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About this poet

George Meredith was born in Portsmouth, England, on February 12, 1828. A poet, essayist, and novelist, his collection of fifty sixteen-line poems about the failure of a marriage, Modern Love (1862), is sometimes referred to as a "Meredithian sonnet cycle." Among his many other collections of poetry and prose, he is known for his witty and popular work, The Egoist: A Comedy in Narrative (1879), which was published in three volumes. He died on May 18, 1909, in Box Hill Surrey, England. 

Modern Love: XX

I am not of those miserable males
Who sniff at vice, and, daring not to snap,
Do therefore hope for heaven. I take the hap
Of all my deeds. The wind that fills my sails,
Propels; but I am helmsman. Am I wrecked,
I know the devil has sufficient weight
To bear: I lay it not on him, or fate.
Besides, he’s damned. That man I do suspect
A coward, who would burden the poor deuce
With what ensues from his own slipperiness.
I have just found a wanton-scented tress
In an old desk, dusty for lack of use.
Of days and nights it is demonstrative,
That, like some aged star, gleam luridly.
If for those times I must ask charity,
Have I not any charity to give?

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

George Meredith

George Meredith

George Meredith was born in Portsmouth, England, on February 12, 1828.

by this poet

What soul would bargain for a cure that brings
Contempt the nobler agony to kill?
Rather let me bear on the bitter ill,
And strike this rusty bosom with new stings!
It seems there is another veering fit,
Since on a gold-haired lady’s eyeballs pure.
I must be flattered. The imperious
Desire speaks out. Lady, I am content
To play with you the game of Sentiment,
And with you enter on paths perilous;
But if across your beauty I throw light,
To make it threefold, it must be all mine.
First secret; then avowed. For I must shine
Envied,—I, lessened in my proper
It ended, and the morrow brought the task.
Her eyes were guilty gates, that let him in
By shutting all too zealous for their sin:
Each sucked a secret, and each wore a mask.
But, oh, the bitter taste her beauty had!
Her sickened as at breath of poison-flowers: