History of Literature










 

John Donne

"Songs and Sonnets"


"Elegies"




 



John Donne




 

 

John Donne


English poet

born , sometime between Jan. 24 and June 19, 1572, London, Eng.
died March 31, 1631, London

Main
leading English poet of the Metaphysical school and dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London (1621–31). Donne is often considered the greatest love poet in the English language. He is also noted for his religious verse and treatises and for his sermons, which rank among the best of the 17th century.

Life and career
Donne was born of Roman Catholic parents. His mother, a direct descendant of Sir Thomas More’s sister, was the youngest daughter of John Heywood, epigrammatist and playwright. His father, who, according to Donne’s first biographer, Izaak Walton, was “descended from a very ancient family in Wales,” was a prosperous London merchant. Donne was four when his father died, and shortly thereafter his mother married Dr. John Syminges, who raised the Donne children. At age 12 Donne matriculated at the University of Oxford, where he studied for three years, and he then most likely continued his education at the University of Cambridge, though he took no degree from either university because as a Roman Catholic he could not swear the required oath of allegiance to the Protestant queen, Elizabeth. Following his studies Donne probably traveled in Spain and Italy and then returned to London to read law, first at Thavies Inn (1591) and then at Lincoln’s Inn (1592–94). There he turned to a comparative examination of Roman Catholic and Protestant theology and perhaps even toyed with religious skepticism. In 1596 he enlisted as a gentleman with the Earl of Essex’s successful privateering expedition against Cádiz, and the following year he sailed with Sir Walter Raleigh and Essex in the near-disastrous Islands expedition, hunting for Spanish treasure ships in the Azores.

After his return to London in 1597, Donne became secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, lord keeper of the great seal, in whose employ Donne remained for almost five years. The appointment itself makes it probable that Donne had become an Anglican by this time. During his tenure with the lord keeper, Donne lived, according to Walton, more as a friend than as a servant in the Egerton household, where Sir Thomas appointed him “a place at his own table, to which he esteemed [Donne’s] company and discourse to be a great ornament.” Donne’s contemporary, Richard Baker, wrote of him at this time as “not dissolute [i.e., careless], but very neat; a great visitor of Ladies, a great frequenter of Plays, a great writer of conceited Verses.”

While in Egerton’s service, Donne met and fell in love with Anne More, niece of Egerton’s second wife and the daughter of Sir George More, who was chancellor of the garter. Knowing there was no chance of obtaining Sir George’s blessing on their union, the two married secretly, probably in December 1601. For this offense Sir George had Donne briefly imprisoned and dismissed from his post with Egerton as well. He also denied Anne’s dowry to Donne. Because of the marriage, moreover, all possibilities of a career in public service were dashed, and Donne found himself at age 30 with neither prospects for employment nor adequate funds with which to support his household.

During the next 10 years Donne lived in poverty and humiliating dependence, first on the charity of Anne’s cousin at Pyrford, Surrey, then at a house in Mitcham, about 7 miles (11 km) from London, and sometimes in a London apartment, where he relied on the support of noble patrons. All the while he repeatedly tried (and failed) to secure employment, and in the meantime his family was growing; Anne ultimately bore 12 children, 5 of whom died before they reached maturity. Donne’s letters show his love and concern for his wife during these years: “Because I have transplanted [her] into a wretched fortune, I must labour to disguise that from her by all such honest devices, as giving her my company, and discourse.” About himself, however, Donne recorded only despair: “To be part of no body is as nothing; and so I am. . . . I am rather a sickness or a disease of the world than any part of it and therefore neither love it nor life.”

In spite of his misery during these years, Donne wrote and studied assiduously, producing prose works on theology, canon law, and anti-Catholic polemics and composing love lyrics, religious poetry, and complimentary and funerary verse for his patrons. As early as 1607 friends had begun urging him to take holy orders in the Church of England, but he felt unworthy and continued to seek secular employment. In 1611–12 he traveled through France and the Low Countries with his newfound patron, Sir Robert Drury, leaving his wife at Mitcham. Upon their return from the European continent, the Drurys provided the Donnes with a house on the Drury estate in London, where they lived until 1621.

In 1614 King James I refused Donne’s final attempt to secure a post at court and said that he would appoint him to nothing outside the church. By this time Donne himself had come to believe he had a religious vocation, and he finally agreed to take holy orders. He was ordained deacon and priest on Jan. 23, 1615, and preferment soon followed. He was made a royal chaplain and received, at the king’s command, the degree of doctor of divinity from Cambridge. On Nov. 22, 1621, Donne was installed as dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, at which he carried out his duties with efficiency and integrity. But this turnabout in Donne’s professional life was accompanied by searing personal grief. Two years after his ordination, in 1617, Anne Donne died at the age of 33 after giving birth to a stillborn child. Grief-stricken at having lost his emotional anchor, Donne vowed never to marry again, even though he was left with the task of raising his children in modest financial circumstances at the time. Instead, his bereavement turned him fully to his vocation as an Anglican divine. The power and eloquence of Donne’s sermons soon secured for him a reputation as the foremost preacher in the England of his day, and he became a favourite of both Kings James I and Charles I.

In 1623 Donne fell seriously ill with either typhus or relapsing fever, and during his sickness he reflected on the parallels between his physical and spiritual illnesses—reflections that culminated during his recovery in the prose Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, published in 1624. On Feb. 25, 1631, Donne, who was fatally ill with stomach cancer, left his sickbed to preach a final sermon at court; this was published posthumously as “Death’s Duell” and is sometimes considered to be his own funeral sermon. He returned to his sickbed and, according to Walton, had a drawing made of himself in his shroud, perhaps as an aid to meditating on his own dissolution. From this drawing Nicholas Stone constructed a marble effigy of Donne that survived the Great Fire of 1666 and still stands today in St. Paul’s Cathedral.


Poetry
Because almost none of Donne’s poetry was published during his lifetime, it is difficult to date it accurately. Most of his poems were preserved in manuscript copies made by and passed among a relatively small but admiring coterie of poetry lovers. Most current scholars agree, however, that the elegies (which in Donne’s case are poems of love, not of mourning), epigrams, verse letters, and satires were written in the 1590s, the Songs and Sonnets from the 1590s until 1617, and the “Holy Sonnets” and other religious lyrics from the time of Donne’s marriage until his ordination in 1615. He composed the hymns late in his life, in the 1620s. Donne’s Anniversaries were published in 1611–12 and were the only important poetic works by him published in his lifetime.

Donne’s poetry is marked by strikingly original departures from the conventions of 16th-century English verse, particularly that of Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser. Even his early satires and elegies, which derive from classical Latin models, contain versions of his experiments with genre, form, and imagery. His poems contain few descriptive passages like those in Spenser, nor do his lines follow the smooth metrics and euphonious sounds of his predecessors. Donne replaced their mellifluous lines with a speaking voice whose vocabulary and syntax reflect the emotional intensity of a confrontation and whose metrics and verbal music conform to the needs of a particular dramatic situation. One consequence of this is a directness of language that electrifies his mature poetry. “For Godsake hold your tongue, and let me love,” begins his love poem “The Canonization,” plunging the reader into the midst of an encounter between the speaker and an unidentified listener. Holy Sonnet XI opens with an imaginative confrontation wherein Donne, not Jesus, suffers indignities on the cross: “Spit in my face yee Jewes, and pierce my side. . .”

From these explosive beginnings, the poems develop as closely reasoned arguments or propositions that rely heavily on the use of the conceit—i.e., an extended metaphor that draws an ingenious parallel between apparently dissimilar situations or objects. Donne, however, transformed the conceit into a vehicle for transmitting multiple, sometimes even contradictory, feelings and ideas. And, changing again the practice of earlier poets, he drew his imagery from such diverse fields as alchemy, astronomy, medicine, politics, global exploration, and philosophical disputation. Donne’s famous analogy of parting lovers to a drawing compass affords a prime example. The immediate shock of some of his conceits aroused Samuel Johnson to call them “heterogeneous ideas . . . yoked by violence together.” Upon reflection, however, these conceits offer brilliant and multiple insights into the subject of the metaphor and help give rise to the much-praised ambiguity of Donne’s lyrics.

The presence of a listener is another of Donne’s modifications of the Renaissance love lyric, in which the lovers lament, hope, and dissect their feelings without facing their ladies. Donne, by contrast, speaks directly to the lady or some other listener. The latter may even determine the course of the poem, as in “The Flea,” in which the speaker changes his tack once the woman crushes the insect on which he has built his argument about the innocence of lovemaking. But for all their dramatic intensity, Donne’s poems still maintain the verbal music and introspective approach that define lyric poetry. His speakers may fashion an imaginary figure to whom they utter their lyric outburst, or, conversely, they may lapse into reflection in the midst of an address to a listener. “But O, selfe traytor,” the forlorn lover cries in “Twickham Garden” as he transforms part of his own psyche into a listener. Donne also departs from earlier lyrics by adapting the syntax and rhythms of living speech to his poetry, as in “I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I/Did, till we lov’d?”. Taken together, these features of his poetry provided an impetus for the works of such later poets as Robert Browning, William Butler Yeats, and T.S. Eliot.

Donne also radically adapted some of the standard materials of love lyrics. For example, even though he continued to use such Petrarchan conceits as “parting from one’s beloved is death,” a staple of Renaissance love poetry, he either turned the comparisons into comedy, as when the man in “The Apparition” envisions himself as a ghost haunting his unfaithful lady, or he subsumed them into the texture of his poem, as the title “A Valediction: forbidding Mourning” exemplifies. Donne’s love lyrics provide keen psychological insights about a broad range of lovers and a wide spectrum of amorous feelings. His speakers range from lustful men so sated by their numerous affairs that they denounce love as a fiction and women as objects—food, birds of prey, mummies—to platonic lovers who celebrate both the magnificence of their ladies and their own miraculous abstention from consummating their love. Men whose love is unrequited feel victimized and seek revenge on their ladies, only to realize the ineffectuality of their retaliation. In the poems of mutual love, however, Donne’s lovers rejoice in the compatibility of their sexual and spiritual love and seek immortality for an emotion that they elevate to an almost religious plane.

Donne’s devotional lyrics, especially the “Holy Sonnets,” “Good Friday 1613, Riding Westward,” and the hymns, passionately explore his love for God, sometimes through sexual metaphors, and depict his doubts, fears, and sense of spiritual unworthiness. None of them shows him spiritually at peace.

The most sustained of Donne’s poems, the Anniversaries, were written to commemorate the death of Elizabeth Drury, the 14-year-old daughter of his patron, Sir Robert Drury. These poems subsume their ostensible subject into a philosophical meditation on the decay of the world. Elizabeth Drury becomes, as Donne noted, “the Idea of a woman,” and a lost pattern of virtue. Through this idealized feminine figure, Donne in The First Anniversarie: An Anatomie of the World laments humanity’s spiritual death, beginning with the loss of Eden and continuing in the decay of the contemporary world, in which men have lost the wisdom that connects them to God. In The Second Anniversarie: Of the Progres of the Soule, Donne, partly through a eulogy on Elizabeth Drury, ultimately regains the wisdom that directs him toward eternal life.


Prose
Donne’s earliest prose works, Paradoxes and Problems, probably were begun during his days as a student at Lincoln’s Inn. These witty and insouciant paradoxes defend such topics as women’s inconstancy and pursue such questions as “Why do women delight much in feathers?” and “Why are Courtiers sooner Atheists than men of other conditions?” While living in despair at Mitcham in 1608, Donne wrote a casuistic defense of suicide entitled Biathanatos. His own contemplation of suicide, he states, prompted in him “a charitable interpretation of theyr Action, who dye so.” Donne’s Pseudo-Martyr, published in 1610, attacks the recusants’ unwillingness to swear the oath of allegiance to the king, which Roman Catholics were required to do after the Gunpowder Plot (1605). The treatise so pleased James I that he had Oxford confer an honorary master of arts degree on Donne. In 1610 Donne also wrote a prose satire on the Jesuits entitled Ignatius His Conclave, in both Latin and English.

In 1611 Donne completed his Essays in Divinity, the first of his theological works. Upon recovering from a life-threatening illness, Donne in 1623 wrote Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, the most enduring of his prose works. Each of its 23 devotions consists of a meditation, an expostulation, and a prayer, all occasioned by some event in Donne’s illness, such as the arrival of the king’s personal physician or the application of pigeons to draw vapours from Donne’s head. The Devotions correlate Donne’s physical decline with spiritual sickness, until both reach a climax when Donne hears the tolling of a passing bell (16, 17, 18) and questions whether the bell is ringing for him. Like Donne’s poetry, the Devotions are notable for their dramatic immediacy and their numerous Metaphysical conceits, such as the well-known “No man is an Iland,” by which Donne illustrates the unity of all Christians in the mystical body of Christ.

It is Donne’s sermons, however, that most powerfully illustrate his mastery of prose. One-hundred and fifty-six of them were published by his son in three great folio editions (1640, 1649, and 1661). Though composed during a time of religious controversy, Donne’s sermons—intellectual, witty, and deeply moving—explore the basic tenets of Christianity rather than engage in theological disputes. Donne brilliantly analyzed Biblical texts and applied them to contemporary events, such as the outbreak of plague that devastated London in 1625. The power of his sermons derives from their dramatic intensity, candid personal revelations, poetic rhythms, and striking conceits.


Reputation and influence
The first two editions of Donne’s Poems were published posthumously, in 1633 and 1635, after having circulated widely in manuscript copies. The Poems were sufficiently popular to be published eight times within 90 years of Donne’s death, but his work was not to the general taste of the 18th century, when he was regarded as a great but eccentric “wit.” The notable exception to that appraisal was Alexander Pope, who admired Donne’s intellectual virtuosity and echoed some of Donne’s lines in his own poetry. From the early 19th century, however, perceptive readers began to recognize Donne’s poetic genius. Robert Browning credited Donne with providing the germ for his own dramatic monologues. By the 20th century, mainly because of the pioneering work of the literary scholar H.J.C. Grierson and the interest of T.S. Eliot, Donne’s poetry experienced a remarkable revival.

The impression in his poetry that thought and argument are arising immediately out of passionate feeling made Donne the master of both the mature Yeats and Eliot, who were reacting against the meditative lyricism of a Romantic tradition in decline. Indeed, the play of intellect in Donne’s poetry, his scorn of conventionally poetic images, and the dramatic realism of his style made him the idol of English-speaking poets and critics in the first half of the 20th century. Readers continue to find stimulus in Donne’s fusion of witty argument with passion, his dramatic rendering of complex states of mind, his daring and unhackneyed images, and his ability (little if at all inferior to William Shakespeare’s) to make common words yield up rich poetic meaning without distorting the essential quality of English idiom.

Patricia Garland Pinka

 



A few months before his death, Donne commissioned
this portrait of himself as he expected to appear when
he rose from the grave at the Apocalypse.
He hung the portrait on his wall as a reminder of the transience of life.

