MARTHA FOOTE CROW
BY THOMAS LODGE
BY GILES FLETCHER
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUeBNER AND CO. PATERNOSTER HOUSE LONDON W.C.
The last decade of the sixteenth century was marked by an outburst of sonneteering. To devotees of the sonnet, who find in that poetic form the moat perfect vehicle that has ever been devised for the expression of a single importunate emotion, it will not seem strange that at the threshold of a literary period whose characteristic note is the most intense personality, the instinct of poets should have directed them to the form most perfectly fitted for the expression of this inner motive.
The sonnet, a distinguished guest from Italy, was ushered to by those two "courtly makers," Wyatt and Surrey, in the days of Henry VIII. But when, forty years later, the foreigner was to be acclimatised in England, her robe had to be altered to suit an English fashion. Thus the sonnet, which had been an octave of enclosed or alternate rhymes, followed by a sestette of interlaced tercets, was now changed to a series of three quatrains with differing sets of alternate rhymes in each, at the close of which the insidious couplet succeeded in establishing itself. But these changes were not made without a great deal of experiment; and during the tentative period the name "sonnet" was given, to a wide variety of forms, in the moulding of which but one rule seemed to be uniformly obeyed—that the poem should be the expression of a single, simple emotion. This law cut the poem, to a relative shortness and defined its dignity and clearness. Beyond this almost every combination of rhymes might be found, verses were occasionally lengthened or shortened, and the number of lines in the poem, though generally fourteen, showed considerable variation.
The sonnet-sequence was also a suggestion from Italy, a literary fashion introduced by Sir Philip Sidney, in his Astrophel and Stella, written soon after 1580, but not published till 1591. In a sonnet-cycle Sidney recorded his love and sorrow, and Spenser took up the strain with his story of love and joy. Grouped about these, and following in their wake, a number of poets, before the decade was over, turned this Elizabethan "toy" to their purpose in their various self-revealings, producing a group of sonnet-cycles more or less Italianate in form or thought, more or less experimental, more or less poetical, more or less the expression of a real passion. For while the form of the sonnet was modified by metrical traditions and habits, the content also was strongly influenced, not to say restricted, by certain conventions of thought considered at the time appropriate to the poetic attitude. The passion for classic colour in the poetic world, which had inspired and disciplined English genius in the sixties and seventies, was rather nourished than repressed when in the eighties Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar and Sidney's Arcadia made the pastoral imagery a necessity. Cupid and Diana were made very much at home in the golden world of the renaissance Arcadia, and the sonneteer singing the praises of his mistress's eyebrow was not far removed from the lovelorn shepherd of the plains.
It may reasonably be expected that in any sonnet-cycle there will be found many sonnets in praise of the loved one's beauty, many lamenting her hardness of heart; all the wonders of heaven and earth will be catalogued to find comparisons for her loveliness; the river by which she dwells will be more pleasant than all other rivers in the world, a list of them being appended in proof; the thoughts of night-time, when the lover bemoans himself and his rejected state, or dreams of happy love, will be dwelt upon; oblivious sleep and the wan-faced moon will be invoked, and death will be called upon for respite. Love and the praises of the loved one was the theme. On this old but ever new refrain the sonneteer devised his descant, trilling joyously on oaten pipe in praise of Delia or Phyllis, Coelia, Caelica, Aurora, or Castara.
But this melody and descant were not, in some ears at least, without monotony. For after Daniel's Delia, Constable's Diana, Lodge's Phillis, Drayton's Idea, Fletcher's Licia, Brooke's Caelica, Percy's Coelia, N.L.'s Zepheria, and J.C.'s Alcilia, and perhaps a few other sonnet-cycles had been written, Chapman in 1595 made his Coronet for his Mistress Philosophy, the opening sonnet of which reveals his critical attitude:
"Muses that sing Love's sensual empery, And lovers kindling your enraged fires At Cupid's bonfires burning in the eye, Blown with the empty breath of vain desires, You that prefer the painted cabinet Before the wealthy jewels it doth store ye, That all your joys in dying figures set, And stain the living substance of your glory, Abjure those joys, abhor their memory, And let my love the honoured subject be Of love, and honour's complete history; Your eyes were never yet let in to see The majesty and riches of the mind, But dwell in darkness; for your god is blind."
It must be confessed that the "painted cabinet" of the lady's beauty absorbs more attention than the "majesty and riches of the mind," but the glints of a loftier ideal shining now and then among the conventions, lift the cycle above the level of mere ear-pleasing rhythms and fantastical imageries. Moreover, the sonnet-cycles on the whole show an independence and spontaneousness of poetic energy, a delight in the pure joy of making, a naivete, that richly frame the picture of the golden world they present. When Lodge, addressing his "pleasing thoughts, apprentices of love," cries out:
"Show to the world, though poor and scant my skill is, How sweet thoughts be that are but thought on Phillis,"
we feel that we are being taken back to an age more childlike than our own; and when the sonneteers vie with each other on the themes of sleep, death, time, and immortality, the door often stands open toward sublimity. Then when the sonnet-cycle was consecrated to noble and spiritual uses in Chapman's Coronet for his Mistress Philosophy, Barnes's Divine Century of Spiritual Sonnets, Constable's Spiritual Sonnets in Honour of God and His Saints, and Donne's Holy Sonnets, all made before 1600, the symbolic theme was added to the conventions of the sonnet-realm, the scope of its content was broadened; and the sonnet was well on its way toward a time when it could be named a trumpet, upon which a mighty voice could blow soul-animating strains.
One of the most fascinating questions in the study of the sonnet-cycles is as to how much basis the story has in reality. Stella we know, the star-crossed love of Sidney, and Spenser's happy Elizabeth, but—
"Who is Silvia? What is she That all the swains commend her?"
Who is Delia, Diana, Coelia, Caelica, and all the rhyming of musical names? And who is the Dark Lady? What personalities hide behind these poet's imaginings? We know that now, as in troubadour days, the praises of grand ladies were sung with a warmth of language that should indicate personal acquaintance when no such acquaintance existed; and the sonneteers sometimes frankly confessed their passion "but supposed." All this adds to the difficulty of interpretation. In most cases the poet has effectually kept his secret; the search is futile, in spite of all the "scholastic labour-lost" devoted to it. Equally tantalising are the fleeting symbolisms that suggest themselves now and then. The confession sometimes made by the poet, that high-flown compliment and not true despair is intended, prepares us to accept the symbolic application where it forces itself upon us, and to feel the presence here and there of platonic or spiritual shadowings. Those who do not find pleasure in the Arcadian world of the sonneteer's fancy, may still justify their taste in the aspiration that speaks in his flashes of philosophy.
HONORED WITH PASTORAL SONNETS, ELEGIES, AND AMOROUS DELIGHTS
One of the first to take up the new fashion of the sonnet-cycle, was Thomas Lodge, whose "Phillis" was published in 1595. Lodge had a wide acquaintance among the authors of his time, and was in the thick of the literary activity in the last two decades of the sixteenth century. But in spite of his interesting personality and genius, he has had to wait until the present time for full appreciation. To his own age he may have appeared as a literary dilettante, who tried his hand at several forms of writing, and being outshone by the more excellent in each field, gave up the attempt and turned to the practice of medicine. This profession engaged him for the last twenty-five years of his life, until his death in 1625 at the advanced age of sixty-seven or eight. During all these years the gay young "university wit" of earlier days was probably forgotten in the venerable and successful physician. It was as "old Doctor Lodge" that he was satirised in a Cambridge student's Common-place Book in 1611. Heywood mentions him in 1609 among the six most famous physicians in England, and in the Return from Parnassus, a play acted in 1602, he is described as "turning over Galen every day."
Yet no one had been in the last twenty years the sixteenth century more responsive than Lodge to the shifting moods of that excitable period. Lodge was the son of a Lord Mayor of London, and was a contemporary at Oxford with Sidney, Gosson, Chapman, Lyly, Peele and Watson. His life included a round of varied experiences. A student at Lincoln's Inn, a young aspirant for literary honours, friends with Greene, Rich, Daniel, Drayton, Lyly and Watson, a taster of the sorrows that many of the University wits endured when usurers got their hands upon them, for a time perhaps a soldier, certainly a sailor following the fortunes of Captain Clarke to Terceras and the Canaries, and of Cavendish to Brazil and the Straits of Magellan, in London again making plays with Greene, off to Avignon to take his degree in medicine, back again to be incorporated an M.D. at Oxford and to practise in London, adopting secretly the Roman Catholic faith, and sometimes hiding on the continent as a recusant from persecution at home, imprisoned perhaps once for debt, and entertaining a concourse of patients of his own religion till his death in 1625:—the life of Lodge thus presents a view of the ups and downs possible in that picturesque age.
The wide variety of his literary ventures reflects the interests of his life. Some controversial papers, some unsuccessful plays, two dull historical sketches in prose, some satirical and moralising works in prose and in verse, two romantic tales in verse and three in prose, a number of eclogues, metrical epistles and lyrics, some ponderous translations from Latin and French, and two medical treatises; these widely differing kinds of writing are the products of Lodge's industry and genius. All, however, have but an antiquarian interest save two; the prose romance called Rosalynde, Euphues' Golden Legacy, could not be spared since Shakespeare borrowed its charming plot for As You Like It; and Phillis, bound up with a sheaf of his lyrics gathered from the pages of his stories and from the miscellanies of the time, should be treasured for its own sake and should keep Lodge's memory green for lovers of pure poetry.
Lodge's lyric genius was a clear if slender rill. His faults are the more unpardonable since they spring from sheer carelessness and a lack of appreciation of the sacred responsibility of creative power. He took up the literary fashion of the month and tried his hand at it; that done, he was ready for the next mode. He did not wait to perfect his work or to compare result with result; therefore he probably never found himself, probably never realised that after three centuries he would be esteemed, not for the ponderous tomes of his translation of Josephus, not for all the catalogues of his satirical and religious and scientific writings, but for mere lyrics like the "Heigh ho, fair Rosaline," and "Love in my bosom like a bee," heedlessly imbedded in the heart of a prose romance.
