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Ernest De Selincourt (ed.), The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. 2: Poems Founded on the Affections; Poems on the Naming of Places; Poems of the Fancy; Poems of the Imagination (Second Edition)

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Editor’s Notepg 96Editor’s NoteXXXIVTHE ARMENIAN LADY'S LOVE

[Composed 1830.—Published 1835.]

[The subject of the following poem is from the Orlandus of the author's friend, Kenelm Henry Digby: and the liberty is taken of inscribing it to him as an acknowledgment, however unworthy, of pleasure and instruction derived from his numerous and valuable writings, illustrative of the piety and chivalry of the olden time.]


  • 1You have heard "a Spanish Lady
  • 2  How she wooed an English man;"1
  • 3Hear now of a fair Armenian,
  • 4    Daughter of the proud Soldàn;
  • 5How she loved a Christian Slave, and told her pain
  • 6By word, look, deed, with hope that he might love again.


  • 7  "Pluck that rose, it moves my liking,"
  • 8   Said she, lifting up her veil;
  • 9  "Pluck it for me, gentle gardener,
  • 10 Ere it wither and grow pale."
  • 11"Princess fair, I till the ground, but may not take
  • Critical Apparatus12From twig or bed an humbler flower, even for your sake!"


  • 13 "Grieved am I, submissive Christian!
  • 14  To behold thy captive state;
  • 15Women, in your land, may pity
  • 16   (May they not?) the unfortunate."
  • 17"Yes, kind Lady! otherwise man could not bear
  • 18Life, which to every one that breathes is full of care."


  • 19"Worse than idle is compassion
  • 20 If it ends in tears and sighs;
  • 21Thee from bondage would I rescue
  • 22  And from vile indignities;
  • 23Nurtured, as thy mien bespeaks, in high degree,
  • 24Look up—and help a hand that longs to set thee free."

pg 97v

  • 25  "Lady! dread the wish, nor venture
  • 26  In such peril to engage;
  • 27  Think how it would stir against you
  • 28   Your most loving father's rage:
  • 29Sad deliverance would it be, and yoked with shame,
  • 30Should troubles overflow on her from whom it came."


  • 31 "Generous Frank! the just in effort
  • 32  Are of inward peace secure:
  • 33Hardships for the brave encountered
  • Critical Apparatus34  Even the feeblest may endure:
  • Critical Apparatus35If almighty grace through me thy chains unbind,
  • 36My father for slave's work may seek a slave in mind."


  • 37 "Princess, at this burst of goodness,
  • 38  My long-frozen heart grows warm!"
  • Critical Apparatus39 "Yet you make all courage fruitless,
  • 40 Me to save from chance of harm:
  • 41Leading such companion I that gilded dome,
  • Critical Apparatus42Yon minarets, would gladly leave for his worst home."


  • 43 "Feeling tunes your voice, fair Princess!
  • 44  And your brow is free from scorn,
  • 45 Else these words would come like mockery,
  • 46  Sharper than the pointed thorn."
  • 47 "Whence the undeserved mistrust? Too wide apart
  • Critical Apparatus48Our faith hath been,—O would that eyes could see the heart!"

pg 98ix

  • 49  "Tempt me not, I pray; my doom is
  • 50   These base implements to wield;
  • 51 Rusty lance, I ne'er shall grasp thee,
  • 52   Ne'er assoil my cobwebb'd shield!
  • 53Never see my native land, nor castle towers,
  • 54Nor Her who thinking of me there counts widowed hours."


  • 55  "Prisoner! pardon youthful fancies,
  • 56   Wedded? If you can, say no!
  • 57 Blessed is and be your consort;
  • 58    Hopes I cherished—let them go!
  • 59Handmaid's privilege would leave my purpose free,
  • 60Without another link to my felicity."


  • 61 "Wedded love with loyal Christians,
  • 62  Lady, is a mystery rare;
  • 63Body, heart, and soul in union,
  • 64  Make one being of a pair."
  • 65"Humble love in me would look for no return,
  • 66Soft as a guiding star that cheers, but cannot burn."


  • 67 "Gracious Allah! by such title
  • 68  Do I dare to thank the God,
  • 69Him who thus exalts thy spirit,
  • 70   Flower of an unchristian sod!
  • 71Or hast thou put off wings which thou in heaven dost wear!
  • 72What have I seen, and heard, or dreamt? where am I? where?"


  • 73Here broke off the dangerous converse:
  • 74  Less impassioned words might tell
  • 75How the pair escaped together,
  • 76  Tears not wanting, nor a knell
  • Critical Apparatus77Of sorrow in her heart while through her father's door,
  • 78And from her narrow world, she passed for evermore.

pg 99xiv

  • Critical Apparatus79  But affections higher, holier,
  • 80    Urged her steps; she shrunk from trust
  • Critical Apparatus81  In a sensual creed that trampled
  • 82    Woman's birthright into dust.
  • 83Little be the wonder then, the blame be none,
  • 84If she, a timid Maid, hath put such boldness on.


  • 85  Judge both Fugitives with knowledge:
  • Critical Apparatus86    In those old romantic days
  • 87  Mighty were the soul's commandments
  • Critical Apparatus88    To support, restrain, or raise.
  • Critical Apparatus89Foes might hang upon their path, snakes rustle near,
  • 90But nothing from their inward selves had they to fear.


  • 91  Thought infirm ne'er came between them,
  • 92    Whether printing desert sands
  • 93  With accordant steps, or gathering
  • Critical Apparatus94    Forest-fruit with social hands;
  • 95Or whispering like two reeds that in the cold moonbeam
  • 96Bend with the breeze their heads, beside a crystal stream.


