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by Alfred Lord Tennyson |

The Kraken

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millenial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep, Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

by William Cullen Bryant |


TO HIM who in the love of Nature holds 
Communion with her visible forms she speaks 
A various language; for his gayer hours 
She has a voice of gladness and a smile 
And eloquence of beauty and she glides 5 
Into his darker musings with a mild 
And healing sympathy that steals away 
Their sharpness ere he is aware.
When thoughts Of the last bitter hour come like a blight Over thy spirit and sad images 10 Of the stern agony and shroud and pall And breathless darkness and the narrow house Make thee to shudder and grow sick at heart;¡ª Go forth under the open sky and list To Nature's teachings while from all around¡ª 15 Earth and her waters and the depths of air¡ª Comes a still voice¡ªYet a few days and thee The all-beholding sun shall see no more In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground Where thy pale form was laid with many tears 20 Nor in the embrace of ocean shall exist Thy image.
Earth that nourished thee shall claim Thy growth to be resolved to earth again And lost each human trace surrendering up Thine individual being shalt thou go 25 To mix forever with the elements; To be a brother to the insensible rock And to the sluggish clod which the rude swain Turns with his share and treads upon.
The oak Shall send his roots abroad and pierce thy mould.
30 Yet not to thine eternal resting-place Shalt thou retire alone nor couldst thou wish Couch more magnificent.
Thou shalt lie down With patriarchs of the infant world ¡ªwith kings The powerful of the earth ¡ªthe wise the good 35 Fair forms and hoary seers of ages past All in one mighty sepulchre.
The hills Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun; the vales Stretching in pensive quietness between; The venerable woods¡ªrivers that move 40 In majesty and the complaining brooks That make the meadows green; and poured round all Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste ¡ª Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man! The golden sun 45 The planets all the infinite host of heaven Are shining on the sad abodes of death Through the still lapse of ages.
All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom.
¡ªTake the wings 50 Of morning pierce the Barcan wilderness Or lose thyself in the continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon and hears no sound Save his own dashings ¡ªyet the dead are there: And millions in those solitudes since first 55 The flight of years began have laid them down In their last sleep¡ªthe dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest; and what if thou withdraw In silence from the living and no friend Take note of thy departure? All that breathe 60 Will share thy destiny.
The gay will laugh When thou art gone the solemn brood of care Plod on and each one as before will chase His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave Their mirth and their employments and shall come 65 And make their bed with thee.
As the long train Of ages glide away the sons of men The youth in life's green spring and he who goes In the full strength of years matron and maid The speechless babe and the gray-headed man¡ª 70 Shall one by one be gathered to thy side By those who in their turn shall follow them.
So live that when thy summons comes to join The innumerable caravan which moves To that mysterious realm where each shall take 75 His chamber in the silent halls of death Thou go not like the quarry-slave at night Scourged to his dungeon but sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust approach thy grave Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 80 About him and lies down to pleasant dreams.

