Do I not see that fairest images
Of hardest marble are of purpose made?
For that they should endure through many ages,
Ne let their famous monuments to fade.
Why then do I, untrained in lovers' trade,
Her hardness blame which I should more commend?
Sith never aught was excellect assayed,
Which was not hard t'achieve and bring to end.
Ne aught so hard, but he that would attend,
Mote soften it and to his will allure:
So do I hope her stubborn heart to bend,
And that it then more steadfast will endure.
Only my pains will be the more to get her,
But having her, my joy will be the greater.
So oft as homeward I from her depart,
I go like one that having lost the field,
Is prisoner led away with heavy heart,
Despoiled of warlike arms and knowen shield.
So do I now myself a prisoner yield,
To sorrow and to solitary pain:
From presence of my dearest dear exiled,
Longwhile alone in languor to remain.
There let no thought of joy or pleasure vain,
Dare to approach, that may my solace breed:
But sudden dumps and dreary sad disdain,
Of all worlds gladness more my torment feed.
So I her absence will my penance make,
That of her presence I my mead may take.
The panther knowing that his spotted hide
Doth please all beasts, but that his looks them fray,
Within a bush his dreadful head doth hide,
To let thm gaze whilst he on them may prey.
Right so my cruel fair with me doth play,
For with the goodly semblance of her hue
She doth allure me to mine own decay,
And then no mercy will unto me shew.
Great shame it is, thing so divine in view,
Made for to be the world's most ornament,
To make the bait her gazers to enbrew,
Good shames to be too ill an instrument.
But mercy doth with beauty best agree,
As in their maker ye them best may see.
Of this world's theatre in which we stay,
My love like the spectator idly sits
Beholding me that all the pageants play,
Disguising diversely my troubled wits.
Sometimes I joy when glad occasion fits,
And mask in mirth like to a comedy:
Soon after when my joy to sorrow flits,
I wail and make my woes a tragedy.
Yet she beholding me with constant eye,
Delights not in my mirth nor rues my smart:
But when I laugh she mocks, and when I cry
She laughs, and hardens evermore her heart.
What then can move her? if not mirth nor moan,
She is no woman, but senseless stone.
So oft as I her beauty do behold,
And therewith do her cruelty compare,
I marvel of what substance was the mould
The which her made at once so cruel fair.
Not earth; for her high thoughts more heavenly are,
Not water; for her love doth burn like fire:
Not air; for she is not so light or rare,
Not fire; for she doth freeze with faint desire.
Then needs another element inquire
Whereof she mote be made; that is the sky.
For to the heaven her haughty looks aspire:
And eke her mind is pure immortal high.
Then sith to heaven ye likened are the best,
Be like in mercy as in all the rest.
Fair ye be sure, but cruel and unkind,
As is the tiger that with greediness
Hunts after blood, when he by chance doth find
A feeble beast, doth felly him oppress.
Fair be ye sure, but proud and pityless,
As is a storm, that all things doth prostrate:
Finding a tree alone all comfortless,
Beats on it strongly it to ruinate.
Fair be ye sure, but hard and obstinate,
As is a rock amidst the raging floods:
'Gainst which a ship of succour desolate,
Doth suffer wreck both of herself and goods.
That ship, that tree, and that same beast am I,
Whom ye do wreck, do ruin, and destroy.
Sweet warrior, when shall I have peace with you?
High time it is, this war now ended were:
Which I no longer can endure to sue,
Ne your incessant battery more to bear:
So weak my powers, so sore my wounds appear
That wonder is how I should live a jot,
Seeing my heart through launched everywhere
With thousand arrows, which your eyes have shot:
Yet shoot ye sharply still, and spare me not,
But glory think to make these cruel stoures.
Ye cruel one, what glory can be got,
In slaying him that would live gladly yours?
Make peace therefore, and grant me timely grace,
That all my wouds will heal in little space.
LVIII. By her that is most assured to herself.
Weak is th'assurance that weak flesh reposeth
In her own power, and scorneth others' aid:
That soonest falls when as she most supposeth
Herself assured, and is of nought afraid.
All flesh is frail, and all her strength unstayed,
Like a vain bubble blown up with air:
Devouring time and changeful chance have preyed
Her glory's pride that none may it repair.
Ne none so rich or wise, so strong or fair,
But faileth trusting on his own assurance:
And he that standeth on the highest stair
Falls lowest: for on earth nought hath endurence.
Why then do ye proud fair, misdeem so far,
That to yourself ye most assured are.
