Selected Poems of Lady Mary Wroth

Poems from Pamphilia to Amphilanthus (1621).


1.  [When night's blacke Mantle could most darknesse prove]

When night's blacke Mantle could most darknesse prove, 
     And sleepe (deaths Image) did my senses hyre, 
     From Knowledge of my selfe, then thoughts did move 
     Swifter then those, most switnesse neede require. 

In sleepe, a Chariot drawne by wing'd Desire, 
     I saw; where fate bright Venus Queene of Love, 
     And at her feete her Sonne, still adding Fire 
     To burning hearts, which she did hold above, 

But one heart flaming more then all the rest, 
     The Goddesse held, and put it to my breast, 
     Deare Sonne now shut, said she, thus must we winne; 

He her obeyd, and martyr'd my poore heart. 
     I waking hop'd as dreames it would depart, 
    Yet since, O me, a Lover I have beene.

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Line 7.  her Sonne: Cupid.
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Song 1.  [The Spring now come at last

The Spring now come at last
     To Trees, Fields, to Flowres,
And Meadowes makes to taste
     His pride, while sad showres
Which from mine eyes doe flow
     Makes knowne with cruell paines,
     Cold Winter yet remaines,
No signe of Springe wee knowe.

The Sunne which to the Earth
     Gives heate, light, and pleasure,             10 
Joyes in Spring hateth Dearth,
     Plenty makes his Treasure.
His heate to me is colde,
     His light all darknesse is,
     Since I am barrd of blisse,
I heate nor light behold.

A Shepherdesse thus said,
     Who was with griefe opprest,
For truest Love betrayd,
     Barrd her from quiet rest:                       20 
And weeping thus, said shee,
     My end approacheth neere,
     Now Willow must I weare,
My Fortune so will bee.

With Branches of this tree
     Ile dresse my haplesse head,
Which shall my witnesse bee,
     My hopes in Love are dead:
My cloathes imbroder'd all,
     Shall be with Garlands round,                30 
     Some scatter'd, others bound;
Some tyde, some like to fall.

The Barke my Booke shall bee,
     Where dayly I will write,
This tale of haples mee,
     True slave to Fortunes spite.
The roote shall be my bedd,
     Where nightly I will lye
     Wailing inconstancy,
Since all true love is dead.                           40 

And these Lines I will leave,
     If some such Lover come,
Who may them right conceive,
     and place them on my Tombe:
She who still constant lov'd
     Now dead with cruell care,
     Kill'd with unkind Dispaire,
     And change, her end heere prov'd.


 
 

click to view larger image
Country meadow
"The Spring now come at last
To Trees, Fields, to Flowres"

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Line 23.  Willow: emblematic of grief and loss.
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9. [Bee you all pleas'd, your pleasures grieve not me]

Bee you all pleas'd, your pleasures grieve not me; 
     Doe you delight?  I envy not your joy: 
     Have you content?  contentment with you be; 
     Hope you for blisse?  hope still, and still enjoy. 

Let sad misfortune, haplesse me destroy, 
     Leave crosses to rule me, and still rule free: 
     While all delights their contraries imploy, 
     To keepe good backe, and I but torments see. 

Joyes are bereav'd me, harmes doe only tarry, 
     Despaire takes place, disdaine hath got the hand: 
     Yet firme love holds my senses in such band, 
     As (since despised) I with sorrow marry. 

Then if with griefe I now must coupled bee, 
Sorrow Ile wed; Despaire thus governes mee.

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Song. 2.  [All Night I weepe, all Day I cry, Ay me]

All Night I weepe, all Day I cry, Ay me,
I still doe wish, though yet deny, ay me:
I sigh, I mourne, I say that still,
I only am the store for ill, ay me.

In coldest hopes I freeze, yet burne, ay me,
From flames I strive to flye, yet turne, ay me:
From griefe I hast, but sorrowes hye,
And on my heart all woes doe lye, ay me.

From contraries I seeke to run, ay me,
But contraries I cannot shun, ay me:                          10 
For they delight their force to trye,
And to Despaire my thoughts doe tye, ay me.

Whither alasse then shall I goe, ay me,
When as Despaire all hopes outgoe, ay me:
If to the Forrest Cupid hies,
And my poore soule to his law tyes, ay me.

