One kiss from all others prevents me,
And sets all my pulses astir,
And burns on my lips and torments me:
'Tis the kiss that I fain would give her.

One kiss for all others requites me,
Although it is never to be,
And sweetens my dreams and invites me:
'Tis the kiss that she dare not give me.

Ah, could it he mine, it were sweeter
Than honey bees garner in dream,
Though its bliss on my lips were fleeter
Than a swallow's dip to the stream.

And yet, thus denied, it can never
In the prose of life vanish away;
O'er my lips it must hover forever,
The sunshine and shade of my day.

by James Russell Lowell

Comments (6)

Beautiful imagery in the poem and rhyme also. It is marvelous and interesting to read as a poem.
Beautiful blending of imagery and metaphor. Nice and haunting..
Description of part of a hunting trip from the point of view of a canoe. A pair of hunters/fishermen, out in a canoe, with rifles, knives and hunting hounds. They beach their canoe, and prepare their deer and fish dinner. A lot of beautiful imagery here, and piquant, I found, especially: 21 Into the hollow hearts of brakes, 22 Yet warm from sides of does and stags, 23 Pass'd to the crisp dark river flags; 24 Sinuous, red as copper snakes, 25 Sharp-headed serpents, made of light, 26 Glided and hid themselves in night. It would appear, however, the poet has more fish to fry (lol) , by her casting out questions concerning the nature of love: 43 'O Love, art thou a silver fish? ...” (I found the inadvertent pun on “silverfish” threw me off for a moment. lol) and 51 'O Love! art thou a silver deer, ”… (this reminded me of ee cummings' later: 'All in Green Went My Love Riding') Few poems are perfect, even by some of the greatest practictioners. Nonetheless, I found this poem both visually and meaningfully evocative, by a poet with a sure sense of diction (notwithstanding my own dislike for “twain”, albeit from the 19th century) , an ear for the music inherent in words, an affinity for powerful end-rhyme, an abundance of metaphoric offerings, and a talent for setting a scene of great texture and ambiance. Much more could be said, if I chose to take the time...
A long poem to read long in thoughtful way!
A lot of suggestion here, but it would take a braver man than I to pursue the meaning in this poem - 'and would it have been worth it, after all? ' - perhaps one should simply enjoy the rhetorical surface and let it go at that.
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