by Sir Philip Sidney |

Astrophel and Stella


Ouing in trueth, and fayne in verse my loue to show,
That she, deare Shee, might take som pleasure of my paine,
Pleasure might cause her reade, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pittie winne, and pity grace obtaine,
I sought fit wordes to paint the blackest face of woe;
Studying inuentions fine, her wits to entertaine,
Oft turning others leaues, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitfull showers vpon my sun-burnd brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting Inuentions stay; Inuention, Natures childe, fledde step-dame Studies blowes; And others feet still seemde but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with childe to speak, and helplesse in my throwes, Biting my trewand pen, beating myselfe for spite, Fool, said my Muse to me, looke in thy heart, and write.
II Not at the first sight, nor with a dribbed shot, Loue gaue the wound, which, while I breathe, will bleede; But knowne worth did in tract of time proceed, Till by degrees, it had full conquest got.
I saw and lik'd; I lik'd but loued not; I lou'd, but straight did not what Loue decreed: At length, to Loues decrees I, forc'd, agreed, Yet with repining at so partiall lot.
Now, euen that footstep of lost libertie Is gone; and now, like slaue-borne Muscouite, I call it praise to suffer tyrannie; And nowe imploy the remnant of my wit To make myselfe beleeue that all is well, While, with a feeling skill, I paint my hell.
III Let dainty wits crie on the Sisters nine, That, brauely maskt, their fancies may be told; Or, Pindars apes, flaunt they in phrases fine, Enam'ling with pied flowers their thoughts of gold; Or else let them in statlier glorie shine, Ennobling new-found tropes with problemes old; Or with strange similes enrich each line, Of herbes or beasts which Inde or Affrick hold.
For me, in sooth, no Muse but one I know, Phrases and problems from my reach do grow; And strange things cost too deare for my poor sprites.
How then? euen thus: in Stellaes face I reed What Loue and Beautie be; then all my deed But copying is, what in her Nature writes.
IV Vertue, alas, now let me take some rest; Thou setst a bate betweene my will and wit; If vaine Loue haue my simple soule opprest, Leaue what thou lik'st not, deale thou not with it.
Thy scepter vse in some old Catoes brest, Churches or Schooles are for thy seat more fit; I do confesse (pardon a fault confest) My mouth too tender is for thy hard bit.
But if that needes thou wilt vsurping be The little reason that is left in me, And still th'effect of thy perswasions prooue, I sweare, my heart such one shall show to thee, That shrines in flesh so true a deitie, That, Virtue, thou thyself shalt be in loue.
V It is most true that eyes are form'd to serue The inward light, and that the heauenly part Ought to be King, from whose rules who do swerue, Rebels to nature, striue for their owne smart.
It is most true, what we call Cupids dart An image is, which for ourselues we carue, And, foolse, adore in temple of our hart, Till that good god make church and churchmen starue.
True, that true beautie virtue is indeed, Whereof this beautie can be but a shade, Which, elements with mortal mixture breed.
True, that on earth we are but pilgrims made, And should in soule up to our countrey moue: True, and yet true that I must Stella loue.
VI Some louers speake, when they their Muses entertaine, Of hopes begot by feare, of wot not what desires, Of force of heau'nly beames infusing hellish paine, Of liuing deaths, dere wounds, faire storms, and freesing fires: Some one his song in Ioue and Ioues strange tales attires, Bordred with buls and swans, powdred with golden raine: Another, humbler wit, to shepherds pipe retires, Yet hiding royall bloud full oft in rurall vaine.
To some a sweetest plaint a sweetest stile affords: While teares poure out his inke, and sighes breathe out his words, His paper pale despaire, and pain his pen doth moue.
I can speake what I feele, and feele as much as they, But thinke that all the map of my state I display When trembling voyce brings forth, that I do Stella loue.
VII When Nature made her chief worke, Stellas eyes, In colour blacke why wrapt she beames so bright? Would she in beamy blacke, like Painter wise, Frame daintiest lustre, mixt of shades and light? Or did she else that sober hue deuise, In obiect best to knitt and strength our sight; Least, if no vaile these braue gleames did disguise, They, sunlike, should more dazle then delight? Or would she her miraculous power show, That, whereas blacke seems Beauties contrary, She euen in black doth make all beauties flow? Both so, and thus, she, minding Loue should be Plac'd euer there, gaue him this mourning weede To honour all their deaths who for her bleed.
VIII Loue, borne in Greece, of late fled from his natiue place, Forc't, by a tedious proof, that Turkish hardned heart Is not fit mark to pierce with his fine-pointed dart, And pleas'd with our soft peace, staide here his flying race: But, finding these north clymes too coldly him embrace, Not vsde to frozen clips, he straue to find some part Where with most ease and warmth he might employ his art; At length he perch'd himself in Stellaes ioyful face, Whose faire skin, beamy eyes, like morning sun on snow, Deceiu'd the quaking boy, who thought, from so pure light, Effects of liuely heat must needs in nature grow: But she, most faire, most cold, made him thence take his flight To my close heart, where, while some firebrands he did lay, He burnt vn'wares his wings, and cannot flie away.
IX Queen Virtues Court, which some call Stellaes face, Prepar'd by Natures choicest furniture, Hath his front built of alabaster pure; Gold is the couering of that stately place.
The door, by which sometimes comes forth her grace, Red porphir is, which locke of pearl makes sure, Whose porches rich (which name of chekes indure) Marble, mixt red and white, doe interlace.
The windowes now, through which this heau'nly guest Looks ouer the world, and can find nothing such, Which dare claime from those lights the name of best, Of touch they are, that without touch do touch, Which Cupids self, from Beauties mine did draw: Of touch they are, and poore I am their straw.
X Reason, in faith thou art well seru'd that still Wouldst brabbling be with Sense and Loue in me; I rather wisht thee clime the Muses hill; Or reach the fruite of Natures choycest tree; Or seek heau'ns course or heau'ns inside to see: Why shouldst thou toil our thorny soile to till? Leaue Sense, and those which Senses obiects be; Deale thou with powers of thoughts, leaue Loue to Will.
But thou wouldst needs fight with both Loue and Sence, With sword of wit giuing wounds of dispraise, Till downe-right blowes did foyle thy cunning fence; For, soone as they strake thee with Stellas rayes, Reason, thou kneeld'st, and offred'st straight to proue, By reason good, good reason her to loue.
XI In truth, O Loue, with what a boyish kind Thou doest proceed in thy most serious ways, That when the heau'n to thee his best displayes, Yet of that best thou leau'st the best behinde! For, like a childe that some faire booke doth find, With gilded leaues or colour'd vellum playes, Or, at the most, on some fine picture stayes, But neuer heeds the fruit of Writers mind; So when thou saw'st, in Natures cabinet, Stella, thou straight lookst babies in her eyes: In her chekes pit thou didst thy pitfold set, And in her breast bo-peepe or crouching lies, Playing and shining in each outward part; But, fool, seekst not to get into her heart.
XII Cupid, because thou shin'st in Stellaes eyes That from her locks thy day-nets none scapes free That those lips sweld so full of thee they be That her sweet breath makes oft thy flames to rise That in her breast thy pap well sugred lies That her grace gracious makes thy wrongsthat she, What words soere shee speake, perswades for thee That her clere voice lifts thy fame to the skies, Thou countest Stella thine, like those whose pow'rs Hauing got vp a breach by fighting well, Crie Victorie, this faire day all is ours! O no; her heart is such a cittadell, So fortified with wit, stor'd with disdaine, That to win it is all the skill and paine.
XIII Phoebus was iudge betweene Ioue, Mars, and Loue, Of those three gods, whose armes the fairest were.
Ioues golden shield did sable eagles beare, Whose talons held young Ganimed aboue: But in vert field Mars bare a golden speare, Which through a bleeding heart his point did shoue: Each had his creast; Mars carried Venus gloue, Ioue on his helmet the thunderbolt did reare.
Cupid then smiles, for on his crest there lies Stellas faire haire; her face he makes his shield, Where roses gules are borne in siluer field.
Phoebus drew wide the curtaines of the skies, To blaze these last, and sware deuoutly then, The first, thus matcht, were scantly gentlemen.
XIV Alas, haue I not pain enough, my friend, Vpon whose breast a fiecer Gripe doth tire Than did on him who first stale down the fire, While Loue on me doth all his quiuer spend, But with your rhubarbe words ye must contend To grieue me worse, in saying that Desire Doth plunge my wel-form'd soul euen in the mire Of sinfull thoughts, which do in ruin end? If that be sinne which doth the manners frame, Well staid with truth in word and faith of deede, Ready of wit, and fearing nought but shame; If that be sin which in fixt hearts doth breed A loathing of all loose vnchastitie, Then loue is sin, and let me sinfull be.
XV You that do search for euery purling spring Which from the ribs of old Parnassus flowes, And euery flower, not sweet perhaps, which growes Neere thereabouts, into your poesie wring; Ye that do dictionaries methode bring Into your rimes, running in rattling rowes; You that poore Petrarchs long deceased woes With new-borne sighes and denisen'd wit do sing; You take wrong wayes; those far-fet helps be such As do bewray a want of inward tuch, And sure, at length stol'n goods doe come to light: But if, both for your loue and skill, your name You seek to nurse at fullest breasts of Fame, Stella behold, and then begin to indite.
XVI In nature, apt to like, when I did see Beauties which were of many carrets fine, My boiling sprites did thither then incline, And, Loue, I thought that I was full of thee: But finding not those restlesse flames in mee, Which others said did make their souls to pine, I thought those babes of some pinnes hurt did whine, By my soul iudging what Loues paine might be.
But while I thus with this young lion plaid, Mine eyes (shall I say curst or blest?) beheld Stella: now she is nam'd, neede more be said? In her sight I a lesson new haue speld.
I now haue learnd loue right, and learnd euen so As they that being poysond poyson know.
XVII His mother deere, Cupid offended late, Because that Mars, growne slacker in her loue, With pricking shot he did not throughly moue To keepe the place of their first louing state.
The boy refusde for fear of Marses hate, Who threatned stripes if he his wrath did proue; But she, in chafe, him from her lap did shoue, Brake bowe, brake shafts, while Cupid weeping sate; Till that his grandame Nature, pitying it, Of Stellaes brows made him two better bowes, And in her eyes of arrows infinit.
O how for ioy he leaps! O how he crowes! And straight therewith, like wags new got to play, Falls to shrewd turnes! And I was in his way.
XVIII With what sharp checkes I in myself am shent When into Reasons audite I do goe, And by iust counts my selfe a bankrout know Of all those goods which heauen to me hath lent; Vnable quite to pay euen Natures rent, Which vnto it by birthright I do ow; And, which is worse, no good excuse can showe, But that my wealth I haue most idly spent! My youth doth waste, my knowledge brings forth toyes, My wit doth striue those passions to defende, Which, for reward, spoil it with vain annoyes.
I see, my course to lose myself doth bend; I see: and yet no greater sorrow take Than that I lose no more for Stellas sake.
XIX On Cupids bowe how are my heart-strings bent, That see my wracke, and yet embrace the same! When most I glory, then I feele most shame; I willing run, yet while I run repent; My best wits still their own disgrace inuent: My very inke turns straight to Stellas name; And yet my words, as them my pen doth frame, Auise them selues that they are vainely spent: For though she passe all things, yet what is all That vnto me, who fare like him that both Lookes to the skies and in a ditch doth fall? O let me prop my mind, yet in his growth, And not in nature for best fruits vnfit.
Scholler, saith Loue, bend hitherward your wit.
XX Fly, fly, my friends; I haue my deaths wound, fly; See there that Boy, that murthring Boy I say, Who like a theefe hid in dark bush doth ly, Till bloudy bullet get him wrongfull pray.
So, tyran he no fitter place could spie, Nor so faire leuell in so secret stay, As that sweet black which veils the heau'nly eye; There with his shot himself he close doth lay.
Poore passenger, pass now thereby I did, And staid, pleas'd with the prospect of the place, While that black hue from me the the bad guest hid: But straight I saw the motions of lightning grace, And then descried the glistrings of his dart: But ere I could flie thence, it pierc'd my heart.
XXI Your words, my friend, (right healthfull caustiks), blame My young mind marde, whom Loue doth windlas so; That mine owne writings, like bad seruants, show My wits quicke in vaine thoughts, in vertue lame; That Plato I read for nought but if he tame Such coltish yeeres; that to my birth I owe Nobler desires, lest else that friendly foe, Great expectation, wear a train of shame: For since mad March great promise made of mee, If now the May of my yeeres much decline, What can be hop'd my haruest-time will be? Sure, you say well, Your wisedomes golden myne Dig deepe with Learnings spade.
Now tell me this: Hath this world aught so fair as Stella is? XXII In highest way of heau'n the Sun did ride, Progressing then from fair Twinnes golden place, Hauing no mask of clouds before his face, But streaming forth of heate in his chiefe pride; When some fair ladies, by hard promise tied, On horsebacke met him in his furious race; Yet each prepar'd with fannes wel-shading grace From that foes wounds their tender skinnes to hide.
Stella alone with face vnarmed marcht, Either to do like him which open shone, Or carelesse of the wealth, because her owne.
Yet were the hid and meaner beauties parcht; Her dainties bare went free: the cause was this: The sun, that others burn'd, did her but kisse.
XXIII The curious wits, seeing dull pensiuenesse Bewray it self in my long-settl'd eies Whence those same fumes of melancholy rise, With idle paines and missing ayme do guesse.
Some, that know how my spring I did addresse, Deem that my Muse some fruit of knowledge plies; Others, because the prince my seruice tries, Thinke that I think State errours to redress: But harder iudges iudge ambitions rage: Scourge of itselfe, still climbing slipperie place: Holds my young brain captiu'd in golden cage.
O fooles, or ouer-wise.
alas, the race Of all my thoughts hath neither stop nor start But only Stellaes eyes and Stellaes heart.
XXIV Rich fooles there be whose base and filthy heart Lies hatching still the goods wherein they flow, And damning their own selues to Tantals smart, Wealth breeding want; more rich, more wretched growe: Yet to those fooles Heau'n doth such wit impart As what their hands do hold, their heads do know, And knowing loue, and louing lay apart As sacred things, far from all dangers show.
But that rich foole, who by blind Fortunes lot The richest gemme of loue and life enioys, And can with foule abuse such beauties blot; Let him, depriu'd of sweet but vnfelt ioys, Exild for ay from those high treasures which He knowes not, grow in only folly rich! XXV The wisest scholler of the wight most wise By Phoebus doom, with sugred sentence sayes, That vertue, if it once met with our eyes, Strange flames of loue it in our souls would raise; But for that man with paine this truth descries, Whiles he each thing in Senses balance wayes, And so nor will nor can behold those skies Which inward sunne to heroick mind displaies Vertue of late, with vertuous care to ster Loue of herself, tooke Stellas shape, that she To mortall eyes might sweetly shine in her.
It is most true; for since I her did see, Vertues great beauty in that face I proue, And find th' effect, for I do burn in loue.
XXVI Though dustie wits dare scorne Astrologie, And fooles can thinke those lampes of purest light Whose numbers, waies, greatnesse, eternity, Promising wonders, wonder do inuite To haue for no cause birthright in the sky But for to spangle the black weeds of Night; Or for some brawl which in that chamber hie, They should still dance to please a gazers sight.
For me, I do Nature vnidle know, And know great causes great effects procure; And know those bodies high raigne on the low.
And if these rules did fail, proof makes me sure, Who oft fore-see my after-following race, By only those two starres in Stellaes face.
XXVII Because I oft in darke abstracted guise Seeme most alone in greatest company, With dearth of words, or answers quite awrie, To them that would make speech of speech arise; They deeme, and of their doome the runour flies, That poison foul of bubbling pride doth lie So in my swelling breast, that only I Fawne on my selfe, and others do despise.
Yet pride I thinke doth not my soule possesse (Which looks too oft in his vnflatt'ring glasse): But one worse fault, ambition, I confesse, That makes me oft my best friends ouerpasse, Vnseene, vnheard, while thought to highest place Bends all his powers, euen vnto Stellaes grace.
XXVIII You that with Allegories curious frame Of others children changelings vse to make, With me those pains, for Gods sake, do not take: I list not dig so deep for brazen fame, When I say Stella I do meane the same Princesse of beauty for whose only sake The raines of Loue I loue, though neuer slake, And ioy therein, though nations count it shame.
I beg no subiect to vse eloquence, Nor in hid wayes to guide philosophy: Looke at my hands for no such quintessence; But know that I in pure simplicitie Breathe out the flames which burn within my heart, Loue onely reading vnto me this arte.
XXIX Like some weak lords neighbord by mighty kings, To keep themselues and their chief cities free, Do easily yeeld that all their coasts may be Ready to store their campes of needfull things; So Stellas heart, finding what power Loue brings To keep it selfe in life and liberty, Doth willing graunt that in the frontiers he Vse all to helpe his other conquerings.
And thus her heart escapes; but thus her eyes Serue him with shot, her lips his heralds are, Her breasts his tents, legs his triumphall car, Her flesh his food, her skin his armour braue.
And I, but for because my prospect lies Vpon that coast, am given vp for slaue.
XXX Whether the Turkish new moone minded be To fill her hornes this yeere on Christian coast; How Poles right king means without leaue of host To warm with ill-made fire cold Muscouy; If French can yet three parts in one agree: What now the Dutch in their full diets boast; How Holland hearts, now so good townes be lost, Trust in the shade of pleasant Orange-tree; How Vlster likes of that same golden bit Wherewith my father once made it half tame; If in the Scotch Court be no weltring yet; These questions busy wits to me do frame: I, cumbred with good manners, answer doe, But know not how; for still I thinke of you.
XXXI With how sad steps, O Moone, thou climbst the skies! How silently, and with how wanne a face! What, may it be that euen in heau'nly place That busie archer his sharpe arrowes tries? Sure, if that long-with-loue-acquainted eyes Can iudge of loue, thou feel'st a louers case, I reade it in thy lookes: thy languist grace, To me that feele the like, thy state discries.
Then, eu'n of fellowship, O Moone, tell me, Is constant loue deem'd there but want of wit? Are beauties there as proud as here they be? Do they aboue loue to be lou'd, and yet Those louers scorn whom that loue doth possesse? Do they call vertue there vngratefulnesse? XXXII Morpheus, the liuely sonne of deadly Sleepe, Witnesse of life to them that liuing die, A prophet oft, and oft an historie, A poet eke, as humours fly or creepe; Since thou in me so sure a pow'r dost keepe, That neuer I with clos'd-vp sense do lie, But by thy worke my Stella I descrie, Teaching blind eyes both how to smile and weepe; Vouchsafe, of all acquaintance, this to tell, Whence hast thou ivory, rubies, pearl, and gold, To shew her skin, lips, teeth, and head so well? Foole! answers he; no Indes such treasures hold; But from thy heart, while my sire charmeth thee, Sweet Stellas image I do steal to mee.
XXXIII I might (vnhappy word!) O me, I might, And then I would not, or could not, see my blisse, Till now wrapt in a most infernall night, I find how heau'nly day, wretch! I did misse.
Hart, rend thyself, thou dost thyself but right; No louely Paris made thy Hellen his; No force, no fraud robd thee of thy delight, Nor Fortune of thy fortune author is, But to my selfe my selfe did giue the blow, While too much wit, forsooth, so troubled me That I respects for both our sakes must show: And yet could not, by rysing morne fore-see How fair a day was near: O punisht eyes, That I had bene more foolish, or more wise! XXXIV Come, let me write.
And to what end? To ease A burthen'd heart.
How can words ease, which are The glasses of thy dayly-vexing care? Oft cruel fights well pictur'd-forth do please.
Art not asham'd to publish thy disease? Nay, that may breed my fame, it is so rare.
But will not wise men thinke thy words fond ware? Then be they close, and so none shall displease.
What idler thing then speake and not be hard? What harder thing then smart and not to speake? Peace, foolish wit! with wit my wit is mard.
Thus write I, while I doubt to write, and wreake My harmes in inks poor losse.
Perhaps some find Stellas great pow'rs, that so confuse my mind.
XXXV What may words say, or what may words not say, Where Truth itself must speake like Flatterie? Within what bounds can one his liking stay, Where Nature doth with infinite agree? What Nestors counsell can my flames alay, Since Reasons self doth blow the coale in me? And, ah, what hope that Hope should once see day, Where Cupid is sworn page to Chastity? Honour is honour'd that thou dost possesse Him as thy slaue, and now long-needy Fame Doth euen grow rich, meaning my Stellaes name.
Wit learnes in thee perfection to expresse: Not thou by praise, but praise in thee is raisde: It is a praise to praise, when thou art praisde.
