Robert Browning: Porphyria's Lover

The rain set early in to-night, 
       The sullen wind was soon awake, 
It tore the elm-tops down for spite, 
       And did its worst to vex the lake: 
       I listened with heart fit to break. 
When glided in Porphyria; straight 
       She shut the cold out and the storm, 
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate 
       Blaze up, and all the cottage warm; 
       Which done, she rose, and from her form 
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl, 
       And laid her soiled gloves by, untied 
Her hat and let the damp hair fall, 
       And, last, she sat down by my side 
       And called me. When no voice replied, 
She put my arm about her waist, 
       And made her smooth white shoulder bare, 
And all her yellow hair displaced, 
       And, stooping, made my cheek lie there, 
       And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair, 
Murmuring how she loved me — she 
       Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour, 
To set its struggling passion free 
       From pride, and vainer ties dissever, 
       And give herself to me for ever. 
But passion sometimes would prevail, 
       Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain 
A sudden thought of one so pale 
       For love of her, and all in vain: 
       So, she was come through wind and rain. 
Be sure I looked up at her eyes 
       Happy and proud; at last I knew 
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise 
       Made my heart swell, and still it grew 
       While I debated what to do. 
That moment she was mine, mine, fair, 
       Perfectly pure and good: I found 
A thing to do, and all her hair 
       In one long yellow string I wound 
       Three times her little throat around, 
And strangled her. No pain felt she; 
       I am quite sure she felt no pain. 
As a shut bud that holds a bee, 
       I warily oped her lids: again 
       Laughed the blue eyes without a stain. 
And I untightened next the tress 
       About her neck; her cheek once more 
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss: 
       I propped her head up as before, 
       Only, this time my shoulder bore 
Her head, which droops upon it still: 
       The smiling rosy little head, 
So glad it has its utmost will, 
       That all it scorned at once is fled, 
       And I, its love, am gained instead! 
Porphyria's love: she guessed not how 
       Her darling one wish would be heard. 
And thus we sit together now, 
       And all night long we have not stirred, 
       And yet God has not said a word! 


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