A Woman’s Shortcomings by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
She has laughed as softly as if she sighed,
She has counted six, and over,
Of a purse well filled, and a heart well tried,
Oh, each a worthy lover!
They “give her time”; for her soul must slip
Where the world has set the grooving;
She will lie to none with her fair red lip:
But love seeks truer loving.
She trembles her fan in a sweetness dumb, As her thoughts were beyond recalling; With a glance for one, and a glance for some, From her eyelids rising and falling; Speaks common words with a blushful air, Hears bold words, unreproving; But her silence says, what she never will swear, And love seeks better loving. Go, lady! lean to the night-guitar, And drop a smile to the bringer; Then smile as sweetly, when he is far, At the voice of an in-door singer. Bask tenderly beneath tender eyes; Glance lightly, on their removing; And join new vows to old perjuries, But dare not call it loving! Unless you can think, when the song is done, No other is soft in the rhythm; Unless you can feel, when left by One, That all men else go with him; Unless you can know, when unpraised by his breath, That your beauty itself wants proving; Unless you can swear "For life, for death!" Oh, fear to call it loving! Unless you can muse in a crowd all day On the absent face that fixed you; Unless you can love, as the angels may, With the breadth of heaven betwixt you; Unless you can dream that his faith is fast, Through behoving and unbehoving; Unless you can die when the dream is past, Oh, never call it loving!