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Since I left you mine eye is in my mind,
And that which governs me to go about
Doth part his function, and is partly blind,
Seems seeing, but effectually is out;
For it no form delivers to the heart
Of bird, of flower, or shape, which it doth latch':
Of his quick objects hath the mind no part,
Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch ;
For if it see the rud'st or gentlest sight,
The most sweet favour, or deformed'st creature,
The mountain or the sea, the day or night,
The crow or dove, it shapes them to your feature :
Incapable of more, replete with you,
My most true mind thus maketh mine untrue ®.
Or whether doth my mind, being crown'd with you,
Drink up the monarch's plague, this flattery?
Or whether shall I say, mine eye saith true,
And that your love taught it this alchymy,
To make, of monsters and things indigest,
Such cherubins as your sweet self resemble,
Creating every bad a perfect best,
As fast as objects to his beams assemble?
Oh ! 'tis the first : 'tis flattery in my seeing,
And my great mind most kingly drinks it up:
Mine eye well knows what with his gust is 'greeing,
And to his palate doth prepare the cup :
If it be poison’d, 'tis the lesser sin
That mine eye loves it, and doth first begin.
Those lines that I before have writ do lie,
Even those that said I could not love you dearer;
- which it doth Latch:] The 4to, 1609, has lack for “ latch," an error corrected by the rhyme. To “latch” is a provincial word for to catch: see Vol. v. p. 417.
thus maketh MINE untrue.] Possibly for “mine” we ought to read my eyne, the printer having composed the word from his ear. Malone contends that “ untrue" is here used substantively, instead of untruth, and as this supposition renders an alteration of the ancient text needless, we hesitatingly adopt it.
Yet then my judgment knew no reason why
My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer.
But reckoning time, whose million’d accidents
Creep in 'twixt vows, and change decrees of kings,
Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents,
Divert strong minds t’ the course of altering things;
Alas! why, fearing of time's tyranny,
Might I not then say, "now I love you best,”
When I was certain o'er incertainty,
Crowning the present, doubting of the rest ?
Love is a babe; then, might I not say so,
To give full growth to that which still doth grow ?
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments : love is not love,
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove :
Oh no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all
Wherein I should your great deserts repay ;
Forgot upon your dearest love to call,
Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day;
That I have frequent been with unknown minds,
And given to time your own dear-purchas'd right;
That I have hoisted sail to all the winds
Which should transport me farthest from your sight:
Book both my wilfulness and errors down,
And on just proof surmise accumulate;
Bring me within the level of your frown,
But shoot not at me in your waken'd hate,
Since my appeal says, I did strive to prove
The constancy and virtue of your love.
Like as, to make our appetites more keen,
With eager compounds we our palate urge;
As, to prevent our maladies unseen,
We sicken to shun sickness when we purge;
Even so, being full of your ne'er-cloving sweetness,
To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding;
And, sick of welfare, found a kind of meetness
To be diseas’d, ere that there was true needing.
Thus policy in love, t' anticipate
The ills that were not, grew to faults assur’d,
And brought to medicine a healthful state,
Which, rank of goodness, would by ill be cur'd;
But thence I learn, and find the lesson true,
Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you.
What potions have I drunk of syren tears,
Distill'd from limbecks foul as hell within,
Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,
Still losing when I saw myself to win!
What wretched errors hath my heart committed,
Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never !
How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted,
In the distraction of this madding fever!
Oh benefit of ill! now I find true,
That better is by evil still made better;
And ruin'd love, when it is built anew,
Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.
So I return rebuk'd to my content,
And gain by ill' thrice more than I have spent.
. And gain by ill] The old copy reads, “ And gain by ills,” but the poet has spoken of "ill" in the singular just before. Modern editors here alter the 4to, 1609, and we only object that they have done so silently.
That you were once unkind befriends me now,
And for that sorrow, which I then did feel,
Needs must I under my transgression bow,
Unless my nerves were brass or hammer'd steel.
For if you were by my unkindness shaken,
As I by your's, you have pass’d a hell of time;
And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken
To weigh how once I suffer'd in your crime.
Oh! that our night of woe might have remember'd
My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits;
And soon to you, as you to me, then tender'd
The humble salve which wounded bosoms fits!
But that your trespass now becomes a fee;
Mine ransoms your’s, and your's must ransom me.
'Tis better to be vile, than vile esteemed,
When not to be receives reproach of being;
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed,
Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing :
For why should others' false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood ?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good ?
No, I am that I am; and they that level
At my abuses, reckon up their own :
I may be straight, though they themselves be bevel.
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown;
Unless this general evil they maintain,
All men are bad, and in their badness reign.
Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Fuil character'd with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain,
Beyond all date, even to eternity;
Or, at the least, so long as brain and heart
Have faculty by nature to subsist;
Till each to ras'd oblivion yield his part
Of thee, thy record never can be miss'd.
That poor retention could not so much hold,
Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score;
Therefore to give them from me was I bold,
To trust those tables that receive thee more :
To keep an adjunct to remember thee,
Were to import forgetfulness in me.
No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change:
Thy pyramids, built up with newer might,
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but dressings of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old,
And rather make them born to our desire,
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wondering at the present, nor the past ;
For thy records and what we see do lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow, and this shall ever be,
I will be true, despite thy scythe and thee;
If my dear love were but the child of state,
It might for fortune's bastard be unfathered,
As subject to time's love, or to time's hate,
Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered.
No, it was builded far from accident;
It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
Under the blow of thralled discontent,
Whereto th' inviting time our fashion calls :
It fears not policy, that heretic,
Which works on leases of short number'd hours,
But all alone stands hugely politic,
That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers.
To this I witness call the fools of time,
Which die for goodness, who have liv'd for crime.