Henry Constable (1562-1613)
Read a brief biography and overview of
From Diana (1592,
From Diana (1594), of questionable authorship
Spiritual Sonnets: To the honour of God and his Saints
To His Absent Diana
Severed from sweet Content, my life's sole light;
Banished by overweening wit from my desire:
This poor acceptance only I require,
That though my fault have forced me from thy sight;
Yet that thou wouldst (my sorrows to requite)
Review these Sonnets, pictures of thy praise;
Wherein each woe thy wondrous worth doth raise,
Though first thy worth bereft me of delight.
See them forsaken: for I them forsooke,
Forsaken first of thee, next of my sense;
And when thou deignst on their black tears to look
Shed not one tear my tears to recompense:
But joy in this (though Fates 'gainst me repine)
My verse still lives, to witness thee divine.
Of the Conspiracy of His Lady's Eyes and His Own to Engender Love
Thine eye the glass where I behold my heart
Mine eye the window through the which thine eye
May see my heart and there thyself espy
In bloody colours how thou painted art.
Thine eye the pile is of a murdering dart,
Mine eye the sight thou tak'st thy level by
To hit my heart and never shoot'st awry;
Mine eye thus helps thine eye to work my smart.
Thyne eye a fire is both in heat and light
Mine eye of tears a river doth become.
O that the water of mine eye had might
To quench the flames that from thyne eye do come
Or that the fire that's kindled by thine eye
The flowing streams of mine eye doth make dry.
Of the Sudden Surprising of His Heart, and How Unawares He Was Caught
Delight in your bright eyes my death did breed
As light and glittering weapons babes allure
To play with fire and sword and so procure
Them to be burnt and hurt ere they take heed.
Thy beauty so hath made me burn and bleed
Yet shall my ashes and my blood assure
Thy beauty's fame forever to endure
For thy fame's life from my death doth proceed.
Because my heart to ashes burnèd giveth
Life to thy fame thou right a Phoenix art
And like a Pelican thy beauty liveth
By sucking blood out of my breast and heart.
Loe why with wonder we may thee compare
Unto the Pelican and Phoenix rare.
An Excuse to His Mistress for Resolving to Love so Worthy a Creature
Blame not my heart for flying up so high
Since thou art cause that it this flight begun
For earthly vapors drawn up by the sun
Comets become and night-suns in the sky.
My humble heart so with thy heavenly eye
Drawn up aloft all low desires doth shun
Raise thou me up as thou my heart hast done
So during night in heaven remain may I.
Blame not, I say again, my high desire
Since of us both the cause thereof depends.
In thee doth shine, in me doth burn a fire.
Fire draws up others and itself ascends.
Thine eye a fire and so draws up my love,
My love a fire and so ascends above.
Of Her Excellency Both in Singing and Instruments
Not that thy hand is soft, is sweet, is white,
Thy lips sweet roses, breast sweet lily is,
That love esteems these three the chiefest bliss
Which nature ever made for lips' delight.
But when these three to show their heavenly might
Such wonders do, devotion then for this
Commandeth us, with humble zeal to kiss
Such things as work miracles in our sight.
A lute of senseless wood by nature dumb
Touched by thy hand doth speak divinely well
And from thy lips and breast sweet tunes do come
To my daed heart the which new life do give
Of greater wonders heard we never tell
Than for the dumb to speak, the dead to live.
Of His Mistress upon Occasion of Her Walking in a Garden
My Lady's presence makes the roses red
Because to see her lips they blush for shame.
The lilies' leaves for envy pale became
And her white hands in them this envy bred.
The marigold abroad the leaves did spread
Because the sun's and her power is the same
The violet of purple colour came
Dyed with the blood she made my heart to shed.
In brief, all flowers from her their virtue take
From her sweet breath their sweet smells do proceed
The living heat which her eyebeams do make
Warmeth the ground and quickneth the seed.
The rain wherewith she watereth these flowers
Falls from mine eyes which she dissolves in showers.
(Compare Shakespeare's Sonnet 99.)
To the Princess of Orange
If nature for her works proud ever were
It was for this that she created you.
Your sacred head which wisdom doth indue,
Is only fit a diadem to wear.
Your lily hand which fairer doth appear
Than ever eye beheld in shape and hue
Unto no other use by right is due,
Except it be a scepter for to bear.
Your cherry lips by nature framèd be
Hearts to comand: your eye is only fit
With his wise looks kingdoms to oversee.
O happy land whose sovereign thou hadst been:
But God on earth full bliss will not permit,
And this is only cause your are no Queen.
"Mine eye with all the deadly sins is fraught"
Mine eye with all the deadly sins is fraught.
First proud, since it presumed to look so high;
A watchman being made stood gazing by,
And idle, took no heed till I was caught;
And envious bears envy that my thought
Should in his absence be to her so nigh;
To kill my heart, mine eye let in her eye,
And so consent gave to a murder wrought;
And covetous, it never would remove
From her fair hair, gold so doth please his sight;
Unchaste, a bawd between my heart and love;
A glutton eye, with tears drunk every night:
These sins procuréd have a goddess' ire,
Wherefore my heart is damned in love's sweet fire.
"Dear to my soul, then leave me not forsaken"
Dear to my soul, then leave me not forsaken!
Fly not, my heart within thy bosom sleepeth.
Even from myself and sense I have betaken
Me unto thee for whom my spirit weepeth,
And on the shore of that salt teary sea,
Couched in a bed of unseen seeming pleasure,
Where in imaginary thoughts thy fair self lay;
But being waked, robbed of my life's best treasure,
I call the heavens, air, earth, and seas to hear
My love, my truth, and black disdained estate;
Beating the rocks with bellowings of despair,
Which still with plaints my words reverberate;
Sighing, Alas, what shall become of me?
