Sir Philip Sidney
Astrophel and Stella
Sonnets 1 - 80.
Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
That she (dear She) might take some pleasure of my pain:
Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain;
I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe,
Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain:
Oft turning others' leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sun-burned brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting Invention's stay,
Invention, Nature's child, fled step-dame Study's blows,
And others' feet still seemed but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite--
"Fool," said my Muse to me, "look in thy heart and write."
Not at first sight, nor with a dribbed shot
Love gave the wound, which while I breathe will bleed;
But known worth did in mine of time proceed,
Till by degrees it had full conquest got:
I saw and liked, I liked but loved not;
I loved , but straight did not what Love decreed.
At length to love's decrees I, forced , agreed,
Yet with repining at so partial lot.
Now even that footstep of lost liberty
Is gone, and now like slave-born Muscovite
I call it praise to suffer tyranny;
And now employ the remnant of my wit
To make myself believe that all is well,
While with a feeling skill I paint my hell.
Let the dainty wits cry on the Sisters nine,
That bravely masked , their fancies may be told:
Or, Pindar's apes, flaunt they in phrases fine,
Enam'ling with pied flowers their thoughts of gold.
Or else let them in statelier glory shine,
Ennobling new found tropes with problems old,
Or with strange similes enrich each line,
Of herbs or beasts with Inde or Afric' hold.
For me in sooth, no Muse but one I know:
Phrases and problems from my reach do grow,
And strange things cost too dear for my poor sprites.
How then? Even thus: in Stella's face I read
What love and beauty be, then all my deed
But copying is, what in her Nature writes.
Virtue, alas, now let me take some rest.
Thou set'st a bate between my soul and wit.
If vain love have my simple soul oppressed ,
Leave what thou likest not, deal not thou with it.
The scepter use in some old Cato's breast;
Churches or schools are for thy seat more fit.
I do confess, pardon a fault confessed ,
My mouth too tender is for thy hard bit.
But if that needs thou wilt usurping be,
The little reason that is left in me,
And still th'effect of thy persuasions prove:
I swear, my heart such one shall show to thee
That shrines in flesh so true a deity,
That Virtue, thou thyself shalt be in love.
It is most true, that eyes are formed to serve
The inward light; and that the heavenly part
Ought to be king, from whose rules who do swerve,
Rebles to Nature, strive for their own smart.
It is most true, what we call Cupid's dart,
An image is, which for ourselves we carve:
And, fools, adore in temple of hour heart,
Till that good God make Church and churchman starve.
True, that ture beauty virtue is indeed,
Whereof this beauty can be but a shade,
Which elements with mortal mixture breed:
True, that on earth we are but pilgrims made,
And should in soul up to our country move:
True, and yet true that I must Stella love.
Some lovers speak when they their Muses entertain,
Of hopes begot by fear, of wot not what desires:
Of force of heav'nly beams, infusing hellish pain:
Of living deaths, dear wounds, fair storms, and freezing fires.
Some one his song in Jove, and Jove's strange tales attires,
Broidered with bulls and swans, powdered with golden rain;
Another humbler wit to shepherd's pipe retires,
Yet hiding royal blood full oft in rural vein.
To some a sweetest plaint a sweetest style affords,
While tears pour out his ink, and sighs breathe out his words:
His paper pale despair, and pain his pen doth move.
I can speak what I feel, and feel as much as they,
But think that all the map of my state I display,
When trembling voice brings forth that I do Stella love.
When Nature made her chief work, Stella's eyes,
In color black why wrapped she beams so bright?
Would she in beamy black, like painter wise,
Frame daintiest lustre, mixed of shades and light?
Or did she else that sober hue devise,
In object best to knit and strength our sight,
Lest if no veil those brave gleams did disguise,
They sun-like should more dazzle than delight?
Or would she her miraculous power show,
That whereas black seems Beauty's contrary,
She even if black doth make all beauties flow?
Both so and thus, she minding Love shoud be
Placed ever there, gave him this mourning weed,
To honor all their deaths, who for her bleed.
Love, born in Greece, of late fled from his native place,
Forced by a tedious proof, that Turkish hardened heart
Is no fit mark to pierce with his fine pointed dart,
And pleased with our soft peace, stayed here his flying race.
But finding these north climes do coldly him embrace,
Not used to frozen clips, he strave to find some part
Where with most ease and warmth he might employ his art:
At length he perched himself in Stella's joyful face,
Whose fair skin, beamy eyes, like morning sun on snow,
Deceived the quaking boy, who thought from so pure light
Effects of lively heat must needs in nature grow.
But she most fair, most cold, made him thence take his flight
To my close heart, where while some firebrands he did lay,
He burnt un'wares his wings, and cannot fly away.
Queen Virtue's court, which some call Stella's face,
Prepared by Nature's choicest furniture,
Hath his front built of alabaster pure;
Gold in the covering of that stately place.
The door by which sometimes comes forth her Grace
Red porphir is, which lock of pearl makes sure,
Whose porches rich (which name of cheeks endure)
Marble mixed red and white do interlace.
The windows now through which this heav'nly guest
Looks o'er the world, and can find nothing such,
Which dare claim from those lights the name of best,
Of touch they are that without touch doth touch,
Which Cupid's self from Beauty's mine did draw:
Of touch they are, and poor I am their straw.
Reason, in faith thou art well served , that still
Wouldst brabbling be with sense and love in me:
I rather wished thee climb the Muses' hill,
Or reach the fruit of Nature's choicest tree,
Or seek heav'n's course, or heav'n's inside to see:
Why shouldst thou toil our thorny soil to till?
Leave sense, and those which sense's objects be:
Deal thou with powers of thoughts, leave love to will.
But thou wouldst needs fight both with love and sense,
With sword of wit, giving wounds of dispraise,
Till downright blows did foil thy cunning fence:
For soon as they strake thee with Stella's rays,
Reason thou kneeled'st, and offered'st straight to prove
By reason good, good reason her to love.
In truth, oh Love, with what a boyish kind
Thou doest proceed in thy most serious ways:
That when the heav'n to thee his best displays,
Yet of that best thou leav'st the best behind.
