The Nobler Lover

A poem by James Russell Lowell

If he be a nobler lover, take him!
You in you I seek, and not myself;
Love with men's what women choose to make him,
Seraph strong to soar, or fawn-eyed elf:
All I am or can, your beauty gave it,
Lifting me a moment nigh to you,
And my bit of heaven, I fain would save it--
Mine I thought it was, I never knew.

What you take of me is yours to serve you,
All I give, you gave to me before;
Let him win you! If I but deserve you,
I keep all you grant to him and more:
You shall make me dare what others dare not,
You shall keep my nature pure as snow,
And a light from you that others share not
Shall transfigure me where'er I go.

Let me be your thrall! However lowly
Be the bondsman's service I can do,
Loyalty shall make it high and holy;
Naught can be unworthy, done for you.
Men shall say, 'A lover of this fashion
Such an icy mistress well beseems.'
Women say, 'Could we deserve such passion,
We might be the marvel that he dreams.'

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