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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 in 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 ever-more unrest:
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen'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.
Oh 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
is not so true as all men's: no, How can it ? Oh! how can love's
be true, That is so vex'd with watching and with tears ?
to aggravate the store ;) Copies of the same edition of the “ Sonnets" rarely differ, but in this line some of them read “ my store.” That belonging to the Earl of Ellesmere has it correctly, “thy store," the error having been discovered as the sheet was passing through the press.
No marvel, then, though I mistake my view;
The sun itself sees not, till heaven clears.
Oh cunning love! with tears thou keep'st me blind,
Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.
Canst thou, oh cruel! say, I love thee not,
When I, against myself, with thee partake'?
Do I not think on thee, when I forgot
Am of myself, all tyrant, for thy sake?
Who hateth thee that I do call my friend ?
On whom frown'st thou that I do fawn upon ?
Nay, if thou low’rst on me, do I not spend
Revenge upon myself with present moan ?
What merit do I in myself respect,
That is so proud thy service to despise,
When all my best doth worship thy defect,
Commanded by the motion of thine eyes ?
But, love, hate on, for now I know thy mind :
Those that can see thou lov'st, and I am blind.
Oh ! 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 of hate ?
Oh! 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, urge 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 further 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,
In 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;
For all my vows are oaths but to misuse thee,
And all my honest faith in thee is lost:
For I have sworn deep oaths of thy deep kindness,
Oaths of thy love, thy truth, 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 !
Cupid laid by his brand, and fell asleep:
A maid of Dian's this advantage found,
2 My nobler part to my gross body's treason ;] In Malone's Shakespeare, by Boswell, "gross” is printed great. It was merely an error of the press in that edition, as the word is “gross" in Malone's “ Supplement,” 1780, and in the Rev. Mr. Dyce's edition of “The Poems of Shakespeare."
– more perjur'd 1,] There is no doubt that this is the true reading; but the 4to, 1609, has “more perjur'd eye.” VOL. VI.
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground;
Which borrow'd from this holy fire of love
A dateless lively heat, still to endure,
And grew a seething bath, which yet men provs
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure.
But at my mistress' eye love's brand new-fired,
The boy for trial needs would touch my breast;
I sick withal, the help of bath desired,
And thither hied', a sad distemper'd guest,
But found no cure: the bath for my help lies
Where Cupid got new fire, my mistress' eyes '.
The little Love-god lying once asleep,
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs, that 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.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by,
Which from love's fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath, and healthful remedy
For men diseas'd ; but I, my mistress’ thrall,
Came there for cure, and this by that I prove,
Love's fire heats water, water cools not love.
the help of Bath desired, And thither hied,] As Steevens observes, it may be a question whether “ bath" ought not to be printed with a capital letter, the poet referring perhaps to the city so called.
- my mistress' EYES.] The original copy has eye, in the singular.
water cools not love.] These two last sonnets have no connexion with those that precede them. They are, in fact, only to be looked upon as one sonnet, the same thought running through both, as if the author had first composed one, and, not quite pleasing himself, had afterwards written the other.
From off a hill whose concave womb re-worded
A plaintful story from a sistering vale,
My spirits t' attend this double voice accorded,
And down I laid to list the sad-tun'd tale;
Ere long espy'd a fickle maid full pale,
Tearing of papers, breaking rings a-twain,
Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain.
Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
Which fortified her visage from the sun,
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcase of a beauty spent and done:
Time had not scythed all that youth begun,
Nor youth all quit; but, spite of heaven's fell rage,
Some beauty peep'd through lattice of sear’d age.
Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne,
Which on it had conceited characters,
Laundering the silken figures in the brine
That season'd woe had pelleted in tears,
And often reading what contents it bears ;
As often shrieking undistinguish'd woe
In clamours of all size, both high and low.
Sometimes her level'd eyes their carriage ride,
As they did battery to the spheres intend;
Sometime, diverted, their poor balls are tied