Elizabethan Sonnet Month
Samuel Daniel (1562-1619)
Daniel, born near Taunton in Somersetshire, was the son of a music-master, but somehow obtained
a university education at Oxford. He published a translation of Paulus Jovius's "Discourse of Rare
Inventions" in 1585 at the age of twenty-three, and soon afterwards became tutor to Lady Anne Clifford.
A man of taste and refined feeling, very unlike some of the sturdy contemporary plants who lived by
acting and play-writing, Daniel grew up under the shelter of noble patronage, conciliating favour
by the amiability of his disposition as well as by the gracefulness of his literary compliments.
he enjoyed the patronage of the Earl of Southampton and of the Pembroke family. Through the influence
of his noble friends, he had obtained in 1593, the Mastership of the Revels, for which poor John Lyly
had waited so long and begged so earnestly; and after the accession of James, he was made Gentleman-
Extraordinary, and subsequently one of the Grooms of the Privy Chamber to the Queen Consort. His chief
poetical works were--Sonnets to "Delia," 1592; "Delia" augmented, along with the "Complaint of Rosamond"
and the "Tragedy of Cleopatra," 1594; metrical history of the "Civil Wars," 1604; "Tragedy of Philotas,"
1611; "Hymen's Triumph, a pastoral tragi-comedy," not published till 1623. He wrote several other pieces
of less importance. His plays were produced for the entertainment of the Court; and it may have been this
connection that dictated his choice of the Wars of the Roses as a subject. He also wrote in prose a
History of England.
Sonnets 1 - 10
Unto the boundless ocean of thy beauty
Runs this poor river, charged with streams of zeal,
Returning thee the tribute of my duty,
Which here my love, my youth, my plaints reveal.
Here I unclasp the book of my charged soul,
Where I have cast th' accounts of all my care;
Here have I summed my sighs. Here I enrol
How they were spent for thee. Look, what they are.
Look on the dear expenses of my youth,
And see how just I reckon with thine eyes.
Examine well thy beauty with my truth,
And cross my cares ere greater sums arise.
Read it, sweet maid, though it be done but slightly;
Who can show all his love, doth love but lightly.
Sonnet 2 Go, wailing verse, the infants of my love,
Minerva-like, brought forth without a mother;
Present the image of the cares I prove,
Witness your father's grief exceeds all other.
Sigh out a story of her cruel deeds,
With interrupted accents of despair;
A monument that whosoever reads,
May justly praise and blame my loveless Fair;
Say her disdain hath dried up my blood,
And starved you, in succours still denying;
Press to her eyes, importune me some good,
Waken her sleeping pity with your crying:
Knock at her hard heart, beg till you have moved her,
And tell th'unkind how dearly I have loved her.
Sonnet 3 If so it hap this offspring of my care,
These fatal anthems, lamentable songs,
Come to their view, who like afflicted are;
Let them yet sigh their own, and moan my wrongs.
But untouched hearts with unaffected eye,
Approach not to behold my soul's distress;
Clear-sighted you soon note what is awry,
Whilst blinded souls mine errors never guess.
You blinded souls, whom youth and error lead;
You outcast eaglets dazzled with your sun,
Do you, and none but you, my sorrows read;
You best can judge the wrongs that she hath done,
That she hath done, the motive of my pain,
Who whilst I love doth kill me with disdain.
Sonnet 4 These plaintive verse, the posts of my desire,
Which haste for succour to her slow regard,
Bear not report of any slender fire,
Forging a grief to win a fame's reward.
Nor are my passions limned for outward hue,
For that no colours can depaint my sorrows;
Delia herself, and all the world may view
Best in my face where cares have tilled deep furrows.
No bays I seek to deck my mourning brow,
O clear-eyed rector of the holy hill!
My humble accents bear the olive bough
Of intercession but to move her will.
These lines I use t'unburden mine own heart;
My love affects no fame nor 'steems of art.
