The Eve of St. Agnes: Stanza 38 - Summary

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“My Madeline! sweet dreamer! lovely bride!
“Say, may I be for aye thy vassal blest?
“Thy beauty’s shield, heart-shap’d and vermeil dyed?
“Ah, silver shrine, here will I take my rest
“After so many hours of toil and quest,
“A famish’d pilgrim,—saved by miracle.
“Though I have found, I will not rob thy nest
“Saving of thy sweet self; if thou think’st well
“To trust, fair Madeline, to no rude infidel.”


      Porphyro comforts and cheers her up by calling her ‘a sweet dreamer and lovely bride.’ He asks her to say if he may for all time become his slave or (vassal) and she her liege-lady and thereby be blessed. If she consents, he may become a defender of her beauty, like a heart-shaped blood-red shield.

      Having compared Madeline to a shrine, Porphyro now changes the metaphor. He compares her to a bird inside a nest. He says that he has found her nest but he would not rob the nest of anything except the bird itself. In other words, he would take away nothing from her bed-chamber except Madeline herself. He would take only Madeline away and that also if she trusted him and did not think him to be a wicked or impious man. (The reader may wonder here as to what else anybody could take away from this nest except Madeline).

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