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How would (I say) mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless
sightless eyes doth stay? All days are nights to see, till I see thee, And nights, bright days, when dreams do show thee me."
If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then, despite of space, I would be brought
From limits far remote, where thou dost stay.
No matter then, although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth remov'd from thee,
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land,
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But ah! thought kills me, that I am not thought,
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone;
But that, so much of earth and water wrought,"
I must attend time's leisure with my moan;
Receiving nought by elements so slow
But heavy tears, badges of either's woe :
The other two, slight air and purging fire,
Are both with thee, wherever I abide;
The first my thought, the other my desire,
These present-absent with swift motion slide.
For when these quicker elements are gone
In tender embassy of love to thee,
a Thee methee to me.
A passage in Henry V. explains this :-" He is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him.” The thought is continued in the first line of the 45th Sonnet, in which Sonnet we also find “ My life being made of four." This was the theory of life in Sbakspere's time; and Sir Toby, in “Twelfth Night,' speaks learnedly when he says “ Does not our life consist of the four elements?" Shakspere, however, somewhat laughs at the theory when he makes Sir Andrew reply, “Faith, so they say, but I think it rather consists of eating and drinking."
My life, being made of four, with two alone
Sinks down to death, oppress’d with melancholy;
Until life's composition be recur'd
By those swift messengers return’d from thee,
Who even but now come back again, assur'd
Of thy fair health, recounting it to me:
This told, I joy; but then no longer glad,
I send them back again, and straight grow sad.
and heart are at a mortal war,
How to divide the conquest of thy sight;
Mine eye my heart thy a picture's sight would bar,
My heart mine eye the freedom of that right.
My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie,
(A closet never piered with crystal eyes,)
But the defendant doth that plea deny,
And says in him thy fair appearance lies.
To 'cide b this title is impannelled
A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart;
And by their verdict is determined
The clear eye's moiety," and the dear heart's part:
As thus; mine eye's due is thine outward part,
And my heart's right thine inward love of heart.
Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,
And each doth good turns now unto the other:
When that mine eye is famish'd for a look,
Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother,
Thy. The original bas their ; and it is remarkable that the same typographical error occurs four times in this one Sonnet-a pretty convincing proof that no competent or authorised person superintended the publication. Errors of this sort are very frequent in the original; but we have not thought it necessary to notice them when there can be no doubt of the meaning.
b'Cide. Malone explains that this is a contraction of decide. The original reads side.
© Quest -- inquest or jury. • Moiety-portion.
With my love's picture then my eye doth feast,
And to the painted banquet bids my heart;
Another time mine
is my heart's guest,
And in his thoughts of love doth share a part:
So, either by thy picture or my love,
Thyself away art present still with me;
For thou not farther than my thoughts canst move,
And I am still with them, and they with thee;
Or if they sleep, thy picture in my sight,
heart to heart's and eye's delight.
How careful was I when I took my way,
Each trifle under truest bars to thrust,
That, to my use, it might unused stay
From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of trust!
But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are,
Most worthy comfort, now my greatest grief,
Thou, best of dearest, and mine only care,
Art left the prey of every vulgar thief.
Thee have I not lock'd up in any chest,
Save where thou art not, though I feel thou art,
Within the gentle closure of my breast,
From whence at pleasure thou mayst come and part;
And even thence thou wilt be stolen I fear,
For truth proves thievish for a prize so dear.
Against that time, if ever that time come,
When I shall see thee frown on my defects,
Whenas b thy love hath cast his utmost sum,
Call’d to that audit by advis'd respects;
Against that time, when thou shalt strangely pass
And scarcely greet me with that sun, thine eye,
When love, converted from the thing it was,
Shall reasons find of settled gravity;
* The same thought is in · Venus and Adonis :'
“ Rich preys make true men thieves." 6 Whenas-when.
Against that time do I ensconce a me here
Within the knowledge of mine own desert,
And this my hand against myself uprear,
To guard the lawful reasons on thy part:
To leave poor me thou hast the strength of laws,
Since, why to love, I can allege no cause.
How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek---my weary travel's end-
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,
“ Thus far the miles are measur'd from thy friend !"
The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,
As if by some instinct the wretch did know
His rider lov'd not speed, being made from thee:
The bloody spur cannot provoke him on
That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,
Which heavily he answers with a groan,
More sharp to me than spurring to his side;
For that same groan doth put this in my mind,
My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.
Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
Of my dull bearer, when from thee I speed :
From where thou art why should I haste me thence ?
Till I return, of posting is no need.
O, what excuse will my poor beast then find,
When swift extremity can seem but slow?
Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind;
In winged speed no motion shall I know :
Then can no horse with my desire keep pace;
Therefore desire, of perfect love being made,
Shall neigh (no dull flesh) in his fiery race;
But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade;
Since from thee going he went wilful slow,
Towards thee I 'll run, and give him leave to go.
So am I as the rich, whose blessed key
Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,
The which he will not every hour survey,
For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure.
Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,a
Since seldom coming, in the long year set,
Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,
Or captain jewels in the carcanet.
So is the time that keeps you, as my chest,
Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,
To make some special instant special-blest,
By new unfolding his imprison'd pride.
Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope,
Being had, to triumph, being lack'd, to hope.
What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one's shade,
And you, but one, can every shadow lend.
Describe Adonis, and the counterfeita
Is poorly imitated after you ;
On Helen's cheek all art of beauty set,
in Grecian tires are painted new:
Speak of the spring, and foizon of the year;e
The one doth shadow of your beauty show,
The other as your bounty doth appear,
And you in every blessed shape we know.
In all external grace you have some part,
you like none, none you,
for constant heart.
a There is a somewhat similar thought in · Henry IV., Part I. :
“ My state,
Seldom but sumptuous, show'd like a feast,
And wou by rareness much solemnity."
Captain—used adjectively for chief.
Counterfeit-portrait. • Foizon is plenty; and the foizon of the year is the autumn, or plentiful season.