Sir Philip Sidney. Astrophel and Stella, Sonnets 81-108, and songs.




Sonnets 81 - 108.


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A son of Sir Kenelm Digby, by Isaac Oliver, c. 1632.

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Astrophel and Stella, Part 1.



IR      PHILIP       IDNEY






Oh kiss, which dost those ruddy gems impart,
Or gems, or fruits of new-found Paradise,
Breathing all bliss and sweet'ning to the heart,
Teaching dumb lips a nobler exercise;
Oh kiss, which souls, even souls, together ties
By links of Love, and only Nature's art:
How fain would I paint thee to all men's eyes,
Or of thy gifts at least shade out some part;
But she forbids, with blushing words, she says
She builds her fame on higher-seated praise;
But my heart burns, I cannot silent be.
Then since (dear life) you fain would have me peace,
And I, mad with delight, want wit to cease,
Stop you my mouth with still, still kissing me.


Nymph of the garden where all beauties be,
Beauties which do in excellency pass
His who till death looked in a wat'ry glass,
Or hers, whom naked the Trojan boy did see;
Sweet garden nymph, which keeps the cherry tree
Whose fruit doth far th'Hesperian taste surpass;
Most sweet-fair, most fair-sweet, do not alas,
From coming near those cherries banish me:
For though full of desire, empty of wit,
Admitted late by your best-graced Grace,
I caught at one of them a hungry bit,
Pardon that fault. Once more grant me the place
And I do swear e'en by the same delight,
I will but kiss, I never more will bite.


Good, brother Philip, I have borne you long.
I was content you should in favor creep,
While craftily you seemed your cut to keep,
As though that fair soft hand did you great wrong.
I bare (with envy) yet I bare your song,
When in her neck you did love ditties peep;
Nay, more fool I, oft suffered you to sleep
In lilies' nest, where Love's self lies along.
What, doth high place ambitious thoughts augment?
Is sauciness reward of courtesy?
Cannot such grace your silly self content,
But you must needs with those lips billing be?
And through those lips drink nectar from that tongue?
Leave that, Sir Phip, lest off your neck be wrung.


Third Song
If Orpheus' voice had force to breathe such music's love
Through pores of senseless trees, as it could make them move;
If stones good measure danced , the Theban walls to build,
To cadence of the tunes, which Amphion's lyre did yield,
More cause a like effect at leastwise bringeth:
Oh stones, oh trees, learning hearing; Stella singeth.
If Love might sweeten so a boy of shepherd brood,
To make a lizard dull to taste Love's dainty food;
If eagle fierce could so in Grecian maid delight,
As his light was her eyes, her death his endless night:
Earth gave that love, heav'n I trow love refineth:
Oh beasts, oh birds; look Love. Lo, Stella, shineth.
The birds, beasts, stones and trees feel this, and feeling love;
And if the trees nor stones stir not the same to prove,
Nor beasts nor birds do come into this blessed gaze,
Know that small Love is quick, and great Love doth amaze:
They are amazed , but you with reason armed ,
Oh eyes, oh ears of men, how are you charmed !


Highway, since you my chief Parnassus be,
And that my Muse, to some ears not unsweet,
Tempers her words to trampling horses' feet,
More oft than to a chamber melody;
Now blessed you, bear onward blessed me
To her, where I my heart safeliest shall meet;
My Muse and I must you of duty greet
With thanks and wishes, wishing thankfully.
Be you still fair, honored by public heed,
By no encroachment wronged , nor time forgot;
Nor blamed for blood, nor shamed for sinful deed.
And, that you know I envy you no lot,
Of highest wish, I wish you so much bliss,
Hundreds of years you Stella's feet may kiss.




I see the house; my heart thyself contain,
Beware full sails drown not thy tott'ring barge,
Lest joy, by nature apt sprites to enlarge,
Thee to ty wrack beyond thy limits strain.
Nor do like lords, whose weak confused brain
Not pointing to fit folks each undercharge,
While every office themselves will discharge,
With doing all, leave nothing done but pain.
But give apt servants their due place: let eyes
See beauty's total sum summed in her face;
Let ears hear speech, which wit to wonder ties;
Let breath suck up those sweets; let arms embrace
The globe of weal, lips Love's indentures make:
Thou but of all the kingly tribute take.


