,

And with thy girdle put thy shame away.

What then, and shall white winter ne’er be done

Because the glittering frosty morn is fair?

Because against the early-setting sun

Bright show the gilded boughs though waste and bare?

Because the robin singeth free from care?

Ah! these are memories of a better day

When on earth’s face the lips of summer lay.

Come then, beloved one, for such as thee

Love loveth, and their hearts he knoweth well,

Who hoard their moments of felicity,

As misers hoard the medals that they tell,

Lest on the earth but paupers they should dwell:

“We hide our love to bless another day;

The world is hard, youth passes quick,” they say.

Ah, little ones, but if ye could forget

Amidst your outpour’d love that you must die,

Then ye, my servants, were death’s conquerors yet,

And love to you should be eternity

How quick soever might the days go by:

Yes, ye are made immortal on the day

Ye cease the dusty grains of time to weigh.

Thou hearkenest, love? O, make no semblance then

Thou art beloved, but as thy wont is

Turn thy gray eyes away from eyes of men,

With hands down-dropp’d, that tremble with thy bliss,

With hidden eyes, take thy first lover’s kiss;

Call this eternity which is to-day,

Nor dream that this our love can pass away.