Whilst Echo cries, What shall become of me?
"Whilst Echo cries, What shall become of me?"
Whilst Echo cries, What shall become of me?
And desolate, my desolations pity,
Thou in thy beauty's carrack sit'st to see
My tragic downfall, and my funeral ditty.
No timbrel, but my heart thou play'st upon,
Whose strings are stretched unto the highest key;
The diapason, love; love is the unison;
In love my life and labors waste away.
Only regardless to the world thou leav'st me,
Whilst slain hopes, turning from the feast of sorrow
Unto despair, their king which ne'er deceives me,
Captives my heart, whose black night hates the morrow;
And he in ruth of my distressed cry
Plants me a weeping star within my eye.
"Fair grace of graces, muse of muses all"
Fair grace of graces, muse of muses all,
Thou paradise, thou only heaven I know,
What influence hath bred my hateful woe,
That I from thee and them am forced to fall?
Thou fall'n from me, from thee I never shall;
Although my fortunes thou hast brought so low,
Yet shall my faith and service with thee go,
For live I do on heaven and thee to call.
Banished all grace, no graces with me dwell;
Compelled to muse, my muses from me fly;
Excluded heaven, what can remain but hell?
Exiled from paradise, in hate I lie
Cursing my stars; albeit I find it true,
I lost all these when I lost love and you.
"To live in hell and heaven to behold"
To live in hell and heaven to behold;
To welcome life and die a living death;
To sweat with heat, and yet be freezing cold;
To grasp at stars and lie the earth beneath;
To tread a maze that never shall have end;
To burn in sighs and starve in daily tears;
To climb a hill and never to descend;
Giants to kill, and quake at childish fears;
To pine for food, and watch th' Hesperian tree;
To thirst for drink, and nectar still to draw;
To live accursed, whom men hold blest to be,
And weep those wrongs which never creature saw:
If this be love, if love in these be founded,
My heart is love, for these in it are grounded.
(Compare Wyatt's "If amorous faith in heart
unfeigned" and Daniel's "If this be love, to
draw a weary breath".)
To God the Father
Great God: within whose simple essence, we
Nothing but that which is thyself can find:
When on thyself thou did'st reflect thy mind
Thy thought was God, which took the form of thee:
And when this God thus born, thou lov'st, & he
Loved thee again, with passion of like kind,
(As lovers' sighs, which meet, become one wind)
Both breathed one spright of equal deity.
Eternal father, whence these two do come
And wil'st the tItle of my father have,
As heavenly knowledge in my mind engrave,
That it thy son's true Image may become:
And sence my heart with sighs of holy Love,
That it the temple of the Spright may prove.
To God the Son
Great Prince of heaven begotten of that king,
Who rules the kingdom that himself did make:
And of that virgin Queen man's shape did take
Which from King David's royal stock did spring:
No marvel though thy birth made Angels sing:
And Angels' ditties shepherd's pipes awake:
And kings like shepherds, humbled for thy sake,
Kneel at thy feet & gifts of homage bring:
For heaven & earth, the high & low estate
As partners of thy birth make equal claim.
Angels, because in heaven God thee begat,
Shepherds & kings, because thy mother came
From princely race & yet by poverty
Made glory shine in her humility.
To God the Holy Ghost
Eternal spright: which art in heaven the Love
With which God and his son each other kiss:
And who, to show who God's beloved is,
The shape, and wings, took'st of a loving dove:
When Christ ascending sent thee from above
In fiery tongues, thou cam'st down unto his
That skill in uttering heavenly mysteries
By heat of zeal, both faith & love might move:
True God of Love: from whom all true love springs,
Bestow upon my Love thy wings & fire
My soul a spirit is and with thy wings
May like an Angel fly from earth's desire:
And with thy fire a hart inflamed may bear,
And in thy sight a Seraphim appear.
To the Blessed Sacrament
When thee (O holy sacrificèd Lamb)
In severed signs I white & liquid see:
As on thy body slain I think on thee,
Which pale by shedding of thy blood became.
And when again I do behold the same
Veiled in white to be received of me:
Thou seemest in thy syndon wrapped to be
Like to a corpse, whose monument I am.
Buried in me, unto my soul appear
Prisoned in earth & banished from thy sight,
Like our forefathers, who in Limbo were.
Clear thou my thoughts, as thou did'st give the light:
And as thou others freed from purging fire
Quench in my heart the flames of bad desire.
To Our Blessed Lady
In that (O Queen of queens) thy birth was free
From guilt, which others doth of grace bereave
When in their mothers' womb they life receive:
God as his sole-borne daughter lovèd thee.
To match thee like thy birth's nobility,
He thee his spirit for thy spouse did leave:
Of whom thou did'st his only son conceive,
And so was linked to all the trinity.
Cease then, O Queens who earthly crowns do wear
To glory in the pomp of worldly things:
If men such high respect unto you bear
Which daughters, wives, & mothers are of kings;
What honour should unto that Queen be done
Who had your God for father, spouse, & son.
To St. Michael the Archangel
When as the prince of Angels puffed with pride
Stirred his seditious spirits to rebel:
God chose for chief his Champion Michael:
And gave him charge the host of heaven to guide.
And when the Angels of the Rebels' side
Vanquished in battle from their glory fell,
The pride of heaven became the Drake of hell,
And in the dungeon of despair was tied.
This Dragon since let loose God's Church assailed,
And she by help of Michael's sword prevailed.
Who ever tried adventures like this knight?
Which general of heaven, hell overthrew;
For such a Lady as God's spouse did fight:
And such a monster as the Devil subdue.