To the Court: O no, he cryes fye, ay me,
There no true love you shall espye, ay me:
Leave that place to falsest Lovers,
Your true love all truth discovers, ay me,                  20 

Then quiet rest, and no more prove, ay me,
All places are alike to Love, ay me:
And constant be in this begun,
Yet say, till Life with Love be done, Ay me.

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14. [Am I thus conquer'd?  have I lost the powers]

Am I thus conquer'd?  have I lost the powers, 
     That to withstand which joyes to ruine me? 
     Must I bee still, while it my strength devoures, 
     And captive leads me prisoner bound, unfree? 

Love first shall leane mens fant'sies to them free, 
     Desire shall quench loves flames, Spring, hate sweet showers, 
     Love shall loose all his Darts, have sight, and see 
     His shame and wishings, hinder happy houres. 

Why should we not Loves purblinde charmes resist? 
     Must we be servile, doing what he list? 
     No, seeke some host to harbour thee:  I flye 

Thy Babish tricks, and freedome doe professe; 
     But O, my hurt makes my lost heart confesse: 
     I love, and must; so farewell liberty.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Line 7.  loose all his Darts, have sight: Cupid's emblematic paraphernalia, darts or arrows and a blindfold.
Line 9.  Loves purblinde charmes: the prevailing sense of "purblind" was shifting in the 16C. and 17C. from totally blind to partially blind, dim-sighted, or by analogy, dim-witted.
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19. [Come darkest Night, becomming sorrow best]

Come darkest Night, becomming sorrow best, 
     Light leave thy light, fit for a lightsome soule: 
     Darknesse doth truly sute with me opprest, 
     Whom absence power doth from mirth controule. 

The very trees with hanging heads condole 
     Sweet Summers parting, and of leaves distrest, 
     In dying colours make a grief-full role; 
     So much (alas) to sorrow are they prest. 

Thus of dead leaves, her farewell carpets made, 
     Their fall, their branches, all their mournings prove, 
     With leavelesse naked bodies, whose hues vade 
     From hopefull greene to wither in their love. 

If trees, and leaves for absence mourners be, 
No marvell that I grieve, who like want see.

 
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Line 11.  vade: fade, diminish.
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21.  [When last I saw thee, I did not thee see]

When last I saw thee, I did not thee see, 
     It was thine Image which in my thoughts lay 
     So lively figur'd, as no times delay 
     Could suffer me in heart to parted be. 

And sleepe so favourable is to me, 
     As not to let thy lov'd remembrance stray: 
     Lest that I waking might have cause to say, 
     There was one minute found to forget thee. 

Then, since my faith is such, so kinde my sleepe, 
     That gladly thee presents into my thought, 
     And still true Lover-like thy face doth keepe, 
     So as some pleasure shadow-like is wrought. 

Pitty my loving, nay of conscience give 
Reward to me in whom thy selfe doth live.

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22.  [Like to the Indians scorched with the Sunne]

Like to the Indians scorched with the Sunne, 
     The Sunne which they doe as their God adore: 
     So am I us'd by Love, for evermore 
     I worship him, lesse favours have I wonne. 

Better are they who thus to blacknesse run, 
     And so can onely whitenesse want deplore: 
     Then I who pale and white am with griefes store, 
     Nor can have hope, but to see hopes undone. 

Besides their sacrifice receiv'd in sight, 
     Of their chose Saint, mine hid as worthlesse rite, 
     Grant me to see where I my offerings give. 

Then let me weare the marke of Cupids might, 
     In heart, as they in skin of Phoebus light, 
     Not ceasing offerings to Love while I live.

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27.  [Fie tedious Hope, why doe you still rebell?] 

Fie tedious Hope, why doe you still rebell? 
     Is it not yet enough you flatter'd me, 
     But cunningly you seeke to use a Spell 
     How to betray; must these your Trophees bee? 

I look'd from you farre sweeter fruite to see, 
     But blasted were your blossomes when they fell: 
     And those delights expected from hands free, 
     Wither'd and dead, and what seemd blisse proves hell. 

No Towne was won by a more plotted slight, 
     Then I by you, who may my fortune write, 
     In embers of that fire which ruin'd me: 

Thus Hope your falshood calls you to be tryde, 
     You'r loth, I see, the tryall to abide; 
     Prove true at last, and gaine your liberty.