Fourth Song
Only joy, now here you are,
Fit to hear and ease my care:
Let my whispering voice obtain
Sweet reward for sharpest pain.
Take me to thee, and thee to me.
"No, no, no, no, my dear, let be."
Night hath closed all in her cloak,
Twinkling stars love-thoughts provoke:
Danger hence good care doth keep;
Jeaousy itself doth sleep:
Take me to thee, and thee to me.
"No, no, no, no, my dear, let be."
Better place no wit can find
Cupid's yoke to loose or bind:
These sweet flowers on fine bed, too,
Us in their best language woo:
Take me to thee, and thee to me.
"No, no, no, no, my dear, let be."
This small light the moon bestows
Serves thy beams but to disclose,
So to raise my hap more high;
Fear not else, none can us spy:
Take me to thee, and thee to me.
"No, no, no, no, my dear, let be."
That you heard was but a mouse,
Dumb sleep holdeth all the house
Yet asleep; methinks they say:
"Young folks, take time while you may."
Take me to thee, and thee to me.
"No, no, no, no, my dear, let be."
Niggard Time threats, if we miss
This large offer of our bliss,
Long stay ere he grant the same:
Sweet, then, while each thing doth frame,
Take me to thee, and thee to me.
"No, no, no, no, my dear, let be."
You fair mother is abed,
Candles out and curtains spread;
She thinks you do letters write,
Write, but let me first endite:
Take me to thee, and thee to me.
"No, no, no, no, my dear, let be."
Sweet alas, why strive you thus?
Concord better fitteth us;
Leave to Mars the force of hands,
Your power in your beauty stands:
Take me to thee, and thee to me.
"No, no, no, no, my dear, let be."
Woe to me! And do you swear
Me to hate? But I forbear.
Cursed be my destines all,
That brought me so high, to fall;
Soon with my death I will please thee.
"No, no, no, no, my dear, let be."


Alas, whence come this change of looks? If I
Have changed desert, let mine own conscience be
A still-felt plague, to self-condemning me:
Let woe gripe on my heart, shame load mine eye.
But if all faith, like spotless ermine lie
Safe in my soul, which only doth to thee
(As his sole object of felicity)
With wings of love in air of wonder fly,
Oh ease your hand, treat not so hard your slave:
In justice pains come not till faults do call.
Or if I needs, sweet Judge, must torments have,
Use something else to chasten me withal
Than those blest eyes, where all my hopes do dwell.
No doom should make one's heav'n become his hell.