 


THE POETRY OF DONNE
 

Type of work: Poetry
Author: John Donne (1572-1631)
Principal published works: An Anatomy of the World: The First Anniversary, 1611; Of the Progress of the Soule: The Second Anniversary, 1612; Poems by J.D., 1633
 


 

In the early years of the twentieth century John Donne was first acknowledged to be a major English poet, and his achievement meaningfully evaluated. Pope "translated" Donne's Satires so thoroughly that they were unrecognizable, and Dryden misleadingly declared that Donne wrote "nice speculations of Philosophy" and not love poetry at all. Few poets of the nineteenth century—a notable exception is Gerard Manley Hopkins—show the influence of the metaphysical poets. Poets of the twentieth century, however, have learned much from Donne's poetic method, in which emotions are expressed through ideas defined in their emotional context. (T. S. Eliot's championing of Donne and the metaphysical poets was particularly influential.) Ironically, Donne and Dryden by writing in what are essentially speech rhythms and not in the current poetic mode revitalized the language of poetry in their generation.
Dryden was in error when he called Donne's poetry philosophical. Donne was not committed to a particular philosophic system, but he was interested in the fascinating, conflicting, and often disturbing philosophies of his period. The scholastic way of thought, in which systems tended toward synthesis and unity, was giving way to the European scientific renaissance, which was analytical. Ptolemaic astronomy was challenged by Copernicus; Aristotle was challenged by Galileo. What interested Donne, however, was not the ultimate truth of an idea but the fascination of ideas themselves. His images are drawn from whatever belief best expressed the emotion he had to communicate.
Donne was not the first man to write metaphysical poetry, and he was not the first poet to describe an emotional state by its intellectual equivalent. Prior to Donne such intellectualized poetry was confined, with the exception of some of Shakespeare's sonnets and Ben Johnson's poetry, to the drama and was most frequently found in the plays of Ford, Jonson, and Webster. Also the Elizabethan tradition of love poetry had already begun to be rivaled by witty and cynical courtly verse. Donne's own reaction against the Elizabethan tradition was as successful as it was complete.
In some poems, as in "The Indifferent," Donne celebrated variety in love, and in "Go and Catch a Falling Star" he insisted that no woman remained faithful. In addition to these poems of wit and fancy, in which Donne directly mocked literary convention, he also wrote serious love poems in which he surpasses in technique and effect his more fanciful verse. In "A Feaver" the world would not merely be a place of darkness after the lady's death; it would disintegrate:

But yet thou canst not die, I know;
To leave this world behinde, is death,
But when thou from this world wilt
goe;
The whole world vapours with thy
breath.

A further departure from the tradition in which the lady was invariably unattainable is the glory Donne finds in sexual as well as spiritual love. In only two or three poems does he praise platonic relationships, and the poems that describe a relationship in which the beloved woman is not the poet's mistress are extremely bitter and mocking, as, for example, in "The Apparition."
The element of hyperbole is central in the poems of consummated love and continued devotion, where it is one of the means by which the strength and sincerity of the poet's passion is conveyed. "The Good-Morrow" begins:

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we lov'd? were we not wean'd
till then?

and continues:

For love, all love of other sights con-
troules.
And makes one little roome, an every
where.

At first Donne's images may amaze rather than delight; however, they communicate effectively the idea through which the emotion is conveyed.
The areas from which Donne's images were drawn— astronomy, geography, philosophy, and alchemy among others—were those of interest to educated readers of his time. Donne's images do not evoke general or remembered sensation but explain a particular sensation. In "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," the central idea is that love is not destroyed by death. Donne compares his love to "the trepidation of the spheres" which on earth is not destructive, although the lesser "moving of the earth brings harms and fears." Furthermore, his love is beyond the ordinary love and includes the soul (love to Donne always involved the entire being); thus separation by death is not a "breach" but an "expansion"—"Like gold to airy thinness beat." The most striking image in this poem is that of a pair of compasses: the mistress who stays alive is the "fixt foot" around which the dead soul revolves and which, invisibly, circles with it. The poem ends:

Thy firmness drawes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begunne.

The circle in Donne's poetry is always a symbol for infinity. The rhythm of Donne's poetry is as varied and accurate in conveying the sense as the imagery he employs. Its texture is sinewy and often irregular. The speech cadences of the verse are heard in the mind and are essentially dramatic. It is not smooth verse, but it is exact and musical. The opening of "The Sunne Rising" is illustrative of his quick, tense quality:

Busie old foole, unruly Sunne,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windowes, and through cur-
taines call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers seasons
run?

Compare these lines with the tranqulity and sensuousness of his close:

Thine age askes ease, and since thy
duties bee
To warme the world, that's done in
warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art every
where;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy
spheare.

"Aire and Angels" has lines in which the vowel sounds are long and the consonants soft, when love is contemplated, and short-voweled monosyllabic lines which express love's actuality. The sound in Donne's poetry not only echoes the sense but in part communicates the emotion.
The power and beauty of Donne's poetry is its synthesis of emotion, passion, and thought. "The Anniver-sarie," which was presumably written to his wife Ann More, is a triumphant expression of confidence in love. In the opening stanza of this poem Donne contrasts the mutability of kings, courts, and even the sun with their love:

Only our love hath us decay;
This, no to morrow hath, nor yesterday,
Running it never runs from us away,
But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day.

The discussion of death in the second stanza of this poem is not, here or in other of his lyrics, a morbid preoccupation but, as is true of all Donne's poetry, an illustration of the all-embracing and inquiring quality of his mind. Death will not destroy love; love will increase in the souls released from the grave. In the third stanza the lovers themselves are kings and thus they will know physical change and decay; however, since the love in their souls after death is inviolate, so are they, while they live. The evolution of this paradoxical idea and the simplicity and directness of the language carry dramatic conviction. The poem ends:

Let us love nobly, and live, and adde againe
Yeares unto yeares, till we attaine
To write threescore; this is the second of our raigne.

Probably the Songs and Sonets are the best known of Donne's poems, but some of the Elegies and religious verse are of the same quality. In 1615, Donne was ordained an Anglican priest and became Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The poetry that Donne wrote after his ordination was as passionate, as intellectually inquiring, and often as tormented as his love poetry. He spoke of God and the church in the same terms as he spoke of secular love. For many years before he became a priest he had studied theology and was converted to Protestantism, from the Catholic faith to which he had been born. He discussed the difficulty of finding true religion in his poetry and was apparently almost overwhelmed by the knowledge of his sinfulness.
The "Holy Sonnets" are vibrant and impassioned cries, infused with the knowledge of the need for grace. They, too, are highly personal and dramatic. Number XIV begins:

Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee, and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.

It ends:

Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

Sometimes the paradoxes in the religious poetry are superb and convincing, but occasionally the ideas are pursued to the point of tedium and a seeming detail is over-elaborated. One of Donne's most successful devotional poems is "A Hymnne to God the Father," on sin, fear, and forgiveness, which, with its repeated phrase "Wilt thou forgive," has a simplicity and humility which is equaled only by the poetry of George Herbert.
Donne was the greatest of the metaphysical poets. In some few of their poems he was equaled by Vaughan and Marvell and in religious poetry by Herbert. But the body of his work is poetry of a quality which, when compared with that of any other of these poets, is unsurpassed. When his images are understood in their function of communicating a state of mind, and his ideas in their power to give expression to emotions, Donne's poetry is appreciated for its wit, beauty, and perception.

 

 

 






Songs and Sonnets

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FLEA.

MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;
And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.

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2

Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.


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3

THE GOOD-MORROW.

I WONDER by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved ? were we not wean'd till then ?
But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly ?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den ?
'Twas so ; but this, all pleasures fancies be ;
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear ;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone ;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown ;
Let us possess one world ; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest ;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west ?
Whatever dies, was not mix'd equally ;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.


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4

SONG.

GO and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where
Lives a woman true and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,

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5

Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.



WOMAN'S CONSTANCY.

NOW thou hast loved me one whole day,
To-morrow when thou leavest, what wilt thou say ?
Wilt thou then antedate some new-made vow ?
Or say that now
We are not just those persons which we were ?
Or that oaths made in reverential fear
Of Love, and his wrath, any may forswear ?
Or, as true deaths true marriages untie,
So lovers' contracts, images of those,
Bind but till sleep, death's image, them unloose ?
Or, your own end to justify,
For having purposed change and falsehood, you
Can have no way but falsehood to be true ?
Vain lunatic, against these 'scapes I could
Dispute, and conquer, if I would ;
Which I abstain to do,
For by to-morrow I may think so too.


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6

THE UNDERTAKING.

I HAVE done one braver thing
Than all the Worthies did ;
And yet a braver thence doth spring,
Which is, to keep that hid.

It were but madness now to impart
The skill of specular stone,
When he, which can have learn'd the art
To cut it, can find none.

So, if I now should utter this,
Others—because no more
Such stuff to work upon, there is—
Would love but as before.

But he who loveliness within
Hath found, all outward loathes,
For he who color loves, and skin,
Loves but their oldest clothes.

If, as I have, you also do
Virtue in woman see,
And dare love that, and say so too,
And forget the He and She ;

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7

And if this love, though placиd so,
From profane men you hide,
Which will no faith on this bestow,
Or, if they do, deride ;

Then you have done a braver thing
Than all the Worthies did ;
And a braver thence will spring,
Which is, to keep that hid.





THE SUN RISING.

BUSY old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

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8

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think ?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."

She's all states, and all princes I ;
Nothing else is ;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.


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9

THE INDIFFERENT.

I CAN love both fair and brown ;
Her whom abundance melts, and her whom want betrays ;
Her who loves loneness best, and her who masks and plays ;
Her whom the country form'd, and whom the town ;
Her who believes, and her who tries ;
Her who still weeps with spongy eyes,
And her who is dry cork, and never cries.
I can love her, and her, and you, and you ;
I can love any, so she be not true.
Will no other vice content you ?
Will it not serve your turn to do as did your mothers ?
Or have you all old vices spent, and now would find out others ?
Or doth a fear that men are true torment you ?
O we are not, be not you so ;
Let me—and do you—twenty know ;
Rob me, but bind me not, and let me go.
Must I, who came to travel thorough you,
Grow your fix'd subject, because you are true ?



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10

Venus heard me sigh this song ;
And by love's sweetest part, variety, she swore,
She heard not this till now ; and that it should be so no more.
She went, examined, and return'd ere long,
And said, "Alas ! some two or three
Poor heretics in love there be,
Which think to stablish dangerous constancy.
But I have told them, 'Since you will be true,
You shall be true to them who're false to you.' "





LOVE'S USURY.

FOR every hour that thou wilt spare me now,
I will allow,
Usurious god of love, twenty to thee,
When with my brown my gray hairs equal be.
Till then, Love, let my body range, and let
Me travel, sojourn, snatch, plot, have, forget,
Resume my last year's relict ; think that yet
We'd never met.

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11

Let me think any rival's letter mine,
And at next nine
Keep midnight's promise ; mistake by the way
The maid, and tell the lady of that delay ;
Only let me love none ; no, not the sport
From country grass to confitures of court,
Or city's quelque-choses ; let not report
My mind transport.
This bargain's good ; if when I'm old, I be
Inflamed by thee,
If thine own honour, or my shame and pain,
Thou covet most, at that age thou shalt gain.
Do thy will then ; then subject and degree
And fruit of love, Love, I submit to thee.
Spare me till then ; I'll bear it, though she be
One that love me.




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12

THE CANONIZATION.

FOR God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love ;
Or chide my palsy, or my gout ;
My five gray hairs, or ruin'd fortune flout ;
With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve ;
Take you a course, get you a place,
Observe his Honour, or his Grace ;
Or the king's real, or his stamp'd face
Contemplate ; what you will, approve,
So you will let me love.

Alas ! alas ! who's injured by my love?
What merchant's ships have my sighs drown'd?
Who says my tears have overflow'd his ground?
When did my colds a forward spring remove?
When did the heats which my veins fill
Add one more to the plaguy bill?
Soldiers find wars, and lawyers find out still
Litigious men, which quarrels move,
Though she and I do love.

Call's what you will, we are made such by love ;
Call her one, me another fly,
We're tapers too, and at our own cost die,
And we in us find th' eagle and the dove.

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13

The phoenix riddle hath more wit
By us ; we two being one, are it ;
So, to one neutral thing both sexes fit.
We die and rise the same, and prove
Mysterious by this love.

We can die by it, if not live by love,
And if unfit for tomb or hearse
Our legend be, it will be fit for verse ;
And if no piece of chronicle we prove,
We'll build in sonnets pretty rooms ;
As well a well-wrought urn becomes
The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs,
And by these hymns, all shall approve
Us canonized for love ;

And thus invoke us, "You, whom reverend love
Made one another's hermitage ;
You, to whom love was peace, that now is rage ;
Who did the whole world's soul contract, and drove
Into the glasses of your eyes ;
So made such mirrors, and such spies,
That they did all to you epitomize—
Countries, towns, courts beg from above
A pattern of your love."


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14

THE TRIPLE FOOL.

I am two fools, I know,
For loving, and for saying so
In whining poetry ;
But where's that wise man, that would not be I,
If she would not deny ?
Then as th' earth's inward narrow crooked lanes
Do purge sea water's fretful salt away,
I thought, if I could draw my pains
Through rhyme's vexation, I should them allay.
Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,
For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.
But when I have done so,
Some man, his art and voice to show,
Doth set and sing my pain ;
And, by delighting many, frees again
Grief, which verse did restrain.
To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,
But not of such as pleases when 'tis read.
Both are increasèd by such songs,
For both their triumphs so are published,
And I, which was two fools, do so grow three.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.




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15

LOVERS' INFINITENESS.

IF yet I have not all thy love,
Dear, I shall never have it all ;
I cannot breathe one other sigh, to move,
Nor can intreat one other tear to fall ;
And all my treasure, which should purchase thee,
Sighs, tears, and oaths, and letters I have spent ;
Yet no more can be due to me,
Than at the bargain made was meant.
If then thy gift of love were partial,
That some to me, some should to others fall,
Dear, I shall never have thee all.

Or if then thou gavest me all,
All was but all, which thou hadst then ;
But if in thy heart since there be or shall
New love created be by other men,
Which have their stocks entire, and can in tears,
In sighs, in oaths, and letters, outbid me,
This new love may beget new fears,
For this love was not vow'd by thee.
And yet it was, thy gift being general ;
The ground, thy heart, is mine ; what ever shall
Grow there, dear, I should have it all.

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16

Yet I would not have all yet.
He that hath all can have no more ;
And since my love doth every day admit
New growth, thou shouldst have new rewards in store ;
Thou canst not every day give me thy heart,
If thou canst give it, then thou never gavest it ;
Love's riddles are, that though thy heart depart,
It stays at home, and thou with losing savest it ;
But we will have a way more liberal,
Than changing hearts, to join them ; so we shall
Be one, and one another's all.



SONG.

SWEETEST love, I do not go,
For weariness of thee,
Nor in hope the world can show
A fitter love for me ;
But since that I
At the last must part, 'tis best,
Thus to use myself in jest
By feigned deaths to die.

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17

Yesternight the sun went hence,
And yet is here to-day ;
He hath no desire nor sense,
Nor half so short a way ;
Then fear not me,
But believe that I shall make
Speedier journeys, since I take
More wings and spurs than he.

O how feeble is man's power,
That if good fortune fall,
Cannot add another hour,
Nor a lost hour recall ;
But come bad chance,
And we join to it our strength,
And we teach it art and length,
Itself o'er us to advance.

When thou sigh'st, thou sigh'st not wind,
But sigh'st my soul away ;
When thou weep'st, unkindly kind,
My life's blood doth decay.
It cannot be
That thou lovest me as thou say'st,
If in thine my life thou waste,
That art the best of me.

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18

Let not thy divining heart
Forethink me any ill ;
Destiny may take thy part,
And may thy fears fulfil.
But think that we
Are but turn'd aside to sleep.
They who one another keep
Alive, ne'er parted be.





THE LEGACY.

