To the Reader of these Sonnets
Into these Loves who but for Passion looks,
At this first sight here let him lay them by
And seek elsewhere, in turning other books,
Which better may his labor satisfy.
No far-fetched sigh shall ever wound my breast,
Love from mine eye a tear shall never wring,
Nor in Ah me's my whining sonnets drest;
A libertine, fantasticly I sing.
My verse is the true image of my mind,
Ever in motion, still desiring change,
And as thus to variety inclined,
So in all humours sportively I range.
My Muse is rightly of the English strain,
That cannot long one fashion entertain.
Like an adventurous seafarer am I,
Who hath some long and dangerous voyage been,
And, called to tell of his discovery,
How far he sailed, what countries he had seen;
Proceeding from the port whence he put forth,
Shows by his compass how his course he steered,
When East, when West, when South, and when by North,
As how the Pole to every place was reared,
What capes he doubled, of what Continent,
The gulfs and straits that strangely he had past,
Where most becalmed, where with foul weather spent,
And on what rocks in peril to be cast:
Thus in my love, Time calls me to relate
My tedious travels and oft-varying fate.
My heart was slain, and none but you and I;
Who should I think the murther should commit,
Since but yourself there was no creature by,
But only I, guiltless of murdering it?
It slew itself; the verdict on the view
Doth quit the dead, and me not accessary.
Well, well, I fear it will be proved of you,
The evidence so great a proof doth carry.
But O, see, see, we need inquire no further:
Upon your lips the scarlet drops are found,
And in your eye the boy that did the murther;
Your cheeks yet pale, since first he gave the wound.
By this I see, however things be past,
Yet Heaven will still have murder out at last.
Taking my pen, with words to cast my woe,
Duly to count the sum of all my cares,
I find my griefs innumerable grow,
The reck'nings rise to millions of despairs;
And thus dividing of my fatal hours,
The payments of my love I read and cross,
Subtracting, set my sweets unto my sours,
My joy's arrearage leads me to my loss;
And thus mine eye's a debtor to thine eye,
Which by extortion gaineth all their looks;
My heart hath paid such grievous usury
That all their wealth lies in thy beauty's books,
And all is thine which hath been due to me,
And I a bankrupt, quite undone by thee!
Bright star of beauty, on whose eyelids sit
A thousand nymph-like and enamoured Graces,
The Goddesses of Memory and Wit,
Which there in order take their several places;
In whose dear bosom sweet delicious LOVE
Lays down his quiver, which he once did bear,
Since he that blessèd Paradise did prove,
And leaves his mother's lap to sport him there.
Let others strive to entertain with words;
My soul is of a braver mettle made;
I hold that vile which vulgar wit affords;
In me's that faith which Time cannot invade.
Let what I praise be still made good by you;
Be you most worthy, whilst I am most true.
Nothing but "No," and "I," and "I," and "No"?
How falls it out so strangely you reply?
I tell ye, Fair, I'll not be answered so,
With this affirming "No," denying "I."
I say, "I love," you slightly answer "I";
I say, "You love," you pule me out a "No";
I say, "I die," you echo me an "I";
"Save me," I cry, you sigh me out a "No";
Must woe and I have nought but "No" and "I"?
No I am I, if I no more can have;
Answer no more, with silence make reply,
And let me take myself what I do crave.
Let "No" and "I" with I and you be
Then answer "No," and "I," and "I"
How many paltry, foolish, painted things,
That now is coaches trouble every street,
Shall be forgotten, whom no Poet sings,
Ere they be well wrapt in their winding-sheet.
Where I to thee eternity shall give,
When nothing else remaineth of these days,
And Queens hereafter shall be glad to live
Upon the alms of thy superfluous praise.
Virgins and matrons, reading these my rhymes,
Shall be so much delighted with thy story
That they shall grieve they lived not in these times,
To have seen thee, their sex's only glory.
So shalt thou fly above the vulgar throng,
Still to survive in my immortal song.
Love in a humor played the prodigal
And bade my Senses to a solemn feast;
Yet, more to grace the company withal,
Invites my Heart to be the chiefest guest.
No other drink would serve this glutton's turn
But precious tears distilling from mine eyne,
Which with my sighs this epicure doth burn,
Quaffing carouses in this costly wine;
Where, in his cups o'ercome with foul excess,
Straightways he plays a swaggering ruffian's part,
And at the banquet in his drunkenness
Slew his dear friend, my kind and truest Heart.
A gentle warning, friends, thus may you see
What 'tis to keep a drunkard company.
There's nothing grieves me, but that Age should haste,
That in my days I may not see thee old,
That where those two clear sparkling eyes are placed
Only two loop-holes then I might behold;
That lovely, arched, ivory, polished brow
Defaced with wrinkles that I might but see;
Thy dainty hair, so curled and crisped now,
Like grizzled moss upon some aged tree;
Thy cheek, now flush with roses, sunk and lean;
Thy lips with age as any wafer thin;
Thy pearly teeth out of thy head so clean
That, when thou feed'st, thy nose shall touch thy chin.
These lines that now thou scorn'st, which should delight
Then would I make thee read but to despite thee.
As other men, so I myself do muse
Why in this sort I wrest invention so,
And why these giddy metaphors I use,
Leaving the path the greater part do go.
I will resolve you: I am lunatic,
And ever this in madmen you shall find,
What they last thought of when the brain grew sick
In most distraction they keep that in mind.
Thus talking idly in this bedlam fit,
Reason and I, you must conceive, are twain;
"Tis nine years now since first I lost my wit;
Bear with me then, though troubled be my brain.
With diet and correction men distraught
(Not too far past) may to their wits be brought.
To nothing fitter can I thee compare
Than to the son of some rich penny-father,
Who, having now brought on his end with care,
Leaves to his son all he had heaped together;
This new rich novice, lavish of his chest,
To one man gives, doth on another spend,
Then here he riots, yet among the rest
Haps to lend some to one true honest friend.
Thy gifts thou in obscurity dost waste,
False friends thy kindness, born but to deceive thee,
Thy love that is on the unworthy placed,
Time hath thy beauty, which with age will leave thee;
Only that little which to me was lent
I give thee back, when all the rest is spent.
You're not alone, when you are still alone,
O God, from you that I could private be!
Since you one were, I never since was one;
Since you in me, my self since out of me,
Transported from my self into your being;
Though either distant, present yet to either,
Senseless with too much joy, each other seeing,
And only absent when we are together.
Give me my self and take your self again,
Devise some means but how I may forsake you;
So much is mine that doth with you remain,
That, taking what is mine, with me I take you;
You do bewitch me; O, that I could fly
From my self you, or from your own self I.
To the Soul
That learned Father, who so firmly proves
The Soul of man immortal and divine,
And doth the several offices define:
Anima - Gives her that name, as she the Body moves;
Amor - Then is she Love, embracing charity;
Animus - Moving a Will in us, it is the Mind
Mens - Retaining knowledge, still the same in kind;
Memoria - As intellectual, it is Memory;
Ratio - In judging, Reason only is her name;
Sensus - In speedy apprehension, it is Sense;
Conscientia - In right or wrong, they call her Conscience;
Spiritus - The Spirit, when it to GODward doth inflame.
These of the Soul the several functions be,
Which my Heart, lightened by thy love, doth see.