XXXVI Stella, whence doth these new assaults arise, A conquerd yeelding ransackt heart to winne, Whereto long since, through my long-battred eyes, Whole armies of thy beauties entred in? And there, long since, Loue, thy lieutenant, lies; My forces razde, thy banners raisd within: Of conquest, do not these effects suffice, But wilt new warre vpon thine own begin? With so sweet voice, and by sweet Nature so In sweetest stratagems sweete Art can show, That not my soul, which at thy foot did fall Long since, forc'd by thy beams, but stone nor tree, By Sences priviledge, can scape from thee! XXXVII My mouth doth water, and my breast doth swell, My tongue doth itch, my thoughts in labour be: Listen then, lordings, with good ear to me, For of my life I must a riddle tell.
Toward Auroras Court a nymph doth dwell, Rich in all beauties which mans eye can see; Beauties so farre from reach of words that we Abase her praise saying she doth excell; Rich in the treasure of deseru'd renowne, Rich in the riches of a royall heart, Rich in those gifts which giue th'eternall crowne; Who, though most rich in these and eu'ry part Which make the patents of true worldy blisse, Hath no misfortune but that Rich she is.
XXXVIII This night, while sleepe begins with heauy wings To hatch mine eyes, and that vnbitted thought Doth fall to stray, and my chief powres are brought To leaue the scepter of all subiect things; The first that straight my fancys errour brings Vnto my mind is Stellas image, wrought By Loues own selfe, but with so curious drought That she, methinks, not onley shines but sings.
I start, look, hearke: but in what closde-vp sence Was held, in opend sense it flies away, Leauing me nought but wayling eloquence.
I, seeing better sights in sights decay, Cald it anew, and wooed Sleepe again; But him, her host, that vnkind guest had slain.
XXXIX Come, Sleepe! O Sleepe, the certaine knot of peace, The baiting-place of wit, the balme of woe, The poor mans wealth, the prisoners release, Th' indifferent iudge betweene the high and low! With shield of proofe shield me from out the prease Of those fierce darts Despaire at me doth throw.
O make in me those ciuil wars to cease; I will good tribute pay, if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillowes, sweetest bed, A chamber deafe of noise and blind of light, A rosie garland and a weary hed: And if these things, as being thine in right, Moue not thy heauy grace, thou shalt in me, Liuelier then else-where, Stellaes image see.
XL As good to write, as for to lie and grone.
O Stella deare, how much thy powre hath wrought, That hast my mind (now of the basest) brought My still-kept course, while others sleepe, to mone! Alas, if from the height of Vertues throne Thou canst vouchsafe the influence of a thought Vpon a wretch that long thy grace hath sought, Weigh then how I by thee am ouerthrowne, And then thinke thus: although thy beautie be Made manifest by such a victorie, Yet noble conquerours do wreckes auoid.
Since then thou hast so farre subdued me That in my heart I offer still to thee, O do not let thy temple be destroyd! XLI Hauing this day my horse, my hand, my launce Guided so well that I obtain'd the prize, Both by the iudgement of the English eyes And of some sent from that sweet enemy Fraunce; Horsemen my skill in horsemanship aduaunce, Towne folkes my strength; a daintier iudge applies His praise to sleight which from good vse doth rise; Some luckie wits impute it but to chance; Others, because of both sides I doe take My blood from them who did excell in this, Thinke Nature me a man-at-armes did make.
How farre they shot awrie! The true cause is, Stella lookt on, and from her heau'nly face Sent forth the beames which made so faire my race.
XLII O eyes, which do the spheres of beauty moue; Whose beames be ioyes, whose ioyes all vertues be, Who, while they make Loue conquer, conquer Loue; The schooles where Venus hath learnd chastitie: O eyes, where humble lookes most glorious proue, Onely lou'd Tyrans, iust in cruelty, Do not, O doe not, from poore me remoue: Keep still my zenith, euer shine on me; For though I neuer see them, but straightwayes My life forgets to nourish languisht sprites, Yet still on me, O eyes, dart down your rayes! And if from majestie of sacred lights Oppressing mortal sense my death proceed, Wraceks triumphs be which Loue hie set doth breed.
XLIII Faire eyes, sweet lips, dear heart, that foolish I Could hope, by Cupids help, on you to pray, Since to himselfe he doth your gifts apply, As his maine force, choise sport, and easefull stay! For when he will see who dare him gain-say, Then with those eyes he looeks: lo, by and by Each soule doth at Loues feet his weapons lay, Glad if for her he giue them leaue to die.
When he will play, then in her lips he is, Where, blushing red, that Loues selfe them doe loue, With either lip he doth the other kisse; But when he will, for quiets sake, remoue From all the world, her heart is then his rome, Where well he knowes no man to him can come.
XLIV My words I know do well set forth my minde; My mind bemones his sense of inward smart; Such smart may pitie claim of any hart; Her heart, sweet heart, is of no tygres kind: And yet she heares and yet no pitie I find, But more I cry, less grace she doth impart.
Alas, what cause is there so ouerthwart That Nobleness it selfe makes thus vnkind? I much do ghesse, yet finde no truth saue this, That when the breath of my complaints doth tuch Those dainty doors vnto the Court of Blisse, The heau'nly nature of that place is such, That, once come there, the sobs of mine annoyes Are metamorphos'd straight to tunes of ioyes.
XLV Stella oft sees the very face of wo Painted in my beclowded stormie face, But cannot skill to pitie my disgrace, Not though thereof the cause herself she know: Yet, hearing late a fable which did show Of louers neuer knowne, a grieuous case, Pitie thereof gate in her breast such place, That, from that sea deriu'd, teares spring did flow.
Alas, if Fancie, drawne by imag'd things Though false, yet with free scope, more grace doth breed Than seruants wracke, where new doubts honour brings; Then thinke, my deare, that you in me do reed Of louers ruine some thrise-sad tragedie.
I am not I: pitie the tale of me.
XLVI I curst thee oft, I pitie now thy case, Blind-hitting Boy, since she that thee and me Rules with a becke, so tyranniseth thee, That thou must want or food or dwelling-place, For she protests to banish thee her face.
Her face! O Loue, a roge thou then shouldst be, If Loue learne not alone to loue and see, Without desire to feed of further grace.
Alas, poor wag, that now a scholler art To such a schoolmistresse, whose lessons new Thou needs must misse, and so thou needs must smart.
Yet, deare, let me his pardon get of you, So long, though he from book myche to desire, Till without fewell you can make hot fire.
XLVII What, haue I thus betray'd my libertie? Can those blacke beames such burning markes engraue In my free side, or am I borne a slaue, Whose necke becomes such yoke of tyrannie? Or want I sense to feel my misery, Or sprite, disdaine of such disdaine to haue, Who for long faith, tho' daily helpe I craue, May get no almes, but scorne of beggarie.
Vertue, awake! Beautie but beautie is; I may, I must, I can, I will, I do Leaue following that which it is gain to misse.
Let her goe! Soft, but here she comes! Goe to, Vnkind, I loue you not! O me, that eye Doth make my heart to giue my tongue the lie! XLVIII Soules ioy, bend not those morning starres from me Where Vertue is made strong by Beauties might; Where Loue is chasteness, Paine doth learn delight, And Humbleness growes one with Maiesty.
Whateuer may ensue, O let me be Copartner of the riches of that sight.
Let not mine eyes be hel-driu'n from that light; O look, O shine, O let me die, and see.
For though I oft myself of them bemone That through my heart their beamie darts be gone, Whose cureless wounds euen now most freshly bleed, Yet since my death-wound is already got, Deere killer, spare not thy sweete-cruell shot: A kinde of grace it is to slaye with speed.
XLIX I on my horse, and Loue on me, doth trie Our horsemanships, while by strange worke I proue A horsman to my horse, a horse to Loue, And now mans wrongs in me, poor beast! descrie.
The raines wherewith my rider doth me tie Are humbled thoughts, which bit of reuerence moue, Curb'd-in with feare, but with gilt bosse aboue Of hope, which makes it seem fair to the eye: The wand is will; thou, Fancie, saddle art, Girt fast by Memorie; and while I spurre My horse, he spurres with sharpe desire my hart.
He sits me fast, howeuer I do sturre, And now hath made me to his hand so right, That in the manage my selfe take delight.
L Stella, the fullnesse of my thoughts of thee Cannot be staid within my panting breast, But they do swell and struggle forth of me, Till that in words thy figure be exprest: And yet, as soone as they so formed be, According to my lord Loues oene behest, With sad eies I their weak proportion see To portrait that which in this world is best.
So that I cannot chuse but write my mind, And cannot chuse but put out what I write, While these poor babes their death in birth do find; And now my pen these lines had dashed quite But that they stopt his fury from the same, Because their forefront bare sweet Stellas name.
LI Pardon mine ears, both I and they do pray, So may your tongue still flauntingly proceed To them that do such entertainment need, So may you still haue somewhat new to say.
On silly me do not the burthen lay Of all the graue conceits your braine doth breed, But find some Hercules to beare, insteed Of Atlas tyrd, your wisedoms heau'nly sway.
For me, while you discourse of courtly tides, Of cunningest fishers in most troubled streames, Of straying waies, when valiant Errour guides, Meanewhile my heart confers with Stellas beames, And is e'en woe that so sweet comedie By such vnsuted speech should hindred be.
LII A strife is growne between Vertue and Loue, While each pretends that Stella must be his: Her eyes, her lips, her all, saith Loue, do this, Since they do weare his badge, most firmly proue.
But Virtue thus that title doth disproue, That Stella (O dear name!) that Stella is That vertuous soule, sure heire of heau'nly blisse.
Not this faire outside, which our heart doth moue.
And therefore, though her beautie and her grace Be Loues indeed, in Stellas selfe he may By no pretence claime any manner place.
Well, Loue, since this demurre our sute doth stay, Let Vertue haue that Stellaes selfe, yet thus, That Vertue but that body graunt to vs.
LIII In martiall sports I had my cunning tride, And yet to breake more staues did mee addresse, While, with the peoples shouts, I must confesse, Youth, lucke, and praise euen fil'd my veines with pride; When Cupid, hauing me, his slaue, descride In Marses livery prauncing in the presse, What now, Sir Foole! said he, (I would no lesse:) Looke here, I say! I look'd, and Stella spide, Who, hard by, made a window send forth light.
My heart then quak'd, then dazled were mine eyes, One hand forgat to rule, th'other to fight, Nor trumpets sound I heard, nor friendly cries: My foe came on, and beate the air for me, Till that her blush taught me my shame to see.
LIV Because I breathe not loue to euery one, Nor doe not vse sette colours for to weare, Nor nourish speciall locks of vowed haire, Nor giue each speech a full point of a grone, The Courtly Nymphes, acquainted with the mone Of them wich in their lips Loues Standard beare: What, he! (say they of me): now I dare sweare He cannot loue; no,no, let him alone.
And thinke so still, so Stella know my minde; Profess in deede I do not Cupids art; But you, fair maides, at length this true shall find, That his right badge is but worne in the hart: Dumbe Swans, not chattering Pyes, do louers proue; They loue indeed who quake to say they loue.
LV Muses, I oft inuoked your holy ayde, With choisest flowers my speech t' engarland so, That it, despisde, in true but naked shew Might winne some grace in your sweet grace arraid; And oft whole troupes of saddest words I staid, Striuing abroad a-foraging to go, Vntill by your inspiring I might know How their blacke banner might be best displaid.
But now I meane no more your helpe to try, Nor other sugring of my speech to proue, But on her name incessantly to cry; For let me but name her whom I doe loue, So sweet sounds straight mine eare and heart do hit, That I well finde no eloquence like it.
LVI Fy, schoole of Patience, fy! your Lesson is Far, far too long to learne it without booke: What, a whole weeke without one peece of looke, And thinke I should not your large precepts misse! When I might reade those Letters faire of blisse Which in her face teach vertue, I could brooke Somwhat thy leaden counsels, which I tooke As of a friend that meant not much amisse.
But now that I, alas, doe want her sight, What, dost thou thinke that I can euer take In thy cold stuffe a flegmatike delight? No, Patience; if thou wilt my good, then make Her come and heare with patience my desire, And then with patience bid me beare my fire.
LVII Who hauing made, with many fights, his owne Each sence of mine, each gift, each pow'r of mind; Growne now his slaues, he forst them out to find The thorowest words fit for Woes selfe to grone, Hoping that when they might finde Stella alone, Before she could prepare to be vnkind, Her soule, arm'd but with such a dainty rind, Should soone be pierc'd with sharpnesse of the mone.
She heard my plaints, and did not onely heare, But them, so sweet is she, most sweetly sing, With that faire breast making Woes darknesse cleare.
A pretie case; I hoped her to bring To feele my griefe; and she, with face and voyce, So sweets my paines that my paines me reioyce.
LVIII Doubt there hath beene when with his golden chaine The orator so farre mens hearts doth bind, That no pace else their guided steps can find But as he them more short or slack doth raine; Whether with words this soueraignty he gaine, Cloth'd with fine tropes, with strongest reasons lin'd, Or else pronouncing grace, wherewith his mind Prints his owne liuely forme in rudest braine.
Now iudge by this: in piercing phrases late Th' Anatomie of all my woes I wrate; Stellas sweet breath the same to me did reed.
O voyce, O face! maugre my speeches might, Which wooed wo, most rauishing delight Euen those sad words euen in sad me did breed.
LIX Deere, why make you more of a dog then me? If he doe loue, I burne, I burne in loue; If he waite well, I neuer thence would moue; If he be faire, yet but a dog can be; Little he is, so little worth is he; He barks, my songs thine owne voyce oft doth proue; Bidden, perhaps he fetched thee a gloue, But I, vnbid, fetch euen my soule to thee.
Yet, while I languish, him that bosome clips, That lap doth lap, nay lets, in spite of spite, This sowre-breath'd mate taste of those sugred lips.
Alas, if you graunt onely such delight To witlesse things, then Loue, I hope (since wit Becomes a clog) will soone ease me of it.
LX When my good Angell guides me to the place Where all my good I doe in Stella see, That heau'n of ioyes throwes onely downe on me Thundring disdaines and lightnings of disgrace; But when the ruggedst step of Fortunes race Makes me fall from her sight, then sweetly she, With words wherein the Muses treasures be, Shewes loue and pitie to my absent case.
Now I, wit-beaten long by hardest fate, So dull am, that I cannot looke into The ground of this fierce loue and louely hate.
Then, some good body, tell me how I do, Whose presence absence, absence presence is; Blest in my curse, and cursed in my blisse.
LXI Oft with true sighs, oft with vncalled teares, Now with slow words, now with dumbe eloquence, I Stellas eyes assaid, inuade her eares; But this, at last, is her sweet breath'd defence: That who indeed in-felt affection beares, So captiues to his Saint both soule and sence, That, wholly hers, all selfenesse he forbeares, Then his desires he learnes, his liues course thence.
Now, since her chast mind hates this loue in me, With chastned mind I straight must shew that she Shall quickly me from what she hates remoue.
O Doctor Cupid, thou for me reply; Driu'n else to graunt, by Angels Sophistrie, That I loue not without I leaue to loue.
LXII Late tyr'd with wo, euen ready for to pine With rage of loue, I cald my Loue vnkind; She in whose eyes loue, though vnfelt, doth shine, Sweet said, that I true loue in her should find.
I ioyed; but straight thus watred was my wine; That loue she did, but lou'd a loue not blind; Which would not let me, whom shee lou'd, decline From nobler course, fit for my birth and mind: And therefore, by her loues Authority, Wild me these tempests of vaine loue to flie, And anchor fast my selfe on Vertues shore.
Alas, if this the only mettall be Of loue new-coin'd to help my beggary, Deere, loue me not, that you may loue me more.
LXIII O grammer-rules, O now your vertues show; So children still reade you with awfull eyes, As my young doue may, in your precepts wise, Her graunt to me by her owne vertue know: For late, with heart most hie, with eyes most lowe, I crau'd the thing which euer she denies; Shee, lightning loue, displaying Venus skies, Least once should not be heard, twise said, No, no.
Sing then, my Muse, now Io Pæn sing; Heau'ns enuy not at my high triumphing, But grammers force with sweete successe confirme: For grammer says, (O this, deare Stella , say,) For grammer sayes, (to grammer who sayes nay?) That in one speech two negatiues affirme! LXIV No more, my deare, no more these counsels trie; O giue my passions leaue to run their race; Let Fortune lay on me her worst disgrace; Let folke orecharg'd with braine against me crie; Let clouds bedimme my face, breake in mine eye; Let me no steps but of lost labour trace; Let all the earth with scorne recount my case, But do not will me from my loue to flie.
I do not enuie Aristotless wit, Nor do aspire to Cæsars bleeding fame; Nor ought do care though some aboue me sit; Nor hope, nor wish another course to frame But that which once may win thy cruell hart: Thou art my wit, and thou my vertue art.
LXV Loue, by sure proofe I may call thee vnkind, That giu'st no better ear to my iust cries; Thou whom to me such good turnes should bind, As I may well recount, but none can prize: For when, nak'd Boy, thou couldst no harbour finde In this old world, growne now so too, too wise, I lodgd thee in my heart, and being blind By nature borne, I gaue to thee mine eyes; Mine eyes! my light, my heart, my life, alas! If so great seruices may scorned be, Yet let this thought thy Tygrish courage passe, That I perhaps am somewhat kinne to thee; Since in thine armes, if learnd fame truth hath spread, Thou bear'st the Arrow, I the Arrow-head.
LXVI And do I see some cause a hope to feede, Or doth the tedious burden of long wo In weaken'd minds quick apprehending breed Of euerie image which may comfort shew? I cannot brag of word, much lesse of deed, Fortune wheeles still with me in one sort slow; My wealth no more, and no whit lesse my need; Desier still on stilts of Feare doth go.
And yet amid all feares a hope there is, Stolne to my hart since last faire night, nay day, Stellas eyes sent to me the beames of blisse, Looking on me while I lookt other way: But when mine eyes backe to their heau'n did moue, They fled with blush which guiltie seem'd of loue.
LXVII Hope, art thou true, or doest thou flatter me? Doth Stella now beginne with piteous eye The ruines of her conquest to espie? Will she take time before all wracked be? Her eyes-speech is translated thus by thee, But failst thou not in phrases so heau'nly hye? Looke on againe, the faire text better prie; What blushing notes dost thou in Margent see? What sighes stolne out, or kild before full-borne? Hast thou found such and such-like arguments, Or art thou else to comfort me forsworne? Well, how-so thou interpret the contents, I am resolu'd thy errour to maintaine, Rather then by more truth to get more paine.
LXVIII Stella, the onely planet of my light, Light of my life, and life of my desire, Chiefe good whereto my hope doth only aspire, World of my wealth, and heau'n of my delight; Why dost thou spend the treasures of thy sprite With voice more fit to wed Amphions lyre, Seeking to quench in me the noble fire Fed by thy worth, and kindled by thy sight? And all in vaine: for while thy breath most sweet With choisest words, thy words with reasons rare, Thy reasons firmly set on Vertues feet, Labour to kill in me this killing care: O thinke I then, what paradise of ioy It is, so faire a vertue to enioy! LXIX O ioy to high for my low stile to show! O blisse fit for a nobler seat then me! Enuie, put out thine eyes, least thou do see What oceans of delight in me do flowe! My friend, that oft saw through all maskes my wo, Come, come, and let me powre my selfe on thee.
Gone is the Winter of my miserie! My Spring appeares; O see what here doth grow: For Stella hath, with words where faith doth shine, Of her high heart giu'n me the Monarchie: I, I, O I, may say that she is mine! And though she giue but thus conditionly, This realme of blisse while vertuous course I take, No kings be crown'd but they some couenants make.
LXX My Muse may well grudge at my heau'nly ioy, Yf still I force her in sad rimes to creepe: She oft hath drunk my teares, now hopes to enioy Nectar of mirth, since I Ioues cup do keepe.
Sonets be not bound Prentice to annoy; Trebles sing high, so well as bases deepe; Griefe but Loues winter-liuerie is; the boy Hath cheekes to smile, so well as eyes to weepe.
Come then, my Muse, shew thou height of delight In well-raisde notes; my pen, the best it may, Shall paint out ioy, though in but blacke and white.
Cease, eager Muse; peace, pen, for my sake stay, I giue you here my hand for truth of this, Wise silence is best musicke vnto blisse.
LXXI Who will in fairest booke of Nature know How vertue may best lodg'd in Beautie be, Let him but learne of Loue to reade in thee, Stella, those faire lines which true goodnesse show.
There shall he find all vices ouerthrow, Not by rude force, but sweetest soueraigntie Of reason, from whose light those night-birds flie, That inward sunne in thine eyes shineth so.
And, not content to be Perfections heire Thy selfe, doest striue all minds that way to moue, Who marke in thee what is in thee most faire: So while thy beautie drawes the heart to loue, As fast thy vertue bends that loue to good: But, ah, Desire still cries, Giue me some food.
LXXII Desire, though thou my old companion art, And oft so clings to my pure loue that I One from the other scarcely can discrie, While each doth blowe the fier of my hart; Now from thy fellowship I needs must part; Venus is taught with Dians wings to flie; I must no more in thy sweet passions lie; Vertues gold must now head my Cupids dart.
Seruice and honour, wonder with delight, Feare to offend, will worthie to appeare, Care shining in mine eyes, faith in my sprite; These things are left me by my onely Deare: But thou, Desire, because thou wouldst haue all, Now banisht art; but yet, alas, how shall? LXXIII Loue, still a Boy, and oft a wanton is, School'd onely by his mothers tender eye; What wonder then if he his lesson misse, When for so soft a rodde deare play he trye? And yet my Starre, because a sugred kisse In sport I suckt while she asleepe did lye, Doth lowre, nay chide, nay threat for only this.
