We are young Aurora, you and I. I have kept, as others have, The iron rule of womanly reserve In lip and life, till now: I wept a week Before I came here. Full ground-room, in this desert newly made, For Babylon or Balbec,—when the breath, Just choked with sand, returns, for building towns! I think I see my father's sister stand Upon the hall-step of her country-house To give me welcome. I think he had been standing in the room, And listened probably to half her talk, Arrested, turned to stone,—as white as stone. If He once, in the first creation-week, Called creatures good,—for ever afterward, The Devil only has done it, and his heirs.
Then I sate and teased The patient needle til it split the thread, Which oozed off from it in meandering lace From hour to hour. We play at leap-frog over the god Term; The love within us and the love without Are mixed, confounded; if we are loved or love, We scarce distinguish. If you'll grant me now That Romney gives us a fine actor-piece To make us merry on his marriage-morn,— The fable's worse than Hamlet's, I'll concede The terrible people, old and poor and blind, Their eyes eat out with plague and poverty From seeing beautiful and cheerful sights, We'll liken to a brutalized King Lear, Led out,—by no means to clear scores with wrongs— His wrongs are so far back,. Love, to him, was made A simple law-clause. All's yours and you,— All, coloured with your blood, or otherwise Just nothing to you. Did Shakspeare and his mates Absorb the light here? A striking book, yet not a startling book, The public blames originalities.
She wants Aurora to speak to Marian and then to Romney and convince them of their foolishness. While you ask of men Your audience, I may get their leave perhaps For hungry orphans to say audibly 'We're hungry, see,'—for beaten and bullied wives To hold their unweaned babies up in sight, Whom orphanage would better; and for all To speak and claim their portion. My own best poets, am I one with you, That thus I love you,—or but one through love? He limps So certainly, he'll fall into the pit A week hence,—so I lose him—so he is lost! You will come and see the girl In whose most prodigal eyes, the lineal pearl And pride of all your lofty race of Leighs Is destined to solution. We sew, sew, prick our fingers, dull our sight, Producing what? Although I lie here, I'm alive as you, Except my legs and arms,—I eat and drink, And understand,— that you're the gentleman Who fits the funerals up, Heaven speed you, sir, And certainly I should be livelier still If Lucy here. You'll find no cause, in all your scruples, why Your aunt should cavil at a deed of gift 'Twixt her and me. I feel as white and sulky as a ghost, So pray don't speak to me, Lord Belcher.
So, Leigh gives to Leigh— Or rather, might have given, observe! Or else I sat on in my chamber green, And lived my life, and thought my thoughts, and prayed My prayers without the vicar; read my books, Without considering whether they were fit To do me good. I think, myself, the second indicates More passion. She leaves, urging Romney to talk to Aurora. Were those the eyes that watched me, worried me? O my God, my God! Stylistic Analysis The Epic and the Girl We've also got to zoom out a bit. My father was burnt up with gin Or ever I sucked milk, and so is lost. But, after I had read for memory, I read for hope.
If as well, what then? Her father earned his life by random jobs Despised by steadier workmen—keeping swine On commons, picking hops, or hurrying on The harvest at wet seasons,—or, at need, Assisting the Welsh drovers, when a drove Of startled horses plunged into the mist Below the mountain-road, and sowed the wind With wandering neighings. She is surprised when a friend writes to her to congratulate her on her book — the manuscript she sold to get to Italy. In the beginning when God called all good, Even then, was evil near us, it is writ. Aurora, partly out of curiosity and partly concern for Romney, goes to visit Marian and hears her life story: Marian's drunken mother tried to sell her into prostitution, and to escape it she ran away and became ill, eventually being taken into a poor hospital. Henceforth, none Could disapprove me, vex me, hamper me.
Sublime Madonnas, and enduring saints! And I, so young then, was not sullen. Do you now turn round And ask for what a woman cannot give? Let who says 'The soul's a clean white paper,' rather say, A palimpsest, a prophets holograph Defiled, erased and covered by a monk's,— The apocalypse, by a Longus! I have watched you when he came And when he went, and when we've talked of him: I am not old for nothing; I can tell The weather-signs of love—you love this man. Touch and hold' And if you weep still, weep where John was laid While Jesus loved him. For, me, I do believe in love, and God. Young men, ay, and maids, Too often sow their wild oats in tame verse.
But Aurora is pretty sure it's not enough. They wanted our gunpowder for themselves. There's a doubt For cloudy seasons! It is seven years since: I know not if 'twas pity or 'twas scorn Has made them so far-reaching: judge it ye Who have had to do with pity more than love, And scorn than hatred. I learnt my complement of classic French Kept pure of Balzac and neologism, And German also, since she liked a range Of liberal education,—tongues, not books. I tie up 'no' upon His altar-horns Quite out of reach of perjury! At last, because the time was ripe, I chanced upon the poets.
I'm richer than I thought—that's evident. The bride has lost her head And way, perhaps! Here she comes, in a stream of milk! Soon I used to get up early, just to sit And watch the morning quicken in the grey, And hear the silence open like a flower, Leaf after leaf,—and stroke with listless hand The woodbine through the window, till at last I came to do it with a sort of love, At foolish unaware: whereat I smiled,— A melancholy smile, to catch myself Smiling for joy. They will, in heaven—but meantime, on the earth, There's none can like a nettle as a pink, Except himself. Try it,—fix against heaven's wall Your scaling ladders of high logic—mount Step by step! I wrote tales beside, Carved many an article on cherry-stones To suit light readers,—something in the lines Revealing, it was said, the mallet-hand, But that, I'll never vouch for. Thank you: we're getting to the facts at last. I waltzed with you three hours back.
She had lived we'll say, A harmless life, she called a virtuous life, A quiet life, which was not life at all, But that, she had not lived enough to know Between the vicar and the county squires, The lord-lieutenant looking down sometimes From the empyreal, to assure their souls Against chance vulgarisms, and, in the abyss, The apothecary looked on once a year, To prove their soundness of humility. What, Marian, beaten and sold, who could not die! For when I die and leave you, out you go, Unless I make room for you in my grave Unhoused, unfed, my dear, poor brother's lamb, Ah heaven,—that pains! There, with some strange spasm Of pain and passion, she wrung loose my hands Imperiously, and held me at arm's length, And with two grey-steel naked-bladed eyes Searched through my face,—ay, stabbed it through and through, Through brows and cheeks and chin, as if to find A wicked murderer in my innocent face, If not here, there perhaps. And was I so far wrong In hope and in illusion, when I took The woman to be nobler than the man, Yourself the noblest woman,—in the use And comprehension of what love is,—love, That generates the likeness of itself Through all heroic duties? Who's dying, do you think? And I, who fled from her for miles and miles, As if I had caught sight of the fires of hell Through some wild gap, she was my mother, sir It seems I shall be lost too, presently, And so we end, all three of us. Romney is devastated, and searches for Marian for days, but cannot find her. Any way, Though triply netted, need you glare at me? They saw a light at a window now and then, They had not set there. So with all the house. For the heart, Made firewood for his sake, and flaming up To his very face.
It was not so with us, indeed. May God change his world For your sake, sweet, and make it mild as heaven, And juster than I have found you! Many dreams I dreamt again and again, That came true. The beautiful seems right By force of beauty, and the feeble wrong Because of weakness. He had a right to be dogmatical, This poor, good Romney. He was a scholar, and imparted to her knowledge of Greek and Latin and a love of learning. You could as soon weep for the rule of three, Or compound fractions. I'm ready to be frank In answering also, if you'll question me, Or even with something less.