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.
 
The Parting
By Michael Drayton (1563–1631)
 
SINCE 1 there’s no help, come let us kiss and part—
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me;
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands forever, cancel all our vows,        5
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,        10
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
—Now if thou would’st, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou might’st him yet recover.
 
Note 1. This great sonnet first appeared in the 1619 folio of Drayton’s Works, and numbered lxi. of the sonnets Idea. I believe this to be a very personal sonnet, into which the poet put so much of the intensity of truth and experience that its expression, wrought by the genius of a poet like Drayton, could not be other than a creation of magnificent art. “From Anacreon to Moore, I know of no lines on the old subject of lovers’ quarrels, distinguished for equal tenderness of sentiment…. Especially may be observed the exquisite gracefulness in the transition from the familiar tone in the first part of the sonnet to the deeper feeling and higher strain of the imagination at the close.” (Henry Reed, British Poets, I., 241.) “As for Drayton, his one incomparable sonnet is Love Parting. That is almost the best in the language, if not quite.” (Dante Gabriel Rossetti, from Recollections of D. G. R., by T. Hall Caine.) [back]
 
 
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