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Shakespeare's Sonnets

Poems (Rondeaus)

RONDEAU 1

Behold love, thy power how she despiseth : My great pain, how little she regardeth The holy oath, whereof she taketh no cure Broken she hath : and yet she bideth sure Right at her ease, and little she dreadeth. Weaponed thou art, and she unarmed sitteth To thee disdainful her life she leadeth : To me spiteful without cause or measure. Behold love. I am in hold : if pity thee moveth, Go bend thy bow, that stony hearts breaketh, And with some stroke revenge the displeasure Of thee and him, that sorrow doth endure, And as his lord thee lowly entreateth. Behold love.
Behold love, thy power how she dispiseth : My great payne, how litle she regardeth The holy oth, wherof she taketh no cure Broken she hath : and yet she bideth sure Right at her ease, and litle she dredeth. Wepened thou art, and she unarmed sitteth To the disdaynfull her liff she ledeth : To me spitefull without cause or mesur. Behold love. I ame in hold : if pitie the meveth, Goo bend thy bowe, that stony hertes breketh, And with some stroke revenge the displeasur Of the and him, that sorrowe doeth endur, And as his lorde the lowly entreateth. Behold love.

NOTES

no cure = no care. she bideth sure = she is unaffected, untroubled. To thee disdainful = being disdainful of you. I am in hold = I am held securely (by her). And as his lord thee lowly entreateth = and entreats you humbly as his lord. The subject is 'him, that sorrow doth endure'.

RONDEAU 2

What vaileth truth ? or by it to take pain? To strive, by stedfastness, for to be ta'en ? To be just and true : and flee from doubleness? Sythence all alike, where ruleth craftiness, Rewarded is both false, and plain. Soonest he speedeth, that most can feign : True meaning heart is had in disdain : Against deceit and doubleness What vaileth truth ? Deceived is he, by crafty train, That meaneth no guile : and doth remain Within the trap, without redress : But, for to love, lo, such a mistress, Whose cruelty nothing can refrain, What vaileth truth ?
What vaileth trouth ? or by it to take payn? To stryve, by stedfastnes, for to be tayne ? To be juste and true : and fle from doublenes ? Sythens all alike, where ruleth craftines, Rewarded is boeth fals, and plain. Sonest he spedeth, that most can fain : True meaning heart is had in disdayn : Against deceipte and doublenes What vaileth trouth ? Deceved is he, by crafty trayn, That meaneth no gile : and doeth remayn Within the trapp, without redresse : But, for to love, lo, such a maistres, Whose crueltie nothing can refrayn, What vaileth trouth ?

NOTES

vaileth = availeth. for to be ta'en = to be accepted as true and honest ?? doubleness = duplicity. Sythence = since. Soonest he speedeth = that man is most successful who. by crafty train = by trickery ?? That meaneth no guile = who is not himself crafty. refrain = restrain.

RONDEAU 3

For to love her for her looks lovely My heart was set in thought right firmly, Trusting by truth to have had redress : But she hath made another promise, And hath given me leave full honestly. Yet do I not rejoice it greatly : For on my faith I loved too surely : But reason will that I do cease For to love her. Since that in love the pain's been deadly, Me think it best that readily I do return to my first address ; For at this time too great is the press And perils appear too abundantly For to love her.
Ffor to love her for her lokes lovely My hert was set in thought right fermely, Trusting by trouth to have had redresse : But she hath made anothr promes, And hath geven me leve full honestly. Yet do I not reioyse it greatly : For on my faith I loved to surely : But reason will that I do cesse For to love her. Syns that in love the paynes ben dedly, Me thincke it best that reddely I do retorn to my first adresse ; For at this tyme to great is the prese And perilles appere to abundauntely For to love her.