Thrice happy she, that is so well assured
Unto herself and settled so in heart:
That neither will for better be allured,
Ne feared with worse to any chance start:
But like a steady ship doth strongly part
The raging waves and keeps her course aright:
Ne aught for tempest doth from it depart,
Ne aught for fairer weather false delight.
Such self assurance need not fear the spite
Of grudging foes, ne favor seek of friends:
But in the stay of her own steadfast might,
Neither to one herself nor another bends.
Most happy she that most assured doth rest,
But he most happy who such one loves best.
They that in course of heavenly spheres are skilled,
To every planet point his sundry year:
In which her circle's voyage is fulfilled,
As Mars in three-score years doth run his sphere.
So since the winged God his planet clear,
Began in me to move, one year is spent:
The which doth longer unto me appear,
Than all those forty which my life outwent.
Then by that count, which lovers' books invent,
The sphere of Cupid forty years contains:
Which I have wasted in long languishment,
That seemed the longer for my greater pains.
But let my love's fair planet short her ways
This year ensuing, or else short my days.
The glorious image of the maker's beauty,
My sovereign saint, the idol of my thought,
Dare not henceforth above the bounds of duty
T'accuse of pride, or rashly blame for aught.
For being as she is divinely wrought,
And of the brood of angels heavenly born;
And with the crew of blessed saints upbrought,
Each of which did her with their gifts adorn;
The bud of joy, the blossom of the morn,
The beam of light, whom mortal eyes admire:
What reason is it then but she should scorn
Base things, that to her love too bold aspire?
Such heavenly forms ought rather worshipped be,
Than dare be lov'd by men of mean degree.
The weary year his race now having run,
The new begins his compassed course anew:
With shew of morning mild he hath begun,
Betokening peace and plenty to ensue.
So let us, which this change of weather view,
Change each our minds and former lives amend,
The old year's sins forepast let us eschew,
And fly the faults with which we did offend.
Then shall the new year's joy forth freshly send,
Into the glooming world his gladsome ray:
And all these storms which now his beauty blend,
Shall turn to calms and timely clear away.
So likewise love cheer you and your heavy sprite,
And change old year's annoy to new delight.
After long storms and tempests' sad assay,
Which hardly I endured heretofore:
In dread of death and dangerous dismay,
With which my silly bark was tossed sore:
I do at length descry the happy shore,
In which I hope ere long for to arrive;
Fair soil it seems from far and fraught with store
Of all that dear and dainty is alive.
Most happy he that can at last achieve
The joyous safety of so sweet a rest:
Whose least delight sufficeth to deprive
Remembrance of all pains which him oppressed.
All pains are nothing in respect to this,
All sorrows short that gain eternal bliss.
Coming to kiss her lips, (such grace I found)
Me seemed I smelled a garden of sweet flowers,
That dainty odors from them threw around
For damsels fit to deck their lovers' bowers.
Her lips did smell like unto Gillyflowers,
Her ruddy cheeks like unto Roses red:
Her snowy brows like budded Bellamores,
Her lovely eyes like Pinks but newly spread.
Her goodly bosom like a strawberry bed,
Her neck like to a bunch of Columbines:
Her breast like Lillies, ere their leaves be shed,
Her nipples like young blossomed Jasmines.
Such fragrant flowers do give most odorous smell,
But her sweet odor did them all excel.
The doubt which you misdeem, fair love, is vain,
That fondly fear to lose your liberty,
When losing one, two liberties you gain,
And make him bond that bondage erst did fly.
Sweet be the bands, the which true love doth tie,
Without constraint or dread of any ill:
The gentle bird feels no captivity
Within her cage, but sings and feeds her fill.
There pride dare not approach, nor discord spill
The league 'twixt them, that loyal love hath bound:
But simple truth and mutual good will,
Seeks with sweet peace to salve each others' wound:
There faith doth fearless dwell in brazen tower,
And spotless pleasure builds her sacred bower.
To all those happy blissing which ye have,
With plenteous hand by heaven upon you thrown,
This one disparagement they to you gave,
That ye your love lent to so mean a one.
Yet whose high worths surpassing paragon,
Could not on earth have found one fit for mate,
Ne but in heaven matchable to none,
Why did ye stoop unto so lowly state?
But ye thereby much greater glory gate,
Than had ye sorted with a prince's peer:
For now your light doth more itself dilate,
And in my darkness greater doth appear.
Yet since your light hath once enlumined me,
With my reflex yours shall increased be.
Like as a huntsman after weary chase,
Seeing the game from him escaped away,
Sits down to rest him in some shady place,
With panting hounds beguiled of their pray:
So after long pursuit and vain assay,
When I all weary had the chase forsook,
The gentle deer returned the self-same way,
Thinking to quench her thirst at the next brook.
