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The Well-Beloved

 I wayed by star and planet shine 
 Towards the dear one's home 
At Kingsbere, there to make her mine 
 When the next sun upclomb.
I edged the ancient hill and wood Beside the Ikling Way, Nigh where the Pagan temple stood In the world's earlier day.
And as I quick and quicker walked On gravel and on green, I sang to sky, and tree, or talked Of her I called my queen.
- "O faultless is her dainty form, And luminous her mind; She is the God-created norm Of perfect womankind!" A shape whereon one star-blink gleamed Glode softly by my side, A woman's; and her motion seemed The motion of my bride.
And yet methought she'd drawn erstwhile Adown the ancient leaze, Where once were pile and peristyle For men's idolatries.
- "O maiden lithe and lone, what may Thy name and lineage be, Who so resemblest by this ray My darling?--Art thou she?" The Shape: "Thy bride remains within Her father's grange and grove.
" - "Thou speakest rightly," I broke in, "Thou art not she I love.
" - "Nay: though thy bride remains inside Her father's walls," said she, "The one most dear is with thee here, For thou dost love but me.
" Then I: "But she, my only choice, Is now at Kingsbere Grove?" Again her soft mysterious voice: "I am thy only Love.
" Thus still she vouched, and still I said, "O sprite, that cannot be!" .
It was as if my bosom bled, So much she troubled me.
The sprite resumed: "Thou hast transferred To her dull form awhile My beauty, fame, and deed, and word, My gestures and my smile.
"O fatuous man, this truth infer, Brides are not what they seem; Thou lovest what thou dreamest her; I am thy very dream!" - "O then," I answered miserably, Speaking as scarce I knew, "My loved one, I must wed with thee If what thou say'st be true!" She, proudly, thinning in the gloom: "Though, since troth-plight began, I've ever stood as bride to groom, I wed no mortal man!" Thereat she vanished by the Cross That, entering Kingsbere town, The two long lanes form, near the fosse Below the faneless Down.
- When I arrived and met my bride, Her look was pinched and thin, As if her soul had shrunk and died, And left a waste within.

Poem by Thomas Hardy
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