Love Is All I Prize

Helen Maria Williams
Helen Maria Williams (1761 – 1827)

“There is a comfort in the strength of love; ‘Twill make a thing endurable, which else would overset the brain, or break the heart.”

William Wordsworth

Sonnet on Seeing Miss Helen Maria Williams Weep At A Tale of Distress

by William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)

SHE wept.–Life’s purple tide began to flow
In languid streams through every thrilling vein;
Dim were my swimming eyes–my pulse beat slow,
And my full heart was swell’d to dear delicious pain.
Life left my loaded heart, and closing eye;
A sigh recall’d the wanderer to my breast;
Dear was the pause of life, and dear the sigh
That call’d the wanderer home, and home to rest.
That tear proclaims–in thee each virtue dwells,
And bright will shine in misery’s midnight hour;
As the soft star of dewy evening tells
What radiant fires were drown’d by day’s malignant pow’r,
That only wait the darkness of the night
To cheer the wand’ring wretch with hospitable light.


Wordsworth penned and published this sonnet when he was 16 years old.   It was his first published sonnet. It’s clear he had a bit of a crush on the older more worldly Williams, nine years his senior, the two sharing a common sense of romanticism, evident in Williams poem below.


A Song

by Helen Maria Williams

I

No riches from his scanty store
My lover could impart;
He gave a boon I valued more —
He gave me all his heart!

II

His soul sincere, his generous worth,
Might well this bosom move;
And when I asked for bliss on earth,
I only meant his love.

III

But now for me, in search of gain
From shore to shore he flies;
Why wander riches to obtain,
When love is all I prize?

IV

The frugal meal, the lowly cot
If blest my love with thee!
That simple fare, that humble lot,
Were more than wealth to me.

V

While he the dangerous ocean braves,
My tears but vainly flow:
Is pity in the faithless waves
To which I pour my woe?

VI

The night is dark, the waters deep,
Yet soft the billows roll;
Alas! at every breeze I weep —
The storm is in my soul.

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations.

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