Elizabethan Sonnet Month

Henry Constable (1562-1613)

To Diana

To His Mistress

Grace full of grace, though in these verses here
My love complains of others than of thee,
Yet thee alone I loved, and they by me,
Thou yet unknown, only mistaken were.
Like him which feels a heat now here now there,
Blames now this cause now that, until he see
The fire indeed from whence they caused be;
Which fire I now do know is you, my dear,
Thus diverse loves dispersed in my verse
In thee alone for ever I unite,
And fully unto thee more to rehearse;
To him I fly for grace that rules above,
That by my grace I may live in delight,
Or by his grace I never more may love.

To His Absent Diana

Severed from sweet content, my live's sole light,
Banished by over-weening wit from my desire,
This poor acceptance only I require:
That though my fault have forced me from thy sight
Yet that thou would'st, my sorrows to requite,
Review these sonnets, pictures of thy praise;
Wherein each woe thy wondrous worth doth raise,
Though first thy worth bereft me of delight.
See them forsaken; for I them forsook,
Forsaken first of thee, next of my sense;
And when thou deign'st on their black tears to look,
Shed not one tear, my tears to recompence;
But joy in this, though fate 'gainst me repine,
My verse still lives to witness thee divine.

The First Decade

1 The birth and beginning of love

Resolved to love, unworthy to obtain,
I do no favour crave; but, humble wise,
To thee my sighs in verse I sacrifice,
Only some pity and no help to gain.
Hear then, and as my heart shall aye remain
A patient object to thy lightning eyes,
A patient ear bring thou to thund'ring cries;
Fear not the crack, when I the blow sustain.
So as thine eye bred mine ambitious thought,
So shall thine ear make proud my voice for joy.
Lo, dear, what wonders great by thee are wrought,
When I but little favour do enjoy!
The voice is made the ear for to rejoice,
And your ear giveth pleasure to my voice.

2 An Excuse To His Mistress

Blame not my heart for flying up so high,
Sith thou art cause that it this flight begun;
For earthly vapours drawn up by the sun,
Comets become, and night suns in the sky.
Mine humble heart, so with thy heavenly eye
Drawn up aloft, all low desires doth shun;
Raise thou me up, as thou my heart hast done,
So during night in heaven remain may I.
I say again, blame not my high desire,
Sith of us both the cause thereof depends.
In thee doth shine, in me doth burn a fire,
Fire draws up other, and itself ascends.
Thine eye a fire, and so draws up my love;
My love a fire, and so ascends above.

3 Of The Birth Of His Love

Fly low, dear love, thy sun dost thou not see?
Take heed, do not so near his rays aspire;
Lest, for thy pride, inflamed with wreakful ire,
It burn thy wings, as it hath burned me.
Thou haply sayst thy wings immortal be,
And so cannot consumed be with fire;
And one is hope, the other is desire,
And that the heavens bestowed them both on thee.
A muse's words made thee with hope to fly,
An angel's face desire hath begot,
Thyself engendered by a goddess' eye;
Yet for all this, immortal thou art not.
Of heavenly eye though thou begotten art,
Yet art thou born but of a mortal heart.

Sonnet 4

A friend of mine, pitying my hopeless love,
Hoping by killing hope my love to stay,
"Let not," quoth he, "thy hope, thy heart betray;
Impossible it is her heart to move."
But sith resolved love cannot remove
As long as thy divine perfections stay,
Thy godhead then he sought to take away.
Dear, seek revenge and him a liar prove;
Gods only do impossibilities.
"Impossible," saith he, "thy grace to gain."
Show then the power of divinities
By granting me thy favour to obtain.
So shall thy foe give to himself the lie;
A goddess thou shall prove, and happy I!

Sonnet 5

Thine eye the glass where I behold my heart,
Mine eye the window through the which thine eye
May see my heart, and there thyself espy
In bloody colours how thou painted art.
Thine eye the pile is of a murdering dart;
Mine eye the sight thou tak'st thy level by
To hit my heart, and never shoot'st awry.
Mine eye thus helps thine eye to work my smart.
Thine eye a fire is both in heat and light;
Mine eye of tears a river doth become.
O that the water of mine eye had might
To quench the flames that from thine eye doth come,
Or that the fires kindled by thine eye,
The flowing streams of mine eyes could make dry.

Sonnet 6

Mine eye with all the deadly sins is fraught.
First _proud_, sith it presumed to look so high.
A watchman being made, stood gazing by,
And _idle_, took no heed till I was caught.
And _envious_, bears envy that by thought
Should in his absence be to her so nigh.
To kill my heart, mine eye let in her eye;
And so consent gave to a _murder_ wrought.
And _covetous_, it never would remove
From her fair hair, gold so doth please his sight.
_Unchaste_, a baud between my heart and love.
A _glutton_ eye, with tears drunk every night.
These sins procured have a goddess' ire,
Wherefore my heart is damned in love's sweet fire.

Sonnet 7

Falsely doth envy of your praises blame
My tongue, my pen, my heart of flattery,
Because I said there was no sun but thee.
It called my tongue the partial trump of fame,
And saith my pen hath flattered thy name,
Because my pen did to my tongue agree;
And that my heart must needs a flatterer be,
Which taught both tongue and pen to say the same.
No, no, I flatter not when thee I call
The sun, sith that the sun was never such;
But when the sun thee I compared withal,
Doubtless the sun I flattered too much.
Witness mine eyes, I say the truth in this,
They have seen thee and know that so it is.