Sonnet 5 Whilst youth and error led my wandering mind,
And set my thoughts in heedless ways to range,
All unawares a goddess chaste I find,
Diana-like, to work my sudden change.
For her, no sooner had mine eye bewrayed,
But with disdain to see me in that place,
With fairest hand the sweet unkindest maid
Casts water-cold disdain upon my face.
Which turned my sport into a hart's despair,
Which still is chased, while I have any breath,
By mine own thoughts set on me by my Fair.
My thoughts like hounds pursue me to my death;
Those that I fostered of mine own accord,
Are made by her to murder thus their lord.
Sonnet 6 Fair is my love, and cruel as she's fair;
Her brow shades frowns although her eyes are sunny;
Her smiles are lightning though her pride despair;
And her disdains are gall, her favours honey;
A modest maid, decked with a blush of honour,
Whose feet do tread green paths of youth and love;
The wonder of all eyes that look upon her,
Sacred on earth, designed a saint above.
Chastity and beauty, which were deadly foes,
Live reconciled friends within her brow;
And had she pity to conjoin with those,
Then who had heard the plaints I utter now?
O had she not been fair and thus unkind,
My Muse had slept and none had known my mind!
Sonnet 7 For had she not been fair and thus unkind,
Then had no finger pointed at my lightness;
The world had never known what I do find,
And clouds obscure had shaded still her brightness.
Then had no censor's eye these lines surveyed,
Nor graver brows have judged my Muse so vain;
No sun my blush and error had bewrayed,
Nor yet the world had heard of such disdain.
Then had I walked with bold erected face;
No downcast look had signified my miss;
But my degraded hopes with such disgrace
Did force me groan out griefs and utter this.
For being full, should I not then have spoken,
My sense oppressed had failed and heart had broken.
Sonnet 8 Thou, poor heart, sacrificed unto the fairest,
Hast sent the incense of thy sighs to heaven;
And still against her frowns fresh vows repairest,
And made thy passions with her beauty even.
And you, mine eyes, the agents of my heart,
Told the dumb message of my hidden grief;
And oft, with careful tunes, with silent art,
Did treat the cruel Fair to yield relief.
And you, my verse, the advocates of love,
Have followed hard the process of my case:
And urged that title which doth plainly prove
My faith should win, if justice might have place.
Yet though I see that nought we do can move,
'Tis not disdain must make me cease to love.
Sonnet 9 If this be love, to draw a weary breath,
To paint on floods till the shore cry to th'air;
With downward looks still reading on the earth.
These sad memorials of my love's despair;
If this be love, to war against my soul,
Lie down to wail, rise up to sigh and grieve,
The never-resting stone of care to roll,
Still to complain my griefs, whilst none relieve;
If this be love, to clothe me with dark thoughts,
Haunting untrodden paths to wail apart,
My pleasures horror, music tragic notes,
Tears in mine eyes and sorrow at my heart;
If this be love, to live a living death,
Then do I love, and draw this weary breath.
Sonnet 10 Then do I love and draw this weary breath
For her, the cruel Fair, within whose brow
I written find the sentence of my death
In unkind letters wrote she cares not how.
Thou power that rul'st the confines of the night,
Laughter-loving goddess, worldly pleasures' queen,
Intenerate that heart that sets so light
The truest love that ever yet was seen;
And cause her leave to triumph in this wise
Upon the prostrate spoil of that poor heart
That serves, a trophy to her conquering eyes,
And must their glory to the world impart;
Once let her know sh'hath done enough to prove me,
And let her pity if she cannot love me!
Tears, vows and prayers gain the hardest hearts,
Tears, vows and prayers have I spent in vain;
Tears cannot soften flint nor vows convert;
Prayers prevail not with a quaint disdain.
I lose my tears where I have lost my love,
I vow my faith where faith is not regarded,
I pray in vain a merciless to move;
So rare a faith ought better be rewarded.
Yet though I cannot win her will with tears,
Though my soul's idol scorneth all my vows,
Though all my prayers be to so deaf ears,
No favour though the cruel Fair allows,
Yet will I weep, vow, pray to cruel she;
Flint, frost, disdain, wears, melts and yields, we see.
