The Chess-Board

by OWEN MEREDITH (Robert, Lord Lytton) (1831-1888)

MY little love, do you remember,
  Ere we were grown so sadly wise,
Those evenings in the bleak December,
  Curtain’d warm from the snowy weather,
When you and I play’d chess together,
  Checkmated by each other’s eyes?

Ah, still I see your soft white hand
  Hovering warm o’er Queen and Knight!
Brave Pawns in valiant battle stand;
  The double Castles guard the wings;
The Bishop, bent on distant things,
  Moves, sidling through the fight.
Our fingers touch; our glances meet,
  And falter; falls your golden hair
Against my cheek; your bosom sweet
  Is heaving. Down the field, your Queen
Rides slow her soldiery all between,
  And checks me unaware.
Ah me! the little battle’s done,
 Dispers’d is all its chivalry;
Full many a move, since then, have we
 ’Mid Life’s perplexing checkers made,
And many a game with Fortune play’d,—
 What is it we have won?
This, this at least—if this alone;—
 That never, never, never more,
As in those old still nights of yore
 (Ere we were grown so sadly wise),
Can you and I shut out the skies,
 Shut out the world, and wintry weather,
And, eyes exchanging warmth with eyes,
 Play chess, as then we play’d, together!

Robert, Lord Lytton

Born on November 8, 1831, he was the son of novelists Edward Bulwer Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton and Rosina Doyle Wheeler. At age 25, he published a volume of poems under the name of Owen Meredith. He went on to publish several other volumes under the same name, the most popular being “Lucile”, a story in verse published in 1860.

Owen Meredith Contemporaries
Christina Rossetti
William Allingham
Emily Dickinson
Adam Lindsay Gordon

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