Sonnet 8

Much sorrow in itself my love doth move,
More my despair to love a hopeless bliss,
My folly most to love whom sure to miss
O help me, but this last grief to remove;
All pains, if you command, it joy shall prove,
And wisdom to seek joy. Then say but this,
"Because my pleasure in thy torment is,
I do command thee without hope to love!"
So when this thought my sorrow shall augment
That my own folly did procure my pain,
Then shall I say to give myself content,
"Obedience only made me love in vain.
It was your will, and not my want of wit;
I have the pain, bear you the blame of it!"

Sonnet 9

My lady's presence makes the roses red,
Because to see her lips they blush with shame.
The lily's leaves for envy pale became,
And her white hands in them this envy bred.
The marigold the leaves abroad doth spread,
Because the sun's and her power is the same.
The violet of purple colour came,
Dyed in the blood she made my heart to shed.
In brief, all flowers from her their virtue take;
From her sweet breath their sweet smells do proceed;
The living heat which her eyebeams doth make
Warmeth the ground and quickeneth the seed.
The rain wherewith she watereth the flowers,
Falls from mine eyes which she dissolves in showers.

Sonnet 10

Heralds at arms do three perfections quote,
To wit, most fair, most rich, most glittering;
So when those three concur within one thing,
Needs must that thing of honour be a note.
Lately I did behold a rich fair coat,
Which wished fortune to mine eyes did bring.
A lordly coat, yet worthy of a king,
In which one might all these perfections note.
A field of lilies, roses proper bare;
Two stars in chief; the crest was waves of gold.
How glittering 'twas, might by the stars appear;
The lilies made it fair for to behold.
And rich it was as by the gold appeareth;
But happy he that in his arms it weareth!

Second Decade

Sonnet 1

TIf true love might true love's reward obtain,
Dumb wonder only might speak of my joy;
But too much worth hath made thee too much coy,
And told me long ago I sighed in vain.
Not then vain hope of undeserved gain
Hath made me paint in verses mine annoy,
But for thy pleasure, that thou might'st enjoy
Thy beauty's praise, in glasses of my pain.
See then, thyself, though me thou wilt not hear,
By looking on my verse. For pain in verse,
Love doth in pain, beauty in love appear.
So if thou would'st my verses' meaning see,
Expound them thus, when I my love rehearse:
"None loves like he!" that is, "None fair like me!.

Sonnet 2

It may be, love my death doth not pretend,
Although he shoots at me, but thinks it fit
Thus to bewitch thee for thy benefit,
Causing thy will to my wish to condescend.
For witches which some murder do intend,
Do make a picture and do shoot at it;
And in that part where they the picture hit,
The party's self doth languish to his end.
So love, too weak by force thy heart to taint,
Within my heart thy heavenly shape doth paint;
Suffering therein his arrows to abide,
Only to th'end he might by witches' art,
Within my heart pierce through thy picture's side,
And through thy picture's side might wound my heart.

Sonnet 3

The sun, his journey ending in the west,
Taketh his lodging up in Thetis' bed;
Though from our eyes his beams be banished,
Yet with his light th' antipodes be blest.
Now when the sun-time brings my sun to rest,
Which me too oft of rest hath hindered,
And whiter skin with white sheet covered,
And softer cheek doth on soft pillow rest,
Then I, O sun of suns! and light of lights!
Wish me with those antipodes to be,
Which see and feel thy beams and heat by nights.
Well, though the night both cold and darksome is,
Yet half the day's delight the night grants me,
I feel my sun's heat, though his light I miss.

Sonnet 4

Lady, in beauty and in favour rare,
Of favour, not of due, I favour crave.
Nature to thee beauty and favour gave;
Fair then thou art, and favour thou may'st spare.
Nor when on me bestowed your favours are,
Less favour in your face you shall not have;
If favour then a wounded soul may save,
Of murder's guilt, dear Lady, then beware.
My loss of life a million fold were less
Than the least loss should unto you befall;
Yet grant this gift; which gift when I possess,
Both I have life and you no loss at all.
For by your favour only I do live,
And favour you may well both keep and give.

Sonnet 5

My reason absent did mine eyes require
To watch and ward and such foes to descry
As they should ne'er my heart approaching spy;
But traitor eyes my heart's death did conspire,
Corrupted with hope's gifts; let in desire
To burn my heart; and sought no remedy,
Though store of water were in either eye,
Which well employed, might well have quenched the fire.
Reason returned; love and fortune made
Judges, to judge mine eyes to punishment.
Fortune, sith they by sight my heart betrayed
From wished sight, adjudged them banishment;
Love, sith by fire murdered my heart was found,
Adjudged them in tears for to be drowned.