WHEN last I died, and, dear, I die
As often as from thee I go,
Though it be but an hour ago
—And lovers' hours be full eternity—
I can remember yet, that I
Something did say, and something did bestow ;
Though I be dead, which sent me, I might be
Mine own executor, and legacy.

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19

I heard me say, "Tell her anon,
That myself," that is you, not I,
" Did kill me," and when I felt me die,
I bid me send my heart, when I was gone ;
But I alas ! could there find none ;
When I had ripp'd, and search'd where hearts should lie,
It kill'd me again, that I who still was true
In life, in my last will should cozen you.

Yet I found something like a heart,
But colours it, and corners had ;
It was not good, it was not bad,
It was entire to none, and few had part ;
As good as could be made by art
It seem'd, and therefore for our loss be sad.
I meant to send that heart instead of mine,
But O ! no man could hold it, for 'twas thine.


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20

A FEVER.

O ! DO not die, for I shall hate
All women so, when thou art gone,
That thee I shall not celebrate,
When I remember thou wast one.
But yet thou canst not die, I know ;
To leave this world behind, is death ;
But when thou from this world wilt go,
The whole world vapours with thy breath.

Or if, when thou, the world's soul, go'st,
It stay, 'tis but thy carcase then ;
The fairest woman, but thy ghost,
But corrupt worms, the worthiest men.

O wrangling schools, that search what fire
Shall burn this world, had none the wit
Unto this knowledge to aspire,
That this her feaver might be it?

And yet she cannot waste by this,
Nor long bear this torturing wrong,
For more corruption needful is,
To fuel such a fever long.


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21

These burning fits but meteors be,
Whose matter in thee is soon spent ;
Thy beauty, and all parts, which are thee,
Are unchangeable firmament.
Yet 'twas of my mind, seizing thee,
Though it in thee cannot perséver ;
For I had rather owner be
Of thee one hour, than all else ever.




AIR AND ANGELS.

TWICE or thrice had I loved thee,
Before I knew thy face or name ;
So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame
Angels affect us oft, and worshipp'd be.
Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
Some lovely glorious nothing did I see.
But since my soul, whose child love is,
Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
More subtle than the parent is
Love must not be, but take a body too ;
And therefore what thou wert, and who,
I bid Love ask, and now
That it assume thy body, I allow,
And fix itself in thy lip, eye, and brow.

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22

Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,
And so more steadily to have gone,
With wares which would sink admiration,
I saw I had love's pinnace overfraught ;
Thy every hair for love to work upon
Is much too much ; some fitter must be sought ;
For, nor in nothing, nor in things
Extreme, and scattering bright, can love inhere ;
Then as an angel face and wings
Of air, not pure as it, yet pure doth wear,
So thy love may be my love's sphere ;
Just such disparity
As is 'twixt air's and angels' purity,
'Twixt women's love, and men's, will ever be.





BREAK OF DAY.

STAY, O sweet, and do not rise ;
The light that shines comes from thine eyes ;
The day breaks not, it is my heart,
Because that you and I must part.
Stay, or else my joys will die,
And perish in their infancy.


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23

[ANOTHER OF THE SAME.]

'TIS true, 'tis day ; what though it be?
O, wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise because 'tis light?
Did we lie down because 'twas night?
Love, which in spite of darkness brought us hither,
Should in despite of light keep us together.

Light hath no tongue, but is all eye ;
If it could speak as well as spy,
This were the worst that it could say,
That being well I fain would stay,
And that I loved my heart and honour so
That I would not from him, that had them, go.

Must business thee from hence remove?
O ! that's the worst disease of love,
The poor, the foul, the false, love can
Admit, but not the busied man.
He which hath business, and makes love, doth do
Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo.


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24

THE ANNIVERSARY.

ALL kings, and all their favourites,
All glory of honours, beauties, wits,
The sun it self, which makes time, as they pass,
Is elder by a year now than it was
When thou and I first one another saw.
All other things to their destruction draw,
Only our love hath no decay ;
This no to-morrow hath, nor yesterday ;
Running it never runs from us away,
But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day.

Two graves must hide thine and my corse ;
If one might, death were no divorce.
Alas ! as well as other princes, we
—Who prince enough in one another be—
Must leave at last in death these eyes and ears,
Oft fed with true oaths, and with sweet salt tears ;
But souls where nothing dwells but love
—All other thoughts being inmates—then shall prove
This or a love increasèd there above,
When bodies to their graves, souls from their graves remove.

And then we shall be throughly blest ;
But now no more than all the rest.

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25

Here upon earth we're kings, and none but we
Can be such kings, nor of such subjects be.
Who is so safe as we? where none can do
Treason to us, except one of us two.
True and false fears let us refrain,
Let us love nobly, and live, and add again
Years and years unto years, till we attain
To write threescore ; this is the second of our reign.


A VALEDICTION OF MY NAME, IN THE WINDOW.


I.

MY name engraved herein
Doth contribute my firmness to this glass,
Which ever since that charm hath been
As hard, as that which graved it was ;
Thine eye will give it price enough, to mock
The diamonds of either rock.

II.

'Tis much that glass should be
As all-confessing, and through-shine as I ;
'Tis more that it shows thee to thee,
And clear reflects thee to thine eye.
But all such rules love's magic can undo ;
Here you see me, and I am you.


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26

III.

As no one point, nor dash,
Which are but accessories to this name,
The showers and tempests can outwash
So shall all times find me the same ;
You this entireness better may fulfill,
Who have the pattern with you still.

IV.

Or if too hard and deep
This learning be, for a scratch'd name to teach,
It as a given death's head keep,
Lovers' mortality to preach ;
Or think this ragged bony name to be
My ruinous anatomy.

V.

Then, as all my souls be
Emparadised in you—in whom alone
I understand, and grow, and see—
The rafters of my body, bone,
Being still with you, the muscle, sinew, and vein
Which tile this house, will come again.


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27

VI.

Till my return repair
And recompact my scatter'd body so,
As all the virtuous powers which are
Fix'd in the stars are said to flow
Into such characters as gravèd be
When these stars have supremacy.

VII.

So since this name was cut,
When love and grief their exaltation had,
No door 'gainst this name's influence shut.
As much more loving, as more sad,
'Twill make thee ; and thou shouldst, till I return,
Since I die daily, daily mourn.

VIII.

When thy inconsiderate hand
Flings open this casement, with my trembling name,
To look on one, whose wit or land
New battery to thy heart may frame,
Then think this name alive, and that thou thus
In it offend'st my Genius.


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28

IX.

And when thy melted maid,
Corrupted by thy lover's gold and page,
His letter at thy pillow hath laid,
Disputed it, and tamed thy rage,
And thou begin'st to thaw towards him, for this,
May my name step in, and hide his.

X.

And if this treason go
To an overt act and that thou write again,
In superscribing, this name flow
Into thy fancy from the pane ;
So, in forgetting thou rememb'rest right,
And unaware to me shalt write.

XI.

But glass and lines must be
No means our firm substantial love to keep ;
Near death inflicts this lethargy,
And this I murmur in my sleep ;
Inpute this idle talk, to that I go,
For dying men talk often so.

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29

TWICKENHAM GARDEN.

BLASTED with sighs, and surrounded with tears,
Hither I come to seek the spring,
And at mine eyes, and at mine ears,
Receive such balms as else cure every thing.
But O ! self-traitor, I do bring
The spider Love, which transubstantiates all,
And can convert manna to gall ;
And that this place may thoroughly be thought
True paradise, I have the serpent brought.

'Twere wholesomer for me that winter did
Benight the glory of this place,
And that a grave frost did forbid
These trees to laugh and mock me to my face ;
But that I may not this disgrace
Endure, nor yet leave loving, Love, let me
Some senseless piece of this place be ;
Make me a mandrake, so I may grow here,
Or a stone fountain weeping out my year.

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30

Hither with crystal phials, lovers, come,
And take my tears, which are love's wine,
And try your mistress' tears at home,
For all are false, that taste not just like mine.
Alas ! hearts do not in eyes shine,
Nor can you more judge women's thoughts by tears,
Than by her shadow what she wears.
O perverse sex, where none is true but she,
Who's therefore true, because her truth kills me.



VALEDICTION TO HIS BOOK.

I'LL tell thee now (dear love) what thou shalt do
To anger destiny, as she doth us ;
How I shall stay, though she eloign me thus,
And how posterity shall know it too ;
How thine may out-endure
Sibyl's glory, and obscure
Her who from Pindar could allure,
And her, through whose help Lucan is not lame,
And her, whose book (they say) Homer did find, and name.

Study our manuscripts, those myriads
Of letters, which have past 'twixt thee and me ;
Thence write our annals, and in them will be
To all whom love's subliming fire invades,
Rule and example found ;
There the faith of any ground
No schismatic will dare to wound,

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31

That sees, how Love this grace to us affords,
To make, to keep, to use, to be these his records.

This book, as long-lived as the elements,
Or as the world's form, this all-gravèd tome
In cypher writ, or new made idiom ;
We for Love's clergy only are instruments ;
When this book is made thus,
Should again the ravenous
Vandals and Goths invade us,
Learning were safe ; in this our universe,
Schools might learn sciences, spheres music, angels verse.

Here Love's divines—since all divinity
Is love or wonder—may find all they seek,
Whether abstract spiritual love they like,
Their souls exhaled with what they do not see ;
Or, loth so to amuse
Faith's infirmity, they choose
Something which they may see and use ;
For, though mind be the heaven, where love doth sit,
Beauty a convenient type may be to figure it.

Here more than in their books may lawyers find,
Both by what titles mistresses are ours,
And how prerogative these states devours,
Transferr'd from Love himself, to womankind ;

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32

Who, though from heart and eyes,
They exact great subsidies,
Forsake him who on them relies ;
And for the cause, honour, or conscience give ;
Chimeras vain as they or their prerogative.

Here statesmen—or of them, they which can read—
May of their occupation find the grounds ;
Love, and their art, alike it deadly wounds,
If to consider what 'tis, one proceed.
In both they do excel
Who the present govern well,
Whose weakness none doth, or dares tell ;
In this thy book, such will there something see,
As in the Bible some can find out alchemy.

Thus vent thy thoughts ; abroad I'll study thee,
As he removes far off, that great heights takes ;
How great love is, presence best trial makes,
But absence tries how long this love will be ;
To take a latitude
Sun, or stars, are fitliest view'd
At their brightest, but to conclude
Of longitudes, what other way have we,
But to mark when and where the dark eclipses be?


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33

COMMUNITY.

GOOD we must love, and must hate ill,
For ill is ill, and good good still ;
But there are things indifferent,
Which wee may neither hate, nor love,
But one, and then another prove,
As we shall find our fancy bent.

If then at first wise Nature had
Made women either good or bad,
Then some wee might hate, and some choose ;
But since she did them so create,
That we may neither love, nor hate,
Only this rests, all all may use.

If they were good it would be seen ;
Good is as visible as green,
And to all eyes itself betrays.
If they were bad, they could not last ;
Bad doth itself, and others waste ;
So they deserve nor blame, nor praise.

But they are ours as fruits are ours ;
He that but tastes, he that devours,
And he that leaves all, doth as well ;
Changed loves are but changed sorts of meat ;
And when he hath the kernel eat,
Who doth not fling away the shell?


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34

LOVE'S GROWTH.

I SCARCE believe my love to be so pure
As I had thought it was,
Because it doth endure
Vicissitude, and season, as the grass ;
Methinks I lied all winter, when I swore
My love was infinite, if spring make it more.

But if this medicine, love, which cures all sorrow
With more, not only be no quintessence,
But mix'd of all stuffs, vexing soul, or sense,
And of the sun his active vigour borrow,
Love’s not so pure, and abstract as they use
To say, which have no mistress but their Muse ;
But as all else, being elemented too,
Love sometimes would contemplate, sometimes do.

And yet no greater, but more eminent,
Love by the spring is grown ;
As in the firmament
Stars by the sun are not enlarged, but shown,
Gentle love deeds, as blossoms on a bough,
From love's awakened root do bud out now.

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35

If, as in water stirr'd more circles be
Produced by one, love such additions take,
Those like so many spheres but one heaven make,
For they are all concentric unto thee ;
And though each spring do add to love new heat,
As princes do in times of action get
New taxes, and remit them not in peace,
No winter shall abate this spring’s increase.



LOVE'S EXCHANGE.

LOVE, any devil else but you
Would for a given soul give something too.
At court your fellows every day
Give th' art of rhyming, huntsmanship, or play,
For them which were their own before ;
Only I have nothing, which gave more,
But am, alas ! by being lowly, lower.

I ask no dispensation now,
To falsify a tear, or sigh, or vow ;
I do not sue from thee to draw
A non obstante on nature's law ;
These are prerogatives, they inhere
In thee and thine ; none should forswear
Except that he Love's minion were.

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36

Give me thy weakness, make me blind,
Both ways, as thou and thine, in eyes and mind ;
Love, let me never know that this
Is love, or, that love childish is ;
Let me not know that others know
That she knows my paines, lest that so
A tender shame make me mine own new woe.

If thou give nothing, yet thou 'rt just,
Because I would not thy first motions trust ;
Small towns which stand stiff, till great shot
Enforce them, by war's law condition not ;
Such in Love's warfare is my case ;
I may not article for grace,
Having put Love at last to show this face.

This face, by which he could command
And change th' idolatry of any land,
This face, which, wheresoe'er it comes,
Can call vow'd men from cloisters, dead from tombs,
And melt both poles at once, and store
Deserts with cities, and make more
Mines in the earth, than quarries were before.

For this Love is enraged with me,
Yet kills not ; if I must example be
To future rebels, if th' unborn
Must learn by my being cut up and torn,
Kill, and dissect me, Love ; for this
Torture against thine own end is ;
Rack'd carcasses make ill anatomies.


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37

CONFINED LOVE.

Some man unworthy to be possessor
Of old or new love, himself being false or weak,
Thought his pain and shame would be lesser,
If on womankind he might his anger wreak ;
And thence a law did grow,
One might but one man know ;
But are other creatures so?

Are sun, moon, or stars by law forbidden
To smile where they list, or lend away their light?
Are birds divorced or are they chidden
If they leave their mate, or lie abroad a night?
Beasts do no jointures lose
Though they new lovers choose ;
But we are made worse than those.

Who e'er rigg'd fair ships to lie in harbours,
And not to seek lands, or not to deal with all?
Or built fair houses, set trees, and arbours,
Only to lock up, or else to let them fall?
Good is not good, unless
A thousand it possess,
But doth waste with greediness.


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38

THE DREAM.

DEAR love, for nothing less than thee
Would I have broke this happy dream ;
It was a theme
For reason, much too strong for fantasy.
Therefore thou waked'st me wisely ; yet
My dream thou brokest not, but continued'st it.
Thou art so true that thoughts of thee suffice
To make dreams truths, and fables histories ;
Enter these arms, for since thou thought'st it best,
Not to dream all my dream, let's act the rest.
As lightning, or a taper's light,
Thine eyes, and not thy noise waked me ;
Yet I thought thee
—For thou lovest truth—an angel, at first sight ;
But when I saw thou saw'st my heart,
And knew'st my thoughts beyond an angel's art,
When thou knew'st what I dreamt, when thou knew'st when
Excess of joy would wake me, and camest then,
I must confess, it could not choose but be
Profane, to think thee any thing but thee.



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39

Coming and staying show'd thee, thee,
But rising makes me doubt, that now
Thou art not thou.
That love is weak where fear's as strong as he ;
'Tis not all spirit, pure and brave,
If mixture it of fear, shame, honour have ;
Perchance as torches, which must ready be,
Men light and put out, so thou deal'st with me ;
Thou camest to kindle, go'st to come ; then I
Will dream that hope again, but else would die.





