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From the Idea of Michael Drayton, 1593 : 90
“ Clear Anker, on whose silver-sanded shore,
My soul-shrin'd saint, my fair Idea, lies,
O blessed brook, whose milk-white swans adore
Thy crystal stream refined by her eyes,
Where sweet myrrh-breathing Zephyr in the spring
Gently distills his nectar-dropping showers,
Where nightingales in Arden sit and sing
Amongst the dainty dew-impearled flowers ;
Say thus, fair brook, when thou shalt see thy queen;
Lo, here thy shepherd spent his wandering years;
And in these shades, dear nymph, he oft had been,
And here to thee he sacrific'd his tears:
Fair Arden, thou my Tempe art alone,
And thou, sweet Anker, art my Helicon." Henry Constable appears to have been strangely overrated by his contemporaries; in his miserably quaint and conceited Diana, 1594, I can find nothing better than what follows:
“ 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 tread a maze that never shall have end,
To burn in sighs, and starve in daily tears,
To clime 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 accurst, whom men hold blest to be,
Ane 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."
99 Not having had an opportunity of seeing this sonnet in
From Sonnets to the fairest Calia, by W. Percy, 1594:
“ Receive these writs, my sweet and dearest friend,
The lively patterns of my lifeless body;
Where thou shalt find in ebon pictures penn'd,
How I was meek, but thou extremely bloody.
I'll walk forlorn along the willow shades,
Alone, complaining of a ruthless dame;
Where'er I pass, the rocks, the hills, the glades,
In piteous yells shall sound her cruel name.
There I will wail the lot which fortune sent me,
And make my moans unto the savage ears ;
The remnant of the days which Nature lent me,
I'll spend them all, conceald, in ceaseless tears.
Since unkind fates permit me not t' enjoy her,
No more (burst eyes!) I mean for to annoy her.”
From Barnaby Barnes's Divine Centurie of Spiritual Sonnets, 1595 ;
“Unto my spirit lend an angel's wing,
By which it might mount to that place of rest,
Where Paradise may me relieve, opprest.
Lend to my tongue an angel's voice to sing;
Thy praise, my comfort; and for ever bring
My notes thereof from the bright east to west.
Thy mercy lend unto my soul distrest,
Thy grace unto my wits: then shall the sling
Of righteousness that monster Sathan kill,
Who with despair my dear salvation dar'd;
And, like the Philistine, stood breathing still
Proud threats against my soul, for heaven prepar'd.
At length, I like an angel shall appear,
In spotless white, an angel's crown to wear.”
Let us now turn to one of Spenser's Amoretti or
the original edition, I have some doubts about the correctness of the date, 1593: but vide Ritson's Bib. Poet. p. 191.
Sonnets, 1595, which are not the most perfect of bis minor poems ;
“Like as the culver, on the bared bough,
Sits mourning for the absence of her mate,
And in her songs sends many a wishful vow
For his return, that seems to linger late:
So I alone, now left disconsolate,
Mourn to myself the absence of my love;
And, wandering here and there all desolate,
Seek with my plaints to match that mournful dove.
Ne joy of ought that under heaven doth hove,
Can comfort me, but her own joyous sight:
Whose sweet aspect both God and man can move,
In her unspotted pleasance to delight.
Dark is my day whiles her fair light I miss,
And dead my life, that wants such lively bliss."
Richard Barnefeilde enjoyed great popularity during his time.* The following lines are from his Cynthia, With Certaine Sonnets, 1595: better specimens of his talent as a Sonnetteer might have been given, but for reasons which may be gathered from the note at p. lxxxiii. I did not choose to exhibit them :
“It is reported of fair Thetis' son,
Achilles, famous for his chivalry,
His noble mind, and magnanimity,
That when the Trojan wars were new begun,
Whos’ever was deep-wounded with his spear,
Could never be recured of his maim,
Nor ever after be made whole again,
Except with that spear's rust he holpen were:
* See p. 262 of Shakespeare's Poems.
Even so it fareth with my fortune now,
Who being wounded with her piercing eye,
Must either thereby find a remedy,
Or else to be reliev'd I know not how.
Then, if thou hast a mind still to annoy me,
Kill me with kisses, if thou wilt destroy me."
From the Chloris of William Smith, 1596:
“My love, I cannot thy rare beauties place
Under those forms which many writers use.
Some, like to stones compare their mistress' face,
Some in the name of flowers do love abuse;
Some make their love a goldsmith's shop to be,
Where orient pearls and precious stones abound:
In my conceit these far do disagree,
The perfect praise of beauty forth to sound.
O Chloris, thou dost imitate thyself!
Self-imitating passeth precious stones;
For all the Eastern-Indian golden pelf,
Thy red and white with purest fair attones.
Matchless for beauty Nature hath thee fram’d,
Only unkind and cruel thou art nam’d.”
What follows is from Diella, Certaine Sonnets, adioyned to the amorous Poeme of Dom Diego and Gineura, by R. L. Gentleman, 1596:
“When love had first besieg'd my heart's strong wall,
Rampir'd and countermur'd with chastity,
And had with ordnance made his tops to fall,
Stooping their glory to his surquedry;
I call'd a parley, and withal did crave
Some composition, or some friendly peace:
To this request he his consent soon gave,
As seeming glad such cruel wars should cease.
I, nought mistrusting, open'd all the gates,
Yea, lodg'd him in the palace of my heart;
When lo! in dead of night he seeks his mates,
And shows each traitor how to play his part;
With that they fir'd my heart, and thence 'gan fly,
Their names, sweet smiles, fair face, and piercing eye."
From the Fidessa of R. Griffin, 1596:
“Care-charmer sleep, sweet ease in restless misery,
The captive's liberty, and his freedom's song,
Balm of the bruised 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 vexed 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.”
From the Aurora, of William Alexander, Earl of Sterline, 1604.
“I swear, Aurora, by thy starry eyes,
And by those golden locks whose lock none slips,
And by the coral of thy rosy lips,
And by the naked snows which beauty dyes;
I swear by all the jewels of thy mind,
Whose like yet never worldly treasure bought,
Thy solid judgment and thy generous thought,
Which in this darken'd age have clearly shin'd;
I swear by those, and by my spotless love,
And by my secret, yet most fervent fires,
That I have never nurst but chaste desires,
And such as modesty might well approve.
Then, since I love those virtuous parts in thee,
Should'st thou not love this virtuous mind in me?'