Fifth Song
While favor fed my hope, delight with hope was brought,
Thought waited on delight, and speech did follow thought;
Then drew my tongue and pen records unto thy glory:
I thought all words were lost, that were not spent of thee;
I thought each place was dark but where thy lights would be,
And all ears worse than deaf, that heard not out thy story.
I said thou wert most fair, and so indeed thou art;
I said thou wert most sweet, sweet poison to my heart;
I said my soul was thine (oh that I then had lied!)
I said thine eyes were stars, thy breasts the milk'n way;
Thy fingers Cupid's shafts, thy voice the angels' lay:
And all I said so well, as no man it denied.
But now that hope is lost, unkindness kills delight;
Yet thought and speech do live, though metamorphosed quite:
For Rage now rules the reins, which guided were by Pleasure.
I think now of thy faults, who late thought of thy praise;
That speech falls now to blame, which did thy honor raise;
The same key open can, which can lock up a treasure.
Thou then whom partial heavens conspired in one to frame,
The proof of Beauty's worth, th'inheritrix of fame,
The mansion seat of bliss, and just excuse of lovers;
See now those feathers plucked , wherewith thou flewst most high:
See what clouds of reproach shall dark thy honor's sky.
Whose own fault casts him down, hardly hhigh seat recovers.
And oh, my Muse, though oft you lulled her in your lap,
And then a heav'nly child gave her ambrosian pap,
And to that brain of hers your hidd'nest gifts infused ,
Since she, disdaining me, doth you in me disdain,
Suffer not her to laugh, while both we suffer pain:
Princes in subjects wronged , must deem themselves abused .
Your client poor my self, shall Stella handle so?
Revenge, revenge, my Muse! Defiance' trumpet blow:
Threat'n what may be done, yet do more than you threat'n.
An, my suit granted is; I feel my breast doth swell.
Now child, a lesson new you shall begin to spell:
Sweet babes must babies have, but shrewd girls must be beaten.
Think now no more to hear of warm fine-odored snow,
Nor blushing lilies, nor pearls' ruby-hidden row,
Nor of that golden sea, whose waves in curls are broken:
But of thy soul, so fraught with such ungratefulness,
As where thou soon mightst help, most faith dost most oppress,
Ungrateful who is called , the worst of evils is spoken.
Yet worse than worst, I say thou art a thief. A thief?
Now God forbid. A thief, and of worst thieves the chief:
Thieves steal for need, and steal but goods, which pain recovers,
But thou rich in all joys, dost rob my joys from me,
Which cannot be restored by time nor industry:
Of foes the spoil is evil, far worse of constant lovers.
Yet gentle English thieves do rob, but will not slay;
Thou English murd'ring thief, wilt have hearts for thy prey:
The name of murd'rer now on thy fair forehead sitteth:
And ev'n while I do speak, my death wounds bleeding be,
Which (I protest) proceed from only cruel thee:
Who may and will not save, murder in truth committeth.
But murder, private fault, seems but a toy to thee.
I lay then to thy charge unjustest tyranny,
If rule by force without all claim a tyrant showeth;
For thou dost lord my heart, who am not born thy slave,
And, which is worse, makes me, most guiltless, torments have;
A rightful prince by unright deeds a tyrant groweth.
Lo, you grow proud with this, for tyrants make folk bow:
Of foul rebellion then I do appeach thee now;
Rebel by Nature's law, rebel by law of reason,
Thou, sweetest subject, wert born in the realm of Love,
And yet against thy prince thy force dost daily prove:
No virtue merits praise, once touched with blot of treason.
But valiant rebels oft in fools' mouths purchase fame:
I now then stain thy white with vagabonding shame,
Both rebel to the son, and vagrant from the mother;
For wearing Venus' badge in every part of thee,
Unot Diana's train thou runaway didst flee:
Who faileth one, if false, though trusty to another.
What, is not this enough? Nay, far worse cometh here;
A witch I say thou art, though thou so fair appear;
For I protest, my sight ne'er thy face enjoyeth,
Bit I in me am changed , I am alive and dead:
My feet are turned to roots; my heart becometh lead;
No witchcraft is so evil, as which man's mind destroyeth.
Yet witches may repent, thou art far worse than they.
Alas, that I am forced such evil of thee to say,
I say thou art a devil, though clothed in angel's shining:
For thy face tempts my soul to leave the heav'n for thee,
And thy words of refuse, do pour ev'n hell on me:
Who tempt, and tempted plague, are devils in true defining.
You then, ungrateful thief, you murd'ring tyrant you,
You rebel runaway, to lord and lady untrue,
You witch, you devil (alas) you still of me beloved ,
You see what I can say; mend yet your froward mind,
And such skill in my Muse you reconciled shall find,
That all these cruel words your praises shall be proved .


Sixth Song
Oh you thathear this voice,
Oh you that see this face,
Say whether of the choice
Deserves the former place:
Fear not to judge this 'bate,
For it is void of hate.
This side doth Beauty take,
For that doth Music speak,
Fit orators to make
The strongest judgments weak:
The bar to plead their right
Is only true delight.
Thus doth the voice and face
These gentle lawyers wage
Like loving brothers' case
For father's heritage:
That each, while each contends,
Itself to other lends.
For Beauty beautifies
With heav'nly hue and grace
The heav'nly harmonies;
And in this faultless face
The perfect beauties be
A perfect harmony.
Music more loft'ly swells
In speeches nobly placed :
Beauty as far excels
In action aptly graced :
A friend each party draws
To countenance his cause.
Love more affected seems
To Beauty's lovely light,
And Wonder more esteems
Of Music's wondrous might:
But both to both so bent,
As both in both are spent.
Music doth witness call
The ear, his truth to try:
Beauty brings to the hall
The judgment of the eye:
Both in their objects such
As no exceptions touch.
The common sense, which might
Be arbiter of this,
To be forsooth upright,
To both sides partial is:
He lays on this chief praise,
Chief praise on that he lays.
The Reason, princess high,
Whose throne is in the mind,
Which Music can in sky
And hidden beauties find:
Say whether thou wilt crown
With limitless renown.


