Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Who Grace for Zenith Had
By Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (1554–1628)
  WHO 1 grace for zenith had,
  From which no shadows grow,
Who hath seen joy of all his hopes,
  And end of all his woe;
  Whose love beloved hath been        5
  The crown of his desire;
Who hath seen sorrow’s glories burnt
  In sweet affection’s fire;
  If from this heavenly state,
  Which souls with souls unites,        10
He be fallen down into the dark
  Despairèd war of sprites,
  Let him lament with me;
  For none doth glory know,
That hath not been above himself,        15
  And thence fallen down to woe.
  But if there be one hope
  Left in his anguished heart,
If fear of worse, if wish of ease,
  If horror may depart.        20
  He plays with his complaints;
  He is no mate for me,
Whose love is lost, whose hopes are fled,
  Whose fears for ever be;
  Yet not those happy fears        25
  Which show Desire her death,
Teaching with use a piece in woe,
  And in despair a faith.
  No, no; my fears kill not,
  But make uncurèd wounds,        30
Where joy and peace do issue out,
  And only pain abounds.
  Unpossible are help,
  Reward, and hope to me;
Yet while unpossible they are,        35
  They easy seem to be.
  Most easy seems remorse,
  Despair, and death to me;
Yet while they passing easy seem,
  Unpossible they be.        40
  So neither can I leave
  My hopes that do deceive,
Nor can I trust mine own despair
  And nothing else receive.
  Thus be unhappy men        45
  Blest, to be more accurst;
Near to the glories of the sun
  Clouds with most horror burst.
  Like ghost raised out of graves,
  Who live not, though they go;        50
Whose walking, fear to others is,
  And to themselves a woe;
  So is my life by her
  Whose love to me is dead,
On whose worth my despair yet walks,        55
  And my desire is fed.
  I swallow down the bait
  Which carries down my death;
I cannot put love from my heart
  While life draws in my breath.        60
  My winter is within,
  Which witherèth my joy;
My knowledge, seat of civil war,
  Where friends and foes destroy;
  And my desires are wheels,        65
  Whereon my heart is borne,
With endless turning of themselves,
  Still living to be torn.
  My thoughts are eagle’s food,
  Ordained to be a prey        70
To wrath, and being still consumed,
  Yet never to decay.
  My memory, where once
  My heart laid up the store
Of help, of joy, of spirit’s wealth        75
  To multiply them more.
  In Paradise I once
  Did live, and taste the tree,
Which shadowed was from all the world,
  In joy to shadow me:        80
  The tree hath lost his fruit,
  Or I have lost my seat;
My soul both black with shadow is,
  And over-burnt with heat.
  Truth here for triumph serves,        85
  To show her power is great,
Whom no desert can overcome,
  Nor no distress entreat.
  Time past lays up my joy,
  And time to come my grief;        90
She ever must be my desire,
  And never my relief.
  Wrong, her lieutenant is;
  My wounded thoughts are they
Who have no power to keep the field,        95
  Nor will to run away.
  O rueful constancy!
  And where is change so base,
As it may be compared with thee
  In scorn and in disgrace?        100
  Like as the kings forlorn,
  Deposed from their estate,
Yet cannot choose but love the crown
  Although new kings they hate;
  If they do plead their right,—        105
  Nay, if they only live,—
Offences to the crown alike
  Their good and ill shall give.
  So I would I were not,
  Because I may complain,        110
And cannot choose but love my wrongs,
  And joy to wish in vain.
  This faith condemneth me;
  My right doth rumour move;
I may not know the cause I fell,        115
  Nor yet without cause love.
  Then, love, where is reward,—
  At least where is the fame
Of them that, being, bear thy cross,
  And, being not, thy name?        120
  The world’s example I,
  A fable everywhere,
A well from whence the springs are dried,
  A tree that doth not bear;
  I, like the bird in cage,        125
  At first with cunning caught,
And in my bondage for delight
  With greater cunning taught.
  Now owner’s humour dies;
  I’m neither loved, nor fed,        130
Nor freed am I, till in the cage
  Forgotten I be dead.
  The ship of Greece, 2 the stream,
  And she, be not the same
They were, although ship, stream, and she        135
  Still bear their antique name.
  The wood which was, is worn;
  Those waves are run away;
Yet still a ship, and still a stream,
  Still running to a sea.        140
  She loved, and still she loves,
  But doth not still love me;
To all except myself yet is
  As she was wont to be.
  O my once happy thoughts!        145
  The heaven where grace did dwell!
My saint hath turned away her face;
  And made that heaven my hell!
  A hell, for so is that
  From whence no souls return,        150
Where, while our spirits are sacrificed,
  They waste not, though they burn.
  Since then this is my state,
  And nothing worse than this,
Behold the map of death-like life,        155
  Exiled from lovely bliss:
  Alone among the world,
  Strange with my friends to be,
Showing my fall to them that scorn,
  See not, or will not see;        160
  My heart, a wilderness,
  My studies only fear,
And, as in shadows of curst death,
  A prospect of despair.
  My exercise must be        165
  My horrors to repeat;
My peace, joy, end, and sacrifice,
  Her dead love to entreat;
  My food, the time that was;
  The time to come, my fast;        170
For drink, the barren thirst I feel
  Of glories that are past;
  Sighs and salt tears my bath;
  Reason my looking-glass,
To show me, he most wretched is        175
  That once most happy was.
  Forlorn desires my clock,
  To tell me every day
That Time hath stolen love, life and all
  But my distress away.        180
  For music, heavy sighs;
  My walk an inward woe;
Which like a shadow ever shall
  Before my body go.
  And I myself am he        185
  That doth with none compare,
Except in woes and lack of worth
  Whose states more wretched are.
  Let no man ask my name,
  Nor what else I should be;        190
For GRIEVE-ILL, pain, forlorn estate
  Do best decipher me.
Note 1. This poem, an adaptation of Sir Edward Dyer’s Fancy (see note to No. 445), is from Sonnet lxxxiii. in Coilica, in Grosart’s ed. of Lord Brooke’s Works, 1623. It is reprinted in Dr. Hannah’s Courtly Poets, 1870. The original arrangement of the lines is after the form of the poet’s lament for Sidney, and run:
  Who grace for zenith had, from which no shadows grow;
Who had seen joy of all his hopes, and end of all his woe, etc.
Note 2. Line 133, The ship of Greece: The reference here is to the famous ship in which Theseus returned after slaying the Minotaur. The Athenians professed to preserve it until the days of Demetrius Phalereus, the rotten timbers being carefully removed from time to time, so that it became a favourite question whether a ship could still be called the same. (Plutarch, Thes., p. 10, ed. 1620.) “This passage,” says Hannah, “in which Lord Brooke compares the changes of his mistress to that ship of Greece, and to the ever flowing stream—the same yet not the same—perpetually altering, yet bearing continuously ‘the antique name,’—is an excellent specimen of the subtle conceptions which he loved to elaborate in his poetry. But the whole poem is raised to a level of thought curiously different from that of the two pieces by Dyer and Southwell, with which it is connected.” [back]

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