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Valentine Poem Collection - 54
The Complaint unto Pity by Geoffrey Chaucer
Pite, that I have sought so yore agoo
With herte soore and ful of besy peyne,
That in this world was never wight so woo
Withoute deth-- and yf I shal not feyne,
My purpos was to Pite to compleyne
Upon the crueltee and tirannye
Of Love, that for my trouthe doth me dye.
And when that I, be lengthe of certeyne yeres,
Had evere in oon a tyme sought to speke,
To Pitee ran I al bespreynt with teres
To prayen hir on Cruelte me awreke.
But er I myghte with any word outbreke
Or tellen any of my peynes smerte,
I fond hir ded, and buried in an herte.
Adoun I fel when that I saugh the herse,
Ded as a ston while that the swogh me laste;
But up I roos with colour ful dyverse
And pitously on hir myn eyen I caste,
And ner the corps I gan to presen faste,
And for the soule I shop me for to preye.
I was but lorn, ther was no more to seye.
Thus am I slayn sith that Pite is ded.
Allas, that day, that ever hyt shulde falle.
What maner man dar now hold up his hed?
To whom shal any sorwful herte calle?
Now Cruelte hath cast to slee us alle,
In ydel hope, folk redeless of peyne,
Syth she is ded, to whom shul we compleyne?
But yet encreseth me this wonder newe,
That no wight woot that she is ded, but I--
So many men as in her tyme hir knewe--
And yet she dyed not so sodeynly,
For I have sought hir ever ful besely
Sith first I hadde wit or mannes mynde,
But she was ded er that I koude hir fynde.
Aboute hir herse there stoden lustely,
Withouten any woo as thoughte me,
Bounte parfyt, wel armed and richely,
And fresshe Beaute, Lust, and Jolyte,
Assured Maner, Youthe, and Honeste,
Wisdom, Estaat, Drede, and Governaunce,
Confedred both by honde and alliaunce.
A compleynt had I, writen in myn hond,
For to have put to Pite as a bille;
But when I al this companye ther fond,
That rather wolden al my cause spille
Then do me help, I held my pleynte stille,
For to that folk, withouten any fayle,
Withoute Pitee ther may no bille availe.
Then leve I al these vertues, sauf Pite,
Kepynge the corps as ye have herd me seyn,
Confedered alle by bond of Cruelte[Riv., p. 641]
And ben assented when I shal be sleyn.
And I have put my complaynt up ageyn,
For to my foes my bille I dar not shewe,
Th'effect of which seith thus, in wordes fewe:
(The Bill of Complaint)
Humblest of herte, highest of reverence,
Benygne flour, coroune of vertues alle,
Sheweth unto youre rial excellence
Youre servaunt, yf I durste me so calle,
Hys mortal harm in which he is yfalle,
And noght al oonly for his evel fare,
But for your renoun, as he shal declare.
Hit stondeth thus: your contraire, Crueltee,
Allyed is ayenst your regalye
Under colour of womanly Beaute--
For men shulde not, lo, knowe hir tirannye--
With Bounte, Gentilesse, and Curtesye,
And hath depryved yow now of your place
That hyghte 'Beaute apertenant to Grace.'
For kyndely by youre herytage ryght
Ye ben annexed ever unto Bounte;
And verrayly ye oughte do youre myght
To helpe Trouthe in his adversyte.
Ye be also the corowne of Beaute,
And certes yf ye wanten in these tweyne,
The world is lore; ther is no more to seyne.
Eke what availeth Maner and Gentilesse
Withoute yow, benygne creature?
Shal Cruelte be your governeresse?
Allas, what herte may hyt longe endure?
Wherfore, but ye the rather take cure
To breke that perilouse alliaunce,
Ye sleen hem that ben in your obeisaunce.
And further over yf ye suffre this,
Youre renoun ys fordoo than in a throwe;
Ther shal no man wite well what Pite is.
Allas, that your renoun is falle so lowe!