Seventh Song
Whose senses in so evil consort, their stepdame Nature lays,
That ravishing delight in them most sweet tunes do not raise;
Or, if they do delight therein, yet are so cloyed with wit,
As with sententious lips to set a title vain on it:
Oh let them hear these sacred tunes, and learn in wonder's schools
To be in things past bounds of wit, fools, if they be not fools.
Who have so leaden as, as not to see sweet Beauty's show,
Or seeing, have so wooden wits, as not that worth to know;
Or knowing, have so muddy minds, as not to be in love;
Or loving, have so frothy thoughts, as eas'ly thence to move:
Oh let them see these heav'nly beams, and in fair letters read
A lesson fit, both sight and skill, love and firm love to breed.
Hear then, but then with wonder hear; see, but adoring see
No mortal gifts, no earthly fruits, now here descended be:
See, do you see this face? A face? nay image of the skies,
Of which the two life-giving lights are figured in her eyes:
Hear you this soul-invading voice, and count it but a voice?
The very essense of their tunes, when angels do rejoice.


Eighth Song
In a grove most rich of shade,
Where birds wanton music made,
May, then young, his pied weeds showing,
New perfumed with flowers growing,
Astrophil with Stella sweet
Did for mutual comfort meet,
Both within themselves oppressed ,
But each in the other blessed .
Him great harms had taught much care,
Her fair neck a foul yoke bare;
But her sight his cares did banish,
In his sight her yoke did vanish.
Wept they did, but now betwixt
Sighs of woe were glad sights mixed ,
With arms crossed , yet testifying
Restless rest, and living dying.
Their ears hungry of each word,
Which the dear tongue would afford,
But their tongues restrained from walking
Till their hearts had ended talking,
But when their tongues could not speak,
Love itself did silence break;
Love did set his lips asunder,
Thus to speak in love and wonder:
"Stella, sovereign of my joy,
Fair triumpher of annoy,
Stella star of heavn'ly fire,
Stella lodestone of desire;
"Stella, whose voice when it speaks,
Senses all asunder breaks;
Stella, whose voice when it singeth,
Angels to acquaintance bringeth;
"Stella, in whose body is
Writ each character of bliss,
Whose face all, all beauty passeth,
Save thy mind, which yet surpasseth:
"Grant, oh grant--but speech alas
Fails me, fearing on to pass--
Grant, oh me, what am I saying?
But no fault there is in praying.
"Grant, oh dear, on knees I pray,"
(Knees on ground he then did stay)
"That not I, but since I love you,
Time and place for me may move you.
"Never season was more fit,
Never room more apt for it;
Smiling air allows my reason,
These birds sing, 'Now use the season.'
"This small wind which so sweet is,
See how it the leaves doth kiss;
Each tree in his best attiring,
Sense of love to love inspiring.
"Love makes earth the water drink,
Love to earth makes water sink;
And if dumb things be so witty,
Shall a heav'nly grace want pity?"
There his hands in their speech, fain
Would have made tongue's language plain;
But her hands his hands repelling,
Gave repulse all grace excelling.
Then she spake; her speech was such
As not ear but heart did touch:
While such wise she love denied,
As yet love she signified.
"Astrophil," said she, "my love,
Cease in these effects to prove:
Now be still, yet still believe me,
Thy grief more than death would grieve me.
"If that any thought in me
Can taste comfort but of thee,
Let me, fed with hellish anguish,
Joyless, hopeless, endless languish.
"If those eyes you praised, be
Half so dear as you to me,
Let me home return, stark blinded
Of those eyes, and blinder minded.
"If to secret of my heart
I do any wish impart
Where thou art not foremost placed ,
Be both wish and I defaced .
"If more may be said, I say,
All my bliss in thee I lay;
If thou love, my love content thee,
For all love, all faith is meant thee.
"Trust me, while I thee deny,
In myself the smart I try;
Tyrant Honor doth thus use thee
Stella's self might not refuse thee.
"Therefore, dear, this no more move,
Lest, though I leave not thy love,
Which too deep in me is framed ,
I should blush when thou art named ."
Therewithal away she went,
Leaving him so passion-rent
With what she had done and spoken,
That therewith my song is broken.