Sonnet 6

Wonder it is and pity is't that she
In whom all beauty's treasure we may find,
That may unrich the body and the mind,
Towards the poor should use no charity.
My love has gone a begging unto thee.
And if that beauty had not been more kind
That pity, long ere this he had been pined;
But beauty is content his food to be.
O pity have when such poor orphans beg!
Love, naked boy, hath nothing on his back;
And though he wanteth neither arm nor leg,
Yet maimed he is sith he his sight doth lack.
And yet though blind he beauty can behold,
And yet though naked he feels more heat than cold.

Sonnet 7

Pity refusing my poor love to feed,
A beggar starved for want of help he lies;
And at your mouth, the door of beauty, cries,
That thence some alms of sweet grants might proceed.
But as he waiteth for some almes deed,
A cherry tree before the door he spies.
"O dear," quoth he, "two cherries may suffice.
Two only may save life in this my need."
But beggars, can they nought but cherries eat?
Pardon my love, he is a goddess' son,
And never feedeth but on dainty meat,
Else need he not to pine, as he hath done;
For only the sweet fruit of this sweet tree
Can give food to my love and life to me.

Sonnet 8

The fowler hides as closely as he may
The net, where caught the silly bird should be,
Lest he the threatening poison should but see,
And so for fear be forced to fly away.
My lady so, the while she doth assay
In curled knots fast to entangle me,
Put on her veil, to th' end I should not flee
The golden net wherein I am a prey.
Alas, most sweet! what need is of a net
To catch a bird that is already ta'en?
Sith with your hand alone you may it get,
For it desires to fly into the same.
What needs such art my thoughts then to entrap,
When of themselves they fly into your lap?

Sonnet 9

Sweet hand, the sweet but cruel bow thou art,
From whence at me five ivory arrows fly;
So with five wounds at once I wounded lie,
Bearing my breast the print of every dart.
Saint Francis had the like, yet felt no smart,
Where I in living torments never die.
His wounds were in his hands and feet; where I
All these five helpless wounds feel in my heart.
Now, as Saint Francis, if a saint am I,
The bow that shot these shafts a relic is;
I mean the hand, which is the reason why
So many for devotion thee would kiss:
And some thy glove kiss as a thing divine,
This arrows' quiver, and this relic's shrine.

Sonnet 10

Fair sun, if you would have me praise your light,
When night approacheth wherefore do you fly?
Time is so short, beauties so many be,
As I have need to see them day and night,
That by continual view my verses might
Tell all the beams of your divinity;
Which praise to you and joy should be to me,
You living by my verse, I by your sight;
I by your sight, and not you by my verse,
Need mortal skill immortal praise rehearse?
No, no, though eyes were blind, and verse were dumb,
Your beauty should be seen and your fame known;
For by the wind which from my sighs do come,
Your praises round about the world are blown.

Third Decade

Sonnet 1

Uncivil sickness, hast thou no regard,
But dost presume my dearest to molest,
And without leave dar'st enter in that breast
Whereto sweet love approach yet never dared?
Spare thou her health, which my life hath not spared;
Too bitter such revenge of my unrest!
Although with wrongs my thought she hath opprest,
My wrongs seek not revenge, they crave reward
Cease, sickness, cease in her then to remain;
And come and welcome, harbour thou in me
Whom love long since hath taught to suffer in!
So she which hath so oft my pain increased,
O God, that I might so revenged be,
By my poor pain might have her pain released!
If beauty thus be clouded with a frown,

The Sonnets numbered 2 to 8 in this Decade are by Sidney, and were printed among the "Certaine Sonets" in the 1598 edition of the "Arcadia"

Sonnet 9

Woe to mine eyes, the organs of mine ill;
Hate to my heart, for not concealing joy;
A double curse upon my tongue be still,
Whose babbling lost what else I might enjoy!
When first mine eyes did with thy beauty joy,
They to my heart thy wondrous virtues told;
Who, fearing lest thy beams should him destroy,
Whate'er he knew, did to my tongue unfold.
My tell-tale tongue, in talking over bold,
What they in private council did declare,
To thee, in plain and public terms unrolled;
And so by that made thee more coyer far.
What in thy praise he spoke, that didst thou trust;
And yet my sorrows thou dost hold unjust.

Sonnet 10

Of an Athenian young man have I read,
Who on blind fortune's picture doated so,
That when he could not buy it to his bed,
On it he gazing died for very woe.
My fortune's picture art thou, flinty dame,
That settest golden apples to my sight;
But wilt by no means let me taste the same.
To drown in sight of land is double spite.
Of fortune as thou learn'dst to be unkind,
So learn to be unconstant to disdain.
The wittiest women are to sport inclined.
Honour is pride, and pride is nought but pain.
Let others boast of choosing for the best;
'Tis substances not names must make us blest.

Fourth Decade

Sonnet 1

Needs must I leave and yet needs must I love;
In vain my wit doth tell in verse my woe;
Despair in me, disdain in thee, doth show
How by my wit I do my folly prove.
All this my heart from love can never move.
Love is not in my heart. No, Lady, no,
My heart is love itself. Till I forego
My heart I never can my love remove.
How can I then leave love? I do intend
Not to crave grace, but yet to wish it still;
Not to praise thee, but beauty to commend;
And so, by beauty's praise, praise thee I will;
For as my heart is love, love not in me,
So beauty thou, beauty is not in thee.

