The Reason Why

I.

I love thee and I love thee not,
I love thee, yet I’d rather not,
All of thee, yet I know not what.
   A flowery eye as tender,
   A swan-like neck as slender,
   And on it a brown little spot
      For tears to fall afraid on,
      And kisses to be paid on,
   Have other maidens too.
Then why love I, love, none but you?
If I could find the reason why,
Methinks my love would quickly die.

II.

Ay, knew I how to hate thee, maid,
I’d hate thee for I knew not what,
Excepting that I’d rather not
   Be thy friend or foeman;
   For thou’rt the only woman,
   On whom to think my heart’s afraid;
      For, if I would abhor thee,
      The more must I long for thee.
   What others force me to,
   I turn me from; why not from you?
If I could find the reason why,
Methinks my love would quickly die.

III.

Yet should’st thou cease my heart to move
To longings, that I’d rather not,
And tried I hate, I know not what
   My heart would do for mourning;
   Love I,—it bursts, love scorning.
   O loveliest hate, most hateful love,
      This combat and endeavour
      Is what enslaves me ever.
      I’ll neither of the two,
   Or hate or love the love of you.
And now I’ve found the reason why,
I know my love can never die.

[Kelsall, 1851]