Ye be than fro youre heritage ythrowe
By Cruelte that occupieth youre place,
And we despeyred that seken to your grace.
Have mercy on me, thow Herenus quene,
That yow have sought so tendirly and yore;
Let som strem of youre lyght on me be sene
That love and drede yow ever lenger the more;
For sothly for to seyne I bere the soore,
And though I be not konnynge for to pleyne,
For Goddis love have mercy on my peyne.
My peyne is this, that what so I desire
That have I not, ne nothing lyk therto;
And ever setteth Desir myn hert on fire.
Eke on that other syde where so I goo,
What maner thing that may encrese my woo,
That have I redy, unsoght, everywhere;
Me lakketh but my deth and than my here.
What nedeth to shewe parcel of my peyne?
Syth every woo that herte may bethynke
I suffre and yet I dar not to yow pleyne;
For wel I wot although I wake or wynke,
Ye rekke not whether I flete or synke.
But natheles yet my trouthe I shal sustene
Unto my deth, and that shal wel be sene.
This is to seyne I wol be youres evere,
Though ye me slee by Crueltee your foo,
Algate my spirit shal never dissevere
Fro youre servise for any peyne or woo.
Sith ye be ded-- allas that hyt is soo--
Thus for your deth I may wel wepe and pleyne
With herte sore and ful of besy peyne.
= = = = = = = = = =
Life In A Love by Robert Browning
While I am I, and you are you,
So long as the world contains us both,
Me the loving and you the loth
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear:
It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
But what if I fail of my purpose here?
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall,
And, baffled, get up and begin again,---
So the chace takes up one's life ' that's all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound
At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope goes to ground
Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,
I shape me---
= = = = = = = = = =
Dejection: An Ode by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Late, late yestreen I saw the new Moon,
With the old Moon in her arms;
And I fear, I fear, My Master dear!
We shall have a deadly storm.
Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence
Well! If the Bard was weather-wise, who made
The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,
This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence
Unroused by winds, that ply a busier trade
Than those which mould yon cloud in lazy flakes,
Or the dull sobbing draft, that moans and rakes
Upon the strings of this Ĉolian lute,
Which better far were mute.
For lo! the New-moon winter-bright!
And overspread with phantom light,
(With swimming phantom light o'erspread
But rimmed and circled by a silver thread)
I see the old Moon in her lap, foretelling
The coming-on of rain and squally blast.
And oh! that even now the gust were swelling,
And the slant night-shower driving loud and fast!
Those sounds which oft have raised me, whilst they awed,
And sent my soul abroad,
Might now perhaps their wonted impulse give,
Might startle this dull pain, and make it move and live!
A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,
A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief,
Which finds no natural outlet, no relief,
In word, or sigh, or tear--
O Lady! in this wan and heartless mood,
To other thoughts by yonder throstle woo'd,
All this long eve, so balmy and serene,
Have I been gazing on the western sky,
And its peculiar tint of yellow green:
And still I gaze--and with how blank an eye!
And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
That give away their motion to the stars;
Those stars, that glide behind them or between,
Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen:
Yon crescent Moon, as fixed as if it grew
In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue;
I see them all so excellently fair,
I see, not feel, how beautiful they are!
My genial spirits fail;
And what can these avail
To lift the smothering weight from off my breast?
It were a vain endeavour,
Though I should gaze for ever
On that green light that lingers in the west:
I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.
O Lady! we receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does Nature live:
Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud!
And would we aught behold, of higher worth,
Than that inanimate cold world allowed
To the poor loveless ever-anxious crowd,
Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud
Enveloping the Earth--
And from the soul itself must there be sent
A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element!
O pure of heart! thou need'st not ask of me
What this strong music in the soul may be!
What, and wherein it doth exist,
This light, this glory, this fair luminous mist,
This beautiful and beauty-making power.
Joy, virtuous Lady! Joy that ne'er was given,
Save to the pure, and in their purest hour,
Life, and Life's effluence, cloud at once and shower,
Joy, Lady! is the spirit and the power,
Which wedding Nature to us gives in dower
A new Earth and new Heaven,
Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud--
Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous cloud--
We in ourselves rejoice!
