« AnteriorContinuar »
easily chosen, but the poems of doubtful value are infinitely more numerous than either, and these often require to be read and re-read before a decision respecting them can be arrived at.
A word or two may be added on the arrangement of the volume. The poet sonneteers follow each other in chronological order, and although their poems cover a period of three centuries it has been judged best to adhere throughout to modern orthography. In the earliest period of our literary history the growth of the language may be traced in the archaisms of our authors, and in later times the quaint spelling must be sometimes preferred for the sake of the rhyme or metre, but with these exceptions, there seems no reason for retaining obsolete spelling. Indeed every one familiar with the Elizabethan dramatists and poets, will know that spelling was but lightly regarded by them, and that the same word often appears in different forms upon the same page.
It has been well said that “what is called 'modern spelling' is in fact not so much an alteration of the old spelling as a reduction to uniformity which obviates numberless misinterpretations. Hardly a word can be found
which was not in old days occasionally spelt as we spell it now." But if the student of language will gain nothing by a reproduction of antique spelling, the student of poetry is likely to lose a large share of his enjoyment. The adoption of modern spelling has been followed by the first of modern editors, by Messrs. Clark and Wright in the Cambridge Shakespeare, by Mr. Christie generally in the Globe Dryden, and by Mr. Elwin in his fine edition of Pope—a poet, by the way, who was as indifferent about his spelling as he was careful in the verbal niceties of his art.
The thanks of the Editor are due to the owners of copyrights for the permission, in almost every instance generously granted, to make use in this Selection of several copyright Sonnets.
A VOW TO LOVE FAITHFULLY.
Set me whereas the sun doth parch the green,
Or where his beams do not dissolve the ice ;
In temperate heat, where he is felt and seen ;
In presence prest of people mad or wise ;
Set me in high, or yet in low degree ;
In longest night, or in the shortest day;
In clearest sky, or where clouds thickest be;
In lusty youth, or when my
hairs are gray :
Set me in heaven, in earth, or else in hell,
In hill or dale, or in the foaming flood;
Thrall, or at large, alive whereso I dwell,
Sick or in health, in evil fame or good,
Hers will I be ; and only with this thought
Content myself, although my chance be nought.
TH' Assyrian King, in peace, with foul desire
1516? –1547. And filthy lusts that stained his regal heart;
In war, that should set princely hearts on fire,
Did yield, vanquisht for want of martial art.
The dint of swords from kisses seemed strange;
And harder than his lady's side, his targe ;
From glutton feasts to soldier's fare, a change ;
His helmet, far above a garland's charge :
Who scarce the name of manhood did retain,
Drenched in sloth and womanish delight,
Feeble of spirit, impatient of pain,
When he had lost his honour and his right,
(Proud time of wealth, in storms appalled with dread,)
Murdered himself, to show some manful deed.
The soote season that bud and bloom forth brings,
green hath clad the hill, and eke the vale,
The nightingale with feathers new she sings;
The turtle to her make hath told her tale.
Summer is comé, for every spray now springs,
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale ;
The buck in brake his winter coat he flings ;
The fishes flete with new repaired scale ;
The adder all her slough away she slings;
The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale ;
The busy bee her honey now she mings;
Winter is worn that was the flowers' bale.
And thus I see among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs !