Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Love’s Casuistry
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
IF 1 love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?
Ah, never faith could hold, if not to beauty vow’d!
Though to myself forsworn, to thee I’ll faithful prove;
Those thoughts to me were oaks, to thee like osiers bow’d.
Study his bias leaves 2 and makes his book thine eyes,        5
Where all those pleasures live that art would comprehend;
If knowledge be the mark, to know thee shall suffice;
Well learnèd is that tongue that well can thee commend;
All ignorant that soul that sees thee without wonder;
Which is to me some praise that I thy parts admire.        10
Thy eye Jove’s lightning bears, thy voice his dreadful thunder,
Which, not to anger bent, is music and sweet fire.
  Celestial as thou art, O pardon love 3 this wrong
  That sings heaven’s praise with such an earthly tongue.
 
Note 1. From Love’s Labour’s Lost, act iv. sc. 2. Line 1, How shall I swear to love: How shall love credit me? by what oath shall I gain love’s belief? [back]
Note 2. Study his bias leaves: I suspect there should be a comma after bias, to read, Study his bias, leaves, etc. Leaves, here is a verb. [back]
Note 3. Pardon love this: The meaning plainly is: “Celestial as thou art, O, pardon the wrong love does in singing heaven’s praise (that is thine) with such an earthly tongue.” (Dyce.) Yet the modern editors alter the punctuation to “pardon, love, this.” (Furness.) [back]
 
 
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