Those Regency Novels

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Often the lovers never even touch:
merely to glimpse a throat is much too much.
Should sleeves or fingers brush, someone may swoon
and someone storm, glowering, out of the room—
or both may startle, right themselves, and each
withdraw to contemplate the out-of-reach.
They guard their thoughts and eyes. They blush and tremble.
Finding themselves adjacent, they dissemble
into an agony of repartee
stirring as any stolen kiss. And we
now find them silly, farcical, or sad,
and shake our heads at their benighted, mad
abstention which seems oddly close to fear—
as if love could be savage or severe.