William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585-1649)

William Drummond of Hawthornden had a large library from which his sonnets borrowed freely. Poems (1616) is divided into two parts, following the lead of Petrarch--the first part addressed to his mistress in life and the second in death. I have omitted the many other poems, madrigals, and songs that were originally interspersed among the sonnets; numbers are provided only to indicate the sonnets' order in the work--this is not a continuous sequence. Modernizations and footnotes are from Ward unless otherwise noted. Some original versions can be found at the University of Glascow.

Poems (1616)

The First Part

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Poems: The First Part


In my first years, and prime yet not at height,
When sweet conceits my wits did entertain,
Ere beauty's force I knew, or false delight,
Or to what oar she did her captives chain,
Led by a sacred troop of Phoebus' train,
I first began to read, then lov'd to write,
And so to praise a perfect red and white,
But, God wot, wist not what was in my brain:
Love smil'd to see in what an awful guise
I turn'd those antiques of the age of gold,
And, that I might more mysteries behold,
He set so fair a volume to mine eyes,
That I (quires clos'd which, dead, dead sighs but breathe)
Joy on this living book to read my death.


I know that all beneath the moon decays
And what by mortals in this world is brought,
In Time's great periods shall return to nought;
That fairest states have fatal nights and days;
I know how all the Muse's heavenly lays,
With toil of spright which are so dearly bought,
As idle sounds, of few or none are sought,
And that nought lighter is than airy praise;
I know frail beauty like the purple flower,
To which one morn oft birth and death affords;
That love a jarring is of minds' accords,
Where sense and will invassal reason's power:
Know what I list, this all can not me move,
But that, O me! I both must write and love.


Ye who so curiously do paint your thoughts,
Enlight'ning ev'ry line in such a guise,
That they seem rather to have fall'n from skies,
Than of a human hand be mortal draughts;
In one part Sorrow so tormented lies,
As if his life at ev'ry sigh would part;
Love here blindfolded stands with bow and dart,
There Hope looks pale, Despair with rainy eyes:
Of my rude pencil look not for such art,
My wit I find now lessened to devise
So high conceptions to express my smart,
And some think love but feign'd, if too too wise.
These troubled words and lines confus'd you find,
Are like unto their model, my sick mind.


Fair is my yoke, though grievous be my pains,
Sweet are my wounds, although they deeply smart,
My bit is gold, though shortened be the reins,
My bondage brave, though I may not depart:
Although I burn, the fire which doth impart
Those flames, so sweet reviving force contains,
That, like Arabia's bird, my wasted heart,
Made quick by death, more lively still remains.
I joy, though oft my waking eyes spend tears,
I never want delight, even when I groan,
Best companied when most I am alone;
A heaven of hopes I have midst hells of fears.
Thus every way contentment strange I find,
But most in her rare beauty, my rare mind.


How that vast heaven intitled First is roll'd,
If any other worlds beyond it lie,
And people living in eternity,
Or essence pure that doth this All uphold;
What motion have those fixed sparks of gold,
The wand'ring carbuncles which shine from high,
By sprights, or bodies, contrare-ways in sky
If they be turn'd, and mortal things behold;
How sun posts heaven about, how night's pale queen
With borrowed beams looks on this hanging round,
What cause fair Iris hath, and monsters seen
In air's large fields of light, and seas profound,
Did hold my wand'ring thoughts, when thy sweet eye
Bade me leave all, and only think on thee.


Vaunt not, fair heavens, of your two glorious lights
Which, though most bright, yet see not when they shine,
And shining, cannot show their beams divine
Both in one place, but part by days and nights;
Earth, vaunt not of those treasures ye enshrine,
Held only dear because hid from our sights,
Your pure and burnish'd gold, your diamonds fine,
Snow-passing ivory that the eye delights;
Nor, seas, of those dear wares are in you found,
Vaunt not, rich pearl, red coral, which do stir
A fond desire in fools to plunge your ground;
Those all, more fair, are to be had in her;
Pearl, ivory, coral, diamond, suns, gold,
Teeth, neck, lips, heart, eyes, hair, are to behold.


That learned Grecian, who did so excel
In knowledge passing sense, that he is nam'd
Of all the after-worlds divine, doth tell,
That at the time when first our souls are fram'd,
Ere in these mansions blind they come to dwell,
They live bright rays of that eternal light,
And others see, know, love, in heaven's great height,
Not toil'd with aught to reason doth rebel.
Most true it is, for straight at the first sight
My mind me told, that in some other place
It elsewhere saw the idea of that face,
And lov'd a love of heavenly pure delight;
No wonder now I feel so fair a flame,
Sith I her lov'd ere on this earth she came.