Sweet, it was saucie Loue, not humble I.
But no scuse serues; she makes her wrath appeare In beauties throne: see now, who dares come neare Those scarlet Iudges, thretning bloudie paine.
O heau'nly foole, thy most kisse-worthy face Anger inuests with such a louely grace, That Angers selfe I needs must kisse againe.
LXXIV I neuer dranke of Aganippe well, Nor euer did in shade of Tempe sit, And Muses scorne with vulgar brains to dwell; Poore Layman I, for sacred rites vnfit.
Some doe I heare of Poets fury tell, But, God wot, wot not what they meane by it; And this I sweare by blackest brooke of hell, I am no pick-purse of anothers wit.
How falles it then, that with so smooth an ease My thoughts I speake; and what I speake doth flow In verse, and that my verse best wits doth please? Ghesse we the cause? What, is it this? Fie, no.
Or so? Much lesse.
How then? Sure thus it is, My lips are sweet, inspir'd with Stellas kisse.
LXXV Of all the Kings that euer here did raigne, Edward, nam'd fourth, as first in praise I name: Not for his faire outside, nor well-lin'd braine, Although lesse gifts impe feathers oft on fame.
Nor that he could, young-wise, wise-valiant, frame His sires reuenge, ioyn'd with a kingdomes gaine; And gain'd by Mars, could yet mad Mars so tame, That balance weigh'd, what sword did late obtaine.
Nor that he made the floure-de-luce so 'fraid, (Though strongly hedg'd) of bloudy lyons pawes, That wittie Lewes to him a tribute paid: Nor this, nor that, nor any such small cause; But only for this worthy King durst proue To lose his crowne, rather than faile his loue.
LXXVI She comes, and streight therewith her shining twins do moue Their rayes to me, who in their tedious absence lay Benighted in cold wo; but now appears my day, The only light of ioy, the only warmth of loue.
She comes with light and warmth, which, like Aurora, proue Of gentle force, so that mine eyes dare gladly play With such a rosie Morne, whose beames, most freshly gay, Scorch not, but onely doe dark chilling sprites remoue.
But lo, while I do speake, it groweth noone with me, Her flamie-glistring lights increse with time and place, My heart cries, oh! it burnes, mine eyes now dazl'd be; No wind, no shade can coole: what helpe then in my case? But with short breath, long looks, staid feet, and aching hed, Pray that my Sunne goe downe with meeker beames to bed.
LXXVII Those lookes, whose beames be ioy, whose motion is delight; That face, whose lecture shews what perfect beauty is; That presence, which doth giue darke hearts a liuing light; That grace, which Venus weeps that she her selfe doth misse; That hand, which without touch holds more then Atlas might; Those lips, which make deaths pay a meane price for a kisse; That skin, whose passe-praise hue scornes this poor tearm of white; Those words, which do sublime the quintessence of bliss; That voyce, which makes the soule plant himselfe in the ears, That conuersation sweet, where such high comforts be, As, consterd in true speech, the name of heaun it beares; Makes me in my best thoughts and quietst iudgments see That in no more but these I might be fully blest: Yet, ah, my mayd'n Muse doth blush to tell the best.
LXXVIII O how the pleasant ayres of true loue be Infected by those vapours which arise From out that noysome gulfe, which gaping lies Betweene the iawes of hellish Ielousie! A monster, others harme, selfe-miserie, Beauties plague, Vertues scourge, succour of lies; Who his owne ioy to his owne hurt applies, And onely cherish doth with iniurie: Who since he hath, by Natures speciall grace, So piercing pawes as spoyle when they embrace; So nimble feet as stirre still, though on thornes; So many eyes, ay seeking their owne woe; So ample eares as neuer good newes know: Is it not euill that such a deuil wants hornes? LXXIX Sweet kisse, thy sweets I faine would sweetly endite, Which, euen of sweetnesse sweetest sweetner art; Pleasingst consort, where each sence holds a part; Which, coupling Doues, guides Venus chariot right.
Best charge, and brauest retrait in Cupids fight; A double key, which opens to the heart, Most rich when most riches it impart; Nest of young ioyes, Schoolemaster of delight, Teaching the meane at once to take and giue; The friendly fray, where blowes both wound and heale, The prettie death, while each in other liue.
Poore hopes first wealth, ostage of promist weale; Breakfast of loue.
But lo, lo, where she is, Cease we to praise; now pray we for a kisse.
LXXX Sweet-swelling lip, well maist thou swell in pride, Since best wits thinke it wit thee to admire; Natures praise, Vertues stall; Cupids cold fire, Whence words, not words but heau'nly graces slide; The new Parnassus, where the Muses bide; Sweetner of Musicke, Wisedomes beautifier, Breather of life, and fastner of desire, Where Beauties blush in Honors graine is dide.
Thus much my heart compeld my mouth to say; But now, spite of my heart, my mouth will stay, Loathing all lies, doubting this flatterie is: And no spurre can his resty race renewe, Without, how farre this praise is short of you, Sweet Lipp, you teach my mouth with one sweet kisse.
LXXXI O kisse, which dost those ruddie gemmes impart, Or gemmes or fruits of new-found Paradise, Breathing all blisse, and sweetning to the heart, Teaching dumbe lips a nobler exercise; O kisse, which soules, euen soules, together ties By linkes of loue and only Natures art, How faine would I paint thee to all mens eyes.
Or of thy gifts at least shade out some part! But she forbids; with blushing words she sayes She builds her fame on higher-seated praise.
But my heart burnes; I cannot silent be.
Then, since, dear life, you faine would haue me peace, And I, mad with delight, want wit to cease, Stop you my mouth with still still kissing me.
LXXXII Nymph of the garden where all beauties be, Beauties which do in excellencie passe His who till death lookt in a watrie glasse, Or hers whom nakd the Troian boy did see; Sweet-gard'n-nymph, which keepes the Cherrie-tree Whose fruit doth farre the Hesperian tast surpasse, Most sweet-faire, most faire-sweete, do not, alas, From comming neare those Cherries banish mee.
For though, full of desire, empty of wit, Admitted late by your best-graced grace, I caught at one of them, and hungry bit; Pardon that fault; once more grant me the place; And I do sweare, euen by the same delight, I will but kisse; I neuer more will bite.
LXXXIII Good brother Philip, I haue borne you long; I was content you should in fauour creepe, While craftely you seem'd your cut to keepe, As though that faire soft hand did you great wrong: I bare with enuie, yet I bare your song, When in her necke you did loue-ditties peepe; Nay (more foole I) oft suffred you to sleepe In lillies neast where Loues selfe lies along.
What, doth high place ambitious thoughts augment? Is sawcinesse reward of curtesie? Cannot such grace your silly selfe content, But you must needs with those lips billing be, And through those lips drinke nectar from that toong? Leaue that, Syr Phip, least off your neck be wroong! LXXXIV High way, since you my chiefe Pernassus be, And that my Muse, to some eares not vnsweet, Tempers her words to trampling horses feete More oft then to a chamber-melodie.
Now, blessed you beare onward blessed me To her, where I my heart, safe-left, shall meet; My Muse and I must you of dutie greet With thankes and wishes, wishing thankfully.
Be you still faire, honord by publicke heede; By no encroachment wrong'd, nor time forgot; Nor blam'd for bloud, nor sham'd for sinfull deed; And that you know I enuy you no lot Of highest wish, I wish you so much bliss, Hundreds of yeares you Stellaes feet may kisse.
LXXXV I see the house, (my heart thy selfe containe!) Beware full sailes drowne not thy tottring barge, Least ioy, by nature apt sprites to enlarge, Thee to thy wracke beyond thy limits straine; Nor do like Lords whose weake confused braine Not 'pointing to fit folkes each vndercharge, While euerie office themselues will discharge, With doing all, leaue nothing done but paine.
But giue apt seruants their due place: let eyes See beauties totall summe summ'd in her face; Let eares heare speach which wit to wonder ties; Let breath sucke vp those sweetes; let armes embrace The globe of weale, lips Loues indentures make; Thou but of all the kingly tribute take.
LXXXVI Alas, whence came this change of lookes? If I Haue chang'd desert, let mine owne conscience be A still-felt plague to selfe-condemning mee; Let woe gripe on my heart, shame loade mine eye: But if all faith, like spotlesse Ermine, ly Safe in my soule, which only doth to thee, As his sole obiect of felicitie, With wings of loue in aire of wonder flie, O ease your hand, treate not so hard your slaue; In iustice paines come not till faults do call: Or if I needs, sweet Iudge, must torments haue, Vse something else to chasten me withall Then those blest eyes, where all my hopes do dwell: No doome should make ones Heau'n become his Hell.
LXXXVII When I was forst from Stella euer deere, Stella, food of my thoughts, hart of my hart; Stella, whose eyes make all my tempests cleere, By Stellas lawes of duetie to depart; Alas, I found that she with me did smart; I saw that teares did in her eyes appeare; I sawe that sighes her sweetest lips did part, And her sad words my sadded sense did heare.
For me, I wept to see pearles scatter'd so; I sigh'd her sighes, and wailed for her wo; Yet swam in ioy, such loue in her was seene.
Thus, while th' effect most bitter was to me, And nothing then the cause more sweet could be, I had bene vext, if vext I had not beene.
LXXXVIII Out, traytor Absence, dar'st thou counsell me From my deare captainesse to run away, Because in braue array heere marcheth she, That, to win mee, oft shewes a present pay? Is faith so weake? or is such force in thee? When sun is hid, can starres such beames display? Cannot heau'ns food, once felt, keepe stomakes free From base desire on earthly cates to pray? Tush, Absence; while thy mistes eclipse that light, My orphan sense flies to the inward sight, Where memory sets forth the beames of loue; That, where before hart lou'd and eyes did see, In hart both sight and loue now coupled be: Vnited pow'rs make each the stronger proue.
LXXXIX Now that of absence the most irksom night With darkest shade doth ouercome my day; Since Stellaes eyes, wont to giue me my day, Leauing my hemisphere, leaue me in night; Each day seemes long, and longs for long-staid night; The night, as tedious, wooes th' approch of day: Tired with the dusty toiles of busie day, Languisht with horrors of the silent night, Suff'ring the euils both of day and night, While no night is more darke then is my day, Nor no day hath lesse quiet then my night: With such bad-mixture of my night and day, That liuing thus in blackest Winter night, I feele the flames of hottest Sommer day.
XC Stella, thinke not that I by verse seeke fame, Who seeke, who hope, who loue, who liue but thee; Thine eyes my pride, thy lips mine history: If thou praise not, all other praise is shame.
Nor so ambitious am I, as to frame A nest for my young praise in lawrell tree: In truth, I sweare I wish not there should be Grau'd in my epitaph a Poets name.
Ne, if I would, could I iust title make, That any laud thereof to me should growe, Without my plumes from others wings I take: For nothing from my wit or will doth flow, Since all my words thy beauty doth endite, And Loue doth hold my hand, and makes me write.
XCI Stella, while now, by Honours cruell might, I am from you, light of my life, misled, And whiles, faire you, my sunne, thus ouerspred With Absence vaile, I liue in Sorrowes night; If this darke place yet shewe like candle-light, Some beauties peece, as amber-colour'd hed, Milke hands, rose cheeks, or lips more sweet, more red; Or seeing jets blacke but in blacknesse bright; They please, I do confesse they please mine eyes.
But why? because of you they models be; Models, such be wood-globes of glist'ring skies.
Deere therefore be not iaelous ouer me, If you heare that they seeme my heart to moue; Not them, O no, but you in them I loue.
XCII Be your words made, good Sir, of Indian ware, That you allow me them by so small rate? Or do you curtted Spartanes imitate? Or do you meane my tender eares to spare, That to my questions you so totall are? When I demaund of Phoenix-Stellas state, You say, forsooth, you left her well of late: O God, thinke you that satisfies my care? I would know whether she did sit or walke; How cloth'd; how waited on; sigh'd she, or smilde Whereof, with whom, how often did she talke; With what pastimes Times iourney she beguilde; If her lips daignd to sweeten my poore name.
Saie all; and all well sayd, still say the same.
XCIII O fate, O fault, O curse, child of my blisse! What sobs can giue words grace my griefe to show? What inke is blacke inough to paint my woe? Through me (wretch me) euen Stella vexed is.
Yet, Trueth, if Caitives breath may call thee, this Witnesse with me, that my foule stumbling so, From carelessenesse did in no maner grow; But wit, confus'd with too much care, did misse.
And do I, then, my selfe this vaine scuse giue? I haue (liue I, and know this) harmed thee; Tho' worlds 'quite me, shall I my selfe forgiue? Only with paines my paines thus eased be, That all thy hurts in my harts wracke I reede; I cry thy sighs, my deere, thy teares I bleede.
XCIV Griefe, find the words; for thou hast made my braine So darke with misty vapuors, which arise From out thy heauy mould, that inbent eyes Can scarce discerne the shape of mine owne paine.
Do thou, then (for thou canst) do thou complaine For my poore soule, which now that sicknesse tries, Which euen to sence, sence of it selfe denies, Though harbengers of death lodge there his traine.
Or if thy loue of plaint yet mine forbeares, As of a Caitife worthy so to die; Yet waile thy selfe, and waile with causefull teares, That though in wretchednesse thy life doth lie, Yet growest more wretched then by nature beares By being plac'd in such a wretch as I.
XCV Yet sighes, deare sighs, indeede true friends you are, That do not leaue your best friend at the wurst, But, as you with my breast I oft haue nurst, So, gratefull now, you waite vpon my care.
Faint coward Ioy no longer tarry dare, Seeing Hope yeeld when this wo strake him furst; Delight exclaims he is for my fault curst, Though oft himselfe my mate in Armes he sware; Nay, Sorrow comes with such maine rage, that he Kils his owne children (teares) finding that they By Loue were made apt to consort with me.
Only, true Sighs, you do not goe away: Thanke may you haue for such a thankfull part, Thank-worthiest yet when you shall break my hart.
XCVI Thought, with good cause thou lik'st so well the night, Since kind or chance giues both one liuerie, Both sadly blacke, both blackly darkned be; Night bard from Sunne, thou from thy owne sunlight; Silence in both displaies his sullen might; Slow heauinesse in both holds one degree That full of doubts, thou of perplexity; Thy teares expresse Nights natiue moisture right; In both amazeful solitarinesse: In night, of sprites, the gastly powers do stur; In thee or sprites or sprited gastlinesse.
But, but (alas) Nights side the ods hath fur: For that, at length, yet doth inuite some rest; Thou, though still tired, yet still doost it detest.
XCVII Dian, that faine would cheare her friend the Night, Shewes her oft, at the full, her fairest face, Bringing with her those starry Nymphs, whose chace From heau'nly standing hits each mortall wight.
But ah, poore Night, in loue with Phoebus light, And endlesly dispairing of his grace, Her selfe, to shewe no other ioy hath place; Sylent and sad, in mourning weedes doth dight.
Euen so (alas) a lady, Dians peere, With choise delights and rarest company Would faine driue cloudes from out my heauy cheere; But, wo is me, though Ioy her selfe were she, Shee could not shew my blind braine waies of ioy, While I despaire my sunnes sight to enioy.
XCVIII Ah, bed! the field where Ioyes peace some do see, The field where all my thoughts to warre be train'd, How is thy grace by my strange fortune strain'd! How thy lee-shores by my sighes stormed be! With sweete soft shades thou oft inuitest me To steale some rest; but, wretch, I am constrain'd, Spurd with Loues spur, though gald, and shortly rain'd With Cares hard hand to turne and tosse in thee, While the blacke horrors of the silent night Paint Woes blacke face so liuely to my sight That tedious leasure markes each wrinkled line: But when Aurora leades out Phoebus daunce, Mine eyes then only winke; for spite, perchaunce, That wormes should haue their sun, & I want mine.
XCIX When far-spent Night perswades each mortall eye, To whome nor Art nor Nature graunteth light, To lay his then marke-wanting shafts of sight, Clos'd with their quiuers, in Sleeps armory; With windowes ope, then most my mind doth lie, Viewing the shape of darknesse, and delight Takes in that sad hue, which, with th' inward night Of his mazde powers, keepes perfet harmony: But when birds charme, and that sweete aire which is Mornes messenger, with rose-enameld skies Cals each wight to salute the floure of blisse; In tombe of lids then buried are mine eyes, Forst by their Lord, who is asham'd to find Such light in sense, with such a darkned mind.
C O teares! no teares, but raine, from Beauties skies, Making those lillies and those roses growe, Which ay most faire, now more then most faire shew, While gracefull Pitty Beautie beautifies.
O honied sighs! which from that breast do rise, Whose pants do make vnspilling creame to flow, Wing'd with whose breath, so pleasing Zephires blow.
As might refresh the hell where my soule fries.
O plaints! conseru'd in such a sugred phrase, That Eloquence itself enuies your praise, While sobd-out words a perfect musike giue.
Such teares, sighs, plaints, no sorrow is, but ioy: Or if such heauenly signes must proue annoy, All mirth farewell, let me in sorrow liue.
CI Stella is sicke, and in that sicke-bed lies Sweetnesse, which breathes and pants as oft as she: And Grace, sicke too, such fine conclusion tries, That Sickenesse brags it selfe best grac'd to be.
Beauty is sicke, but sicke in so faire guise, That in that palenesse Beauties white we see; And Ioy, which is inseparate from those eyes, Stella now learnes (strange case) to weepe in me.
Loue mones thy paine, and like a faithfull page, As thy lookes sturre, runs vp and downe, to make All folkes prest at thy will thy paine to swage; Nature with care sweates for hir darlings sake, Knowing worlds passe, ere she enough can finde, Of such heauen-stuffe to cloath so heau'nly minde.
CII Where be those roses gone, which sweetned so our eyes? Where those red cheeks, which oft, with faire encrease, did frame The height of honour in the kindly badge of shame? Who hath the crimson weeds stolne from my morning skies? How doth the colour vade of those vermilion dies, Which Nature self did make, and self-ingrain'd the same? I would know by what right this palenesse ouercame That hue whose force my hart still vnto thraldome ties? Galens adoptiue sonnes, who by a beaten way Their iudgements hackney on, the fault of sicknesse lay; But feeling proofe makes me say they mistake it furre: It is but loue which makes this paper perfit white, To write therein more fresh the storie of delight, Whiles Beauties reddest inke Venus for him doth sturre.
CIII O happie Thames, that didst my Stella beare! I saw thee with full many a smiling line Vpon thy cheerefull face, Ioyes liuery weare, While those faire planets on thy streames did shine.
The boate for ioy could not to daunce forbear, While wanton winds, with beauties so diuine Ravisht, staid not, till in her golden haire They did themselues (O sweetest prison) twine.
And faine those Æols youth there would their stay Haue made, but forst by Nature still to flie, First did with puffing kisse those Lockes display: She, so disheuld blusht: from window I With sight thereof cride out, O faire disgrace, Let Honor selfe to thee grant highest place.
CIV Enuious wits, what hath bene mine offence, That with such poysonous care my lookes you marke, That to each word, nay sigh of mine, you harke, As grudging me my sorrowes eloquence? Ah, is it not enough, that I am thence, Thence, so farre thence, that scantly any sparke Of comfort dare come to this dungeon darke, Where Rigours exile lockes vp al my sense? But if I by a happie window passe, If I but stars vppon mine armour beare; Sicke, thirsty, glad (though but of empty glasse): Your morall notes straight my hid meaning teare From out my ribs, and, puffing, proues that I Doe Stella loue: fooles, who doth it deny? CV Vnhappie sight, and hath shee vanisht by So nere, in so good time, so free a place! Dead Glasse, dost thou thy obiect so imbrace, As what my hart still sees thou canst not spie! I sweare by her I loue and lacke, that I Was not in fault, who bent thy dazling race Onely vnto the heau'n of Stellas face, Counting but dust what in the way did lie.
But cease, mine eyes, your teares do witnesse well That you, guiltlesse thereof, your nectar mist: Curst be the page from whome the bad torch fell: Curst be the night which did your strife resist: Curst be the coachman that did driue so fast, With no lesse curse then absence makes me tast.
CVI O absent presence! Stella is not here; False-flatt'ring hope, that with so faire a face Bare me in hand, that in this orphane place, Stella, I say my Stella, should appeare: What saist thou now? where is that dainty cheere Thou toldst mine eyes should helpe their famisht case? But thou art gone, now that selfe-felt disgrace Doth make me most to wish thy comfort neer.
But heere I do store of faire ladies meet, Who may with charme of conuersation sweete, Make in my heauy mould new thoughts to grow.
Sure they preuaile as much with me, as he That bad his friend, but then new maim'd to be Mery with him, and so forget his woe.
CVII Stella, since thou so right a princesse art Of all the Powers which Life bestowes on me, That ere by them ought vndertaken be, They first resort vnto that soueraigne part; Sweete, for a while giue thy lieutenancie To this great cause, which needes both use and art.
And as a Queene, who from her presence sends Whom she employes, dismisse from thee my wit, Till it haue wrought what thy owne will attends.
