The Eve of St. Agnes: Stanza 17 - Summary

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“I will not harm her, by all saints I swear,”
Quoth Porphyro: “O may I ne’er find grace
“When my weak voice shall whisper its last prayer,
“If one of her soft ringlets I displace,
“Or look with ruffian passion in her face:
“Good Angela, believe me by these tears;
“Or I will, even in a moment’s space,
“Awake, with horrid shout, my foemen’s ears,
“And beard them, though they be more fang’d than wolves and bears.”


      Porphyro again urged Angela to comply with his request. He swore that he would do absolutely no harm. He said that he would not be entitled to any mercy from God at the time of his last, and dying prayer if he misbehaved towards Madeline. He solemnly swore that he would not take the liberty of even touching her smooth, beautiful hair. Now he would look at her with lust in her eyes. In other words, he promised to behave like a perfect gentlemen.

      Tears came into Porphyro’s eyes as he spoke and he appealed to Angela to trust him. He warned her that if she did not comply with his proposal, he would become desperate and in a single instant start shouting at his enemies in a challenging manner. He said that he would insult them and fight them even if their teeth were sharper than the teeth of wild beasts like wolves and bears. He would rather face the ferocity of his enemies than go back without seeing his beloved Madeline.

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