Lodge was one of the earliest to follow the example of Sidney in linking a sequence of sonnets together into a sonnet-cycle. The Astrophel and Stella was published in 1591, though it had doubtless before this been handed about, as was the Elizabethan fashion, in manuscript. Early in 1591 also when Daniel was probably abroad, twenty-seven of the fifty-seven sonnets that a year later formed the sonnet-cycle Delia were published in his absence. Now in August of 1591 Lodge set sail with Cavendish on that long voyage to Brazil and the Straits of Magellan from which he did not return till early in ninety-three, and it was during his absence that Daniel's and Constable's sonnet-cycles came out. It is possible that Lodge saw Daniel's series, as he doubtless did Sidney's, in manuscript before he left England, but the Induction to Phillis, which carries a message to Delia's "sweet prophet," was almost certainly written later, and in the absence of further proof it seems no more than fair to allow Lodge to share with Daniel and Constable the honour of being the earliest to take the hint Sidney had offered.
On the whole, Lodge's sonnets show a much more cheerful and buoyant temper than Daniel's "wailing verse." The "sad horror, pale grief, prostrate despair" that inform the Delia, are replaced in the Phillis by a spirit of airy toying, a pleasure in the graces of fancy even when they cluster around a feeling of sadness. During Lodge's absence, his friend Robert Green published several pieces for him, and in one of the prefaces promised the public to present on his return "what labours Lodge's sea-studies afford." Phillis was the chief of these sea-studies, and was like Rosalynde "hatcht in the stormes of the ocean and feathered in the surges of many perillous seas." But as far as the imagery of the sonnets is concerned, the pageantry of day and night at sea might have passed before blinded eyes; if it made any impression, it was in the form of ocean-nymphs and Cupid at the helm. The poet was in Arcadia, Phillis was a shepherdess, and the conventional imageries of the pastoral valley were the environment. "May it please you," he says in dedicating the book to the Countess of Shrewsbury, "to looke and like of homlie Phillis in her Country caroling, and to countenance her poore and affectionate sheapheard." The Countess of Shrewsbury he chooses for the "Sovereign and she-Maecenas" of his toil, and promises her "as much in affection as any other can performe in perfection;" but the name of Phillis is no cover for the personality of a grand lady, and therefore no puzzling questions disturb the pleasure of the reader as the gentle modulations, the insidious alliterations, and the musical cadences of his double rhymes fall upon the ear.
Yet for this name or ideal, or whatever Phillis represented in the poet's thought, he has poured forth a passion that has an air of sincerity, an artless freshness, a flute-like clearness of tone, as rare as delightful. It is the very voice of the oaten pipe itself, thin, clear, and pure. The touches of seriousness are impossible, to mistake. When the poet avows his faith in Phillis' constancy, after giving the usual catalogue of her beauties, he says:
"At thy fair hands who wonders not at all Wonder itself through ignorance embases; Yet not the less though wondrous gifts you call these My faith is far more wonderful than all these."
When Phillis persists in her disdain, he cries out impulsively:
"Burst, burst, poor heart, thou hast no longer hope!"
Even when re-moulding the familiar pastoral conceits, he makes the fancies his own and gives to them a unique touch and spirit. Mere conventions he rates at their proper value. His pen shall not "riot in pompous style." He claims a brighter aspect for his poetical devotion than his fellow-sonneteers manifest:
"No stars her; eyes.... .... but beams that clear the sight Of him that seeks the true philosophy."
In spite of its defects, the lax structure of the sonnet-form, the obscurities and needless blurring, and the disappointing inequalities, Phillis takes a high place among the sonnet-cycles, and must ever be dear to lovers of quiet, melodious verse, who have made themselves at home in the golden world of the pastoral poets and mislike not the country-carolling heard therein.
I that obscured have fled the scene of fame, Intitling my conceits to nought but care, I that have lived a phoenix in love's flame, And felt that death I never would declare, Now mount the theater of this our age, To plead my faith and Cupid's cursed rage.
Oh you high sp'rited paragons of wit, That fly to fame beyond our earthly pitch, Whose sense is sound, whose words are feat and fit, Able to make the coyest ear to itch; Shroud with your mighty wings that mount so well, These little loves, new crept from out the shell.
And thou the true Octavia of our time, Under whose worth beauty was never matched, The genius of my muse and ragged rime, Smile on these little loves but lately hatched, Who from the wrastling waves have made retreat, To plead for life before thy judgment seat.
And though the fore-bred brothers they have had, Who in their swan-like songs Amintas wept, For all their sweet-thought sighs had fortune bad, And twice obscured in Cinthia's circle slept, Yet these I hope, under your kind aspect, Most worthy Lady, shall escape neglect.
And if these infants of mine artless brain, Not by their worth but by thy worthiness, A mean good liking of the learned gain, My Muse enfranchised from forgetfulness Shall hatch such breed in honour of thy name, As modern poets shall admire the same.
As modern poets shall admire the same; I mean not you (you never matched men) Who brought the chaos of our tongue in frame, Through these Herculean labours of your pen; I mean the mean, I mean no men divine, But such whose feathers are but waxed like mine.
Go, weeping truce-men in your sighing weeds, Under a great Maecenas I have passed you; If so you come where learned Colin feeds His lovely flock, pack thence and quickly haste you; You are but mists before so bright a sun, Who hath the palm for deep invention won.
Kiss Delia's hand for her sweet prophet's sake, Whose not affected but well couched tears Have power, have worth, a marble mind to shake, Whose fame no iron-age or time outwears. Then lay you down in Phillis' lap and sleep, Until the weeping read, and reading weep.
Oh pleasing thoughts, apprentices of love, Fore-runners of desire, sweet mithridates The poison of my sorrows to remove, With whom my hopes and fear full oft debates! Enrich yourselves and me by your self riches, Which are the thoughts you spend on heaven-bred beauty, Rouse you my muse beyond our poets' pitches, And, working wonders, yet say all is duty! Use you no eaglets' eyes, nor phoenix' feathers, To tower the heaven from whence heaven's wonder sallies. For why? Your sun sings sweetly to her weathers, Making a spring of winter in the valleys. Show to the world though poor and scant my skill is How sweet thoughts be, that are but thought on Phillis!
You sacred sea-nymphs pleasantly disporting Amidst this wat'ry world, where now I sail; If ever love, or lovers sad reporting, Had power sweet tears from your fair eyes to hail; And you, more gentle-hearted than the rest, Under the northern noon-stead sweetly streaming, Lend those moist riches of your crystal crest, To quench the flames from my heart's AEtna streaming; And thou, kind Triton, in thy trumpet relish The ruthful accents of my discontent, That midst this travel desolate and hellish, Some gentle wind that listens my lament May prattle in the north in Phillis' ears: "Where Phillis wants, Damon consumes in tears."
In fancy's world an Atlas have I been, Where yet the chaos of my ceaseless care Is by her eyes unpitied and unseen, In whom all gifts but pity planted are; For mercy though still cries my moan-clad muse, And every paper that she sends to beauty, In tract of sable tears brings woeful news, Of my true heart-kind thoughts, and loyal duty. But ah the strings of her hard heart are strained Beyond the harmony of my desires; And though the happy heavens themselves have pained, To tame her heart whose will so far aspires, Yet she who claims the title of world's wonder, Thinks all deserts too base to bring her under.
Long hath my sufferance laboured to enforce One pearl of pity from her pretty eyes, Whilst I with restless rivers of remorse, Have bathed the banks where my fair Phillis lies. The moaning lines which weeping I have written, And writing read unto my ruthful sheep, And reading sent with tears that never fitten, To my love's queen, that hath my heart in keep, Have made my lambkins lay them down and sigh; But Phillis sits, and reads, and calls them trifles. Oh heavens, why climb not happy lines so high, To rent that ruthless heart that all hearts rifles! None writes with truer faith, or greater love, Yet out, alas! I have no power to move.
Ah pale and dying infant of the spring, How rightly now do I resemble thee! That selfsame hand that thee from stalk did wring, Hath rent my breast and robbed my heart from me. Yet shalt thou live. For why? Thy native vigour Shall thrive by woeful dew-drops of my dolor; And from the wounds I bear through fancy's rigour, My streaming blood shall yield the crimson color. The ravished sighs that ceaseless take their issue From out the furnace of my heart inflamed, To yield you lasting springs shall never miss you; So by my plaints and pains, you shall be famed. Let my heart's heat and cold, thy crimson nourish, And by my sorrows let thy beauty flourish.
It is not death which wretched men call dying, But that is very death which I endure, When my coy-looking nymph, her grace envying, By fatal frowns my domage doth procure. It is not life which we for life approve, But that is life when on her wool-soft paps I seal sweet kisses which do batten love, And doubling them do treble my good haps. 'Tis neither love the son, nor love the mother, Which lovers praise and pray to; but that love is Which she in eye and I in heart do smother. Then muse not though I glory in my miss, Since she who holds my heart and me in durance, Hath life, death, love and all in her procurance.
How languisheth the primrose of love's garden! How trill her tears, th' elixir of my senses! Ambitious sickness, what doth thee so harden? Oh spare, and plague thou me for her offences! Ah roses, love's fair roses, do not languish; Blush through the milk-white veil that holds you covered. If heat or cold may mitigate your anguish, I'll burn, I'll freeze, but you shall be recovered. Good God, would beauty mark now she is crased, How but one shower of sickness makes her tender, Her judgments then to mark my woes amazed, To mercy should opinion's fort surrender! And I,—oh would I might, or would she meant it! Should hery[A] love, who now in heart lament it.
[Footnote A: hery, praise.]
No stars her eyes to clear the wandering night, But shining suns of true divinity, That make the soul conceive her perfect light! No wanton beauties of humanity Her pretty brows, but beams that clear the sight Of him that seeks the true philosophy! No coral is her lip, no rose her fair, But even that crimson that adorns the sun. No nymph is she, but mistress of the air, By whom my glories are but new begun. But when I touch and taste as others do, I then shall write and you shall wonder too.
The dewy roseate Morn had with her hairs In sundry sorts the Indian clime adorned; And now her eyes apparreled in tears, The loss of lovely Memnon long had mourned, When as she spied the nymph whom I admire, Combing her locks, of which the yellow gold Made blush the beauties of her curled wire, Which heaven itself with wonder might behold; Then red with shame, her reverend locks she rent, And weeping hid the beauty of her face, The flower of fancy wrought such discontent; The sighs which midst the air she breathed a space, A three-days' stormy tempest did maintain, Her shame a fire, her eyes a swelling rain.
The rumour runs that here in Isis swim Such stately swans so confident in dying, That when they feel themselves near Lethe's brim, They sing their fatal dirge when death is nighing. And I like these that feel my wounds are mortal, Contented die for her whom I adore; And in my joyful hymns do still exhort all To die for such a saint or love no more. Not that my torments or her tyranny Enforce me to enjoin so hard a task, But for I know, and yield no reason why, But will them try that have desire to ask. As love hath wreaths his pretty eyes to seel, So lovers must keep secret what they feel.
