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Shakespeare's Sonnets

Poems (From the Devonshire manuscript. Part Ib.)

17

In faith methinks it is no right To hate me thus for loving ye, So fair a face, so full of spite, Who would have thought such cruelty? But since there is no remedy, That by no means ye can me love, I shall you leave and other prove. For if I have for my good will No reward else but cruelty, In faith thereof I can no skill Sith that I loved ye honestly. But take heed I will till I die Or that I love so well again, Since women use so much to feign.
In faythe methynkes yt ys no ryght To hate me thus for lovyng ye, So fayre a face, so full of spyght, Who wold have thowght suche crueltye ; But syns ther is no remedye, That by no meanes ye can me love, I shall you leve and other prove. Ffor yff I have for my good wyll No reward eles but cruelltye, In faythe thereoff I can no skyll Sythe that I lovyd ye honestlye ; But take hede I wyll tyll I dye Or that I love so well agayn, Syns women use so muche to fayn.

NOTES

other prove = try someone else. I can no skill = I do not have the art or skill (to counteract your cruelty). Sith = since. take heed = exercise care. Or that I = to ensure that I do not. use so much = are so much accustomed.

18

The knot which first my heart did strain, When that your servant I became, Doth bind me still for to remain Always your own, as now I am. And if you find that I do feign, With just judgement my self I damn To have disdain. If other thought in me do grow But still to love you stedfastly, If that the proof do not well show That I am yours assuredly, Let every wealth turn me to woe, And you to me continually My chiefest foe. If other love or new request Do ease my heart, but only this, Or if within my wearied breast Be hid one thought that mean amiss, I do desire that mine unrest May still increase, and I to miss What I love best. If in my love there be one spot Of false deceit or doubleness, Or if I mind to slip this knot By want of faith or steadfastness, Let all my service be for nought And when I would have chief redress Esteem me not. But if that I consume in pain Of burning sighs, and fervent love, And daily seek no nother gain But with my deed these words to prove, Methink of right I should obtain That ye would mind for to remove Your great disdain. And for the end of this my song Unto your hands I do submit My deadly grief and pains so strong, Which in my heart be firmly shut. And when ye list, redress my wrong, Since well ye know this painful fit Hath last too long.
The knot which fyrst my hert did strayn, When that your servant I becam, Doth bynd me still for to remain Allwayes your owne, as now I am ; And if you fynd that I do fayne, With just jugement my selfe I dam To have dysdain. If other thought in me do groo But styl to love you stedfastlye, If that the proff do not well shoo That I am yours asurydly, Let every wellth turne me to woo, And you to me continually My chefest foo. If other love or new Request Doo ese my hart, but only this, Or if within my weryd brest Be hyd on thought that mene amys, I do desyer that myn unrest May styll increse, and I to mys What I love best. If in my love ther be oon spott Of false desayyt or dobylnes, Or if I mynd to slyp thys knot By want of faithe or stedfastnes, Let all my sarvyes be for nott And when I wold have chef redres Estem me nott. But if that I consume in paine Of burning syghes, and fervent love, And daly seke no nother gayne But with my ded these wordes to prove, Methink of ryght I shuld obtayn That ye wold mynd for to remove Your gret disdayn. And for the end of this my song Unto your handes I do submit My dedly greffe, and payns so strong, Whych in my hert be fermly shytt ; And when ye lyst, redres me wrong, Sens well ye know this paynfull ffytt Hath last tto long.

NOTES

strain = tie tightly. To have disdain = to be disdained (by you). but still to love you = other than that of continually loving you. turn me to woe = turn in me to pain and sorrow. but only this = except this i.e. loving you. to miss = to lose What I love best = you, (my only true love). I would have chief redress = I most desire the satisfaction (of being with you). no nother = no other. ye would mind for = you would show some intention or desire. ye list = you wish.