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28.  [Griefe, killing griefe, have not my torments beene]

Griefe, killing griefe, have not my torments beene 
     Already great and strong enough?  but still 
     Thou dost increase, nay glory in mine il, 
     And woes new past, afresh new woes begin? 

Am I the onely purchase thou canst win? 
     Was I ordain'd to give despaire her fill, 
     Or fittest I should mount misfortunes hill, 
     Who in the plaine of joy cannot live in? 

If it be so, Griefe come as welcome guest, 
     Since I must suffer for anothers rest; 
     Yet this (good Griefe) let me intreat of thee, 

Use still thy force, but not from those I love 
     Let me all paines and lasting torments prove; 
     So I misse these, lay all thy waights on me.

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29.  [Flye hence, O Joy, no longer heere abide]

Flye hence, O Joy, no longer heere abide, 
     Too great thy pleasures are for my despaire 
     To looke on, losses now must prove my fare; 
     Who not long since on better foode relide. 

But foole, how oft had I Heav'ns changing spi'de 
     Before of mine owne fate I could have care: 
     Yet now past time I can too late beware, 
     When nothings left but sorrowes faster ty'de. 

While I enjoyd that Sunne, whose sight did lend 
     Me joy, I thought that day could have no end: 
     But soone a night came cloath'd in absence darke; 

Absence more sad, more bitter then is gall, 
     Or death, when on true Lovers it doth fall; 
     Whose fires of love, disdaine reasts poorer sparke

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30.  [You blessed shades, which give me silent rest] 

You blessed shades, which give me silent rest, 
     Witnes but this when death hath clos'd mine eyes, 
     And separated me from earthly tyes; 
     Being from hence to higher place adrest. 

How oft in you I have laine heere opprest? 
     And have my miseries in wofull cryes 
     Deliver'd forth, mounting up to the Skyes? 
     Yet helplesse, backe return'd to wound my brest. 

Which wounds did but strive how to breed more harm 
     To me, who can be cur'd by no one charme 
     But that of Love, which yet may me releeve; 

If not, let Death my former paines redeeme, 
     My trusty friends, my faith untouch'd, esteeme, 
     And witnesse I could love, who so could grieve.

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32.  [How fast thou fliest, O Time, on Loves swift wings]

How fast thou fliest, O Time, on Loves swift wings, 
     To hopes of joy, that flatters our desire: 
     Which to a Lover still contentment brings; 
     Yet when we should injoy, thou dost retire. 

Thou stay'st thy pace (false Time) from our desire 
     When to our ill thou hast'st with Eagles wings: 
     Slow only to make us see thy retire 
     Was for Despaire, and harme, which sorrow brings. 

O slake thy pace, and milder passe to Love, 
     Be like the Bee, whose wings she doth but use 
     To bring home profit; masters good to prove, 
     Laden, and weary, yet againe pursues. 

So lade thy selfe with hony of sweet joy, 
And do not me the Hive of Love destroy.

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35.  [False Hope which feeds but to destroy and spill]

False Hope which feeds but to destroy and spill 
     What it first breeds, unnaturall to the birth 
     Of thine owne wombe, conceiving but to kill 
     And plenty gives to make the greater dearth. 

So Tyrants doe, who falsly ruling Earth, 
     Outwardly grace them, and with profits fill, 
     Advance those who appointed are to death; 
     To make their greater fall to please their will. 

Thus shadow they their wicked vile intent, 
     Colouring evill with a show of good: 
     While in faire showes their malice so is spent; 
     Hope kill's the heart, and Tyrants shed the blood. 

For Hope deluding brings us to the pride 
Of our desires the farther downe to slide.

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48.  [How like a fire doth Love increase in me?]

How like a fire doth Love increase in me? 
     The longer that it lasts the stronger still; 
     The greater, purer, brighter; and doth fill 
     No eye with wonder more than hopes still bee. 

Bred in my breast, when fires of Love are free 
     To use that part to their best pleasing will, 
     And now unpossible it is to kill 
     The heate so great where Love his strength doth see. 

Mine eyes can scarce sustaine the flames, my heart 
     Doth trust in them my passions to impart, 
     And languishingly strive to shew my love. 

My breath not able is to breath least part 
     Of that increasing fuell of my smart; 
     Yet love I will, till I but ashes prove.

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Song.  [O Me, the time is come to part]

O me, the time is come to part,
     And with it my life-killing smart:
Fond Hope leave me, my deare must goe,
     To meete more joy, and I more woe.

Where still of mirth injoy thy fill,
     One is enough to suffer ill:
My heart so well to sorrow us'd,
     can better be by new griefes bruis'd.

Thou whom the Heavens themselves like made,
     Should never sit in mourning shade:                           10 
No, I alone must mourne and end,
     Who have a life in griefe to spend.

My swiftest pace to wailings bent,
     Shewes joy had but a short time lent,
To bide in me where woes must dwell,
     And charme me with their cruell spell.

And yet when they their witchcrafts trye,
     They only make me wish to dye:
But ere my faith in love they change,
     In horrid darknesse will I range.                                 20

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Song. [I that am of all most crost]

I that am of all most crost,
Having, and that had have lost,
May with reason thus complaine,
Since love breeds love, and Loves paine.

That which I did most desire,
To allay my loving fire,
I may have, yet now must misse,
Since another Ruler is.

Would that I no Ruler had,
Or the service not so bad,
Then might I with blisse enjoy
That which now my hopes destroy.

And that wicked pleasure got,
Brings with it the sweetest lot:
I that must not taste the best,
Fed, must starve, and restlesse rest.

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Sonnet 2. [Love like a Jugler comes to play his prize]

Love like a Jugler comes to play his prize, 
     And all mindes draw his wonders to admire, 
     To see how cunningly he (wanting eyes) 
     Can yet deceive the best sight of desire. 

The wanton Childe, how he can faine his fire 
     So prettily, as none sees his disguise, 
     How finely doe his trickes; while we fooles hire 
     The badge, and office of his tyrannies. 

For in the ende such Jugling he doth make, 
     As he our hearts instead of eyes doth take; 
     For men can onely by their slights abuse. 

The sight with nimble, and delightful skill, 
     But if he play, his gaine is our lost will. 
     Yet Childe-like we cannot his sports refuse.

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Line 5.  Wanton Childe: Cupid, the Roman god of love, often identified with the Greek god Eros.
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Sonnet 6. [My paine still smother'd in my grieved brest]

My paine still smother'd in my grieved brest, 
     Seekes for some ease, yet cannot passage finde, 
     To be discharged of this unwelcome guest, 
     When most I strive, more fast his burthens binde. 

Like to a Ship on Goodwins cast by winde, 
     The more shee strive, more deepe in Sand is prest, 
     Till she be lost: so am I in this kind 
     Sunck, and devour'd, and swallow'd by unrest. 

Lost, shipwrackt, spoyld, debar'd of smallest hope, 
     Nothing of pleasure left, save thoughts have scope, 
     Which wander may; goe then my thoughts and cry: 

Hope's perish'd, Love tempest-beaten, Joy lost, 
     Killing Despaire hath all these blessings crost; 
     Yet Faith still cries, Love will not falsifie.

Ships on the sea
"Like to a Ship on Goodwins
cast by winde"
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Line  5.  Goodwins: Goodwin Sands, shifting sands at the mouth off the Strait of Dover, a common scene of shipwrecks.
Line  9.   spolyd: spoiled.
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Song.  [Love a childe is ever crying]

Love a childe is ever crying,
Please him, and he strait is flying;
Give him, he the more is craving,
Never satisfi'd with having.

His desires have no measure,
Endlesse folly is he treasure:
What he promiseth, he breaketh,
Trust not one word that he speaketh.

Hee vowes nothing but false matter,
And to cousen you hee'l flatter:                     10 
Let him gain the hand, hee'l leave you,
     And still glory to deceive you.

Hee will triumph in your wailing,
And yet cause be of your failing:
These his vertues are, and slighter
     Are his guifts; his favours lighter.

Fathers are as firme in staying,
Wolves no fiercer in their praying.
As a childe then leave him crying,
Nor seek him so giv'n to flying.                     20 
 

Being past the paines of Love,
Freedome gladly seekes to move:
Sayes that Loves delights were pretty;
But to dwell in them twere pitty.

