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ELIZABETHAN AND SEVENTEENTH

CENTURY LYRICS

Lyric poetry differs fundamentally from epic or narrative poetry in that it is concerned not with telling a story but with expressing the poet's personal feelings

his thoughts emotionally presented. The lyric is generally short, well unified, and direct; it should also have the quality of emotional intensity, whether it is a spontaneous outburst of a singer who holds nothing back, or the restrained but none the less genuine expression of a reflective poet whose emotion is "recollected in tranquillity.”

The Age of Elizabeth was a time of enthusiasm and of dramatic achievement. The Revival of Learning and the Reformation had combined to give men new zest for life, and the drama and lyric poetry were natural outlets. Many of the early lyrics of the period are free, spontaneous utterances, full of the enthusiasm that requires expression in song. At the same time, much of the poetry was written by those associated with the court and its elaborate etiquette, who were strongly under the influence of conventions. The sonnet and the pastoral, for example, were written in imitation of foreign models and appropriated many highly conventionalized images. It is consequently difficult to be sure at times whether the poet is expressing his own feelings or writing according to the fashion. This uncertainty makes it impossible to assert positively that Shakespeare's sonnets have autobiographical value, but in any case they are beautiful in imagery, deep in thought, and rich in music. In general, enthusiasm for poetic expression characterizes the lyrics of the time, and there is no similar body of English poety that contains so much of the song quality.

As the century advanced, the reflective and philosophical element became stronger, as is evidenced by the poetry of John Donne and the religious lyrists whom he influenced. There is subtle thinking and less of the bright joyousness of the earlier period. In Ben Jonson and his followers, Herrick, Carew, Lovelace, and Suckling we find the qualities of finish, symmetry, and polish that resulted from the desire to say a thing as well as it could be said, — the manner of what is called Classicism. The best sonnets of Milton show clearly the effectiveness of this highly developed sense of form, combined with dignity of theme and glowing emotion.

doth pass,

SIR THOMAS WYATT (1503 ?-1542) For hitherto though I have lost my time,

Me list no longer rotten boughs to climb. THE LOVER COMPARETH HIS STATE TO A SHIP IN PERILOUS STORM TOSSED ON THE SEA HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF

SURREY (1517?-1547) My galley charged with forgetfulness Thorough sharp seas, in winter nights COMPLAINT OF A LOVER

REBUKED 'Tween rock and rock; and eke my foe, alas,

Love, that liveth and reigneth in my That is my lord, steereth with cruelness,

thought, And every hour, a thought in readiness, That built his seat within my captive As though that death were light in such

breast, a case.

Clad in the arms wherein with me he An endless wind doth tear the sail apace

fought, Of forced sighs, and trusty fearfulness.

Oft in my face he doth his banner rest. A rain of tears, a cloud of dark disdain

She that me taught to love, and suffer Hath done the wearied cords great hin

pain derance,

My doubtful hope and eke my hot desire Wreathed with error, and with ignorance. With shamefast cloak to shadow and reThe stars be hid that led me to this

frain, pain;

Her smiling grace converteth straight to Drowned is reason that should be my

ire. comfort,

The coward Love then to the heart And I remain, despairing of the port.

apace

Taketh his flight, whereas he lurks and A RENOUNCING OF LOVE

plains,

His purpose lost, and dare not show his Farewell, Love, and all thy laws for ever!

face, Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no For my lord's guilt thus faultless bide I more:

pains. Senec and Plato call me from thy lore Yet from my lord shall not my foot reTo perfect wealth my wit for to en

move; deavor.

Sweet is his death that takes his end by In blind error when I did persever,

love. Thy sharp repulse, that pricketh aye so

sore, Taught me in trifles that I set no store; VOW TO LOVE FAITHFULLY HOWBut 'scape forth thence, since liberty is SOEVER HE BE REWARDED

lever. Therefore, farewell! go trouble younger Set me whereas the sun doth parch the hearts,

green, And in me claim no more authority. Or where his beams do not dissolve the With idle youth go use thy property, And thereon spend thy many brittle In temperate heat, where he is felt and darts;

seen;

ice;

Then like the lark that passed the night
In heavy sleep with cares opprest;
Yet when she spies the pleasant light,
She sends sweet notes from out her

breast:
So sing I now because I think
How joys approach, when sorrows shrink.

In presence prest of people, mad or wise;
Set me in high, or yet in low degree;
In longest night, or in the longest day;
In clearest sky, or where clouds thickest

be;
In lusty youth, or when my hairs are

gray; Set me in heaven, in earth, or else in

hell; In hill, or dale, or in the foaming flood; Thrall, or at large, alive whereso I

dwell; Sick or in health, in evil fame or good; Hers will I be, and only with this

thought Content myself, although my chance be

naught.

And as fair Philomene again
Can watch and sing when others sleep,
And taketh pleasure in her pain,
To wray the woe that makes her weep:
So sing I now for to bewray: 4
The loathsome life I lead alway.