My frail and earthly bark, by reason's guide, Which holds the helm, whilst will doth wield the sail, By my desires, the winds of bad betide, Hath sailed these worldly seas with small avail, Vain objects serve for dreadful rocks to quail My brittle boat from haven of life that flies To haunt the sea of mundane miseries. My soul that draws impressions from above, And views my course, and sees the winds aspire, Bids reason watch to scape the shoals of love; But lawless will enflamed with endless ire Doth steer empoop,[B] whilst reason doth retire. The streams increase; love's waves my bark do fill; Thus are they wracked that guide their course by will.
[Footnote B: steer empoop (text: steerem poop): en poupe.]
Ah trees, why fall your leaves so fast? Ah rocks, where are your robes of moss? Ah flocks, why stand you all aghast? Trees, rocks, and flocks, what, are you pensive for my loss? The birds methinks tune naught but moan, The winds breathe naught but bitter plaint, The beasts forsake their dens to groan; Birds, winds, and beasts, what doth my loss your powers attaint? Floods weep their springs above their bounds, And echo wails to see my woe, The robe of ruth doth clothe the grounds; Floods, echo, grounds, why do you all these tears bestow? The trees, the rocks, and flocks reply, The birds, the winds, the beasts report, Floods, echo, grounds, for sorrow cry, We grieve since Phillis nill kind Damon's love consort.
Love guides the roses of thy lips, And flies about them like a bee; If I approach he forward skips, And if I kiss he stingeth me. Love in thine eyes doth build his bower, And sleeps within their pretty shine; And if I look the boy will lower, And from their orbs shoots shafts divine. Love works thy heart within his fire, And in my tears doth firm the same; And if I tempt it will retire, And of my plaints doth make a game. Love, let me cull her choicest flowers, And pity me, and calm her eye, Make soft her heart, dissolve her lowers, Then will I praise thy deity. But if thou do not love, I'll truly serve her In spite of thee, and by firm faith deserve her.
I wrote in Mirrha's bark, and as I wrote, Poor Mirrha wept because I wrote forsaken; 'Twas of thy pride I sung in weeping note, When as her leaves great moan for pity maken. The falling fountains from the mountains falling, Cried out, alas, so fair and be so cruel! And babbling echo never ceased calling, Phillis, disdain is fit for none but truthless. The rising pines wherein I had engraved Thy memory consulting with the wind, Are trucemen to thy heart and thoughts depraved, And say, thy kind should not be so unkind. But, out alas! so fell is Phillis fearless, That she hath made her Damon well nigh tearless.
My Phillis hath the morning sun At first to look upon her. And Phillis hath morn-waking birds, Her risings for to honour. My Phillis hath prime-feathered flowers, That smile when she treads on them, And Phillis hath a gallant flock, That leaps since she doth own them. But Phillis hath so hard a heart— Alas that she should have it!— As yields no mercy to desert, Nor grace to those that crave it. Sweet sun, when thou look'st on, Pray her regard my moan. Sweet birds, when you sing to her, To yield some pity woo her. Sweet flowers, whenas she treads on, Tell her, her beauty deads one. And if in life her love she nill agree me, Pray her before I die, she will come see me.
I part; but how? from joy, from hope, from life; I leave; but whom? love's pride, wit's pomp, heart's bliss; I pine; for what? for grief, for thought, for strife; I faint; and why? because I see my miss. Oh ceaseless pains that never may be told, You make me weep as I to water would! Ah weary hopes, in deep oblivious streams Go seek your graves, since you have lost your grounds! Ah pensive heart, seek out her radiant gleams! For why? Thy bliss is shut within those bounds! All traitorous eyes, to[o] feeble in for[e] sight, Grow dim with woe, that now must want your light! I part from bliss to dwell with ceaseless moan, I part from life, since I from beauty part, I part from peace, to pine in care alone, I part from ease to die with dreadful smart. I part—oh death! for why? this world contains More care and woe than with despair remains. Oh loath depart, wherein such sorrows dwell, As all conceits are scant the same to tell!
Ah fleeting weal, ah sly deluding sleep, That in one moment giv'st me joy and pain! How do my hopes dissolve to tears in vain, As wont the snows, 'fore angry sun to weep! Ah noisome life that hath no weal in keep! My forward grief hath form and working might; My pleasures like the shadows take their flight; My path to bliss is tedious, long and steep. Twice happy thou Endymion that embracest The live-long night thy love within thine arms, Where thou fond dream my longed weal defacest Whilst fleeting and uncertain shades thou placest Before my eyes with false deluding charms! Ah instant sweets which do my heart revive, How should I joy if you were true alive!
As where two raging venoms are united, Which of themselves dissevered life would sever, The sickly wretch of sickness is acquited, Which else should die, or pine in torments ever; So fire and frost, that hold my heart in seizure, Restore those ruins which themselves have wrought, Where if apart they both had had their pleasure, The earth long since her fatal claim had caught. Thus two united deaths keep me from dying; I burne in ice, and quake amidst the fire, No hope midst these extremes or favour spying; Thus love makes me a martyr in his ire. So that both cold and heat do rather feed My ceaseless pains, than any comfort breed.
Thou tyrannizing monarch that dost tire My love-sick heart through those assaulting eyes, That are the lamps which lighten my desire! If nought but death thy fury may suffice, Not for my peace, but for thy pleasure be it, That Phillis, wrathful Phillis that repines me All grace but death, may deign to come and see it, And seeing grieve at that which she assigns me. This only boon for all my mortal bane I crave and cry for at thy mercy seat: That when her wrath a faithful heart hath slain, And soul is fled, and body reft of heat, She might perceive how much she might command, That had my life and death within her hand.
Some praise the looks, and others praise the locks Of their fair queens, in love with curious words; Some laud the breast where love his treasure locks, All like the eye that life and love affords. But none of these frail beauties and unstable Shall make my pen riot in pompous style; More greater gifts shall my grave muse enable, Whereat severer brows shall never smile. I praise her honey-sweeter eloquence, Which from the fountain of true wisdom floweth, Her modest mien that matcheth excellence, Her matchless faith which from her virtue groweth; And could my style her happy virtues equal, Time had no power her glories to enthral.
EGLOGA PRIMA DEMADES DAMON
Now scourge of winter's wrack is well nigh spent, And sun gins look more longer on our clime, And earth no more to sorrow doth consent, Why been thy looks forlorn that view the prime? Unneth thy flocks may feed to see thee faint, Thou lost, they lean, and both with woe attaint. For shame! Cast off these discontented looks; For grief doth wait on life, though never sought; So Thenot wrote admired for pipe and books. Then to the spring attemper thou thy thought, And let advice rear up thy drooping mind, And leave to weep thy woes unto the wind.
Ah Demades, no wonder though I wail, For even the spring is winter unto me! Look as the sun the earth doth then avail, When by his beams her bowels warmed be; Even so a saint more sun-bright in her shining First wrought my weal, now hastes my winter's pining. Which lovely lamp withdrawn from my poor eyes, Both parts of earth and fire drowned up in woe In winter dwell. My joy, my courage dies; My lambs with me that do my winter know For pity scorn the spring that nigheth near, And pine to see their master's pining cheer. The root which yieldeth sap unto the tree Draws from the earth the means that make it spring; And by the sap the scions fostered be, All from the sun have comfort and increasing And that fair eye that lights this earthly ball Kills by depart, and nearing cheereth all. As root to tree, such is my tender heart, Whose sap is thought, whose branches are content; And from my soul they draw their sweet or smart, And from her eye, my soul's best life is lent; Which heavenly eye that lights both earth and air, Quells by depart and quickens by repair.
Give period to the process of thy plaint, Unhappy Damon, witty in self-grieving; Tend thou thy flocks; let tyrant love attaint Those tender hearts that made their love their living. And as kind time keeps Phillis from thy sight, So let prevention banish fancy quite.
Cast hence this idle fuel of desire, That feeds that flame wherein thy heart consumeth; Let reason school thy will which doth aspire, And counsel cool impatience that presumeth; Drive hence vain thoughts which are fond love's abettors, For he that seeks his thraldom merits fetters.
The vain idea of this deity Nursed at the teat of thine imagination, Was bred, brought up by thine own vanity, Whose being thou mayst curse from the creation; And so thou list, thou may as soon forget love, As thou at first didst fashion and beget love.
Peace, Demades, peace shepherd, do not tempt me; The sage-taught wife may speak thus, but not practise; Rather from life than from my love exempt me, My happy love wherein my weal and wrack lies; Where chilly age first left love, and first lost her, There youth found love, liked love, and love did foster.
Not as ambitious of their[C] own decay, But curious to equal your fore-deeds, So tread we now within your wonted way; We find your fruits of judgments and their seeds; We know you loved, and loving learn that lore; You scorn kind love, because you can no more.
Though from this pure refiner of the thought The gleanings of your learnings have you gathered Your lives had been abortive, base and naught, Except by happy love they had been fathered; Then still the swain, for I will still avow it; They have no wit nor worth that disallow it.
Then to renew the ruins of my tears Be thou no hinderer, Demades, I pray thee. If my love-sighs grow tedious in thine ears, Fly me, that fly from joy, I list not stay thee. Mourn sheep, mourn lambs, and Damon will weep by you; And when I sigh, "Come home, sweet Phillis," cry you.
Come home, sweet Phillis, for thine absence causeth A flowerless prime-tide in these drooping meadows; To push his beauties forth each primrose pauseth, Our lilies and our roses like coy widows Shut in their buds, their beauties, and bemoan them, Because my Phillis doth not smile upon them.
The trees by my redoubled sighs long blasted Call for thy balm-sweet breath and sunny eyes, To whom all nature's comforts are hand-fasted; Breathe, look on them, and they to life arise; They have new liveries with each smile thou lendest, And droop with me, when thy fair brow thou bendest.
I woo thee, Phillis, with more earnest weeping Than Niobe for her dead issue spent; I pray thee, nymph who hast our spring in keeping, Thou mistress of our flowers and my content, Come home, and glad our meads of winter weary, And make thy woeful Damon blithe and merry.
Else will I captive all my hopes again, And shut them up in prisons of despair, And weep such tears as shall destroy this plain, And sigh such sighs as shall eclipse the air, And cry such cries as love that hears my crying Shall faint and weep for grief and fall a-dying.
My little world hath vowed no sun shall glad it, Except thy little world her light discover, Of which heavens would grow proud if so they had it. Oh how I fear lest absent Jove should love her! I fear it, Phillis, for he never saw one That had more heaven-sweet looks to lure and awe one.