And yet truly sayes, that Love
Must of force in all hearts move:
But though his delights are pretty,
To dwell on them were a pitty.

Let Love slightly passe like Love,
Never let it too deepe move:                         30 
For though Loves delights are Pretty,
To dwell in them were great pitty.

Love no pity hath of Love,
Rather griefes then pleasures move:
So though his delights are pretty,
To dwell in them would be a pitty.

Those that like the smart of Love,
In them let it freely move:
Els though his delights are pretty,
Doe not dwell in them for pitty.                    40

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Line 10.  cousen: defraud.
Line 17.  staying: restraining (children).
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8. From A Crowne of Sonnets dedicated to LOVE 
[He that shuns Love, doth love himself the lesse]

He that shuns Love, doth love himselfe the lesse, 
     And cursed he whose spirit, not admires 
     The worth of Love, where endlesse blessednes 
     Raignes, & commands, maintain'd by heav'nly fires. 

Made of Vertue, joyn'd by Truth, blown by Desires, 
     Strengthened by Worth, renew'd by carefulnesse, 
     Flaming in never-changing thoughts: bryers 
     Of Jealousie shall here miss welcomnesse. 

Nor coldly passe in the pursutes of Love 
     Like one long frozen in a Sea of yce: 
     And yet but chastely let your passions moone, 
     No thought from vertuous Love your minds intice. 

Never to other ends you Phant'sies place, 
But where they may returne with honor's grace.

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Line 3.  belssedness: blessedness.
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Song 2.  [Sweet Silvia in a shady wood]

Sweet Silvia in a shady wood,
     With her faire Nimphs layd downe,
Saw not farre off where Cupid stood,
      The Monarch of Loves Crowne,
All naked, playing with his wings,
      Within a Mirtle Tree,
Which sight a sudden laughter brings,
      His Godhead so to see.

An fondly they began to jest,
      With scoffing, and delight,                          10 
Not knowing he did breed unrest,
      And that his will's his right:
When he perceiving of their scorne,
      Grew in such desperate rage,
Who but for honour first was borne,
      Could not his rage asswage. 

Till shooting of his murth'ring dart,
      Which not long lighting was,
Knowing the next way to the heart,
      Did through a poore Nymph passe:            20 
This shot the others made to bow,
      Besides all those to blame,
Who scorners be, or not allow
      Of powerfull Cupid's name.

Take heede then nor doe idly smile,
      Nor Loves commands despise,
For soone will be your strength beguile,
      Although he want his eyes.

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Line 1.  Silvia: Latin for "from the woods;" a generic queen of the nymphs.
Line 17.  murth'ring: murdering.
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Song 3.  [Come merry Spring delight us]

Come merry Spring delight us,
For Winter long did spight us,
In pleasure still persever,
Thy beauties ending never:
            Spring, and grow
            Lasting so,
With joyes increasing ever.

Let cold from hence be banish'd,
Till hopes from me be vanish'd,
But bless thy daynties growing                     10 
In fulnesse freely flowing:
            Sweet Birds sing
            For the Spring,
All mirth is now bestowing.

Philomel in this Arbour
Makes now her loving Harbour,
Yet of her state complaining,
Her Notes in mildnesse strayning,
            Which though sweet,
            Yet doe meet.                                     20 
Her former lucklesse paining. 

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Line 15.  Philomel: the nightingale, from the classical myth of Philomela, who was transformed into a nightingale after being raped by her brother-in-law.
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I.  [My heart is lost, what can I now expect]

My heart is lost, what can I now expect, 
     An evening faire after a drowsie day? 
     Alas, fond Phant'sie, this is not the way, 
     To cure a mourning heart, or salve neglect: 

They who should helpe, doe me, and helpe reject, 
     Embracing loose desires, and wanton play, 
     While wanton base delights, doe beare the sway, 
     A[n]d impudency raignes without respect. 

O Cupid let thy Mother know her shame, 
     ‘Tis time for her to leave this youthfull flame, 
     Which doth dishonour her, is ages blame, 
     And takes away the greatnes of thy name. 

Thou God of Love, she only Queene of lust, 
Yet strives by weakening thee, to be unjust.

