Two Sonnets


WHAT use are words to tell you of my love ?
It is my trade to make words do my will,
To change my mood and passion like a glove
And feign the utter scope of good and ill.
And if truth speak out clear in every tone
You will applaud and say it is my art;
So have I all men’s voices but my own
And to serve them I leave unserved my heart.
I who am speech for all men’s hopes and fears
Must leave my love unspoken in its need
Until the whim of the disdainful years
Toss me a test to answer with a deed.
And if that golden chance I never know
And die unproved — then Fate will have it so.


OH ! stab me with denial of your love,
But do not torture me in this slow hell
Of thoughts I dare not tell the stars above,
Of fears I dare not hear the night winds tell !
If this be truth, oh ! tell me any lie,
And I will wear my heart upon my sleeve,
Build me an altar where the words may lie
And make it my religion to believe!
But let it not be truth that you should give
Accustomed kisses lest a robber lack,
Nor filch from Love his high prerogative
That Mercy wear false ermine on her back !
Let him be starved — and starve me if you will —
But not for less than love smite love and kill !
Richard Hovey.