There she beholding me with milder look,
Sought not to fly, but fearless still did bide:
Till I in hand her yet half-trembling took,
And with her own goodwill here firmly tied.
Strange thing me seemed to see a beast so wild,
So goodly won with her own will beguiled.
Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day,
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin:
And having harrowed hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive us to win:
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we for whom thou didst die
Being with thy dear blood clean washed from sin,
May live for ever in felicity.
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again:
And for thy sake that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain.
So let us love, like as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.
The famous warriors of the antick world,
Used trophies to erect in stately wise:
In which they would the records have enrolled,
Of their great deeds and valorous emprize.
What trophy then shall I most fit devise,
In which I may record the memory
Of my love's conquest, peerless beauty's prize,
Adorn'd with honour, love, and chastity.
Even this verse vowed to eternity,
Shall be thereof immortal monument:
And tell her praise to all posterity,
That may admire such world's rare wonderment.
The happy purchase of my glorious spoil,
Gotten at last with labour and long toil.
Fresh spring the herald of love's might king,
In whose coat-armor richly are displayed
All sorts of flowers the which on earth do spring
In goodly colors gloriously displayed.
Go to my love, where she is careless laid,
Yet in her winter's bower not well awake:
Tell her the joyous time will not be staid
Unless she do him by the forelock take.
Bid her therefore herself soon ready make,
To wait on love amongst his lovely crew:
Where every one that misseth than her make,
Shall be by him amearst with penance due.
Make haste therefore sweet love, whilst it is prime,
For none can call again the passed time.
I joy to see how in your drawen work,
Yourself unto the bee ye do compare:
And me unto the Spider that doth lurk,
In close await to catch her unaware.
Right so youself were caught in cunning snare
Of a dear foe, and thralled to his love:
In whose straight bands ye now captived are
So firmly, that ye never may remove.
But as your work is woven all above,
With woodbine flowers and fragrant Eglantine;
So sweet your prison you in time shall prove,
With many dear delights bedecked fine.
And all thenceforth eternal peace shall see,
Between the spider and the gentle bee.
Oft when my spirit doth spread her bolder wings,
In mind to mount up to the purest sky:
It down is weighed with thought of earthly things
And clogged with burden of mortality.
Where when that sovereign beauty it doth spy,
Resembling heaven's glory in her light:
Drawn with sweet pleasure's bait, it back doth fly,
And unto heaven forgets her former flight.
There my frail fancy fed with full delight,
Doth bathe in bliss and mantleth most at ease:
Ne thinks of other heaven, but how it might
Her heart's desire with most contentment please.
Heart need not with none other happiness,
But here on earth to have such heaven's bliss.
Being myself captured here in care,
My heart, whom none with servile bands can tie,
But the fair tresses of your golden hair,
Breaking his prison forth to you doth fly.
Like as a bird that in one's hand doth spy
Desired food, to it doth make his flight:
Even so my heart, that wont on your fair eye
To feed his fill, flys back unto your sight.
Do you him take, and in your bosom bright,
Gently encage, that he may be your thrall:
Perhaps he there may learn with rare delight,
To sing your name and praises over all.
That it hereafter may you not repent,
Him lodging in your bosom to have lent.
Most happy letters fram'd by skillful trade,
With which that happy name was first designed:
The which three times thrice happy hath me made,
With gifts of body, fortune and of mind.
The first my being to me gave by kind,
From mother's womb deriv'd by due descent,
The second is my sovereign Queen most kind,
That honour and large riches to me lent.
The third my love, my life's last ornament,
By whom my spirit out of dust was raised:
To speak her praise and glory excellent,
Of all alive most worthy to be praised.
Ye three Elizabeths forever live,
That three such graces did unto me give.
One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
Vain man, said she, that doest in vain assay,
A mortal thing so to immortalize,
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eek my name be wiped out likewise.
No so, (quod I) let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse, your virtues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name.
Where whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Out love shall live, and later life renew.
Fair bosom fraught with virtue's riches treasure,
The nest of love, the lodging of delight:
The bower of bliss, the paradise of pleasure,
The sacred harbour of that heavenly sprite.
How was I ravished with your lovely sight,
And my frail thoughts too rashly led astray?
Whiles diving deep through amorous insight,
On the sweet spoil of beauty they did prey.
And twixt her paps like early fruit in May,
Whose harvest seemed to hasten now apace:
They loosly did their wanton wings display,
And there to rest themselves did boldly place.
Sweet thoughts I envy your so happy rest,
Which oft I wished, yet never was so blest.
Was it a dream, or did I see it plain,
A goodly table of pure ivory:
All spread with juncats, fit to entertain
The greatest prince with pompous royalty.