I swear to thee, all-seeing sovereign Rolling heaven's circles round about our center, Except my Phillis safe return again, No joy to heart, no meat to mouth shall enter. All hope (but future hope to be renowned, For weeping Phillis) shall in tears be drowned.
How large a scope lends Damon to his moan, Wafting those treasures of his happy wit In registering his woeful woe-begone! Ah bend thy muse to matters far more fit! For time shall come when Phillis is interred, That Damon shall confess that he hath erred.
When nature's riches shall, by time dissolved, Call thee to see with more judicial eye How Phillis' beauties are to dust resolved, Thou then shalt ask thyself the reason why Thou wert so fond, since Phillis was so frail, To praise her gifts that should so quickly fail.
Have mercy on thyself, cease being idle, Let reason claim and gain of will his homage; Rein in these brain-sick thoughts with judgment's bridle, A short prevention helps a mighty domage. If Phillis love, love her, yet love her so That if she fly, thou may'st love's fire forego.
Play with the fire, yet die not in the flame; Show passions in thy words, but not in heart; Lest when thou think to bring thy thoughts in frame, Thou prove thyself a prisoner by thine art. Play with these babes of love, as apes with glasses, And put no trust in feathers, wind, or lasses.
Did not thine age yield warrantise, old man, Impatience would enforce me to offend thee; Me list not now thy forward skill to scan, Yet will I pray that love may mend or end thee. Spring flowers, sea-tides, earth, grass, sky, stars shall banish, Before the thoughts of love or Phillis vanish.
So get thee gone, and fold thy tender sheep, For lo, the great automaton of day In Isis stream his golden locks doth steep; Sad even her dusky mantle doth display; Light-flying fowls, the posts of night, disport them, And cheerful-looking vesper doth consort them.
Come you, my careful flock, forego you master, I'll fold you up and after fall a-sighing; Words have no worth my secret wounds to plaster; Naught may refresh my joys but Phillis nighing. Farewell, old Demades.
Damon, farewell. How 'gainst advice doth headlong youth rebel!
[Footnote C: Our?]
Ah cruel winds, why call you hence away? Why make you breach betwixt my soul and me? Ye traitorous floods, why nil your floats delay Until my latest moans discoursed be? For though ye salt sea-gods withhold the rain Of all your floats and gentle winds be still, While I have wept such tears as might restrain The rage of tides and winds against their will. Ah shall I love your sight, bright shining eyes? And must my soul his life and glory leave? Must I forsake the bower where solace lives, To trust to tickle fates that still deceive? Alas, so wills the wanton queen of change, That each man tract this labyrinth of life With slippery steps, now wronged by fortune strange, Now drawn by counsel from the maze of strife! Ah joy! No joy because so soon thou fleetest, Hours, days, and times inconstant in your being! Oh life! No life, since with such chance thou meetest! Oh eyes! No eyes, since you must lose your seeing! Soul, be thou sad, dissolve thy living powers To crystal tears, and by their pores express The grief that my distressed soul devours! Clothe thou my body all in heaviness; My suns appeared fair smiling full of pleasure, But now the vale of absence overclouds them; They fed my heart with joys exceeding measure Which now shall die, since absence needs must shroud them. Yea, die! Oh death, sweet death, vouchsafe that blessing, That I may die the death whilst she regardeth! For sweet were death, and sweet were death's oppressing, If she look on who all my life awardeth. Oh thou that art the portion of my joy, Yet not the portion, for thou art the prime; Suppose my griefs, conceive the deep annoy That wounds my soul upon this sorry time! Pale is my face, and in my pale confesses The pain I suffer, since I needs must leave thee. Red are mine eyes through tears that them oppresses, Dulled are my sp'rits since fates do now bereave thee. And now, ah now, my plaints are quite prevented! The winds are fair the sails are hoised high, The anchors weighed, and now quite discontented, Grief so subdues my heart as it should die. A faint farewell with trembling hand I tender, And with my tears my papers are distained. Which closed up, my heart in them I render, To tell thee how at parting I complained. Vouchsafe his message that doth bring farewell, And for my sake let him with beauty dwell.
THIRSIS EGLOGA SECUNDA
Muses help me, sorrow swarmeth, Eyes are fraught with seas of languish; Heavy hope my solace harmeth, Mind's repast is bitter anguish.
Eye of day regarded never Certain trust in world untrusty; Flattering hope beguileth ever Weary, old, and wanton lusty.
Dawn of day beholds enthroned Fortune's darling, proud and dreadless; Darksome night doth hear him moaned, Who before was rich and needless.
Rob the sphere of lines united, Make a sudden void in nature; Force the day to be benighted, Reave the cause of time and creature;
Ere the world will cease to vary, This I weep for, this I sorrow. Muses, if you please to tarry, Further helps I mean to borrow.
Courted once by fortune's favour, Compassed now with envy's curses, All my thoughts of sorrow savour, Hopes run fleeting like the sources.
Ay me! Wanton scorn hath maimed All the joy my heart enjoyed; Thoughts their thinking have disclaimed, Hate my hopes hath quite annoyed.
Scant regard my weal hath scanted, Looking coy hath forced my lowering; Nothing liked where nothing wanted Weds mine eyes to ceaseless showering.
Former love was once admired, Present favour is estranged, Loath the pleasure long desired; Thus both men and thoughts are changed.
Lovely swain with lucky guiding, Once (but now no more so friended) Thou my flocks hast had in minding, From the morn till day was ended.
Drink and fodder, food and folding, Had my lambs and ewes together; I with them was still beholding, Both in warmth and winter weather.
Now they languish since refused, Ewes and lambs are pained with pining; I with ewes and lambs confused, All unto our deaths declining.
Silence, leave thy cave obscured; Deign a doleful swain to tender; Though disdains I have endured, Yet I am no deep offender.
Phillis' son can with his finger Hide his scar, it is so little; Little sin a day to linger, Wise men wander in a tittle.
Thriftless yet my swain have turned, Though my sun he never showeth: Though I weep, I am not mourned; Though I want, no pity groweth.
Yet for pity love my muses; Gentle silence be their cover; They must leave their wonted uses, Since I leave to be a lover.
They shall live with thee inclosed, I will loathe my pen and paper Art shall never be supposed, Sloth shall quench the watching taper.
Kiss them, silence, kiss them kindly Though I leave them, yet I love them; Though my wit have led them blindly, Yet my swain did once approve them.
I will travel soils removed, Night and morrow never merry; Thou shalt harbour that I loved, I will love that makes me weary.
If perchance the sheep estrayeth, In thy walks and shades unhaunted, Tell the teen my heart betrayeth, How neglect my joys hath daunted.
Ye heralds of my heart, mine ardent groans, O tears which gladly would burst out to brooks, Oh spent on fruitless sand my surging moans, Oh thoughts enthralled unto care-boding looks! Ah just laments of my unjust distress, Ah fond desires whom reason could not guide! Oh hopes of love that intimate redress, Yet prove the load-stars unto bad betide! When will you cease? Or shall pain never-ceasing, Seize oh my heart? Oh mollify your rage, Lest your assaults with over-swift increasing, Procure my death, or call on timeless age. What if they do? They shall but feed the fire, Which I have kindled by my fond desire.
Fair art thou, Phillis, ay, so fair, sweet maid, As nor the sun, nor I have seen more fair; For in thy cheeks sweet roses are embayed, And gold more pure than gold doth gild thy hair. Sweet bees have hived their honey on thy tongue, And Hebe spiced her nectar with thy breath; About thy neck do all the graces throng, And lay such baits as might entangle death. In such a breast what heart would not be thrall? From such sweet arms who would not wish embraces? At thy fair hands who wonders not at all, Wonder itself through ignorance embases? Yet natheless though wondrous gifts you call these, My faith is far more wonderful than all these.
Burst, burst, poor heart! Thou hast no longer hope; Captive mine eyes unto eternal sleep; Let all my senses have no further scope; Let death be lord of me and all my sheep! For Phillis hath betrothed fierce disdain, That makes his mortal mansion in her heart; And though my tongue have long time taken pain To sue divorce and wed her to desert, She will not yield, my words can have no power; She scorns my faith, she laughs at my sad lays, She fills my soul with never ceasing sour, Who filled the world with volumes of her praise. In such extremes what wretch can cease to crave His peace from death, who can no mercy have!
No glory makes me glorious or glad, Nor pleasure may to pleasure me dispose, No comfort can revive my senses sad, Nor hope enfranchise me with one repose. Nor in her absence taste I one delight, Nor in her presence am I well content; Was never time gave term to my despite, Nor joy that dried the tears of my lament. Nor hold I hope of weal in memory, Nor have I thought to change my restless grief, Nor doth my conquest yield me sovereignty, Nor hope repose, nor confidence relief. For why? She sorts her frowns and favours so, As when I gain or lose I cannot know.
I wage the combat with two mighty foes, Which are more strong than I ten thousand fold; The one is when thy pleasure I do lose, The other, when thy person I behold. In seeing thee a swarm of loves confound me, And cause my death in spite of my resist, And if I see thee not, thy want doth wound me, For in thy sight my comfort doth consist. The one in me continual care createth, The other doth occasion my desire; The one the edge of all my joy rebateth, The other makes me a phoenix in love's fire. So that I grieve when I enjoy your presence, And die for grief by reason of your absence.
I'll teach thee, lovely Phillis, what love is. It is a vision seeming such as thou, That flies as fast as it assaults mine eyes; It is affection that doth reason miss; It is a shape of pleasure like to you, Which meets the eye, and seen on sudden dies; It is a doubled grief, a spark of pleasure Begot by vain desire. And this is love, Whom in our youth we count our chiefest treasure, In age for want of power we do reprove. Yea, such a power is love, whose loss is pain, And having got him we repent our gain.
Fair eyes, whilst fearful I your fair admire, By unexpressed sweetness that I gain, My memory of sorrow doth expire, And falcon-like, I tower joy's heavens amain. But when your suns in oceans of their glory Shut up their day-bright shine, I die for thought; So pass my joys as doth a new-played story, And one poor sigh breathes all delight to naught. So to myself I live not, but for you; For you I live, and you I love, but none else, Oh then, fair eyes, whose light I live to view, Or poor forlorn despised to live alone else, Look sweet, since from the pith of contemplation Love gathereth life, and living, breedeth passion.