Ninth Song
Go, my flock, go get you hence,
Seek a better place of feeding,
Where you may have some defence
From the storms in my breast breeding,
And showers from my eyes proceeding.
Leave a wretch, in whom all woe
Can abide to keep no measure,
Meyy flock, such one forego,
Unto whom mirth is displeasure,
Only rich in mischief's treasure.
Yet alas, before you go,
Hear you woeful master's story,
Which to stones I else would show:
Sorrow only then hath glory
When 'tis excellently sorry.
Stella, fiercest shepherdess,
Fiercest but yot fairest ever;
Stella, whom oh heav'ns do bless,
Though against me she persever,
Though I bliss inherit never.
Stella hath refused me,
Stella, who more love hath proved
In this caitiff heart to be,
Than can in good ewes be moved
Toward lambkins best beloved .
Stella hath refused me,
Astrophil, that so well served ,
In this pleasant spring must see,
While in pride flowers be preserved ,
Himself only winter-starved .
Why alas doth she then swear
That she loveth me so dearly,
Seeing me so long to bear
Coals of love that burned so clearly;
And yet leave me helpless merely?
Is that love? Forsooth, I trow,
If I saw my good dog grieved ,
And a help for him did know,
My love should not be believed
But he were by me relieved .
No, she hates me, wellaway,
Faining love, somewhat to please me:
For she knows, if she display
All her hate, death soon would seize me,
And of hideous torments ease me.
Then adieu, dear flock, adieu:
But alas, if in your straying
Heav'nly Stella meet with you,
Tell her in your piteous blaying,
Her poor slave's unjust decaying.


When I was forced from Stella, ever dear
Stella, food of my thoughts, heart of my heart;
Stella, whose eyes make all my tempests clear,
By iron laws of duty to depart:
Alas I found that she with me did smart;
I saw that tears did in her eyes appear;
I saw that sighs her sweetest lips did part,
And her sad words my saddest sense did hear.
For me, I wept to see pearls scattered so;
I sighed her sighs, and wailed for her woe,
Yet swam in joy, such love in her was seen.
Thus, while th'effect most bitter was to me,
And nothing than the couse more sweet could be,
I had been vexed , if vexed I had not been.


Out, traitor Absence, darest thou counsel me
From my dear captainess to run away,
Because in brave array here marched she
That to win me, oft shows a present pay?
Is faith so weak? Or is such force in thee?
When sun is hid, can stars such beams display?
Cannot heav'n's food, once felt, keep stomachs free
From base desire on earthly cates to prey?
Tush, Absence, while thy mists eclipse that light,
My orphan sense flies to th'inward sight
Where memory sets forth the beams of love;
That where before heart loved and eyes did see,
In heart both sight and love now coupled be;
United powers make each the stronger prove.


Now that of absence the most irksome night,
With darkest shade doth overcome my day;
Since Stella's eyes, wont to give me my day,
Leaving my hemisphere, leave me in night,
Each day seems long, and longs for long-stayed night;
The night as tedious, woos th'approach of day;
Tired with the dusty toils of busy day,
Languished with horrors of the silent night;
Suffering the evils both of the day and night,
While no night is more dark than is my day,
Nor no day hath less quiet than my night:
With such bad mixture of my night and day,
That living thus in blackest winter night,
I feel the flames of hottest summer day.


Stella, think not that I by verse seek fame,
Who seek, who hope, who love, who live but thee;
Thine eyes my pride, thy lips my history:
If thou praise not, all other praise is shame.
Nor so ambitious am I, as to frame
A nest for praise in my young laurel tree:
In truth I swear, I wish not there should be
Graved in mine epitaph a poet's name:
Ne if I would, could I just title make,
That any laud to me thereof should grow,
Without my plumes from others' wings I take.
For nothing from my wit or will doth flow,
Since all my words thy beauty doth indite,
And Love doth hold my hand, and makes me write.




Stella, while now by honor's cruel might,
I am from you, light of my life, mis-led,
And that fair you, my Sun, thus overspread
With absence' veil, I live in sorrow's night;
If this dark place yet show like candle light
Some beauty's piece, as amber-colored head,
Milk hands, rose cheeks, or lips more sweet, more red,
Or seeing jet's black but in blackness bright.
They please, I do confess; they please mine eyes,
But why? Because of you they models be,
Models such be wood globes of glist'ring skies.
Dear, therefore be not jealous over me,
If you hear that they seem my heart to move.
Not them, oh no, but you in them I love.


