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Which now to others do their sweetness send ;
The incarnate, snow-driven white, and purest azure, Who from high heaven doth on their fields descend,
Filling their barns with grain, and towers with treasure.
Erring or never erring, such is love
As, while it lasteth, scorns the account of those Seeking, but self-contentment to improve,
And hides, if any be, his inward woes,
And will not know, while he knows his own passion,
The often and unjust perseverance
From that first day and year of their joy's entrance.
But I, unblessed and ill-born creature,
That did embrace the dust her body bearing, That loved her, both by fancy and by nature,
That drew, even with the milk in my first sucking,
Affection from the parent's breast that bare me,
Have found her as a stranger so severe, Improving my mishap in each degree ;
But love was gone : so would I my life were !
A queen she was to me,—no more Belphebe ;
A lion then,-no more a milk-white dove ; A prisoner in her breast I could not be ;
She did untie the gentle chains of love.
Love was no more the love of hiding
All trespass and mischance for her own glory ;
It had been such ; it was still for the elect; But I must be the example in love's story ;
This was of all forepast the sad effect.
But thou, my weary soul and heavy thought,
Made by her love a burthen to my being, Dost know my error never was forethought,
Or ever could proceed from sense of loving.
Of other cause if then it had proceeding,
I leave the excuse, sith judgment hath been given ; The limbs divided, sundered, and ableeding,
Cannot complain the sentence was uneven.
This did that nature's wonder, virtue's choice,
The only paragon of time's begetting, Divine in words, angelical in voice,
That spring of joys, that flower of love's own setting,
The idea remaining of those golden ages,
That beauty, braving heavens and earth embalming, Which after worthless worlds but play on stages,
Such didst thou long since describe, yet sighing.
That thine unable spirit could not find aught,
In heaven's beauties or in earth's delight, For likeness fit to satisfy thy thought;
But what hath it availed thee so to write ?
She cares not for thy praise, who knows not theirs ;
It's now an idle labour, and a tale
A merchandize whereof there is no sale.
Leave them, or lay them up with thy despairs !
She hath resolved, and judged thee long ago. Thy lines are now a murmuring to her ears,
Like to a falling stream, which, passing slow,
Is wont to nourish sleep and quietness ;
So shall thy painful labours be perused, And draw on rest, which sometime bad regard ;
But those her cares thy errors have excused.
Thy days fordone have had their day's reward ;
So her hard heart, so her estranged mind, In which above the heavens I once reposed ;
So to thy error have her ears inclined,
And have forgotten all thy past deserving,
Holding in mind but only thine offence ; And only now affecteth thy depraving.
And thinks all vain that pleadeth thy defence,
Yet greater fancy beauty never bred ;
A more desire the heart-blood never nourished ; Her sweetness and affection never fed,
Which more in any age hath ever flourished.
The mind and virtue never have begotten
A firmer love, since love on earth had power ;
A love obscured, but cannot be forgotten ;
To a great and strong for time's jaws to devour ;
Containing such faith as ages wound not,
Care, waking ever for her good estate, Fear, dreading loss, which sighs and joys not,
A memory of the joys her grace begat ;
A lasting gratefulness for those comforts past,
Of which the cordial sweetness cannot die ; These thoughts, knit up by faith, shall ever last;
These time assays, but never can untie,
Whose life once lived in her pearl-like breast,
Whose joys were drawn but from her happiness, Whose heart's high pleasure, and whose mind's true rest,
Proceeded from her fortune's blessedness ;
Who was intentive, wakeful, and dismayed
In fears, in dreams, in feverous jealousy, Who long in silence served, and obeyed
With secret heart and hidden loyalty,
Which never change to sad adversity,
Which never age, or nature's overthrow, Which never sickness or deformity,
Which never wasting care or weaving woe, If subject unto these she could have been,
Which never words or wits malicious,
Which never honour's bait, or world's fame, Achieved by attempts adventurous,
Or aught beneath the sun or heaven's frame
Can so dissolve, dissever, or destroy
The essential love of no frail parts compounded, Though of the same now buried be the joy,
The hope, the comfort, and the sweetness ended,
But that the thoughts and memories of these
Work a relapse of passion, and remain Of my sad heart the sorrow-sucking bees ;
The wrongs received, the frowns persuade in vain.
And though these medicines work desire to end,
And are in others the true cure of liking,
Consuming woe, and slake our hearty sighing,
They work not so in thy mind's long decease ;
External fancy time alone recureth : All whose effects do wear away with ease
Love of delight, while such delight endureth ; Stays by the pleasure, but no longer stays
But in my mind so is her love inclosed,
And is thereof not only the best part, But into it the essence is disposed :
Oh love ! (the more my woe) to it thou art
Even as the moisture in each plant that grows;
Even as the sun unto the frozen ground; Even as the sweetness to the incarnate rose;
Even as the centre in each perfect round :
As water to the fish, to men as air,
As heat to fire, as light unto the sun ; Oh love ! it is but vain to say thou were ;
Ages and times cannot thy power outrun
Thou art the soul of that unhappy mind
Which, being by nature made an idle thought, Began even then to take immortal kind,
When first her virtues in thy spirits wrought.
From thee therefore that mover cannot move,
Because it is become thy cause of being; Whatever error may obscure that love,
Whatever frail effect in mortal living,
Whatever passion from distempered heart,
What absence, time, or injuries effect, What faithless friends or deep dissembled art
Present to feed her most unkind suspect.
Yet as the air in deep caves underground
Is strongly drawn when violent heat hath vent, Great clefts therein, till moisture do abound,
And then the same, imprisoned and uppent,
Breaks out in earthquakes tearing all asunder ;
So, in the centre of my cloven heart-
Lies the sharp poisoned head of that love's dart
Which, till all break and all dissolve to dust,
Thence drawn it cannot be, or therein known : There, mixed with my heart blood, the fretting rust
The better part hath eaten and outgrown.
But what of those or these ? or what if ought
Of that which was, or that which is, to treat ? What I possess is but the same I sought:
My love was false, my labours were deceit.
Nor less than such they are esteemed to be ;
A fraud bought at the price of many woes ; A guile whereof the profits unto me
Could it be thought premeditate for those ?
Witness these withered leaves left on the tree,
The sorrow-worn face, the pensive mind; The external shews what may the internal be:
Cold care hath bitten both the root and rind.
But stay, my thoughts, make end : give fortune way:
Harsh is the voice of woe and sorrow's sound : Complaints cure not, and tears do but allay
Griefs for a time which after more abound.
To seek for moisture in the Arabian sand
Is but a loss of labour and of rest :
Words cannot knit, or wailings make anew.
Seek not the sun in clouds when it is set.
Against whose banks the troubled ocean beat,
And were the marks to find thy hoped port,
Into a soil far off themselves remove. On Sestus' shore, Leander's late resort,
Hero hath left no lamp to guide her love.
Thou looked for light in vain, and storms arise ;
She sleeps thy death, that erst thy danger sighed ; Strive then no more ; bow down thy weary eyes
Eyes which to all these woes thy heart have guided.
She is gone, she is lost, she is found, she is ever fair :
Sorrow draws weakly, where love draws not too : Woe's cries sound nothing, but only a love's ear.
Do then by dying what life cannot do.