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SONNETS, BY SIR PHILIP SIDNEY-A.D. 1554-84.
Because I oft in dark abstracted guise
In martial sports I had my cunning tried,
ROSAMOND TO KING HENRY.
(FROM ENGLAND'S HEROICAL EPISTLES.) Henry the Second keepeth (with much care) Lord Clifford's daughter, Rosamond the fair; And whilst his sons do Normandy invade, He forc'd to France, with wond'rous cost hath made A labyrinth in Woodstock, where unseen His love might lodge safe from his jealous queen: Yet when he stay'd beyond his time abroad, Her pensive breast, his darling to unload, In this epistle doth her grief complain ; And his rescription tells her his again.
If yet thine eyes (Great Henry) may endure
If with my shame thine eyes thou fain would'st
What by this conquest canst thou hope to win, Where thy best spoil is but the act of sin ? Why on my name this slander dost thou bring, To make my fault renowned by a king? “ Fame never stoops to things but mean and poor, The more our greatness, our fault is the more; Lights on the ground themselves do lessen far But in the air each small spark seems a star.” Why on my woman-frailty should'st thou lay So strong a plot mine honour to betray? Or thy unlawful pleasure should'st thou buy, Both with thine own shame and my infamy? 'Twas not my mind consented to this ill, Then had I been transported by my will; For what my body was inforc'd to do, (Heav'n knows) my soul yet ne'er consented to: For through mine eyes had she her liking seen, Such as my love, such had my lover been. “ True love is simple, like his mother truth, Kindly affection, youth to love with youth ; No greater cor'sive to our blooming years, Than the cold badge of winter-blasted hairs. Thy kingly power makes to withstand thy foes, But cannot keep back age, with time it grows:
Though honour our ambitious sex doth please,
But Henry, how canst thou affect me thus,
Sometimes, to pass the tedious irksome hours,
As in the gallery this other day,
Why, girl (quoth I) this is that Roman dame- And to declare for what intent it came,
Lest I therein should ever keep my shame.
And in this casket (ill I see it now)
That Jove's love, lo, turn’d into a cow;
So wakeful still be Juno's jealousies :
By this I well might have forwarned been, In beauty's field pitching his crimson tent,
T' have clear'd myself to thy suspecting Queen, In lovely sanguine sutes the lily cheek,
Who with more hundred eyes
attendeth me, Whilst it but for a resting place doth seek;
Than had poor Argus single eyes to see. And changing oftentimes with sweet delight, In this thou rightly imitatest Jove, Converts the white to red, the red to white:
Into a beast thou hast transform’d thy love; The blush with paleness for the place doth strive,
Nay, worser far (beyond their beastly kind)
A monster both in body and in mind.
With the dull vap'ry dimness mocks my sight, When as the sun hales tow'rds the western slade,
As tho' the damp, which hinders the clear flame, And the trees shadows hath much taller made, Came from my breath in that night of my shame : Forth go I to a little current near,
When as it look'd with a dark lowering eye,
And if a star but by the glass appear,
I straight intreat it not to look in here: With fearful nibbling fly th’inticing gin,
I am already hateful to the light, By nature taught what davger lies therein.
And will it too betray me to the night? Things reasonless thus warn’d by nature be,
Then sith my shame so much belongs to thee, Yet I devour'd the bait was laid for me :
Rid me of that, by only murd’ring me;
Thou shalt not need by circumstance t'accuse me ; I should pollute that native purity.
If I deny it, let the heavens refuse me.
In this shew mercy, as I ever lov'd thee.
HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY,
TO THE LADY GERALDINE. Nor will a strumpet shall their name abuse.
The Earl of Surrey, that renowned lord, Here in the garden, wrought by curious hands, Th' old English glory bravely that restor’d, Naked Diana in the fountain stands,
That prince and poet (a name more divine) With all her nymphs got round about to hide her, Falling in love with beauteous Geraldine, As when Acteon had by chance espy'd her:
Of the Geraldi, which derive their name This sacred image I no sooner view'd,
From Florence: whither to advance her fame, But as that metamorphos'd man pursu'd
He travels, and in public jousts maintain'd By his own hounds, so by my thoughts am I, Her beauty peerless, which by arms he gain d: Which chase me still, which way soe'er I fly. By staying long, fair Italy to see, Touching the grass, the honey-dropping dew, To let her know him constant still to be, Which falls in tears before my limber shoe,
From Tuscany this letter to her writes;
Which her rescription instantly invites.
From learned Florence (long time rich in fame) But every thing doth give me cause of wo.
From whence thy race, thy noble grandsires came In that fair casket of such wond'rous cost,
To famous England, that kind nurse of mine, Thou sent'st the night before mine honour lost, Thy Surrey sends to heav'nly Geraldine. Amimone was wrought, a harmless maid,
Yet let not Tuscan think I do it wrong, By Neptune that adult'rous God betray'd;
That I from thence write in my native tongue ; She prostrate at his feet, begging with pray’rs, That in these harsh-tun'd cadences I sing, Wringing her hands, her eyes swoln up with tears: Sitting so near the muses’ sacred spring; This was not an entrapping bait from thee,
But rather think it self adorn'd thereby, But by thy virtue gently warning me,
That England reads the praise of Italy.
Though to the Tuscans I the smoothness grant, The little taper which should give thee light, Our dialect no majesty doth want,
Methought wax'd dim, to see thy eyes so bright; To set thy praises in as high a key,
Thine eye again supply'd the taper's turn, As France, or Spain, or Germany, or they.
And with his beams more brightly made it burn: What day I quit the fore-land of fair Kent, The shrugging air about thy temples hurls, And that my ship her course for Flanders bent, And wrapt thy breath in little clouded curls, Yet think I with how many a heavy look
And as it did ascend, it straight did seize it, My leave of England and of thee I took,
And as it sunk it presently did raise it. And did intreat the tide (if it might be)
Canst thou by sickness banish beauty so, But to convey me one sigh back to thee.
Which if put from thee, knows not where to go lip to the deck a billow lightly skips,
To make her shift, and for succour seek Taking my sigh, and down again it slips,
To every rivel'd face, each bankrupt cheek? Into the gulph itself it headlong throws,
“ If health preserv’d, thou beauty still dost cherish; And as a post to England-ward it goes.
If that neglected, beauty soon doth perish.” As I sate wond’ring how the rough sea stirr'd, Care draws on care, woe comforts woe again, I might far off perceive a little bird,
Sorrow breeds sorrow, one grief brings forth twain. Which as she fain from shore to shore would fly, If live or die, as thou do'st, so do I; Had lost herself in the broad vasty sky,
If live, I live; and if thou die, I die : Her feeble wing beginning to deceive her,
One heart, one love, one joy, one grief, one troth, The seas of life still gaping to bereave her:
One good, one ill, one life, one death to both. Unto the ship she makes, which she discovers, If Howard's blood thou hold’st as but too vile, And there (poor fool!) a while for refuge hovers; Or not esteem’st of Norfolk's princely stile; And when at length her flagging pinion fails, If Scotland's coat no mark of fame can lend, Panting she hangs upon the rolling sails,
That lion plac'd in our bright silver bend, And being forc'd to loose her hold with pain, Which as a trophy beautifies our shield, Yet beaten off, she straight lights on again, [weather, Since Scottish blood discolour'd Floden field; And toss'd with flaws, with storms, with wind, with When the proud Cheviot our brave ensign bare, Yet still departing thence, still turneth thither: As a rich jewel in a lady's hair, Now with the poop, now with the prow doth bear, And did fair Bramston's neighbouring vallies choke Now on this side, now that, now here, now there. With clouds of cannons fire-disgorged smoke; Methinks these storms should be my sad depart, If Surrey's earldom insufficient be, The silly helpless bird is my poor heart,
And not a dower so well contenting thee: The ship, to which for succour it repairs,
Yet I am one of great Apollo's heirs, That is yourself, regardless of my cares.
The sacred Muses challenge me for theirs. Of every surge doth fall, or wave doth rise,
By Princes my immortal lines are sung, To some one thing I sit and moralize.
My flowing verses grac'd with ev'ry tongue: When for thy love I left the Belgic shore,
The little children when they learn to go, Divine Erasmus, and our famous More,
By painful mothers daded to and fro, Whose happy presence gave me such delight, Are taught my sugar'd numbers to rehearse, As made a minute of a winter's night;.
And have their sweet lips season'd with my verse. With whom a while I staid at Roterdame,
When heav’n would strive to do the best it can, Now so renowned by Erasmus' name:
And put an angel's spirit into man, Yet every hour did seem a world of time,
The utmost power it hath, it then doth spend, Till I had seen that soul-reviving clime,
When to the world a Poet it doth intend. And thought the foggy Netherlands unfit,
That little diff'rence 'twixt the gods and us, A wat'ry soil to clog a fiery wit.
(By them confirm’d) distinguish'd only thus: And as that wealthy Germany I past,
Whom they in birth ordain to happy days, Coming unto the Emperor's court at last,
The gods commit their glory to our praise ; Great-learn'd Agrippa, so profound in art,
T'eternal life when they dissolve their breath, Who the infernal secrets doth impart,
We likewise share a second pow'r by death. When of thy health I did desire to know,
When time shall turn those amber locks to gray, Me in a glass my Geraldine did show, .
