George Darley: The Loveliness of Love

IT is not Beauty I demand,
  A crystal brow, the moon’s despair,
Nor the snow’s daughter, a white hand,
  Nor mermaid’s yellow pride of hair:
Tell me not of your starry eyes,        5
  Your lips that seem on roses fed,
Your breasts, where Cupid tumbling lies
  Nor sleeps for kissing of his bed:—
A bloomy pair of vermeil cheeks
  Like Hebe’s in her ruddiest hours,        10
A breath that softer music speaks
  Than summer winds a-wooing flowers,
These are but gauds; nay, what are lips:
  Coral beneath the ocean-stream,
Whose brink when your adventurer slips        15
  Full oft he perisheth on them.
And what are cheeks but ensigns oft
  That wave hot youth to fields of blood?
Did Helen’s breast, though ne’er so soft,
  Do Greece or Ilium any good?        20
Eyes can with baleful ardour burn;
  Poison can breathe, than erst perfumed;
There’s many a white hand holds an urn
  With lovers’ hearts to dust consumed.
For crystal brows there’s nought within;        25
  They are but empty cells for pride;
He who the Syren’s hair would win
  Is mostly strangled in the tide.
Give me, instead of Beauty’s bust,
  A tender heart, a loyal mind        30
Which with temptation I would trust,
  Yet never link’d with error find,—
One in whose gentle bosom I
  Could pour my secret heart of woes,
Like the case-burthen’d honey-fly        35
  That hides his murmurs in the rose—
My earthly Comforter! whose love
  So indefeasible might be
That, when my spirit wonn’d above
  Hers could not stay, for sympathy.        40

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