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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: XXXIV

Madam would speak with me. So, now it comes:
The Deluge or else Fire! She’s well; she thanks
My husbandship. Our chain on silence clanks.
Time leers between, above his twiddling thumbs.
Am I quite well? Most excellent in health!
The journals, too, I diligently peruse.
Vesuvius is expected to give news:
Niagara is no noisier. By stealth
Our eyes dart scrutinizing snakes. She’s glad
I’m happy, says her quivering under-lip.
‘And are not you?’ ‘How can I be?’ ‘Take ship!
For happiness is somewhere to be had.’
‘Nowhere for me!’ Her voice is barely heard.
I am not melted, and make no pretence.
With commonplace I freeze her, tongue and sense.
Niagara or Vesuvius is deferred.

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

poem
This golden head has wit in it. I live
Again, and a far higher life, near her.
Some women like a young philosopher;
Perchance because he is diminutive.
For woman’s manly god must not exceed
Proportions of the natural nursing size.
Great poets and great sages draw no prize
With women: but the little lap-dog breed
poem
‘I play for Seasons; not Eternities!’
Says Nature, laughing on her way. ‘So must
All those whose stake is nothing more than dust!’
And lo, she wins, and of her harmonies
She is full sure! Upon her dying rose,
She drops a look of fondness, and goes by,
poem
’Tis Christmas weather, and a country house
Receives us: rooms are full: we can but get
An attic-crib. Such lovers will not fret
At that, it is half-said. The great carouse
Knocks hard upon the midnight’s hollow door,
But when I knock at hers, see the pit.