Author: Owen Meredith


Fairy gold! moss and leaves! and the young Fairy Bride?
Lived there yet fairy-lands in the face at his side?
Say, O friend, if at evening thou ever hast watch’d
Some pale and impalpable vapor, detach’d
From the dim and disconsolate earth, rise and fall
O’er the light of a sweet serene star, until all
The chill’d splendor reluctantly waned in the deep
Of its own native heaven? Even so seem’d to creep
O’er that fair and ethereal face, day by day,
While the radiant vermeil, subsiding away,
Hid its light in the heart, the faint gradual veil
Of a sadness unconscious.
The lady grew pale
As silent her lord grew: and both, as they eyed
Each the other askance, turn’d, and secretly sigh’d.
Ah, wise friend, what avails all experience can give?
True, we know what life is—but, alas! do we live?
The grammar of life we have gotten by heart,
But life’s self we have made a dead language—an art,
Not a voice. Could we speak it, but once, as ’twas spoken
When the silence of passion the first time was broken!
Cuvier knew the world better than Adam, no doubt;
But the last man, at best, was but learned about
What the first, without learning, ENJOYED. What art thou
To the man of to-day, O Leviathan, now?
A science. What wert thou to him that from ocean
First beheld thee appear? A surprise,—an emotion!
When life leaps in the veins, when it beats in the heart,
When it thrills as it fills every animate part,
Where lurks it? how works it? . . . We scarcely detect it.
But life goes: the heart dies: haste, O leech, and dissect it!
This accursed aesthetical, ethical age
Hath so finger’d life’s hornbook, so blurr’d every page,
That the old glad romance, the gay chivalrous story
With its fables of faery, its legends of glory,
Is turn’d to a tedious instruction, not new
To the children that read it insipidly through.
We know too much of Love ere we love. We can trace
Nothing new, unexpected, or strange in his face
When we see it at last. ’Tis the same little Cupid,
With the same dimpled cheek, and the smile almost stupid,
We have seen in our pictures, and stuck on our shelves,
And copied a hundred times over, ourselves,
And wherever we turn, and whatever we do,
Still, that horrible sense of the deja connu!


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Chicago: Owen Meredith, "5," Lucile, ed. Sutherland, Alexander, 1853-1902 and trans. Seaton, R. C. in Lucile (New York: George E. Wood, ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892), Original Sources, accessed March 31, 2023,

MLA: Meredith, Owen. "5." Lucile, edited by Sutherland, Alexander, 1853-1902, and translated by Seaton, R. C., in Lucile, New York, George E. Wood, ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892, Original Sources. 31 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Meredith, O, '5' in Lucile, ed. and trans. . cited in ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892, Lucile, George E. Wood, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 31 March 2023, from