Now while the night her sable veil hath spread,
And silently her resty coach doth roll,
Rousing with her from Tethys' azure bed
Those starry nymphs which dance about the pole;
While Cynthia, in purest cypress clad,
The Latmian shepherd in a trance descries,
And whiles looks pale from height of all the skies,
Whiles dyes her beauties in a bashful red;
While sleep, in triumph, closed hath all eyes,
And birds and beasts a silence sweet do keep,
And Proteus' monstrous people in the deep,
The winds and waves, husht up, to rest entice;
I wake, muse, weep, and who my heart hath slain
See still before me to augment my pain.


Sleep, Silence' child, sweet father of soft rest,
Prince, whose approach peace to all mortals brings,
Indifferent host to shepherds and to kings,
Sole comforter of minds with grief opprest;
Lo, by thy charming rod all breathing things
Lie slumb'ring, with forgetfulness possest,
And yet o'er me to spread thy drowsy wings
Thou spares, alas! who cannot be thy guest.
Since I am thine, O come, but with that face
To inward light which thou art wont to show,
With feigned solace ease a true-felt woe;
Or if, deaf god, thou do deny that grace,
Come as thou wilt, and what thou wilt bequeath,
I long to kiss the image of my death.


Fair Moon, who with thy cold and silver shine
Makes sweet the horror of the dreadful night,
Delighting the weak eye with smiles divine,
Which Phoebus dazzles with his too much light;
Bright Queen of the first Heaven, if in thy shrine,
By turning oft, and Heaven's eternal might,
Thou hast not yet that once sweet fire of thine,
Endymion, forgot, and lover's plight;
If cause like thine may pity breed in thee,
And pity somewhat else to it obtain,
Since thou hast power of dreams, as well as he
Who paints strange figures in the slumb'ring brain,
Now while she sleeps, in doleful guise her show
These tears, and the black map of all my woe.


Lamp of heaven's crystal hall that brings the hours,
Eye-dazzler, who makes the ugly night
At thine approach fly to her slumb'ry bow'rs,
And fills the world with wonder and delight;
Life of all lives, death-giver by thy flight
To southern pole from these six signs of ours,
Goldsmith of all the stars, with silver bright
Who moon enamels, Apelles of the flow'rs;
Ah! from those watery plains thy golden head
Raise up, and bring the so long lingering morn;
A grave, nay, hell, I find become this bed,
This bed so grievously where I am torn;
But, woe is me! though thou now brought the day,
Day shall but serve more sorrow to display.


Ah! burning thoughts, now let me take some rest,
And your tumultuous broils a while appease;
Is 't not enough, stars, fortune, love molest
Me all at once, but ye must too displease?
Let hope, though false, yet lodge within my breast,
My high attempt, though dangerous, yet praise.
What though I trace not right heaven's steepy ways?
It doth suffice, my fall shall make me blest.
I do not doat on days, nor fear not death;
So that my life be brave, what though not long?
Let me renown'd live from the vulgar throng,
And when ye list, heavens! take this borrowed breath.
Men but like visions are, time all doth claim;
He lives, who dies to win a lasting name.


O sacred blush, impurpling cheeks' pure skies
With crimson wings which spread thee like the morn;
O bashful look, sent from those shining eyes,
Which, though cast down on earth, couldst heaven adorn;
O tongue, in which most luscious nectar lies,
That can at once both bless and make forlorn;
Dear coral lip, which beauty beautifies,
That trembling stood ere that her words were born;
And you her words, words, no, but golden chains,
Which did captive mine ears, ensnare my soul,
Wise image of her mind, mind that contains
A power, all power of senses to control;
Ye all from love dissuade so sweetly me,
That I love more, if more my love could be.


Nor Arne, nor Mincius, nor stately Tiber,
Sebethus, nor the flood into whose streams
He fell who burnt the world with borrow'd beams,
Gold-rolling Tagus, Munda, famous Iber,
Sorgue, Rhone, Loire, Garron, nor proud-banked Seine,
Peneus, Phasis, Xanthus, humble Ladon,
Nor she whose nymphs excel her who lov'd Adon,
Fair Tamesis, nor Ister large, nor Rhine,
Euphrates, Tigris, Indus, Hermus, Gange,
Pearly Hydaspes, serpent-like Meander,
The gulf bereft sweet Hero her Leander,
Nile, that far his hidden head doth range,
Have ever had so rare a cause of praise,
As Ora, where this northern Phoenix stays.


To hear my plaints, fair river crystalline,
Thou in a silent slumber seems to stay;
Delicious flow'rs, lily and columbine,
Ye bow your heads when I my woes display;
Forests, in you the myrtle, palm, and bay,
Have had compassion list'ning to my groans;
The winds with sighs have solemniz'd my moans
'Mong leaves, which whispered what they could not say;
The caves, the rocks, the hills, the Sylvans' thrones,
(As if even pity did in them appear)
Have at my sorrows rent their ruthless stones;
Each thing I find hath sense except my dear,
Who doth not think I love, or will not know
My grief, perchance delighting in my woe.


