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Therefore, thou best earthly bliss,
I will cherish thee for this.
Poesy! thou sweet'st content
That e'er heaven to mortals lent:
Though they as a trifle leave thee,
Whose dull thoughts cannot conceive thee,
Though thou be to them a scorn,
That to nought but earth are born,
Let my life no longer be
Than I am in love with thee,
Though our wise ones call thee madness,
Let me never taste of gladness,
If I love not thy mad'st fits
More than all their greatest wits.
And though some, too, seeming holy,
Do account thy raptures folly,
Thou dost teach me to contemn
What makes knaves and fools of them.
THE AUTHOR'S RESOLUTION IN A Sonnet.
Shall I, wasting in despaire
Dye, because a woman's fair?
Or make pale my cheeks with care
Cause anothers Rosie are?
Be she fairer than the Day
Or the flowry Meads in May,
If she thinke not well of me,
What care I how faire she be?
Shall my seely heart be pin'd
Cause I see a woman kind?
Or a well disposed Nature
Joyned with a lovely feature?
Be she Meeker, Kinder than
Turtle-dove or Pellican:
If she be not so to me,
What care I how kind she be?
Shall a woman's Vertues move
Me to perish for her Love?
Or her wel deservings knowne
Make me quite forget mine own?
Be she with that Goodness blest
Which may merit name of best :
If she be not such to me,
What care I how Good she be?
Cause her Fortune seems too high
Shall I play the fool and die?
She that beares a Noble mind,
If not outward helpes she find,
Thinks what with them he wold do,
That without them dares her woe.
And unlesse that Minde I see
What care I how great she be?
Great, or Good, or Kind, or Faire
I will ne're the more despaire :
If she love me (this beleeve)
I will Die ere she shall grieve.
If she slight me when I woe,
I can scorne and let her goc,
For if she be not for me
What care I for whom she be?'
I have transcribed this song verbatim et literatim (for it is too precious not to be given exactly as it first saw the light) from the original edition of Fidelia in which it first appeared. Mr. W. C. Hazlitt in his Handbook to Early English Literature assumes the existence of an edition in 1617, before the well-known second edition in the later part of the same year; but adds: This first edition is supposed to have been privately printed. No copy is at present known.' There is, however, a copy of this treasure in the Bodleian Library. As I write, the title page of it is before me :—Fidelia, London, l'rinted by Nicholas Okes, 1615.
[From The Mistress of Philarete.]
And her lips (that shew no dulness)
Full are, in the meanest fulness :
Those, the leaves be, whose unfolding
Brings sweet pleasures to beholding:
For, such pearls they do disclose,
Both the Indies match not those:
Yet are so in order placed,
As their whiteness is more graced.
Each part is so well disposed,
And her dainty mouth composed,
So, as there is no distortion
Misbeseems that sweet proportion.
When her ivory teeth she buries,
Twixt her two enticing cherries,
There appear such pleasures hidden,
As might tempt what were forbidden.
If you look again the whiles
She doth part those lips in smiles,
'Tis as when a flash of light
Breaks from heaven to glad the night.
Oft have the Nymphs of greatest worth,
Made suit my songs to hear;
As oft (when I have sighed forth
Such notes as saddest were)
'Alas!' said they, 'poor gentle heart,
Whoe'er that shepherd be:'
But, none of them suspects my smart,
Nor thinks, it meaneth me.
When I have reached so high a strain
Of passion in my song,
That they have seen the tears to rain
And trill my cheek along:
Instead of sigh, or weeping eye,
To sympathise with me;
'Oh, were he once in love,' they cry,
'How moving would he be !'
Oh pity me, you powers above,
And take my skill away;
Or let my hearers think I love,
And fain not what I say.
For, if I could disclose the smart,
Which I unknown do bear;
Each line would make them sighs impart,
And every word, a tear.
Her true beauty leaves behind,
Apprehensions in my mind,
Of more sweetness than all art
Or inventions can impart ;
Thoughts too deep to be exprest,
And too strong to be supprest;
Which oft raiseth my conceits,
To so unbelieved heights,
That (I fear) some shallow brain,
Thinks my muses do but feign.
Sure, he wrongs them if he do:
For, could I have reached to
So like strains as these you see;
Had there been no such as she?
Is it possible that I,
Who scarce heard of Poesy,
Should a mere Idea raise
To as true a pitch of praise
As the learned poets could,
Now, or in the times of old,
All those real beauties bring,
Honoured by their sonneting?
(Having arts and favours too
More t'encourage what they do)→
No; if I had never seen
Such a beauty; I had been
Piping in the country shades,
To the homely dairy maids,
For a country fiddler's fees;
Clouted cream, and bread and cheese.
I no skill in numbers had,
More than every shepherd's lad,
Till she taught me strains that were
Pleasing to her gentle ear.
Her fair splendour and her worth
From obscureness drew me forth.
And, because I had no Muse,
She herself deigned to infuse
All the skill by which I climb
To these praises in my rhyme.
Which, if she had pleased to add,
To that art sweet Drayton had,
Or that happy swain that shall
Sing Britannia's Pastoral;
Or to theirs, whose verse set forth
Rosalind, and Stella's worth;
They had doubled all their skill,
Gained on Apollo's Hill:
And as much more set her forth
As I'm short of them in worth.
They had unto heights aspired,
Might have justly been admired;
And, in such brave strains had moved
As of all had been approved.
So now is come our joyfulst feast;
Let every man be jolly,
Each room with ivy leaves is drest
And every post with holly.