Elizabethan Sonnet Month
Barnabe Barnes (1569-1609)
Born: c.1568, Yorkshire England
Died: 1609, Durham, England
1586: entered Brasenose College, Oxford
1591; served against the Prince of Parma in France
1593: published Parthenophil and Parthenophe, Sonnettes, Madrigals, Elegies and Odes
1595: published A Divine Centurie of Spirituall Sonnetts
1598: prosecuted in Star Chamber for attempting to murder one John Browne
1606: published Offices enabling privat Persons for the special service of all good Princes and Policies
1607: wrote the play The Devil's Charter
Sonnettes from Parthenophil and Parthenophe (1593)
Sonnets 1 - 10
Mistress! Behold, in this true speaking glass,
Thy beauty's graces! Of all women rarest!
Where thou may'st find how largely they surpass
And stain in glorious loveliness, the rarest.
But read, sweet Mistress! And behold it nearer!
Pond'ring my sorrow's outrage with some pity.
Then shalt thou find no worldly creature dearer,
Than thou to me, thyself, in each love ditty.
But, in this mirror, equally compare
Thy matchless beauty, with mine endless grief!
There, like thyself none can be found so fair;
Of chiefest pains, there, are my pains the chief.
Betwixt these both, this one doubt shalt thou find!
Whether are, here, extremest, in their kind?
Whiles with strong chains of hardy tempered steel
I bound my thoughts, still gadding fast and faster;
When they, through time, the differences did feel,
Betwixt a Mistress' service and a Master.
Keeping in bondage, jealously enthralled,
In prisons of neglect, his nature's mildness;
Him I with solitary studies walled
By thraldom, choking his outrageous wildness.
On whom, my careful thoughts I set to watch,
Guarding him closely, lest he should out issue
To seek thee, LAYA! Who still wrought to catch
And train my tender boy, that could not miss you
(So you bewitched him once! when he did kiss you),
That, by such sights as never were found out,
To serve your turn, he daily went about.
He, when continual vigil moved my Watch
Some deal, by chance, with careful guard to slumber:
The prison's keys from them did slowly snatch;
Which, of the five, were only three in number.
The first was Sight, by which he searched the wards;
The next was Hearing, quickly to perceive,
Lest that the watchmen heard, which were his guards;
Third, Touch, which VULCAN's cunning could deceive.
These, though the springs, wards, bolts, or gimbols were
The miracles of VULCAN's forgery),
Laid open all for his escape. Now, there,
The watchmen grinned for his impiety.
What crosses bred this contrariety,
That by these keys my thoughts in chains be left;
And by these keys I of mine heart bereft?
LAYA, soon founding out his nature throughly,
Found that he was a lovely virgin boy.
Causeless, why did thou then deal with him roughly?
Not yet content with him, sometimes, to toy;
But jealously kept, lest he should run from thee!
Whom, if thou kindly meant to love, 'twas needless!
Doubtless lest that he should run back to me!
If of him, any deal, thou didst stand heedless.
Thou coop'st him in thy closet's secret corners;
And then, thy heart's dear playfellow didst make him!
Whom thou in person guardest! (lest suborners
Should work his freelege, or in secret take him),
And to this instant, never would forsake him!
Since for soft service slavish bonds be changed,
Why didst thou from thy jealous master range?
It chanced, after, that a youthful Squire,
Such as, in courting, could the grafty guise,
Beheld light LAYA. She, with fresh desire,
Hoping th'achievement of some richer prize,
Drew to the Courtier; who, with tender kiss,
(As are their guileful fashions which dissemble)
First him saluted; then (with forgèd bliss
Of doubtless hope) sweet words, by pause, did tremble.
So whiles she slightly glosed with her new prey,
My heart's eye, (tending his false mistress' train)
Unyoked himself, and closely 'scaped away;
And to PARTHENOPHE did post amain,
For liberal pardon; which he did obtain.
"And judge! PARTHENOPHE! (for thou canst tell!)
That his escape from LAYA pleased me well."
Him when I caught, what chains had I provided!
What fetters had I framed! What locks of Reason!
What Keys of Continence had I devised
(Impatient of the breach) 'gainst any treason!
But fair PARTHENOPHE did urge me still
To liberal pardon, for his former fault;
Which, out alas! prevailèd with my will.
Yet moved I bonds, lest he should make default:
Which willingly she seemed to undertake,
And said "As I am virgin! I will be
His bail for this offence; and if he make
Another such vagary, take of me
A pawn, for more assurance unto thee!"
"Your love to me", quoth I, "your pawn shall make!
So that, for his default, I forfeit take."
Her love to me she forthwith did impawn,
And was content to set at liberty
My trembling heart; which straight began to fawn
Upon his Mistress' kindly courtesy.
Not many days were past, when (like a wanton)
He secretly did practise to depart;
And to PARTHENOPHE did send a canton,
Where, with sighs' accents, he did loves impart.
And for because she deigned him that great sign
Of gentle favours, in her kind release;
He did conclude, all duty to resign
To fair PARTHENOPHE: which doth increase
These woes, nor shall my restless Muses cease!
For by her, of mine heart am I deprived;
And by her, my first sorrows' heat revived.
Then to PARTHENOPHE, with all post haste
(As full assurèd of the pawn fore-pledged),
I made; and, with these words disordered placed,
Smooth (though with fury's sharp outrages edged):
Quoth I, "Fair Mistress! Did I set mine heart
At liberty, and for that, made him free;
That you should arm him for another start,
Whose certain bail you promisèd to be!"
"Tush!" quoth PARTHENOPHE, "before he go,
I'll be his bail at last, and doubt it not!"
"Why then," said I, "that Mortgage must I show
Of your true love, which at your hands I got."
