Canto II from The Angel in the House by Coventry Patmore

When I behold the skies aloft
   Passing the pageantry of dreams,
The cloud whose bosom, cygnet-soft,
   A couch for nuptial Juno seems,
The ocean broad, the mountains bright,
   The shadowy vales with feeding herds,
I from my lyre the music smite,
   Nor want for justly matching words.
All forces of the sea and air,
   All interests of hill and plain,
I so can sing, in seasons fair,
   That who hath felt may feel again.
Elated oft by such free songs,
   I think with utterance free to raise
That hymn for which the whole world longs,
   A worthy hymn in woman’s praise;
A hymn bright-noted like a bird’s,
   Arousing these song-sleepy times
With rhapsodies of perfect words,
   Ruled by returning kiss of rhymes.
But when I look on her and hope
   To tell with joy what I admire,
My thoughts lie cramp’d in narrow scope,
   Or in the feeble birth expire;
No mystery of well-woven speech,
   No simplest phrase of tenderest fall,
No liken’d excellence can reach
   Her, thee most excellent of all,
The best half of creation’s best,
   Its heart to feel, its eye to see,
The crown and complex of the rest,
   Its aim and its epitome.
Nay, might I utter my conceit,
   ’Twere after all a vulgar song,
For she’s so simply, subtly sweet,
   My deepest rapture does her wrong.
Yet is it now my chosen task
   To sing her worth as Maid and Wife;
Nor happier post than this I ask,
   To live her laureate all my life.
On wings of love uplifted free,
   And by her gentleness made great,
I’ll teach how noble man should be
   To match with such a lovely mate;
CAnd then in her may move the more
   The woman’s wish to be desired,
(By praise increased), till both shall soar,
   With blissful emulations fired.
And, as geranium, pink, or rose
   Is thrice itself through power of art,
So may my happy skill disclose
   New fairness even in her fair heart;
Until that churl shall nowhere be
   Who bends not, awed, before the throne
Of her affecting majesty,
   So meek, so far unlike our own;
Until (for who may hope too much
   From her who wields the powers of love?)
Our lifted lives at last shall touch
   That happy goal to which they move;
Until we find, as darkness rolls
   Away, and evil mists dissolve,
That nuptial contrasts are the poles
   On which the heavenly spheres revolve.

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