For like a child that some fair book doth find,
With gilded leaves or colored vellum plays,
Or at the most on some find picture stays,
But never heeds the fruit of writer's mind:
So when thou saw'st in Nature's cabinet
Stella, thou straight lookst babies in her eyes,
In her cheek's pit thou didst thy pitfall set:
And in her breast bopeep or couching lies,
Playing and shining in each outward part:
But, fool, seekst not to get into her heart.
Cupid, because thou shin'st in Stella's eyes,
That from her locks, thy day-nets, none scapes free,
That those lips swell, so full of thee they be,
That her sweet breath makes oft thy flames to rise,
That in her breast thy pap well sugared lies,
That he Grace gracious makes thy wrongs, that she
What words so ere she speak persuades for thee,
That her clear voice lifts thy fame to the skies:
Thou countest Stella thine, like those whose powers
Having got up a breach by fighting well,
Cry, "Victory, this fair day all is ours."
Oh no, her heart is such a citadel,
So fortified with wit, stored with disdain,
That to win it, is all the skill and pain.
Phoebus was judge between Jove, Mars, and Love,
Of those three gods, whose arms the fairest were:
Jove's golden shield did eagle sables bear,
Whose talons held young Ganymede above:
But in vert field Mars bare a golden spear,
Which through a bleeding heart his point did shove:
Each had his crest; Mars carried Venus' glove,
Jove in his helm the thunderbolt did rear.
Cupid them smiles, for on his crest there lies
Stella's fair hair, her face he makes his shield,
Where roses gules are borne in silver field.
Phoebus drew wide the curtains of the skies
To blaze these last, and sware devoutly then,
The first, thus matched , were scantly gentlemen.
Alas, have I not pain enough, my friend,
Upon whose breast a fiercer gripe doth tire,
Than did on him who first stole down the fire,
While Love on me doth all his quiver spend,
But with your rhubarb words you must contend,
To grieve me worse, in saying that desire
Doth plunge my well-formed soul even in the mire
Of sinful thoughts, which do in ruin end?
If that be sin which doth the manners frame,
Well stayed with truth in word and faith of deed,
Ready of wit and fearing nought but shame:
If that be sin which in fixed hearts doth breed
A loathing of all loose unchastity,
Then love is sin, and let me sinful be.
You that do search for every purling spring,
Which from the ribs of old Parnassus flows,
And every flower, not sweet perhaps, which grows
Near thereabouts, into your poesy wring;
You that do dictionary's method bring
Into your rimes, running in rattling rows;
You that poor Petrarch's long-deceased woes,
With new-born sighs and denizened wit do sing,
You take wrong ways: those far-fet helps be such
As do bewray a want of inward touch:
And sure at length stol'n goods do come to light.
But if (both for your love and skill) your name
You seek to nurse at fullest breasts of Fame,
Stella behold, and then begin to endite.
In nature apt to like when I did see
Beauties, which were of many carats fine,
My boiling sprites did thither soon incline,
And, Love, I thought that I was full of thee:
But finding not those restless flames in me,
Which others said did make their souls to pine,
I thought those babes of some pin's hurt did whine,
By my love judging what love's pain might be.
But while I thus with this young lion played,
Mine eyes (shall I say curst or blest?) beheld
Stella; now she is named , need more be said?
In her sight I a lesson new have spelled ,
I now hav learned Love right, and learned even so,
As who by being poisoned doth poison know.
His mother dear Cupid offended late,
Because that Mars grown slacker in her love,
With pricking shot he did not throughly more
To keep the pace of their first loving state.
The boy refused for fear of Mars's hate,
Who threatened stripes, if he his wrath did prove:
But she in chafe him from her lap did shove,
Brake bow, brake shafts, while Cupid weeping sate:
Till that his grandame Nature pityijng it
Of stella's brows make him two better bows,
And in her eyes of arrows infinite.
Oh how for joy he leaps, oh how he crows,
And straight therewith like wags new got to play,
Falls to shrewd turns, and I was in his way.
With what sharp checks I in myself am shent,
When into Reason's audit I do go:
And by just counts myself a bankrupt know
Of all the goods, which heav'n to me hath lent:
Unable quite to pay even Nature's rent,
Which unto it by birthright I do owe:
And, which is worse, no good excuse can show,
But that my wealth I have most idly spend.
My youth doth waste, my knowledge brings forth toys,
My wit doth strive those passions to defend,
Which for reward spoil it with vain annoys.
I see my course to lose myself doth bend:
I see and yet no greater sorrow take,
Than that I lose no more for Stella's sake.
On Cupid's bow how are my heartstrings bent,
That see my wrack, and yet embrace the same?
When most I glory, then I feel most shame:
I willing run, yet while I run, repent.
My best wits still their own disgrace invent:
My very ink turns straight to Stella's name;
And yet my words, as them my pen doth frame,
Avise themselves that they are vainly spent.
For though she pass all things, yet what is all
That unto me, who fare like him that both
Looks to the skies and in a ditch doth fall?
Oh let me prop my mind, yet in his growth,
And not in Nature, for best fruits unfit:
"Scholar," saith Love, "bend hitherward your wit."
Fly, fly, my friends, I have my death wound; fly!
See there that boy, that murthering boy I say,
Who like a thief, hid in dark bush doth lie,
Till bloody bullet get him wrongful prey.
So tyrant he no fitter place could spy,
Nor so fair level in so secret stay,
As that sweet black which veils the heav'nly eye:
There himself with his shot he close doth lay.
Poor passenger, pass now thereby I did,
And stayed pleased with the prospect of the place,
While that black hue from me the bad guest hid:
But straight I saw motions of lightning grace,
And then descried the glist'ring of his dart:
But ere I could fly hence, it pierced my heart.
Your words, my friend, (right healthful caustics) blame
My young mind marred , whom Love doth windlass so,
That mine own writings like bad servants show
My wits, quick in vain thoughts, in virtue lame;
That Plato I read for nought, but if he tame
Such doltish gyres; that to my birth I owe
Nobler desires, lest else that friendly foe,
Great Expectation, were a train of shame.
For since mad March great promise made of me,
If now the May of my years much decline,
What can be hoped my harvest time will be?
Sure you say well, "Your wisdom's golden mine,
Dig deep with learning's spade." Now tell me this,
Hath this world aught so fair as Stella is?