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Line 9.  thy Mother: Venus, Roman goddess of love, identified with the Greek goddess Aphrodite.
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2.  [Late in the Forrest I did Cupid see]

Late in the Forrest I did Cupid see 
     Cold, wett, and crying, he had lost his way, 
     And being blinde was farther like to stray; 
     Which sight, a kind compassion bred in me. 

I kindly took, and dry'd him, while that he, 
     (Poore Child) complain'd, he sterved was with stay 
     And pin'd for want of his accustom'd prey, 
     For none in that wilde place his Host would be. 

I glad was of his finding, thinking sure, 
     this service should my freedome still procure, 
     And in my armes I tooke him then unharm'd, 

Carrying him safe into a Myrtle bowre, 
     But in the way he made me, feele his powre, 
     Burning my heart, who had him kindly warm'd.

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Line 6.  sterved: starved.  with stay: from remaining there.
Line 7.  prey: food or sustenance.
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3.  [Juno still jealous of her husband Jove]

Juno still jealous of her husband Jove
     Descended from above, on earth to try, 
     Whether she there could find his chosen Love, 
     Which made him from the Heav'ns so often flye. 

Close by the place where I for shade did lye, 
     She chasing came, but when she saw me move, 
     Have you not seene this way (said she) to hye 
     One, in whom vertue never grownde did prove? 

Hee, in whom Love doth breed, to stirre more hate, 
     Courting a wanton Nimph for his delight; 
     His name is Jupiter, my Lord, by Fate, 
     Who for her, leaves Me, Heaven, his throne, and light. 

I saw him not (said I) although heere are 
Many, in whose hearts, Love hath made like warre.

click to see full image
Juno and Jove
"Juno still jealous of her
husband Jove"
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Line 1.  Juno: Roman goddess of women and marriage, queen of heaven, wife of Jupiter.  Identified with the Greek goddess Hera.   Jove: Jupiter, principle Roman god, notorious for his extra-marital affairs.  Identified with  the Greek god Zeus.
Line 7.  hye: hasten.
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6.  [O That no day would ever more appear]

O that no day would ever more appear, 
     But clowdy night to governe this sad place, 
     Nor light from Heaven these haples roomes to grace 
     Since that light's shadow'd which my Love holds deare. 

Let thickest mists in envy master here, 
     And Sunne-borne day for malice show no face, 
     Disdaining light, where Cupid, and the race 
     Of Lovers are despisd, and shame shines cleere. 

Let me be darke, since barr'd of my chiefe light, 
     And wounding Jealousie commands by might, 
     But Stage-play-like disguised pleasures give: 

To me it seemes, as ancient fictions make 
     The Starrs, all fashio[n]s, and all shapes partake, 
     While in my thoughts true forme of Love shall live.

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7.  [No time, no roome, no thought, or writing can]

No time, no roome, no thought, or writing can 
     Give rest, or quiet to my loving heart, 
     Or can my memory, or Phant'sie scan, 
     The measure of my still renewing smart. 

Yet would I not (deare Love) thou should'st depart, 
     But let my passions as they first began, 
     Rule, wound, and please, it is thy choysest Art, 
     To give disquiet, which seemes ease to man. 

When all alone, I thinke upon thy paine, 
     How thou dost travell our best selves to gaine, 
     Then houerly thy lessons I doe learne; 

Thinke on thy glory, which shall still ascend, 
     Untill the world came to a final end, 
     And then shall we thy lasing powre dicerne.

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8.  [How Glowworme like the Sun doth now appeare]

How Glowworme like the Sun doth now appeare, 
     Cold beames doe from his glorious face descend 
     Which shewes his daies, and force draw to an end, 
     Or that to leave taking, his time growes neere. 

The day his face did seeme but pale, though cleare, 
     The reason is, he to the North must lend 
     His light, and warmth must to that Climate bend, 
     Whose frozen parts could not loves heat hold deare 

Alas, if thou bright Sunne to part from hence 
     Grieve so, what must I haplesse who from thence, 
     Where thou dost goe my blessing shall attend; 

Thou shalt enjoy that sight for which I dye, 
     And in my heart thy fortunes doe envy, 
     Yet grieve, I'le love thee, for this state may mend.

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Wroth

 E-mail Ron Cooley at cooleyr@duke.usask.ca
 University of Saskatchewan
 Department of English
 Revised September 11, 1998