Sweet brook, in whose clear crystal I mine eyes
Have oft seen great in labour of their tears;
Enamell'd bank, whose shining gravel bears
These sad characters of my miseries;
High woods, whose mounting tops menace the spheres;
Wild citizens, Amphions of the trees,
You gloomy groves at hottest noons which freeze,
Elysian shades, which Phoebus never clears;
Vast solitary mountains, pleasant plains,
Embroid'red meads that ocean-ways you reach;
Hills, dales, springs, all that my sad cry constrains
To take part of my plaints, and learn woe's speech,
Will that remorseless fair e'er pity show?
Of grace now answer if ye ought know. No.


With flaming horns the Bull now brings the year,
Melt do the horrid mountains' helms of snow,
The silver floods in pearly channels flow,
The late-bare woods green anadems do wear;
The nightingale, forgetting winter's woe,
Calls up the lazy morn her notes to hear;
Those flow'rs are spread which names of princes bear,
Some red, some azure, white and golden grow;
Here lows a heifer, there bea-wailing strays
A harmless lamb, not far a stag rebounds;
The shepherds sing to grazing flocks sweet lays,
And all about the echoing air resounds.
Hills, dales, woods, floods, and everything doth change,
But she in rigour, I in love am strange.


When Nature now had wonderfully wrought
All Auristella's parts, except her eyes,
To make those twins two lamps in beauty's skies,
She counsel of her starry senate sought.
Mars and Apollo first did her advise
In colour black to wrap those comets bright,
That Love him so might soberly disguise,
And unperceived, wound at every sight.
Chaste Phoebe spake for purest azure dyes,
But Jove and Venus green about the light
To frame thought best, as brigging most delight,
That to pin'd hearts. hope might for aye arise:
Nature, all said, a paradise of green
There plac'd, to make all love which have them seen.


In vain I haunt the cold and silver springs,
To quench the fever burning in my veins;
In vain, love's pilgrim, mountains, dales, and plains,
I overrun; vain help long absence brings:
In vain, my friends, your counsel me constrains
To fly, and place my thoughts on other things.
Ah! like the bird that fired hath her wings,
The more I move, the greater are my pains.
Desire, alas! Desire, a Zeuxis new,
From Indies borrowing gold, from western skies
Most bright cynoper, sets before mine eyes
In every place, her hair, sweet look, and hue:
That fly, run, rest I, all doth prove but vain,
My life lies in those looks which have me slain.


All other beauties, howsoe'er they shine
In hairs more bright than is the golden ore,
Or cheeks more fair than fairest eglantine,
Or hands like hers who comes the sun before;
Match'd with that heavenly hue and shape divine,
With those dear stars which my weak thoughts adore,
Look but like shadows, or if they be more,
It is in that, that they are like to thine.
Who sees those eyes, their force and doth not prove,
Who gazeth on the dimple of that chin,
And finds not Venus' son intrench'd therein,
Or hath not sense, or knows not what is love.
To see thee had Narcissus had the grace,
He sure had died with wond'ring on thy face.


My tears may well Numidian lions tame,
And pity breed into the hardest heart
That ever Pyrrha did to maid impart,
When she them first of blushing rocks did frame.
Ah! eyes which only serve to wail my smart,
How long will you mine inward woes proclaim?
Let it suffice, you bear a weeping part
All night, at day though ye do not the same:
Cease, idle sighs, to spend your storms in vain,
And these calm secret shades more to molest
Contain you in the prison of my breast,
You do not ease but aggravate my pain;
Or, if burst forth you must, that tempest move
In sight of her whom I so dearly love.


Nymphs, sister nymphs, which haunt this crystal brook,
And, happy, in these floating bowers abide,
Where trembling roofs of trees from sun you hide,
Which make ideal woods in every crook;
Whether ye garlands for your locks provide,
Or pearly letters seek in sandy hook,
Or count your loves when Thetis was a bride,
Lift up your golden heads and on me look.
Read in mine eyes mine agonising cares,
And what ye read recount to her again:
Fair nymphs, say, all these streams are but my tears,
And if she ask you how they sweet remain,
Tell that the bitterest tears which eyes can pour,
When shed for her do cease more to be sour.


Then is she gone? O fool and coward I!
O good occasion lost, ne'er to be found!
What fatal chains have my dull senses bound,
When best they may, that they not fortune try?
Here is the flow'ry bed where she did lie,
With roses here she stellified the ground,
She fix'd her eyes on this yet smiling pond,
Nor time, nor courteous place, seem'd ought deny.
Too long, too long, Respect, I do embrace
Your counsel, full of threats and sharp disdain;
Disdain in her sweet heart can have no place,
And though come there, must straight retire again
Henceforth, Respect, farewell, I oft hear told
Who lives in love can never be too bold.