Not causeless were you christened, gentle flowers, The one of faith, the other fancy's pride; For she who guides both faith and fancy's power, In your fair colors wraps her ivory side. As one of you hath whiteness without stain, So spotless is my love and never tainted; And as the other shadoweth faith again, Such is my lass, with no fond change acquainted. And as nor tyrant sun nor winter weather May ever change sweet amaranthus' hue, So she though love and fortune join together, Will never leave to be both fair and true. And should I leave thee then, thou pretty elf? Nay, first let Damon quite forget himself.
I feel myself endangered beyond reason, My death already 'twixt the cup and lip, Because my proud desire through cursed treason, Would make my hopes mount heaven, which cannot skip; My fancy still requireth at my hands Such things as are not, cannot, may not be, And my desire although my power withstands, Will give me wings, who never yet could flee. What then remains except my maimed soul Extort compassion from love-flying age, Or if naught else their fury may control, To call on death that quells affection's rage; Which death shall dwell with me and never fly, Since vain desire seeks that hope doth deny.
I do compare unto thy youthly clear, Which always bides within thy flow'ring prime, The month of April, that bedews our clime With pleasant flowers, when as his showers appear. Before thy face shall fly false cruelty, Before his face the doly season fleets; Mild been his looks, thine eyes are full of sweets; Firm is his course, firm is thy loyalty. He paints the fields through liquid crystal showers, Thou paint'st my verse with Pallas, learned flowers; With Zephirus' sweet, breath he fills the plains, And thou my heart with weeping sighs dost wring; His brows are dewed with morning's crystal spring, Thou mak'st my eyes with tears bemoan my pains.
Devoid of reason, thrall to foolish ire, I walk and chase a savage fairy still, Now near the flood, straight on the mounting hill, Now midst the woods of youth, and vain desire. For leash I bear a cord of careful grief; For brach I lead an over-forward mind; My hounds are thoughts, and rage despairing blind, Pain, cruelty, and care without relief. But they perceiving that my swift pursuit My flying fairy cannot overtake, With open mouths their prey on me do make, Like hungry hounds that lately lost their suit. And full of fury on their master feed, To hasten on my hapless death with speed.
A thousand times to think and think the same, To two fair eyes to show a naked heart, Great thirst with bitter liquor to restrain, To take repast of care and crooked smart; To sigh full oft without relent of ire, To die for grief and yet conceal the tale, To others' will to fashion my desire, To pine in looks disguised through pensive-pale; A short dispite, a faith unfeigned true, To love my foe, and set my life at naught, With heedless eyes mine endless harms to view, A will to speak, a fear to tell the thought; To hope for all, yet for despair to die, Is of my life the certain destiny.
When first sweet Phillis, whom I must adore, Gan with her beauties bless our wond'ring sky, The son of Rhea, from their fatal store Made all the gods to grace her majesty. Apollo first his golden rays among, Did form the beauty of her bounteous eyes; He graced her with his sweet melodious song, And made her subject of his poesies. The warrior Mars bequeathed her fierce disdain, Venus her smile, and Phoebe all her fair, Python his voice, and Ceres all her grain, The morn her locks and fingers did repair. Young Love, his bow, and Thetis gave her feet; Clio her praise, Pallas her science sweet.
I would in rich and golden-coloured rain, With tempting showers in pleasant sort descend Into fair Phillis' lap, my lovely friend, When sleep her sense with slumber doth restrain. I would be changed to a milk-white bull, When midst the gladsome fields she should appear, By pleasant fineness to surprise my dear, Whilst from their stalks, she pleasant flowers did pull. I were content to weary out my pain, To be Narsissus so she were a spring, To drown in her those woes my heart do wring. And more; I wish transformed to remain, That whilst I thus in pleasure's lap did lie, I might refresh desire, which else would die.
I hope and fear, I pray and hold my peace, Now freeze my thoughts and straight they fry again, I now admire and straight my wonders cease, I loose my bonds and yet myself restrain; This likes me most that leaves me discontent, My courage serves and yet my heart doth fail, My will doth climb whereas my hopes are spent, I laugh at love, yet when he comes I quail; The more I strive, the duller bide I still. I would be thralled, and yet I freedom love, I would redress, yet hourly feed mine ill, I would repine, and dare not once reprove; And for my love I am bereft of power, And strengthless strive my weakness to devour.
If so I seek the shades, I presently do see The god of love forsakes his bow and sit me by; If that I think to write, his Muses pliant be If so I plain my grief, the wanton boy will cry, If I lament his pride, he doth increase my pain; If tears my cheeks attaint, his cheeks are moist with moan; If I disclose the wounds the which my heart hath slain, He takes his fascia off, and wipes them dry anon. If so I walk the woods, the woods are his delight; If I myself torment, he bathes him in my blood; He will my soldier be if once I wend to fight, If seas delight, he steers my bark amidst the hood. In brief, the cruel god doth never from me go, But makes my lasting love eternal with my woe.
These fierce incessant waves that stream along my face, Which show the certain proof of my ne'er-ceasing pains, Fair Phillis, are no tears that trickle from my brains; For why? Such streams of ruth within me find no place. These floods that wet my cheeks are gathered from thy grace And thy perfections, and from hundred thousand flowers Which from thy beauties spring; whereto I medley showers Of rose and lilies too, the colours of thy face. My love doth serve for fire, my heart the furnace is, The aperries of my sighs augment the burning flame, The limbec is mine eye that doth distil the same; And by how much my fire is violent and sly, By so much doth it cause the waters mount on high, That shower from out mine eyes, for to assuage my miss.
Who lives enthralled to Cupid and his flame, From day to day is changed in sundry sort; The proof whereof myself may well report, Who oft transformed by him may teach the same. I first was turned into a wounded hart, That bare the bloody arrow in my side; Then to a swan that midst the waters glide, With piteous voice presaged my deadly smart; Eftsoons I waxed a faint and fading flower; Then was I made a fountain sudden dry, Distilling all my tears from troubled eye; Now am I salamander by his power, Living in flames, but hope ere long to be A voice, to talk my mistress' majesty.
My matchless mistress, whose delicious eyes Have power to perfect nature's privy wants, Even when the sun in greatest pomp did rise, With pretty tread did press the tender plants. Each stalk whilst forth she stalks, to kiss her feet Is proud with pomp, and prodigal of sweet. Her fingers fair in favouring every flower That wooed their ivory for a wished touch, By chance—sweet chance!—upon a blessed hour Did pluck the flower where Love himself did couch. Where Love did couch by summer toil suppressed, And sought his sleeps within so sweet a nest. The virgin's hand that held the wanton thrall, Imprisoned him within the roseate leaves; And twixt her teats, with favour did install The lovely rose, where Love his rest receives. The lad that felt the soft and sweet so nigh, Drowned in delights, disdains his liberty; And said, let Venus seek another son, For here my only matchless mother is; From whose fair orient orbs the drink doth run, That deifies my state with greater bliss. This said, he sucked, my mistress blushing smiled, Since Love was both her prisoner and her child.
Now I find thy looks were feigned, Quickly lost, and quickly gained; Soft thy skin, like wool of wethers, Heart unstable, light as feathers, Tongue untrusty, subtile-sighted, Wanton will, with change delighted, Siren pleasant, foe to reason, Cupid plague thee for this treason!
Of thine eyes, I made my mirror, From thy beauty came mine error, All thy words I counted witty, All thy smiles I deemed pity. Thy false tears that me aggrieved, First of all my trust deceived. Siren pleasant, foe to reason, Cupid plague thee for this treason!
Feigned acceptance when I asked, Lovely words with cunning masked, Holy vows but heart unholy; Wretched man, my trust was folly! Lily white and pretty winking, Solemn vows, but sorry thinking. Siren pleasant, foe to reason, Cupid plague thee for this treason!
Now I see, O seemly cruel, Others warm them at my fuel! Wit shall guide me in this durance, Since in love is no assurance. Change thy pasture, take thy pleasure; Beauty is a fading treasure. Siren pleasant, foe to reason, Cupid plague thee for this treason!
Prime youth lusts not age still follow, And make white these tresses yellow; Wrinkled face for looks delightful Shall acquaint the dame despightful; And when time shall eat thy glory, Then too late thou wilt be sorry. Siren pleasant, foe to reason, Cupid plague thee for thy treason!
Resembling none, and none so poor as I, Poor to the world, and poor in each esteem, Whose first-born loves at first obscured did die, And bred no fame but flame of base misdeem, Under the ensign of whose tired pen, Love's legions forth have masked, by others masked; Think how I live wronged by ill-tongued men, Not master of myself, to all wrongs tasked! Oh thou that canst, and she that may do all things, Support these languishing conceits that perish! Look on their growth; perhaps these silly small things May win this wordly palm, so you do cherish. Homer hath vowed, and I with him do vow this, He will and shall revive, if you allow this.
POEMS OF LOVE IN HONOR OF THE ADMIRABLE AND SINGULAR VIRTUES OF HIS LADY, TO THE IMITATION OF THE BEST LATIN POETS AND OTHERS
GILES FLETCHER, LL.D.
GILES FLETCHER, LL.D.
Giles Fletcher, author of Licia, was one of that distinguished family that included Richard Fletcher, the Bishop of London, and his son John Fletcher, the dramatist. The two sons of Dr. Giles Fletcher were also men of marked poetic ability: Phineas, the author of that extraordinary allegorical poem, The Purple Island; and Giles, of Christ's Victory and Triumph. There was a strong family feeling in this circle; Phineas and Giles pay compliments to each other in their verse and show great reverence and tenderness toward the memory of the poetic powers of their father. But Giles Fletcher the elder was not thought of in his own time as a poet. Educated at Eton and Trinity, Cambridge, where he was made LL.D. in 1581, a member of Parliament in '85, employed in many public services at home and abroad during a career that lasted until 1611, in which year Dr. Fletcher died at the age of seventy-two, he was known as a man of action, a man for public responsibility, rather than as the retired scholar or riming courtier. Most important among the foreign embassages undertaken by Fletcher was the one to Russia. The results were of great import to England, commercially and otherwise, but the book he wrote on his return was, for political reasons, suppressed.
It happened that the years of enforced idleness that followed the suppression of this book came in the time when the young sonneteers at London were all busy. He returned from his embassage in '89; the book was suppressed in '91. Licia was published in '93. The writing of Licia was "rather an effect than a cause of idleness;" he did it "only to try his humor," he says apologetically in the dedicatory addresses. "Whereas my thoughts and some reasons drew me rather to have dealt in causes of greater weight, yet the present jar of this disagreeing age drives me into a fit so melancholy, as I had only leisure to grow passionate."