Ay me! She was, and is his bail, I wot:
But when the Mortgage should have cured the sore
She passed it off, by Deed of Gift before.
So did PARTHENOPHE release mine heart!
So did she rob me of mine heart's rich treasure!
Thus shall she be his bail before they part!
Thus in her love she made me such hard measure!
Ay me! Nor hope of mutual love by leisure,
Nor any type of my poor heart's release
Remains to me. How shall I take the seizure
Of her love's forfeiture? Which took such peace
Combinèd with a former love. Then cease
To vex with sorrows, and thy griefs increase:
'Tis for PARTHENOPHE! thou suffer'st smart.
Wild Nature's wound's not curable by Art.
Then cease, with choking sighs and heart-swoll'n throbs,
To draw thy breath, broke off with sorrow's sobs!
Yet give me leave, since all my joys be perished,
Heart-less, to moan for my poor heart's departure!
Nor should I mourn for him if he were cherished.
Ah no! She keeps him like a slavish martyr.
Ah me! Since merciless she made that charter,
Sealed with the wax of steadfast continence,
Signed with those hands which never can unwrite it,
Writ with that pen, which (by preeminence)
Too sure confirms whats'ever was indightit:
What skills to wear thy girdle, or thy garter,
When other arms shall thy small arms embrace?
How great a waste of mind and body's weal!
Now melts my soul! I to thine eyes appeal!
If they, thy tyrant champions, owe me grace.
Sonnets 11 - 20
Why didst thou, then, in such disfigured guise,
Figure the portrait of mine overthrow?
Why, man-like, didst thou mean to tyrannize?
No man, but woman would have sinnèd so!
Why, then, inhuman, and my secret foe!
Didst thou betray me? Yet would be a woman!
From my chief wealth, outweaving me this woe,
Leaving thy love in pawn, till time did come on
When that thy trustless bonds were to be tried!
And when, through thy default, I thee did summon
Into the court of Steadfast Love, then cried,
"As it was promised, here stands his heart's bail!
And if, in bonds to thee, my love be tied,
Then by those bonds, take Forfeit of the Sale!"
Vext with th'assaults of thy conceivèd beauty,
I restless on thy favours meditate!
And though despairfull love, sometimes, my suit tie
Unto these faggots (figures of my state),
Which bound with endless line, by leisure wait
That happy moment of your heart's reply!
Yet by those lines I hope to find the gate
Which, through love's labyrinth shall guide me right.
Whiles (unacquainted exercise!) I try
Sweet solitude, I shun my life's chief light!
And all because I would forget thee quite.
And (working that) methinks, its such a sin
(As I take pen and paper for to write)
Thee to forget; that leaving, I begin!
When none of these my sorrows would allege,
I sought to find the means how I might hate thee!
Then hateful Curiousness I did in-wedge
Within my thoughts, which ever did await thee!
I framed mine eyes for an unjust controlment;
And mine unbridled Thoughts, (because I dare not
Seek to compel) did pray them, take enrolment
Of Nature's fault in her! And, equal, spare not!
They searched and found " her eyes were sharp and fiery,
A mole upon her forehead coloured pale,
Her hair disordered, brown, and crispèd wiry,
Her cheeks thin speckled with a summer's male."
This told, men weened it was a pleasing tale
Her to disgrace, and make my follies fade.
And please it did! But her more gracious made.
Then him controlling, that he left undone,
Her eyes' bright circle thus did answer make:
"Rest's mist, with silver cloud, had closed her sun,
Nor could he draw them till she were awake."
"Why then," quoth I, "were not those leaves' dark shade
Upon her cheeks depainted as you see them?"
"Shape of a shadow cannot well be made!"
Was answered "for shade's shadows, none can eye them!"
This reason proves sure argument for me
That my grief's image I can not set out;
Which might with lively colours blazèd be.
Wherefore since nought can bring the means about,
That thou, my sorrow's cause, should view throughout;
Thou wilt not pity me! But this was it!
ZEUXIS had neither skill nor colours fit.
Where, or to whom, then, shall I make complaint?
By guileful wiles, of mine heart's guide deprived!
With right's injustice, and unkind constraint:
Barred from her loves, which my deserts achieved!
This, though thou sought to choke, far more revived
Within mine restless heart, left almost senseless.
O make exchange! Surrender thine for mine!
Lest that my body, void of guide, be fenceless.
So shalt thou pawn to me, sign for a sign
Of thy sweet conscience; when I shall resign
Thy love's large Charter, and thy Bonds again.
O, but I fear mine hopes be void or menceless!
No course is left which might thy loves attain,
Whether with sighs I sue, or tears complain!
Yea, that accursèd Deed, before unsealed,
Is argument of thy first constancy!
Which if thou hadst to me before revealed,
I had not pleaded in such fervency.
Yet this delights, and makes me triumph much,
That mine heart in her body lies imprisoned!
For, 'mongst all bay-crowned conquerors, no such
Can make the slavish captive boast him conquered,
Except PARTHENOPHE; whose fiery gleams
Like JOVE's swift lightning raging, which rocks pierceth
Heating them inly with his sudden beams,
And secret golden mines with melting searseth,
Eftsoons with cannon his dread rage rehearseth;
Yet nought seems scorched in apparent sight.
So first she secret burnt; then did affright!
How then succeedeth that, amid this woe,
(Where Reason's sense doth from my soul divide)
By these vain lines, my fits be specified;
Which from their endless ocean daily flow?
Where was it born? Whence did this humour grow,
Which, long obscured with melancholy's mist,
Inspires my giddy brains unpurified,
So lively, with sound reasons, to persist
In framing tuneful Elegies, and Hymns
For her, whose names my Sonnets' note so trims;