Lady Clara Vere De Vere by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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"A Simple Maiden In Her Flower"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Tennyson excoriates a highborn woman who sadistically plays with the affections of lower-class men. The speaker himself has been fortunate enough to see through her wiles: "You thought to break a country heart/ For pastime, ere you went to town./ At me you smiled, but unbeguiled/ I saw the snare, and I retired:/ The daughter of a hundred Earls,/ You are not one to be desired." The speaker rejoices in his immunity to her charms. High rank does not ensure good character, for a wise man knows that a pure soul may bear a humble name:

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
I know you proud to bear your name,
Your pride is yet no mate for mine,
Too proud to care from whence I came.
Nor would I break for your sweet sake
A heart that dotes on truer charms.
A simple maiden in her flower
Is worth a hundred coats-of-arms.