In mind's pure glass when I myself behold,
And vively see how my best days are spent,
What clouds of care above my head are roll'd,
What coming harms which I can not prevent:
My begun course I, wearied, do repent,
And would embrace what reason oft hath told;
But scarce thus think I, when love hath controll'd
All the best reasons reason could invent.
Though sure I know my labour's end is grief,
The more I strive that I the more shall pine,
That only death can be my last relief:
Yet when I think upon that face divine,
Like one with arrow shot in laughter's place,
Malgré my heart, I joy in my disgrace.


Dear quirister, who from those shadows sends,
Ere that the blushing dawn dare show her light,
Such sad lamenting strains, that night attends
(Become all ear), stars stay to hear thy plight;
If one whose grief even reach of thought transcends,
Who ne'er (not in a dream) did taste delight,
May thee importune who like case pretends,
And seems to joy in woe, in woe's despite;
Tell me (so may thou fortune milder try,
And long, long sing) for what thou thus complains,
Sith, winter gone, the sun in dappled sky
Now smiles on meadows, mountains, woods, and plains?
The bird, as if my questions did her move,
With trembling wings sobb'd forth, I love, I love!


Trust not, sweet soul, those curled waves of gold,
With gentle tides which on your temples flow,
Nor temples spread with flakes of virgin snow,
Nor snow of cheeks with Tyrian grain enroll'd;
Trust not those shining lights which wrought my woe,
When first I did their burning rays behold,
Nor voice, whose sounds more strange effects do show
Than of the Thracian harper have been told.
Look to this dying lily, fading rose,
Dark hyacinth, of late whose blushing beams
Made all the neighbouring herbs and grass rejoice,
And think how little is 'twixt life's extremes:
The cruel tyrant that did kill those flow'rs,
Shall once, ay me! not spare that spring of yours.


That I so slenderly set forth my mind,
Writing I wot not what in ragged rhymes,
And charg'd with brass into these golden times,
When others tower so high, am left behind;
I crave not Phoebus leave his sacred cell
To bind my brows with fresh Aonian bays;
Let them have that who tuning sweetest lays
By Tempe sit, or Aganippe's well;
Nor yet to Venus' tree do I aspire,
Sith she for whom I might affect that praise,
My best attempts with cruel words gainsays,
And I seek not that others me admire.
Of weeping myrrh the crown is which I crave,
With a sad cypress to adorn my grave.


Sound hoarse, sad lute, true witness of my woe,
And strive no more to ease self-chosen pain
With soul-enchanting sounds; your accents strain
Unto these tears incessantly which flow.
Shrill treble, weep; and you, dull basses, show
Your master's sorrow in a deadly vein;
Let never joyful hand upon you go,
Nor consort keep but when you do complain.
Fly Phoebus' rays, nay, hate the irksome light;
Woods' solitary shades for thee are best,
Or the black horrors of the blackest night,
When all the world, save thou and I, doth rest:
Then sound, sad lute, and bear a mourning part,
Thou hell mayst move, though not a woman's heart.


You restless seas, appease your roaring waves,
And you who raise huge mountains in that plain,
Air's trumpeters, your blust'ring storms restrain,
And listen to the plaints my grief doth cause.
Eternal lights, though adamantine laws
Of destinies to move still you ordain,
Turn hitherward your eyes, your axe-tree pause,
And wonder at the torments I sustain.
Earth, if thou be not dull'd by my disgrace,
And senseless made, now ask those powers above,
Why they so crost a wretch brought on thy face,
Fram'd for mishap, th' anachorite of love?
And bid them, if they would more Ætnas burn,
In Rhodope or Erymanthe me turn.


What cruel star into this world me brought?
What gloomy day did dawn to give me light?
What unkind hand to nurse me, orphan, sought,
And would not leave me in eternal night?
What thing so dear as I hath essence bought?
The elements, dry, humid, heavy, light,
The smallest living things by nature wrought,
Be freed of woe, if they have small delight.
Ah! only I, abandon'd to despair,
Nail'd to my torments, in pale Horror's shade,
Like wand'ring clouds see all my comforts fled,
And evil on evil with hours my life impair:
The heaven and fortune which were wont to turn,
Fixt in one mansion stay to cause me mourn.


Dear eye, which deign'st on this sad monument
The sable scroll of my mishaps to view,
Though with the mourning Muses' tears besprent,
And darkly drawn, which is not feign'd, but true;
If thou not dazzled with a heavenly hue,
And comely feature, didst not yet lament.
But happy liv'st unto thyself content,
O let not Love thee to his laws subdue.
Look on the woful shipwreck of my youth,
And let my ruins for a Phare thee serve
To shun this rock Capharean of untruth,
And serve no god who doth his churchmen starve:
His kingdom is but plaints, his guerdon tears,
What he gives more are jealousies and fears.