NOTES

redress = satisfaction hath made another promise = has made a promise to another (man). And hath given me leave full honestly = and has frankly told me to go, has released me from my obligations to her. I do return to my first address = I go back to a former lover ?? I try to woo her again ?? too great is the press = the pressure and pain is too great (to continue as I am)

RONDEAU 4

Help me to seek for I lost it there, And if that ye have found it, ye that be here, And seek to convey it secretly, Handle it soft, and treat it tenderly : Or else it will plain and then appear ; But rather restore it mannerly, Since that I do ask it thus honestly ; For to leese it, it sitteth me too near; Help me to seek. Alas and is there no remedy ? But have I thus lost it wilfully ? I wis it was a thing all too dear To be bestowed, and wist not where : It was mine heart, I pray you heartily Help me to seek.
Helpe me to seke for I lost it ther, And if that ye have founde it ye that be here, And seke to convaye it secretely, Handell it softe, and trete it tenderly : Or els it will plain and then appere ; But rather restore it mannerly, Syns that I do aske it thus honestly ; For to lese it, it sitteth me to neere; Helpe me to seke. Alas and is there no remedy ? But have I thus lost it wilfully ? I wis it was a thing all to dere To be bestowed, and wist not where : It was myn hert, I pray you hertely Helpe me to seke.

NOTES

convey = hide. plain = complain leese = lose; it sitteth me too near = it cuts me to the quick; it is too close for comfort. I wis = I know, I realise. and wist not where = and not know where.

RONDEAU 5

If it be so that I forsake thee, As banished from thy company, Yet my heart, my mind, and my affection, Shall still remain in thy perfection, But right as thou list, so order me. But some would say, in their opinion Revolted is thy good intention ; Then may I well blame thy cruelty If it be so. But my self, I say on this fashion : I have her heart in my possession, And of itself there cannot perdy By no means love an heartless body, And on my faith good is the reason If it be so.
Yf it be so that I forsake the, As banished from thy company, Yet my hert, my mynde, and my affection, Shall still remain in thy perfection, But right as thou lyst so order me. But som would saye, in their opinion Revoultid is thy good intention ; Then may I well blame thy cruelte Yf it be so. But my selfe, I say on this fasshion : I have her hert in my possession, And of itself there cannot perdy By no meanes love an herteles body, And on my faith good is the reason If it be so.

NOTES

Shall still remain in thy perfection = shall always remain true to you, who are so perfect. But right as thou list, so order me = but exactly as you desire, order me accordingly. Revolted = turned away (from me) And of itself there cannot perdy / By no means love an heartless body, = and, by God, a body without a heart simply cannot love. perdy = par dieu, Fr. By God!.

RONDEAU 6

Thou hast no faith of him that hath none, But thou must love him needs by reason, For as sayeth a proverb notable, " Each thing seeketh his semblable " And thou hast thine of thy condition. Yet is it not the thing I pass on, Nor hote nor cold is mine affection, For since thine heart is so mutable, Thou hast no faith. I thought thee true without exception, But I perceiveI lacked discretion To fashion faith to words mutable ; Thy thought is so light and variable To change so oft without occasion, Thou hast no faith.
Thou hast no faith of him that hath none, But thou must love him nedes by reason, For as saieth a proverb notable, " Eche thing seketh his semblable " And thou hast thyn of thy condition. Yet is it not the thing I passe on, Nor hote nor cold is myn affection, For syns thine hert is so mutable, Thou hast no faith. I thought the true without exception, But I perceve I lacked discretion To fasshion faith to wordes mutable ; Thy thought is so light and variable To chaunge so oft without occasion, Thou hast no faith.

NOTES

of him that hath none = (possibly) in him who has no faith in you ?? in him who has nothing ?? But thou must love him needs by reason, = but you ought to love him as it is reasonable to do so ?? semblable = like (noun). And thou hast thine of thy condition - uncertain meaning. Perhaps 'You have found one who is like yourself'. pass on = dwell on, insist upon ?? surpass in ??