19

It was my choice it was no chance That brought my heart in other's hold Whereby it hath had sufferance Longer perdy than reason would Since I it bound where it was free Me thinks I wis of right it should Accepted be. Accepted be without refuse, Unless that fortune have the power All right of love for to abuse. For, as they say: one happy hour May more prevail than right or might. If fortune then list for to lour What vaileth right. What vaileth right if this be true? Then trust to chance and go by guess Then who so loveth may well go sue Uncertain hope for his redress. Yet some would say, assuredly, Thou mayest appeal for thy release To fantasy. To fantasy pertains to choose. All this I know, for fantasy First unto love did me induce. But yet I know as steadfastly That if love have no faster knot, So nice a choice slips suddenly, It lasteth not. It lasteth not that stands by change: Fancy doth change; fortune is frail; Both these to please the way is strange. Therefore me thinks best to prevail, There is no way that is so just, As truth to lead, though tother fail, And thereto trust.
It was my choyse it was no chance That browght my hart in others holde Wherby ytt hath had sufferaunce Lenger perde then Reason wold Syns I ytt bownd where ytt was free Me thinkes ywys of ryght yt shald Acceptyd be. Accepted be withowte refuse, Unles that fortune have the power, All ryght of love for to abuse ; For, as they say : one happy howre May more prevayle than Ryght or Myght. Yf fortune then list for to lowre What vaylyth Ryght ! What vaylyth Ryght yff this be true ? Then trust to chaunce and go by gesse Then who so lovyth may well go sew Uncerten Hope for hys redresse. Yett some wold say, assuredly : Thou mayest appele for thy relesse To Fantasy. To Fantasy pertaynys to chose : All thys I knowe, for fantasy Ffurst unto love dyd me induse ; But yet I knowe as stedefastly That yff love have no faster knott, So nyce a choyse slippes sodenly, Yt lastyth not. Ytt lastyth not that stondes by change ; Fansy doth change : fortune ys frayle : Both thes to ples the way ys strange ; Therfore me thynkes best to prevayle, There ys no way that ys so just, As trowgh to lede, tho tother fayle, And therto trust.

NOTES

in other's hold = under the rule of another, sc. the one he loves. sufferance = suffering. perdy = par Dieu (by God). than reason would = than is reasonable. I wis (or iwis) = surely. refuse = refusal. abuse = deceive; misuse. For as they say etc. - The meaning of these three lines seems to be "For, as it is said, an hour of good fortune is worth more than all the rights and obligations in the world. Hence when fortune is bad (lours) one's rights count for nothing". go by guess = play it by ear. go sue / Uncertain hope = rely on hope. redress = success. fantasy = fancy, whim, imagination. To fantasy pertains = fantasy is free to. no faster knot = no tie more secure (than that provided by fantasy). So nice a choice = so delicate and whimsical a choice (of lover), i.e. one that is based only on fantasy. slips = undoes itself (continuing the metaphor of the knot). that stands by change = whose nature it is to change. the way is strange = the means (of satisfying both fortune and fancy) is irrational and fickle. best to prevail = (?) the best way to succeed. As truth to lead = as to lead by truth. tother = the other, i.e. the loved one. thereto = in addition.

20

So unwarely was never no man caught With steadfast look upon a goodly face As I of late; for suddenly, me thought, My heart was torn out of his place. Thorough mine eye the stroke from hers did slide Directly down unto my heart it ran. In help whereof the blood thereto did glide, And left my face both pale and wan. Then was I like a man for woe amazed, Or like the bird that flyeth into the fire; For while that I on her beauty gazed, The more I burnt in my desire. Anon the blood start in my face again, Enflamed with heat that it had at my heart, And brought therewith throughout in every vein A quickened heat with pleasant smart. Then was I like the straw, when that the flame Is driven therein by force and rage of wind. I can not tell, alas, what I shall blame, Nor what to seek nor what to find. But well I wot the grief holds me so sore In heat and cold betwixt hope and dread, That but her help to health doth me restore This restless life I may not lead.
So unwarely was never no man cawght With stedefast loke apon a goodly face As I of late ; for sodenly, me thowght, My hart was torne owte of hys place. Thorow myn Iye the strock frome hers did slyde Dyrectly downe unto my hert it ranne ; In helpe wherof the blood therto did glyde, And left my face boeth pale and wann. Then was I like a man for woo amasyd, Or like the byrde that flyeth into the fyer ; For whyll that I on her beaulte gasyd, The more I burnt in my desyre. Anon the blowd stert in my face agayn, Enflamed with hete that yt had att my hert, And browght therwith therowt in every vayne A quakynd hete with plesaunt smert. Then was I like the strawe, when that the flame Ys drevyn therin by force and rage of wynd ; I can nott tell alas what I shall blame, Nor what to seke nor what to fynd. But well I wote the greffe holdes me so sore In hete and cold betwyxt hope and drede, That but her helpe to helth doeth me restore Thys restles lyff I may nott lede.

