Sonnets of Shakespeare's Ghost
The Words procured by GREGORY THORNTON The Ornaments made by WILLEM BLAEU
Never before Imprinted
By Angus & Robertson, and are to be solde by all booksellers
TO THE ONLIE BEGETTER
OF THESE INSUING SONNETS
The Spirit of William Shakespeare, sore vexed of them who say that in his Sonnets he writ not from the truth of his heart but from the toyings of his brain, and that he devised but a feigned object to fit a feigned affection, herein maketh answer, renewing as best a shadow may that rhyme wherein he was more excellent in the living body
The wise world saith I not unlock'd my heart When I of thee and thy dear love did write, And would each word of mine to false convert, Doing my simple sense a double spite. It saith thou wert but shadow born of nought, But vain creation of an apish rhyme, While, Fashion's fool, my strain'd invention sought To better them who best did please the time. But wherefore say they so, and do dear wrong To thee, whose worth was my sole argument, To me, whose verse 'twas truth alone made strong By that the breast must feel, not brain invent? They who this doubt never such beauty knew, Nor what to poet love alone can do.
They say a man ne'er bore such love to man, Or, if he did, 'twere but a cause for shame; But, speaking so, they their own measure scan, And blot their censure with self-blaming blame. For, thou being Beauty's best, the best of me Worshipp'd but Beauty's self and Beauty's worth; My fire and air, my spirit, adored thee Unmix'd with gross compounding of my earth. And thou wert best of Truth, the first in grace Of all rich gems in Virtue's carcanet; Then should I not love thee and give thee place Above all love of sense on woman set? In love of Beauty, whate'er shape 'tis in, There's nought of Truth, if it must think of sin.
Look, when the rose to deep vermilion hue Adds that sweet odour gracious Nature gives, When his proud glory gladdens every view, And no base worm within his beauties lives, We nothing question of what sex it be, Nor ask more of it than that it should lend His lovely gaze for ravish'd eye to see, And on the blessed air his fragrance spend. We ask not that the star which lights the heaven Should be or male or female to our sense, Suffic'd in this, that it empearls the even, And happies all our under reverence. Then might'st not thou, who wert both rose and star, Be pure to me as these to others are?
Some hold it strange that love like thine and mine 'Twixt two in state so sunder'd should be bred, That he who did all worths in him combine, Birth, beauty, wit, wealth, me thus honoured, Me, the poor motley, maim'd by Fortune's spite, Sear'd and o'erworn with tyranny of time, Whose wit was but the wit to learn to write When thou, my Muse, inspir'dst my pupil rhyme. Thou wert the wide world's pride, but I his scorn; His pattern thou, I his poor toy and tool; Whence therefore should that tender love be born 'Twixt Fortune's minion thee, and me her fool? O know they not that all such outward things Hold lowest count in the soul's reckonings?
Hadst thou been such as, boasting of their birth, Pass by the humbler-born with proud disdain, Making self-merit of the antique worth Whereby some sire that state for them did gain; Had riches' dross so reign'd in thy respect, That riches' lack were deem'd by thee disgrace; Of thy rare parts had 't been the rude effect, That cruel pride held gentle pity's place; Then would'st thou ne'er have look'd on lowly me, To find what merit there thou might'st approve, Nor would my heart, grown warm for haughty thee, Dare or desire to clamour for thy love. But all thy gifts were made more rich, more rare, By inward sweetness kind beyond compare.
Why, thou being changeless, changeful did I write, Trusting thy truth, yet doubting thy defect, Now all-triumphant, now confounded quite, Sad-suited all, or proud in purple deck'd? Did I not write of thy rare constancy, Wherein was none like thee, thou like to none; Swear that thy heart within my heart did lie Past all removal till the world were done? E'en so; but though, when clouds the region hold, Masking with envious murk the sun's bright face, Our o'ergloom'd spirits shudder 'neath the cold, He merits not the blame of that disgrace: Himself is still the same, still warm, still bright, Though clouds between hide both the warmth and light.
Yet, being so chill'd, do we not chide the sun, And say he wilful hides his face away, Say 'tis his will makes the world drear and dun, And takes the golden glory from the day? The envious rack we rather should reproach, That comes betwixt us in despite of him, Rebellious powers, that on his reign encroach, And, black themselves, his brightness joy to dim. So when the troubling mischiefs of the time, Or baser minds, bent upon marring thee, Stole moments of thy favour, then my rhyme Slander'd thy love and slurr'd thy constancy. Yet the sun's self unstain'd and bright remains, And my heart knew thy stains were not thy stains.
If wrongfully I moan'd thy 'pretty wrongs', When I was 'sometime absent from thy heart', O none so trusting but to him belongs Some moody moment of his mortal part! No man doth Nature make whose trust doth ever Unveering with all winds point still the same; None is so whole in health he knows no fever To shake the firm composure of his frame. My love so wholly thine, thy worth so dear, Made each thine absence so distract my breast, That in his turmoil faith sometime to fear Converted, doubting most when most 'twas blest. Because mine own heart lone without thee seem'd, Me absent from thy heart I falsely deem'd.
I writ how once I wander'd from thy side, Serving the strong suggestions of my blood, Only to prove from worse things vainly tried How far more precious grew thy sum of good. If I so lov'd thee, what is my defence, That thy dear love fail'd then my steps to stay, That idle hours were idly given to sense, And soul forsaken at the call of clay? O let love grant excuse; my sensual part Dwelt ever far from pure untainted thee; It held no conversation with my heart, Nor, us'd or check'd, could be thine injury. If once it triumph'd, carrying me away, It stole but earth; my soul did with thee stay.
If that my sensual deed had stol'n from thee Aught that were part of thy most precious love, Or made to swerve the loving soul of me, That to thy service it should duller prove; Had't made to me thy grace less gracious seem, Thy worth less worth, thy love a smaller prize, Or bated aught of thy most rich esteem, Which still grew richer in thy servant's eyes; Then were it fault too foul to find excuse, And all I writ of thee were vows untrue; My verse were nought but idle poet's use, Conceit's worn weeds lac'd o'er with wording new. But 'twas not so; though true my love before, 'Twas thenceforth purg'd, and priz'd thee all the more.
Wherefore should I mine own heart not unfold, And his true workings to the world disclose? Why self-unlocking for unseemly hold, Which me, as I show'd others, human shows? If I to Nature held her truthful glass, And on the stage life's self did strive to set, Creating thousand shadows that should pass For very substance when men's eyes they met; If there I imag'd love, hate, doubt, and trust, If all the pageant of the mortal heart, Might not one say: 'This man within him must Have learn'd from Nature what he shap'd in art'? All passions' depths he only can reveal Who doth them all within him living feel.
Whence came it that I knew in others' case How bitter-sweet and tyrant-slave is love, How quick to jealous doubt it yieldeth place, If mine own self did ne'er his power prove? Whence knew I the deep sense that in the soul Is thrill'd and thrall'd by perfect beauty's sight, If never beauty did myself control With all the mastery of sovran might? Since so my heart laid bare what it contain'd Of understanding of love's mysteries, And nought of thine or mine our loving stain'd, That I should hide it from misprising eyes, No shame or scruple might my judgement see To tell of that true love I bore to thee.
Imprinted at Adelaide by G. Hassell & Sonne for Angus & Robertson, Sydney