George Meredith was born 180 years ago tomorrow. To mark the event Poet-in-Residence presents the poem 'Modern Love', a work which manages to combine Love, Nature, Science, Theology and Philosophy in one sonnet. Small wonder that Meredith is known as 'the cerebral poet'!
What are we first? First, animals; and next
Intelligences at a leap; on whom
Pale lies the distant shadow of the tomb,
And all that draweth on the tomb for text.
Into which state comes Love, the crowning sun:
Beneath whose light the shadow loses form.
We are the lords of life, and life is warm.
Intelligence and instinct now are one.
But nature says: 'My children most they seem
When they least know me: therefore I decree
That they shall suffer.' Swift doth young Love flee,
And we stand wakened, shivering from our dream.
Then if we study Nature we are wise.
Thus do the few who live but with the day:
The scientific animals are they.-
Lady, this my sonnet to your eyes.
George Meredith (1862)