Elizabethan Sonnet Month
Bartholomew Griffin, (Gentleman)
Disclaimer: Whether the following references are the same Bartholomew Griffin or even
the poet Bartholomew Griffin are unsubstantiated. If anyone has any information the author
would be grateful.
Died: Coventry England,1602
In 1596 a collection of 62 sonnets were published under
the title of Fidessa and these are the sonnets contained therein.
c1600: Bartholomew Griffin a schoolmaster ordained in holy orders, was employed as a
tutor by Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, Warwickshire.
Sonnets 1 - 6
Fidessa fair, long live a happy maiden!
Blest from thy cradle by a worthy mother,
High-thoughted like to her, with bounty laden,
Like pleasing grace affording, one and other;
Sweet model of thy far renownèd sire!
Hold back a while thy ever-giving hand,
And though these free penned lines do nought require,
For that they scorn at base reward to stand,
Yet crave they most for that they beg the least
Dumb is the message of my hidden grief,
And store of speech by silence is increased;
O let me die or purchase some relief!
Bounteous Fidessa cannot be so cruel
As for to make my heart her fancy's fuel!
Sonnet 2How can that piercing crystal-painted eye,
That gave the onset to my high aspiring.
Yielding each look of mine a sweet reply,
Adding new courage to my heart's desiring,
How can it shut itself within her ark,
And keep herself and me both from the light,
Making us walk in all misguiding dark,
Aye to remain in confines of the night?
How is it that so little room contains it,
That guides the orient as the world the sun,
Which once obscured most bitterly complains it,
Because it knows and rules whate'er is done?
The reason is that they may dread her sight,
Who doth both give and take away their light.
Sonnet 3Venus, and young Adonis sitting by her,
Under a myrtle shade, began to woo him;
She told the youngling how god Mars did try her,
And as he fell to her, so fell she to him.
"Even thus," quoth she, "the wanton god embraced me!"
And then she clasped Adonis in her arms;
"Even thus," quoth she, "the warlike god unlaced me!"
As if the boy should use like loving charms.
But he, a wayward boy, refused the offer,
And ran away the beauteous queen neglecting
Showing both folly to abuse her proffer,
And all his sex of cowardice detecting.
O that I had my mistress at that bay,
To kiss and clip me till I ran away!
Sonnet 4Did you sometimes three German brethren see,
Rancour 'twixt two of them so raging rife,
That th' one could stick the other with his knife?
Now if the third assaulted chance to be
By a fourth stranger, him set on the three,
Them two 'twixt whom afore was deadly strife
Made one to rob the stranger of his life;
Then do you know our state as well as we.
Beauty and chastity with her were born,
Both at one birth, and up with her did grow.
Beauty still foe to chastity was sworn,
And chastity sworn to be beauty's foe;
And yet when I lay siege unto her heart,
Beauty and chastity both take her part.
Sonnet 5Arraigned, poor captive at the bar I stand,
The bar of beauty, bar to all my joys;
And up I hold my ever trembling hand,
Wishing or life or death to end annoys.
And when the judge doth question of the guilt,
And bids me speak, then sorrow shuts up words.
Yea, though he say, "Speak boldly what thou wilt!"
Yet my confused affects no speech affords,
For why? Alas, my passions have no bound,
For fear of death that penetrates so near;
And still one grief another doth confound,
Yet doth at length a way to speech appear.
Then, for I speak too late, the Judge doth give
His sentence that in prison I shall live.
Sonnet 6Unhappy sentence, worst of worst of pains,
To be in darksome silence, out of ken,
Banished from all that bliss the world contains,
And thrust from out the companies of men!
Unhappy sentence, worse than worst of deaths,
Never to see Fidessa's lovely face!
O better were I lose ten thousand breaths,
Than ever live in such unseen disgrace!
Unhappy sentence, worse than pains of hell,
To live in self-tormenting griefs alone;
Having my heart, my prison and my cell,
And there consumed without relief to moan!
If that the sentence so unhappy be,
Then what am I that gave the same to me?
Oft have mine eyes, the agents of mine heart,
False traitor eyes conspiring my decay,
Pleaded for grace with dumb and silent art,
Streaming forth tears my sorrows to allay;
Moaning the wrong they do unto their lord,
Forcing the cruel fair by means to yield;
Making her 'gainst her will some grace t'afford,
And striving sore at length to win the field;
Thus work they means to feed my fainting hope,
And strengthened hope adds matter to each thought;
Yet when they all come to their end and scope
They do but wholly bring poor me to nought.
She'll never yield although they ever cry,
And therefore we must all together die.
Sonnets 7 - 12
Sonnet 8Grief-urging guest, great cause have I to plain me,
Yet hope persuading hope expecteth grace,
And saith none but myself shall ever pain me;
But grief my hopes exceedeth in this case;
For still my fortune ever more doth cross me
By worse events than ever I expected;
And here and there ten thousand ways doth toss me,
With sad remembrance of my time neglected.
These breed such thoughts as set my heart on fire,
And like fell hounds pursue me to my death;
Traitors unto their sovereign lord and sire,
Unkind exactors of their father's breath,
Whom in their rage they shall no sooner kill
Than they themselves themselves unjustly spill.