In highest way of heav'n the Sun did ride,
Progressing then from fair twins' golden place:
Having no scarf of clouds before his face,
But shining forth of heat in his chief pride;
When some fair ladies by hard promise tied,
On horseback met him in his furious race,
Yet each prepared with fan's well-shading grace
From that foe's wounds their tender skins to hide.
Stella alone with face unarmed marched .
Either to do like him which open shone,
Or careless of the wealth because her own:
Yet were the hid and meaner beauties parched ,
Her daintiest bare went free; the cause was this,
The Sun, which others burned , did her but kiss.
The curious wits seeing dull pensiveness
Bewray itself in my long settled eyes,
Whence those same fumes of melancholy rise,
With idle pains, and missing aim, do guess.
Some that know how my spring I did address,
Deem that my Muse some fruit of knowledge plies:
Others, because the Prince my service tries,
Think that I think state errors to redress.
But harder judges judge ambition's rage,
Scourge of itself, still climbing slipp'ry place,
Holds my young brain catived in golden cage.
Oh Fools, or over-wise, alas the race
Of all my thoughts hath neither stop nor start,
But only Stella's eyes and Stella's heart.
Rich fools there be, whose base and filthy heart
Lies hatching still the goods wherein they flow:
And damning their own selves to Tantal's smart,
Wealth breeding want, more blist more wretched grow.
Yet to those fools heav'n such wit doth impart
As what their hands do hold, their heads do know,
And knowing love, and loving, lay apart,
As sacred things, far from all danger's show.
But that rich fool who by blind Fortune's lot
The richest gem of love and life enjoys,
And can with foul abuse such beauties blot;
Let him, deprived of sweet but unfelt joys,
(Exiled for aye from those high treasures, which
He knows not) grow in only folly rich.
The wisest scholar of the wight most wise
By Phoebus' doom, with sugared sentence says,
That Virtue, if it once met with our eyes,
Strange flames of love it in our souls would raise;
But for that man with pain his truth descries,
Whiles he each thing in sense's balance weighs,
And so nor will, nor can behold those skies
Which inward sun to heroic mind displays,
Virtue of late with virtuous care to stir
Love of herself, took Stella's shape, that she
To mortal eyes might sweetly shine in her.
It is most true, for since I her did see,
Virtue's great beauty in that face I prove,
And find th'effect, for I do burn in love.
Though dusty wits dare scorn astrology,
And fools can think those lamps of purest light
Whose numbers, ways, greatness, eternity,
Promising wonders, wonder do invite,
To have for no cause birthright in the sky,
But for to spangle the black weeds of night:
Or for some brawl, which in that chamber high,
They should still dance to please a gazer's sight;
For me, I do Nature unidle know,
And know great causes, great effects procure:
And know those bodies high reign on the low.
And if these rules did fail, proof makes me sure,
Who oft fore-judge my after-following race,
By only those two stars in Stella's face.
Because I oft in dark abstracted guise
Seem most alone in greatest company,
With dearth of words, or answers quite awry,
To them that would make speech of speech arise,
They deem, and of their doom the rumor flies,
That poison foul of bubbling pride doth lie
So in my swelling breast that only I
Fawn on myself, and others do despise:
Yet pride I think doth not my soul possess,
Which looks too oft in his unflatt'ring glass:
But one worse fault, ambition, I confess,
That makes me oft my best friends overpass,
Unseen, unheard, while though to highest place
Bends all his powers, even unto Stella's grace.
You that with allegory's curious frame,
Of others' children changelings use to make,
With me those pains for God's sake do not take:
I list not dig so deep for brazen fame.
When I say "Stella," I do mean the same
Princess of Beauty, for whose only sake
The reins of Love I love, though never slake,
And joy therein, though nations count it shame.
I beg no subject to use eloquence,
Nor in hid ways do guide Philosophy:
Look at my hands for no such quintessence;
But know that I in pure simplicity
Breathe out the flames which burn within my heart
Love only reading unto me this art.
Like some weak lords, neighbored by mighty kings,
To keep themselves and their chief cities free,
Do easily yield, that all their coasts may be
Ready to store their camps of needful things:
So Stella's heart finding what power Love brings,
To keep itself in life and liberty,
Doth willing grant, that in the frontiers he
Use all to help his other conquerings:
And thus her heart escapes, but thus her eyes
Serve him with shot, her lips his heralds are;
Her breasts his tents, legs his triumphal car;
Her flesh his food, her skin his armor brave,
And I, but for because my prospect lies
Upon that coast, am giv'n up for a slave.
Whether the Turkish new moon minded be
To fill his horns this year on Christian coast;
How Poles' right king means, with leave of host,
To warm with ill-made fire cold Muscovy;
If French can yet three parts in one agree;
What now the Dutch in their full diets boast;
How Holland hearts, now so good towns be lost,
Trust in the shade of pleasing Orange tree;
How Ulster likes of that same golden bit
Wherewith my father once made it half tame;
If in the Scotch court be no welt'ring yet:
These questions busy wits to me do frame.
I, cumbered with good manners, answer do,
But know not how, for still I think of you.
With how sad steps, oh Moon, thou climb'st the skies,
How silently, and with how wan a face.
What, may it be, that even in heav'nly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries?
Sure, if that long with Love acquainted eyes
Can judge of Love, thou feel'st a lover's case;
I read it in thy looks; thy languished grace
To me that feel the like, thy state descries.
Then ev'n of fellowship, oh Moon, tell me
Is constant love deemed there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here thy be?
Do they above love to be loved , and yet
Those lovers scorn whom that Love doth possess?
Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?
Morpheus the lively son of deadly sleep,
Witness of life to them that living die,
A prophet oft, and oft an history,
A poet eke, as humors fly or creep,
Since thou in me so sure a power dost keep,
That never I with closed -up sense do lie,
But by thy work my Stella I descry,
Teaching blind eyes both how to smile and weep;
Vouchsafe of all acquaintance this to tell:
Whence hast thou ivory, rubies, pearl and gold,
To show her skin, lips, teeth, and head so well?
"Fool," answers he, "no Indies such treasures hold,
But from thy heart, while my sire charmeth thee,
Sweet Stella's image I do steal to me."
