Verse > Anthologies > Elizabethan Sonnets > Sonnets and Poetical Translations
Seccombe and Arber, comps.  Elizabethan Sonnets.  1904.
Sonnets and Poetical Translations
XXIV. The Seven Wonders of England
Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586)
NEAR Wilton sweet, huge heaps of stones are found,
But so confused, that neither any eye
Can count them just; nor reason, reason try,
What force brought them to so unlikely ground?
To stranger weights, my mind’s waste soil is bound.        5
Of Passion, hills; reaching to reason’s sky;
From Fancy’s earth, passing all numbers bound.
Passing all guess, whence into me should fly
    So mazed a mass? or if in me it grows?
    A simple soul should breed so mixèd woes.        10
The Bruertons have a lake, which when the sun
Approaching, warms—not else; dead logs up sends
From hideous depth: which tribute, when its ends;
Sore sign it is, the lord’s last thread is spun.
My lake is Sense, whose still streams never run,        15
But when my sun her shining twins there bends;
Then from his depth with force, in her begun,
Long drowned Hopes to watery eyes it lends:
    But when that fails, my dead hopes up to take;
    Their master is fair warned, his will to make.        20
We have a fish, by strangers much admired,
Which caught, to cruel search yields his chief part:
(With gall cut out) closed up again by art,
Yet lives until his life be new required.
A stranger fish! myself, not yet expired,        25
Though rapt with Beauty’s hook, I did impart
Myself unto th’anatomy desired:
Instead of gall, leaving to her, my heart.
    Yet lived with Thoughts closed up; till that she will
    By conquest’s right, instead of searching, kill.        30
Peak hath a cave, whose narrow entries find
Large rooms within: where drops distil amain,
Till knit with cold, though there unknown remain,
Deck that poor place with alabaster lined.
Mine Eyes the strait, the roomy cave, my Mind;        35
Whose cloudy Thoughts let fall an inward rain
Of Sorrow’s drops, till colder Reason bind
Their running fall into a constant vein
    Of Truth, far more than alabaster pure!
    Which, though despised, yet still doth Truth endure.        40
A field there is; where, if a stake be prest
Deep in the earth, what hath in earth receipt
Is changed to stone; in hardness, cold, and weight:
The wood above, doth soon consuming rest.
The earth, her Ears; the stake is my Request:        45
Of which how much may pierce to that sweet seat
To Honour turned, doth dwell in Honour’s nest;
Keeping that form, though void of wonted heat:
    But all the rest, which Fear durst not apply;
    Failing themselves, with withered conscience, die.        50
Of ships, by shipwreck cast on Albion’s coast,
Which rotting on the rocks, their death do die;
From wooden bones and blood of pitch doth fly
A bird, which gets more life than ship had lost.
My ship, Desire; with wind of Lust long tost,        55
Brake on fair cliffs of Constant Chastity:
Where plagued for rash attempt, gives up his ghost;
So deep in seas of Virtue’s beauties lie.
    But of this death, flies up a purest Love,
    Which seeming less, yet nobler life doth move.        60
These wonders, England breeds. The last remains.
A lady, in despite of nature, chaste;
On whom all love, in whom no love is placed;
Where fairness yields to wisdom’s shortest reins.
An humble pride, a scorn that favour stains;        65
A woman’s mould, but like an angel graced;
An angel’s mind, but in a woman cast;
A heaven on earth, or earth that heaven contains.
    Now thus this wonder to myself I frame;
    She is the cause, that all the rest I am.        70

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