Be your words made, good sir, of Indian ware,
That you allow me them by so small rate?
Or do you cutted Spartans imitate,
Or do you mean my tender ears to spare,
That to my questions you so total are?
When I demand of Phoenix Stella's state,
You say, forsooth, you left her well of late.
Oh God, think you that satisfies my care?
I would know whether she did sit or walk,
How clothed , how waited on; sighed she or smiled ;
Whereof, with whom, how often she did talk,
With what pastime time's journey she beguiled ,
If her lips deigned to sweeten my poor name.
Say all, and all well said, still say the same.


Tenth Song
Oh dear life, when shall it be
That mine eyes thine eyes may see?
And in them thy mind discover,
Whether absence have had force
Thy remembrance to divorce
From the image of thy lover?
Or if I myself find not,
After parting, aught forgot,
Nor debarred from beauty's treasure,
Let no tongue aspire to tell,
In what high joys I shall dwell,
Only thought aims at the pleasure.
Thought, therefore I will send thee
To take up the place for me;
Long I will not after tarry.
There unseen thou mayst be bold
Those fair wonders to behold
Which in them my hopes do carry.
Thought, see thou no place forbear,
Enter bravely everywhere,
Seize on all to her belonging;
But if thou wouldst guarded be,
Fearing her beams, take with thee
Strength of liking, rage of longing.
Think of that most grateful time
When my leaping heart will climb
In her lips to have his biding:
There those roses for to kiss,
Which do breath a sugared bliss,
Opening rubies, pearls dividing.
Think of my most princely power,
When I blessed shall devour
With my greedy licorous senses
Beauty, music, sweetness, love,
While she doth against me prove
Her strong darts but weak defenses.
Think, think of those dallyings,
When with dove-like murmurings,
With glad moaning passed anguish,
We change eyes, and heart for heart,
Each to other do impart,
Joying till joy make us languish.
Oh my thought, my thoughts' surcease,
Thy delights my woes increase,
My life melts with too much thinking.
Think no more, but die in me,
Till thou shalt revived be
At her lips, my nectar drinking.


Oh fate, oh fault, oh curse, child of my bliss,
What sobs can give words grace my grief to show?
What ink is black enough to paint my woe?
Through me, wretch me, ev'n Stella vexed is.
Yet Truth (if caitiff's breath may call thee) this
Witness with me: that my foul stumbling so
From carelessness did in no manner grow,
But wit confused with too much care did miss.
And do I then myself this vain 'scuse give?
I have (live I and know this?) harmed thee;
Though worlds quite me, shall I myself forgive?
Only with pains my pains thus eased be,
That all thy hurts in my heart's wrack I read;
I cry thy sighs, my dear; thy tears I bleed.


Grief find the words, for thou hast made my brain
So dark with misty vapors, which arise
From out thy heavy mold, that inbent eyes
Can scarce discern the shape of mine own pain.
Do thou then (for thou canst) do thou complain
For my poor soul, which now that sickness tries,
Which ev'n to sense, sense of itself denies,
Though harbingers of death lodge there his train.
Or if thy love of plaint yet mine forbears,
As of a caitiff worthy so to die,
Yet wail thyself, and wail with causeful tears,
That though in wretchedness thy life doth lie,
Yet growest more wretched than thy nature bears
By being placed in such a wretch as I.


Yet Sighs, dear Sighs, indeed true friends you are,
That do not leave your least friend at the worst,
But as you with my breast I oft have nursed ,
So grateful now you wait upon my care.
Faint coward Joy no longer tarry dare,
Seeing Hope yield when this woe strake him first:
Delight protests he is not for th'accurst,
Though oft himself my mate-in-arms he sware.
Nay Sorrow comes with such main rage, that he
Kills his own children, Tears, finding that they
By love were made apt to consort with me.
Only, true Sighs, you do not go away;
Thank may you have for such a thankful part,
Thank-worthiest yet when you shall break my heart.


Thought, with good cause thou lik'st so well the Night,
Since kind or chance gives both one livery,
Both sadly black, both blackly darkened be,
Night barred from sun, thou from thy own sunlight;
Silence in both displays his sullen might,
Slow Heaviness in both holds one degree--
That full of doubts, thou of perplexity;
Thy tears express Night's native moisture right.
In both a mazeful solitariness:
In Night of sprites the ghastly powers to stir,
In thee, or sprites or sprited ghastliness.
But, but (alas) Night's side the odds hath fur,
For that at length yet doth invite some rest,
Thou though still tired , yet still do'st it detest.