RONDEAU 7

Go burning sighs! unto the frozen heart Go, break the ice which pity's painful dart Might never pierce, and if mortal prayer In heaven may be heard; at least I desire That death or mercy be end of my smart. Take with the pain whereof I have my part ; And eke the flame from which I cannot start : And leave me then in rest I you require. Go, burning sighs ! I must go work, I see by craft and art, For truth and faith in her is laid apart; Alas I cannot therefore assail her With pitiful plaint and scalding fire That out of my breast doth strainably start Go, burning sighs !
Goo burnyng sighes ! unto the frozen hert Goo, breke the ise which pites paynfull dert Myght never perse, and if mortall prayer In hevyn may be herd ; at lest I desir That deth or mercy be ende of my smert. Take with the payne whereof I have my part ; And eke the flame from which I cannot stert : And leve me then in rest I you require. Goo, burning sighes ! I must go worke I se by craft and art, For trueth and faith in her is laide apart; Alas I cannot therefor assail her With pitefull plaint and scalding fyer That oute of my brest doth straynably stert Goo, burning sighes !

NOTES

Take with the pain whereof I have my part = take with you the pain which I have. eke the flame from which I cannot start = also the flame (passion) from which I cannot escape. go work = go to work. is laid apart = is set aside. plaint = complaint(s). strainably = with straining and effort. start = leap out, emerge.

RONDEAU 8

Ye old mule that think your self so fair, Leave off with craft your beauty to repair, For it is time without any fable; No man setteth now by riding in your saddle; Too much travail so do your train appease, Ye old mule! With false favour though you deceive th'eyes, Who so taste you shall well perceive your lays Savoureth somewhat of a kappur's stable, Ye old mule ! Ye must now serve to market and to fair, All for the burden, for panniers a pair ; For since gray hair's been powdered in your sable, The thing ye seek for you must yourself enable To purchase it by payment and by prayer, Ye old mule !
Ye olde mule that think your self so fayre, Leve off with craft your beautie to repaire, For it is time withoute any fable; No man setteth now by riding in your saddell; To muche travaill so do your train apaise, Ye old mule! With fals favoure though you deceve thayes, Who so taste you shall well perceve your layes Savoureth som what of a kappurs stable, Ye old mule ! Ye must now serve to market and to faire, All for the burden, for panniers a paire ; For syns gray heres ben powdered in your sable, The thing ye seke for you must yourself enable To pourchase it by payement and by prayer, Ye old mule !

NOTES

without any fable = without more ado, without beating about the bush. setteth = sets any store by, desires to. Too much travail so do your train appease - uncertain meaning. Perhaps 'It is too much hard work to satisfy you and your continuous demands'. lays = layering on of cosmetics?? Tricks? kappur = colt (Not given in OED). Ye must now serve to = you are only fit for. All for the burden, for panniers a pair = to carry burdens and take a pair of panniers (as a mule). Panniers are the sacks slung across a mule's back. For since gray hair's been powdered in your sable = since you have powdered your hair with black. The thing ye seek for = sex, love.

RONDEAU 9

What no, perdy, ye may be sure ! Think not to make me to your lure, With words and cheer so contrarying, Sweet and sour counterweighing ; Too much it were still to endure ; Truth is tried where craft is in ure ; But though ye have had my heart's cure Trow ye I dote without ending ? What no, perdy ! Though that with pain I do procure For to forget that once was pure, Within my heart shall still that thing Unstable, unsure, and wavering Be in my mind without recure ? What no, perdy !
What no perdy ye may be sure ! Thinck not to make me to your lure, With wordes and chere so contrarieng, Swete and soure contrewaing ; To much it were still to endure ; Trouth is tryed where craft is in ure ; But though ye have hade my hertes cure Trow ye I dote withoute ending ? What no perdy ! Though that with pain I do procure For to forgett that ons was pure, Within my hert shall still that thing Unstable, unsure, and wavering Be in my mynde withoute recure ? What no perdy !

NOTES

perdy = par dieu, Fr. By God! Think not to make me to your lure = do not endeavour to trap me with this bait. Probably a metaphor from hawking. contrarying = contrary, at variance. counterweighing = counterbalancing. tried = put to the test; in ure = in use, employed. cure = care. Trow ye = do you think that? procure = manage, succeed in (forgetting)