A VALEDICTION OF WEEPING.

LET me pour forth
My tears before thy face, whilst I stay here,
For thy face coins them, and thy stamp they bear,
And by this mintage they are something worth.
For thus they be
Pregnant of thee ;
Fruits of much grief they are, emblems of more ;
When a tear falls, that thou fall'st which it bore ;
So thou and I are nothing then, when on a divers shore.

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40

On a round ball
A workman, that hath copies by, can lay
An Europe, Afric, and an Asia,
And quickly make that, which was nothing, all.
So doth each tear,
Which thee doth wear,
A globe, yea world, by that impression grow,
Till thy tears mix'd with mine do overflow
This world, by waters sent from thee, my heaven dissolvèd so.

O ! more than moon,
Draw not up seas to drown me in thy sphere ;
Weep me not dead, in thine arms, but forbear
To teach the sea, what it may do too soon ;
Let not the wind
Example find
To do me more harm than it purposeth :
Since thou and I sigh one another's breath,
Whoe'er sighs most is cruellest, and hastes the other's death.


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41

LOVE'S ALCHEMY.

Some that have deeper digg'd love's mine than I,
Say, where his centric happiness doth lie.
I have loved, and got, and told,
But should I love, get, tell, till I were old,
I should not find that hidden mystery.
O ! 'tis imposture all ;
And as no chemic yet th' elixir got,
But glorifies his pregnant pot,
If by the way to him befall
Some odoriferous thing, or medicinal,
So, lovers dream a rich and long delight,
But get a winter-seeming summer's night.

Our ease, our thrift, our honour, and our day,
Shall we for this vain bubble's shadow pay?
Ends love in this, that my man
Can be as happy as I can, if he can
Endure the short scorn of a bridegroom's play?
That loving wretch that swears,
'Tis not the bodies marry, but the minds,
Which he in her angelic finds,
Would swear as justly, that he hears,
In that day's rude hoarse minstrelsy, the spheres.
Hope not for mind in women ; at their best,
Sweetness and wit they are, but mummy, possess'd.


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42

THE CURSE.

WHOEVER guesses, thinks, or dreams, he knows
Who is my mistress, wither by this curse ;
Him, only for his purse
May some dull whore to love dispose,
And then yield unto all that are his foes ;
May he be scorn'd by one, whom all else scorn,
Forswear to others, what to her he hath sworn,
With fear of missing, shame of getting, torn.

Madness his sorrow, gout his cramps, may he
Make, by but thinking who hath made him such ;
And may he feel no touch
Of conscience, but of fame, and be
Anguish'd, not that 'twas sin, but that 'twas she ;
Or may he for her virtue reverence
One that hates him only for impotence,
And equal traitors be she and his sense.

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43

May he dream treason, and believe that he
Meant to perform it, and confesses, and die,
And no record tell why ;
His sons, which none of his may be,
Inherit nothing but his infamy ;
Or may he so long parasites have fed,
That he would fain be theirs whom he hath bred,
And at the last be circumcised for bread.

The venom of all stepdames, gamesters' gall,
What tyrants and their subjects interwish,
What plants, mine, beasts, fowl, fish,
Can contribute, all ill, which all
Prophets or poets spake, and all which shall
Be annex'd in schedules unto this by me,
Fall on that man ; For if it be a she
Nature beforehand hath out-cursèd me.



THE MESSAGE.

SEND home my long stray'd eyes to me,
Which, O ! too long have dwelt on thee ;
Yet since there they have learn'd such ill,
Such forced fashions,
And false passions,
That they be
Made by thee
Fit for no good sight, keep them still.

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44

Send home my harmless heart again,
Which no unworthy thought could stain ;
Which if it be taught by thine
To make jestings
Of protestings,
And break both
Word and oath,
Keep it, for then 'tis none of mine.

Yet send me back my heart and eyes,
That I may know, and see thy lies,
And may laugh and joy, when thou
Art in anguish
And dost languish
For some one
That will none,
Or prove as false as thou art now.


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45

A NOCTURNAL UPON ST. LUCY'S DAY,
BEING THE SHORTEST DAY.

'TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
The world's whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring ;
For I am every dead thing,
In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness ;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.

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46

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have ;
I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drown'd the whole world, us two ; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else ; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown ;
Were I a man, that I were one
I needs must know ; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love ; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none ; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
At this time to the Goat is run
To fetch new lust, and give it you,
Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night's festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.


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47

WITCHCRAFT BY A PICTURE.

I FIX mine eye on thine, and there
Pity my picture burning in thine eye ;
My picture drown'd in a transparent tear,
When I look lower I espy ;
Hadst thou the wicked skill
By pictures made and marr'd, to kill,
How many ways mightst thou perform thy will?

But now I've drunk thy sweet salt tears,
And though thou pour more, I'll depart ;
My picture vanished, vanish all fears
That I can be endamaged by that art ;
Though thou retain of me
One picture more, yet that will be,
Being in thine own heart, from all malice free.



THE BAIT.

COME live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines and silver hooks.

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48

There will the river whisp'ring run
Warm'd by thy eyes, more than the sun ;
And there th' enamour'd fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.

When thou wilt swim in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channel hath,
Will amorously to thee swim,
Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.

If thou, to be so seen, be'st loth,
By sun or moon, thou dark'nest both,
And if myself have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.

Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legs with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poor fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowy net.

Let coarse bold hands from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest ;
Or curious traitors, sleeve-silk flies,
Bewitch poor fishes' wand'ring eyes.

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49

For thee, thou need'st no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait :
That fish, that is not catch'd thereby,
Alas ! is wiser far than I.



THE APPARITION.

WHEN by thy scorn, O murd'ress, I am dead,
And that thou thinkst thee free
From all solicitation from me,
Then shall my ghost come to thy bed,
And thee, feign'd vestal, in worse arms shall see :
Then thy sick taper will begin to wink,
And he, whose thou art then, being tired before,
Will, if thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think
Thou call'st for more,
And, in false sleep, will from thee shrink :
And then, poor aspen wretch, neglected thou
Bathed in a cold quicksilver sweat wilt lie,
A verier ghost than I.
What I will say, I will not tell thee now,
Lest that preserve thee ; and since my love is spent,
I'd rather thou shouldst painfully repent,
Than by my threatenings rest still innocent.


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50

THE BROKEN HEART.

He is stark mad, whoever says,
That he hath been in love an hour,
Yet not that love so soon decays,
But that it can ten in less space devour ;
Who will believe me, if I swear
That I have had the plague a year?
Who would not laugh at me, if I should say
I saw a flash of powder burn a day?

Ah, what a trifle is a heart,
If once into love's hands it come !
All other griefs allow a part
To other griefs, and ask themselves but some ;
They come to us, but us love draws ;
He swallows us and never chaws ;
By him, as by chain'd shot, whole ranks do die ;
He is the tyrant pike, our hearts the fry.

If 'twere not so, what did become
Of my heart when I first saw thee?
I brought a heart into the room,
But from the room I carried none with me.
If it had gone to thee, I know
Mine would have taught thine heart to show
More pity unto me ; but Love, alas !
At one first blow did shiver it as glass.

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51

Yet nothing can to nothing fall,
Nor any place be empty quite ;
Therefore I think my breast hath all
Those pieces still, though they be not unite ;
And now, as broken glasses show
A hundred lesser faces, so
My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore,
But after one such love, can love no more.




A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING.

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
"Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
Men reckon what it did, and meant ;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

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Dull sublunary lovers' love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurиd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.


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53

THE ECSTACY.

WHERE, like a pillow on a bed,
A pregnant bank swell'd up, to rest
The violet's reclining head,
Sat we two, one another's best.

Our hands were firmly cemented
By a fast balm, which thence did spring ;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
Our eyes upon one double string.

So to engraft our hands, as yet
Was all the means to make us one ;
And pictures in our eyes to get
Was all our propagation.

As, 'twixt two equal armies, Fate
Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls—which to advance their state,
Were gone out—hung 'twixt her and me.

And whilst our souls negotiate there,
We like sepulchral statues lay ;
All day, the same our postures were,
And we said nothing, all the day.

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54

If any, so by love refined,
That he soul's language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
Within convenient distance stood,

He—though he knew not which soul spake,
Because both meant, both spake the same—
Might thence a new concoction take,
And part far purer than he came.

This ecstasy doth unperplex
(We said) and tell us what we love ;
We see by this, it was not sex ;
We see, we saw not, what did move :

But as all several souls contain
Mixture of things they know not what,
Love these mix'd souls doth mix again,
And makes both one, each this, and that.

A single violet transplant,
The strength, the colour, and the size—
All which before was poor and scant—
Redoubles still, and multiplies.

When love with one another so
Interanimates two souls,
That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
Defects of loneliness controls.

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55

We then, who are this new soul, know,
Of what we are composed, and made,
For th' atomies of which we grow
Are souls, whom no change can invade.

But, O alas ! so long, so far,
Our bodies why do we forbear?
They are ours, though not we ; we are
Th' intelligences, they the spheres.

We owe them thanks, because they thus
Did us, to us, at first convey,
Yielded their senses' force to us,
Nor are dross to us, but allay.

On man heaven's influence works not so,
But that it first imprints the air ;
For soul into the soul may flow,
Though it to body first repair.

As our blood labours to beget
Spirits, as like souls as it can ;
Because such fingers need to knit
That subtle knot, which makes us man ;

So must pure lovers' souls descend
To affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
Else a great prince in prison lies.

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56

To our bodies turn we then, that so
Weak men on love reveal'd may look ;
Love's mysteries in souls do grow,
But yet the body is his book.

And if some lover, such as we,
Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see
Small change when we're to bodies gone.



LOVE'S DEITY.

I LONG to talk with some old lover's ghost,
Who died before the god of love was born.
I cannot think that he, who then loved most,
Sunk so low as to love one which did scorn.
But since this god produced a destiny,
And that vice-nature, custom, lets it be,
I must love her that loves not me.

Sure, they which made him god, meant not so much,
Nor he in his young godhead practised it.
But when an even flame two hearts did touch,
His office was indulgently to fit
Actives to passives. Correspondency
Only his subject was ; it cannot be
Love, till I love her, who loves me.

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57

But every modern god will now extend
His vast prerogative as far as Jove.
To rage, to lust, to write to, to commend,
All is the purlieu of the god of love.
O ! were we waken'd by this tyranny
To ungod this child again, it could not be
I should love her, who loves not me.

Rebel and atheist too, why murmur I,
As though I felt the worst that love could do?
Love might make me leave loving, or might try
A deeper plague, to make her love me too ;
Which, since she loves before, I'm loth to see.
Falsehood is worse than hate ; and that must be,
If she whom I love, should love me.




LOVE'S DIET.

TO what a cumbersome unwieldiness
And burdenous corpulence my love had grown,
But that I did, to make it less,
And keep it in proportion,
Give it a diet, made it feed upon
That which love worst endures, discretion

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58

Above one sigh a day I allow'd him not,
Of which my fortune, and my faults had part ;
And if sometimes by stealth he got
A she sigh from my mistress' heart,
And thought to feast upon that, I let him see
'Twas neither very sound, nor meant to me.

If he wrung from me a tear, I brined it so
With scorn and shame, that him it nourish'd not ;
If he suck'd hers, I let him know
'Twas not a tear which he had got ;
His drink was counterfeit, as was his meat ;
For eyes, which roll towards all, weep not, but sweat.

Whatever he would dictate I writ that,
But burnt her letters when she writ to me ;
And if that favour made him fat,
I said, "If any title be
Convey'd by this, ah ! what doth it avail,
To be the fortieth name in an entail?"

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59

Thus I reclaim'd my buzzard love, to fly
At what, and when, and how, and where I choose.
Now negligent of sports I lie,
And now, as other falconers use,
I spring a mistress, swear, write, sigh, and weep ;
And the game kill'd, or lost, go talk or sleep.



THE WILL.

BEFORE I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe,
Great Love, some legacies ; I here bequeath
Mine eyes to Argus, if mine eyes can see ;
If they be blind, then, Love, I give them thee ;
My tongue to Fame ; to ambassadors mine ears ;
To women, or the sea, my tears ;
Thou, Love, hast taught me heretofore
By making me serve her who had twenty more,
That I should give to none, but such as had too much before.

My constancy I to the planets give ;
My truth to them who at the court do live ;
My ingenuity and openness,
To Jesuits ; to buffoons my pensiveness ;
My silence to any, who abroad hath been ;
My money to a Capuchin :
Thou, Love, taught'st me, by appointing me
To love there, where no love received can be,
Only to give to such as have an incapacity.

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My faith I give to Roman Catholics ;
All my good works unto the Schismatics
Of Amsterdam ; my best civility
And courtship to an University ;
My modesty I give to soldiers bare ;
My patience let gamesters share :
Thou, Love, taught'st me, by making me
Love her that holds my love disparity,
Only to give to those that count my gifts indignity.

I give my reputation to those
Which were my friends ; mine industry to foes ;
To schoolmen I bequeath my doubtfulness ;
My sickness to physicians, or excess ;
To nature all that I in rhyme have writ ;
And to my company my wit :
Thou, Love, by making me adore
Her, who begot this love in me before,
Taught'st me to make, as though I gave, when I do but restore.

To him for whom the passing-bell next tolls,
I give my physic books ; my written rolls
Of moral counsels I to Bedlam give ;
My brazen medals unto them which live
In want of bread ; to them which pass among
All foreigners, mine English tongue :
Though, Love, by making me love one
Who thinks her friendship a fit portion
For younger lovers, dost my gifts thus disproportion.

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Therefore I'll give no more, but I'll undo
The world by dying, because love dies too.
Then all your beauties will be no more worth
Than gold in mines, where none doth draw it forth ;
And all your graces no more use shall have,
Than a sun-dial in a grave :
Thou, Love, taught'st me by making me
Love her who doth neglect both me and thee,
To invent, and practise this one way, to annihilate all three.



THE FUNERAL.

WHOEVER comes to shroud me, do not harm,
Nor question much,
That subtle wreath of hair, which crowns my arm ;
The mystery, the sign, you must not touch ;
For 'tis my outward soul,
Viceroy to that, which then to heaven being gone,
Will leave this to control
And keep these limbs, her provinces, from dissolution.

For if the sinewy thread my brain lets fall
Through every part
Can tie those parts, and make me one of all,
Those hairs which upward grew, and strength and art

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Have from a better brain,
Can better do 't ; except she meant that I
By this should know my pain,
As prisoners then are manacled, when they're condemn'd to die.

Whate'er she meant by it, bury it with me,
For since I am
Love's martyr, it might breed idolatry,
If into other hands these relics came.
As 'twas humility
To afford to it all that a soul can do,
So 'tis some bravery,
That since you would have none of me, I bury some of you.


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THE BLOSSOM.

LITTLE think'st thou, poor flower,
Whom I've watch'd six or seven days,
And seen thy birth, and seen what every hour
Gave to thy growth, thee to this height to raise,
And now dost laugh and triumph on this bough,
Little think'st thou,
That it will freeze anon, and that I shall
To-morrow find thee fallen, or not at all.

Little think'st thou, poor heart,
That labourest yet to nestle thee,
And think'st by hovering here to get a part
In a forbidden or forbidding tree,
And hopest her stiffness by long siege to bow,
Little think'st thou
That thou to-morrow, ere the sun doth wake,
Must with the sun and me a journey take.