Dian, that fain would cheer her friend the Night,
Shows her oft at the full her fairest race,
Bringing with her those starry nymphs, whose chase
From heav'nly standing hits each mortal wight.
But ah, poor Night, in love with Phoebus' light,
And endlessly despairing of his grace,
Herself (to show no other joy hath place)
Silent and sad in mourning weeds doth dight:
Ev'n so (alas) a lady, Dian's peer,
With chice delights and rarest company
Would fain drive clouds from out my heavy cheer.
But woe is me, though Joy itself were she,
She could not show my blind brain ways of joy
While I despair my Sun's sight to enjoy.


Ah bed, the field where joy's peace some do see,
The field where all my thought to war be trained ,
How is thy grace by my strange fortune stained !
How thy lee shores by my sighs stormed be!
With sweet soft shades thou oft invitest me
To steal some rest, but wretch I am constrained
(Spurred with Love's spur, though galled and shortly reined
With Care's hand) to turn and toss in thee.
While the black horrors of the silent night
Paint woe's black face so lively to my sight,
That tedious leisure marks each wrinkled line:
But when Aurora leads out Phoebus' dance
Mine eyes then only wink, for spite perchance,
That worms should have their Sun, and I want mine.


When far-spent night persuades each mortal eye,
To whom nor art nor nature granted light,
To lay his then mark-wanting shafts of sight,
Closed with their quivers, in sleep's armory;
With windows ope then most my mind doth lie,
Viewing the shape of darkness and delight,
Takes in that sad hue which the inward night
Of his mazed powers keeps perfect harmony;
But when birds charm, and that sweet air which is
Morn's messenger, with rose enameled skies,
Calls each wight to salute the flower of bliss,
In tomb of lids then buried are mine eyes,
Forced by their lord, who is ashamed to find
Such light in sense, with such a darkened mind.


Oh tears, no tears, but rain from Beauty's skies,
Making those lilies and those roses grow,
Which aye most fair, now more than most fair show,
While graceful Pity Beauty beautifies.
Oh honeyed sighs, which from that breast do rise,
Whose pants do make unspilling cream to flow,
Winged with whose breath, so pleasing zephyrs blow
As can refresh the hell where my soul fries.
Oh plaints conserved in such a sugared phrase
That Eloquence itself envies your praise
While sobbed -out words a perfect music give.
Such tears, sighs, plaints, no sorrow is but joy:
Or if such heav'nly signs must prove annoy,
All mirth farewell, let me in sorrow live.


Stella is sick, and in that sickbed lies
Sweetness, which breathes and pants as oft as she:
And Grace, sick too, such fine conclusions tries
That Sickness brags itself best graced to be.
Beauty is sick, but sick in so fair guise
That is that paleness Beauty's white we see,
And Joy, which is inseparate from those eyes,
Stella now learns (strange case) to weep in thee.
Love moves thy pain, and like a faithful page,
As thy looks stir, runs up and down to make
All folks pressed at thy will thy pain t'assuage.
Nature with care sweats for her darling's sake,
Knowing worlds pass, ere she enough can find
Of such heav'n stuff, to clothe so heav'nly mind.


Where be those roses gone, which sweetened so our eyes?
Where those red cheeks, which oft with fair increase did frame
The height of honor in the kindly badge of shame?
Who hath the crimson weeds stol'n from my morning skies?
How did the color fade of those vermilion dyes
Which Nature self did make, and self engrained the same?
I would know by what right this paleness overcame
That hue, whose force my heart still unto thraldom ties.
Galen's adoptive sons, who by a beaten way
Their judgments hackney on, the fault of sickness lay,
But feeling proof makes me say they mistake it furre:
It is but Love, which makes his paper perfect white
To write therein more fresh the story of delight,
While Beauty's reddest ink Venus for him doth stir.


Oh happy Thames, that didst my Stella bear,
I saw thyself with many a smiling line
Upon thy cheerful face, Joy's livery wear,
While those fair planets on thy streams did shine.
The boat for joy could not to dance forbear,
While wanton winds with beauties so divine
Ravished , stayed not, till in her golden hair
They did themselves (oh sweetest prison) twine.
And fain those Aeol's youth there would their stay
Have mde, but, forced by Nature still to fly,
First did with puffing kiss those locks display:
She so disheveled , blushed ; from window I
With sight thereof cried out; oh fair disgrace,
Let Honor self to thee grant highest place.