Sonnet 2

Sweet sovereign, since so many minds remain
Obedient subjects at thy beauty's call,
So many hearts bound in thy hairs as thrall,
So many eyes die with one look's disdain,
Go, seek the honour that doth thee pertain,
That the Fifth Monarchy may thee befall!
Thou hast such means to conquer men withal,
As all the world must yield or else be slain.
To fight, thou need'st no weapons but thine eyes,
Thine hair hath gold enough to pay thy men,
And for their food thy beauty will suffice;
For men and armour, Lady, care have none;
For one will sooner yield unto thee then
When he shall meet thee naked all alone.

Sonnet 3

When your perfections to my thoughts appear,
They say among themselves, "O happy we,
Whichever shall so rare an object see!"
But happy heart, if thoughts less happy were!
For their delights have cost my heart full dear,
In whom of love a thousand causes be,
And each cause breeds a thousand loves in me,
And each love more than thousand hearts can bear.
How can my heart so many loves then hold,
Which yet by heaps increase from day to day?
But like a ship that's o'ercharged with gold,
Must either sink or hurl the gold away.
But hurl not love; thou canst not, feeble heart;
In thine own blood, thou therefore drowned art!

Sonnet 4

Fools be they that inveigh 'gainst Mahomet,
Who's but a moral of love's monarchy.
But a dull adamant, as straw by jet,
He in an iron chest was drawn on high.
In midst of Mecca's temple roof, some say,
He now hangs without touch or stay at all.
That Mahomet is she to whom I pray;
May ne'er man pray so ineffectual!
Mine eyes, love's strange exhaling adamants,
Un'wares, to my heart's temple's height have wrought
The iron idol that compassion wants,
Who my oft tears and travails sets at nought.
Iron hath been transformed to gold by art;
Her face, limbs, flesh and all, gold; save her heart.

Sonnet 5

Ready to seek out death in my disgrace,
My mistress 'gan to smooth her gathered brows,
Whereby I am reprieved for a space.
O hope and fear! who half your torments knows?
It is some mercy in a black-mouthed judge
To haste his prisoner's end, if he must die.
Dear, if all other favour you shall grudge,
Do speedy execution with your eye;
With one sole look you leave in me no soul!
Count it a loss to lose a faithful slave.
Would God, that I might hear my last bell toll,
So in your bosom I might dig a grave!
Doubtful delay is worse than any fever,
Or help me soon, or cast me off for ever!

Sonnet 6

Each day, new proofs of new despair I find,
That is, new deaths. No marvel then, though I
Make exile my last help; to th'end mine eye
Should not behold the death to me assigned.
Not that from death absence might save my mind,
But that it might take death more patiently;
Like him, the which by judge condemned to die,
To suffer with more ease, his eyes doth blind.
Your lips in scarlet clad, my judges be,
Pronouncing sentence of eternal "No!"
Despair, the hangman that tormenteth me;
The death I suffer is the life I have.
For only life doth make me die in woe,
And only death I for my pardon crave.

Sonnet 7

The richest relic Rome did ever view
Was' Caesar's tomb; on which, with cunning hand,
Jove's triple honours, the three fair Graces, stand,
Telling his virtues in their virtues true.
This Rome admired; but dearest dear, in you
Dwelleth the wonder of the happiest land,
And all the world to Neptune's furthest strand,
For what Rome shaped hath living life in you.
Thy naked beauty, bounteously displayed,
Enricheth monarchies of hearts with love;
Thine eyes to hear complaints are open laid;
Thine eyes' kind looks requite all pains I prove;
That of my death I dare not thee accuse;
But pride in me that baser chance refuse.

Sonnet 8

Why thus unjustly, say, my cruel fate,
Dost thou adjudge my luckless eyes and heart,
The one to live exiled from that sweet smart,
Where th' other pines, imprisoned without date?
My luckless eyes must never more debate
Of those bright beams that eased my love apart;
And yet my heart, bound to them with love's dart,
Must there dwell ever to bemoan my state.
O had mine eyes been suffered there to rest,
Often they had my heart's unquiet eased;
Or had my heart with banishment been blest,
Mine eye with beauty never had been pleased!
But since these cross effects hath fortune wrought,
Dwell, heart, with her; eyes, view her in my thought!

Sonnet 9

[The Sonnet numbered 9 is by Sidney, and is found in the "Certaine Sonets" printed in the 1598 edition of the "Arcadia".]

Sonnet 10

Hope, like the hyaena, coming to be old,
Alters his shape, is turned into despair.
Pity my hoary hopes, Maid of clear mould!
Think not that frowns can ever make thee fair.
What harm is it to kiss, to laugh, to play?
Beauty's no blossom, if it be not used.
Sweet dalliance keeps the wrinkles long away;
Repentance follows them that have refused.
To bring you to the knowledge of your good,
I seek, I sue. O try and then believe!
Each image can be chaste that's carved of wood.
You show you live, when men you do relieve.
Iron with wearing shines; rust wasteth treasure.
On earth but love there is no other pleasure.