But thou, which lovest to be
Subtle to plague thyself, wilt say,
Alas ! if you must go, what's that to me?
Here lies my business, and here I will stay
You go to friends, whose love and means present
Various content
To your eyes, ears, and taste, and every part ;
If then your body go, what need your heart?

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Well then, stay here ; but know,
When thou hast stay'd and done thy most,
A naked thinking heart, that makes no show,
Is to a woman but a kind of ghost.
How shall she know my heart ; or having none,
Know thee for one?
Practice may make her know some other part ;
But take my word, she doth not know a heart.

Meet me in London, then,
Twenty days hence, and thou shalt see
Me fresher and more fat, by being with men,
Than if I had stay'd still with her and thee.
For God's sake, if you can, be you so too ;
I will give you
There to another friend, whom we shall find
As glad to have my body as my mind.



THE PRIMROSE, BEING AT MONTGOMERY CASTLE
UPON THE HILL, ON WHICH IT IS SITUATE.

UPON this Primrose hill,
Where, if heaven would distil
A shower of rain, each several drop might go
To his own primrose, and grow manna so ;
And where their form, and their infinity
Make a terrestrial galaxy,
As the small stars do in the sky ;
I walk to find a true love ; and I see
That 'tis not a mere woman, that is she,
But must or more or less than woman be.

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65

Yet know I not, which flower
I wish ; a six, or four ;
For should my true-love less than woman be,
She were scarce anything ; and then, should she
Be more than woman, she would get above
All thought of sex, and think to move
My heart to study her, and not to love.
Both these were monsters ; since there must reside
Falsehood in woman, I could more abide,
She were by art, than nature falsified.

Live, primrose, then, and thrive
With thy true number five ;
And, woman, whom this flower doth represent,
With this mysterious number be content ;
Ten is the farthest number ; if half ten
Belongs to each woman, then
Each woman may take half us men ;
Or—if this will not serve their turn—since all
Numbers are odd, or even, and they fall
First into five, women may take us all.


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THE RELIC.

WHEN my grave is broke up again
Some second guest to entertain,
—For graves have learn'd that woman-head,
To be to more than one a bed—
And he that digs it, spies
A bracelet of bright hair about the bone,
Will he not let us alone,
And think that there a loving couple lies,
Who thought that this device might be some way
To make their souls at the last busy day
Meet at this grave, and make a little stay?

If this fall in a time, or land,
Where mass-devotion doth command,
Then he that digs us up will bring
Us to the bishop or the king,
To make us relics ; then
Thou shalt be a Mary Magdalen, and I
A something else thereby ;
All women shall adore us, and some men.
And, since at such time miracles are sought,
I would have that age by this paper taught
What miracles we harmless lovers wrought.

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First we loved well and faithfully,
Yet knew not what we loved, nor why ;
Difference of sex we never knew,
No more than guardian angels do ;
Coming and going we
Perchance might kiss, but not between those meals ;
Our hands ne'er touch'd the seals,
Which nature, injured by late law, sets free.
These miracles we did ; but now alas !
All measure, and all language, I should pass,
Should I tell what a miracle she was.




THE DAMP.

WHEN I am dead, and doctors know not why,
And my friends' curiosity
Will have me cut up to survey each part,
When they shall find your picture in my heart,
You think a sudden damp of love
Will thorough all their senses move,
And work on them as me, and so prefer
Your murder to the name of massacre,

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Poor victories ; but if you dare be brave,
And pleasure in your conquest have,
First kill th' enormous giant, your Disdain ;
And let th' enchantress Honour, next be slain ;
And like a Goth and Vandal rise,
Deface records and histories
Of your own arts and triumphs over men,
And without such advantage kill me then,
For I could muster up, as well as you,
My giants, and my witches too,
Which are vast Constancy and Secretness ;
But these I neither look for nor profess ;
Kill me as woman, let me die
As a mere man ; do you but try
Your passive valour, and you shall find then,
Naked you have odds enough of any man.




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THE DISSOLUTION.

SHE's dead ; and all which die
To their first elements resolve ;
And we were mutual elements to us,
And made of one another.
My body then doth hers involve,
And those things whereof I consist hereby
In me abundant grow, and burdenous,
And nourish not, but smother.
My fire of passion, sighs of air,
Water of tears, and earthly sad despair,
Which my materials be,
But near worn out by love's security,
She, to my loss, doth by her death repair.
And I might live long wretched so,
But that my fire doth with my fuel grow.
Now, as those active kings
Whose foreign conquest treasure brings,
Receive more, and spend more, and soonest break,
This —which I am amazed that I can speak—
This death, hath with my store
My use increased.
And so my soul, more earnestly released,
Will outstrip hers ; as bullets flown before
A latter bullet may o'ertake, the powder being more.


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A JET RING SENT.

THOU art not so black as my heart,
Nor half so brittle as her heart, thou art ;
What would'st thou say ? shall both our properties by thee be spoke,
—Nothing more endless, nothing sooner broke?

Marriage rings are not of this stuff ;
Oh, why should ought less precious, or less tough
Figure our loves ? except in thy name thou have bid it say,
"—I'm cheap, and nought but fashion ; fling me away."

Yet stay with me since thou art come,
Circle this finger's top, which didst her thumb ;
Be justly proud, and gladly safe, that thou dost dwell with me ;
She that, O ! broke her faith, would soon break thee.


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NEGATIVE LOVE.

I NEVER stoop'd so low, as they
Which on an eye, cheek, lip, can prey ;
Seldom to them which soar no higher
Than virtue, or the mind to admire.
For sense and understanding may
Know what gives fuel to their fire ;
My love, though silly, is more brave ;
For may I miss, whene'er I crave,
If I know yet what I would have.
If that be simply perfectest,
Which can by no way be express'd
But negatives, my love is so.
To all, which all love, I say no.
If any who deciphers best,
What we know not—ourselves—can know,
Let him teach me that nothing. This
As yet my ease and comfort is,
Though I speed not, I cannot miss.




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THE PROHIBITION.

TAKE heed of loving me ;
At least remember, I forbade it thee ;
Not that I shall repair my unthrifty waste
Of breath and blood, upon thy sighs and tears,
By being to thee then what to me thou wast ;
But so great joy our life at once outwears.
Then, lest thy love by my death frustrate be,
If thou love me, take heed of loving me.
Take heed of hating me,
Or too much triumph in the victory ;
Not that I shall be mine own officer,
And hate with hate again retaliate ;
But thou wilt lose the style of conqueror,
If I, thy conquest, perish by thy hate.
Then, lest my being nothing lessen thee,
If thou hate me, take heed of hating me.

Yet love and hate me too ;
So these extremes shall ne'er their office do ;
Love me, that I may die the gentler way ;
Hate me, because thy love's too great for me ;



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Or let these two, themselves, not me, decay ;
So shall I live thy stage, not triumph be.
Lest thou thy love and hate, and me undo,
O let me live, yet love and hate me too.



THE EXPIRATION.

SO, so, break off this last lamenting kiss,
Which sucks two souls, and vapours both away ;
Turn, thou ghost, that way, and let me turn this,
And let ourselves benight our happiest day.
We ask none leave to love ; nor will we owe
Any so cheap a death as saying, "Go."
Go ; and if that word have not quite killed thee,
Ease me with death, by bidding me go too.
Or, if it have, let my word work on me,
And a just office on a murderer do.
Except it be too late, to kill me so,
Being double dead, going, and bidding, "Go."




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THE COMPUTATION.

FOR my first twenty years, since yesterday,
I scarce believed thou couldst be gone away ;
For forty more I fed on favours past,
And forty on hopes that thou wouldst they might last ;
Tears drown'd one hundred, and sighs blew out two ;
A thousand, I did neither think nor do,
Or not divide, all being one thought of you ;
Or in a thousand more, forgot that too.
Yet call not this long life ; but think that I
Am, by being dead, immortal ; can ghosts die ?



THE PARADOX.

NO lover saith, I love, nor any other
Can judge a perfect lover ;
He thinks that else none can or will agree,
That any loves but he ;
I cannot say I loved, for who can say
He was kill'd yesterday.
Love with excess of heat, more young than old,
Death kills with too much cold ;

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We die but once, and who loved last did die,
He that saith, twice, doth lie ;
For though he seem to move, and stir a while,
It doth the sense beguile.
Such life is like the light which bideth yet
When the life's light is set,
Or like the heat which fire in solid matter
Leaves behind, two hours after.
Once I loved and died ; and am now become
Mine epitaph and tomb ;
Here dead men speak their last, and so do I ;
Love-slain, lo ! here I die.



SONG.

SOUL'S joy, now I am gone,
And you alone,
—Which cannot be,
Since I must leave myself with thee,
And carry thee with me—
Yet when unto our eyes
Absence denies
Each other's sight,
And makes to us a constant night,
When others change to light ;
O give no way to grief,
But let belief
Of mutual love
This wonder to the vulgar prove,
Our bodies, not we move.

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Let not thy wit beweep
Words but sense deep ;
For when we miss
By distance our hope's joining bliss,
Even then our souls shall kiss ;
Fools have no means to meet,
But by their feet ;
Why should our clay
Over our spirits so much sway,
To tie us to that way?
O give no way to grief, &c.




FAREWELL TO LOVE.

WHILST yet to prove
I thought there was some deity in love,
So did I reverence, and gave
Worship ; as atheists at their dying hour
Call, what they cannot name, an unknown power,
As ignorantly did I crave.
Thus when
Things not yet known are coveted by men,
Our desires give them fashion, and so
As they wax lesser, fall, as they size, grow.

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But, from late fair,
His highness sitting in a golden chair,
Is not less cared for after three days
By children, than the thing which lovers so
Blindly admire, and with such worship woo ;
Being had, enjoying it decays ;
And thence,
What before pleased them all, takes but one sense,
And that so lamely, as it leaves behind
A kind of sorrowing dulness to the mind.

Ah cannot we,
As well as cocks and lions, jocund be
After such pleasures, unless wise
Nature decreed—since each such act, they say,
Diminisheth the length of life a day—
This ; as she would man should despise
The sport,
Because that other curse of being short,
And only for a minute made to be
Eager, desires to raise posterity.

Since so, my mind
Shall not desire what no man else can find ;
I'll no more dote and run
To pursue things which had endamaged me ;
And when I come where moving beauties be,
As men do when the summer's sun
Grows great,
Though I admire their greatness, shun their heat.
Each place can afford shadows ; if all fail,
'Tis but applying worm-seed to the tail.


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A LECTURE UPON THE SHADOW.

STAND still, and I will read to thee
A lecture, Love, in Love's philosophy.
These three hours that we have spent,
Walking here, two shadows went
Along with us, which we ourselves produced.
But, now the sun is just above our head,
We do those shadows tread,
And to brave clearness all things are reduced.
So whilst our infant loves did grow,
Disguises did, and shadows, flow
From us and our cares ; but now 'tis not so.

That love hath not attain'd the highest degree,
Which is still diligent lest others see.

Except our loves at this noon stay,
We shall new shadows make the other way.
As the first were made to blind
Others, these which come behind
Will work upon ourselves, and blind our eyes.
If our loves faint, and westerwardly decline,
To me thou, falsely, thine
And I to thee mine actions shall disguise.
The morning shadows wear away,
But these grow longer all the day ;
But O ! love's day is short, if love decay.

Love is a growing, or full constant light,
And his short minute, after noon, is night.


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79

A DIALOGUE BETWEEN SIR HENRY WOTTON AND
MR. DONNE.

[W.]

IF her disdain least change in you can move,
You do not love,
For when that hope gives fuel to the fire,
You sell desire.
Love is not love, but given free ;
And so is mine ; so should yours be.

[D.]

Her heart, that weeps to hear of others' moan,
To mine is stone.
Her eyes, that weep a stranger's eyes to see,
Joy to wound me.
Yet I so well affect each part,
As—caused by them—I love my smart.

[W.]

Say her disdainings justly must be graced
With name of chaste ;
And that she frowns lest longing should exceed,
And raging breed ;
So her disdains can ne'er offend,
Unless self-love take private end.

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[D.]

'Tis love breeds love in me, and cold disdain
Kills that again,
As water causeth fire to fret and fume,
Till all consume.
Who can of love more rich gift make,
That to Love's self for love's own sake?

I'll never dig in quarry of an heart
To have no part,
Nor roast in fiery eyes, which always are
Canicular.
Who this way would a lover prove,
May show his patience, not his love.

A frown may be sometimes for physic good,
But not for food ;
And for that raging humour there is sure
A gentler cure.
Why bar you love of private end,
Which never should to public tend?

THE TOKEN.

SEND me some tokens, that my hope may live
Or that my easeless thoughts may sleep and rest ;
Send me some honey, to make sweet my hive,
That in my passions I may hope the best.

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I beg nor ribbon wrought with thine own hands,
To knit our loves in the fantastic strain
Of new-touch'd youth ; nor ring to show the stands
Of our affection, that, as that's round and plain,
So should our loves meet in simplicity ;
No, nor the corals, which thy wrist enfold,
Laced up together in congruity,
To show our thoughts should rest in the same hold ;
No, nor thy picture, though most gracious,
And most desired, 'cause 'tis like the best
Nor witty lines, which are most copious,
Within the writings which thou hast address'd.
Send me nor this nor that, to increase my score,
But swear thou think'st I love thee, and no more.



SELF-LOVE.

HE that cannot choose but love,
And strives against it still,
Never shall my fancy move,
For he loves against his will ;
Nor he which is all his own,
And cannot pleasure choose ;
When I am caught he can be gone,
And when he list refuse ;
Nor he that loves none but fair,
For such by all are sought ;

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Nor he that can for foul ones care,
For his judgement then is nought ;
Nor he that hath wit, for he
Will make me his jest or slave ;
Nor a fool when others —
He can neither —
Nor he that still his mistress prays,
For she is thrall'd therefore ;
Nor he that pays, not, for he says
Within, she's worth no more.
Is there then no kind of men
Whom I may freely prove?
I will vent that humour then
In mine own self-love.

 

 

 

 





Elegies
 

 

 

 

 

 

ELEGY I.

JEALOUSY.

FOND woman, which wouldst have thy husband die,
And yet complain'st of his great jealousy ;
If, swollen with poison, he lay in his last bed,
His body with a sere bark covered,
Drawing his breath as thick and short as can
The nimblest crocheting musician,
Ready with loathsome vomiting to spew
His soul out of one hell into a new,
Made deaf with his poor kindred's howling cries,
Begging with few feign'd tears great legacies,—
Thou wouldst not weep, but jolly, and frolic be,
As a slave, which to-morrow should be free.
Yet weep'st thou, when thou seest him hungerly
Swallow his own death, heart's-bane jealousy?
O give him many thanks, he's courteous,
That in suspecting kindly warneth us.
We must not, as we used, flout openly,
In scoffing riddles, his deformity ;
Nor at his board together being sat,
With words, nor touch, scarce looks, adulterate.
Nor when he, swollen and pamper'd with great fare,
Sits down and snorts, caged in his basket chair,
Must we usurp his own bed any more,
Nor kiss and play in his house, as before.
Now I see many dangers ; for it is
His realm, his castle, and his diocese.
But if—as envious men, which would revile
Their prince, or coin his gold, themselves exile
Into another country, and do it there—
We play in another house, what should we fear?
There we will scorn his household policies,
His silly plots, and pensionary spies,
As the inhabitants of Thames' right side
Do London's mayor, or Germans the Pope's pride.


ELEGY II.

THE ANAGRAM.

