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Since my disgrace, I had of them no list,
Since when, these eyes no joyful day have seen:
Nor never shall, till you renew again
The mutual love which did possess us twain.


The sonnets of Robert Tofte are in three parts of 40 sonnets each. In form they are not true sonnets, but alternate with twelve and ten lines. The odd numbers all have twelve lines, while the even numbers have ten lines throughout. The title is Laura, the same as Petrarch's.

Part 1.


If, Laura, thou dost turn 'gainst me in hate;
Then me, such busses sweet why dost thou give?
Why checkst thou not the cheeks which give the mate?
The vital cause whereby I breathe and live?
Perhaps it is, because through too much joy,
As in sweet swound, I might away depart:
If so thou do, and think me so to 'noy;
Kiss hardly! and with kissing, breed my smart!
Content am I to lose this life of mine;

Whilst I do kiss that lovely lip of thine. This sonnet as compared with those of Petrarchists which are in the same vein, sounds quite boorish. And yet, if the Petrarchists intended theirs to apply to a woman's love, there is in meaning no difference between the two. How often is the reader required to wonder why a lover being granted indulgence should, threfore, be cast down into despair? or as Tofte expresses it, why should kissing breed his smart? and make him content to lose his life? Any less expression of substance than is contained in the foregoing sonnet, would not be a true paraphrase of that which was sought to be imitated. So, it is evident, that in a homely way Tofte has faithfully expressed the meaning of the sonnet or sonnets which it was his purpose to imitate.


Rocked in a cradle, like as infants be,
When I was young, a little wanton child,

Two dainty dugs did nourish life in me;
Whilst oft on them, with teat in mouth, I smiled.
Ah, happy I! thrice happy, might I say;
Whilst in that harmless state I then did stay.
But now that I am come to man's estate;
Such dugs as nursed me in delight and joy,
Do seek my death, by poisoned sugared bait;
Whose sight, without possession, breeds me 'noy.
So what, in childhood, caused me to live;

Now, in my youth, doth death unto me give. Here, again, the two expressions are strictly parallel, and yet apparently incongruous. That which should nourish (and no reason given why it should not) proves to be a "poisoned sugared bait.” This anomaly is met throughout the Petrarchists' sonnets. Tofte's error, if he was in error, lies in taking their words at their face value, when in fact they were spurious.

Part 2.


My Laura wonders that, in visage pale,
I bear of death itself, the lively show:
But if she muse at this, her musing's stale;
For this sad colour had I long ago.
The fire, close burning in my veins, doth make
That outward ashes in my face you view:
But if that she would on me pity take,
Who is the cause of this my palish hue,
This kindled heart shall die, which now doth burn;
And my first colour shall again return.




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