NOTES

unwarely = unawares. With steadfast look etc. = by looking disinterestedly at (her) beautiful face. In help whereof = in order to give help in that situation. start = started up, arose to. Nor what to seek, nor what to find - i.e. I am at a loss to know what to do. well I wot = I know full well.

21

How should I Be so pleasant In my semblant As my fellows be? Not long ago It chanced so As I did walk alone I heard a man That now and then Himself did thus bemoan: "Alas," he said "I am betrayed And utterly undone, Whom I did trust And think so just Another man hath won". "My service due And heart so true On her I did bestow. I never meant For to repent In wealth nor yet in woe." "Love did assign Her to be mine And not to love no new, But who can bind Their fickle kind That never will be true." "Each western wind Hath turned her mind And blown it clean away, Thereby my wealth My mirth and health Are driven to great decay." "Fortune did smile A right short while And never said me nay, With pleasant plays And joyful days My time to pass away." "Alas, ah las The time so was So never shall it be, Since she is gone And I alone Armless as ye may see." "Where is the oath Where is the troth That she to me did give? Such feigned words With silly bourds Let no wise man believe." "For even as I Thus woefully Unto myself complain, If ye then trust Needs learn ye must To sing my song in vain." "How should I Be so pleasant In my semblant As my fellows be?"
How shuld I Be so pleasaunt In my semblaunt As my fellowes be. Not long agoo It chaunced soo As I ded walk alone I herd a man That now and then Himself did thus bemone : "Alas," he saide "I am betrayde "And utterly undone, "Whom I did trust "And think so just "Another man hath wone. "My servise due "And hert so true "On her I did bestow, "I never ment "Ffor to repente "In welth nor yet in woo." Love did assyn Her to be myn And not to love no nue But who can bynd Their feckell kynd That never wyll be tru. Eche westerne winde Hath torned his minde And blowen it clene away, Therby my welth My mirth and helth Are dryven to grete dekay. Fortune did smyle A right shorte while And never saide me naye ; With pleasaunt plaes And joyful dayes My tyme to passe awaye. Alas, ah las The tyme so was So never shall it be, Sins she is gone And I alone Armeles as ye may see. Where is the oth Where is the troth That she to me did gyve ? Such fayned wordes With selie boordes Let no wise man beleve. For even as I Thus wofully Unto myself complaine, If ye then truste Nedes lerne ye muste To sing my song in vayne. How shuld I Be so pleasaunt In my semblaunt As my fellowes be.

NOTES

semblant = appearance. Their fickle kind - i.e. the race of women, womankind. Each western wind - (? ) a metaphor for every chance encounter. turned her mind - the MS 'his' is probably an error. pleasant plays = delightful amusements. ah las = alas. armless = helpless. Other eds give 'am left'. bourds = jokes, mockeries. If ye then trust etc. = If you put your trust in a lover, as I did, you will end up singing the same woeful song.