MARRY, and love thy Flavia, for she
Hath all things, whereby others beauteous be ;
For, though her eyes be small, her mouth is great ;
Though they be ivory, yet her teeth be jet ;
Though they be dim, yet she is light enough ;
And though her harsh hair fall, her skin is tough ;
What though her cheeks be yellow, her hair's red,
Give her thine, and she hath a maidenhead.
These things are beauty's elements ; where these
Meet in one, that one must, as perfect, please.
If red and white, and each good quality
Be in thy wench, ne'er ask where it doth lie.
In buying things perfumed, we ask, if there
Be musk and amber in it, but not where.
Though all her parts be not in th' usual place,
She hath yet an anagram of a good face.
If we might put the letters but one way,
In that lean dearth of words, what could we say?
When by the gamut some musicians make
A perfect song, others will undertake,
By the same gamut changed, to equal it.
Things simply good can never be unfit ;
She's fair as any, if all be like her ;
And if none be, then she is singular.
All love is wonder ; if we justly do
Account her wonderful, why not lovely too?
Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies ;
Choose this face, changed by no deformities.
Women are all like angels ; the fair be
Like those which fell to worse ; but such as she,
Like to good angels, nothing can impair :
'Tis less grief to be foul, than to have been fair.
For one night's revels, silk and gold we choose,
But, in long journeys, cloth and leather use.
Beauty is barren oft ; best husbands say,
There is best land, where there is foulest way.
Oh, what a sovereign plaster will she be,
If thy past sins have taught thee jealousy!
Here needs no spies, nor eunuchs ; her commit
Safe to thy foes, yea, to a marmoset.
When Belgia's cities the round country drowns,
That dirty foulness guards and arms the towns,
So doth her face guard her ; and so, for thee,
Which forced by business, absent oft must be,
She, whose face, like clouds, turns the day to night ;
Who, mightier than the sea, makes Moors seem white ;
Who, though seven years she in the stews had laid,
A nunnery durst receive, and think a maid ;
And though in childbed's labour she did lie,
Midwives would swear 'twere but a tympany ;
Whom, if she accuse herself, I credit less
Than witches, which impossibles confess ;
One like none, and liked of none, fittest were ;
For things in fashion every man will wear.


ELEGY III.

CHANGE.

ALTHOUGH thy hand and faith, and good works too,
Have sealed thy love which nothing should undo,
Yea, though thou fall back, that apostasy
Confirm thy love, yet much, much I fear thee.
Women are like the arts, forced unto none,
Open to all searchers, unprized, if unknown.
If I have caught a bird, and let him fly,
Another fowler using these means, as I,
May catch the same bird ; and, as these things be,
Women are made for men, not him nor me.
Foxes, and goats—all beasts—change when they please.
Shall women, more hot, wily, wild than these,
Be bound to one man, and did nature then
Idly make them apter to endure than men?
They're our clogs, not their own ; if a man be
Chain'd to a galley, yet the galley's free.
Who hath a plough-land, casts all his seed corn there,
And yet allows his ground more corn should bear ;
Though Danuby into the sea must flow,
The sea receives the Rhine, Volga, and Po.
By nature, which gave it, this liberty
Thou lovest, but O ! canst thou love it and me?
Likeness glues love ; and if that thou so do,
To make us like and love, must I change too?
More than thy hate, I hate it ; rather let me
Allow her change, then change as oft as she,
And so not teach, but force my opinion,
To love not any one, nor every one.
To live in one land is captivity,
To run all countries a wild roguery.
Waters stink soon, if in one place they bide,
And in the vast sea are more putrified ;
But when they kiss one bank, and leaving this
Never look back, but the next bank do kiss,
Then are they purest ; change is the nursery
Of music, joy, life and eternity.


ELEGY IV.

THE PERFUME.

ONCE, and but once, found in thy company,
All thy supposed escapes are laid on me ;
And as a thief at bar is question'd there
By all the men that have been robb'd that year,
So am I—by this traiterous means surprized—
By thy hydroptic father catechized.
Though he had wont to search with glazèd eyes,
As though he came to kill a cockatrice ;
Though he hath oft sworn that he would remove
Thy beauty's beauty, and food of our love,
Hope of his goods, if I with thee were seen,
Yet close and secret, as our souls, we've been.
Though thy immortal mother, which doth lie
Still buried in her bed, yet will not die,
Takes this advantage to sleep out daylight,
And watch thy entries and returns all night ;
And, when she takes thy hand, and would seem kind,
Doth search what rings and armlets she can find ;
And kissing notes the colour of thy face ;
And fearing lest thou'rt swollen, doth thee embrace ;
To try if thou long, doth name strange meats ;
And notes thy paleness, blushing, sighs, and sweats ;
And politicly will to thee confess
The sins of her own youth's rank lustiness ;
Yet love these sorceries did remove, and move
Thee to gull thine own mother for my love.
Thy little brethren, which like fairy sprites
Oft skipp'd into our chamber, those sweet nights,
And kiss'd, and ingled on thy father's knee,
Were bribed next day to tell what they did see ;
The grim-eight-foot-high-iron-bound serving-man,
That oft names God in oaths, and only then,
He that, to bar the first gate, doth as wide
As the great Rhodian Colossus stride
—Which, if in hell no other pains there were,
Makes me fear hell, because he must be there—
Though by thy father he were hired to this,
Could never witness any touch or kiss.
But O ! too common ill, I brought with me
That, which betray'd me to mine enemy,
A loud perfume, which at my entrance cried
Even at thy father's nose ; so were we spied.
When, like a tyrant King, that in his bed
Smelt gunpowder, the pale wretch shivered,
Had it been some bad smell, he would have thought
That his own feet, or breath, that smell had wrought ;
But as we in our isle imprisoned,
Where cattle only and diverse dogs are bred,
The precious unicorns strange monsters call,
So thought he good strange, that had none at all.
I taught my silks their whistling to forbear ;
Even my oppress'd shoes dumb and speechless were ;
Only thou bitter sweet, whom I had laid
Next me, me traiterously hast betray'd,
And unsuspected hast invisibly
At once fled unto him, and stay'd with me.
Base excrement of earth, which dost confound
Sense from distinguishing the sick from sound !
By thee the silly amorous sucks his death
By drawing in a leprous harlot's breath ;
By thee the greatest stain to man's estate
Falls on us, to be call'd effeminate ;
Though you be much loved in the prince's hall,
There things that seem exceed substantial ;
Gods, when ye fumed on altars, were pleased well,
Because you were burnt, not that they liked your smell ;
You're loathsome all, being taken simply alone ;
Shall we love ill things join'd, and hate each one?
If you were good, your good doth soon decay ;
And you are rare ; that takes the good away :
All my perfumes I give most willingly
To embalm thy father's corpse ; what? will he die?


ELEGY V.

HIS PICTURE.

HERE take my picture ; though I bid farewell,
Thine, in my heart, where my soul dwells, shall dwell.
'Tis like me now, but I dead, 'twill be more,
When we are shadows both, than 'twas before.
When weatherbeaten I come back ; my hand
Perhaps with rude oars torn, or sun-beams tann'd,
My face and breast of haircloth, and my head
With care's harsh sudden hoariness o'erspread,
My body a sack of bones, broken within,
And powder's blue stains scatter'd on my skin ;
If rival fools tax thee to have loved a man,
So foul and coarse, as, O ! I may seem then,
This shall say what I was ; and thou shalt say,
" Do his hurts reach me? doth my worth decay?
Or do they reach his judging mind, that he
Should now love less, what he did love to see?
That which in him was fair and delicate,
Was but the milk, which in love's childish state
Did nurse it ; who now is grown strong enough
To feed on that, which to weak tastes seems tough."


ELEGY VI.

O, LET me not serve so, as those men serve,
Whom honour's smokes at once fatten and starve,
Poorly enrich'd with great men's words or looks ;
Nor so write my name in thy loving books
As those idolatrous flatterers, which still
Their princes' style with many realms fulfil,
Whence they no tribute have, and where no sway.
Such services I offer as shall pay
Themselves ; I hate dead names. O, then let me
Favourite in ordinary, or no favourite be.
When my soul was in her own body sheathed,
Nor yet by oaths betroth'd, nor kisses breathed
Into my purgatory, faithless thee,
Thy heart seemed wax, and steel thy constancy.
So, careless flowers strew'd on the water's face
The curled whirlpools suck, smack, and embrace,
Yet drown them ; so the taper's beamy eye
Amorously twinkling beckons the giddy fly,
Yet burns his wings ; and such the devil is,
Scarce visiting them who are entirely his.
When I behold a stream, which from the spring
Doth with doubtful melodious murmuring,
Or in a speechless slumber, calmly ride
Her wedded channel's bosom, and there chide,
And bend her brows, and swell, if any bough
Do but stoop down to kiss her upmost brow ;
Yet, if her often gnawing kisses win
The traitorous banks to gape, and let her in,
She rusheth violently, and doth divorce
Her from her native and her long-kept course,
And roars, and braves it, and in gallant scorn,
In flattering eddies promising return,
She flouts her channel, which thenceforth is dry ;
Then say I ; "That is she, and this am I."
Yet let not thy deep bitterness beget
Careless despair in me, for that will whet
My mind to scorn ; and O, love dull'd with pain
Was ne'er so wise, nor well arm'd, as disdain.
Then with new eyes I shall survey thee, and spy
Death in thy cheeks, and darkness in thine eye,
Though hope bred faith and love ; thus taught, I shall,
As nations do from Rome, from thy love fall ;
My hate shall outgrow thine, and utterly
I will renounce thy dalliance ; and when I
Am the recusant, in that resolute state
What hurts it me to be excommunicate?


ELEGY VII.

NATURE'S lay idiot, I taught thee to love,
And in that sophistry, O ! thou dost prove
Too subtle ; fool, thou didst not understand
The mystic language of the eye nor hand ;
Nor couldst thou judge the difference of the air
Of sighs, and say, "This lies, this sounds despair" ;
Nor by th' eye's water cast a malady
Desperately hot, or changing feverously.
I had not taught thee then the alphabet
Of flowers, how they, devisefully being set
And bound up, might with speechless secrecy
Deliver errands mutely, and mutually.
Remember since all thy words used to be
To every suitor, "Ay, if my friends agree ;"
Since household charms, thy husband's name to teach,
Were all the love-tricks that thy wit could reach ;
And since an hour's discourse could scarce have made
One answer in thee, and that ill array'd
In broken proverbs, and torn sentences.
Thou art not by so many duties his—
That from th' world's common having sever'd thee,
Inlaid thee, neither to be seen, nor see—
As mine ; who have with amorous delicacies
Refined thee into a blissful paradise.
Thy graces and good works my creatures be ;
I planted knowledge and life's tree in thee ;
Which O ! shall strangers taste? Must I, alas !
Frame and enamel plate, and drink in glass?
Chafe wax for other's seals? break a colt's force,
And leave him then, being made a ready horse?


ELEGY VIII.

THE COMPARISON.

AS the sweet sweat of roses in a still,
As that which from chafed musk cat's pores doth trill,
As the almighty balm of th' early east,
Such are the sweat drops of my mistress' breast ;
And on her neck her skin such lustre sets,
They seem no sweat drops, but pearl carcanets.
Rank sweaty froth thy mistress' brow defiles,
Like spermatic issue of ripe menstruous boils,
Or like the scum, which, by need's lawless law
Enforced, Sanserra's starvèd men did draw
From parboil'd shoes and boots, and all the rest
Which were with any sovereign fatness blest ;
And like vile lying stones in saffron'd tin,
Or warts, or wheals, it hangs upon her skin.
Round as the world's her head, on every side,
Like to the fatal ball which fell on Ide ;
Or that whereof God had such jealousy,
As for the ravishing thereof we die.
Thy head is like a rough-hewn statue of jet,
Where marks for eyes, nose, mouth, are yet scarce set ;
Like the first chaos, or flat seeming face
Of Cynthia, when th' earth's shadows her embrace.
Like Proserpine's white beauty-keeping chest,
Or Jove's best fortune's urn, is her fair breast.
Thine's like worm-eaten trunks, clothed in seal's skin,
Or grave, that's dust without, and stink within.
And like that slender stalk, at whose end stands
The woodbine quivering, are her arms and hands.
Like rough-bark'd elm-boughs, or the russet skin
Of men late scourged for madness, or for sin,
Like sun-parch'd quarters on the city gate,
Such is thy tann'd skin's lamentable state ;
And like a bunch of ragged carrots stand
The short swollen fingers of thy gouty hand.
Then like the chemic's masculine equal fire,
Which in the limbec's warm womb doth inspire
Into th' earth's worthless dirt a soul of gold,
Such cherishing heat her best loved part doth hold.
Thine's like the dread mouth of a fired gun,
Or like hot liquid metals newly run
Into clay moulds, or like to that Ætna,
Where round about the grass is burnt away.
Are not your kisses then as filthy, and more,
As a worm sucking an envenom'd sore?
Doth not thy fearful hand in feeling quake,
As one which gathering flowers still fears a snake?
Is not your last act harsh and violent,
As when a plough a stony ground doth rent?
So kiss good turtles, so devoutly nice
Are priests in handling reverent sacrifice,
And such in searching wounds the surgeon is,
As we, when we embrace, or touch, or kiss.
Leave her, and I will leave comparing thus,
She and comparisons are odious.


ELEGY IX.

THE AUTUMNAL.

NO spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face ;
Young beauties force our love, and that's a rape ;
This doth but counsel, yet you cannot scape.
If 'twere a shame to love, here 'twere no shame ;
Affections here take reverence's name.
Were her first years the Golden Age ? that's true,
But now they're gold oft tried, and ever new.
That was her torrid and inflaming time ;
This is her tolerable tropic clime.
Fair eyes ; who asks more heat than comes from hence,
He in a fever wishes pestilence.
Call not these wrinkles, graves ; if graves they were,
They were Love's graves, for else he is nowhere.
Yet lies not Love dead here, but here doth sit,
Vow'd to this trench, like an anachorite,
And here, till hers, which must be his death, come,
He doth not dig a grave, but build a tomb.
Here dwells he ; though he sojourn everywhere,
In progress, yet his standing house is here ;
Here, where still evening is, not noon, nor night ;
Where no voluptuousness, yet all delight.
In all her words, unto all hearers fit,
You may at revels, you at council, sit.
This is love's timber ; youth his underwood ;
There he, as wine in June, enrages blood ;
Which then comes seasonablest, when our taste
And appetite to other things is past.
Xerxes' strange Lydian love, the platane tree,
Was loved for age, none being so large as she ;
Or else because, being young, nature did bless
Her youth with age's glory, barrenness.
If we love things long sought, age is a thing
Which we are fifty years in compassing ;
If transitory things, which soon decay,
Age must be loveliest at the latest day.
But name not winter faces, whose skin's slack,
Lank as an unthrift's purse, but a soul's sack ;
Whose eyes seek light within, for all here's shade ;
Whose mouths are holes, rather worn out, than made ;
Whose every tooth to a several place is gone,
To vex their souls at resurrection ;
Name not these living death-heads unto me,
For these, not ancient, but antique be.
I hate extremes ; yet I had rather stay
With tombs than cradles, to wear out a day.
Since such love's motion natural is, may still
My love descend, and journey down the hill,
Not panting after growing beauties ; so
I shall ebb out with them who homeward go.


ELEGY X.

THE DREAM.