Sonnet 9My spotless love that never yet was tainted,
My loyal heart that never can be moved,
My growing hope that never yet hath fainted,
My constancy that you full well have proved,
All these consented have to plead for grace
These all lie crying at the door of beauty;—
This wails, this sends out tears, this cries apace,
All do reward expect of faith and duty;
Now either thou must prove th' unkindest one,
And as thou fairest art must cruelest be,
Or else with pity yield unto their moan,
Their moan that ever will importune thee.
Ah, thou must be unkind, and give denial,
And I, poor I, must stand unto my trial!
Sonnet 10Clip not, sweet love, the wings of my desire,
Although it soar aloft and mount too high:
But rather bear with me though I aspire,
For I have wings to bear me to the sky.
What though I mount, there is no sun but thee!
And sith no other sun, why should I fear?
Thou wilt not burn me, though thou terrify,
And though thy brightness do so great appear.
Dear, I seek not to batter down thy glory,
Nor do I envy that thy hope increaseth;
O never think thy fame doth make me sorry!
For thou must live by fame when beauty ceaseth.
Besides, since from one root we both did spring,
Why should not I thy fame and beauty sing?
Sonnet 11Winged with sad woes, why doth fair zephyr blow
Upon my face, the map of discontent?
Is it to have the weeds of sorrow grow
So long and thick, that they will ne'er be spent?
No, fondling, no! It is to cool the fire
Which hot desire within thy breast hath made.
Check him but once and he will soon retire.
O but he sorrows brought which cannot fade!
The sorrows that he brought, he took from thee,
Which fair Fidessa span and thou must wear!
Yet hath she nothing done of cruelty,
But for her sake to try what thou wilt bear.
Come, sorrows, come! You are to me assigned;
I'll bear you all, it is Fidessa's mind.
Sonnet 12O if my heavenly sighs must prove annoy,
Which are the sweetest music to my heart,
Let it suffice I count them as my joy,
Sweet bitter joy and pleasant painful smart!
For when my breast is clogged with thousand cares,
That my poor loaded heart is like to break,
Then every sigh doth question how it fares,
Seeming to add their strength, which makes me weak;
Yet for they friendly are, I entertain them,
And they too well are pleasèd with their host.
But I, had not Fidessa been, ere now had slain them;
It's for her cause they live, in her they boast;
They promise help but when they see her face;
They fainting yield, and dare not sue for grace.
Sonnets 13 - 18
Compare me to the child that plays with fire,
Or to the fly that dieth in the flame,
Or to the foolish boy that did aspire
To touch the glory of high heaven's frame;
Compare me to Leander struggling in the waves,
Not able to attain his safety's shore,
Or to the sick that do expect their graves,
Or to the captive crying evermore;
Compare me to the weeping wounded hart,
Moaning with tears the period of his life,
Or to the boar that will not feel the smart,
When he is stricken with the butcher's knife;
No man to these can fitly me compare;
These live to die, I die to live in care.
Sonnet 14When silent sleep had closèd up mine eyes,
My watchful mind did then begin to muse;
A thousand pleasing thoughts did then arise,
That sought by slights their master to abuse.
I saw, O heavenly sight! Fidessa's face,
And fair dame nature blushing to behold it;
Now did she laugh, now wink, now smile apace,
She took me by the hand and fast did hold it;
Sweetly her sweet body did she lay down by me;
"Alas, poor wretch," quoth she, "great is thy sorrow;
But thou shall comfort find if thou wilt try me.
I hope, sir boy, you'll tell me news to-morrow."
With that, away she went, and I did wake withal;
When ah! my honey thoughts were turned to gall.
Sonnet 15Care-charmer sleep! Sweet ease in restless misery!
The captive's liberty, and his freedom's song!
Balm of the bruisèd heart! Man's chief felicity!
Brother of quiet death, when life is too too long!
A comedy it is, and now an history;
What is not sleep unto the feeble mind!
It easeth him that toils and him that's sorry;
It makes the deaf to hear, to see the blind;
Ungentle sleep, thou helpest all but me!
For when I sleep my soul is vexèd most.
It is Fidessa that doth master thee;
If she approach, alas, thy power is lost!
But here she is! See how he runs amain!
I fear at night he will not come again.
Sonnet 16For I have lovèd long, I crave reward;
Reward me not unkindly, think on kindness;
Kindness becometh those of high regard;
Regard with clemency a poor man's blindness;
Blindness provokes to pity when it crieth;
It crieth "Give!" Dear lady, shew some pity!
Pity or let him die that daily dieth;
Dieth he not oft who often sings this ditty?
This ditty pleaseth me although it choke me;
Methinks dame Echo weepeth at my moaning,
Moaning the woes that to complain provoke me.
Provoke me now no more, but hear my groaning,
Groaning both day and night doth tear my heart,
My heart doth know the cause and triumphs in the smart.
Sonnet 17Sweet stroke,—so might I thrive as I must praise—
But sweeter hand that gives so sweet a stroke!
The lute itself is sweetest when she plays.
But what hear I? A string through fear is broke!
The lute doth shake as if it were afraid.
O sure some goddess holds it in her hand,
A heavenly power that oft hath me dismayed,
Yet such a power as doth in beauty stand!
Cease lute, my ceaseless suit will ne'er be heard!
Ah, too hard-hearted she that will not hear it!
If I but think on joy, my joy is marred;
My grief is great, yet ever must I bear it;
But love 'twixt us will prove a faithful page,
And she will love my sorrows to assuage.
Sonnet 18O she must love my sorrows to assuage.
O God, what joy felt I when she did smile,
Whom killing grief before did cause to rage!