Respectability

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Respectability  (1845) 
by Robert Browning




I

Dear, had the world in its caprice
     Deigned to proclaim "I know you both,
     "Have recognized your plighted troth,
"Am sponsor for you: live in peace!"—
How many precious months and years
     Of youth had passed, that speed so fast,
     Before we found it out at last,
The world, and what it fears?


II

How much of priceless life were spent
     With men that every virtue decks,
     And women models of their sex,
Society's true ornament,—
Ere we dared wander, nights like this,
     Thro' wind and rain, and watch the Seine,
     And feel the Boulevart break again
To warmth and light and bliss?


III

I know! the world proscribes not love;
     Allows my finger to caress
     Your lips' contour and downiness,
Provided it supply a glove.
The world's good word!—the Institute!
     Guizot receives Montalembert!
     Eh? Down the court three lampions flare:
Put forward your best foot!