'Mongst which there in a silver dish did lie
Two golden apples of unvalued price:
Far passing those which Hercules came by,
Or those which Atalanta did entice.
Exceeding sweet, yet void of sinful vice,
That many sought yet none could ever taste,
Sweet fruit of pleasure brought from paradise
By love himself, and in his garden placed.
Her breast that table was so richly spread,
My thoughts the guests, which would thereon have fed.
Lacking my love I go from place to place,
Like a young fawn that late hath lost the hind:
And seek each where, where last I saw her face,
Whose image yet I carry fresh in mind.
I seek the fields with her late footing signed,
I seek her bower with her late presence decked,
Yet nor in field nor bower I her can find:
Yet field and bower are full of her aspect.
But when mine eyes I thereunto direct,
They idly back return to me again,
And when I hope to see their true object,
I find myself but fed with fancies vain.
Cease then mine eyes, to seek herself to see,
And let my thoughts behold herself in me.
Men call you fair, and you do credit it,
For that yourself ye daily such do see:
But the true fair, that is the gentle wit,
And virtuous mind, is much more prayed of me.
For all the rest, how ever fair it be,
Shall turn to naught and loose that glorious hue:
But only that is permanent and free
From frail corruption, that doth flesh ensue.
That is true beauty: that doth argue you
To be divine and born of heavenly seed:
Deriv'd from that fair spirit, from whom all true
And perfect beauty did at first proceed.
He only fair, and what he fair hath made,
All other fair like flowers untimely fade.
After so long a race as I have run
Through Faery land, which those six books compile,
Give leave to rest me being half fordone,
And gather to myself new breath awhile.
Then as a steed refreshed after toil,
Out of my prison I will break anew:
And stoutly will that second work assoyle,
With strong endeavor and attention due.
Till then give leave to me in pleasant mew,
To sport my muse and sing my love's sweet praise:
The contemplation of whose heavenly hue,
My spirit to an higher pitch will raise.
But let her praises yet be low and mean,
Fit for the handmaid of the Faery Queene.
Fair is my love, when her fair golden heares,
With the loose wind ye waving chance to mark:
Fair when the rose in her red cheeks appears,
Or in her eyes the fire of love does spark.
Fair when her breast like a rich-laden bark,
With precious merchandise she forth doth lay:
Fair when that cloud of pride, which oft doth dark
Her goodly light with smiles she drives away.
But fairest she, when so she doth display,
The gate with pearls and rubies richly dight:
Through which her words so wise do make their way
To bear the message of her gentle sprite.
The rest be works of nature's wonderment,
But this the work of heart's astonishment.
Joy of my life, full oft for loving you
I bless my lot, that was so lucky placed:
But then the more your own mishap I rue,
That are so much by so mean love debased.
For had the equal heavens so much you graced
In this as in the rest, ye mote invent
Soom heavenly wit, whose verse could have enchased
Your glorious name in golden monument.
But since ye deigned so goodly to relent
To me your thrall, in whom is little worth,
That little that I am, shall all be spent,
In setting your immoral praises forth.
Whose lofty argument uplifting me,
Shall lift you up unto an high degree.
My hungry eyes, through greedy covetize,
Still to behold the object of their pain:
With no contentment can themselves suffice.
But having pine, and having not complain.
For lacking it, they cannot life sustain,
And seeing it, they gaze on it the more:
In their amazement like Narcissus vain
Whose eyes him starv'd: so plenty makes me poor.
Yet are mine eyes so filled with the store
Of that fair sight, that nothing else they brook:
But loath the things which they did like before,
And can no more endure on them to look.
All this world's glory seemeth vain to me,
And all their shows but shadows, saving she.
Let not one spark of filthy lustfull fire
Ne one light glance of sensual desire
Attempt to work her gentle mind's unrest.
But pure affections bred in spotless breast,
And modest thoughts breathed from well tempered sprites
Go visit her in her chaste bower of rest,
Accompanied with angelic delights.
There fill yourself with those most joyous sights,
The which myself could never yet attain:
But speak no word to her of these sad plights,
Which her too constant stiffness doth constrain.
Only behold her rare perfection,
And bless your fortune's fair election.
The world that cannot deem of worthy things,
When I do praise her, say I do but flatter:
So does the cuckoo, when the mavis sings,
Begin his witless note apace to clatter.
But they that skill not of so heavenly matter,
All that they know not, envy or admire,
Rather than envy let them wonder at her,
But not to deem of her desert aspire.
Deep in the closet of my parts entire,
Her worth is written with a golden quill:
That me with heavenly fury doth inspire,
And my glad mouth with her sweet praises fill.
