(The last rhyme works best in a Warwickshire
Gaelic accent, as Nicol Williamson demonstrated
of Hamlet a decade or so back. The stresses
fall appropriately then.)
When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor'd youth
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young
Although she knows my years are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue.
On both sides thus is simple truth suppress'd.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O love's best habit lies in seeming trust
And age in love loves not to have years told.
Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be.
O call not me to justify the wrong
That thy unkindness lays upon my heart.
Wound me not with thine eye, but with thy tongue.
Use power with power, and slay me not by art.
Tell me thou lov'st elsewhere, but in my sight,
Dear heart, forebear to glance thine eye aside.
What need'st thou wound with cunning when thy might
Is more than my o'erpress'd defense can bide?
Let me excuse thee; ah, my love well knows
Her pretty looks have been mine enemies,
And therefore from my face she turns my foes,
That elsewhere might they dart their injuries.
Yet do not so. But since I am near slain,
Kill me outright with looks, and rid my pain.
Be wise as thou art cruel. Do not press
My tongue-tied patience with too much disdain
Lest sorrow lend me words, and words express
The manner of my pity-wanting pain.
If I might teach thee wit, better it were
Though not to love, yet, love, to tell me so;
As testy sick men when their deaths be near
No news but health from their physicians know.
For if I should despair, I should go mad
And in my madness might speak ill of thee.
Now this ill-wresting world is gone so bad,
Mad slanderers by mad ears believed be.
That I may not be so, nor thou belied,
Bear thine eyes straight, though thy proud heart go wide.
In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes
For they in thee a thousand errors note.
But tis my heart that loves what they despise
Who in despite of view is pleas'd to dote.
Nor is mine ear with thy tongue's tune delighted,
Nor tender senses to base touches prone,
Nor taste nor smell desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone.
But my five wits and my five senses can
Dissuade no foolish heart of serving thee
Who leaves unsway'd the likeness of a man,
Thy proud heart's slave and vassal wretch to be.
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin awards me pain.
Love is my sin, and thy best virtue hate,
Hate of my sin, grounded in sinful loving.
O, but with mine compare thou thine own state
And thou shalt find it merits no reproving,
Or if it do, not from those lips of thine
Which have profan'd their scarlet ornaments,
And seal'd false bonds of love as oft as mine,
Robb'd others' beds' revenues of their rents.
Be it lawful I love thee as thou lov'st those
Whom thine eyes woo as mine importune thee,
Root pity in thy heart that, when it grows,
Thy pity may deserve to pitied be.
If thou dost seek to have what thou dost hide
By self-example may'st thou be denied!
Lo as a careful housewife runs to catch
One of her feathery creatures broke away,
Sets down her Babe, and makes all swift dispatch
In pursuit of the thing she would have stay;
Whilst her neglected child holds her in chase,
Cries to catch her whose busy ways are bent
To follow the thing that cries before her face,
Not prizing her poor infant's discontent,
So run'st thou after that which flies from thee
Whilst I, thy babe, chase thee afar behind.
But if thou catch thy hope, turn back to me
And play the mother's part. Kiss me; be kind.
So will I pray that thou mayst have thy will,
If thou but turn, and my loud crying still.
Poor soul, the center of my sinful earth,
Fooled by the rebel powers that thee array,
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? Is this thy body's end?
Then soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss
And let that pine to aggravate thy store.
Buy terms divine by selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more.
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.
My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th'uncertain, sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest.
My thoughts and my discourse, as madman's, are
At random from the truth, vainly express'd.
For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.
O me, what eyes hath love put in my head
Which have no correspondence with true sight!
Or, if they have, where is my judgment fled
That censures falsely what they see aright?
If that be fair whereon my false eyes dote,
What means the world to say it is not so?
If it be not, then love doth well denote
Love's eye is not so true as all men's -- no,
How can it? Oh, how can love' s eye be true
That is so vex'd with watching and with tears?
No wonder then, though I mistake my view,
The sun itself sees not till heaven clears.
Thou cunning love, with tears thou keep'st me blind
Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.
O from what power hast thou this powerful might,
With insufficiency my heart to sway?
To make me give the lie to my true sight
And swear that brightness doth not grace the day?
Whence hast thou this becoming of things ill
That in the very refuse of thy deeds
There is such strength and warrantise of skill
That in my mind thy worst all best exceeds?
Who taught thee how to make me love thee more
The more I hear and see just cause for hate?
O, though I love what others do abhor,
With others thou shouldst not abhor my state:
If thy unworthiness rais'd love in me,
More worthy I to be belov'd of thee.
Love is too young to know what conscience is,
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, stir not my amiss
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove.
For thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body's treason.
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love. Flesh stays no farther reason,
But rising at thy name doth point out thee
As his triumphant prize. Proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
No want of conscience hold it that I call
Her love for whose dear love I rise and fall.
In loving thee, thou know'st I am forsworn,
But thou art twice forsworn to me love swearing,
In act, thy bed-vow broke, and new faith torn,
Vowing new hate after new love bearing.
But why of two oaths' breach do I accuse thee
When I break twenty? I am perjur'd most
And all my vows are oaths but to misuse thee
And all my honest faith in thee is lost:
For I have sworn deep oaths to thy deep kindness,
Oaths of thy truth, thy love, thy constancy;
And to enlighten thee, gave eyes to blindness,
Or made them swear against the thing they see;
For I have sworn thee fair, more perjur'd I,
To swear against the truth so foul a lie.
(Critics don't consider this last poem in the
collection a part of the Dark Lady sequence, but it offers a conventional
excuse for an obsession, calling it blind love instead.)
The little love god, lying once asleep,
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand
Whils't many nymphs who vow'd chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand
The fairest votary took up that fire
Which many legions of true hearts had warm'd,
And so the general of hot desire
Was sleeping by a virgin hand disarm'd.
That brand she quenched in a cool well by
Which from love's fire drew heat perpetual
To make a bath and healthful remedy
For men diseas'd. But I, my mistress's thrall,
Came there for cure, and this by that I prove,
Love's fire heats water; water cools not love.