If crost with all mishaps be my poor life,
If one short day I never spent in mirth,
If my spright with itself holds lasting strife,
If sorrow's death is but new sorrow's birth;
If this vain world be but a sable stage
Where slave-born man plays to the scoffing stars,
If youth be toss'd with love, with weakness age,
If knowledge serve to hold our thoughts in wars;
If time can close the hundred mouths of fame,
And make, what long since past, like that to be,
If virtue only be an idle name,
If I, when I was born, was born to die;
Why seek I to prolong these loathsome days?
The fairest rose in shortest time decays.


Let fortune triumph now, and Iö sing,
Sith I must fall beneath this load of care;
Let her, what most I prize of ev'ry thing,
Now wicked trophies in her temple rear.
She, who high palmy empires doth not spare,
And tramples in the dust the proudest king,
Let her vaunt how my bliss she did impair,
To what low ebb she now my flow doth bring;
Let her count how, a new Ixion, me
She in her wheel did turn, how high nor low
I never stood, but more to tortur'd be:
Weep, soul, weep, plaintful soul, thy sorrows know;
Weep, of thy tears till a black river swell,
Which may Cocytus be to this thy hell.


O cruel beauty, meekness inhumane,
That night and day contend with my desire,
And seek my hope to kill, not quench my fire,
By death, not balm, to ease my pleasant pain;
Though ye my thoughts tread down which would aspire,
And bound my bliss, do not, alas! disdain
That I your matchless worth and grace admire,
And for their cause these torments sharp sustain.
Let great Empedocles vaunt of his death,
Found in the midst of those Sicilian flames,
And Phaëthon, that heaven him reft of breath,
And Dædal's son, he nam'd the Samian streams:
Their haps I envy not; my praise shall be,
The fairest she that liv'd gave death to me.


The Hyperborean hills, Ceraunus' snow,
Or Arimaspus (cruel!) first thee bred
The Caspian tigers with their milk thee fed,
And Fauns did human blood on thee bestow;
Fierce Orithyia's lover in thy bed
Thee lull'd asleep, where he enrag'd doth blow;
Thou didst not drink the floods which here do flow
But tears, or those by icy Tanais' head.
Sith thou disdains my love, neglects my grief,
Laughs at my groans, and still affects my death,
Of thee, nor heaven, I'll seek no more relief,
Nor longer entertain this loathsome breath,
But yield unto my star, that thou mayst prove
What loss thou hadst in losing such a love.


Who hath not seen into her saffron bed
The morning's goddess mildly her repose,
Or her, of whose pure blood first sprang the rose,
Lull'd in a slumber by a myrtle shade;
Who hath not seen that sleeping white and red
Makes Phoebe look so pale, which she did close
In that Ionian hill, to ease her woes,
Which only lives by nectar kisses fed;
Come but and see my lady sweetly sleep,
The sighing rubies of those heavenly lips,
The Cupids which breast's golden apples keep,
Those eyes which shine in midst of their eclipse,
And he them all shall see, perhaps, and prove
She waking but persuades, now forceth love.


Of Cytherea's birds, that milk-white pair,
On yonder leafy myrtle-tree which groan,
And waken, with their kisses in the air,
Enamour'd zephyrs murmuring one by one,
If thou but sense hadst like Pygmalion's stone,
Or hadst not seen Medusa's snaky hair,
Love's lessons thou might'st learn; and learn, sweet fair,
To summer's heat ere that thy spring be grown.
And if those kissing lovers seem but cold,
Look how that elm this ivy doth embrace,
And binds, and clasps with many a wanton fold,
And courting sleep o'ershadows all the place;
Nay, seems to say, dear tree, we shall not part,
In sign whereof, lo! in each leaf a heart.


The sun is fair when he with crimson crown,
And flaming rubies, leaves his eastern bed;
Fair is Thaumantias in her crystal gown,
When clouds engemm'd hang azure, green, and red:
To western worlds when wearied day goes down,
And from Heaven's windows each star shows her head,
Earth's silent daughter, night, is fair, though brown;
Fair is the moon, though in love's livery clad;
Fair Chloris is when she doth paint April,
Fair are the meads, the woods, the floods are fair;
Fair looketh Ceres with her yellow hair,
And apples' queen when rose-cheek'd she doth smile.
That heaven, and earth, and seas are fair is true,
Yet true that all not please so much as you.