22

Full well it may be seen To such as understand, How some there be that ween They have their wealth at hand, Thorough love's abused band. But little do they see Th'abuse wherein they be. Of love there is a kind Which kindleth by abuse, As in a feeble mind, Whom fancy may induce, By love's deceitful use, To follow the fond lust And proof of a vain trust. As I myself may say By trial of the same, No wight can well bewray The falsehood love can frame. I say, twixt grief and game, There is no living man That knows the craft love can. For love so well can feign To favour for the while, That such as seeks the gain Are served with the guile. And some can this conceal, To give the simple leave Themselves for to deceive. What thing may more declare Of love the crafty kind, Than see the wise, so ware, In love to be so blind. If so it be assigned, Let them enjoy the gain, That thinks it worth the pain.
Full well yt maye be sene To suche as understand, How some there be that wene They have theyre welth at hand, Thoruhe loves abusyd band ; But lytell do they see Th'abuse wherin they bee. Of love there ys a kynd Which kyndlythe by abuse, As in a feble mynd, Whome fansy may enduce By loves dysceatefull use, To folowe the fond lust, And prove of a vayn trust. As I myself may saye By tryall of the same, No wyght can well bewray The falsyed love can frame ; I saye, twyxt grefe and game, There is no lyvyng man That knows the crafte love can. For love so well can fayn To favour for the whyle, That suche as sekes the gayn Ar servyd with the gyle ; And some can thys concyle, To gyve the symple leave Them selfes for to dysceave. What thing may more declare Of love the craftye kynd, Than see the wyse, so ware, In love to be so blynd. If so yt be assynd, Let them enjoye the gayn, That thynkes yt worth the payne.

NOTES

ween = think. thorough = through. love's abused band = the ties of love (which deceive the lover into thinking all is well). abused = deceived. band = bond. kindleth by abuse = is kindled by being deceived. fond lust = foolish desire. proof = trial. wight = man. bewray = reveal, show. frame = make, create. love can = that love is capable of. such as seek the gain = those who seek profit and success (from love). Are served with the guile = are tricked. Some can this conceal etc. - Uncertain meaning to these three lines. Perhaps "Some (women) can conceal their treachery, and are happy to allow the simple minded lover to go on deceiving himself. Of love the crafty kind = the crafty nature of Love. ware = wary. If so it be assigned = if that is how things are.

23

Since love is such, that as ye wot, Cannot always be wisely used I say therefore then blame me not, Though I therein have been abused. For as with cause I am accused, Guilty I grant, such was my lot, And though it cannot be excused Yet let such folly be forgot. For in my years of reckless youth Me thought the power of love so great That to her laws I bound my troth And to my will there was no let. Me list no more so far to fet Such fruit lo as of love ensueth. The gain was small that was to get And of the loss the less the ruth. And few there is but first or last A time in love once shall they have. And glad I am my time is past, Henceforth my freedom to withsave. Now in my heart there shall I grave The grounded grace that now I taste. Thanked be fortune that me gave So fair a gift, so sure and fast. Now such as have me seen ere this When youth in me set forth his kind, And folly framed my thought amiss, The fault whereof now well I find, Lo, since that so it is assigned That unto each a time there is, Then blame the lot that led my mind Sometime to live in love's bliss. But from henceforth I do protest, By press of that that I have past, Shall never cease within my breast The power of love so late outcast. The knot thereof is knit full fast, And I thereto so sure professed, For evermore with me to last The power wherin I am possessed.
Syns love ys suche, that as ye wott, Cannot always be wysely usyd I say therfore then blame me nott, Tho I therin have ben abusyd ; Ffor as with cause I ame accusyd, Gyllty I graunt, suche was my lott And tho yt cannot be excusyd Yet let suche folye be forgott Ffor in my yeres of rekles youthe Me thought the power of love so gret That to her lawes I bound my trouthe And to my wyll there was no lett. Me lyst no more so far to fett Suche frutte lo as of love ensewthe The gayn was small that was to gett And of the losse the lesse the reuthe And few there ys but fyrst or last A tyme in love ones shall they have ; And glad I am my tyme ys past Henceforthe my fredome to withsave. Now in my hart there shall I grave The groundyd grace that now I tast ; Thankyd be fortune that me gave So fayre a gyfft, so sure and fast. Now suche as have me sene ere thys When youthe in me sett forthe hys kynd, And foly framd my thought amys, The fawte wherof now well I ffynde, Loo, syns that so yt ys assynd That unto eche a tyme there ys, Then blame the lott that led my mynd Sometyme to lyve in loves blys. But frome henceforthe I do protest, By presse of that that I have past, Shall never ceace within my brest The power of love so late owtcast. The knott thereof ys knytt ffull fast, And I therto so sure proffest, Ffor evermore with me to last The power wherin I am possest.