On seruants shame oft maisters blame doth sit: O let not fooles in me thy workes reproue, And scorning say, See what it is to loue! CVIII When Sorrow (vsing mine owne fiers might) Melts downe his lead into my boyling brest Through that darke furnace to my hart opprest, There shines a ioy from thee my only light: But soone as thought of thee breeds my delight, And my yong soule flutters to thee his nest, Most rude Despaire, my daily vnbidden guest, Clips streight my wings, streight wraps me in his night, And makes me then bow downe my heade, and say, Ah, what doth Phoebus gold that wretch auaile Whom Iron doores doe keepe from vse of day? So strangely (alas) thy works on me preuaile, That in my woes for thee thou art my ioy, And in my ioyes for thee my onely annoy.
The following two sonnets were added by Grosart as having been intended for the sonnet cycle, though they did not appear here in the early editions: CIX Thou blind mans marke, thou fooles selfe-chosen snare, Fond fancies scum, and dregs of scatter'd thought: Band of all euils, cradle of causelesse care; Thou web of will, whose end is neuer wrought: Desire! Desire! I haue too dearly bought, With prise of mangled mind, thy worthlesse ware; Too long, too long, asleepe thou hast me brought, Who shouldst my mind to higher things prepare.
But yet in vaine thou hast my ruine sought; In vaine thou madest me to vaine things aspire; In vaine thou kindlest all thy smokie fire; For Vertue hath this better lesson taught,-- Within my selfe to seeke my onelie hire, Desiring nought but how to kill Desire.
CX Leaue, me, O loue which reachest but to dust, And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things.
Grow rich in that which neuer taketh rust; Whateuer fades, but fading pleasure brings.
Draw in thy beames, and humble all thy might To that sweet yoke where lasting freedomes be; Which breakes the clowdes, and opens forth the light, That doth both shine and giue us sight to see.
O take fast hold; let that light be thy guide In this small course which birth drawes out to death, And thinke how euill becommeth him to slide, Who seeketh heau'n, and comes of heau'nly breath.
Then farewell world; thy vttermost I see: Eternall Loue, maintaine thy life in me.
spendidis longum valedico nugis.
Songs First Song.
Doubt you to whom my Muse these notes entendeth, Which now my breast, surcharg'd, to musick lendeth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Only in you my song begins and endeth.
Who hath the eyes which marrie state with pleasure! Who keeps the key of Natures cheifest treasure! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Only for you the heau'n forgate all measure.
Who hath the lips, where wit in fairnesse raigneth! Who womankind at once both deckes and stayneth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Onely by you Cupid his crowne maintaineth.
Who hath the feet, whose step all sweetnesse planteth! Who else, for whom Fame worthy trumpets wanteth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Onely to you her scepter Venus granteth.
Who hath the breast, whose milk doth patience nourish! Whose grace is such, that when it chides doth cherish! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Onelie through you the tree of life doth flourish.
Who hath the hand which, without stroke, subdueth! Who long-dead beautie with increase reneueth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Onely at you all enuie hopelesse rueth.
Who hath the haire, which, loosest, fastest tieth! Who makes a man liue, then glad when he dieth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Only of you the flatterer neuer lieth.
Who hath the voyce, which soule from sences thunders! Whose force, but yours, the bolts of beautie thunders! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Only with you not miracles are wonders.
Doubt you, to whome my Muse these notes intendeth, Which now my breast, oercharg'd, to musicke lendeth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due: Only in you my song begins and endeth.
Second Song.
Haue I caught my heau'nly iewell, Teaching Sleepe most faire to be! Now will I teach her that she, When she wakes, is too-too cruell.
Since sweet Sleep her eyes hath charmed, The two only darts of Loue, Now will I, with that Boy, proue, Some play, while he is disamed.
Her tongue, waking, still refuseth, Giuing frankly niggard no: Now will I attempt to know What no her tongue, sleeping, vseth.
See the hand that, waking, gardeth, Sleeping, grants a free resort: Now I will inuade the fort, Cowards Loue with losse rewardeth.
But, O foole, thinke of the danger Of her iust and high disdaine; Now will I, alas, refraine; Loue feares nothing else but anger.
Yet those lips, so sweetly swelling, Do inuite a stealing kisse.
Now will I but venture this; Who will reade, must first learne spelling.
Oh, sweet kisse! but ah, shes waking! Lowring beautie chastens me: Now will I for feare hence flee; Foole, more Foole for no more taking.
Third Song.
If Orpheus voyce had force to breathe such musickes loue Through pores of senceles trees, as it could make them moue; If stones good measure daunc'd, the Theban walles to build To cadence of the tunes which Amphions lyre did yeeld; More cause a like effect at least-wise bringeth: O stones, O trees, learne hearing,--Stella singeth.
If loue might sweeten so a boy of shepheard brood, To make a lyzard dull, to taste loues dainty food; If eagle fierce could so in Grecian mayde delight, As her eyes were his light, her death his endlesse night, Earth gaue that loue; heau'n, I trow, loue refineth, O birds, O beasts, looke loue (lo) Stella shineth.
The beasts, birds, stones, and trees feele this, and, feeling, loue; And if the trees nor stones stirre not the same to proue, Nor beasts nor birds do come vnto this blessed gaze, Know that small loue is quicke, and great loue doth amaze; They are amaz'd, but you with reason armed, O eyes, O eares of men, how you are charmed! Fourth Song.
Onely Ioy, now here you are, Fit to heare and ease my care, Let my whispering voyce obtaine Sweete reward for sharpest paine; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Night hath closde all in her cloke, Twinkling starres loue-thoughts prouoke, Danger hence, good care doth keepe, Iealouzie hemselfe doth sleepe; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Better place no wit can finde, Cupids knot to loose or binde; These sweet flowers our fine bed too, Vs in their best language woo: Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
This small light the moone bestowes Serues thy beames but to disclose; So to raise my hap more hie, Feare not else, none vs can spie; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
That you heard was but a mouse, Dumbe Sleepe holdeth all the house: Yet asleepe, me thinkes they say, Yong fooles take time while you may; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Niggard time threates, if we misse This large offer of our blisse, Long stay, ere he graunt the same: Sweet, then, while ech thing doth frame, Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Your faire Mother is abed, Candles out and curtaines spred; She thinkes you do letters write; Write, but first let me endite; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Sweete, alas, why striue you thus? Concord better fitteth vs; Leaue to Mars the force of hands, Your power in your beautie stands; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Wo to mee, and do you sweare Me to hate, but I forbeare? Cursed be my destines all, That brought me so high to fall; Soone with my death I will please thee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Fift Song.
While fauour fed my hope, delight with hope was brought, Thought waited on delight, and speech did follow thought; Then grew my tongue and pen records vnto thy glory, I thought all words were lost that were not spent of thee, I thought each place was darke but where thy lights would be, And all eares worse than deaf that heard not out thy storie.
I said thou wert most faire, and so indeed thou art; I said thou wert most sweet, sweet poison to my heart; I said my soule was thine, O that I then had lyed; I said thine eyes were starres, thy breast the milken way, Thy fingers Cupids shafts, thy voyce the angels lay: And all I said so well, as no man it denied.
But now that hope is lost, vnkindnesse kils delight; Yet thought and speech do liue, though metamorphos'd quite, For rage now rules the raines which guided were by pleasure; I thinke now of thy faults, who late thought of thy praise, That speech falles now to blame, which did thy honour raise, The same key open can, which can lock vp a treasure.
Then thou, whom partiall heauens conspird in one to frame The proofe of Beauties worth, th'inheritrix of fame, The mansion seat of blisse, and iust excuse of louers; See now those feathers pluckt, wherewith thou flew'st most high: See what cloudes of reproach shall dark thy honours skie: Whose owne fault cast him downe hardly high state recouers.
And, O my muse, though oft you luld her in your lap, And then a heau'nly Child, gaue her Ambrosian pap, And to that braine of hers your kindest gifts infused; Since she, disdaining me, doth you in me disdaine, Suffer not her to laugh, while both we suffer paine.
Princes in subiects wrong must deeme themselues abused.
Your client, poore my selfe, shall Stella handle so! Reuenge! revenge! my Muse! defiance trumpet blow; Threaten what may be done, yet do more then you threaten; Ah, my sute granted is, I feele my breast doth swell; No, child, a lesson new you shall begin to spell, Sweet babes must babies haue, but shrewd gyrles must be beaten.
Thinke now no more to heare of warme fine-odour'd snow, Nor blushing Lillies, nor pearles Ruby-hidden row, Nor of that golden sea, whose waues in curles are broken, But of thy soule, so fraught with such vngratefulnesse, As where thou soone might'st helpe, most faith dost most oppresse; Vngratefull, who is cald, the worst of euils is spoken, Yet worse then worst, I say thou art a Theefe, A theefe! Now God forbid! a theefe! and of wurst theeues the cheefe: Theeues steal for need, and steale but goods which paine recouers, But thou, rich in all ioyes, dost rob my ioyes from me, Which cannot be restord by time or industrie: Of foes the spoyle is euill, far worse of constant louers.
Yet--gentle English theeues do rob, but will not slay, Thou English murdring theefe, wilt haue harts for thy prey: The name of murdrer now on thy faire forehead sitteth, And euen while I do speake, my death wounds bleeding be, Which, I protest, proceed from only cruell thee: Who may, and will not saue, murder in truth committeth.
But murder, priuate fault, seemes but a toy to thee: I lay then to thy charge vniustest tyrannie, If rule by force, without all claim, a Tyran showeth; For thou dost lord my heart, who am not borne thy slaue, And, which is worse, makes me, most guiltlesse, torments haue: A rightfull prince by vnright deeds a Tyran groweth.
Lo, you grow proud with this, for Tyrans make folke bow: Of foule rebellion then I do appeach thee now, Rebell by Natures law, rebell by law of Reason: Thou, sweetest subiect wert, borne in the realme of Loue, And yet against thy prince thy force dost daily proue: No vertue merits praise, once toucht with blot of Treason.
But valiant Rebels oft in fooles mouths purchase fame: I now then staine thy white with vagabonding shame, Both rebell to the sonne and vagrant from the mother; For wearing Venus badge in euery part of thee, Vnto Dianaes traine thou, runnaway, didst flie: Who faileth one is false, though trusty to another.
What, is not this enough! nay, farre worse commeth here; A witch, I say, thou art, though thou so faire appeare; For, I protest, my sight neuer thy face enioyeth, But I in me am chang'd, I am aliue and dead, My feete are turn'd to rootes, my hart becommeth lead: No witchcraft is so euill as which mans mind destroyeth.
Yet witches may repent; thou art farre worse then they: Alas that I am forst such euill of thee to say: I say thou art a diuell, though cloth'd in angels shining; For thy face tempts my soule to leaue the heauens for thee, And thy words of refuse do powre euen hell on mee: Who tempt, and tempting plague, are diuels in true defining.
You, then, vngrateful theefe, you murdring Tyran, you, You rebell runaway, to lord and lady vntrue, You witch, you Diuell (alas) you still of me beloued, You see what I can say; mend yet your froward mind, And such skill in my Muse, you, reconcil'd, shall find, That all these cruell words your praises shalbe proued.
Sixt Song.
O you that heare this voice, O you that see this face, Say whether of the choice Deserues the former place: Feare not to iudge this bate, For it is void of hate.
This side doth Beauty take.
For that doth Musike speake; Fit Oratours to make The strongest iudgements weake: The barre to plead their right Is only true delight.
Thus doth the voice and face, These gentle Lawiers, wage, Like louing brothers case, For fathers heritage; That each, while each contends, It selfe to other lends.
For Beautie beautifies With heau'nly hew and grace The heau'nly harmonies; And in this faultlesse face The perfect beauties be A perfect harmony.
Musick more loftly swels In speeches nobly plac'd; Beauty as farre excels, In action aptly grac'd: A friend each party draws To countenance his cause.
Loue more affected seemes To Beauties louely light; And Wonder more esteemes Of Musickes wondrous might; But both to both so bent, As both in both are spent.
Musicke doth witnesse call The eare his truth to trie; Beauty brings to the hall Eye-iudgement of the eye: Both in their obiects such, As no exceptions tutch.
The common sense, which might Be arbiter of this, To be, forsooth, vpright, To both sides partiall is; He layes on this chiefe praise, Chiefe praise on that he laies.
Then reason, princesse hy, Whose throne is in the minde, Which Musicke can in sky And hidden beauties finde, Say whether thou wilt crowne With limitlesse renowne? Seuenth Song.
Whose senses in so euill consort their stepdame Nature laies, That rauishing delight in them most sweete tunes do not raise; Or if they do delight therein, yet are so closde with wit, As with ententious lips to set a title vaine on it; O let them heare these sacred tunes, and learne in Wonders scholes, To be, in things past bounds of wit, fooles: if they be not fooles.
Who haue so leaden eyes, as not to see sweet Beauties show, Or, seeing, haue so wooden wits, as not that worth to know, Or, knowing, haue so muddy minds, as not to be in loue, Or, louing, haue so frothy thoughts, as eas'ly thence to moue; O let them see these heau'nly beames, and in faire letters reede A lesson fit, both sight and skill, loue and firme loue to breede.
Heare then, but then with wonder heare, see, but adoring, see, No mortall gifts, no earthly fruites, now here descended be: See, doo you see this face? a face, nay, image of the skies, Of which the two life-giuing lights are figur'd in her eyes: Heare you this soule-inuading voice, and count it but a voice? The very essence of their tunes, when angels do reioyce.
Eight Song.
In a groue most rich of shade, Where birds wanton musicke made, Maie, then yong, his pide weedes showing, New-perfum'd with flowers fresh growing: Astrophel with Stella sweet Did for mutual comfort meete, Both within themselues oppressed, But each in the other blessed.
Him great harmes had taught much care, Her faire necke a foule yoke bare; But her sight his cares did banish, In his sight her yoke did vanish: Wept they had, alas, the while, But now teares themselues did smile, While their eyes, by Loue directed, Enterchangeably reflected.
Sigh they did; but now betwixt Sighes of woe were glad sighes mixt; With arms crost, yet testifying restlesse rest, and liuing dying.
Their eares hungrie of each word Which the deare tongue would afford; But their tongues restrain'd from walking, Till their harts had ended talking.
But when their tongues could not speake, Loue it selfe did silence breake; Loue did set his lips asunder, Thus to speake in loue and wonder.
Stella, Soueraigne of my ioy, Faire triumpher of annoy; Stella, Starre of heauenly fier, Stella, loadstar of desier; Stella, in whose shining eyes Are the lights of Cupids skies, Whose beames, where they once are darted, Loue therewith is streight imparted; Stella, whose voice when it speakes Senses all asunder breakes; Stella, whose voice, when it singeth, Angels to acquaintance bringeth; Stella, in whose body is Writ each caracter of blisse; Whose face all, all beauty passeth, Saue thy mind, which it surpasseth.
Graunt, O graunt; but speach, alas, Failes me, fearing on to passe: Graunt, O me: what am I saying? But no fault there is in praying.
Graunt (O Deere) on knees I pray, (Knees on ground he then did stay) That, not I, but since I loue you, Time and place for me may moue you.
Neuer season was more fit; Never roome more apt for it; Smiling ayre allowes my reason; These birds sing, Now vse the season.
This small wind, which so sweete is, See how it the leaues doth kisse; Each tree in his best attiring, Sense of Loue to Loue inspiring.
Loue makes earth the water drink, Loue to earth makes water sinke; And, if dumbe things be so witty, Shall a heauenly Grace want pitty? There his hands, in their speech, faine Would haue made tongues language plaine; But her hands, his hands repelling, Gaue repulse all grace expelling.
Then she spake; her speech was such, So not eares, but hart did tuch: While such-wise she loue denied, And yet loue she signified.
Astrophel, sayd she, my loue, Cease, in these effects, to proue; Now be still, yet still beleeue me, Thy griefe more then death would grieue me.
If that any thought in me Can tast comfort but of thee, Let me, fed with hellish anguish, Ioylesse, hopelesse, endlesse languish.
If those eyes you praised be Halfe so deare as you to me, Let me home returne, starke blinded Of those eyes, and blinder minded; If to secret of my hart, I do any wish impart, Where thou art not formost placed, Be both wish and I defaced.
If more may be sayd, I say, All my blisse in thee I lay; If thou loue, my loue, content thee, For all loue, all faith is meant thee.
Trust me, while I thee deny, In my selfe the smart I try; Tyran Honour doth thus vse thee, Stellas selfe might not refuse thee.
Therefore, deare, this no more moue, Least, though I leaue not thy loue, Which too deep in me is framed, I should blush when thou art named.
Therewithall away she went, Leauing him to passion rent, With what she had done and spoken, That therewith my song is broken.
Ninth Song.
Go, my Flocke, go, get you hence, Seeke a better place of feeding, Where you may haue some defence Fro the stormes in my breast breeding, And showers from mine eyes proceeding.
Leaue a wretch, in whom all wo Can abide to keepe no measure; Merry Flocke, such one forego, Vnto whom mirth is displeasure, Onely rich in mischiefs treasure.
Yet, alas, before you go, Heare your wofull Maisters story, Which to stones I els would show: Sorrow only then hath glory When 'tis excellently sorry.
Stella, fiercest shepherdesse, Fiercest, but yet fairest euer; Stella, whom, O heauens still blesse, Though against me she perseuer, Though I blisse enherit neuer: Stella hath refused me! Stella, who more loue hath proued, In this caitife heart to be, Then can in good eawes be moued Toward Lambkins best beloued.
Stella hath refused me! Astrophell, that so well served In this pleasant Spring must see, While in pride flowers be preserued, Himselfe onely Winter-sterued.
Why (alas) doth she then sweare That she loueth me so dearely, Seeing me so long to beare Coles of loue that burne so cleerly, And yet leaue me helplesse meerely? Is that loue? forsooth, I trow, If I saw my good dog grieued, And a helpe for him did know, My loue should not be beleeued, But he were by me releeued.
No, she hates me, well-away, Faining loue, somewhat to please me: For she knows, if she display All her hate, death soone would seaze me, And of hideous torments ease me.
Then adieu, deare Flocke, adieu; But, alas, if in your straying Heauenly Stella meete with you, Tell her, in your pitious blaying, Her poore Slaues vniust decaying.
Tenth Song.
O deare Life, when shall it bee That mine eyes thine eyes shall see, And in them thy mind discouer Whether absence haue had force thy remembrance to diuorce From the image of thy louer? Or if I my self find not, After parting aught forgot, Nor debar'd from Beauties treasure, Let not tongue aspire to tell In what high ioyes I shall dwell; Only thought aymes at the pleasure.
Thought, therefore, I will send thee To take vp the place for me: Long I will not after tary, There vnseene, thou mayst be bold, Those faire wonders to behold, Which in them my hopes do cary.
Thought, see thou no place forbeare, Enter brauely euerywhere, Seize on all to her belonging; But if thou wouldst garded be, Fearing her beames, take with thee Strength of liking, rage of longing.
Thinke of that most gratefull time When my leaping heart will climb, In thy lips to haue his biding, There those roses for to kisse, Which do breathe a sugred blisse, Opening rubies, pearles diuiding.
Thinke of my most princely pow'r, Which I blessed shall deuow'r With my greedy licorous sences, Beauty, musicke, sweetnesse, loue, While she doth against me proue Her strong darts but weake defences.
Thinke, thinke of those dalyings, When with doue-like murmurings, With glad moning, passed anguish, We change eyes, and hart for hart, Each to other do depart, Ioying till ioy makes vs languish.
O my Thoughts, my Thoughts surcease, Thy delights my woes increse, My life melts with too much thinking; Thinke no more, but die in me, Till thou shalt reuiued be, At her lips my Nectar drinking.
Eleuenth Song.
Who is it that this darke night Vnderneath my window playneth? It is one who from thy sight Being, ah exil'd, disdayneth Euery other vulgar light.
Why, alas, and are you he? Be not yet those fancies changed? Deare, when you find change in me, Though from me you be estranged, Let my chaunge to ruin be.
Well, in absence this will dy; Leaue to see, and leaue to wonder.
Absence sure will helpe, if I Can learne how my selfe to sunder From what in my hart doth ly.
But time will these thoughts remoue; Time doth work what no man knoweth.
Time doth as the subiect proue; With time still the affection groweth In the faithful turtle-doue.
What if we new beauties see, Will they not stir new affection? I will thinke they pictures be, (Image-like, of saints perfection) Poorely counterfeting thee.
But your reasons purest light Bids you leaue such minds to nourish.
Deere, do reason no such spite; Neuer doth thy beauty florish More then in my reasons sight.
But the wrongs Loue beares will make Loue at length leaue vndertaking.
No, the more fooles it doth shake, In a ground of so firme making Deeper still they driue the stake.
Peace, I thinke that some giue eare; Come no more, least I get anger.
Blisse, I will my blisse forbeare; Fearing, sweete, you to endanger; But my soule shall harbour there.
Well, be gone; be gone, I say, Lest that Argus eyes perceiue you.
O vniust is Fortunes sway, Which can make me thus to leaue you, And from lowts to run away.