Fifth Decade

Sonnet 1

Ay me, poor wretch, my prayer is turned to sin!
I say, "I love!" My mistress says "'Tis lust!"
Thus most we lose where most we seek to win.
Wit will make wicked what is ne'er so just.
And yet I can supplant her false surmise.
Lust is a fire that for an hour or twain
Giveth a scorching blaze and then he dies;
Love a continual furnace doth maintain.
A furnace! Well, this a furnace may be called;
For it burns inward, yields a smothering flame,
Sighs which, like boiled lead's smoking vapour, scald.
I sigh apace at echo of sighs' name.
Long have I served; no short blaze is my love.
Hid joys there are that maids scorn till they prove.

Sonnet 2

I do not now complain of my disgrace,
O cruel fair one! fair with cruel crost;
Nor of the hour, season, time, nor place;
Nor of my foil, for any freedom lost;
Nor of my courage, by misfortune daunted;
Nor of my wit, by overweening struck;
Nor of my sense, by any sound enchanted;
Nor of the force of fiery-pointed hook;
Nor of the steel that sticks within my wound;
Nor of my thoughts, by worser thoughts defaced;
Nor of the life I labour to confound.
But I complain, that being thus disgraced,
Fired, feared, frantic, fettered, shot through, slain,
My death is such as I may not complain.

Sonnet 3

If ever sorrow spoke from soul that loves,
As speaks a spirit in a man possest,
In me her spirit speaks. My soul it moves,
Whose sigh-swoll'n words breed whirlwinds in my breast;
Or like the echo of a passing bell,
Which sounding on the water seems to howl;
So rings my heart a fearful heavy knell,
And keeps all night in consort with the owl.
My cheeks with a thin ice of tears are clad,
Mine eyes like morning stars are bleared and red.
What resteth then but I be raging mad,
To see that she, my cares' chief conduit-head,
When all streams else help quench my burning heart,
Shuts up her springs and will no grace impart.

Sonnet 4

You secret vales, you solitary fields,
You shores forsaken and you sounding rocks!
If ever groaning heart hath made you yield,
Or words half spoke that sense in prison locks,
Then 'mongst night shadows whisper out my death.
That when myself hath sealed my lips from speaking,
Each tell-tale echo with a weeping breath,
May both record my truth and true love's breaking.
You pretty flowers that smile for summer's sake,
Pull in your heads before my wat'ry eyes
Do turn the meadows to a standing lake,
By whose untimely floods your glory dies!
For lo, mine heart, resolved to moistening air,
Feedeth mine eyes which double tear for tear.

Sonnet 5

His shadow to Narcissus well presented,
How fair he was by such attractive love!
So if thou would'st thyself thy beauty prove,
Vulgar breath-mirrors might have well contented,
And to their prayers eternally consented,
Oaths, vows and sighs, if they believe might move;
But more thou forc'st, making my pen approve
Thy praise to all, least any had dissented.
When this hath wrought, thou which before wert known
But unto some, of all art now required,
And thine eyes' wonders wronged, because not shown
The world, with daily orisons desired.
Thy chaste fair gifts, with learning's breath is blown,
And thus my pen hath made thy sweets admired.

Sonnet 6

I am no model figure, or sign of care,
But his eternal heart's-consuming essence,
In whom grief's commentaries written are,
Drawing gross passion into pure quintessence,
Not thine eye's fire, but fire of thine eye's disdain,
Fed by neglect of my continual grieving,
Attracts the true life's spirit of my pain,
And gives it thee, which gives me no relieving.
Within thine arms sad elegies I sing;
Unto thine eyes a true heart love-torn lay I:
Thou smell'st from me the savours sorrows bring;
My tears to taste my truth to touch display I.
Lo thus each sense, dear fair one, I importune;
But being care, thou flyest me as ill fortune.

Sonnet 7

But being care, thou flyest me as ill fortune;--
Care the consuming canker of the mind!
The discord that disorders sweet hearts' tune!
Th' abortive bastard of a coward mind!
The lightfoot lackey that runs post by death,
Bearing the letters which contain our end!
The busy advocate that sells his breath,
Denouncing worst to him, is most his friend!
O dear, this care no interest holds in me;
But holy care, the guardian of thy fair,
Thine honour's champion, and thy virtue's fee,
The zeal which thee from barbarous times shall bear,
This care am I; this care my life hath taken.
Dear to my soul, then leave me not forsaken!

Sonnet 8

Dear to my soul, then, leave, me not forsaken!
Fly not! My heart within thy bosom sleepeth;
Even from myself and sense I have betaken
Me unto thee for whom my spirit weepeth,
And on the shore of that salt teary sea,
Couched in a bed of unseen seeming pleasure,
Where in imaginary thoughts thy fair self lay;
But being waked, robbed of my life's best treasure,
I call the heavens, air, earth, and seas to hear
My love, my truth, and black disdained estate,
Beating the rocks with bellowings of despair,
Which still with plaints my words reverberate,
Sighing, "Alas, what shall become of me?"
Whilst echo cries, "What shall become of me?"

Sonnet 9

Whilst echo cries, "What shall become of me?"
And desolate, my desolations pity,
Thou in thy beauty's carack sitt'st to see
My tragic downfall, and my funeral ditty.
No timbrel, but my heart thou play'st upon,
Whose strings are stretched unto the highest key;
The diapason, love; love is the unison;
In love my life and labours waste away.
Only regardless to the world thou leav'st me,
Whilst slain hopes, turning from the feast of sorrow,
Unto despair, their king, which ne'er deceives me,
Captives my heart, whose black night hates the morrow,
And he in truth of my distressed cry
Plants me a weeping star within mine eye.