I might, unhappy word, oh me, I might,
And then would not, or could not see my bliss;
Till now, wrapt in a most infernal night,
I find how heav'nly day, wretch, I did miss.
Heart, rend thyself, thou dost thyself but right;
No lovely Paris made thy Helen his:
No force, no fraud, robbed thee of thy delight,
Nor Fortune of thy fortune author is:
But to myself my self did give the blow,
While too much wit (forsooth) so troubled me,
That I respects for both our sakes must show:
And yet could not by rising morn foresee
How fair a day was near, oh punished eyes,
That I had been more foolish or more wise.
Come, let me write. "And to what end?" To ease
A burthened heart. "How can words ease, which are
The glasses of thy daily vexing care?"
Oft cruel fights well pictured forth do please.
"Art not ashamed to publish thy disease?"
Nay, that may breed my fame, it is so rare.
"But will not wise men think thy words fond ware?"
Then be they close, and so none shall displease.
"What idler thing than speak and not be heard?"
What harder thing than smart, and not to speak?
Peace, foolish wit, with wit my wit is marred .
Thus write I while I doubt to write, and wreak
My harms on ink's poor loss; perhaps some find
Stella's great powers, that so confuse my mind.
What may words say, or what may words not say,
Where truth itself must speak like flattery?
Within what bounds can one his liking stay,
Where Nature doth with infinite agree?
What Nestor's counsel can my flames allay,
Since Reason's self doth blow the coal in me?
And ah what hope, that hope should once see day,
Where Cupid is sworn page to Chastity?
Honor is honored , that thou dost possess
Him as thy slave, and now long needy Fame
Doth even grow rich, naming my Stella's name.
Wit learns in thee perfection to express,
Not thou by praise, but prasie in thee is raised :
It is a praise to praise, when thou art praised .
Stella, whence doth this new assault arise,
A conquered , yielden, ransacked heart to win?
Whereto long since through my long battered eyes,
Whole armies of thy beauties entered in.
And there long since, Love thy lieutenant lies,
My forces razed , thy banners raised within:
Of conquest, do not these effects suffice,
But wilt now war upon thine own begin?
With so sweet voice, and by sweet Nature so
In sweetest strength, so sweetly skilled withal,
In all sweet stratagems sweet Art can show,
That not my soul, which at thy foot did fall
Long since, forced by thy beams, but stone nor tree
By Sense's privilege, can 'scape from thee.
My mouth doth water, and my breast doth swell,
My tongue doth itch, my thoughts in labor be:
Listen then, lordings, with good ear to me,
For of my life I must a riddle tell.
Toward Aurora's court a nymph doth dwell,
Rich in all beauties which man's eye can see:
Beauties so far from reach of words, that we
Abase her praise, saying she doth excel:
Rich in the treasure of deserved renown,
Rich in the riches of a royal heart,
Rich in those gifts which give th'eternal crown;
Who though most rich in these and every part,
Which make the patents of true worldly bliss,
Hath no misfortune, but that Rich she is.
This night while sleep begins with heavy wings
To hatch mine eyes, and that unbitted thought
Doth fall to stray, and my chief powers are brought
To leave the scepter of all subject things,
The first that straight my fancy's error brings
Unto my mind, is Stella's image, wrought
By Love's own self, but with so curious draught,
That she, methinks, not only shines but sings.
I start, look, hark, but what in closed -up sense
Was held, in opened sense it flies away,
Leaving me nought but wailing eloquence:
I, seeing betters sights in sight's decay,
Called it anew, and wooed sleep again:
But him her host that unkind guest had slain.
Come sleep, oh sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release,
Th'indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof shield me from out the prease
Of those fierce darts, Despair at me doth throw:
Oh make in me those civil wars to cease;
I will good tribute pay if thou do so:
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf to noise and blind to light;
A rosy garland, and a weary head;
And if these things, as being thine by right,
Move not thy heavy Grace, thou shalt in me
Livelier than elsewhere Stella's image see.
As good to write as for to lie and groan,
Oh Stella dear, how much thy power hath wrought,
That hast my mind, none of the basest, brought
My still-kept course, while others sleep, to moan.
Alas, if from the height of Virtue's throne,
Thou canst vouchsafe the influence of a thought
Upon a wretch, that long thy grace hath sought;
Weigh then how I by thee am overthrown:
And then, think thus, although thy beauty be
Made manifest by such a victory,
Yet noblest conquerors do wrecks avoid.
Since then thou hast so far subdued me,
That in my heart I offer still to thee,
Oh do not let thy Temple be destroyed.
Having this day my horse, my hand, my lance
Guided so well, that I obtained the prize,
Both by the judgment of the Englsih eyes,
And of some sent from that sweet enemy France;
Horsemen my skill in horsemanship advance,
Town-folks my strength; a daintier judge applies
His praise to sleight, which from good use doth rise;
Some lucky wits impute it but to chance;
Others, because of both sides I do take
My blood from them who did escel in this,
Think Nature me a man of arms did make.
How far they shot awry! the true cause is,
Stella looked on, and from her heav'nly face
Sent forth the beams, which made so fair my race.
Oh eyes, which do the spheres of beauty move,
Whose beams be joys, whose joys all virtues be,
Who while they make Love conquer, conquer Love,
The schools where Venus hath learned chastity;
Oh eyes, whose humble looks most glorious prove,
Only loved tyrants, just in cruelty,
Do not, oh do not from poor me remove,
Keep still my zenith, ever shine on me.
For though I never see them, but straightways
My life forgets to nourish languished sprites;
Yet still on me, oh eyes, dart down your rays:
And if from majesty of sacred lights,
Oppressing mortal sense, my death proceed,
Wracks triumphs be, which Love (high set) doth breed.
Fair eyes, sweet lips, dear heart, that foolish I
Could hope by Cupid's help on you to prey;
Since to himself he doth your gifts apply,
As his main force, choice sport, and easeful stay.
For when he will see who dare him gainsay,
Then with those eyes he looks, lo by and by
Each soul doth at Love's feet his weapons lay,
Glad if for her he give them leave to die.