by Alfred Lord Tennyson |

The Princess (part 4)

 'There sinks the nebulous star we call the Sun, 
If that hypothesis of theirs be sound' 
Said Ida; 'let us down and rest;' and we 
Down from the lean and wrinkled precipices, 
By every coppice-feathered chasm and cleft, 
Dropt through the ambrosial gloom to where below 
No bigger than a glow-worm shone the tent 
Lamp-lit from the inner.
Once she leaned on me, Descending; once or twice she lent her hand, And blissful palpitations in the blood, Stirring a sudden transport rose and fell.
But when we planted level feet, and dipt Beneath the satin dome and entered in, There leaning deep in broidered down we sank Our elbows: on a tripod in the midst A fragrant flame rose, and before us glowed Fruit, blossom, viand, amber wine, and gold.
Then she, 'Let some one sing to us: lightlier move The minutes fledged with music:' and a maid, Of those beside her, smote her harp, and sang.
'Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, Tears from the depth of some divine despair Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes, In looking on the happy Autumn-fields, And thinking of the days that are no more.
'Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, That brings our friends up from the underworld, Sad as the last which reddens over one That sinks with all we love below the verge; So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
'Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds To dying ears, when unto dying eyes The casement slowly grows a glimmering square; So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
'Dear as remembered kisses after death, And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned On lips that are for others; deep as love, Deep as first love, and wild with all regret; O Death in Life, the days that are no more.
' She ended with such passion that the tear, She sang of, shook and fell, an erring pearl Lost in her bosom: but with some disdain Answered the Princess, 'If indeed there haunt About the mouldered lodges of the Past So sweet a voice and vague, fatal to men, Well needs it we should cram our ears with wool And so pace by: but thine are fancies hatched In silken-folded idleness; nor is it Wiser to weep a true occasion lost, But trim our sails, and let old bygones be, While down the streams that float us each and all To the issue, goes, like glittering bergs of ice, Throne after throne, and molten on the waste Becomes a cloud: for all things serve their time Toward that great year of equal mights and rights, Nor would I fight with iron laws, in the end Found golden: let the past be past; let be Their cancelled Babels: though the rough kex break The starred mosaic, and the beard-blown goat Hang on the shaft, and the wild figtree split Their monstrous idols, care not while we hear A trumpet in the distance pealing news Of better, and Hope, a poising eagle, burns Above the unrisen morrow:' then to me; 'Know you no song of your own land,' she said, 'Not such as moans about the retrospect, But deals with the other distance and the hues Of promise; not a death's-head at the wine.
' Then I remembered one myself had made, What time I watched the swallow winging south From mine own land, part made long since, and part Now while I sang, and maidenlike as far As I could ape their treble, did I sing.
'O Swallow, Swallow, flying, flying South, Fly to her, and fall upon her gilded eaves, And tell her, tell her, what I tell to thee.
'O tell her, Swallow, thou that knowest each, That bright and fierce and fickle is the South, And dark and true and tender is the North.
'O Swallow, Swallow, if I could follow, and light Upon her lattice, I would pipe and trill, And cheep and twitter twenty million loves.
'O were I thou that she might take me in, And lay me on her bosom, and her heart Would rock the snowy cradle till I died.
'Why lingereth she to clothe her heart with love, Delaying as the tender ash delays To clothe herself, when all the woods are green? 'O tell her, Swallow, that thy brood is flown: Say to her, I do but wanton in the South, But in the North long since my nest is made.
'O tell her, brief is life but love is long, And brief the sun of summer in the North, And brief the moon of beauty in the South.
'O Swallow, flying from the golden woods, Fly to her, and pipe and woo her, and make her mine, And tell her, tell her, that I follow thee.
' I ceased, and all the ladies, each at each, Like the Ithacensian suitors in old time, Stared with great eyes, and laughed with alien lips, And knew not what they meant; for still my voice Rang false: but smiling 'Not for thee,' she said, O Bulbul, any rose of Gulistan Shall burst her veil: marsh-divers, rather, maid, Shall croak thee sister, or the meadow-crake Grate her harsh kindred in the grass: and this A mere love-poem! O for such, my friend, We hold them slight: they mind us of the time When we made bricks in Egypt.
Knaves are men, That lute and flute fantastic tenderness, And dress the victim to the offering up, And paint the gates of Hell with Paradise, And play the slave to gain the tyranny.
Poor soul! I had a maid of honour once; She wept her true eyes blind for such a one, A rogue of canzonets and serenades.
I loved her.
Peace be with her.
She is dead.
So they blaspheme the muse! But great is song Used to great ends: ourself have often tried Valkyrian hymns, or into rhythm have dashed The passion of the prophetess; for song Is duer unto freedom, force and growth Of spirit than to junketing and love.
Love is it? Would this same mock-love, and this Mock-Hymen were laid up like winter bats, Till all men grew to rate us at our worth, Not vassals to be beat, nor pretty babes To be dandled, no, but living wills, and sphered Whole in ourselves and owed to none.
Enough! But now to leaven play with profit, you, Know you no song, the true growth of your soil, That gives the manners of your country-women?' She spoke and turned her sumptuous head with eyes Of shining expectation fixt on mine.
Then while I dragged my brains for such a song, Cyril, with whom the bell-mouthed glass had wrought, Or mastered by the sense of sport, began To troll a careless, careless tavern-catch Of Moll and Meg, and strange experiences Unmeet for ladies.
Florian nodded at him, I frowning; Psyche flushed and wanned and shook; The lilylike Melissa drooped her brows; 'Forbear,' the Princess cried; 'Forbear, Sir' I; And heated through and through with wrath and love, I smote him on the breast; he started up; There rose a shriek as of a city sacked; Melissa clamoured 'Flee the death;' 'To horse' Said Ida; 'home! to horse!' and fled, as flies A troop of snowy doves athwart the dusk, When some one batters at the dovecote-doors, Disorderly the women.
Alone I stood With Florian, cursing Cyril, vext at heart, In the pavilion: there like parting hopes I heard them passing from me: hoof by hoof, And every hoof a knell to my desires, Clanged on the bridge; and then another shriek, 'The Head, the Head, the Princess, O the Head!' For blind with rage she missed the plank, and rolled In the river.
Out I sprang from glow to gloom: There whirled her white robe like a blossomed branch Rapt to the horrible fall: a glance I gave, No more; but woman-vested as I was Plunged; and the flood drew; yet I caught her; then Oaring one arm, and bearing in my left The weight of all the hopes of half the world, Strove to buffet to land in vain.
A tree Was half-disrooted from his place and stooped To wrench his dark locks in the gurgling wave Mid-channel.
Right on this we drove and caught, And grasping down the boughs I gained the shore.
There stood her maidens glimmeringly grouped In the hollow bank.
One reaching forward drew My burthen from mine arms; they cried 'she lives:' They bore her back into the tent: but I, So much a kind of shame within me wrought, Not yet endured to meet her opening eyes, Nor found my friends; but pushed alone on foot (For since her horse was lost I left her mine) Across the woods, and less from Indian craft Than beelike instinct hiveward, found at length The garden portals.
Two great statues, Art And Science, Caryatids, lifted up A weight of emblem, and betwixt were valves Of open-work in which the hunter rued His rash intrusion, manlike, but his brows Had sprouted, and the branches thereupon Spread out at top, and grimly spiked the gates.
A little space was left between the horns, Through which I clambered o'er at top with pain, Dropt on the sward, and up the linden walks, And, tost on thoughts that changed from hue to hue, Now poring on the glowworm, now the star, I paced the terrace, till the Bear had wheeled Through a great arc his seven slow suns.
A step Of lightest echo, then a loftier form Than female, moving through the uncertain gloom, Disturbed me with the doubt 'if this were she,' But it was Florian.
'Hist O Hist,' he said, 'They seek us: out so late is out of rules.
Moreover "seize the strangers" is the cry.
How came you here?' I told him: 'I' said he, 'Last of the train, a moral leper, I, To whom none spake, half-sick at heart, returned.
Arriving all confused among the rest With hooded brows I crept into the hall, And, couched behind a Judith, underneath The head of Holofernes peeped and saw.
Girl after girl was called to trial: each Disclaimed all knowledge of us: last of all, Melissa: trust me, Sir, I pitied her.
She, questioned if she knew us men, at first Was silent; closer prest, denied it not: And then, demanded if her mother knew, Or Psyche, she affirmed not, or denied: From whence the Royal mind, familiar with her, Easily gathered either guilt.
She sent For Psyche, but she was not there; she called For Psyche's child to cast it from the doors; She sent for Blanche to accuse her face to face; And I slipt out: but whither will you now? And where are Psyche, Cyril? both are fled: What, if together? that were not so well.
Would rather we had never come! I dread His wildness, and the chances of the dark.
' 'And yet,' I said, 'you wrong him more than I That struck him: this is proper to the clown, Though smocked, or furred and purpled, still the clown, To harm the thing that trusts him, and to shame That which he says he loves: for Cyril, howe'er He deal in frolic, as tonight--the song Might have been worse and sinned in grosser lips Beyond all pardon--as it is, I hold These flashes on the surface are not he.
He has a solid base of temperament: But as the waterlily starts and slides Upon the level in little puffs of wind, Though anchored to the bottom, such is he.
' Scarce had I ceased when from a tamarisk near Two Proctors leapt upon us, crying, 'Names:' He, standing still, was clutched; but I began To thrid the musky-circled mazes, wind And double in and out the boles, and race By all the fountains: fleet I was of foot: Before me showered the rose in flakes; behind I heard the puffed pursuer; at mine ear Bubbled the nightingale and heeded not, And secret laughter tickled all my soul.
At last I hooked my ankle in a vine, That claspt the feet of a Mnemosyne, And falling on my face was caught and known.
They haled us to the Princess where she sat High in the hall: above her drooped a lamp, And made the single jewel on her brow Burn like the mystic fire on a mast-head, Prophet of storm: a handmaid on each side Bowed toward her, combing out her long black hair Damp from the river; and close behind her stood Eight daughters of the plough, stronger than men, Huge women blowzed with health, and wind, and rain, And labour.
Each was like a Druid rock; Or like a spire of land that stands apart Cleft from the main, and wailed about with mews.
Then, as we came, the crowd dividing clove An advent to the throne: and therebeside, Half-naked as if caught at once from bed And tumbled on the purple footcloth, lay The lily-shining child; and on the left, Bowed on her palms and folded up from wrong, Her round white shoulder shaken with her sobs, Melissa knelt; but Lady Blanche erect Stood up and spake, an affluent orator.
'It was not thus, O Princess, in old days: You prized my counsel, lived upon my lips: I led you then to all the Castalies; I fed you with the milk of every Muse; I loved you like this kneeler, and you me Your second mother: those were gracious times.
Then came your new friend: you began to change-- I saw it and grieved--to slacken and to cool; Till taken with her seeming openness You turned your warmer currents all to her, To me you froze: this was my meed for all.
Yet I bore up in part from ancient love, And partly that I hoped to win you back, And partly conscious of my own deserts, And partly that you were my civil head, And chiefly you were born for something great, In which I might your fellow-worker be, When time should serve; and thus a noble scheme Grew up from seed we two long since had sown; In us true growth, in her a Jonah's gourd, Up in one night and due to sudden sun: We took this palace; but even from the first You stood in your own light and darkened mine.
What student came but that you planed her path To Lady Psyche, younger, not so wise, A foreigner, and I your countrywoman, I your old friend and tried, she new in all? But still her lists were swelled and mine were lean; Yet I bore up in hope she would be known: Then came these wolves: ~they~ knew her: ~they~ endured, Long-closeted with her the yestermorn, To tell her what they were, and she to hear: And me none told: not less to an eye like mine A lidless watcher of the public weal, Last night, their mask was patent, and my foot Was to you: but I thought again: I feared To meet a cold "We thank you, we shall hear of it From Lady Psyche:" you had gone to her, She told, perforce; and winning easy grace No doubt, for slight delay, remained among us In our young nursery still unknown, the stem Less grain than touchwood, while my honest heat Were all miscounted as malignant haste To push my rival out of place and power.
But public use required she should be known; And since my oath was ta'en for public use, I broke the letter of it to keep the sense.
I spoke not then at first, but watched them well, Saw that they kept apart, no mischief done; And yet this day (though you should hate me for it) I came to tell you; found that you had gone, Ridden to the hills, she likewise: now, I thought, That surely she will speak; if not, then I: Did she? These monsters blazoned what they were, According to the coarseness of their kind, For thus I hear; and known at last (my work) And full of cowardice and guilty shame, I grant in her some sense of shame, she flies; And I remain on whom to wreak your rage, I, that have lent my life to build up yours, I that have wasted here health, wealth, and time, And talent, I--you know it--I will not boast: Dismiss me, and I prophesy your plan, Divorced from my experience, will be chaff For every gust of chance, and men will say We did not know the real light, but chased The wisp that flickers where no foot can tread.
' She ceased: the Princess answered coldly, 'Good: Your oath is broken: we dismiss you: go.
For this lost lamb (she pointed to the child) Our mind is changed: we take it to ourself.
' Thereat the Lady stretched a vulture throat, And shot from crooked lips a haggard smile.
'The plan was mine.
I built the nest' she said 'To hatch the cuckoo.
Rise!' and stooped to updrag Melissa: she, half on her mother propt, Half-drooping from her, turned her face, and cast A liquid look on Ida, full of prayer, Which melted Florian's fancy as she hung, A Niobëan daughter, one arm out, Appealing to the bolts of Heaven; and while We gazed upon her came a little stir About the doors, and on a sudden rushed Among us, out of breath as one pursued, A woman-post in flying raiment.
Fear Stared in her eyes, and chalked her face, and winged Her transit to the throne, whereby she fell Delivering sealed dispatches which the Head Took half-amazed, and in her lion's mood Tore open, silent we with blind surmise Regarding, while she read, till over brow And cheek and bosom brake the wrathful bloom As of some fire against a stormy cloud, When the wild peasant rights himself, the rick Flames, and his anger reddens in the heavens; For anger most it seemed, while now her breast, Beaten with some great passion at her heart, Palpitated, her hand shook, and we heard In the dead hush the papers that she held Rustle: at once the lost lamb at her feet Sent out a bitter bleating for its dam; The plaintive cry jarred on her ire; she crushed The scrolls together, made a sudden turn As if to speak, but, utterance failing her, She whirled them on to me, as who should say 'Read,' and I read--two letters--one her sire's.
'Fair daughter, when we sent the Prince your way, We knew not your ungracious laws, which learnt, We, conscious of what temper you are built, Came all in haste to hinder wrong, but fell Into his father's hands, who has this night, You lying close upon his territory, Slipt round and in the dark invested you, And here he keeps me hostage for his son.
' The second was my father's running thus: 'You have our son: touch not a hair of his head: Render him up unscathed: give him your hand: Cleave to your contract: though indeed we hear You hold the woman is the better man; A rampant heresy, such as if it spread Would make all women kick against their Lords Through all the world, and which might well deserve That we this night should pluck your palace down; And we will do it, unless you send us back Our son, on the instant, whole.
' So far I read; And then stood up and spoke impetuously.
'O not to pry and peer on your reserve, But led by golden wishes, and a hope The child of regal compact, did I break Your precinct; not a scorner of your sex But venerator, zealous it should be All that it might be: hear me, for I bear, Though man, yet human, whatsoe'er your wrongs, From the flaxen curl to the gray lock a life Less mine than yours: my nurse would tell me of you; I babbled for you, as babies for the moon, Vague brightness; when a boy, you stooped to me From all high places, lived in all fair lights, Came in long breezes rapt from inmost south And blown to inmost north; at eve and dawn With Ida, Ida, Ida, rang the woods; The leader wildswan in among the stars Would clang it, and lapt in wreaths of glowworm light The mellow breaker murmured Ida.
Now, Because I would have reached you, had you been Sphered up with Cassiopëia, or the enthroned Persephonè in Hades, now at length, Those winters of abeyance all worn out, A man I came to see you: but indeed, Not in this frequence can I lend full tongue, O noble Ida, to those thoughts that wait On you, their centre: let me say but this, That many a famous man and woman, town And landskip, have I heard of, after seen The dwarfs of presage: though when known, there grew Another kind of beauty in detail Made them worth knowing; but in your I found My boyish dream involved and dazzled down And mastered, while that after-beauty makes Such head from act to act, from hour to hour, Within me, that except you slay me here, According to your bitter statute-book, I cannot cease to follow you, as they say The seal does music; who desire you more Than growing boys their manhood; dying lips, With many thousand matters left to do, The breath of life; O more than poor men wealth, Than sick men health--yours, yours, not mine--but half Without you; with you, whole; and of those halves You worthiest; and howe'er you block and bar Your heart with system out from mine, I hold That it becomes no man to nurse despair, But in the teeth of clenched antagonisms To follow up the worthiest till he die: Yet that I came not all unauthorized Behold your father's letter.
' On one knee Kneeling, I gave it, which she caught, and dashed Unopened at her feet: a tide of fierce Invective seemed to wait behind her lips, As waits a river level with the dam Ready to burst and flood the world with foam: And so she would have spoken, but there rose A hubbub in the court of half the maids Gathered together: from the illumined hall Long lanes of splendour slanted o'er a press Of snowy shoulders, thick as herded ewes, And rainbow robes, and gems and gemlike eyes, And gold and golden heads; they to and fro Fluctuated, as flowers in storm, some red, some pale, All open-mouthed, all gazing to the light, Some crying there was an army in the land, And some that men were in the very walls, And some they cared not; till a clamour grew As of a new-world Babel, woman-built, And worse-confounded: high above them stood The placid marble Muses, looking peace.
Not peace she looked, the Head: but rising up Robed in the long night of her deep hair, so To the open window moved, remaining there Fixt like a beacon-tower above the waves Of tempest, when the crimson-rolling eye Glares ruin, and the wild birds on the light Dash themselves dead.
She stretched her arms and called Across the tumult and the tumult fell.
'What fear ye, brawlers? am not I your Head? On me, me, me, the storm first breaks: ~I~ dare All these male thunderbolts: what is it ye fear? Peace! there are those to avenge us and they come: If not,--myself were like enough, O girls, To unfurl the maiden banner of our rights, And clad in iron burst the ranks of war, Or, falling, promartyr of our cause, Die: yet I blame you not so much for fear: Six thousand years of fear have made you that From which I would redeem you: but for those That stir this hubbub--you and you--I know Your faces there in the crowd--tomorrow morn We hold a great convention: then shall they That love their voices more than duty, learn With whom they deal, dismissed in shame to live No wiser than their mothers, household stuff, Live chattels, mincers of each other's fame, Full of weak poison, turnspits for the clown, The drunkard's football, laughing-stocks of Time, Whose brains are in their hands and in their heels But fit to flaunt, to dress, to dance, to thrum, To tramp, to scream, to burnish, and to scour, For ever slaves at home and fools abroad.
' She, ending, waved her hands: thereat the crowd Muttering, dissolved: then with a smile, that looked A stroke of cruel sunshine on the cliff, When all the glens are drowned in azure gloom Of thunder-shower, she floated to us and said: 'You have done well and like a gentleman, And like a prince: you have our thanks for all: And you look well too in your woman's dress: Well have you done and like a gentleman.
You saved our life: we owe you bitter thanks: Better have died and spilt our bones in the flood-- Then men had said--but now--What hinders me To take such bloody vengeance on you both?-- Yet since our father--Wasps in our good hive, You would-be quenchers of the light to be, Barbarians, grosser than your native bears-- O would I had his sceptre for one hour! You that have dared to break our bound, and gulled Our servants, wronged and lied and thwarted us-- ~I~ wed with thee! ~I~ bound by precontract Your bride, our bondslave! not though all the gold That veins the world were packed to make your crown, And every spoken tongue should lord you.
Sir, Your falsehood and yourself are hateful to us: I trample on your offers and on you: Begone: we will not look upon you more.
Here, push them out at gates.
' In wrath she spake.
Then those eight mighty daughters of the plough Bent their broad faces toward us and addressed Their motion: twice I sought to plead my cause, But on my shoulder hung their heavy hands, The weight of destiny: so from her face They pushed us, down the steps, and through the court, And with grim laughter thrust us out at gates.
We crossed the street and gained a petty mound Beyond it, whence we saw the lights and heard the voices murmuring.
While I listened, came On a sudden the weird seizure and the doubt: I seemed to move among a world of ghosts; The Princess with her monstrous woman-guard, The jest and earnest working side by side, The cataract and the tumult and the kings Were shadows; and the long fantastic night With all its doings had and had not been, And all things were and were not.
This went by As strangely as it came, and on my spirits Settled a gentle cloud of melancholy; Not long; I shook it off; for spite of doubts And sudden ghostly shadowings I was one To whom the touch of all mischance but came As night to him that sitting on a hill Sees the midsummer, midnight, Norway sun Set into sunrise; then we moved away.
Thy voice is heard through rolling drums, That beat to battle where he stands; Thy face across his fancy comes, And gives the battle to his hands: A moment, while the trumpets blow, He sees his brood about thy knee; The next, like fire he meets the foe, And strikes him dead for thine and thee.
So Lilia sang: we thought her half-possessed, She struck such warbling fury through the words; And, after, feigning pique at what she called The raillery, or grotesque, or false sublime-- Like one that wishes at a dance to change The music--clapt her hands and cried for war, Or some grand fight to kill and make an end: And he that next inherited the tale Half turning to the broken statue, said, 'Sir Ralph has got your colours: if I prove Your knight, and fight your battle, what for me?' It chanced, her empty glove upon the tomb Lay by her like a model of her hand.
She took it and she flung it.
'Fight' she said, 'And make us all we would be, great and good.
' He knightlike in his cap instead of casque, A cap of Tyrol borrowed from the hall, Arranged the favour, and assumed the Prince.

