Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

Astrophel and Stella


Louing in trueth, and fayne in verse my loue to show,
That she, deare Shee, might take som pleasure of my paine,
Pleasure might cause her reade, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pittie winne, and pity grace obtaine,
   I sought fit wordes to paint the blackest face of woe;
Studying inuentions fine, her wits to entertaine,
Oft turning others leaues, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitfull showers vpon my sun-burnd brain.
   But words came halting forth, wanting Inuentions stay;
Inuention, Natures childe, fledde step-dame Studies blowes;
And others feet still seemde but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with childe to speak, and helplesse in my throwes,
   Biting my trewand pen, beating myselfe for spite,
   Fool, said my Muse to me, looke in thy heart, and write.


Not at the first sight, nor with a dribbed shot,
   Loue gaue the wound, which, while I breathe, will bleede;
   But knowne worth did in tract of time proceed,
Till by degrees, it had full conquest got.
I saw and lik'd; I lik'd but loued not;
   I lou'd, but straight did not what Loue decreed:
   At length, to Loues decrees I, forc'd, agreed,
Yet with repining at so partiall lot.
   Now, euen that footstep of lost libertie
Is gone; and now, like slaue-borne Muscouite,
I call it praise to suffer tyrannie;
And nowe imploy the remnant of my wit
   To make myselfe beleeue that all is well,
   While, with a feeling skill, I paint my hell.


Some louers speake, when they their Muses entertaine,
Of hopes begot by feare, of wot not what desires,
Of force of heau'nly beames infusing hellish paine,
Of liuing deaths, dere wounds, faire storms, and freesing fires:
   Some one his song in Ioue and Ioues strange tales attires,
Bordred with buls and swans, powdred with golden raine:
Another, humbler wit, to shepherds pipe retires,
Yet hiding royall bloud full oft in rurall vaine.
   To some a sweetest plaint a sweetest stile affords:
   While teares poure out his inke, and sighes breathe out his words,
His paper pale despaire, and pain his pen doth moue.
   I can speake what I feele, and feele as much as they,
   But thinke that all the map of my state I display
When trembling voyce brings forth, that I do Stella loue.


Fly, fly, my friends; I haue my deaths wound, fly;
See there that Boy, that murthring Boy I say,
Who like a theefe hid in dark bush doth ly,
Till bloudy bullet get him wrongfull pray.
   So, tyran he no fitter place could spie,
Nor so faire leuell in so secret stay,
As that sweet black which veils the heau'nly eye;
There with his shot himself he close doth lay.
   Poore passenger, pass now thereby I did,
And staid, pleas'd with the prospect of the place,
While that black hue from me the the bad guest hid:
But straight I saw the motions of lightning grace,
   And then descried the glistrings of his dart:
   But ere I could flie thence, it pierc'd my heart.


You that with Allegories curious frame
   Of others children changelings vse to make,
   With me those pains, for Gods sake, do not take:
I list not dig so deep for brazen fame,
When I say Stella I do meane the same
   Princesse of beauty for whose only sake
   The raines of Loue I loue, though neuer slake,
And ioy therein, though nations count it shame.
   I beg no subiect to vse eloquence,
Nor in hid wayes to guide philosophy:
Looke at my hands for no such quintessence;
But know that I in pure simplicitie
   Breathe out the flames which burn within my heart,
   Loue onely reading vnto me this arte.


With how sad steps, O Moone, thou climbst the skies!
   How silently, and with how wanne a face!
   What, may it be that euen in heau'nly place
That busie archer his sharpe arrowes tries?
Sure, if that long-with-loue-acquainted eyes
   Can iudge of loue, thou feel'st a louers case,
   I reade it in thy lookes: thy languist grace,
To me that feele the like, thy state discries.
   Then, eu'n of fellowship, O Moone, tell me,
Is constant loue deem'd there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?
Do they aboue loue to be lou'd, and yet
   Those louers scorn whom that loue doth possesse?
   Do they call vertue there vngratefulnesse?


A strife is growne between Vertue and Loue,
   While each pretends that Stella must be his:
   Her eyes, her lips, her all, saith Loue, do this,
Since they do weare his badge, most firmly proue.
But Virtue thus that title doth disproue,
   That Stella (O dear name!) that Stella is
   That vertuous soule, sure heire of heau'nly blisse.
Not this faire outside, which our heart doth moue.
   And therefore, though her beautie and her grace
Be Loues indeed, in Stellas selfe he may
By no pretence claime any manner place.
Well, Loue, since this demurre our sute doth stay,
   Let Vertue haue that Stellaes selfe, yet thus,
   That Vertue but that body graunt to vs.


Who will in fairest booke of Nature know
   How vertue may best lodg'd in Beautie be,
   Let him but learne of Loue to reade in thee,
Stella, those faire lines which true goodnesse show.
There shall he find all vices ouerthrow,
   Not by rude force, but sweetest soueraigntie
   Of reason, from whose light those night-birds flie,
That inward sunne in thine eyes shineth so.
   And, not content to be Perfections heire
Thy selfe, doest striue all minds that way to moue,
Who marke in thee what is in thee most faire:
So while thy beautie drawes the heart to loue,
   As fast thy vertue bends that loue to good:
   But, ah, Desire still cries, Giue me some food.


Desire, though thou my old companion art,
   And oft so clings to my pure loue that I
   One from the other scarcely can discrie,
While each doth blowe the fier of my hart;
Now from thy fellowship I needs must part;
   Venus is taught with Dians wings to flie;
   I must no more in thy sweet passions lie;
Vertues gold must now head my Cupids dart.
   Seruice and honour, wonder with delight,
Feare to offend, will worthie to appeare,
Care shining in mine eyes, faith in my sprite;
These things are left me by my onely Deare:
   But thou, Desire, because thou wouldst haue all,
   Now banisht art; but yet, alas, how shall?


I neuer dranke of Aganippe well,
Nor euer did in shade of Tempe sit,
And Muses scorne with vulgar brains to dwell;
Poore Layman I, for sacred rites vnfit.
   Some doe I heare of Poets fury tell,
But, God wot, wot not what they meane by it;
And this I sweare by blackest brooke of hell,
I am no pick-purse of anothers wit.
   How falles it then, that with so smooth an ease
My thoughts I speake; and what I speake doth flow
In verse, and that my verse best wits doth please?
Ghesse we the cause? What, is it this? Fie, no.
   Or so? Much lesse. How then? Sure thus it is,
   My lips are sweet, inspir'd with Stellas kisse.


When Sorrow (vsing mine owne fiers might)
   Melts downe his lead into my boyling brest
   Through that darke furnace to my hart opprest,
There shines a ioy from thee my only light:
But soone as thought of thee breeds my delight,
   And my yong soule flutters to thee his nest,
   Most rude Despaire, my daily vnbidden guest,
Clips streight my wings, streight wraps me in his night,
   And makes me then bow downe my heade, and say,
Ah, what doth Phoebus gold that wretch auaile
Whom Iron doores doe keepe from vse of day?
So strangely (alas) thy works on me preuaile,
   That in my woes for thee thou art my ioy,
   And in my ioyes for thee my onely annoy.

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