When he will play, then in her lips he is,
Where blushing red, that Love's self them doth love,
With either lip he doth the other kiss:
But when he will for quiet's sake remove
From all the world, her heart is then his room
Where well he knows, no man to him can come.
My words I know do well set forth my mind,
My mind bemoans his sense of inward smart;
Such smart may pity claim of any heart,
Her heart, sweet heart, is of no tiger's kind:
And yet she hears, yet I no pity find;
But more I cry, less grace she doth impart,
Alas, what cause is there so overthwart,
That nobleness itself makes thus unkind?
I much do guess, yet find no truth save this:
That when the breath of my complaints doth touch
Those dainty doors unto the court of bliss,
The heav'nly nature of that place is such,
That once come there, the sobs of mine annoys
Are metamorphosed straight to tunes of joys.
Stella oft sees the very face of woe
Painted in my beclouded stormy face:
But cannot skill to pity my disgrace,
Not though thereof the cause herself she know:
Yet hearing late a fable, which did show
Of lovers never known, a grievous case,
Pity thereof gat in her breast such place
That, from that sea derived , tears' spring did flow.
Alas, if fancy drawn by imaged things,
Though false, yet with free scope more grace doth breed
Than servant's wrack, where new doubts honor brings;
Then think, my dear, that you in me do read
Of lovers' ruin some sad tragedy:
I am not I, pity the tale of me.
I cursed thee oft, I pity now thy case,
Blind-hitting boy, since she that thee and me
Rules with a beck, so tyrannizeth thee,
That thou must want or food, or dwelling place,
For she protest to banish thee her face.
Her face? Oh Love, a rogue thou then shouldst be!
If Love learn not alone to love and see,
Without desire to feed of further grace.
Alas poor wag, that now a scholar art
To such a schoolmistress, whose lessons new
Thou needs must miss, and so thou needs must smart.
Yet dear, let me his pardon get of you,
So long (though he from book miche to desire)
Till without fuel you can make hot fire.
What, have I thus betrayed my liberty?
Can those black beams such burning marks engrave
In my free side? or am I born a slave,
Whose neck becomes such yoke of tyranny?
Or want I sense to feel my misery?
Or sprite, disdain of such disdain to have,
Who for long faith, though daily help I crave,
May get no alms but scorn of beggary?
Virtue awake, beauty but beauty is;
I may, I must, I can, I will, I do
Leave following that, which it is gain to miss.
Let her go! Soft, but here she comes. Go to,
Unkind, I love you not. Oh me, that eye
Doth make my heart give to my tongue the lie.
Soul's joy, bend not those morning stars from me,
Where Virtue is made strong by Beauty's might,
Where Love is chasteness, Pain doth learn delight,
And Humbleness grows one with Majesty.
Whatever may ensue, oh let me be
Copartner of the riches of that sight:
Let not mine eyes be hell-driv'n from that light:
Oh look, oh shine, oh let me die and see.
For though I oft myself of them bemoan,
That through my heart their beamy darts be gone,
Whose cureless wounds ev'n now most freshly bleed:
Yet since my death-wound is already got,
Dear killer, spare not thy sweet cruel shot:
A kind of grace it is to kill with speed.
I on my horse, and Love on me doth try
Our horsemanships, while by strange work I prove
A horseman to my horse, a horse to Love;
And now man's wrongs in me, poor beast, descry.
The reins wherewith my rider doth me tie,
Are humbled thoughts, which bit of reverence move,
Curbed in with fear, but with gilt boss above
Of hope, which makes it seem fair to the eye.
The wand is will; thou, fancy, saddle art,
Girt fast by memory, and while I spur
My horse, he spurs with sharp desire my heart:
He sits me fast, however I do stir:
And now hath made me to his hand so right,
That in the manage my self takes delight.
Stella, the fullness of my thoughts of thee
Cannot be stayed within my panting breast,
But they do swell and struggle forth of me,
Till that in words thy figure be expressed .
And yet as soon as they so formed be,
According to my Lord Love's own behest:
With sad eyes I their weak proportion see,
To portrait that which in this world is best.
So that I cannot choose but write my mind,
And cannot choose but put out what I write,
While these poor babes their death in birth do find:
And now my pen these lines had dashed quite,
But that they stopped his fury from the same,
Because their forefront bare sweet Stella's name.
Pardon mine ears, both I and they do pray,
So may your tongue still fluently proceed,
To them that do such entertainment need,
So may you still have somewhat new to say.
On silly me do not the burden lay,
Of all the grave conceits your brain doth breed;
But find some Hercules to bear, instead
Of Atlas tired , your wisdom's heav'nly sway.
For me, while you discourse of courtly tides,
Of cunning fishers in most troubled streams,
Of straying ways, when valiant error guides:
Meanwhile my heart confers with Stella's beams
And is even irked that so sweet comedy,
By such unsuited speech should hindered be.
A strife is grown between Virtue and Love,
While each pretends that Stella must be his:
Her eyes, her lips, her all, saith Love, do this
Since they do wear his badge, most firmly prove.
But Virtue thus that title doth disprove:
That Stella (oh dear name) that Stella is
That virtuous soul, sure heir of heav'nly bliss,
Not this fair outside, which our hearts doth move;
And therefore, though her beauty and her grace
Be Love's indeed, in Stella's self he may
By no pretense claim any manner place.
Well, Love, since this demur our suit will stay,
Let Virtue have that Stella's self; yet thus
That Virtue but that body grant to us.
In martial sports I had my cunning tried,
And yet to break more staves did me address:
While, with the people's shouts, I must confess,
Youth, luck, and praise, ev'n filled my veins with pride;
When Cupid having me his slave descried,
In Mars's livery, prancing in the press:
"What now, Sir Fool," said he; I would no less.
"Look here, I say." I looked and Stella spied,
Who hard by made a window send forth light.
My heart then quaked , then dazzled were mine eyes;
One hand forgot to rule, th'other to fight.
Nor trumpet's sound I heard, nor friendly cries;
My foe came on, and beat the air for me,
Till that her blush taught me my shame to see.
Because I breathe not love to every one,
Nor do not use set colors for to wear,
Nor nourish special locks of vowed hair,
Nor give each speech the full point of a groan,
The courtly nymphs, acquainted with the moan
Of them, who in their lips Love's standard bear;
"What he?" say they of me. "Now I dare swear,
He cannot love. No, no, let him alone."