IMAGE of her whom I love, more than she,
Whose fair impression in my faithful heart
Makes me her medal, and makes her love me,
As kings do coins, to which their stamps impart
The value ; go, and take my heart from hence,
Which now is grown too great and good for me.
Honours oppress weak spirits, and our sense
Strong objects dull ; the more, the less we see.
When you are gone, and reason gone with you,
Then fantasy is queen and soul, and all ;
She can present joys meaner than you do,
Convenient, and more proportional.
So, if I dream I have you, I have you,
For all our joys are but fantastical ;
And so I 'scape the pain, for pain is true ;
And sleep, which locks up sense, doth lock out all.
After a such fruition I shall wake,
And, but the waking, nothing shall repent ;
And shall to love more thankful sonnets make,
Than if more honour, tears, and pains were spent.
But, dearest heart and dearer image, stay ;
Alas ! true joys at best are dream enough ;
Though you stay here, you pass too fast away,
For even at first life's taper is a snuff.
Fill'd with her love, may I be rather grown
Mad with much heart, than idiot with none.




ELEGY XI.

THE BRACELET.

UPON THE LOSS OF HIS MISTRESS' CHAIN, FOR
WHICH HE MADE SATISFACTION.

NOT that in colour it was like thy hair,
For armlets of that thou mayst let me wear ;
Nor that thy hand it oft embraced and kiss'd,
For so it had that good, which oft I miss'd ;
Nor for that silly old morality,
That, as these links were knit, our love should be,
Mourn I that I thy sevenfold chain have lost ;
Nor for the luck sake ; but the bitter cost.
O, shall twelve righteous angels, which as yet
No leaven of vile solder did admit ;
Nor yet by any way have stray'd or gone
From the first state of their creation ;
Angels, which heaven commanded to provide
All things to me, and be my faithful guide ;
To gain new friends, to appease great enemies ;
To comfort my soul, when I lie or rise ;
Shall these twelve innocents, by thy severe
Sentence, dread judge, my sin's great burden bear?
Shall they be damn'd, and in the furnace thrown,
And punish'd for offenses not their own?
They save not me, they do not ease my pains,
When in that hell they're burnt and tied in chains.
Were they but crowns of France, I carèd not,
For most of these their country's natural rot,
I think, possesseth ; they come here to us
So pale, so lame, so lean, so ruinous.
And howsoe'er French kings most Christian be,
Their crowns are circumcised most Jewishly.
Or were they Spanish stamps, still travelling,
That are become as Catholic as their king ;
These unlick'd bear-whelps, unfiled pistolets,
That—more than cannon shot—avails or lets ;
Which, negligently left unrounded, look
Like many-angled figures in the book
Of some great conjurer that would enforce
Nature, so these do justice, from her course ;
Which, as the soul quickens head, feet and heart,
As streams, like veins, run through th' earth's every part,
Visit all countries, and have slily made
Gorgeous France, ruin'd, ragged and decay'd,
Scotland, which knew no state, proud in one day,
And mangled seventeen-headed Belgia.
Or were it such gold as that wherewithal
Almighty chemics, from each mineral
Having by subtle fire a soul out-pull'd,
Are dirtily and desperately gull'd ;
I would not spit to quench the fire they're in,
For they are guilty of much heinous sin.
But shall my harmless angels perish? Shall
I lose my guard, my ease, my food, my all?
Much hope which they would nourish will be dead.
Much of my able youth, and lustihead
Will vanish ; if thou love, let them alone,
For thou wilt love me less when they are gone ;
And be content that some loud squeaking crier,
Well-pleas'd with one lean threadbare groat, for hire,
May like a devil roar through every street,
And gall the finder's conscience, if he meet.
Or let me creep to some dread conjurer,
That with fantastic schemes fills full much paper ;
Which hath divided heaven in tenements,
And with whores, thieves, and murderers stuff'd his rents
So full, that though he pass them all in sin,
He leaves himself no room to enter in.
But if, when all his art and time is spent,
He say 'twill ne'er be found ; yet be content ;
Receive from him that doom ungrudgingly,
Because he is the mouth of destiny.
Thou say'st, alas ! the gold doth still remain,
Though it be changed, and put into a chain.
So in the first fallen angels resteth still
Wisdom and knowledge, but 'tis turn'd to ill ;
As these should do good works, and should provide
Necessities ; but now must nurse thy pride.
And they are still bad angels ; mine are none ;
For form gives being, and their form is gone.
Pity these angels yet ; their dignities
Pass Virtues, Powers, and Principalities.
But thou art resolute ; thy will be done ;
Yet with such anguish, as her only son
The mother in the hungry grave doth lay,
Unto the fire these martyrs I betray.
Good souls—for you give life to everything—
Good angels—for good messages you bring—
Destined you might have been to such an one,
As would have loved and worshipp'd you alone ;
One that would suffer hunger, nakedness,
Yea death, ere he would make your number less ;
But, I am guilty of your sad decay ;
May your few fellows longer with me stay.
But O ! thou wretched finder whom I hate
So, that I almost pity thy estate,
Gold being the heaviest metal amongst all,
May my most heavy curse upon thee fall.
Here fetter'd, manacled, and hang'd in chains,
First mayst thou be ; then chain'd to hellish pains ;
Or be with foreign gold bribed to betray
Thy country, and fail both of it and thy pay.
May the next thing thou stoop'st to reach, contain
Poison, whose nimble fume rot thy moist brain ;
Or libels, or some interdicted thing,
Which negligently kept thy ruin bring.
Lust-bred diseases rot thee ; and dwell with thee
Itching desire, and no ability.
May all the evils that gold ever wrought ;
All mischief that all devils ever thought ;
Want after plenty, poor and gouty age,
The plagues of travellers, love, marriage
Afflict thee, and at thy life's last moment,
May thy swollen sins themselves to thee present.
But, I forgive ; repent thee, honest man !
Gold is restorative ; restore it then :
But if from it thou be'st loth to depart,
Because 'tis cordial, would 'twere at thy heart.


ELEGY XII.

COME Fates ; I fear you not ! All whom I owe
Are paid, but you ; then 'rest me ere I go.
But Chance from you all sovereignty hath got ;
Love woundeth none but those whom Death dares not ;
True if you were, and just in equity,
I should have vanquish'd her, as you did me ;
Else lovers should not brave Death's pains, and live ;
But 'tis a rule, “ Death comes not to relieve.”
Or, pale and wan Death's terrors, are they laid
So deep in lovers, they make Death afraid ?
Or—the least comfort—have I company ?
O'ercame she Fates, Love, Death, as well as me ?
Yes, Fates do silk unto her distaff pay,
For ransom, which tax they on us do lay.
Love gives her youth—which is the reason why
Youths, for her sake, some wither and some die.
Poor Death can nothing give ; yet, for her sake,
Still in her turn, he doth a lover take.
And if Death should prove false, she fears him not ;
Our Muses, to redeem her, she hath got.
That fatal night we last kiss'd, I thus pray'd,
—Or rather, thus despair'd, I should have said—
Kisses, and yet despair ! The forbid tree
Did promise (and deceive) no more than she.
Like lambs, that see their teats, and must eat hay,
A food, whose taste hath made me pine away.
Dives, when thou saw'st bliss, and craved'st to touch
A drop of water, thy great pains were such.
Here grief wants a fresh wit, for mine being spent,
And my sighs weary, groans are all my rent.
Unable longer to endure the pain,
They break like thunder, and do bring down rain.
Thus till dry tear solder my eye, I weep ;
And then, I dream, how you securely sleep,
And in your dreams do laugh at me. I hate,
And pray Love all may ; he pities my state,
But says, I therein no revenge shall find ;
The sun would shine, though all the world were blind.
Yet, to try my hate, Love show'd me your tear ;
And I had died, had not your smile been there.
Your frown undoes me ; your smile is my wealth ;
And as you please to look, I have my health.
Methought, Love pitying me, when he saw this,
Gave me your hands, the backs and palms to kiss.
That cured me not, but to bear pain gave strength ;
And what is lost in force, is took in length.
I call'd on Love again, who fear'd you so,
That his compassion still proved greater woe ;
For, then I dream'd I was in bed with you,
But durst not feel, for fear it should not be true.
This merits not your anger, had it been ;
The queen of chastity was naked seen ;
And in bed not to feel, the pain I took,
Was more than for Actæon not to look ;
And that breast which lay ope, I did not know,
But for the clearness, from a lump of snow ;
Nor that sweet teat which on the top it bore
From the rose-bud which for my sake you wore.
These griefs to issue forth, by verse I prove ;
Or turn their course by travel and new love.
All would not do ; the best at last I tried ;
Unable longer to hold out, I died.
And then I found I lost life, death by flying ;
Who hundreds live, are but so long in dying.
Charon did let me pass ; I'll him requite.
To mark the groves or shades wrongs my delight ;
I'll speak but of those ghosts I found alone,
Those thousand ghosts, whereof myself made one,
All images of thee ; I asked them why ?
The judge told me, all they for thee did die,
And therefore had for their Elysian bliss,
In one another their own loves to kiss.
O here I miss'd not blissh, but being dead ;
For lo ! I dreamt, I dreamt, and waking said,
“ Heaven, if who are in thee there must dwell,
How is't I now was there, and now I fell ?”


ELEGY XIII.

HIS PARTING FROM HER.

SINCE she must go, and I must mourn, come night,
Environ me with darkness, whilst I write ;
Shadow that hell unto me, which alone
I am to suffer when my love is gone.
Alas ! the darkest magic cannot do it,
Thou and great hell, to boot, are shadows to it.
Should Cynthia quit thee, Venus, and each star,
It would not form one thought dark as mine are.
I could lend them obscureness now, and say
Out of my self, there should be no more day.
Such is already my self-want of sight,
Did not the fire within me force a light.
O Love, that fire and darkness should be mix'd,
Or to thy triumphs such strange torments fix'd !
Is it because thou thyself art blind, that we,
Thy martyrs, must no more each other see ?
Or takest thou pride to break us on the wheel,
And view old Chaos in the pains we feel ?
Or have we left undone some mutual rite,
That thus with parting thou seek'st us to spite ?
No, no. The fault is mine, impute it to me,
Or rather to conspiring destiny,
Which, since I loved in jest before, decreed
That I should suffer, when I loved indeed ;
And therefore, sooner now than I can say,
I saw the golden fruit, 'tis rapt away ;
Or as I'd watch'd one drop in the vast stream,
And I left wealthy only in a dream.
Yet, Love, thou'rt blinder than myself in this,
To vex my dove-like friend for my amiss ;
And where one sad truth may expiate
Thy wrath, to make her fortune run my fate.
So blinded justice doth, when favourites fall,
Strike them, their house, their friends, their favourites all.
Was't not enough that thou didst dart thy fires
Into our bloods, inflaming our desires,
And madest us sigh, and blow, and pant, and burn,
And then thyself into our flames didst turn ?
Was't not enough that thou didst hazard us
To paths in love so dark and dangerous,
And those so ambush'd round with household spies,
And over all thy husband's towering eyes,
Inflamed with th' ugly sweat of jealousy ;
Yet went we not still on in constancy ?
Have we for this kept guards, like spy on spy ?
Had correspondence whilst the foe stood by ?
Stolen, more to sweeten them, our many blisses
Of meetings, conference, embracements, kisses ?
Shadow'd with negligence our best respects ?
Varied our language through all dialects
Of becks, winks, looks, and often under boards
Spoke dialogues with our feet far from our words ?
Have we proved all the secrets of our art,
Yea, thy pale inwards, and thy panting heart ?
And, after all this passed purgatory,
Must sad divorce make us the vulgar story ?
First let our eyes be riveted quite through
Our turning brain, and both our lips grow to ;
Let our arms clasp like ivy, and our fear
Freeze us together, that we may stick here,
Till Fortune, that would ruin us with the deed,
Strain his eyes open, and yet make them bleed.
For Love it cannot be, whom hitherto
I have accused, should such a mischief do.
O Fortune, thou'rt not worth my least exclaim,
And plague enough thou hast in thy own name.
Do thy great worst ; my friend and I have charms,
Though not against thy strokes, against thy harms.
Rend us in sunder ; thou canst not divide
Our bodies so, but that our souls are tied,
And we can love by letters still and gifts,
And thoughts and dreams ; love never wanteth shifts.
I will not look upon the quickening sun,
But straight her beauty to my sense shall run ;
The air shall note her soft, the fire, most pure ;
Waters suggest her clear, and the earth sure.
Time shall not lose our passages ; the spring,
How fresh our love was in the beginning ;
The summer, how it ripen'd in the year ;
And autumn, what our golden harvests were ;
The winter I'll not think on to spite thee,
But count it a lost season ; so shall she.
And dearest friend, since we must part, drown night
With hope of day—burdens well borne are light— ;
The cold and darkness longer hang somewhere,
Yet Phoebus equally lights all the sphere ;
And what we cannot in like portion pay
The world enjoys in mass, and so we may.
Be then ever yourself, and let no woe
Win on your health, your youth, your beauty ; so
Declare yourself base Fortune's enemy,
No less be your contempt than her inconstancy ;
That I may grow enamour'd on your mind,
When mine own thoughts I here neglected find.
And this to the comfort of my dear I vow,
My deeds shall still be what my deeds are now ;
The poles shall move to teach me ere I start ;
And when I change my love, I'll change my heart.
Nay, if I wax but cold in my desire,
Think, heaven hath motion lost, and the world, fire.
Much more I could, but many words have made
That oft suspected which men most persuade.
Take therefore all in this ; I love so true,
As I will never look for less in you.


ELEGY XIV.

JULIA.

HARK, news, O envy ; thou shalt hear descried
My Julia ; who as yet was ne'er envied.
To vomit gall in slander, swell her veins
With calumny, that hell itself disdains,
Is her continual practice ; does her best,
To tear opinion e'en out of the breast
Of dearest friends, and—which is worse than vile—
Sticks jealousy in wedlock ; her own child
Scapes not the showers of envy. To repeat
The monstrous fashions how, were alive to eat
Deare reputation ; would to God she were
But half so loth to act vice, as to hear
My mild reproof. Lived Mantuan now again
That female Mastix to limn with his pen,
This she Chimera that hath eyes of fire,
Burning with anger—anger feeds desire—
Tongued like the night crow, whose ill boding cries
Give out for nothing but new injuries ;
Her breath like to the juice in Tænarus,
That blasts the springs, though ne'er so prosperous ;
Her hands, I know not how, used more to spill
The food of others than herself to fill ;
But O ! her mind, that Orcus, which includes
Legions of mischiefs, countless multitudes
Of formless curses, projects unmade up,
Abuses yet unfashion'd, thoughts corrupt,
Misshapen cavils, palpable untroths,
Inevitable errors, self-accusing loaths.
These, like those atoms swarming in the sun,
Throng in her bosom for creation.
I blush to give her halfe her due ; yet say,
No poison's half so bad as Julia.


ELEGY XV.

A TALE OF A CITIZEN AND HIS WIFE.

I SING no harm, good sooth, to any wight,
To lord or fool, cuckold, beggar, or knight,
To peace-teaching lawyer, proctor, or brave
Reformed or reducèd captain, knave,
Officer, juggler, or justice of peace,
Juror or judge ; I touch no fat sow's grease ;
I am no libeller, nor will be any,
But—like a true man—say there are too many.
I fear not ore tenus ; for my tale
Nor count nor counsellor will look red or pale.