My verse again shall gild and make them gay Sick in thy bed; and for thou could'st not sleep, And trick them up in knotted curls anew, By a wax taper set the light to keep;
And to thy autumn give a summer's hue; I do remember thou didst read that ode,
That sacred pow'r, that in my ink remains, Sent back whilst I in Thanet made abode,
Shall put fresh blood into thy wither'd veins, Where when thou cam'st unto that word of love, And on thy red decay’d, thy whiteness dead, Evin in thine eyes I saw how passion strove : Shall set a white more white, a red more red: That showy lawn which covered thy bed,
When thy dim sight thy glass cannot descry, Methought look'd white, to see thy cheek so red; Nor thy craz'd mirror can discern thine eje; Thy rosy cheek oft changing in my sight,
My verse, to tell th' one what the other was, Yet still was red, to see the lawn so white: Shall represent them both, thine eye and glass :
Where both thy mirror and thine eye shall see, Whose leaves still mutt'ring, as the air doth breathe, What once thou saw'st in that, that saw in thee; With the sweet bubbling of the stream beneath, And to them both shall tell the simple truth, Doth rock the senses (whilst the small birds sing) What that in pureness was, what thou in youth. Lulled asleep with gentle murmuring ;
If Florence once should lose her old renown, Where light-foot Fairies sport at prison-base, As famous Athens, now a fisher-town;
(No doubt there is some pow'r frequents the place) My lines for thee a Florence shall erect,
There the soft poplar and smooth beech do bear Which great Apollo ever shall protect,
Our names together carved every where, And with the numbers from my pen that falls, And Gordian knots do curiously entwine Bring marble mines to re-erect those walls.
The names of Henry and Geraldine. Nor beauteous Stanhope, whom all tongues report
O let this grove, in happy times to come, To be the glory of the English court,
Be call’d the lover's bless'd Elyzium; Shall by our nation be so much admir’d,
Whither my mistress wonted to resort, If ever Surrey truly were inspir'd.
In summer's heat, in those sweet shades to sport: And famous Wyat, who in numbers sings
A thousand sundry names I have it given, To that enchanting Thracian harper's strings,
And call'd it Wonder-hider, Cover-heav'n, To whom Phæbus (the Poets' god) did drink The roof where beauty her rich court doth keep, A bowl of nectar, fill'd up to the brink ;
Under whose compass all the stars do sleep. And sweet-tongu'd Bryan (whom the Muses kept,
There is one tree, which now I call to mind, And in his cradle rockt him whilst he slept)
Doth bear these verses carved in the rind : In sacred verses (most divinely penn'd)
" When Geraldine shall sit in thy fair shade, Upon thy praises ever shall attend.
Fan her fair tresses with perfumed air, What time I came into this famous town,
Let thy large boughs a canopy be made, And made the cause of my arrival known,
To keep the sun from gazing on my fair: Great Medices a list for triumphs built ;
And when thy spreading branched arms be sunk, Within the which, upon a tree of gilt,
And thou no sap nor pith shalt more retain, (Which was with sundry rare devices set)
Ev’n from the dust of thy unwieldy trunk I did erect thy lovely counterfeit,
I will renew thee, phænix-like, again, To answer those Italian dames desire,
And from thy dry decayed root will bring Which daily came thy beauty to admire;
A new-born stem, another Æson's spring." By which, my lion in his gaping jaws
I find no cause, nor judge I reason why, Held up my lance, and in his dreadful paws
My country should give place to Lombardy. Reacheth my gauntlet unto him that dare
As goodly flow'rs on Thamesis do grow, A beauty with my Geraldine's compare.
As beautify the banks of wanton Po; Which, when each manly valiant arm assays,
As many nymphs as haunt rich Arnus' strand, After so many brave triumphant days,
By silver Severn tripping hand in hand: The glorious prize upon my lance I bear,
Our shade's as sweet, though not to us so dear, By herald's voice proclaim'd to be thy share.
Because the sun hath greater power here. The shiver'd staves here for thy beauty broke,
This distant place doth give me greater woe; With fierce encounters past at every shock,
Far off, my sighs the farther have to go. When stormy courses answer cuff for cuff,
Ah, absence! why thus should'st thou seem so long? Denting proud bevers with the counter-buff,
Or wherefore should'st thou offer time such wrong, Upon an altar, burnt with holy flame,
Summer so soon to steal on winter's cold, I sacrific'd, as incense to thy fame :
Or winter blasts so soon make summer old ? Where, as the phenix from her spiced fume
Love did us both with one self-arrow strike, Renews herself, in that she doth consume;
Our wounds both one, our cure should be the like; So from these sacred ashes live we both,
Except thou hast found out some mean by art, Ev'n as that one Arabian wonder doth.
Some pow'rful medicine to withdraw the dart; When to my chamber I myself retire,
But mine is fixt, and absence being proved, Burnt with the sparks that kindled all this fire, It sticks too fast, it cannot be removed. Thinking of England, which my hope contains, Adieu, adieu, from Florence when I go, The happy isle where Geraldine remains :
By my next letters Geraldine shall know, Of Hunsdon, where those sweet celestial eyne
Which if good fortune shall my course direct, At first did pierce this tender breast of mine :
From Venice by some messenger expect;
By him that lives thy virtues to admire.
THE LADY GERALDINE TO HENRY Clipt by the water from the other land,
HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY. Whose bushy top doth bid the sun forbear,
Such greeting as the noble Surrey sends, And checks his proud beams that would enter there; The like to thee thy Geraldine commends;