Sonnet 10

Prometheus for stealing living fire
From heaven's king, was judged eternal death;
In self-same flame with unrelenting ire
Bound fast to Caucasus' low foot beneath.
So I, for stealing living beauty's fire
Into my verse that it may always live,
And change his forms to shapes of my desire,
Thou beauty's queen, self sentence like dost give.
Bound to thy feet in chains of life I lie;
For to thine eyes I never dare aspire;
And in thy beauty's brightness do I fry,
As poor Prometheus in the scalding fire;
Which tears maintain as oil the lamp revives;
Only my succour in thy favour lies.

Sixth Decade

Sonnet 1

One sun unto my life's day gives true light.
One moon dissolves my stormy night of woes.
One star my fate and happy fortune shows.
One saint I serve, one shrine with vows I dight.
One sun transfix'd hath burnt my heart outright,
One moon opposed my love in darkness throws.
One star hath bid my thoughts my wrongs disclose.
Saints scorn poor swains, shrines do my vows no right.
Yet if my love be found a holy fire,
Pure, unstained, without idolatry,
And she nathless in hate of my desire,
Lives to repose her in my misery,
My sun, my moon, my star, my saint, my shrine,
Mine be the torment but the guilt be thine!

Sonnet 2

To live in hell, and heaven to behold;
To welcome life, and die a living death;
To sweat with heat, and yet be freezing cold;
To grasp at stars, and lie the earth beneath;
To treat a maze that never shall have end;
To burn in sighs, and starve in daily tears;
To climb a hill, and never to descend;
Giants to kill, and quake at childish fears;
To pine for food, and watch th' Hesperian tree;
To thirst for drink, and nectar still to draw;
To live accurs'd whom men hold blest to be,
And weep those wrongs which never creature saw:
If this be love, if love in these be founded,
My heart is love, for these in it are grounded.

Sonnet 3

A carver, having loved too long in vain,
Hewed out the portraiture of Venus' son
In marble rock, upon the which did rain
Small drizzling drops, that from a fount did run:
Imagining the drops would either wear
His fury out, or quench his living flame;
But when he saw it bootless did appear,
He swore the water did augment the same.
So I, that seek in verse to carve thee out,
Hoping thy beauty will my flame allay,
Viewing my verse and poems all throughout,
Find my will rather to my love obey,
That with the carver I my work do blame,
Finding it still th' augmenter of my flame.

Sonnet 4

Astronomers the heavens do divide
Into eight houses, where the god remains;
All which in thy perfections do abide.
For in thy feet, the queen of silence reigns;
About thy waist Jove's messenger doth dwell,
Inchanting me as I thereat admire;
And on thy dugs the queen of love doth tell
Her godhead's power in scrolls of my desire;
Thy beauty is the world's eternal sun;
Thy favours force a coward's heart to dare,
And in thy hairs Jove and his riches won.
Thy frowns hold Saturn; thine's the fixed stars.
Pardon me then, divine, to love thee well,
Since thou art heaven, and I in heaven would dwell!

Sonnet 5

Weary of love, my thoughts of love complained,
Till reason told them there was no such power,
And bade me view fair beauty's richest flower,
To see if there a naked boy remained.
Dear, to thine eyes, eyes that my soul hath pained,
Thoughts turned them back in that unhappy hour
To see if love kept there his royal bower,
For if not there, then no place him contained.
There was he not, nor boy, nor golden bow;
Yet as thou turned thy chaste fair eye aside,
A flame of fire did from thine eyelids go,
Which burnt my heart through my sore wounded side;
Then with a sigh, reason made thoughts to cry,
"There is no god of love, save that thine eye!"

Sonnet 6

Forgive me, dear, for thundering on thy name;
Sure 'tis thyself that shows my love distrest.
For fire exhaled in freezing clouds possessed,
Warring for way, makes all the heavens exclaim.
Thy beauty so, the brightest living flame,
Wrapt in my cloudy heart, by winter prest,
Scorning to dwell within so base a nest,
Thunders in me thy everlasting flame.
O that my heart might still contain that fire!
Or that the fire would always light my heart!
Then should'st thou not disdain my true desire,
Or think I wronged thee to reveal to my smart;
For as the fire through freezing clouds doth break,
So not myself but thou in me would'st speak.

Sonnet 7

My heart mine eye accuseth of his death,
Saying his wanton sight bred his unrest;
Mine eye affirms my heart's unconstant faith
Hath been his bane, and all his joys repressed.
My heart avows mine eye let in the fire,
Which burns him with an everliving light.
Mine eye replies my greedy heart's desire
Let in those floods, which drown him day and night.
Thus wars my heart which reason doth maintain,
And calls my eye to combat if he dare,
The whilst my soul impatient of disdain,
Wrings from his bondage unto death more near;
Save that my love still holdeth him in hand;
A kingdom thus divided cannot stand!