And think so still, so Stella know my mind,
Profess indeed I do not Cupid's art;
But you, fair maids, at length this true shall find:
That his right badge is worn but in the heart;
Dumb swans, not chatt'ring pies, do lovers prove;
They love indeed, who quake to say they love.
Muses, I oft invoked your holy aid,
With choicest flow'rs my speech t'engarland so
That it, despised in true by naked show,
Might win some grace in your sweet grace arrayed .
And oft whole troops of saddest words I stayed ,
Striving abroad a-foraging to go;
Until by your inspiring I might know
How their black banner might be best displayed .
But now I mean no more your help to try,
Nor other sug'ring of my speech to prove,
But on her name incessantly to cry:
For let me but name her whom I do love
So sweet sounds straight mine ear and heart do hit,
That I well find no eloquence like it.
Fie, school of Patience, fie! your lesson is
Far, far too long to learn it without book:
What, a whole week without one piece of look,
And think I should not your large precepts miss?
When I might read those letters fair of bliss,
Which in her face teach virtue, I could brook
Somewhat thy leaden counsels, which I took
As of a friend that meant not much amiss:
But now that I, alas, do want her sight,
What, dost thou think that I can ever take
In thy cold stuff a phlegmatic delight?
No, Patience, if thou wilt my good, then make
Her come, and hear with patience my desire,
And then with patience bid me bear my fire.
Woe, having made with many fights his own
Each sense of mine; each gift, each power of mind
Grown now his slaves, he forced them out to find
The thoroughest words, fit for Woe's self to groan,
Hoping that when they might find Stella alone,
Before she could prepare to be unkind,
Her soul, armed but with such a dainty rind,
Should soon be pierced with sharpness of the moan.
She heard my plaints, and did not only hear,
But them (so sweet is she) most sweetly sing,
With that fair breast making woe's darkness clear:
A pretty case! I hoped her to bring
To feel my griefs, and she with face and voice
So sweets my pains, that my pains me rejoice.
Doubt there hath been, when with his golden chain
The Orator so far men's hearts doth bind,
That no place else their guided steps can find,
But as he them more short or slack doth rein,
Whether with words this sovereignty he gain,
Clothed with fine tropes, with strongest reasons lined ,
Or else pronouncing grace, wherewith his mind
Prints his own lively form in rudest brain:
Now judge by this, in piercing phrases late,
Th'anatomy of all my woes I wrate;
Stella's sweet breath the same to me did read.
Oh voice, oh face! maugre my speech's might,
Which wooed woe, most ravishing delight
E'en those sad words, e'en in sad me did breed.
Dear, why make you more of a dog than me?
If he do love, I burn, I burn in love;
If he wait well, I never thence would move;
If he be fair, yet but a dog can be.
Little he is, so little worth is he;
He barks, my songs thine own voice oft doth prove:
Bidden perhaps he fetcheth thee a glove,
But I unbid, fetch ev'n my soul to thee.
Yet while I languish, him that bosom clips,
That lap doth lap, nay lets in spite of spite
This sour-breathed mate taste of those sugared lips.
Alas, if you grant only such delight
To witless things, then Love I hope (since wit
Becomes a clog) will soon ease me of it.
When my good angel guides me to the place,
Where all my good I do in Stella see,
That heav'n of joys throws only down on me
Thundered disdains and lightnings of disgrace:
But when the rugg'st step of Fortune's race
Makes me fall from her sight, then sweetly she
With words, wherein the Muses' treasures be,
Shows love and pity to my absent case.
Now I, wit-beaten long by hardest Fate,
So dull am, that I cannot look into
The ground of this fierce Love and lovely hate:
Then some good body tell me how I do,
Whose presence absence, absence presence is;
Blest in my curse, and cursed in my bliss.
Oft with true sighs, oft with uncalled tears,
Now with slow words, now with dumb eloquence
I Stella's eyes assail, invade her ears;
But this at last is her sweet breathed defense:
That who indeed infelt affection bears,
So captives to his saint both soul and sense,
That wholly hers, all selfness he forbears,
Thence his desires he learns, his life's course thence.
Now since her chaste mind hates this love in me,
With chastened mind, I straight must show that she
Shall quickly me from what she hates remove.
Oh Doctor Cupid, thou for me reply,
Driv'n else to grant by angel's sophistry,
That I love not, without I leave to love.
Late tired with woe, ev'n ready for to pine,
With rage of love, I called my love unkind;
She in whose eyes Love, though unfelt, doth shine,
Sweet said that I true love in her should find.
I joyed, but straight thus watered was my wine,
That love she did, but loved a Love not blind,
Which would not let me, whom she loved, decline
From nobler course, fit for my birth and mind:
And therefore by her love's authority,
Willed me these tempests of vain love to flee,
And anchor fast myself on Virtue's shore.
Alas, if this the only metal be
Of Love, new-coined to help my beggary,
Dear, love me not, that you may love me more.
Oh grammar rules, oh now your virtues show
So children still read you with awefull eyes,
As my young dove may in your precepts wise
Her grant to me, by her own virtue know.
For late, with heart most high, with eyes most low,
I craved the thing which ever she denies:
She, lightning Love, displaying Venus' skies,
Lest once should not be heard, twice said, "No, No."
Sing then, my Muse, now Io Paean sing,
Heav'n's envy not at my high triumphing:
But grammar's force with sweet success confirm:
For grammar says (oh this, dear Stella, weigh,)
For grammar says (to grammar who says nay?)
That in one speech two negatives affirm.
Doubt you to whom my Muse these notes intendeth,
Which now my breast o'ercharged to music lendeth?
To you, to you. all song of praise is due;
Only in you my song begins and endeth.
Who hath the eyes which marry state with pleasure,
Who keeps the key of Nature's chiefest treasure?
To you, to you, all song of praise is due;
Only for you the heav'n forgat all measure.
Who hath the lips, where wit in fairness reigneth,
Who womankind at once both decks and staineth?
To you, to you, all song of praise is due;
Only by you Cupid his crown maintaineth.
Who hath the feet, whose step all sweetness planteth,
Who else for whom Fame worthy trumpets wanteth?
