To one more fair in form and face Sweeter and stronger, Who filled the throne with truer grace, And filled it longer.
So, love by love, they came and passed, These loves of mine, And each one brighter than the last Their lights did shine.
Until--but am I not too free, Most courteous stranger, With secrets which belong to me? There is a danger.
Until, I say, the perfect love, The last, the best, Like flame descending from above, Kindled my breast,
Kindled my breast like ardent flame, With quenchless glow. I knew not love until it came, But now I know.
You smile. The twenty loves before Were each in turn, You say, the final flame that o'er My soul should burn.
Smile on, my friend. I will not say You have no reason; But if the love I feel to-day Depart, `tis treason!
If this depart, not once again Will I on paper Declare the loves that waste and wane, Like some poor taper.