The Earthly Paradise "East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon"

William Morris

"East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this section of The Earthly Paradise, Morris, who is frequently called the last and most excessive of the romantics, tells the tragic love story of a peasant and a queen. Although John, the peasant, loves the queen, he betrays her by telling who she really is. As in the Cupid and Psyche tale, upon which this story is based, John does penance for his betrayal and finally wins back the beautiful queen. However much Morris may have been the romantic, he was also the realist. Where an inferior poet might have ruined the tale, he carefully places the lovers in a world of hard facts and crushing responsibilities so that the reader is never able to wallow in mere sentimentality. The first appearance of the oft-repeated quotation occurs in the queen's speech to her lover, who still sleeps, as she leaves him; as a crushing reminder that the world is indeed real, it is a fitting antidote to the romance of escape.

Dream not then
Of named lands, and abodes of men!
Alas, alas, the loneliest
Of all such were a land of rest
When set against the land where I
Unhelped must note the hours go by! . . .
. . .
My feet, lost Love, shall wander soon
East of the Sun, West of the Moon!
Tell not old tales of love so strong,
That all the world with all its wrong
And heedlessness was weak to part
The loving heart from loving heart?