Envious wits, what hath been mine offense,
That with such poisonous care my looks you mark,
That to each word, nay sigh of mine you hark,
As grudging me my sorrow's eloquence?
Ah, is it not enough that I am thence?
Thence, so far thence, that scarcely any spark
Of comfort dare come to this dungeon dark,
Where rigorous exile locks up all my sense?
But if I by a happy window pass,
If I but stars upon mine armor bear
--Sick, thirsty, glad (though but of empty glass):
Your moral notes straight my hid meaning tear
From out my ribs, and puffing prove that I
Do Stella love. Fools, who doth it deny?


Eleventh Song
"Who is it that this dark night
Underneath my window plaineth?"
It is one who from thy sight
Being (ah!) exiled , disdaineth
Every other vulgar light.
"Why alas, and are you he?
Be not yet those fancies changed ?"
Dear, when you find change in me,
Though from me you be estranged ,
Let my change to ruin be.
"Well, in absence this will die.
Leave to see, and leave to wonder."
Absence sure will help, if I
Can learn how myself to sunder
From what in my heart doth lie.
"But time will these thoughts remove:
Time doth work what no man knoweth."
Time doth as the subject prove:
With time still the affection groweth
In the faithful turtledove.
"What if you new beauties see?
Will not they stir new affection?"
I will think they pictures be
(Image like of saint's perfection)
Poorly counterfeiting thee.
"But your reason's purest light
Bids you leave such minds to nourish."
Dear, do Reason no such spite;
Never doth thy beauty flourish
More than in my reason's sight.
"But the wrongs love bears will make
Love at length leave undertaking."
No. The more fools it do shake,
In a gound of so firm making,
Deeper still they drive the stake.
"Peace, I think that some give ear.
Come no more, lest I get anger."
Bliss, I will my bliss forbear,
Fearing, sweet, you to endanger,
But my soul shall harbor there.
"Well, be gone. Be gone, I say,
Lest that Argus' eyes perceive you."
Oh unjustest fortune's sway,
Which can make me thus to leave you
And from louts to run away!


Unhappy sight, and hath she vanished by
So near, in so good time, so free a place?
Dead glass, dost thou thy object so embrace,
As what my heart still sees thou canst not spy?
I swear by her I love and lack, that I
Was not in fault, who bend thy dazzling race
Only unto the heav'n of Stella's face,
Counting but dust what in the way did lie.
But cease, mine eyes; your tears do witness well
That you, guiltless thereof, your nectar missed :
Cursed be the page from whom the bad torch fell.
Cursed be the night which did your strife resist,
Cursed be the coachman which did drive so fast,
With no worse curse than absence makes me taste.


Oh absent presence, Stella is not here;
False flattering Hope, that with so fair a face
Bare me in hand, that in this orphan place,
Stella, I say my Stella, should appear:
What sayest thou now? Where is that dainty cheer
Thou toldst mine eyes should help their famished case?
But thou art gone, now that self felt disgrace
Doth make me most to wish my comfort near.
But here I do store of fair ladies meet,
Who may with charm of conversation sweet
Make in my heavy mold new thought to grow:
Sure they prevail as much with me as he
That bade his friend, but then new maimed , to be
Merry with him, and not think of his woe.


Stella, since thou so right a princess art
Of all the powers which life bestows on me,
That ere by them aught undertaken be
They first resort unto that sovereign part;
Sweet, for a while give respite to my heart,
Which pants as though it still should leap to thee,
And on my thoughts give thy lieutenancy
To this great cause, which needs both use and art.
And as a queen, who from her presence sends
Whom she employs, dismiss from thee my wit,
Till it have wrought what thy own will attends.
On servant's shame oft master's blame doth sit;
Oh let not fools in me thy works reprove,
And scorning say, "See what it is to love."


When sorrow (using mine own fire's might)
Melts down his lead into my boiling breast;
Through that dark furnace to my heart oppressed
There shines a joy from thee, my only light;
But soon as thought of thee breeds my delight,
And my young soul flutters to thee his nest,
Most rude despair, my daily unbidden guest,
Clips straight my wings, straight wraps me in his night,
And makes me then bow down my head and say,
"Ah, what doth Phoebus' gold that wretch avail
Whom iron doors do keep from use of day?"
So strangely (alas) thy works in me prevail,
That in my woes for thee thou art my joy,
And in my joys for thee my only annoy.




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Astrophel and Stella, Part 1.

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