by Alfred Lord Tennyson |

In Memoriam A. H. H.: 105. To-night ungatherd let us leave

 To-night ungather'd let us leave 
This laurel, let this holly stand:
We live within the stranger's land,
And strangely falls our Christmas-eve.
Our father's dust is left alone And silent under other snows: There in due time the woodbine blows, The violet comes, but we are gone.
No more shall wayward grief abuse The genial hour with mask and mime; For change of place, like growth of time, Has broke the bond of dying use.
Let cares that petty shadows cast, By which our lives are chiefly proved, A little spare the night I loved, And hold it solemn to the past.
But let no footstep beat the floor, Nor bowl of wassail mantle warm; For who would keep an ancient form Thro' which the spirit breathes no more? Be neither song, nor game, nor feast; Nor harp be touch'd, nor flute be blown; No dance, no motion, save alone What lightens in the lucid east Of rising worlds by yonder wood.
Long sleeps the summer in the seed; Run out your measured arcs, and lead The closing cycle rich in good.

by Emily Dickinson |

Power is a familiar growth --

 Power is a familiar growth --
Not foreign -- not to be --
Beside us like a bland Abyss
In every company --
Escape it -- there is but a chance --
When consciousness and clay
Lean forward for a final glance --
Disprove that and you may --

by Emily Dickinson |

He gave away his Life --

 He gave away his Life --
To Us -- Gigantic Sum --
A trifle -- in his own esteem --
But magnified -- by Fame --

Until it burst the Hearts
That fancied they could hold --
When swift it slipped its limit --
And on the Heavens -- unrolled --

'Tis Ours -- to wince -- and weep --
And wonder -- and decay
By Blossoms gradual process --
He chose -- Maturity --

And quickening -- as we sowed --
Just obviated Bud --
And when We turned to note the Growth --
Broke -- perfect -- from the Pod --

by Emily Dickinson |

Growth of Man -- like Growth of Nature --

 Growth of Man -- like Growth of Nature --
Gravitates within --
Atmosphere, and Sun endorse it --
Bit it stir -- alone --

Each -- its difficult Ideal
Must achieve -- Itself --
Through the solitary prowess
Of a Silent Life --

Effort -- is the sole condition --
Patience of Itself --
Patience of opposing forces --
And intact Belief --

Looking on -- is the Department
Of its Audience --
But Transaction -- is assisted
By no Countenance --

by Robert Browning |


Said Abner, ``At last thou art come! Ere I tell, ere thou speak, ``Kiss my cheek, wish me well!'' Then I wished it, and did kiss his cheek.
And he, ``Since the King, O my friend, for thy countenance sent, ``Neither drunken nor eaten have we; nor until from his tent ``Thou return with the joyful assurance the King liveth yet, ``Shall our lip with the honey be bright, with the water be wet.
``For out of the black mid-tent's silence, a space of three days, ``Not a sound hath escaped to thy servants, of prayer nor of praise, ``To betoken that Saul and the Spirit have ended their strife, ``And that, faint in his triumph, the monarch sinks back upon life.
``Yet now my heart leaps, O beloved! God's child with his dew ``On thy gracious gold hair, and those lilies still living and blue ``Just broken to twine round thy harp-strings, as if no wild beat ``Were now raging to torture the desert!'' III.
Then I, as was meet, Knelt down to the God of my fathers, and rose on my feet, And ran o'er the sand burnt to powder.
The tent was unlooped; I pulled up the spear that obstructed, and under I stooped Hands and knees on the slippery grass-patch, all withered and gone, That extends to the second enclosure, I groped my way on Till I felt where the foldskirts fly open.
Then once more I prayed, And opened the foldskirts and entered, and was not afraid But spoke, ``Here is David, thy servant!'' And no voice replied.
At the first I saw nought but the blackness but soon I descried A something more black than the blackness---the vast, the upright Main prop which sustains the pavilion: and slow into sight Grew a figure against it, gigantic and blackest of all.
Then a sunbeam, that burst thro' the tent-roof, showed Saul.
He stood as erect as that tent-prop, both arms stretched out wide On the great cross-support in the centre, that goes to each side; He relaxed not a muscle, but hung there as, caught in his pangs And waiting his change, the king-serpent all heavily hangs, Far away from his kind, in the pine, till deliverance come With the spring-time,---so agonized Saul, drear and stark, blind and dumb.
Then I tuned my harp,---took off the lilies we twine round its chords Lest they snap 'neath the stress of the noon-tide---those sunbeams like swords! And I first played the tune all our sheep know, as, one after one, So docile they come to the pen-door till folding be done.
They are white and untorn by the bushes, for lo, they have fed Where the long grasses stifle the water within the stream's bed; And now one after one seeks its lodging, as star follows star Into eve and the blue far above us,---so blue and so far! VI.
---Then the tune, for which quails on the cornland will each leave his mate To fly after the player; then, what makes the crickets elate Till for boldness they fight one another: and then, what has weight To set the quick jerboa amusing outside his sand house--- There are none such as he for a wonder, half bird and half mouse! God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear, To give sign, we and they are his children, one family here.
Then I played the help-tune of our reapers, their wine-song, when hand Grasps at hand, eye lights eye in good friendship, and great hearts expand And grow one in the sense of this world's life.
---And then, the last song When the dead man is praised on his journey---``Bear, bear him along ``With his few faults shut up like dead flowerets! Are balm-seeds not here ``To console us? The land has none left such as he on the bier.
``Oh, would we might keep thee, my brother!''---And then, the glad chaunt Of the marriage,---first go the young maidens, next, she whom we vaunt As the beauty, the pride of our dwelling.
---And then, the great march Wherein man runs to man to assist him and buttress an arch Nought can break; who shall harm them, our friends?---Then, the chorus intoned As the Levites go up to the altar in glory enthroned.
But I stopped here: for here in the darkness Saul groaned.
And I paused, held my breath in such silence, and listened apart; And the tent shook, for mighty Saul shuddered: and sparkles 'gan dart From the jewels that woke in his turban, at once with a start, All its lordly male-sapphires, and rubies courageous at heart.
So the head: but the body still moved not, still hung there erect.
And I bent once again to my playing, pursued it unchecked, As I sang,--- IX.
``Oh, our manhood's prime vigour! No spirit feels waste, ``Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced.
``Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock, ``The strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree, the cool silver shock ``Of the plunge in a pool's living water, the hunt of the bear, ``And the sultriness showing the lion is couched in his lair.
``And the meal, the rich dates yellowed over with gold dust divine, ``And the locust-flesh steeped in the pitcher, the full draught of wine, ``And the sleep in the dried river-channel where bulrushes tell ``That the water was wont to go warbling so softly and well.
``How good is man's life, the mere living! how fit to employ ``All the heart and the soul and the senses for ever in joy! ``Hast thou loved the white locks of thy father, whose sword thou didst guard ``When he trusted thee forth with the armies, for glorious reward? ``Didst thou see the thin hands of thy mother, held up as men sung ``The low song of the nearly-departed, and bear her faint tongue ``Joining in while it could to the witness, `Let one more attest, `` `I have lived, seen God's hand thro'a lifetime, and all was for best'? ``Then they sung thro' their tears in strong triumph, not much, but the rest.
``And thy brothers, the help and the contest, the working whence grew ``Such result as, from seething grape-bundles, the spirit strained true: ``And the friends of thy boyhood---that boyhood of wonder and hope, ``Present promise and wealth of the future beyond the eye's scope,--- ``Till lo, thou art grown to a monarch; a people is thine; ``And all gifts, which the world offers singly, on one head combine! ``On one head, all the beauty and strength, love and rage (like the throe ``That, a-work in the rock, helps its labour and lets the gold go) ``High ambition and deeds which surpass it, fame crowning them,---all ``Brought to blaze on the head of one creature---King Saul!'' X.
And lo, with that leap of my spirit,---heart, hand, harp and voice, Each lifting Saul's name out of sorrow, each bidding rejoice Saul's fame in the light it was made for---as when, dare I say, The Lord's army, in rapture of service, strains through its array, And up soareth the cherubim-chariot---``Saul!'' cried I, and stopped, And waited the thing that should follow.
Then Saul, who hung propped By the tent's cross-support in the centre, was struck by his name.
Have ye seen when Spring's arrowy summons goes right to the aim, And some mountain, the last to withstand her, that held (he alone, While the vale laughed in freedom and flowers) on a broad bust of stone A year's snow bound about for a breastplate,---leaves grasp of the sheet? Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunderously down to his feet, And there fronts you, stark, black, but alive yet, your mountain of old, With his rents, the successive bequeathings of ages untold--- Yea, each harm got in fighting your battles, each furrow and scar Of his head thrust 'twixt you and the tempest---all hail, there they are! ---Now again to be softened with verdure, again hold the nest Of the dove, tempt the goat and its young to the green on his crest For their food in the ardours of summer.
One long shudder thrilled All the tent till the very air tingled, then sank and was stilled At the King's self left standing before me, released and aware.
What was gone, what remained? All to traverse, 'twixt hope and despair; Death was past, life not come: so he waited.
Awhile his right hand Held the brow, helped the eyes left too vacant forthwith to remand To their place what new objects should enter: 'twas Saul as before.
I looked up and dared gaze at those eyes, nor was hurt any more Than by slow pallid sunsets in autumn, ye watch from the shore, At their sad level gaze o'er the ocean---a sun's slow decline Over hills which, resolved in stern silence, o'erlap and entwine Base with base to knit strength more intensely: so, arm folded arm O'er the chest whose slow heavings subsided.
What spell or what charm, (For, awhile there was trouble within me) what next should I urge To sustain him where song had restored him?---Song filled to the verge His cup with the wine of this life, pressing all that it yields Of mere fruitage, the strength and the beauty: beyond, on what fields, Glean a vintage more potent and perfect to brighten the eye And bring blood to the lip, and commend them the cup they put by? He saith, ``It is good;'' still he drinks not: he lets me praise life, Gives assent, yet would die for his own part.
Then fancies grew rife Which had come long ago on the pasture, when round me the sheep Fed in silence---above, the one eagle wheeled slow as in sleep; And I lay in my hollow and mused on the world that might lie 'Neath his ken, though I saw but the strip 'twixt the hill and the sky: And I laughed---``Since my days are ordained to be passed with my flocks, ``Let me people at least, with my fancies, the plains and the rocks, ``Dream the life I am never to mix with, and image the show ``Of mankind as they live in those fashions I hardly shall know! ``Schemes of life, its best rules and right uses, the courage that gains, ``And the prudence that keeps what men strive for.
'' And now these old trains Of vague thought came again; I grew surer; so, once more the string Of my harp made response to my spirit, as thus--- XIII.
``Yea, my King,'' I began---``thou dost well in rejecting mere comforts that spring ``From the mere mortal life held in common by man and by brute: ``In our flesh grows the branch of this life, in our soul it bears fruit.
``Thou hast marked the slow rise of the tree,---how its stem trembled first ``Till it passed the kid's lip, the stag's antler then safely outburst ``The fan-branches all round; and thou mindest when these too, in turn ``Broke a-bloom and the palm-tree seemed perfect: yet more was to learn, ``E'en the good that comes in with the palm-fruit.
Our dates shall we slight, ``When their juice brings a cure for all sorrow? or care for the plight ``Of the palm's self whose slow growth produced them? Not so! stem and branch ``Shall decay, nor be known in their place, while the palm-wine shall staunch ``Every wound of man's spirit in winter.
I pour thee such wine.
``Leave the flesh to the fate it was fit for! the spirit be thine! ``By the spirit, when age shall o'ercome thee, thou still shalt enjoy ``More indeed, than at first when inconscious, the life of a boy.
``Crush that life, and behold its wine running! Each deed thou hast done ``Dies, revives, goes to work in the world; until e'en as the sun ``Looking down on the earth, though clouds spoil him, though tempests efface, ``Can find nothing his own deed produced not, must everywhere trace ``The results of his past summer-prime'---so, each ray of thy will, ``Every flash of thy passion and prowess, long over, shall thrill ``Thy whole people, the countless, with ardour, till they too give forth ``A like cheer to their sons, who in turn, fill the South and the North ``With the radiance thy deed was the germ of.
Carouse in the past! ``But the license of age has its limit; thou diest at last: ``As the lion when age dims his eyeball, the rose at her height ``So with man---so his power and his beauty for ever take flight.
``No! Again a long draught of my soul-wine! Look forth o'er the years! ``Thou hast done now with eyes for the actual; begin with the seer's! ``Is Saul dead? In the depth of the vale make his tomb---bid arise ``A grey mountain of marble heaped four-square, till, built to the skies, ``Let it mark where the great First King slumbers: whose fame would ye know? ``Up above see the rock's naked face, where the record shall go ``In great characters cut by the scribe,---Such was Saul, so he did; ``With the sages directing the work, by the populace chid,--- ``For not half, they'll affirm, is comprised there! Which fault to amend, ``In the grove with his kind grows the cedar, whereon they shall spend ``(See, in tablets 'tis level before them) their praise, and record ``With the gold of the graver, Saul's story,---the statesman's great word ``Side by side with the poet's sweet comment.
The river's a-wave ``With smooth paper-reeds grazing each other when prophet-winds rave: ``So the pen gives unborn generations their due and their part ``In thy being! Then, first of the mighty, thank God that thou art!'' XIV.
And behold while I sang .
but O Thou who didst grant me that day, And before it not seldom hast granted thy help to essay, Carry on and complete an adventure,---my shield and my sword In that act where my soul was thy servant, thy word was my word,--- Still be with me, who then at the summit of human endeavour And scaling the highest, man's thought could, gazed hopeless as ever On the new stretch of heaven above me---till, mighty to save, Just one lift of thy hand cleared that distance---God's throne from man's grave! Let me tell out my tale to its ending---my voice to my heart Which can scarce dare believe in what marvels last night I took part, As this morning I gather the fragments, alone with my sheep, And still fear lest the terrible glory evanish like sleep! For I wake in the grey dewy covert, while Hebron upheaves The dawn struggling with night on his shoulder, and Kidron retrieves Slow the damage of yesterday's sunshine.
I say then,---my song While I sang thus, assuring the monarch, and ever more strong Made a proffer of good to console him---he slowly resumed His old motions and habitudes kingly.
The right-hand replumed His black locks to their wonted composure, adjusted the swathes Of his turban, and see---the huge sweat that his countenance bathes, He wipes off with the robe; and he girds now his loins as of yore, And feels slow for the armlets of price, with the clasp set before.
He is Saul, ye remember in glory,---ere error had bent The broad brow from the daily communion; and still, though much spent Be the life and the bearing that front you, the same, God did choose, To receive what a man may waste, desecrate, never quite lose.
So sank he along by the tent-prop till, stayed by the pile Of his armour and war-cloak and garments, he leaned there awhile, And sat out my singing,---one arm round the tent-prop, to raise His bent head, and the other hung slack---till I touched on the praise I foresaw from all men in all time, to the man patient there; And thus ended, the harp falling forward.
Then first I was 'ware That he sat, as I say, with my head just above his vast knees Which were thrust out on each side around me, like oak-roots which please To encircle a lamb when it slumbers.
I looked up to know If the best I could do had brought solace: he spoke not, but slow Lifted up the hand slack at his side, till he laid it with care Soft and grave, but in mild settled will, on my brow: thro' my hair The large fingers were pushed, and he bent back my bead, with kind power--- All my face back, intent to peruse it, as men do a flower.
Thus held he me there with his great eyes that scrutinized mine--- And oh, all my heart how it loved him! but where was the sign? I yearned---``Could I help thee, my father, inventing a bliss, ``I would add, to that life of the past, both the future and this; ``I would give thee new life altogether, as good, ages hence, ``As this moment,---had love but the warrant, love's heart to dispense!'' XVI.
Then the truth came upon me.
No harp more---no song more! outbroke--- XVII.
``I have gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke: ``I, a work of God's hand for that purpose, received in my brain ``And pronounced on the rest of his hand-work---returned him again ``His creation's approval or censure: I spoke as I saw: ``I report, as a man may of God's work---all's love, yet all's law.
``Now I lay down the judgeship he lent me.
Each faculty tasked ``To perceive him, has gained an abyss, where a dewdrop was asked.
``Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.
``Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care! ``Do I task any faculty highest, to image success? ``I but open my eyes,---and perfection, no more and no less, ``In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God ``In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.
``And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew ``(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too) ``The submission of man's nothing-perfect to God's all-complete, ``As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to his feet.
``Yet with all this abounding experience, this deity known, ``I shall dare to discover some province, some gift of my own.
``There's a faculty pleasant to exercise, hard to hoodwink, ``I am fain to keep still in abeyance, (I laugh as I think) ``Lest, insisting to claim and parade in it, wot ye, I worst ``E'en the Giver in one gift.
---Behold, I could love if I durst! ``But I sink the pretension as fearing a man may o'ertake ``God's own speed in the one way of love: I abstain for love's sake.
``---What, my soul? see thus far and no farther? when doors great and small, ``Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth appal? ``In the least things have faith, yet distrust in the greatest of all? ``Do I find love so full in my nature, God's ultimate gift, ``That I doubt his own love can compete with it? Here, the parts shift? ``Here, the creature surpass the Creator,---the end, what Began? ``Would I fain in my impotent yearning do all for this man, ``And dare doubt he alone shall not help him, who yet alone can? ``Would it ever have entered my mind, the bare will, much less power, ``To bestow on this Saul what I sang of, the marvellous dower ``Of the life he was gifted and filled with? to make such a soul, ``Such a body, and then such an earth for insphering the whole? ``And doth it not enter my mind (as my warm tears attest) ``These good things being given, to go on, and give one more, the best? ``Ay, to save and redeem and restore him, maintain at the height ``This perfection,---succeed with life's day-spring, death's minute of night? ``Interpose at the difficult minute, snatch Saul the mistake, ``Saul the failure, the ruin he seems now,---and bid him awake ``From the dream, the probation, the prelude, to find himself set ``Clear and safe in new light and new life,---a new harmony yet ``To be run, and continued, and ended---who knows?---or endure! ``The man taught enough, by life's dream, of the rest to make sure; ``By the pain-throb, triumphantly winning intensified bliss, ``And the next world's reward and repose, by the struggles in this.
``I believe it! 'Tis thou, God, that givest, 'tis I who receive: ``In the first is the last, in thy will is my power to believe.
``All's one gift: thou canst grant it moreover, as prompt to my prayer ``As I breathe out this breath, as I open these arms to the air.
``From thy will, stream the worlds, life and nature, thy dread Sabaoth: ``_I_ will?---the mere atoms despise me! Why am I not loth ``To look that, even that in the face too? Why is it I dare ``Think but lightly of such impuissance? What stops my despair? ``This;---'tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do! ``See the King---I would help him but cannot, the wishes fall through.
``Could I wrestle to raise him from sorrow, grow poor to enrich, ``To fill up his life, starve my own out, I would---knowing which, ``I know that my service is perfect.
Oh, speak through me now! ``Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst thou---so wilt thou! ``So shall crown thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown--- ``And thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down ``One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath, ``Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death! ``As thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved ``Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved! ``He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most weak.
``'Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek ``In the Godhead! I seek and I find it.
O Saul, it shall be ``A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me, ``Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand ``Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!'' XIX.
I know not too well how I found my way home in the night.
There were witnesses, cohorts about me, to left and to right, Angels, powers, the unuttered, unseen, the alive, the aware: I repressed, I got through them as hardly, as strugglingly there, As a runner beset by the populace famished for news--- Life or death.
The whole earth was awakened, hell loosed with her crews; And the stars of night beat with emotion, and tingled and shot Out in fire the strong pain of pent knowledge: but I fainted not, For the Hand still impelled me at once and supported, suppressed All the tumult, and quenched it with quiet, and holy behest, Till the rapture was shut in itself, and the earth sank to rest.
Anon at the dawn, all that trouble had withered from earth--- Not so much, but I saw it die out in the day's tender birth; In the gathered intensity brought to the grey of the hills; In the shuddering forests' held breath; in the sudden wind-thrills; In the startled wild beasts that bore off, each with eye sidling still Though averted with wonder and dread; in the birds stiff and chill That rose heavily, as I approached them, made stupid with awe: E'en the serpent that slid away silent,---he felt the new law.
The same stared in the white humid faces upturned by the flowers; The same worked in the heart of the cedar and moved the vine-bowers: And the little brooks witnessing murmured, persistent and low, With their obstinate, all but hushed voices---``E'en so, it is so!'' * 1 The jumping hare.
* 2 One of the three cities of Refuge.
* 3 A brook in Jerusalem.

