Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Loving in Truth, and Fain in Verse My Love to Show
By Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586)
LOVING 1 in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
That She, dear She, might take some pleasure of my pain;
Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain;
I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe,        5
Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain;
Oft turning others’ leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburned brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting Invention’s stay;
Invention, Nature’s child, fled step-dame Study’s blows;        10
And others’ feet still seemed but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite,
“Fool,” said my Muse to me, “look in thy heart, and write!”
Note 1. The initial sonnet of Astrophel and Stella, 1591. “The very first piece of the series, an oddly compounded sonnet of thirteen Alexandrines and a final heroic, strikes the note of intense and fresh poetry which is only heard afar off in Surrey and Wyat, which is hopeless to seek in the tentatives of Turberville and Googe, and which is smothered with jejune and merely literary ornament in the less familiar work of Thomas Watson. The second line,… the couplet (lines 7 and 8) … and the sudden and splendid finale … are things that may be looked for in vain earlier.” (George Saintsbury, Elizabethan Literature, 1887.) [back]

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