NOTES

ye wot = you know. abused = deceived; maltreated. as with cause = as if in due process of law. Guilty I grant = I plead guilty. I bound my troth = I pledged myself. no let = no hindrance or holding back. Me list no more = I no longer desire. so far to fet = (to trudge) such a long way to fetch (obtain). Such fruit lo as of love ensueth = the delights apertaining to love. Lo signifies 'Behold, you know about it!'. that was to get = that was obtainable. And of the loss etc. = (?) Regarding love's failures, there is less sorrow for me now (since I have renounced love). but first or last = willy-nilly. once = at some time.

24

Lo how I seek and sue to have That no man hath, and may be had! There is no more but sink or save And bring this doubt to good or bad. To live in sorrows, always sad, I like not so to linger forth, Hap evil or good I shall be glad To take that comes as well in worth. Should I sustain this great distress, Still wandering forth thus to and fro In dreadful hope to hold my peace, And feed my self with secret woe? Nay, nay, certain I will not so But sure I shall my self apply To put in proof this doubt to know And rid this danger readily. I shall assay by secret suit To show the mind of mine intent, And my deserts shall give such fruit As with my heart my words be meant. So by the proof of this consent Soon, out of doubt I shall be, sure, For to rejoice or to repent, In joy or pain for to endure.
Lo how I seke and sew to have That no man hathe, and may be had ! There ys more but synk or save And bring thys doute to good or bad. To lyve in sorrows, allways sad, I lyke not so to linger fforthe, Hap evyll or good I shallbe glad To take that comes as well in worthe. Shold I sustayn this great dystres, Styll wandryng forthe thus to and froo In dredfull hope to hold my pese, And fede my sellf with secret woo ? Nay, nay, certayne I wyll not soo But sure I shall my selfe aply To put in profe this doute to knoo And rydd thys daunger redely. I shall assay by secret sute To show the mynd of myn entent, And my desertes shall gyve suche frute As with my hart my wordes be ment. So by the profe of thys consent Sone, out of doute, I shall be sure, For to rejoyce or to repent In joye or payn for to endure.

NOTES

That no man hath = that which no man has. may be had = (?) yet is there for the taking. no more but sink or save = it is either sink or swim. bring this doubt to good or bad = resolve my doubt one way or the other. to linger forth = to continue (in such a plight). Hap evil or good = Let evil or good be my lot, or, whether evil or good fortune awaits me. that comes = whatever comes. well in worth = of good value. Should I sustain = Ought I to continue to endure? Still wandering forth = always wandering about. dreadful = full of dread. to hold my peace = whether I will keep silence. put in proof = put to the test. this doubt to know = in order to resolve this uncertainty. rid this danger = get rid of this danger (of being self-deceived, of being unloved). assay = try. secret suit = (?) in a secret rendezvous. the mind of mine intent = what my intentions are. As with my heart etc. = (?) as if my words were a true statement of what is in my heart. proof of this consent = trial of her agreement (to a mutual love). For to rejoice etc. = so that I may either rejoice or repent, being evermore condemned to joy or sorrow with certainty.

