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

Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st earl of Lytton 1831–91

The Chess-Board


MY little love, do you remember,

Ere we were grown so sadly wise,

Those evenings in the bleak December,

Curtain’d warm from the snowy weather,

When you and I play’d chess together,

Checkmated by each other’s eyes?

Ah, still I see your soft white hand

Hovering warm o’er Queen and Knight!

Brave Pawns in valiant battle stand;

The double Castles guard the wings;

The Bishop, bent on distant things,

Moves, sidling through the fight.

Our fingers touch; our glances meet,

And falter; falls your golden hair

Against my cheek; your bosom sweet

Is heaving. Don the field, your Queen

Rides slow her soldiery all between,

And checks me unaware.

Ah me! the little battle’s done,

Dispers’d is all its chivalry;

Full many a move, since then, have we

’Mid Life’s perplexing checkers made,

And many a game with Fortune play’d,—

What is it we have won?

This, this at least—if this alone;—

That never, never, never more,

As in those old still nights of yore

(Ere we were grown so sadly wise),

Can you and I shut out the skies,

Shut out the world, and wintry weather,

And, eyes exchanging warmth with eyes,

Play chess, as then we play’d, together!