Sonnets 11 - 20
Sonnet 12 My spotless love hovers with purest wings
About the temple of the proudest frame,
Where blaze those lights, fairest of earthly things;
Which clear our clouded world with brightest flame.
M'ambitious thoughts, confined in her face,
Affect no honour but what she can give;
My hopes do rest in limits of her grace;
I weigh no comfort unless she relieve.
For she that can my heart imparadise,
Holds in her fairest hand what dearest is.
My fortune's wheel's the circle of her eyes,
Whose rolling grace deign once a turn of bliss.
All my life's sweet consists in her alone,
So much I love the most unloving one.
Sonnet 13 Behold what hap Pygmalion had to frame
And carve his proper grief upon a stone!
My heavy fortune is much like the same;
I work on flint and that's the cause I moan.
For hapless lo, even with mine own desires
I figured on the table of my heart
The fairest form that the world's eye admires,
And so did perish by my proper art.
And still I toil to change the marble breast
Of her whose sweetest grace I do adore,
Yet cannot find her breathe unto my rest.
Hard is her heart, and woe is me therefore.
O happy he that joyed his stone and art!
Unhappy I, to love a stony heart!
Sonnet 14 Those snary locks are those same nets, my dear,
Wherewith my liberty thou didst surprise
Love was the flame that fired me so near,
The dart transpiercing were those crystal eyes.
Strong is the net, and fervent is the flame;
Deep is the wound my sighs can well report.
Yet I do love, adore, and praise the same,
That holds, that burns, that wounds in this sort;
And list not seek to break, to quench, to heal,
The bond, the flame, the wound that festereth so,
By knife, by liquor, or by salve to deal;
So much I please to perish in my woe.
Yet lest long travails be above my strength,
Good Delia, loose, quench, heal me, now at length!
Sonnet 15 If that a loyal heart and faith unfeigned,
If a sweet languish with a chaste desire,
If hunger-starven thoughts so long retained,
Fed but with smoke, and cherished but with fire;
And if a brow with care's characters painted
Bewray my love with broken words half spoken
To her which sits in my thoughts' temple sainted,
And lays to view my vulture-gnawn heart open;
If I have done due homage to her eyes,
And had my sighs still tending on her name,
If on her love my life and honour lies,
And she, th'unkindest maid, still scorns the same;
Let this suffice, that all the world may see
The fault is hers, though mine the hurt must be.
Sonnet 16 Happy in sleep, waking content to languish,
Embracing clouds by night, in daytime mourn,
My joys but shadows, touch of truth my anguish,
Griefs ever springing, comforts never born;
And still expecting when she will relent,
Grown hoarse with crying, "mercy, mercy give,"
So many vows and prayers having spent
That weary of my life I loathe to live;
And yet the hydra of my cares renews
Still new-born sorrows of her fresh disdain;
And still my hope the summer winds pursues,
Finding no end nor period of my pain;
This is my state, my griefs do touch so nearly,
And thus I live because I love her dearly.
Sonnet 17 Why should I sing in verse? Why should I frame
These sad neglected notes for her dear sake?
Why should I offer up unto her name,
The sweetest sacrifice my youth can make?
Why should I strive to make her live for ever,
That never deigns to give me joy to live?
Why should m'afflicted Muse so much endeavour
Such honour unto cruelty to give?
If her defects have purchased her this fame,
What should her virtues do, her smiles, her love?
If this her worst, how should her best inflame?
What passions would her milder favours move?
Favours, I think, would sense quite overcome;
And that makes happy lovers ever dumb.
Sonnet 18 Since the first look that led me to this error,
To this thoughts' maze to my confusion tending,
Still have I lived in grief, in hope, in terror,
The circle of my sorrows never ending;
Yet cannot leave her love that holds me hateful;
Her eyes exact it, though her heart disdains me.
See what reward he hath that serves th'ungrateful?