To you, to you, all song of praise is due;
Only to you her scepter Venus granteth.
Who hath the breast, whose milk doth passions nourish,
Whose grace is such, that when it chides doth cherish?
To you, to you, all song of praise is due;
Only through you the tree of life doth flourish.
Who hath the hand which without stroke subdueth,
Who long dead beauty with increase reneweth?
To you, to you, all song of praise is due;
Only to you all envy hopeless rueth.
Who hath the hair which, loosest, fastest tieth,
Who makes a man live, then glad when he dieth?
To you, to you, all song of praise is due;
Only of you the flatterer never lieth.
Who hath the voice, which soul from senses sunders,
Whose force but yours the bolts of beauty thunders?
To you, to you, all song of praise is due;
Only with you are miracles not wonders.
Doubt you to whom my Muse these notes intendeth,
Which now my breast o'ercharged to music lendeth?
To you, to you, all song of praise is due;
Only in you my song begins and endeth.
No more, my dear, no more these counsels try,
Oh give my passions leave to run their race:
Let Fortune lay on me her worst disgrace,
Let folk o'ercharged with brain against me cry,
Let clouds bedim my face, break in mine eye,
Let me no steps but of lost labor trace,
Let all the earth with scorn recount my case,
But do not will me from my love to fly.
I do not envy Aristotle's wit,
Nor do aspire to Caesar's bleeding fame;
Nor aught do care, though some above me sit;
Nor hope, nor wish another course to frame,
But that which once may win thy cruel heart:
Thou art my wit, and thou my virtue art.
Love by sure proof I may call thee unkind,
That giv'st no better ear to my just cries:
Thou whom to me such my good turns should bind,
As I may well recount, but none can prize:
For when, naked boy, thou couldst no harbor find
In this old world, grown now so too too wise,
I lodged thee in my heart, and being blind
By nature born, I gave to thee mine eyes.
Mine eyes, my light, my heart, my life alas,
If so great services may scorned be,
Yet let this thought thy tigrish courage pass:
That I perhaps am somewhat kin to thee,
Since in thine arms, if learned fame truth hath spread,
Thou bear'st the arrow, I the arrowhead.
And do I see some cause a hope to feed,
Or doth the tedious burden of long woe
In weakened minds, quick apprehension breed,
Of every image which may comfort show?
I cannot brag of word, much less of deed;
Fortune wheels still with me in one sort slow:
My wealth no more, and no whit less my need,
Desire still on the stilts of Fear doth go.
And yet amid all fears a hope there is
Stol'n to my heart, since last fair night, nay day,
Stella's eyes sent to me the beams of bliss,
Looking on me, while I looked other way:
But when mine eyes back to their heav'n did move,
They fled with blush, which guilty seemed of love.
Hope, art thou true, or dost thou flatter me?
Doth Stella now begin with piteous eye
The ruins of her conquest to espy:
Will she take time, before all wracked be?
Her eye's speech is translated thus by thee.
But failst thou not in phrase so heav'nly high?
Look on again, the fair text better try:
What blushing notes dost thou in margin see?
What sighs stol'n out, or killed before full born?
Hast thou found such and such like arguments?
Or art thou else to comfort me foresworn?
Well, how so thou interpret the contents,
I am resolved thy error to maintain,
Rather than by more truth to get more pain.
Stella, the only planet of my light,
Light of my life, and life of my desire,
Chief good, whereto my hope doth only aspire,
World of my wealth, and heav'n of my delight:
Why dost thou spend the treasure of thy sprite,
With voice more fit to wed Amphion's lyre,
Seeking to quench in me the noble fire
Fed by thy worth, and kindled by thy sight?
And all in vain, for while thy breath most sweet,
With choicest words, thy words with reasons rare,
Thy reasons firmly set on Virtue's feet,
Labor to kill in me this killing care:
Oh, think I then, what paradise of joy
It is, so fair a Virtue to enjoy.
Oh joy, too high for my low style to show:
Oh bliss, fit for a nobler state than me:
Envy, put out thine eyes, lest thou do see
What oceans of delight in me do flow.
My friend, that oft saw through all masks my woe,
Come, come, and let me pour myself on thee;
Gone is the winter of my misery,
My spring appears, oh see what here doth grow.
For Stella hath with words where faith doth shine,
Of her high heart giv'n me the monarchy:
I, I, oh I may say that she is mine,
And though she give but thus condition'ly
This realm of bliss, while virtuous course I take,
No kings be crowned , but they some covenants make.
My Muse may well grudge at my heav'nly joy,
If still I force her in sad rimes to creep:
She oft hath drunk my tears, now hopes t'enjoy
Nectar of mirth, since I Jove's cup do keep.
Sonnets be not bound prentice to annoy:
Trebles sing high, as well as basses deep:
Grief but Love's winter livery is, the boy
Hath cheeks to smile, as well as eyes to weep.
Come then, my Muse, show thou height of delight
In well-raised notes, my pen the best it may
Shall paint out joy, though but in black and white.
Cease, eager Muse; peace, pen, for my sake stay;
I give you here my hand for truth of this:
Wise silence is best music unto bliss.
Who will in fairest book of Nature know
How Virtue may best lodged in beauty be;
Let him but learn of Love to read in thee,
Stella, those fair lines which true goodness show.
There shall he find all vices' overthrow,
Not by rude force, but sweetest sovereignty
Of Reason, from whose light those night birds flee;
That inward sun in thine eyes shineth so.
And no content to be Perfection's heir
Thyself, dost strive all minds that way to move,
Who mark in thee what is in thee most fair.
So while thy beauty draws the heart to love,
As fast thy virtue bends that love to good:
"But ah," Desire still cries, "give me some food."
Desire, though thou my old companion art,
And oft so clings to my pure love, that I
One from the other scarcely can descry,
While each doth blow the fire of my heart;
Now from thy felloswhip I needs must part,
Venus is taught with Dian's wings to fly:
I must no more in thy sweet passions lie;
Virtue's gold now must head my Cupid's dart.
Service and honor, wonder with delight,
Fear to offend, will worthy to appear,
Care shining in mine eyes, faith in my sprite:
These things are left me by my only dear;
But thou, Desire, because thou wouldst have all,
Now banished art. But yet alas how shall?
