Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
Extracts from the Poems: Sonnets
By William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585–1649)
 
IN my first years, and prime yet not at height,
When sweet conceits my wits did entertain,
Ere beauty’s force I knew, or false delight,
Or to what oar she did her captives chain,
Led by a sacred troop of Phœbus’ train,        5
I first began to read, then lov’d to write,
And so to praise a perfect red and white,
But, God wot, wist not what was in my brain:
Love smil’d to see in what an awful guise
I turn’d those antiques of the age of gold,        10
And, that I might more mysteries behold,
He set so fair a volume to mine eyes,
  That I (quires clos’d which dead, dead sighs but breathe)
  Joy on this living book to read my death.
 
Then is she gone? O fool and coward I!        15
O good occasion lost, ne’er to be found!
What fatal chains have my dull senses bound,
When best they may, that they not fortune try?
Here is the flow’ry bed where she did lie,
With roses here she stellified the ground,        20
She fix’d her eyes on this yet smiling pond,
Nor time, nor courteous place, seem’d ought deny.
Too long, too long, Respect, I do embrace
Your counsel, full of threats and sharp disdain;
Disdain in her sweet heart can have no place,        25
And though come there, must straight retire again:
  Henceforth, Respect, farewell, I oft hear told
  Who lives in love can never be too bold.
 
If crost with all mishaps be my poor life,
If one short day I never spent in mirth,        30
If my spright with itself holds lasting strife,
If sorrow’s death is but new sorrow’s birth;
If this vain world be but a sable stage
Where slave-born man plays to the scoffing stars;
If youth be toss’d with love, with weakness age,        35
If knowledge serve to hold our thoughts in wars;
If time can close the hundred mouths of fame,
And make, what long since past, like that to be;
If virtue only be an idle name,
If I, when I was born, was born to die;        40
  Why seek I to prolong these loathsome days?
  The fairest rose in shortest time decays.
 
Thou window, once which served for a sphere
To that dear planet of my heart, whose light
Made often blush the glorious queen of night,        45
While she in thee more beauteous did appear,
What mourning weeds, alas! now dost thou wear?
How loathsome to mine eyes is thy sad sight?
How poorly look’st thou, with what heavy cheer,
Since that sun set, which made thee shine so bright?        50
Unhappy now thee close, for as of late
To wond’ring eyes thou wast a paradise,
Bereft of her who made thee fortunate,
A gulf thou art, whence clouds of sighs arise;
  But unto none so noisome as to me,        55
  Who hourly see my murder’d joys in thee.
 
Alexis, here she stay’d; among these pines,
Sweet hermitress, she did alone repair;
Here did she spread the treasure of her hair,
More rich than that brought from the Colchian mines.        60
She sate her by these musked eglantines,
The happy place the print seems yet to bear;
Her voice did sweeten here thy sugar’d lines,
To which winds, trees, beasts, birds, did lend their ear.
Me here she first perceiv’d, and here a morn        65
Of bright carnations did o’erspread her face;
Here did she sigh, here first my hopes were born,
And I first got a pledge of promis’d grace:
  But, ah! what serv’d it to be happy so,
  Sith passed pleasures double but new woe?        70
 
 
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