And thence flows all that charms or ear or sight,
All melodies the echoes of that voice,
All colours a suffusion from that light.
There was a time when, though my path was rough,
This joy within me dallied with distress,
And all misfortunes were but as the stuff
Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness:
For hope grew round me, like the twining vine,
And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seemed mine.
But now afflictions bow me down to earth:
Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth;
But oh! each visitation
Suspends what nature gave me at my birth,
My shaping spirit of Imagination.
For not to think of what I needs must feel,
But to be still and patient, all I can;
And haply by abstruse research to steal
From my own nature all the natural man--
This was my sole resource, my only plan:
Till that which suits a part infects the whole,
And now is almost grown the habit of my soul.
Hence, viper thoughts, that coil around my mind,
Reality's dark dream!
I turn from you, and listen to the wind,
Which long has raved unnoticed. What a scream
Of agony by torture lengthened out
That lute sent forth! Thou Wind, that rav'st without,
Bare crag, or mountain-tairn, or blasted tree,
Or pine-grove whither woodman never clomb,
Or lonely house, long held the witches' home,
Methinks were fitter instruments for thee,
Mad Lutanist! who in this month of showers,
Of dark-brown gardens, and of peeping flowers,
Mak'st Devils' yule, with worse than wintry song,
The blossoms, buds, and timorous leaves among.
Thou Actor, perfect in all tragic sounds!
Thou mighty Poet, e'en to frenzy bold!
What tell'st thou now about?
'Tis of the rushing of an host in rout,
With groans, of trampled men, with smarting wounds--
At once they groan with pain, and shudder with the cold!
But hush! there is a pause of deepest silence!
And all that noise, as of a rushing crowd,
With groans, and tremulous shudderings--all is over--
It tells another tale, with sounds less deep and loud!
A tale of less affright,
And tempered with delight,
As Otway's self had framed the tender lay,--
'Tis of a little child
Upon a lonesome wild,
Not far from home, but she hath lost her way:
And now moans low in bitter grief and fear,
And now screams loud, and hopes to make her mother hear.
'Tis midnight, but small thoughts have I of sleep:
Full seldom may my friend such vigils keep!
Visit her, gentle Sleep! with wings of healing,
And may this storm be but a mountain-birth,
May all the stars hang bright above her dwelling,
Silent as though they watched the sleeping Earth!
With light heart may she rise,
Gay fancy, cheerful eyes,
Joy lift her spirit, joy attune her voice;
To her may all things live, from the pole to pole,
Their life the eddying of her living soul!
O simple spirit, guided from above,
Dear Lady! friend devoutest of my choice,
Thus may'st thou ever, evermore rejoice.
= = = = = = = = = =
On Himself - 4 by Robert Herrick
I'll write no more of love, but now repent
Of all those times that I in it have spent.
I'll write no more of life, but wish 'twas ended,
And that my dust was to the earth commended.
= = = = = = = = = =
Satire III by John Donne
Kind pity chokes my spleen; brave scorn forbids
Those tears to issue which swell my eyelids;
I must not laugh, nor weep sins and be wise;
Can railing, then, cure these worn maladies?
Is not our mistress, fair Religion,
As worthy of all our souls' devotion
As virtue was in the first blinded age?
Are not heaven's joys as valiant to assuage
Lusts, as earth's honour was to them? Alas,
As we do them in means, shall they surpass
Us in the end? and shall thy father's spirit
Meet blind philosophers in heaven, whose merit
Of strict life may be imputed faith, and hear
Thee, whom he taught so easy ways and near
To follow, damn'd? Oh, if thou dar'st, fear this;
This fear great courage and high valour is.
Dar'st thou aid mutinous Dutch, and dar'st thou lay
Thee in ships' wooden sepulchres, a prey
To leaders' rage, to storms, to shot, to dearth?