Which when as fame in her shrill trump shall thunder
Let the world choose to envy or to wonder.
Venemous tongue, tipped with vile adders' sting,
Of that self kind with which the Furies fell
Their snaky heads do comb, from which a spring
Of poisoned words and spiteful speeches well.
Let all the plagues and horrid pains of hell,
Upon thee fall for thine accursed hire:
That with false-forged lies, which thou didst tell,
In my true love did stir up coals of ire,
The sparks whereof let kindle thine own fire,
And catching hold on thine own wicked head
Consume thee quite, that didst with guile conspire
In my sweet peace such breaches to have bred.
Shame be thy meed, and mischief thy reward,
Due to thyself that it for me prepared.
Since I did leave the presence of my love,
Many long weary days have I outworn:
And many nights, that slowly seemed to move
Their sad protract from evening until morn.
For when as day the heaven doth adorn,
I wish that night the noyous day would end:
And when as night hath us of light forlorn,
I wish that day would shortly reascend.
Thus I the time with expectation spend,
And fain my grief with changes to beguile,
That further seems his term still to extend,
And maketh every minute seem a mile.
So sorrow still doth seem too long to last,
But joyous hours do fly away too fast.
Since I have lacked the comfort of that light,
The which was wont to lead my thoughts astray:
I wander as in darkness of the night,
Afraid of every danger's least dismay.
Ne ought I see, though in the clearest day,
When others gaze upon their shadows vain:
But th'only image of that heavenly ray,
Whereof some glance doth in mine eye remain.
Of which beholding the idea plain,
Through contemplation of my purest part:
With light thereof I do myself sustain,
And thereon feed my love-afamished heart.
But with such brightness whilst I fill my mind,
I starve my body and mine eyes do blind.
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 aught 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 pleasauns to delight.
Dark is my day, while her fair light I miss,
And dead my life that wants such lively bliss.
In youth before I waxed old,
The blind boy Venus' baby,
For want of cunning made me bold,
In bitter hive to grope for honey.
But when he saw me stung and cry,
He took his wings and away did fly.
As Diane hunted on a day,
She chanced to come where Cupid lay,
His quiver by his head:
One of his shafts she stole away,
And one of hers did close convey,
Into the other's stead:
With that love wounded my love's heart
But Diane beasts with Cupid's dart.
I saw in secret to my Dame,
How little Cupid humbly came:
And said to her "All hail, my mother."
But when he saw me laugh, for shame
His face with bashfull blood did flame,
Not knowing Venus from the other,
"Then never blush, Cupid" (quoth I)
"For many have err'd in this beauty."
Upon a day as love lay sweetly slumbring,
All in his mother's lap:
A gentle bee with his loud trumpet murm'ring,
About him flew by hap.
Whereof when he was wakened with the noise,
And saw the beast so small:
"What's this" (quoth he) "that gives so great a voice,
That wakens men withall?
In angry wise he flies about,
And threatens all with courage stout."
To whom his mother closely smiling said,
Twixt earnest and twixt game:
"See thou thy selfe likewise art little made,
If thou regard the same.
And yet thou suff'rst neither gods in sky,
Nor men in earth to rest;
But when thou art disposed cruelly,
Their sleep thou dost molest.
Then either change thy cruelty,
Or give like leave unto the fly."
Natheless the cruel boy not so content,
Would needs the fly pursue,
And in his hand with heedless hardiment,
Him caught for to subdue.
But when on it he hasty hand did lay,
The bee him stung therefore:
"Now out alas" (he cried) "and wellaway,
I wounded am full sore:
The fly that I so much did scorn,
Hath hurt me with his little horn."
Unto his mother straight he weeping came,
And of his grief complained:
Who could not chose but laugh at his fond game,
Though sad to see him pained.
"Think now" (quoth she) "my son how great the smart
Of those whom thou dost wound:
Full many thou hast pricked to the heart,
That pity never found:
Therefore henceforth some pity take,
When thou dost spoil of lovers make."
She took him straight full pitiously lamenting,
And wrapt him in her smock:
She wrapt him softly, all the while repenting,
That he the fly did mock.
She drest his wound and it embalmed well
With salve of sovereign might:
And then she bath'd him in a dainty well
The well of dear delight.
Who would not oft be stung as thus,
To be so bath'd in Venus' bliss?
The wanton boy was shortly well recured,
Of that his malady:
But he soon after fresh again enured,
His former cruelty.
And since that time he wounded hath my self
With his sharp dart of love:
And now forgets the cruel careless elf,
His mother's hest to prove.
So now I languish, till he please
My pining anguish to appease.