by Robert Browning |


 "As certain also of your own poets have said"-- 
(Acts 17.
28) Cleon the poet (from the sprinkled isles, Lily on lily, that o'erlace the sea And laugh their pride when the light wave lisps "Greece")-- To Protus in his Tyranny: much health! They give thy letter to me, even now: I read and seem as if I heard thee speak.
The master of thy galley still unlades Gift after gift; they block my court at last And pile themselves along its portico Royal with sunset, like a thought of thee: And one white she-slave from the group dispersed Of black and white slaves (like the chequer-work Pavement, at once my nation's work and gift, Now covered with this settle-down of doves), One lyric woman, in her crocus vest Woven of sea-wools, with her two white hands Commends to me the strainer and the cup Thy lip hath bettered ere it blesses mine.
Well-counselled, king, in thy munificence! For so shall men remark, in such an act Of love for him whose song gives life its joy,-- Thy recognition of the use of life; Nor call thy spirit barely adequate To help on life in straight ways, broad enough For vulgar souls, by ruling and the rest.
Thou, in the daily building of thy tower,-- Whether in fierce and sudden spasms of toil, Or through dim lulls of unapparent growth, Or when the general work 'mid good acclaim Climbed with the eye to cheer the architect,-- Didst ne'er engage in work for mere work's sake-- Hadst ever in thy heart the luring hope Of some eventual rest a-top of it, Whence, all the tumult of the building hushed, Thou first of men might'st look out to the East: The vulgar saw thy tower, thou sawest the sun.
For this, I promise on thy festival To pour libation, looking o'er the sea, Making this slave narrate thy fortunes, speak Thy great words, and describe thy royal face-- Wishing thee wholly where Zeus lives the most, Within the eventual element of calm.
Thy letter's first requirement meets me here.
It is as thou hast heard: in one short life I, Cleon, have effected all those things Thou wonderingly dost enumerate.
That epos on thy hundred plates of gold Is mine,--and also mine the little chant, So sure to rise from every fishing-bark When, lights at prow, the seamen haul their net.
The image of the sun-god on the phare, Men turn from the sun's self to see, is mine; The P?o'er-storied its whole length, As thou didst hear, with painting, is mine too.
I know the true proportions of a man And woman also, not observed before; And I have written three books on the soul, Proving absurd all written hitherto, And putting us to ignorance again.
For music,--why, I have combined the moods, Inventing one.
In brief, all arts are mine; Thus much the people know and recognize, Throughout our seventeen islands.
Marvel not.
We of these latter days, with greater mind Than our forerunners, since more composite, Look not so great, beside their simple way, To a judge who only sees one way at once, One mind-point and no other at a time,-- Compares the small part of a man of us With some whole man of the heroic age, Great in his way--not ours, nor meant for ours.
And ours is greater, had we skill to know: For, what we call this life of men on earth, This sequence of the soul's achievements here Being, as I find much reason to conceive, Intended to be viewed eventually As a great whole, not analyzed to parts, But each part having reference to all,-- How shall a certain part, pronounced complete, Endure effacement by another part? Was the thing done?--then, what's to do again? See, in the chequered pavement opposite, Suppose the artist made a perfect rhomb, And next a lozenge, then a trapezoid-- He did not overlay them, superimpose The new upon the old and blot it out, But laid them on a level in his work, Making at last a picture; there it lies.
So, first the perfect separate forms were made, The portions of mankind; and after, so, Occurred the combination of the same.
For where had been a progress, otherwise? Mankind, made up of all the single men,-- In such a synthesis the labour ends.
Now mark me! those divine men of old time Have reached, thou sayest well, each at one point The outside verge that rounds our faculty; And where they reached, who can do more than reach? It takes but little water just to touch At some one point the inside of a sphere, And, as we turn the sphere, touch all the rest In due succession: but the finer air Which not so palpably nor obviously, Though no less universally, can touch The whole circumference of that emptied sphere, Fills it more fully than the water did; Holds thrice the weight of water in itself Resolved into a subtler element.
And yet the vulgar call the sphere first full Up to the visible height--and after, void; Not knowing air's more hidden properties.
And thus our soul, misknown, cries out to Zeus To vindicate his purpose in our life: Why stay we on the earth unless to grow? Long since, I imaged, wrote the fiction out, That he or other god descended here And, once for all, showed simultaneously What, in its nature, never can be shown, Piecemeal or in succession;--showed, I say, The worth both absolute and relative Of all his children from the birth of time, His instruments for all appointed work.
I now go on to image,--might we hear The judgment which should give the due to each, Show where the labour lay and where the ease, And prove Zeus' self, the latent everywhere! This is a dream:--but no dream, let us hope, That years and days, the summers and the springs, Follow each other with unwaning powers.
The grapes which dye thy wine are richer far, Through culture, than the wild wealth of the rock; The suave plum than the savage-tasted drupe; The pastured honey-bee drops choicer sweet; The flowers turn double, and the leaves turn flowers; That young and tender crescent-moon, thy slave, Sleeping above her robe as buoyed by clouds, Refines upon the women of my youth.
What, and the soul alone deteriorates? I have not chanted verse like Homer, no-- Nor swept string like Terpander, no--nor carved And painted men like Phidias and his friend: I am not great as they are, point by point.
But I have entered into sympathy With these four, running these into one soul, Who, separate, ignored each other's art.
Say, is it nothing that I know them all? The wild flower was the larger; I have dashed Rose-blood upon its petals, pricked its cup's Honey with wine, and driven its seed to fruit, And show a better flower if not so large: I stand myself.
Refer this to the gods Whose gift alone it is! which, shall I dare (All pride apart) upon the absurd pretext That such a gift by chance lay in my hand, Discourse of lightly or depreciate? It might have fallen to another's hand: what then? I pass too surely: let at least truth stay! And next, of what thou followest on to ask.
This being with me as I declare, O king, My works, in all these varicoloured kinds, So done by me, accepted so by men-- Thou askest, if (my soul thus in men's hearts) I must not be accounted to attain The very crown and proper end of life? Inquiring thence how, now life closeth up, I face death with success in my right hand: Whether I fear death less than dost thyself The fortunate of men? "For" (writest thou) "Thou leavest much behind, while I leave nought.
Thy life stays in the poems men shall sing, The pictures men shall study; while my life, Complete and whole now in its power and joy, Dies altogether with my brain and arm, Is lost indeed; since, what survives myself? The brazen statue to o'erlook my grave, Set on the promontory which I named.
And that--some supple courtier of my heir Shall use its robed and sceptred arm, perhaps, To fix the rope to, which best drags it down.
I go then: triumph thou, who dost not go!" Nay, thou art worthy of hearing my whole mind.
Is this apparent, when thou turn'st to muse Upon the scheme of earth and man in chief, That admiration grows as knowledge grows? That imperfection means perfection hid, Reserved in part, to grace the after-time? If, in the morning of philosophy, Ere aught had been recorded, nay perceived, Thou, with the light now in thee, couldst have looked On all earth's tenantry, from worm to bird, Ere man, her last, appeared upon the stage-- Thou wouldst have seen them perfect, and deduced The perfectness of others yet unseen.
Conceding which,--had Zeus then questioned thee, "Shall I go on a step, improve on this, Do more for visible creatures than is done?" Thou wouldst have answered, "Ay, by making each Grow conscious in himself--by that alone.
All's perfect else: the shell sucks fast the rock, The fish strikes through the sea, the snake both swims And slides, forth range the beasts, the birds take flight, Till life's mechanics can no further go-- And all this joy in natural life is put Like fire from off thy finger into each, So exquisitely perfect is the same.
But 'tis pure fire, and they mere matter are; It has them, not they it: and so I choose For man, thy last premeditated work (If I might add a glory to the scheme), That a third thing should stand apart from both, A quality arise within his soul, Which, intro-active, made to supervise And feel the force it has, may view itself, And so be happy.
" Man might live at first The animal life: but is there nothing more? In due time, let him critically learn How he lives; and, the more he gets to know Of his own life's adaptabilities, The more joy-giving will his life become.
Thus man, who hath this quality, is best.
But thou, king, hadst more reasonably said: Let progress end at once,--man make no step Beyond the natural man, the better beast, Using his senses, not the sense of sense.
" In man there's failure, only since he left The lower and inconscious forms of life.
We called it an advance, the rendering plain Man's spirit might grow conscious of man's life, And, by new lore so added to the old, Take each step higher over the brute's head.
This grew the only life, the pleasure-house, Watch-tower and treasure-fortress of the soul, Which whole surrounding flats of natural life Seemed only fit to yield subsistence to; A tower that crowns a country.
But alas, The soul now climbs it just to perish there! For thence we have discovered ('tis no dream-- We know this, which we had not else perceived) That there's a world of capability For joy, spread round about us, meant for us, Inviting us; and still the soul craves all, And still the flesh replies, "Take no jot more Than ere thou clombst the tower to look abroad! Nay, so much less as that fatigue has brought Deduction to it.
" We struggle, fain to enlarge Our bounded physical recipiency, Increase our power, supply fresh oil to life, Repair the waste of age and sickness: no, It skills not! life's inadequate to joy, As the soul sees joy, tempting life to take.
They praise a fountain in my garden here Wherein a Naiad sends the water-bow Thin from her tube; she smiles to see it rise.
What if I told her, it is just a thread From that great river which the hills shut up, And mock her with my leave to take the same? The artificer has given her one small tube Past power to widen or exchange--what boots To know she might spout oceans if she could? She cannot lift beyond her first thin thread: And so a man can use but a man's joy While he sees God's.
Is it for Zeus to boast, "See, man, how happy I live, and despair-- That I may be still happier--for thy use!" If this were so, we could not thank our lord, As hearts beat on to doing; 'tis not so-- Malice it is not.
Is it carelessness? Still, no.
If care--where is the sign? I ask, And get no answer, and agree in sum, O king, with thy profound discouragement, Who seest the wider but to sigh the more.
Most progress is most failure: thou sayest well.
The last point now:--thou dost except a case-- Holding joy not impossible to one With artist-gifts--to such a man as I Who leave behind me living works indeed; For, such a poem, such a painting lives.
What? dost thou verily trip upon a word, Confound the accurate view of what joy is (Caught somewhat clearer by my eyes than thine) With feeling joy? confound the knowing how And showing how to live (my faculty) With actually living?--Otherwise Where is the artist's vantage o'er the king? Because in my great epos I display How divers men young, strong, fair, wise, can act-- Is this as though I acted? if I paint, Carve the young Ph{oe}bus, am I therefore young? Methinks I'm older that I bowed myself The many years of pain that taught me art! Indeed, to know is something, and to prove How all this beauty might be enjoyed, is more: But, knowing nought, to enjoy is something too.
Yon rower, with the moulded muscles there, Lowering the sail, is nearer it than I.
I can write love-odes: thy fair slave's an ode.
I get to sing of love, when grown too grey For being beloved: she turns to that young man, The muscles all a-ripple on his back.
I know the joy of kingship: well, thou art king! "But," sayest thou--(and I marvel, I repeat, To find thee trip on such a mere word) "what Thou writest, paintest, stays; that does not die: Sappho survives, because we sing her songs, And Aeschylus, because we read his plays!" Why, if they live still, let them come and take Thy slave in my despite, drink from thy cup, Speak in my place.
Thou diest while I survive? Say rather that my fate is deadlier still, In this, that every day my sense of joy Grows more acute, my soul (intensified By power and insight) more enlarged, more keen; While every day my hairs fall more and more, My hand shakes, and the heavy years increase-- The horror quickening still from year to year, The consummation coming past escape, When I shall know most, and yet least enjoy-- When all my works wherein I prove my worth, Being present still to mock me in men's mouths, Alive still, in the praise of such as thou, I, I the feeling, thinking, acting man, The man who loved his life so over-much, Sleep in my urn.
It is so horrible, I dare at times imagine to my need Some future state revealed to us by Zeus, Unlimited in capability For joy, as this is in desire for joy, --To seek which, the joy-hunger forces us: That, stung by straitness of our life, made strait On purpose to make prized the life at large-- Freed by the throbbing impulse we call death, We burst there as the worm into the fly, Who, while a worm still, wants his wings.
But no! Zeus has not yet revealed it; and alas, He must have done so, were it possible! Live long and happy, and in that thought die: Glad for what was! Farewell.
And for the rest, I cannot tell thy messenger aright Where to deliver what he bears of thine To one called Paulus; we have heard his fame Indeed, if Christus be not one with him-- I know not, nor am troubled much to know.
Thou canst not think a mere barbarian Jew, As Paulus proves to be, one circumcised, Hath access to a secret shut from us? Thou wrongest our philosophy, O king, In stooping to inquire of such an one, As if his answer could impose at all! He writeth, doth he? well, and he may write.
Oh, the Jew findeth scholars! certain slaves Who touched on this same isle, preached him and Christ; And (as I gathered from a bystander) Their doctrine could be held by no sane man.