Slide soft, fair Forth, and make a crystal plain,
Cut your white locks, and on your foamy face
Let not a wrinkle be, when you embrace
The boat that earth's perfections doth contain.
Winds, wonder, and through wond'ring hold your peace;
Or if that ye your hearts cannot restrain
From sending sighs, mov'd by a lover's case,
Sigh, and in her fair hair yourselves enchain;
Or take these sighs which absence makes arise
From mine oppressed breast, and wave the sails,
Or some sweet breath new brought from Paradise
Floods seem to smile, love o'er the winds prevails,
And yet huge waves arise; the cause is this,
The ocean strives with Forth the boat to kiss.


Ah! who can see those fruits of Paradise,
Celestial cherries, which so sweetly swell,
That sweetness' self confined there seems to dwell,
And all those sweetest parts about despise?
Ah! who can see and feel no flame surprise
His hardened heart? for me, alas! too well
I know their force, and how they do excel:
Now burn I through desire, now do I freeze;
I die, dear life, unless to me be given
As many kisses as the spring hath flow'rs,
Or as the silver drops of Iris' show'rs,
Or as the stars in all-embracing heaven;
And if, displeas'd, ye of the match complain,
Ye shall have leave to take them back again.


Is't not enough, ay me! me thus to see
Like some heaven-banish'd ghost still wailing go,
A shadow which your rays do only show?
To vex me more, unless ye bid me die,
What could ye worse allot unto your foe?
But die will I, so ye will not deny
That grace to me which mortal foes even try,
To choose what sort of death should end my woe.
One time I found whenas ye did me kiss,
Ye gave my panting soul so sweet a touch,
That half I swoon'd in midst of all my bliss;
I do but crave my death's wound may be such;
For though by grief I die not and annoy,
Is't not enough to die through too much joy?


She whose fair flow'rs no autumn makes decay,
Whose hue ce]estial, earthly hues doth stain,
Into a pleasant odoriferous plain
Did walk alone, to brave the pride of May;
And whilst through checker'd lists she made her way,
Which smil'd about her sight to entertain,
Lo, unawares, where Love did bid remain,
She spied, and sought to make of him her prey;
For which, of golden locks a fairest hair,
To bind the boy, she took; but he, afraid
At her approach, sprang swiftly in the air,
And mounting far from reach, look'd back and said,
Why shouldst thou, sweet, me seek in chains to bind,
Sith in thine eyes I daily am confin'd?


Dear wood, and you, sweet solitary place,
Where from the vulgar I estranged live,
Contented more with what your shades me give,
Than if I had what Thetis doth embrace;
What snaky eye, grown jealous of my peace,
Now from your silent horrors would me drive,
When sun, progressing in his glorious race
Beyond the Twins, doth near our pole arrive?
What sweet delight a quiet life affords,
And what it is to be of bondage free,
Far from the madding worldling's hoarse discords,
Sweet flow'ry place, I first did learn of thee:
Ah I if I were mine own, your dear resorts
I would not change with princes' stately courts.


Thou window, once which served for a sphere
To that dear planet of my heart, whose light
Made often blush the glorious queen of night,
While she in thee more beauteous did appear,
What mourning weeds, alas! now dost thou wear!
How loathsome to mine eyes is thy sad sight
How poorly look'st thou, with what heavy cheer,
Since that sun set, which made thee shine so bright
Unhappy now thee close, for as of late
To wond'ring eyes thou wast a paradise,
Bereft of her who made thee fortunate,
A gulf thou art, whence clouds of sighs arise;
But unto none so noisome as to me,
Who hourly see my murder'd joys in thee.


Are these the flow'ry banks, is this the mead,
Where she was wont to pass the pleasant hours?
Did here her eyes exhale mine eyes' salt show'rs,
When on her lap I laid my weary head?
Is this the goodly elm did us o'erspread,
Whose tender rind, cut out in curious flow'rs
By that white hand, contains those flames of ours?
Is this the rustling spring us music made?
Deflourish'd mead, where is your heavenly hue?
Bank, where that arras did you late adorn?
How look ye, elm, all withered and forlorn?
Only, sweet spring, nought altered seems in you;
But while here chang'd each other thing appears,
To sour your streams take of mine eyes these tears.


Alexis, here she stay'd; among these pines,
Sweet hermitress, she did alone repair;
Here did she spread the treasure of her hair,
More rich than that brought from the Colchian mines.
She set her by these musked eglantines,
The happy place the print seems yet to bear;
Her voice did sweeten here thy sugar'd lines,
To which winds, trees, beasts, birds, did lend their ear.
Me here she first perceiv'd, and here a morn
Of bright carnations did o'erspread her face;
Here did she sigh, here first my hopes were born,
And I first got a pledge of promis'd grace:
But, ah! what serv'd it to be happy so,
Sith passed pleasures double but new woe?