A citizen and his wife the other day
Both riding on one horse, upon the way
I overtook ; the wench a pretty peat,
And—by her eye—well fitting for the feat.
I saw the lecherous citizen turn back
His head, and on his wife's lip steal a smack ;
Whence apprehending that the man was kind,
Riding before to kiss his wife behind,
To get acquaintance with him I began
To sort discourse fit for so fine a man ;
I ask'd the number of the plaguing bill ;
Ask'd if the custom farmers held out still ;
Of the Virginian plot, and whether Ward
The traffic of the island seas had marr'd ;
Whether the Britain Burse did fill apace,
And likely were to give th' Exchange disgrace.
Of new-built Aldgate, and the Moor-field crosses,
Of store of bankrupts, and poor merchants' losses
I urgèd him to speak ; but he—as mute
As an old courtier worn to his last suit—
Replies with only yeas and nays ; at last
—To fit his element—my theme I cast
On tradesmen's gains ; that set his tongue a-going.
“ Alas ! good sir,” quoth he, “ There is no doing
In court or city now” ; she smiled, and I,
And, in my conscience, both gave him the lie
In one met thought ; but he went on apace,
And at the present time with such a face
He rail'd, as fray'd me ; for he gave no praise
To any but my Lord of Essex' days ;
Call'd that the age of action—“ True ! ” quoth I—
“ There's now as great an itch of bravery,
And heat of taking up, but cold lay down,
For, put to push of pay, away they run ;
Our only city trades of hope now are
Bawd, tavern-keepers, whores, and scriveners.
The much of privileged kinsmen and store
Of fresh protections make the rest all poor.
In the first state of their creation
Though many stoutly stand, yet proves not one
A righteous pay-master.” Thus ran he on
In a continued rage ; so void of reason
Seem'd his harsh talk, I sweat for fear of treason.
And—troth—how could I less ? when in the prayer
For the protection of the wise Lord Mayor,
And his wise brethren's worships, when one prayeth,
He swore that none could say amen with faith.
To get off him from what I glow'd to hear,
In happy time an angel did appear,
The bright sign of a loved and well-tried inn,
Where many citizens with their wives had been
Well used and often ; here I pray'd him stay,
To take some due refreshment by the way.
Look, how he look'd that hid the gold, his hope,
And at return found nothing but a rope,
So he at me ; refused and made away,
Though willing she pleaded a weary stay.
I found my miss, struck hands, and pray'd him tell—
To hold acquaintance still—where he did dwell.
He barely named the street, promised the wine,
But his kind wife gave me the very sign.


ELEGY XVI.

THE EXPOSTULATION.

TO make the doubt clear, that no woman's true,
Was it my fate to prove it strong in you?
Thought I, but one had breathèd purest air ;
And must she needs be false, because she's fair?
Is it your beauty's mark, or of your youth,
Or your perfection, not to study truth?
Or think you heaven is deaf, or hath no eyes?
Or those it hath smile at your perjuries?
Are vows so cheap with women, or the matter
Whereof they're made, that they are writ in water,
And blown away with wind? Or doth their breath
Both hot and cold, at once make life and death?
Who could have thought so many accents sweet
Form'd into words, so may sighs should meet
As from our hearts, so many oaths, and tears
Sprinkled among, all sweeten'd by our fears,
And the divine impression of stolen kisses,
That seal'd the rest, should now prove empty blisses?
Did you draw bonds to forfeit? sign to break?
Or must we read you quite from what you speak,
And find the truth out the wrong way? or must
He first desire you false, would wish you just?
O ! I profane ! though most of women be
This kind of beast, my thoughts shall except thee,
My dearest love ; though froward jealousy
With circumstance might urge thy inconstancy,
Sooner I'll think the sun will cease to cheer
The teeming earth, and that forget to bear ;
Sooner that rivers will run back, or Thames
With ribs of ice in June will bin his streams ;
Or nature, by whose strength the world endures,
Would change her course, before you alter yours.
But O ! that treacherous breast, to whom weak you
Did drift our counsels, and we both may rue,
Having his falsehood found too late ; 'twas he
That made me cast you guilty, and you me ;
Whilst he, black wretch, betray'd each simple word
We spake, unto the cunning of a third.
Cursed may he be, that so our love hath slain,
And wander on the earth, wretched as Cain,
Let all eyes shun him, and he shun each eye,
'Til he be noisome as his infamy ;
May he without remorse deny God thrice,
And not be trusted more on his soul's price ;
And, after all self-torment, when he dies,
May wolves tear out his heart, vultures his eyes,
Swine eat his bowels, and his falser tongue
That utter'd all, be to some raven flung ;
And let his carrion corse be a longer feast
To the king's dogs, than any other beast.
Now have I cursed, let us our love revive ;
In me the flame was never more alive.
I could begin again to court and praise,
And in that pleasure lengthen the short days
Of my life's lease ; like painters that do take
Delight, not in made work, but whiles they make.
I could renew those times, when first I saw
Love in your eyes, that gave my tongue the law
To like what you liked ; and at masks and plays
Commend the self-same actors, the same ways ;
Ask how you did, and often with intent
Of being officious, be impertinent ;
All which were such soft pastimes, as in these
Love was as subtly catch'd as a disease.
But being got, it is a treasure sweet,
Which to defend is harder than to get ;
And ought not be profaned, on either part,
For though 'tis got by chance, 'tis kept by art.


ELEGY XVII.

ELEGY ON HIS MISTRESS.


By our first strange and fatal interview,
By all desires which thereof did ensue,
By our long starving hopes, by that remorse
Which my words masculine persuasive force
Begot in thee, and by the memory
Of hurts, which spies and rivals threaten'd me,
I calmly beg. But by thy father's wrath,
By all pains, which want and divorcement hath,
I conjure thee, and all the oaths which I
And thou have sworn to seal joint constancy,
Here I unswear, and overswear them thus ;
Thou shalt not love by ways so dangerous.
Temper, O fair love, love's impetuous rage ;
Be my true mistress still, not my feign'd page.
I'll go, and, by thy kind leave, leave behind
Thee, only worthy to nurse in my mind
Thirst to come back ; O ! if thou die before,
My soul from other lands to thee shall soar.
Thy else almighty beauty cannot move
Rage from the seas, nor thy love teach them love,
Nor tame wild Boreas' harshness ; thou hast read
How roughly he in pieces shivered
Fair Orithea, whom he swore he loved.
Fall ill or good, 'tis madness to have proved
Dangers unurged ; feed on this flattery,
That absent lovers one in th' other be.
Dissemble nothing, not a boy, nor change
Thy body's habit, nor mind ; be not strange
To thyself only. All will spy in thy face
A blushing womanly discovering grace.
Richly clothed apes are call'd apes, and as soon
Eclipsed as bright, we call the moon the moon.
Men of France, changeable chameleons,
Spitals of diseases, shops of fashions,
Love's fuellers, and the rightest company
Of players, which upon the world's stage be,
Will quickly know thee, and no less, alas !
Th' indifferent Italian, as we pass
His warm land, well content to think thee page,
Will hunt thee with such lust, and hideous rage,
As Lot's fair guests were vex'd. But none of these
Nor spongy hydroptic Dutch shall thee displease,
If thou stay here. O stay here, for for thee
England is only a worthy gallery,
To walk in expectation, till from thence
Our greatest king call thee to his presence.
When I am gone, dream me some happiness ;
Nor let thy looks our long-hid love confess ;
Nor praise, nor dispraise me, nor bless nor curse
Openly love's force, nor in bed fright thy nurse
With midnight's startings, crying out, O ! O !
Nurse, O ! my love is slain ; I saw him go
O'er the white Alps alone ; I saw him, I,
Assail'd, fight, taken, stabb'd, bleed, fall, and die.
Augur me better chance, except dread Jove
Think it enough for me to have had thy love.


ELEGY XVIII.


THE heavens rejoice in motion ; why should I
Abjure my so much loved variety,
And not with many youth and love divide ?
Pleasure is none, if not diversified.
The sun that, sitting in the chair of light,
Sheds flame into what else so ever doth seem bright,
Is not contented at one sign to inn,
But ends his year, and with a new begin.
All things do willingly in change delight,
The fruitful mother of our appetite ;
Rivers the clearer and more pleasing are,
Where their fair-spreading streams run wide and clear ;
And a dead lake, that no strange bark doth greet,
Corrupts itself, and what doth live in it.
Let no man tell me such a one is fair,
And worthy all alone my love to share.
Nature in her hath done the liberal part
Of a kind mistress, and employed her art,
To make her loveable, and I aver
Him not humane, that would turn back from her.
I love her well, and would, if need were, die,
To do her service. But follows it that I
Must serve her only, when I may have choice ?
The law is hard, and shall not have my voice.
The last I saw in all extremes is fair,
And holds me in the sunbeams of her hair ;
Her nymph-like features such agreements have,
That I could venture with her to the grave.
Another's brown ; I like her not the worse ;
Her tongue is soft and takes me with discourse.
Others, for that they well descended were,
Do in my love obtain as large a share ;
And though they be not fair, 'tis much with me
To win their love only for their degree.
And though I fail of my required ends,
The attempt is glorious and itself commends.
How happy were our sires in ancient time,
Who held plurality of loves no crime.
With them it was accounted charity
To stir up race of all indifferently ;
Kindred were not exempted from the bands,
Which with the Persian still in usage stands.
Women were then no sooner ask'd than won,
And what they did was honest and well done.
But since this little Honour hath been used,
Our weak credulity hath been abused ;
The golden laws of nature are repeal'd,
Which our first fathers in such reverence held ;
Our liberty reversed and charters gone ;
And we made servants to Opinion ;
A monster in no certain shape attired,
And whose original is much desired,
Formless at first, but growing on its fashions,
And doth prescribe manners and laws to nations.
Here love received immedicable harms,
And was despoiled of his daring arms ;
A greater want than is his daring eyes,
He lost those awful wings with which he flies,
His sinewy bow and those immortal darts,
With which he is wont to bruise resisting hearts.
Only some few, strong in themselves and free,
Retain the seeds of ancient liberty,
Following that part of love although depress'd,
Yet make a throne for him within their breast,
In spite of modern censures him avowing
Their sovereign, all service him allowing.
Amongst which troop although I am the least,
Yet equal in perfection with the best,
I glory in subjection of his hand,
Nor ever did decline his least command ;
For in whatever form the message came
My heart did open and receive the same,
But time will in his course a point descry
When I this lovèd service must deny ;
For our allegiance temporary is ;
With firmer age returns our liberties.
What time in years and judgment we reposed,
Shall not so easily be to change disposed,
Nor to the art of several eyes obeying,
But beauty with true worth securely weighing ;
Which being found assembled in some one
We'll leave her ever, and love her alone.


ELEGY XIX.


WHOEVER loves, if he do not propose
The right true end of love, he's one that goes
To sea for nothing but to make him sick.
Love is a bear-whelp born : if we o'er-lick
Our love, and force it new strange shapes to take,
We err, and of a lump a monster make.
Were not a calf a monster, that were grown
Faced like a man, though better than his own ?
Perfection is in unity ; prefer
One woman first, and then one thing in her.
I, when I value gold, may think upon
The ductileness, the application,
The wholesomeness, the ingenuity,
From rust, from soil, from fire ever free ;
But if I love it, 'tis because 'tis made
By our new nature, use, the soul of trade.
All this in women we might think upon,
—If women had them—and yet love but one.
Can men more injure women than to say
They love them for that, by which they're not they ?
Makes virtue woman ? must I cool my blood
Till I both be, and find one wise and good ?
May barren angels love so. But if we
Make love to woman, virtue is not she,
As beauty is not, nor wealth. He that strays thus
From her to hers is more adulterous
Than if he took her maid. Search every sphere
And firmament, our Cupid is not there.
He's an infernal God, and underground
With Pluto dwells, where gold and fire abound.
Men to such gods their sacrificing coals
Did not on altars lay, but pits and holes.
Although we see celestial bodies move
Above the earth, the earth we till and love.
So we her airs contemplate, words and heart,
And virtues, but we love the centric part.
Nor is the soul more worthy, or more fit
For love, than this, as infinite as it.
But in attaining this desired place
How much they err, that set out at the face ?
The hair a forest is of ambushes,
Of springes, snares, fetters, and manacles ;
The brow becalms us when 'tis smooth and plain,
And when 'tis wrinkled, shipwrecks us again ;
Smooth, 'tis a paradise, where we would have
Immortal stay, but wrinkled 'tis a grave.
The nose, like to the first meridian, runs
Not 'twixt an east and west, but 'twixt two suns ;
It leaves a cheek, a rosy hemisphere,
On either side, and then directs us where
Upon the islands fortunate we fall,
Not faint Canaries, but ambrosial,
Her swelling lips, to which when we are come,
We anchor there, and think ourselves at home,
For they seem all ; there Sirens' songs and there
Wise Delphic oracles do fill the ear.
There, in a creek where chosen pearls do swell,
The remora, her cleaving tongue, doth dwell.
These and the glorious promontory, her chin,
O'erpast, and the straight Hellespont between
The Sestos and Abydos of her breasts,
Not of two lovers, but two loves, the nests,
Succeeds a boundless sea, but yet thine eye
Some island moles may scattered there descry ;
And sailing towards her India, in that way
Shall at her fair Atlantic navel stay.
Though there the current be the pilot made,
Yet, ere thou be where thou shouldst be embay'd,
Thou shalt upon another forest set,
Where many shipwreck, and no further get.
When thou art there, consider what this chase
Misspent by thy beginning at the face.
Rather set out below ; practise thy art ;
Some symmetry the foot hath with that part
Which thou dost seek, and is thy map for that,
Lovely enough to stop, but not stay at.
Least subject to disguise and change it is ;
Men say the devil never can change his ;
It is the emblem that hath figured
Firmness ; 'tis the first part that comes to bed.
Civility we see refined ; the kiss,
Which at the face began, transplanted is,
Since to the hand, since to the imperial knee,
Now at the papal foot delights to be.
If kings think that the nearer way, and do
Rise from the foot, lovers may do so too ;
For, as free spheres move faster far than can
Birds, whom the air resists, so may that man
Which goes this empty and ethereal way,
Than if at beauty's elements he stay.
Rich Nature in women wisely made
Two purses, and their mouths aversely laid.
They then which to the lower tribute owe,
That way which that exchequer looks must go ;
He which doth not, his error is as great,
As who by clyster gives the stomach meat.


ELEGY XX.

TO HIS MISTRESS GOING TO BED.


COME, madam, come, all rest my powers defy ;
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe ofttimes, having the foe in sight,
Is tired with standing, though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glittering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear,
That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopp'd there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
Tells me from you that now it is bed-time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th' hill's shadow steals.
Off with your wiry coronet, and show
The hairy diadems which on you do grow.
Off with your hose and shoes ; then softly tread
In this love's hallow'd temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes heaven's angels used to be
Revealed to men ; thou, angel, bring'st with thee
A heaven-like Mahomet's paradise ; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
By this these angels from an evil sprite ;
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
Licence my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O, my America, my Newfoundland,
My kingdom, safest when with one man mann'd,
My mine of precious stones, my empery ;
How am I blest in thus discovering thee !
To enter in these bonds, is to be free ;
Then, where my hand is set, my soul shall be.
Full nakedness ! All joys are due to thee ;
As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be
To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta's ball cast in men's views ;
That, when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,
His earthly soul might court that, not them.
Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made
For laymen, are all women thus array'd.
Themselves are only mystic books, which we
—Whom their imputed grace will dignify—
Must see reveal'd. Then, since that I may know,
As liberally as to thy midwife show
Thyself ; cast all, yea, this white linen hence ;
There is no penance due to innocence :
To teach thee, I am naked first ; why then,
What needst thou have more covering than a man?

 

 

 
     
         
 

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