  • Critical Apparatus97  On a friendly deck reposing
  • 98    They at length for Venice steer;
  • 99  There, when they had closed their voyage,
  • 100    One, who daily on the pier
  • 101Watched for tidings from the East, beheld his Lord,
  • 102Fell down and clasped his knees for joy, not uttering word.

pg 100xviii

  • 103  Mutual was the sudden transport;
  • 104    Breathless questions followed fast,
  • 105  Years contracting to a moment,
  • 106    Each word greedier than the last;
  • 107"Hie thee to the Countess, friend! return with speed,
  • 108And of this Stranger speak by whom her lord was freed.


  • 109  "Say that I, who might have languished,
  • 110    Drooped and pined till life was spent,
  • 111  Now before the gates of Stolberg
  • 112    My Deliverer would present
  • 113For a crowning recompense, the precious grace
  • 114Of her who in my heart still holds her ancient place.


  • 115  "Make it known that my Companion
  • 116    Is of royal eastern blood,
  • 117  Thirsting after all perfection,
  • 118    Innocent, and meek, and good,
  • 119Though with misbelievers bred; but that dark night
  • 120Will holy Church disperse by beams of gospel-light."


  • 121  Swiftly went that grey-haired Servant,
  • 122    Soon returned a trusty Page
  • 123  Charged with greetings, benedictions,
  • 124    Thanks and praises, each a gage
  • 125For a sunny thought to cheer the Stranger's way,
  • 126Her virtuous scruples to remove, her fears allay.


  • Critical Apparatus127  And how blest the Reunited,
  • 128    While beneath their castle-walls
  • 129  Runs a deafening noise of welcome!—
  • 130    Blest, though every tear that falls
  • 131Doth in its silence of past sorrow tell,
  • 132And makes a meeting seem most like a dear farewell.

pg 101xxiii

  • 133  Through a haze of human nature,
  • 134    Glorified by heavenly light,
  • 135  Looked the beautiful Deliverer
  • 136    On that overpowering sight,
  • 137While across her virgin cheek pure blushes strayed,
  • 138For every tender sacrifice her heart had made.


  • 139  On the ground the weeping Countess
  • Critical Apparatus140    Knelt, and kissed the Stranger's hand;
  • 141  Act of soul-devoted homage,
  • 142    Pledge of an eternal band:
  • 143Nor did aught of future days that kiss belie,
  • 144Which, with a generous shout, the crowd did ratify.


  • 145  Constant to the fair Armenian,
  • 146    Gentle pleasures round her moved,
  • 147  Like a tutelary spirit
  • 148    Reverenced, like a sister, loved.
  • Critical Apparatus149Christian meekness smoothed for all the path of life,
  • 150Who, loving most, should wiseliest love, their only strife.


  • 151  Mute memento of that union
  • 152    In a Saxon church survives,
  • 153  Where a cross-legged Knight lies sculptured
  • 154    As between two wedded Wives—
  • 155Figures with armorial signs of race and birth,
  • 156And the vain rank the pilgrims bore while yet on earth.


1 See in Percy's Reliques that fine old ballad, "The Spanish Lady's Love"; from which Poem the form of stanza, as suitable to dialogue, is adopted.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
p. 96. XXXIV. The Armenian Lady's Love. "Rydal Mount, 1830."—I. F. "The subject of the following poem is from the Orlandus of the author's friend, Kenelm Henry Digby; and the liberty is taken of inscribing it to him as an acknowledgment, however unworthy, of pleasure and instruction derived from his numerous and valuable writings, illustrative of the piety and chivalry of the olden time." W. W. 1835. W. first met Digby on Nov. 1830 (v. L.Y., p. 539), but he was already acquainted with Digby's Broadstone of Honour, a book of Chivalry. Several MSS. of the poem are extant.
Critical Apparatus
XXXIV. 12 an humbler] the meaner MS.: the meanest MS.
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34 feeblest] weakest MS.
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35 If with your good help thy chains I may unbind MS.
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39 fruitless] useless MS.
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42 Yon] These MS.
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  • "Weak I am and inexperienc'd
  • Yet my reason shrinks from trust
  • In a law to Man remorseless
  • And to womanhood unjust;
  • Shape for me a fairer course, which thou canst do
  • How readily if to thyself, thyself be true."
  • "Embryo of celestial promise
  • Heaven that opened out this rose
  • By his breath will in due season
  • Gently thy sweet bud unclose
  • Or by miracle will work." "And is it none
  • That I

    a Princess thus should please [?] be won?"
    such boldness have put on, nor thou be won?"
added to MS., but del.
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77 in … through] from … from MS.
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79–84 not in one MS.
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  • In a creed to man remorseless
  • And to woman hard, unjust MS.
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86 old romantic] unperverted MS.
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88 To support] Whether to MS.
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89 path] track MS.
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94 social] mingled MS.
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  • Hills they crossed—then broad seas measured
  • Steadily as ship could steer,
  • And while in the port of Venice
  • They were landing on the pier,
  • One, who there for tidings watched, etc. MS.
Critical Apparatus
127–32 so 1836:
  • Fancy (while, to banners floating
  • High on Stolberg's Castle walls,
  • Deafening noise of welcome mounted,
  • Trumpets, Drums, and Atabals,)
  • The devout embraces still, while such tears fell
  • As made etc. MS., 1835
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140 Knelt] Dropped MS.
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149 smoothed] soothed MS.
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  • Blest by God above all liv'd—a happy life
  • Whose rule of heart should wisest be etc. MS., corr. on proof sheet
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