Have I caught my heav'nly jewel,
Teaching sleep most fair to be?
Now will I teach her that she,
When she wakes, is too, too cruel.
Since sweet sleep her eyes hath charmed ,
The two only darts of Love:
Now will I with that boy prove
Some play, while he is disarmed .
Her tongue waking still refuseth,
Giving frankly niggard "No":
Now will I attempt to know
What "No" her tongue sleeping useth.
See, the hand which waking guardeth,
Sleeping, grants a free resort:
Now will I invade the fort;
Cowards Love with loss rewardeth.
But, oh, fool, think of the danger
Of her just and high disdain:
Now will I alas refreain,
Love fears nothing else but anger.
Yet those lips so sweetly swelling
Do invite a stealing kiss:
Now will I but venture this,
Who will read must first learn spelling.
Oh sweet kiss. But ah, she is waking.
Lowering beauty chastens me:
Now will I away hence flee.
Fool! More fool for no more taking.
Love still a boy, and oft a wanton is,
Schooled only by his mother's tender eye:
What wonder then if he his lesson miss,
When for so soft a rod dear play he try?
And yet my Star, because a sugared kiss
In sport I sucked , while she asleep did lie,
Doth low'r, nay chide; nay, threat for only this:
Sweet, it was saucy Love, not humble I.
But no 'scuse serves, she makes her wrath appear
In Beauty's throne; see now who dares come near
Those scarlet judges, threat'ning bloody pain?
Oh heav'nly fool, thy most kiss-worthy face
Anger invests with such a lovely grace,
That Anger's self I needs must kiss again.
I never drank of Aganippe well,
Nor ever did in shade of Tempe sit,
And Muses scorn with vulgar brains to swell;
Poor layman I, for sacred rites unfit.
Some do I hear of poets' fury tell,
But (God wot) wot not what they mean by it:
And this I swear by blackest brook of hell,
I am no pick-purse of another's wit.
How fall it then, that with so smooth an ease
My thoughts I speak, and what I speak doth flow
In verse, and that my verse best wits doth please?
Guess we the cause. "What, it it thus?" Fie, no.
"Or so?" Much less. "How then?" Sure, thus it is:
My lips are sweet, inspired with Stella's kiss.
Of all the kings that ever here did reign,
Edward named Fourth, as first in praise I name;
Not for his fair outside, nor well-lined brain,
Although less gifts imp feathers oft on Fame:
Nor that he could young-wise, wise-valiant frame
His sire's revenge, joined with a kingdom's gain;
And, gained by Mars, could yet mad Mars so tame,
That balance weighed what sword did late obtain;
Nor that he made the Flow'r-de-luce so 'fraid,
Though strongly hedged of bloody Lion's paws,
That witty Lewis to him a tribute paid;
Nor this, nor that, nor any such small cause,
But only for this worthy knight durst prove
To lose his crown, rather than fail his love.
She comes, and straight therewith her shining twins do move
Their rays to me, who in her tedious absence lay
Benighted in cold woe; but now appears my day,
The only light of joy, the only warmth of love.
She comes with light and warmth, which like Aurora prove
Of gentle force, so that mine eyes dare gladly play
With such a rosy morn, whose beams most freshly gay
Scorch not, but only do dark chilling sprites remove.
But lo, while I do speak, it groweth noon with me,
Her flamy glist'ring lights increase with time and place;
My heart cries, Ah, it burns; mine eyes now dazzled be:
No wind, no shade can cool, what help then in my case,
But with short breath, long looks, staid feet and walking head,
Pray that my sun go down with meeker beams to bed.
Those looks, whose beams be joy, whose motion is delight,
That face, whose lecture shows what perfect beauty is:
That presence, which doth give dark hearts a living light:
That grace, which Venus weeps that she herself doth miss:
That hand, which without touch holds more than Atlas might:
Those lips, which make death's pay a mean price for a kiss:
That skin, skin, whose passed-praise hue scorns this poor term of white:
Those words, which do sublime the quintessence of bliss:
That voice, which makes the soul plant himself in the ears:
That conversation sweet, where such high comforts be,
As construed in true speech, the name of heav'n it bears,
Makes me in my best thought and quiet'st judgment see,
That in no more but these I might be fully blest:
Yet ah, my maiden Muse doth blush to tell the rest.
Oh how the pleasant airs of true love be
Infected by those vapors, which arise
From out that noisome gulf, which gaping lies
Between the jaws of hellish Jealousy:
A monster, others' harm, self-misery,
Beauty's plague, Virtue's scourge, succour of lies;
Who his own joy to his own hurt applies,
And only cherish doth with injury;
Who since he hath, by Nature's special grace,
So piercing paws as spoil when they embrace,
So nimble feet as stir still, though on thorns,
So many eyes ay seeking their own woe,
So ample ears as never good news know:
Is it not evil that such a Devil want horns?
Sweet kiss, thy sweets I fain would sweetly endite,
Which even of sweetness sweetest sweet'ner art:
Pleasing'st consort, where each sense holds a part;
Which, coupling doves, guides Venus' chariot right;
Best charge, and bravest retreat in Cupid's fight,
A double key, which opens to the heart,
Most rich, when most his riches it impart;
Nest of young joys, schoolmaster of delight,
Teaching the mean at once to take and give;
The friendly fray, where blows both wound and heal,
The pretty death, while each in other live;
Poor hope's first wealth, hostage of promised weal,
Breakfast of love. But lo! lo, where she is.
Cease we to praise; now pray we for a kiss.
Sweet swelling lip, well may'st thou swell in pride,
Since best wits think it wit thee to admire;
Nature's praise, Virtue's stall, Cupid's cold fire,
Whence words, not words but heav'nly graces, slide;
The new Parnassus, where the Muses bide,
Sweet'ner of music, wisdom's baeautifier:
Breather of life, and fast'ner of desire,
Where Beauty's blush in Honor's grain is dyed.
Thus much my heart compelled my mouth to say,
But now, spite of my heart, my mouth will stay,
Loathing all lies, doubting this flattery is:
And no spur can his resty race renew,
Without how far this praise is short of you,
Sweet lip, you teach my mouth with one sweet kiss.