O night, clear night, O dark and gloomy day!
O woful waking! O soul-pleasing sleep!
O sweet conceits which in my brains did creep,
Yet sour conceits which went so soon away!
A sleep I had more than poor words can say,
For, clos'd in arms, methought, I did thee keep;
A sorry wretch plung'd in misfortunes deep
Am I not, wak'd, when light doth lies bewray?
O that that night had ever still been black!
O that that day had never yet begun!
And you, mine eyes, would ye no time saw sun,
To have your sun in such a zodiac!
Lo! what is good of life is but a dream,
When sorrow is a never-ebbing stream.


Hair, precious hair which Midas' hand did strain,
Part of the wreath of gold that crowns those brows
Which winter's whitest white in whiteness stain,
And lily, by Eridan's bank that grows;
Hair, fatal present, which first caus'd my woes,
When loose ye hang like Danae's golden rain,
Sweet nets, which sweetly do all hearts enchain,
Strings, deadly strings, with which Love bends his bows,
How are ye hither come? tell me, O hair,
Dear armelet, for what thus were ye given?
I know a badge of bondage I you wear,
Yet hair, for you, O that I were a heaven!
Like Berenice's lock that ye might shine,
But brighter far, about this arm of mine.


With grief in heart, and tears in swooning eyes,
When I to her had giv'n a sad farewell,
Close sealed with a kiss, and dew which fell
On my else-moisten'd face from beauty's skies,
So strange amazement did my mind surprise,
That at each pace I fainting turn'd again,
Like one whom a torpedo stupefies,
Not feeling honour's bit, nor reason's rein.
But when fierce stars to part me did constrain,
With back-cast looks I envied both and bless'd
The happy walls and place did her contain,
Till that sight's shafts their flying object miss'd.
So wailing parted Ganymede the fair,
When eagles' talons bare him through the air.


How many times night's silent queen her face
Hath hid, how oft with stars in silver mask
In Heaven's great hall she hath begun her task,
And cheer'd the waking eye in lower place!
How oft the sun hath made by Heaven's swift race
The happy lover to forsake the breast
Of his dear lady, wishing in the west
His golden coach to run had larger space!
I ever count, and number, since, alas!
I bade farewell to my heart's dearest guest;
The miles I compass, and in mind I chase
The floods and mountains hold me from my rest:
But, woe is me! long count and count may I,
Ere I see her whose absence makes me die.


So grievous is my pain, so painful life,
That oft I find me in the arms of Death;
But, breath half-gone, that tyrant called Death
Who others kills, restoreth me to life:
For while I think how woe shall end with life,
And that I quiet peace shall joy by death,
That thought even doth o'erpower the pains of death,
And call me home again to loathed life.
Thus doth mine evil transcend both life and death,
While no death is so bad as is my life,
Nor no life such which doth not end by death,
And Protean changes turn my death and life.
O happy those who in their birth find death,
Sith but to languish Heaven affordeth life!


Fame, who with golden pens abroad dost range
Where Phoebus leaves the night, and brings the day;
Fame, in one place who, restless, dost not stay
Till thou hast flown from Atlas unto Gange;
Fame, enemy to time that still doth change,
And in his changing course would make decay
What here below he findeth in his way,
Even making virtue to herself look strange;
Daughter of heaven, now all thy trumpets sound,
Raise up thy head unto the highest sky,
With wonder blaze the gifts in her are found;
And when she from this mortal globe shall fly,
In thy wide mouth keep long, long keep her name
So thou by her, she by thee live shall, Fame.


I curse the night, yet do from day me hide,
The Pandionian birds I tire with moans,
The echoes even are wearied with my groans,
Since absence did me from my bliss divide.
Each dream, each toy my reason doth affright;
And when remembrance reads the curious scroll
Of pass'd contentments caused by her sight,
Then bitter anguish doth invade my soul.
While thus I live eclipsed of her light,
O me! what better am I than the mole,
Or those whose zenith is the only pole,
Whose hemisphere is hid with so long night?
Save that in earth he rests, they hope for sun,
I pine, and find mine endless night begun.


Of death some tell, some of the cruel pain
Which that bad craftsman in his work did try,
When (a new monster) flames once did constrain
A human corpse to yield a brutish cry.
Some tell of those in burning beds who lie,
For that they durst in the Phlegræn plain
The mighty rulers of the sky defy,
And siege those crystal towers which all contain.
Another counts of Phlegethon's hot floods
The souls which drink, Ixion's endless smart,
And his to whom a vulture eats the heart;
One tells of spectres in enchanted woods.
Of all those pains he who the worst would prove,
Let him be absent, and but pine in love.


