A Woman's Shortcomings by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
She has laughed as softly as if she sighed, She has counted six, and over, Of a purse well filled, and a heart well tried - Oh, each a worthy lover! They "give her time"; for her soul must slip Where the world has set the grooving; She will lie to none with her fair red lip: But love seeks truer loving.
She trembles her fan in a sweetness dumb, As her thoughts were beyond recalling; With a glance for one, and a glance for some, From her eyelids rising and falling; Speaks common words with a blushful air, Hears bold words, unreproving; But her silence says - what she never will swear - And love seeks better loving.
Go, lady! lean to the night-guitar, And drop a smile to the bringer; Then smile as sweetly, when he is far, At the voice of an in-door singer. Bask tenderly beneath tender eyes; Glance lightly, on their removing; And join new vows to old perjuries - But dare not call it loving!
Unless you can think, when the song is done, No other is soft in the rhythm; Unless you can feel, when left by One, That all men else go with him; Unless you can know, when unpraised by his breath, That your beauty itself wants proving; Unless you can swear "For life, for death!" - Oh, fear to call it loving!
Unless you can muse in a crowd all day On the absent face that fixed you; Unless you can love, as the angels may, With the breadth of heaven betwixt you; Unless you can dream that his faith is fast, Through behoving and unbehoving; Unless you can die when the dream is past - Oh, never call it loving!