Thou blind man’s mark, thou fool’s self-chosen snare,
Fond fancy’s scum and dregs of scattered thought,
Band of all evils, cradle of causeless care,
Thou web of will whose end is never wrought;
Desire! desire, I have too dearly bought
With price of mangled mind thy worthless ware;
Too long, too long asleep thou hast me brought,
Who should my mind to higher things prepare.
But yet in vain thou hast my ruin sought,
In vain thou mad’st me to vain things aspire,
In vain thou kindlist all thy smoky fire.
For virtue hath this better lesson taught,
Within myself to seek my only hire,
Desiring naught but how to kill desire.
“Like those sick folks”
Like those sick folks in whom strange humours flow
Can taste no sweets, the sour only please,
So to my mind, while passions daily grow,
Whose fiery chains upon his freedom seize,
Joys strangers seem, I cannot bide their show,
Nor brook aught else but well-acquainted woe.
Bitter grief tastes me best, pain is my ease,
Sick to the death, still loving my disease.
Leave me, O Love
Leave me, O Love which reachest but to dust,
And thou my mind aspire to higher things;
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust:
Whatever fades but fading pleasure brings.
Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might
To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be;
Which breaks the clouds and opens forth the light,
That doth both shine and give us sight to see.
O take fast hold; let that light be thy guide
In this small course which birth draws out to death,
And think how evil becometh him to slide
Who seeketh heav’n and comes of heav’nly breath.
Then farewell world, thy uttermost I see;
Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me.
From The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, a Sonnet from the Aged
Let not old age disgrace my high desire;
O heavenly soul in human shape contained:
Old wood inflamed doth yield the bravest fire,
When younger doth in smoke his virtue spend.
Ne let white hairs which on my face do grow
Seem to your eyes of a disgraceful hue,
Since whiteness doth present the sweetest show,
Which makes all eyes do homage unto you.
Old age is wise and full of constant truth;
Old age well stayed from ranging humor lives;
Old age hath known whatever was in youth;
Old age o’ercome, the greater honor gives.
And to old age since you yourself aspire,
Let not old age disgrace my high desire.