Place me where angry Titan burns the Moor,
And thirsty Afric fiery monsters brings,
Or where the new-born phoenix spreads her wings,
And troops of wond'ring birds her flight adore;
Place me by Gange, or Ind's empamper'd shore,
Where smiling heavens on earth cause double springs;
Place me where Neptune's quire of syrens sings,
Or where, made hoarse through cold, he leaves to roar;
Me place where Fortune doth her darlings crown,
A wonder or a spark in Envy's eye,
Or let outrageous fates upon me frown,
And pity wailing see disaster'd me;
Affection's print my mind so deep doth prove,
I may forget myself, but not my love.

Poems: The Second Part


Of mortal glory, O soon darken'd ray!
O posting joys of man, more swift than wind!
O fond desires, which wing'd with fancies stray!
O trait'rous hopes, which do our judgments blind!
Lo! in a flash that light is gone away,
Which dazzle did each eye, delight each mind,
And with that sun, from whence it came, combin'd,
Now makes more radiant heaven's eternal day.
Let Beauty now bedew her cheeks with tears,
Let widow'd Music only roar and plain;
Poor Virtue, get thee wings, and mount the spheres,
And let thine only name on earth remain.
Death hath thy temple raz'd, Love's empire foil'd,
The world of honour, worth, and sweetness spoil'd.


Those eyes, those sparkling sapphires of delight,
Which thousand thousand hearts did set on fire,
Which made that eye of heaven that brings the light,
Oft jealous, stay amaz'd them to admire;
That living snow, those crimson roses bright,
Those pearls, those rubies, which did breed desire,
Those locks of gold, that purple fair of Tyre,
Are wrapt, ay me! up in eternal night.
What hast thou more to vaunt of, wretched world,
Sith she, who cursed thee made blest, is gone?
Thine ever-burning lamps, rounds ever whirl'd,
Can unto thee not model such a one:
For if they would such beauty bring on earth,
They should be forc'd again to make her breath.


O fate! conspir'd to pour your worst on me,
O rigorous rigour, which doth all confound!
With cruel hands ye have cut down the tree,
And fruit and flower dispersed on the ground.
A little space of earth my love doth bound;
That beauty which did raise it to the sky,
Turn'd in neglected dust, now low doth lie,
Deaf to my plaints, and senseless of my wound.
Ah! did I live for this? Ah! did I love?
For this and was it she did so excel?
That ere she well life's sweet-sour joys did prove,
She should, too dear a guest, with horror dwell?
Weak influence of heaven! what fair ye frame,
Falls in the prime, and passeth like a dream.


O woful life! Life? No, but living death,
Frail boat of crystal in a rocky sea,
A sport expos'd to Fortune's stormy breath,
Which kept with pain, with terror doth decay:
The false delights, true woes thou dost bequeath,
Mine all-appalled mind do so affray,
That I those envy who are laid in earth,
And pity them that run thy dreadful way.
When did mine eyes behold one cheerful morn?
When had my tossed soul one night of rest?
When did not hateful stars my projects scorn?
O! now I find for mortals what is best;
Even, sith our voyage shameful is, and short,
Soon to strike sail, and perish in the port.


Mine eyes, dissolve your globes in briny streams,
And with a cloud of sorrow dim your sight;
The sun's bright sun is set, of late whose beams
Gave lustre to your day, day to your night.
My voice, now deafen earth with anathemes,
Roar forth a challenge in the world's despite,
Tell that disguised grief is her delight,
That life a slumber is of fearful dreams.
And, woful mind, abhor to think of joy;
My senses all now comfortless you hide,
Accept no object but of black annoy,
Tears, plaints, sighs, mourning weeds, graves gaping wide.
I have nought left to wish, my hopes are dead,
And all with her beneath a marble laid.

"My lute, be as thou wert when thou didst grow"

My lute, be as thou wert when thou didst grow
With thy green mother in some shady grove,
When immelodious winds but made thee move,
And birds their ramage did on the bestow.
Since that dear Voice which did thy sounds approve,
Which wont in such harmonious strains to flow,
Is reft from Earth to tune those spheres above,
What art thou but a harbinger of woe?
Thy pleasing notes be pleasing notes no more,
But orphans' wailings to the fainting ear;
Each stroke a sigh, each sound draws forth a tear;
For which be silint as in woods before;
Or if that any hand to touch thee deign,
Like widow'd turtle still her loss complain.

Footnotes (click on word to return to poem)

Grecian, Plato.

Amphions of the trees, "son of Zeus and an incomparable musician" (Hamilton). "A rather far-fetched periphrasis for wood-birds!" (Ward).

bea-wailing. The unusual spelling of the first syllable here was doubtless designed to suggest the bleating noise made by lambs.

cynoper, cinnabar; vermilion.

hers, Aurora's.

Thracian harper, Orpheus.

Orithyia's lover, Boreas.

her, Venus.

Pandionian birds, nightingales.

breath, breathe.