In case wise heads should think him to be treating "an idle subject and so frivolous," or that it has been "vainly handled and so odious," he sets forth the nobility of his view. "Howsoever, Love in this age hath behaved himself in that loose manner as it is counted a disgrace to give him but a kind look, yet I take the passion in itself to be of that honor and credit, as it is a perfect resemblance of the greatest happiness, and rightly valued at his just price (in a mind that is sincerely and truly amorous), an affection of greatest virtue and able of himself to eternise the meanest vassal." "For Love," he declares, "is a goddess (pardon me though I speak like a poet) not respecting the contentment of him that loves, but the virtues of the beloved; satisfied with wondering, fed with admiration; respecting nothing but his lady's worthiness; made as happy by love as by all favors; chaste by honor; far from violence; respecting but one, and that one in such kindness, honesty, truth, constancy, and honor, as were all the world offered to make a change, yet the boot were too small and therefore bootless. This is love, and far more than this, which I know a vulgar head, a base mind, an ordinary conceit, a common person will not nor cannot have. Thus do I commend that love wherewith in these poems I have honoured the worthy Licia."
The sonnet-cycle is inscribed "To the worthie kinde wise and virtuous ladie, the Ladie Mollineux; wife to the right worshipful Sir Richard Mollineux Knight." Nothing is known of this lady, except that her family may possibly have been very distantly connected with that of Fletcher. What the poet's feeling was towards his patroness he defines sufficiently. "Now in that I have written love sonnets, if any man measure my affection by my style, let him say I am in love.... Yet take this by the way; though I am so liberal to grant thus much, a man may write of love and not be in love, as well as of husbandry and not go to the plough, or of witches and be none, or of holiness and be flat profane."
What "shadowings" the poet may intend he refuses to confide to us. "If thou muse what my Licia is, take her to be some Diana, at the least chaste; or some Minerva; no Venus, fairer far. It may be she is Learning's image, or some heavenly wonder, which the precisest may not dislike: perhaps under that name I have shadowed Discipline. It may be I mean that kind courtesy which I found at the patroness of these poems. It may be some college; it may be my conceit, and portend nothing." It is evident then that the patroness herself is not the real person behind the poetic title. He therefore dedicates Licia to Lady Molineux, not because the sonnets themselves are addressed to her, but because he has received "favours undeserved" at her hands and those of "wise Sir Richard" for which he "wants means to make recompence," and therefore in the meantime he begs her to accept this. "If thou like it," he says to the reader, "take it, and thank the worthy Lady Mollineux, for whose sake thou hast it; worthy, indeed, and so not only reputed by me in private affection of thankfulness but so equally to be esteemed by all that know her. For if I had not received of her ... those unrequitable favours, I had not thus idly toyed."
A warm admirer of Fletcher has expressed his opinion that Licia "sparkles with brilliants of the first water." A more temperate judgment is that of another, who says that he "took part without discredit in the choir of singers who were men of action too." Licia is what a typical sonnet-cycle ought to be, a delicate and almost intangible thread of story on which are strung the separate sonnet-pearls. In this case the jewels have a particular finish. Fletcher has adopted the idea of a series of quatrains, often extending the number to four, and a concluding couplet, which he seems fond of utilising to give an epigrammatic finish to the ingenious incident he so often makes the subject of the sonnet. He is fully in the spirit of the Italian mode, however, acknowledging in his title page his indebtedness to poets of other nationalities than his own.
THE WISE, KIND, VIRTUOUS, AND FAIR
Bright matchless star, the honour of the sky, From whose clear shine heaven's vault hath all his light, I send these poems to your graceful eye; Do you but take them, and they have their right. I build besides a temple to your name, Wherein my thoughts shall daily sing your praise; And will erect an altar for the same, Which shall your virtues and your honour raise. But heaven the temple of your honour is, Whose brasen tops your worthy self made proud; The ground an altar, base for such a bliss With pity torn, because I sighed so loud. And since my skill no worship can impart, Make you an incense of my loving heart. Sad all alone not long I musing sat, But that my thoughts compelled me to aspire, A laurel garland in my hand I gat; So the Muses I approached the nigher. My suite was this, a poet to become, To drink with them, and from the heavens be fed. Phoebus denied, and sware there was no room, Such to be poets as fond fancy led. With that I mourned and sat me down to weep. Venus she smiled, and smiling to me said, "Come, drink with me, and sit thee still and sleep." This voice I heard; and Venus I obeyed. That poison sweet hath done me all this wrong, For now of love must needs be all my song.
Weary was love and sought to take his rest, He made his choice, upon a virgin's lap; And slyly crept from thence unto her breast, Where still he meant to sport him in his hap; The virgin frowned like Phoebus in a cloud; "Go pack, sir boy, here is no room for such, My breast no wanton foolish boy must shroud." This said, my love did give the wag a touch; Then as the foot that treads the stinging snake Hastes to be gone, for fear what may ensue, So love my love was forced for to forsake, And for more speed, without his arrows flew. "Pardon," he said, "For why? You seemed to me My mother Venus in her pride to be."
The heavens beheld the beauty of my queen, And all amazed, to wonder thus began: "Why dotes not Jove, as erst we all have seen, And shapes himself like to a seemly man? Mean are the matches which he sought before, Like bloomless buds, too base to make compare, And she alone hath treasured beauty's store, In whom all gifts and princely graces are." Cupid replied: "I posted with the sun To view the maids that lived in those days, And none there was that might not well be won, But she, most hard, most cold, made of delays." Heavens were deceived, and wrong they do esteem, She hath no heat, although she living seem.
Love and my love did range the forest wild, Mounted alike, upon swift coursers both. Love her encountered, though he was a child. "Let's strive," saith he, whereat my love was wroth, And scorned the boy, and checked him with a smile. "I mounted am, and armed with my spear; Thou art too weak, thyself do not beguile; I could thee conquer if I naked were." With this love wept, and then my love replied: "Kiss me, sweet boy, so weep my boy no more." Thus did my love, and then her force she tried; Love was made ice, that fire was before. A kiss of hers, as I, poor soul, do prove, Can make the hottest freeze and coldest love.
Love with her hair my love by force hath tied, To serve her lips, her eyes, her voice, her hand; I smiled for joy, when I the boy espied To lie unchained and live at her command. She if she look, or kiss, or sing, or smile, Cupid withal doth smile, doth sing, doth kiss, Lips, hands, voice, eyes, all hearts that may beguile, Because she scorns all hearts but only this. Venus for this in pride began to frown That Cupid, born a god, enthralled should be. She in disdain her pretty son threw down, And in his place, with love she chained me. So now, sweet love, though I myself be thrall, Not her a goddess, but thyself I call.
My love amazed did blush herself to see, Pictured by art, all naked as she was. "How could the painter know so much by me, Or art effect what he hath brought to pass? It is not like he naked me hath seen, Or stood so nigh for to observe so much." No, sweet; his eyes so near have never been, Nor could his hands by art have cunning such; I showed my heart, wherein you printed were, You, naked you, as here you painted are; In that my love your picture I must wear, And show't to all, unless you have more care. Then take my heart, and place it with your own; So shall you naked never more be known.
Death in a rage assaulted once my heart With love of her, my love that doth deny. I scorned his force, and wished him to depart, I heartless was, and therefore could not die. I live in her, in her I placed my life, She guides my soul, and her I honour must. Nor is this life but yet a living strife, A thing unmeet, and yet a thing most just. Cupid enraged did fly to make me love, My heart lay guarded with those burning eyes The sparks whereof denied him to remove; So conquered now, he like a captive lies; Thus two at once by love were both undone, My heart not loved, and armless Venus' son.
Hard are the rocks, the marble, and the steel, The ancient oak with wind and weather tossed; But you, my love, far harder do I feel Than flint, or these, or is the winter's frost. My tears too weak, your heart they cannot move; My sighs, that rock, like wind it cannot rent; Too tiger-like you swear you cannot love; But tears and sighs you fruitless back have sent. The frost too hard, not melted with my flame, I cinders am, and yet you feel no heat. Surpass not these, sweet love, for very shame, But let my tears, my vows, my sighs entreat; Then shall I say as by trial find; These all are hard, but you, my love, are kind.
Love was laid down, all weary fast asleep, Whereas my love his armor took away; The boy awaked, and straight began to weep, But stood amazed, and knew not what to say. "Weep not, my boy," said Venus to her son, "Thy weapons none can wield, but thou alone; Licia the fair, this harm to thee hath done, I saw her here, and presently was gone; She will restore them, for she hath no need To take thy weapons where thy valour lies; For men to wound the Fates have her decreed, With favour, hands, with beauty, and with eyes." No, Venus, no: she scorns them, credit me; But robbed thy son that none might care for thee.
A painter drew the image of the boy, Swift love, with wings all naked, and yet blind; With bow and arrows, bent for to destroy; I blamed his skill, and fault I thus did find: "A needless task I see thy cunning take; Misled by love, thy fancy thee betrayed; Love is no boy, nor blind, as men him make, Nor weapons wears, whereof to be affrayed; But if thou, love, wilt paint with greatest skill A love, a maid, a goddess, and a queen; Wonder and view at Licia's picture still, For other love the world hath never seen; For she alone all hope all comfort gives; Men's hearts, souls, all, led by her favour lives."
In Ida vale three queens the shepherd saw, Queens of esteem, divine they were all three, A sight of worth. But I a wonder shaw, Their virtues all in one alone to be. Licia the fair, surpassing Venus' pride, (The matchless queen, commander of the gods, When drawn with doves she in her pomp doth ride) Hath far more beauty, and more grace by odds Juno, Jove's wife, unmeet to make compare, I grant a goddess, but not half so mild; Minerva wise, a virtue, but not rare; Yet these are mean, if that my love but smiled. She them surpasseth, when their prides are full As far as they surpass the meanest trull.
I wish sometimes, although a worthless thing, Spurred by ambition, glad to aspire, Myself a monarch, or some mighty king, And then my thoughts do wish for to be higher. But when I view what winds the cedars toss, What storms men feels that covet for renown, I blame myself that I have wished my loss, And scorn a kingdom, though it give a crown. Ah Licia, though the wonder of my thought, My heart's content, procurer of my bliss, For whom a crown I do esteem as naught, As Asia's wealth, too mean to buy a kiss! Kiss me, sweet love, this favor do for me; Then crowns and kingdoms shall I scorn for thee.