To which to thee, dear wench, I write,
That know'st my mirth, but not my

moan:

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I laugh sometimes with little lust,2 Cupid and my Campaspe played
So jest I oft and feel no joy;

At cards for kisses,-Cupid paid;
Mine ease is builded all on trust,

He stakes his quiver, bow and arrows, And yet mistrust breeds mine annoy. His mother's doves, and team of sparI live and lack, I lack and have;

rows: I have and miss the thing I crave. Loses them too; then down he throws

The coral of his lip, the rose These things seem strange, yet are they Growing on's cheek (but none knows true;

how); Believe me, sweet, my state is such, With these the crystal of his brow, One pleasure which I would eschew, And then the dimple of his chin: Both slakes my grief and breeds my All these did my Campaspe win. grutch.3

At last he set 5 her both his eyes; So doth one pain which I would shun She won, and Cupid blind did rise. Renew my joys where grief begun. O Love, has she done this to thee?

What shall, alas! become of me? sorrow * pleasure

4 reveal

3 pain

5 staked

XXXI

SIR PHILIP SIDNEY (1554–1586) Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest

bed, SONNETS

A chamber deaf of noise and blind of

light,
A rosy garland and a weary head:

And if these things, as being thine in With how sad steps, O Moon, thou right, climb'st the skies!

Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in How silently, and with how wan a face!

me, What, may it be that even in heavenly Livelier than elsewhere, Stella's image place

see, That busy archer his sharp arrows tries! Sure, if that long-with-love-acquainted

XLI eyes Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's Having this day my horse, my hand, my

lance case; I read it in thy looks; thy languished

Guided so well that I obtained the prize,

Both by the judgment of the English eyes grace,

And of some sent from that sweet enemy, To me, that feel the like, thy state descries. 1

France; Then, ev'n of fellowship, O Moon, tell

Horsemen my skill in horsemanship ad

vance; me, Is constant love deemed there but want

Town folks my strength; a daintier judge of wit?

applies Are beauties there as proud as here they His praise to sleight, which from good be?

use doth rise; Do they above love to be loved, and yet

Some lucky wits impute it but to chance; Those lovers scorn whom that love doth Others, because of both sides I do take possess?

My blood from them who did excel in Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?

this, Think Nature me a man-at-arms did

make. XXXIX

How far they shot awry! The true cause

is, Come, Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot

Stella looked on; and from her heavenly

face The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe, The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's re

Sent forth the beams which made so fair lease,

my race. The indifferent judge between the high

and low; With shield of proof shield me from out LEAVE ME, O LOVE, WHICH

REACHEST BUT TO DUST Of those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw:

Leave me, O Love, which reachest but to O make in me those civil wars to cease;

dust, I will good tribute pay, if thou do so. And thou, my mind, aspire to higher i discloses

things;

of peace,

the prease

10

see.

20

Grow rich in that which never taketh Now with his wings he plays with me, rust:

Now with his feet. Whatever fades but fading pleasure Within mine eyes he makes his nest, brings.

His bed amidst my tender breast; Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy My kisses are his daily feast, might

And yet he robs me of my rest. To that sweet yoke where lasting free- Ah, wanton, will ye?

doms be, Which breaks the clouds and opens forth And if I sleep, then percheth he the light

With pretty flight, That doth both shine and give us sight to And makes his pillow of my knee,

The livelong night. Oh, take fast hold! let that light be thy Strike I my lute, he tunes the string; guide

He music plays if so I sing;
In this small course which birth draws out He lends me every lovely thing;
to death,

Yet cruel he my heart doth sting.
And think how evil becometh him to slide Whist,' wanton, still ye!
Who seeketh heaven, and comes of
heavenly breath.

Else I with roses every day
Then farewell, world; thy uttermost I Will whip you hence,

And bind you, when you long to play, Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me. For your offence.

I'll shut my eyes to keep you in, DITTY: HEART EXCHANGE I'll make you fast it for your sin,

I'll count your power not worth a pin: My true-love hath my heart, and I have

Alas! what hereby shall I win
his,

If he gainsay me?
By just exchange one for the other given:
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss,

What if I beat the wanton boy
There never was a bargain better driven.

With many a rod? My true-love hath my heart, and I have

He will repay me with annoy, his.

Because a god.

Then sit thou safely on my knee, His heart in me keeps him and me in one,

And let thy bower my bosom be; My heart in him his thoughts and senses

Lurk in mine eyes, I like of thee. guides.

O Cupid! so thou pity me,
He loves my heart, for once it was his

Spare not, but play thee.
own,
I cherish his because in me it bides.
My true-love hath my heart, and I

ROBERT GREENE (1560 ?-1592) have his.

see:

30

SOME SAY LOVE

THOMAS LODGE (1558?-1625)

ROSALIND'S MADRIGAL

Some say Love,
Foolish Love,

Doth rule and, govern all the gods:

Love in my bosom like a bee,

Doth suck his sweet;

1 hush

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