25

Since ye so please to here me plain, And that ye do rejoice my smart, Me list no longer to remain To such as be so overthwart. But cursed be that cruel heart Which hath procured a careless mind For me, and mine unfeigned smart, And forceth me such faults to find. More than too much I am assured Of thine intent, whereto to trust. A speedless proof I have endured, And now I leave it to them that lust.
Syns ye so please to here me playn, And that ye do rejoyce my smart, Me lyst no lenger to remayn To such as be so overthwart. But cursyd be that cruell hart Whyche hathe procuryd a careles mynd For me, and myn unfaynyd smart, And forcythe me suche fautes to fynd. More than to muche I am assuryd Of thyn entent, wherto to trust ; A spedles proffe I have enduryd, And now I leve yt to them that lust.

NOTES

ye so please = you take such pleasure to hear me plain = to listen to me complaining. rejoice my smart = take delight at my pain. Me list no longer = I no longer wish. to remain / To such = to continue to be devoted to such. overthwart = perverse, contrary. procured a careless mind = produced a mind (in her) free of all care for him. More than too much = absolutely and with more proof than I need. whereto to trust = and the extent to which I may trust (you). A speedless proof = an experience without advantage to me. I leave it = I leave this experience (?), I abandon you (?). to them that lust = to those who wish to repeat my experience; to those who lust after you.

26

Now must I learn to live at rest And wean me of my will, For I repent where I was pressed My fancy to fulfil. I may no longer more endure My wonted life to lead, But I must learn to put in ure The change of womanhood. I may not see my service long Rewarded in such wise, Nor I may not sustain such wrong That ye my love despise. I may not sigh in sorrows deep Nor wail the want of love, Nor I may neither crouch nor creep Where it doth not behove. But I of force must needs forsake My faith so fondly set, And from henceforth must undertake Such folly to forget. Now must I seek some other ways My self for to withsave, And as I trust by mine assays Some remedy to have. I ask none other remedy To recompense my wrong But once to have the liberty That I have lacked so long.
Now must I lerne to lyve at rest And weyne me of my wyll, For I repent where I was prest My fansy to fullfyll. I may no lenger more endure My wonted lyf to lede, But I must lerne to put in ure The change of Womanhede. I may not see my servys long Rewardyd in suche wyse, Nor I may not sustayn suche wrong That ye my love dyspyse I may not sighe in sorows depe Nor wayle the want of love, Nor I may nother cruche nor crepe Wher hyt dothe not behove. But I of force must nedes forsake My faythe so fondly sett, And frome henceforthe must undertake Such foly to fforgett Now must I seke som other ways My self for to withsave, And as I trust by myn assays Some remedy to have. I aske none other remedy To recompense my wronge But ons to have the lyberty That I have lakt so long.

NOTES

at rest = in peace, free of love's turmoil. wean me of my will = break away from dependence on my whims, fancies, carnal desires. pressed = compelled. My fancy to fulfil = to follow the dictates of my desires. My wonted life = my customary way of existence. to put in ure = to set down as experience, to become accustomed to. The change of womanhood = the fickleness of women. I may not = I do not intend to; I reject the idea that I must. crouch nor creep - i.e. as the subservient lover. so fondly set = so foolishly devoted to you. withsave = preserve, save. assays = efforts. once = here and now; once and for all.

27

Forget not yet the tried intent Of such a truth as I have meant, My great travail so gladly spent, Forget not yet. Forget not yet when first began, The weary life ye know, since when, The suit, the service, none tell can, Forget not yet. Forget not yet the great assays, The cruel wrong, the scornful ways, The painful patience in denays, Forget not yet. Forget not yet, forget not this, How long ago hath been, and is The mind, that never meant amiss, Forget not yet. Forget not then thine own approved, The which so long hath thee so loved, Whose steadfast faith yet never moved, Forget not this.
Fforget not yet the tryde entent, Of suche a truthe as I have ment, My great travayle so gladly spent, Fforget not yet. Fforget not yet when fyrst began, The wery lyffe ye know syns when, The sute, the servys, none tell can, Fforget not yet. Fforget not yet the gret assays, The cruell wrong, the skornfull ways, The paynfull pacyence in denays, Fforget not yet. Fforget not yet, forget not thys, How long ago hathe ben, and ys The mynd, that never ment amys, Fforget not yet. Fforget not then thyn owne aprovyd, The whyche so long hathe thee so lovyd, Whose stedfast faythe yet never movyd, Fforget not thys.