Sonnet 8

Unhappy day, unhappy month and season,
When first proud love, my joys away adjourning,
Poured into mine eye to her eye turning
A deadly juice, unto my green thought's reason.
Prisoner I am unto the eye I gaze on;
Eternally my love's flame is in burning;
A mortal shaft still wounds me in my mourning;
Thus prisoned, burnt and slain, the spirit, soul and reason.
What tides me then since these pains which annoy me,
In my despair are evermore increasing?
The more I love, less is my pain's releasing;
That cursed be the fortune which destroys me,
The hour, the month, the season, and the cause,
When love first made me thrall to lovers' laws.

Sonnet 9

Love hath I followed all too long, nought gaining;
And sighed I have in vain to sweet what smarteth,
But from his brow a fiery arrow parteth,
Thinking that I should him resist not plaining.
But cowardly my heart submiss remaining,
Yields to receive what shaft thy fair eye darteth.
Well do I see thine eye my bale imparteth,
And that save death no hope I am detaining.
For what is he can alter fortune's sliding?
One in his bed consumes his life away,
Other in wars, another in the sea;
The like effects in me have their abiding;
For heavens avowed my fortune should be such,
That I should die by loving far too much.

Sonnet 10

My God, my God, how much I love my goddess,
Whose virtues rare, unto the heavens arise!
My God, my God, how much I love her eyes
One shining bright, the other full of hardness!
My God, my God, how much I love her wisdom,
Whose works may ravish heaven's richest maker!
Of whose eyes' joys if I might be partaker
Then to my soul a holy rest would come.
My God, how much I love to hear her speak!
Whose hands I kiss and ravished oft rekisseth,
When she stands wotless whom so much she blesseth.
Say then, what mind this honest love would break;
Since her perfections pure, withouten blot,
Makes her beloved of thee, she knoweth not?

Seventh Decade

Sonnet 1

The first created held a joyous bower,
A flowering field, the world's sole wonderment,
High Paradise, from whence a woman's power
Enticed him to fall to endless banishment.
This on the banks of Euphrates did stand,
Till the first Mover, by his wondrous might,
Planted it in thine eyes, thy face, thy hands,
From whence the world receives his fairest light.
Thy cheeks contain choice flowers; thy eyes, two suns;
Thy hands, the fruit that no life blood can stain;
And in thy breath, that heavenly music wons,
Which, when thou speak'st, angels their voices strain.
As from the first thy sex exiled me,
So to this next let me be called by thee!

Sonnet 2

Fair grace of graces, muse of muses all,
Thou Paradise, thou only heaven I know!
What influence hath bred my hateful woe,
That I from thee and them am forced to fall?
Thou falled from me, from thee I never shall,
Although my fortunes thou hast brought so low;
Yet shall my faith and service with thee go,
For live I do, on heaven and thee to call.
Banish'd all grace, no graces with me dwell;
Compelled to muse, my muses from me fly;
Excluded heaven, what can remain but hell?
Exiled from paradise, in hate I lie,
Cursing my stars; albeit I find it true,
I lost all these when I lost love and you.

Sonnet 3

What viewed I, dear, when I thine eyes beheld?
Love in his glory? No, him Thyrsis saw,
And stood the boy, whilst he his darts did draw,
Whose painted pride to baser swains he telled.
Saw I two suns? That sight is seen but seld.
Yet can their brood that teach the holy law
Gaze on their beams, and dread them not a straw,
Where princely looks are by their eyes repelled.
What saw I then? Doubtless it was Amen,
Armed with strong thunder and a lightning's flame,
Who bridegroom like with power was riding then,
Meaning that none should see him when he came.
Yet did I gaze; and thereby caught the wound
Which burns my heart and keeps my body sound.

Sonnet 4

When tedious much and over weary long,
Cruel disdain reflecting from her brow,
Hath been the cause that I endured such wrong
And rest thus discontent and weary now.
Yet when posterity in time to come,
Shall find th' uncancelled tenour of her vow,
And her disdain be then confessed of some,
How much unkind and long, I find it now,
O yet even then--though then will be too late
To comfort me; dead, many a day, ere then--
They shall confess I did not force her heart;
And time shall make it known to other men
That ne'er had her disdain made me despair,
Had she not been so excellently fair.

Sonnet 5

Had she not been so excellently fair,
My muse had never mourned in lines of woe;
But I did too inestimable weigh her,
And that's the cause I now lament me so.
Yet not for her contempt do I complain me:
Complaints may ease the mind, but that is all;
Therefore though she too constantly disdain me,
I can but sigh and grieve, and so I shall.
Yet grieve I not because I must grieve ever;
And yet, alas, waste tears away, in vain;
I am resolved truly to persever,
Though she persisteth in her old disdain.
But that which grieves me most is that I see
Those which most fair, the most unkindest be.

Sonnet 6

Thus long imposed to everlasting plaining,
Divinely constant to the worthiest fair,
And moved by eternally disdaining,
Aye to persever in unkind despair:
Because now silence wearily confined
In tedious dying and a dumb restraint,
Breaks forth in tears from mine unable mind
To ease her passion by a poor complaint;
O do not therefore to thyself suggest
That I can grieve to have immured so long
Upon the matter of mine own unrest;
Such grief is not the tenour of my song,
That 'bide so zealously so bad a wrong.
My grief is this; unless I speak and plain me,
Thou wilt persever ever to disdain me.

