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Legends and Lyrics (1863)/A Woman's Answer


I WILL not let you say a Woman's part
   Must be to give exclusive love alone;
Dearest, although I love you so, my heart
   Answers a thousand claims besides your own.

I love—what do I not love? earth and air
   Find space within my heart, and myriad things
You would not deign to heed are cherished there,
   And vibrate on its very inmost strings.

I love the Summer with her ebb and flow
   Of light, and warmth, and music, that have nurst
Her tender buds to blossoms. . .and you know
   It was in summer that I saw you first.

I love the Winter dearly too, . . . .but then
   I owe it so much; on a winter's day,
Bleak, cold, and stormy, you returned again,
   When you had been those weary months away.

I love the Stars like friends; so many nights
   I gazed at them, when you were far from me,
Till I grew blind with tears....those far-off lights
   Could watch you, whom I longed in vain to see.

I love the Flowers; happy hours lie
   Shut up within their petals close and fast:
You have forgotten, dear; but they and I
   Keep every fragment of the golden Past.

I love, too, to be loved; all loving praise
   Seems like a crown upon my Life,—to make
It better worth the giving, and to raise
   Still nearer to your own the heart you take.

I love all good and noble souls;—I heard
   One speak of you but lately, and for days,
Only to think of it, my soul was stirred
   In tender memory of such generous praise.

I love all those who love you; all who owe
   Comfort to you: and I can find regret
Even for those poorer hearts who once could know,
   And once could love you, and can now forget.

Well, is my heart so narrow,—I, who spare
   Love for all these? Do I not even hold
My favorite books in special tender care,
   And prize them as a miser does his gold?

The Poets that you used to read to me
   While summer twilights faded in the sky;
But most of all I think Aurora Leigh,
   Because—because—do you remember why?

Will you be jealous? Did you guess before
   I loved so many things?—Still you the best:—
Dearest, remember that I love you more,
   O more a thousand times, than all the rest!

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.