NOTES

tried intent = willingness which you have put to the test (tried). as I have meant = as I have purposed and demonstrated. assays = toils, efforts, trials. denays = denials (by you towards me and my love for you). meant amiss = intended harm (to you).

28

O miserable sorrow withouten cure If it please thee lo to have me thus suffer, At least yet let her know what I endure, And this my last voice carry thou thither Where lived my hope, now dead for ever. For as ill grievous is my banishement As was my pleasure, when she was present.
O myserable sorow withowten cure Yf it plese the lo to have me thus suffir, At lest yet let her know what I endure, And this my last voyse cary thow thether Wher lyved my hope now ded for ever ; For as ill grevus is my banyshement As was my plesure whan she was present.

NOTES

last voice = final word.

29

Blame not my lute for he must sound, Of this and that as liketh me, For lack of wit the lute is bound To give such tunes as pleaseth me, Though my songs be somewhat strange, And speaks such words as touch thy change Blame not my lute. My lute alas doth not offend, Though that perforce he must agree To sound such tunes as I intend, To sing to them that heareth me. Then though my songs be somewhat plain, And toucheth some that use to feign, Blame not my lute. My lute and strings may not deny But as I strike they must obey. Break not them then so wrongfully But wreak thyself some wiser way. And though the songs which I indite Do quit thy change with rightful spite Blame not my lute. Spite asketh spite and changing change, And falsed faith must needs be known, The fault so great, the case so strange Of right it must abroad be blown. Then since that by thine own desert My songs do tell how true thou art, Blame not my lute. Blame but the self that hast misdone, And well deserved to have blame. Change thou thy way so evil begone, And then my lute shall sound that same. But if till then my fingers play By thy desert, their wonted way Blame not my lute. Farewell, unknown, for though thou break My strings in spite, with great disdain, Yet have I found out for thy sake Strings for to string my lute again. And if perchance this silly rhyme Do make thee blush at any time, Blame not my lute.
Blame not my lute for he must sound, Of thes and that as lyketh me, For lake of wit the lute is bownd To geve such tunes as plesithe me ; Tho my songes be sumwhat strange, And spekes suche wordes as toche thy change Blame not my lute. My lute alas doeth not ofend, Tho that perforce he must agre To sownd suche tunes as I entend, To sing to them that hereth me ; Then tho my songes be somewhat plain, And tochethe some that use to fain, Blame not my lute. My lute and stringes may not deny But as I strike they must obey Brake not them then so wrongfully But wreke thyself som wyser way And tho the songes whiche I endight To qwytt thy change with rightful spight Blame not my lute. Spyght askyth spyght and changing change, And falsyd faith must nedes be knowne, The faute so grett, the case so strange Of ryght it must abrode be blown ; Then sins that by thyn own desartt My songes do tell how trew thou artt Blame not my lute. Blame but the selffe that hast mysdone, And well desarvid to have blame ; Change thou thy way so evyll begone And then my lute shall sownd that same ; But if tyll then my fyngeres play By thy desartt, ther wontyd way Blame not my lute. Farewell, unknown, for tho thou brake My strynges in spight, with grett desdayn, Yet have I fownd owtt for thy sake Stringes for to stringe my lute agayne. And if perchance this sely rhyme Do make thee blushe at any tyme, Blame not my lute.

NOTES

for he must sound = because it brings forth sounds. as liketh me = according to what I wish. wit = intelligence, mind. thy change, your fickleness, unfaithfulness. may not deny - i.e. the lute cannot deny to do his bidding when he plays it. Break not them - i.e. do not break the strings (in a fit of temper). wreak thyself = show your anger. Do quit thy change = pay you back for your infidelity. (The D ms. gives 'to quit'). changing change = fickleness requires fickleness in return. so evil begone = so that you absent yourself from evil.