Dar'st thou dive seas, and dungeons of the earth?
Hast thou courageous fire to thaw the ice
Of frozen North discoveries? and thrice
Colder than salamanders, like divine
Children in th' oven, fires of Spain and the Line,
Whose countries limbecs to our bodies be,
Canst thou for gain bear? and must every he
Which cries not, 'Goddess,' to thy mistress, draw
Or eat thy poisonous words? Courage of straw!
O desperate coward, wilt thou seem bold, and
To thy foes and his, who made thee to stand
Sentinel in his world's garrison, thus yield,
And for forbidden wars leave th' appointed field?
Know thy foes: the foul devil, whom thou
Strivest to please, for hate, not love, would allow
Thee fain his whole realm to be quit; and as
The world's all parts wither away and pass,
So the world's self, thy other lov'd foe, is
In her decrepit wane, and thou loving this,
Dost love a wither'd and worn strumpet; last,
Flesh (itself's death) and joys which flesh can taste,
Thou lovest, and thy fair goodly soul, which doth
Give this flesh power to taste joy, thou dost loathe.
Seek true religion. O where? Mirreus,
Thinking her unhous'd here, and fled from us,
Seeks her at Rome; there, because he doth know
That she was there a thousand years ago,
He loves her rags so, as we here obey
The statecloth where the prince sate yesterday.
Crantz to such brave loves will not be enthrall'd,
But loves her only, who at Geneva is call'd
Religion, plain, simple, sullen, young,
Contemptuous, yet unhandsome; as among
Lecherous humours, there is one that judges
No wenches wholesome, but coarse country drudges.
Graius stays still at home here, and because
Some preachers, vile ambitious bawds, and laws,
Still new like fashions, bid him think that she
Which dwells with us is only perfect, he
Embraceth her whom his godfathers will
Tender to him, being tender, as wards still
Take such wives as their guardians offer, or
Pay values. Careless Phrygius doth abhor
All, because all cannot be good, as one
Knowing some women whores, dares marry none.
Graccus loves all as one, and thinks that so
As women do in divers countries go
In divers habits, yet are still one kind,
So doth, so is Religion; and this blind-
ness too much light breeds; but unmoved, thou
Of force must one, and forc'd, but one allow,
And the right; ask thy father which is she,
Let him ask his; though truth and falsehood be
Near twins, yet truth a little elder is;
Be busy to seek her; believe me this,
He's not of none, nor worst, that seeks the best.
To adore, or scorn an image, or protest,
May all be bad; doubt wisely; in strange way
To stand inquiring right, is not to stray;
To sleep, or run wrong, is. On a huge hill,
Cragged and steep, Truth stands, and he that will
Reach her, about must and about must go,
And what the hill's suddenness resists, win so.
Yet strive so that before age, death's twilight,
Thy soul rest, for none can work in that night.
To will implies delay, therefore now do;
Hard deeds, the body's pains; hard knowledge too
The mind's endeavours reach, and mysteries
Are like the sun, dazzling, yet plain to all eyes.
Keep the truth which thou hast found; men do not stand
In so ill case, that God hath with his hand
Sign'd kings' blank charters to kill whom they hate;
Nor are they vicars, but hangmen to fate.
Fool and wretch, wilt thou let thy soul be tied
To man's laws, by which she shall not be tried
At the last day? Oh, will it then boot thee
To say a Philip, or a Gregory,
A Harry, or a Martin, taught thee this?
Is not this excuse for mere contraries
Equally strong? Cannot both sides say so?
That thou mayest rightly obey power, her bounds know;
Those past, her nature and name is chang'd; to be
Then humble to her is idolatry.
As streams are, power is; those blest flowers that dwell
At the rough stream's calm head, thrive and do well,
But having left their roots, and themselves given
To the stream's tyrannous rage, alas, are driven
Through mills, and rocks, and woods, and at last, almost
Consum'd in going, in the sea are lost.
So perish souls, which more choose men's unjust
Power from God claim'd, than God himself to trust.
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