Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
Henry King, Bishop of Chichester. 1592–1669
  
279. A Renunciation
  
WE, that did nothing study but the way 
To love each other, with which thoughts the day 
Rose with delight to us and with them set, 
Must learn the hateful art, how to forget. 
We, that did nothing wish that Heaven could give         5
Beyond ourselves, nor did desire to live 
Beyond that wish, all these now cancel must, 
As if not writ in faith, but words and dust. 
Yet witness those clear vows which lovers make, 
Witness the chaste desires that never brake  10
Into unruly heats; witness that breast 
Which in thy bosom anchor'd his whole rest— 
'Tis no default in us: I dare acquite 
Thy maiden faith, thy purpose fair and white 
As thy pure self. Cross planets did envy  15
Us to each other, and Heaven did untie 
Faster than vows could bind. Oh, that the stars, 
When lovers meet, should stand opposed in wars! 
 
Since then some higher Destinies command, 
Let us not strive, nor labour to withstand  20
What is past help. The longest date of grief 
Can never yield a hope of our relief: 
Fold back our arms; take home our fruitless loves, 
That must new fortunes try, like turtle-doves 
Dislodgèd from their haunts. We must in tears  25
Unwind a love knit up in many years. 
In this last kiss I here surrender thee 
Back to thyself.—So, thou again art free: 
Thou in another, sad as that, resend 
The truest heart that lover e'er did lend.  30
Now turn from each: so fare our sever'd hearts 
As the divorced soul from her body parts. 
 
 
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