Enamored Jove commanding did entreat Cupid to wound my love, which he denied, And swore he could not for she wanted heat And would not love, as he full oft had tried. Jove in a rage, impatient this to hear, Replied with threats; "I'll make you to obey!" Whereat the boy did fly away for fear To Licia's eyes, where safe intrenched he lay. Then Jove he scorned, and dared him to his face, For now more safe than in the heavens he dwelled, Nor could Jove's wrath do wrong to such a place Where grace and honour have their kingdom held. Thus in the pride and beauty of her eyes The seely boy the greatest god defies.
My love lay sleeping, where birds music made, Shutting her eyes, disdainful of the light; The heat was great but greater was the shade Which her defended from his burning sight. This Cupid saw, and came a kiss to take, Sucking sweet nectar from her sugared breath; She felt the touch, and blushed, and did awake, Seeing t'was love, which she did think was death, She cut his wings and caused him to stay, Making a vow, he should not thence depart, Unless to her the wanton boy could pay The truest, kindest and most loving heart. His feathers still she used for a fan, Till by exchange my heart his feathers won.
I stood amazed, and saw my Licia shine, Fairer than Phoebus, in his brightest pride, Set forth in colors by a hand divine, Where naught was wanting but a soul to guide. It was a picture, that I could descry, Yet made with art so as it seemed to live, Surpassing fair, and yet it had no eye, Whereof my senses could no reason give. With that the painter bid me not to muse; "Her eyes are shut, but I deserve no blame; For if she saw, in faith, it could not choose But that the work had wholly been a flame,"— Then burn me, sweet, with brightness of your eyes, That phoenix-like from thence I may arise.
Grant, fairest kind, a kiss unto thy friend! A blush replied, and yet a kiss I had. It is not heaven that can such nectar send Whereat my senses all amazed were glad. This done, she fled as one that was affrayed, And I desired to kiss by kissing more; My love she frowned, and I my kissing stayed, Yet wished to kiss her as I did before. Then as the vine the propping elm doth clasp, Loath to depart till both together die, So fold me, sweet, until my latest gasp, That in thy arms to death I kissed may lie. Thus whilst I live for kisses I must call; Still kiss me, sweet, or kiss me not at all.
As are the sands, fair Licia, on the shore, Or colored flowers, garlands of the spring, Or as the frosts not seen, not felt before, Or as the fruits that autumn forth doth bring; As twinkling stars, the tinsel of the night, Or as the fish that gallop in the seas; As airs each part that still escapes our sight, So are my sighs, controllers of my ease. Yet these are such as needs must have an end, For things finite none else hath nature done; Only the sighs, which from my heart I send, Will never cease, but where they first begun. Accept them, sweet, as incense due to thee; For you immortal made them so to be.
I swear, fair Licia, still for to be thine, By heart, by eyes, by what I held most dear; Thou checked mine oath, and said: these were not mine, And that I had no right by them to swear. Then by my sighs, my passions, and my tears, My vows, my prayers, my sorrow, and my love, My grief, my joy, my hope, and hopeless fears, My heart is thine, and never shall remove. These are not thine, though sent unto thy view, All else I grant, by right they are thine own; Let these suffice that what I swear is true, And more than this if that it could be known. So shall all these though troubles ease my grief; If that they serve to work in thee belief.
That time, fair Licia, when I stole a kiss, From off those lips, where Cupid lovely laid, I quaked for cold, and found the cause was this: My life which loved, for love behind me staid. I sent my heart my life for to recall, But that was held, not able to return, And both detained as captives were in thrall, And judged by her, that both by sighs should burn. Fair, burn them both, for that they were so bold, But let the altar be within thy heart; And I shall live because my life you hold, You that give life, to every living part; A flame I took whenas I stole the kiss; Take you my life, yet can I live with this.
First did I fear, when first my love began; Possessed in fits by watchful jealousy, I sought to keep what I by favour won, And brooked no partner in my love to be. But tyrant sickness fed upon my love, And spread his ensigns, dyed with colour white; Then was suspicion glad for to remove, And loving much did fear to lose her quite. Erect, fair sweet, the colors thou didst wear; Dislodge thy griefs; the short'ners of content; For now of life, not love, is all my fear, Lest life and love be both together spent. Live but, fair love, and banish thy disease, And love, kind heart, both where and whom thou please.
Licia my love was sitting in a grove, Tuning her smiles unto the chirping songs, But straight she spied where two together strove, Each one complaining of the other's wrongs. Cupid did cry lamenting of the harm; Jove's messenger, thou wrong'st me too too far; Use thou thy rod, rely upon the charm; Think not by speech my force thou canst debar. A rod, Sir boy, were fitter for a child, My weapons oft and tongue and mind you took; And in my wrong at my distress thou smiled, And scorned to grace me with a loving look. Speak you, sweet love, for you did all the wrong That broke his arrows, and did bind his tongue.
I might have died before my life begun, Whenas my father for his country's good The Persian's favor and the Sophy won And yet with danger of his dearest blood. Thy father, sweet, whom danger did beset, Escaped all, and for no other end But only this, that you he might beget, Whom heavens decreed into the world to send. Then father, thank thy daughter for thy life, And Neptune praise that yielded so to thee, To calm the tempest when the storms were rife, And that thy daughter should a Venus be. I call thee Venus, sweet, but be not wroth; Thou art more chaste, yet seas did favor both.
My love was masked, and armed with a fan, To see the sun so careless of his light, Which stood and gazed, and gazing waxed wan To see a star himself that was more bright. Some did surmize she hid her from the sun, Of whom in pride she scorned for to be kissed, Or feared the harm by him to others done. But these the reason of this wonder missed, Nor durst the sun, if that her face were bare In greatest pride, presume to take a kiss. But she more kind did show she had more care Than with her eyes eclipse him of his bliss. Unmask you, sweet, and spare not; dim the sun; Your light's enough, although that his were done.
Whenas my love lay sickly in her bed, Pale death did post in hope to have a prey; But she so spotless made him that he fled; "Unmeet to die," she cried, and could not stay. Back he retired, and thus the heavens he told; "All things that are, are subject unto me, Both towns, and men, and what the world doth hold; But her fair Licia still immortal be." The heavens did grant; a goddess she was made, Immortal, fair, unfit to suffer change. So now she lives, and never more shall fade; In earth a goddess, what can be more strange? Then will I hope, a goddess and so near, She cannot choose my sighs and prayers but hear.
Seven are the lights that wander in the skies, And at these seven, I wonder in my love. So see the moon, how pale she doth arise, Standing amazed, as though she durst not move; So is my sweet much paler than the snow, Constant her looks, these looks that cannot change. Mercury the next, a god sweet-tongued we know, But her sweet voice doth wonders speak more strange. The rising Sun doth boast him of his pride, And yet my love is far more fair than he. The warlike Mars can wieldless weapons guide, But yet that god is far more weak than she. The lovely Venus seemeth to be fair, But at her best my love is far more bright. Saturn for age with groans doth dim the air, Whereas my love with smiles doth give it light. Gaze at her brows, where heaven ingrafted is; Then sigh, and swear, there is no heaven but this.
I live, sweet love, whereas the gentle wind Murmurs with sport in midst of thickest boughs, Where loving woodbine doth the harbor bind, And chirping birds do echo forth my vows; Where strongest elm can scarce support the vine, And sweetest flowers enameled have the ground; Where Muses dwell; and yet hereat repine That on the earth so rare a place was found. But winds delight, I wish to be content; I praise the woodbine, but I take no joy; I moan the birds that music thus have spent; As for the rest, they breed but mine annoy. Live then, fair Licia, in this place alone; Then shall I joy though all of these were gone.
The crystal stream wherein my love did swim, Melted in tears as partners of my woe; Her shine was such as did the fountain dim, The pearl-like fountain whiter than the snow; Then like perfume, resolved with a heat, The fountain smoked, as if it thought to burn; A wonder strange to see the cold so great, And yet the fountain into smoke to turn. I searched the cause, and found it to be this: She touched the water, and it burned with love. Now by her means it purchased hath that bliss, Which all diseases quickly can remove. Then if by you these streams thus blessed be, Sweet, grant me love, and be not worse to me.
In time the strong and stately turrets fall, In time the rose and silver lilies die, In time the monarchs captive are and thrall, In time the sea and rivers are made dry; The hardest flint in time doth melt asunder; Still living fame in time doth fade away; The mountains proud we see in time come under; And earth for age we see in time decay; The sun in time forgets for to retire From out the east where he was wont to rise; The basest thoughts we see in time aspire, And greedy minds in time do wealth despise. Thus all, sweet fair, in time must have an end, Except thy beauty, virtues, and thy friend.
Why died I not whenas I last did sleep? O sleep too short that shadowed forth my dear! Heavens, hear my prayers, nor thus me waking keep! For this were heaven, if thus I sleeping were. For in that dark there shone a princely light; Two milk-white hills, both full of nectar sweet, Her ebon thighs, the wonder of my sight, Where all my senses with their objects meet,— I pass these sports, in secret that are best, Wherein my thoughts did seem alive to be; We both did strive, and weary both did rest; I kissed her still, and still she kissed me. Heavens, let me sleep, and shows my senses feed, Or let me wake and happy be indeed!
Whenas my Licia sailed in the seas, Viewing with pride god Neptune's stately crown, A calm she made, and brought the merchant ease, The storm she stayed, and checked him with a frown. Love at the stern sate smiling and did sing To see how seas had learned for to obey; And balls of fire into the waves did fling; And still the boy full wanton thus did say:— "Both poles we burnt whereon the world doth turn, The round of heaven from earth unto the skies; And now the seas we both intend to burn, I with my bow, and Licia with her eyes." Then since thy force, heavens, earth, nor seas can move, I conquered yield, and do confess I love.
Whenas her lute is tuned to her voice, The air grows proud for honour of that sound, And rocks do leap to show how they rejoice That in the earth such music should be found. Whenas her hair more worth, more pale than gold, Like silver thread lies wafting in the air, Diana-like she looks, but yet more bold; Cruel in chase, more chaste and yet more fair. Whenas she smiles, the clouds for envy breaks; She Jove in pride encounters with a check; The sun doth shine for joy whenas she speaks; Thus heaven and earth do homage at her beck. Yet all these graces, blots, not graces are, If you, my love, of love do take no care.
Years, months, days, hours, in sighs I sadly spend; I black the night wherein I sleepless toss; I love my griefs yet wish them at an end; Thus time's expense increaseth but my loss. I musing stand and wonder at my love, That in so fair should be a heart of steel; And then I think my fancy to remove, But then more painful I my passions feel; Thus must I love, sweet fair, until I die, And your unkindness doth my love increase. I conquered am, I can it not deny; My life must end, yet shall my love not cease. Then heavens, make Licia fair most kind to me, Or with my life my loss may finished be!
