A False Step by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Sweet, thou hast trod on a heart.
Pass; there’s a world full of men;
And women as fair as thou art
Must do such things now and then.


Thou only hast stepped unaware,–
Malice, not one can impute;
And why should a heart have been there
In the way of a fair woman’s foot?


It was not a stone that could trip,
Nor was it a thorn that could rend:
Put up thy proud under-lip!
‘T was merely the heart of a friend.


And yet peradventure one day
Thou, sitting alone at the glass,
Remarking the bloom gone away,
Where the smile in its dimplement was,


And seeking around thee in vain
From hundreds who flattered before,
Such a word as “Oh, not in the main
Do I hold thee less precious, but more!”…


Thou’lt sigh, very like, on thy part,
“Of all I have known or can know,
I wish I had only that Heart
I trod upon ages ago!”

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