Sonnet 7

Thou wilt persever ever to disdain me;
And I shall then die, when thou will repent it.
O do not therefore from complaint restrain me,
And take my life from me, to me that lent it!
For whilst these accents, weepingly exprest
In humble lines of reverentest zeal,
Have issue to complaint from mine unrest,
They but thy beauty's wonder shall reveal;
And though the grieved muse of some other lover,
Whose less devotions knew but woes like mine,
Would rather seek occasion to discover
How little pitiful and how much unkind,
They other not so worthy beauties find.
O, I not so! but seek with humble prayer,
Means how to move th' unmercifullest fair.

Sonnet 8

As draws the golden meteor of the day
Exhaled matter from the ground to heaven,
And by his secret nature, there to stay
The thing fast held, and yet of hold bereaven;
So by th' attractive excellence and might,
Born to the power of thy transparent eyes,
Drawn from myself, ravished with thy delight,
Whose dumb conceits divinely sirenise,
Lo, in suspense of fear and hope upholden,
Diversely poised with passions that pain me,
No resolution dares my thoughts embolden,
Since 'tis not I, but thou that dost sustain me.
O if there's none but thou can work my woe,
Wilt thou be still unkind and kill me so?

Sonnet 9

Wilt thou be still unkind and kill me so,
Whose humbled vows with sorrowful appeal
Do still persist, and did so long ago
Intreat for pity with so pure a zeal?
Suffice the world shall, for the world can say
How much thy power hath power, and what it can;
Never was victor-hand yet moved to slay
The rendered captive, or the yielding man.
Then, O, why should thy woman-thought impose
Death and disdain on him that yields his breath,
To free his soul from discontent and woes,
And humble sacrifice to a certain death?
O since the world knows what the power can do,
What were't for thee to save and love me too?

Sonnet 10

I meet not mine by others' discontent,
For none compares with me in true devotion;
Yet though my tears and sighs to her be spent,
Her cruel heart disdains what they do motion.
Yet though persisting in eternal hate,
To aggravate the cause of my complaining,
Her fury ne'er confineth with a date,
I will not cease to love, for her disdaining.
Such puny thoughts of unresolved ground,
Whose inaudacity dares but base conceit,
In me and my love never shall be found.
Those coward thoughts unworthy minds await.
But those that love well have not yet begun;
Persever ever and have never done!

Eighth Decade

Sonnet 1

Persever ever and have never done,
You weeping accent of my weary song!
O do not you eternal passions shun,
But be you true and everlasting long!
Say that she doth requite you with disdain;
Yet fortified with hope, endure your fortune;
Though cruel now she will be kind again;
Such haps as those, such loves as yours importune.
Though she protests the faithfullest severity
Inexecrable beauty is inflicting,
Kindness in time will pity your sincerity,
Though now it be your fortune's interdicting.
For some can say, whose loves have known like passion,
"Women are kind by kind, and coy for fashion."

Sonnet 2

Give period to my matter of complaining,
Fair wonder of our time's admiring eye,
And entertain no more thy long disdaining,
Or give me leave at last that I may die.
For who can live, perpetually secluded
From death to life, that loathes her discontent?
Lest by some hope seducively deluded,
Such thoughts aspire to fortunate event;
But I that now have drawn mal-pleasant breath
Under the burden of thy cruel hate,
O, I must long and linger after death,
And yet I dare not give my life her date;
For if I die and thou repent t' have slain me,
'Twill grieve me more than if thou didst disdain me.

Sonnet 3

'Twill grieve me more than if thou didst disdain me,
That I should die; and thou, because I die so.
And yet to die, it should not know to pain me,
If cruel beauty were content to bid so.
Death to my life, life to my long despair
Prolonged by her, given to my love and days,
Are means to tell how truly she is fair,
And I can die to testify her praise.
Yet not to die, though fairness me despiseth,
Is cause why in complaint I thus persever;
Though death me and my love inparadiseth,
By interdicting me from her for ever.
I do not grieve that I am forced to die,
But die to think upon the reason why.

Sonnet 4

My tears are true. Though others be divine,
And sing of wars and Troy's new rising frame,
Meeting heroic feet in every line,
That tread high measures in the scene of fame,
And I, though disaccustoming my muse,
And sing but low songs in an humble vein,
May one day raise my style as others use,
And turn Elizon to a higher strain.
When re-intombing from oblivious ages
In better stanzas her surviving wonder,
I may opposed against the monster rage
That part desert and excellence asunder;
That she though coy may yet survive to see,
Her beauty's wonder lives again in me.

Sonnet 5 Conclusion of the whole

Sometimes in verse I praised, sometimes in verse sighed;
No more shall pen with love and beauty mell,
But to my heart alone my heart shall tell
How unseen flames do burn it day and night,
Lest flames give light, light bring my love to sight,
And my love prove my folly to excel.
Wherefore my love burns like the fire of hell,
Wherein is fire and yet there is no light;
For if one never loved like me, then why
Skill-less blames he the thing he doth not know?
And he that so hath loved should favour show,
For he hath been a fool as well as I.
Thus shall henceforth more pain, more folly have;
And folly past, may justly pardon crave.





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