I wrote my sighs, and sent them to my love; I praised that fair that none enough could praise; But plaints nor praises could fair Licia move; Above my reach she did her virtues raise, And thus replied: "False Scrawl, untrue thou art, To feign those sighs that nowhere can be found; For half those praises came not from his heart Whose faith and love as yet was never found. Thy master's life, false Scrawl shall be thy doom; Because he burns, I judge thee to the flame; Both your attempts deserve no better room." Thus at her word we ashes both became. Believe me, fair, and let my paper live; Or be not fair, and so me freedom give.
Pale are my looks, forsaken of my life, Cinders my bones, consumed with thy flame, Floods are my tears, to end this burning strife, And yet I sigh for to increase the same; I mourn alone because alone I burn; Who doubts of this, then let him learn to love; Her looks cold ice into a flame can turn, As I distressed in myself do prove. Respect, fair Licia, what my torments are; Count but the tithe both of my sighs and tears; See how my love doth still increase my care, And care's increase my life to nothing wears. Send but a sigh my flame for to increase, Or lend a tear and cause it so to cease.
Whenas I wish, fair Licia, for a kiss From those sweet lips where rose and lilies strive, Straight do mine eyes repine at such a bliss, And seek my lips thereof for to deprive; Whenas I seek to glut mine eyes by sight, My lips repine and call mine eyes away; Thus both contend to have each other's right, And both conspire to work my full decay. O force admired of beauty in her pride, In whose each part such strange effects there be, That all my forces in themselves divide, And make my senses plainly disagree. If all were mine, this envy would be gone; Then grant me all, fair sweet, or grant me none!
Hear how my sighs are echoed of the wind; See how my tears are pitied by the rain; Feel what a flame possessed hath my mind; Taste but the grief which I possess in vain. Then if my sighs the blustering winds surpass, And wat'ry tears the drops of rain exceed, And if no flame like mine nor is nor was, Nor grief like that whereon my soul doth feed, Relent, fair Licia, when my sighs do blow; Yield at my tears, that flintlike drops consume; Accept the flame that doth my incense show, Allow the grief that is my heart's perfume. Thus sighs and tears, flame, grief shall plead for me; So shall I pray, and you a goddess be.
I speak, fair Licia, what my torments be, But then my speech too partial do I find; For hardly words can with those thoughts agree, Those thoughts that swarm in such a troubled mind. Then do I vow my tongue shall never speak Nor tell my grief that in my heart doth lie; But cannon-like, I then surcharged do break, And so my silence worse than speech I try. Thus speech or none, they both do breed my care; I live dismayed, and kill my heart with grief; In all respects my case alike doth fare To him that wants, and dare not ask relief. Then you, fair Lucia, sovereign of my heart, Read to yourself my anguish and my smart.
Sweet, I protest, and seal it with an oath: I never saw that so my thoughts did please; And yet content displeased I see them wroth To love so much and cannot have their ease. I told my thoughts, my sovereign made a pause, Disposed to grant, but willing to delay; They then repined, for that they knew no cause, And swore they wished she flatly would say nay. Thus hath my love, my thoughts with treason filled, And 'gainst my sovereign taught them to repine. So thus my treason all my thoughts hath killed, And made fair Licia say she is not mine. But thoughts too rash my heart doth now repent; And as you please, they swear, they are content.
Fair matchless nymph, respect but what I crave; My thoughts are true, and honour is my love; I fainting die whom yet a smile might save; You gave the wound, and can the hurt remove. Those eyes like stars that twinkle in the night, And cheeks like rubies pale in lilies dyed, Those ebon hands that darting hath such might That in my soul my love and life divide, Accept the passions of a man possessed; Let love be loved and grant me leave to live; Disperse those clouds that darkened have my rest, And let your heaven a sun-like smile but give! Then shall I praise that heaven for such a sun That saved my life, whenas my grief begun.
My grief begun, fair saint, when first I saw Love in those eyes sit ruling with disdain, Whose sweet commands did keep a world in awe, And caused them serve your favor to obtain. I stood as one enchanted with a frown, Yet smiled to see all creatures serve those eyes, Where each with sighs paid tribute to that crown, And thought them graced by your dumb replies. But I, ambitious, could not be content Till that my service more than sighs made known; And for that end my heart to you I sent To say and swear that, fair, it is your own. Then greater graces, Licia, do impart, Not dumb replies unto a speaking heart.
SONNET MADE UPON THE TWO TWINS, DAUGHTERS OF THE LADY MOLLINEUX, BOTH PASSING LIKE, AND EXCEEDING FAIR
Poets did feign that heavens a Venus had, Matchless herself, and Cupid was her son; Men sued to these, and of their smiles were glad, By whom so many famous were undone. Now Cupid mourns that he hath lost his might, And that these two so comely are to see; And Venus frowns because they have her right. Yet both so like that both shall blameless be; With heaven's two twins for godhead these may strive, And rule a world with least part of a frown; Fairer than these two twins are not alive, Both conquering queens, and both deserve a crown. My thoughts presage, which time to come shall try, That thousands conquered for their love shall die.
If, aged Charon, when my life shall end, I pass thy ferry and my waftage pay, Thy oars shall fall, thy boat and mast shall rend, And through the deep shall be a dry foot-way. For why? My heart with sighs doth breathe such flame That air and water both incensed be, The boundless ocean from whose mouth they came, For from my heat not heaven itself is free. Then since to me thy loss can be no gain, Avoid thy harm and fly what I foretell. Make thou thy love with me for to be slain, That I with her and both with thee may dwell. Thy fact thus, Charon, both of us shall bless, Thou save thy boat and I my love possess.
For if alone thou think to waft my love, Her cold is such as can the sea command, And frozen ice shall let thy boat to move, Nor can thy forces row it from the land. But if thou friendly both at once shalt take, Thyself mayst rest. For why? My sighs will blow. Our cold and heat so sweet a thaw shall make, As that thy boat without thy help shall row. Then will I sit and glut me on those eyes Wherewith my life my eyes could never fill. Thus from my boat that comfort shall arise, The want whereof my life and hope did kill. Together placed so thou her scorn shalt cross, Where if we part thy boat must suffer loss.
Are those two stars, her eyes, my life's light gone, By which my soul was freed from all dark? And am I left distressed to live alone, Where none my tears and mournful tale shall mark? Ah sun, why shine thy looks, thy looks like gold, When horsemen brave thou risest in the east? Ah Cynthia pale, to whom my griefs I told, Why do you both rejoice both man and beast? And I alone, alone that dark possess By Licia's absence brighter than the sun, Whose smiling light did ease my sad distress, And broke the clouds, when tears like rain begun. Heavens, grant that light and so me waking keep, Or shut my eyes and rock me fast asleep!
Cruel fair love, I justly do complain Of too much rigor and thy heart unkind, That for mine eyes thou hast my body slain, And would not grant that I should favour find. I looked, fair love, and you my love looked fair, I sighed for love and you for sport did smile. Your smiles were such as did perfume the air, And this perfumed did my heart beguile. Thus I confess the fault was in mine eyes, Begun with sighs and ended with a flame. I for your love did all the world despise; And in these poems honored have your name. Then let your love so with my fault dispense, That all my parts feel not mine eyes' offense.
There shone a comet, and it was full west. My thoughts presaged what it did portend; I found it threatened to my heart unrest, And might in time my joys and comfort end. I further sought and found it was a sun, Which day nor night did never use to set. It constant stood when heavens did restless run, And did their virtues and their forces let. The world did muse and wonder what it meant, A sun to shine and in the west to rise; To search the truth, I strength and spirits spent; At length I found it was my Licia's eyes. Now never after soul shall live in dark, That hath the hap this western sun to mark.
If he be dead, in whom no heart remains, Or lifeless be in whom no life is found; If he do pine that never comfort gains, And be distressed that hath his deadly wound; Then must I die whose heart elsewhere is clad, And lifeless pass the greedy worms to feed; Then must I pine that never comfort had, And be distressed whose wound with tears doth bleed. Which if I do, why do I not wax cold? Why rest I not like one that wants a heart? Why move I still like him that life doth hold, And sense enjoy both of my joy and smart? Like Niobe queen which made a stone did weep, Licia my heart dead and alive doth keep.
Like Memnon's rock, touched with the rising sun Which yields a sound and echoes forth a voice, But when it's drowned in western seas is done, And drowsy-like leaves off to make a noise; So I, my love, enlightened with your shine, A poet's skill within my soul I shroud, Not rude like that which finer wits decline, But such as Muses to the best allowed. But when your figure and your shape is gone I speechless am like as I was before; Or if I write, my verse is filled with moan, And blurred with tears by falling in such store. Then muse not, Licia, if my Muse be slack, For when I wrote I did thy beauty lack.
I saw, sweet Licia, when the spider ran Within your house to weave a worthless web, You present were and feared her with your fan, So that amazed speedily she fled. She in your house such sweet perfumes did smell, And heard the Muses with their notes refined, Thus filled with envy, could no longer dwell, But straight returned and at your house repined. Then tell me, spider, why of late I saw Thee lose thy poison, and thy bowels gone; Did these enchant and keep thy limbs in awe, And made thy forces to be small or none? No, no, thou didst by chance my Licia see, Who for her look Minerva seemed to thee.
If that I die, fair Licia, with disdain, Or heartless live surprised with thy wrong, Then heavens and earth shall accent both my pain, And curse the time so cruel and so long. If you be kind, my queen, as you are fair, And aid my thoughts that still for conquest strive, Then will I sing and never more despair, And praise your kindness whilst I am alive. Till then I pay the tribute of my tears, To move thy mercy and thy constant truth. Respect, fair love, how these with sorrow wears The truest heart unless it find some ruth. Then grace me, sweet, and with thy favor raise me, So shall I live and all the world shall praise thee.
Ah Licia, sigh and say thou art my own; Nay, be my own, as you full oft have said. So shall your truth unto the world be known, And I resolved where now I am afraid. And if my tongue eternize can your praise, Or silly speech increase your worthy fame, If ought I can, to heaven your worth can raise, The age to come shall wonder at the same. In this respect your love, sweet love, I told, My faith and truth I vowed should be forever. You were the cause if that I was too bold; Then pardon this my fault or love me never. But if you frown I wish that none believe me, For slain with sighs I'll die before I grieve thee.