Without Pride or Prejudice
More than twenty times have I turned the pages,
a love poem after Jane Austen
cringed at Mrs Bennett, laughed at Mr Collins,
and fallen in love with Lizzy Bennett,
with her sweet archness and her ready wit.
I have loved (and love) many women -
happily and unhappily, shyly and confidently,
women beautiful, intelligent, elegant, and witty -
but you are the first that ever made me think of Lizzy.
I can not recall the hour, or the look, or the words,
which laid the foundation. A pair of fine eyes
in a pretty face? Certainly, and a pleasing grace,
and a friendly smile for someone a little out of place.
But it is that mixture of sweetness and archness
which set the seal - a lively, playful spirit
and a wicked tongue, matched with an innocence
which disarms, an openness which bars offense.
It is almost enough to make me wish I had
a fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien
and ten thousand (1812 pounds) a year.
But I am not forward, have no fear.
I am content with what you choose to give:
perhaps to throw a smile across the room;
perhaps to share a humorous inspiration -
to accept, I hope, my friendship and affection.
for Rita, April 1996
"I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love", said Darcy.
"Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Every thing nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away."
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice