Category Archives: Love

Love Poetry

There wont faire Venus often to enjoy her deare Adonis

The Awakening of Adonis, John Waterhouse (c.1900)

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, some fragments from Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queeene (1590/1596).

Book Three, Canto Six (41- 48)

But were it not, that Time their troubler is,
All that in this delightfull Gardin growes,
Should happie be, and have immortall blis:
For here all plentie, and all pleasure flowes,
And sweet love gentle fits emongst them throwes,
Without fell rancor, or fond gealosie;
Franckly each paramour his leman knowes,
Each bird his mate, ne any does envie
Their goodly meriment, and gay felicitie.

There is continuall spring, and harvest there
Continuall, both meeting at one time:
For both the boughes doe laughing blossomes beare,
And with fresh colours decke the wanton Prime,
And eke attonce the heavy trees they clime,
Which seeme to labour under their fruits lode:
The whiles the joyous birdes make their pastime
Emongst the shadie leavea, their sweet abode,
And their true loves without suspition tell abrode.

Right in the middest of that Paradise,
There stood a stately Mount, on whose round top
A gloomy grove of mirtle trees did rise,
Whose shadie boughes sharpe steele did never lop,
Nor wicked beasts their tender buds did crop,
But like a girlond compassed the hight,
And from their fruitfull sides sweet gum did drop,
That all the ground with precious deaw bedight,
Threw forth most dainty odours, & most sweet delight.

And in the thickest covert of that shade,
There was a pleasant arbour, not by art,
But of the trees owne inclination made,
Which knitting their rancke braunches part to part,
With wanton yuie twyne entrayld athwart,
And Eglantine, and Caprifole emong,
Fashiond above within their inmost part,
That nether Phoebus beams could through thẽ throng,
Nor Aeolus sharp blast could worke them any wrong.

And all about grew every sort of flowre,
To which sad lovers were transformd of yore;
Fresh Hyacinthus, Phoebus paramoure,
And dearest love:
Foolish Narcisse, that likes the watry shore,
Sad Amaranthus, made a flowre but late,
Sad Amaranthus, in whose purple gore
Me seemes I see Amintas wretched fate,
To whom sweet Poets verse hath given endlesse date.

There wont faire Venus often to enjoy
Her deare Adonis joyous company,
And reape sweet pleasure of the wanton boy;
There yet, some say, in secret he does ly,
Lapped in flowres and pretious spycery,
By her hid from the world, and from the skill
Of Stygian Gods, which doe her love envy;
But she her selfe, when ever that she will,
Possesseth him, and of his sweetnesse takes her fill.

And sooth it seemes they say: for he may not
For ever die, and ever buried bee
In balefull night, where all things are forgot;
All be he subiect to mortalitie,
Yet is eterne in mutabilitie,
And by succession made perpetuall,
Transformed oft, and chaunged diverslie:
For him the Father of all formes they call;
Therefore needs mote he live, that living gives to all.

There now he liveth in eternall blis,
Joyning his goddesse, and of her enjoyd:
Ne feareth he henceforth that foe of his,
Which with his cruell tuske him deadly cloyd:
For that wilde Bore, the which him once annoyd,
She firmely hath emprisoned for ay,
That her sweet love his malice mote avoyd,
In a strong rocky Cave, which is they say,
Hewen underneath that Mount, that none him losen may.

Custom Etiquette Love Men Women

My inclinations lean not your way

Following my post on the ideal exchange for a courting couple, I’ve had quite a few requests for further pearls of wisdom from the same author. So here is more advice on 17th century etiquette. The first is an entertaining example of a letter from an unwanted suitor, and the proper form of reply for a lady of good character.  The second demonstrates how best to handle the sudden arrival of a gentleman during a gathering of respectable ladies.

Love protested, with its Repulse


It hath pleased Heaven you should have the sole command of my affections, with which I am joyfully content and stand disposed to obey you in every thing, when you shall be pleased to count me worthy of your service. Enjoying you I must account my self the happiest man in the world; but being deprived of you I shall not only live, but die miserably; either then reward him who adores you, or chastise him who idolizeth you. Yet must I confess all my good to proceed from you, and that all the evil I can endure must come from your disdain; however hoping that you will commiserate my languishing condition, I shall greedily subscribe my self,

Entirely Yours, &c.

The Answer


If it hath pleas’d Heaven you should love me, you cannot blame me though you suffer by it; should I except the tenders of affection from all such amorous pretenders, I might be married to a whole Troop, and make my self a legal Prostitute. My inclinations lean not your way; wherefore give me leave to tell you, that you would do better to bestow your affections on some Lady who hath more need of a Servant than I have. And if you think your affection ought not to go unrewarded, receive the perswasion which I give you, never to trouble me more, lest you run a worse hazzard by persevering in your intentions. Be advised by her who is

Your faithful Monitor and humble Servant, &c.


A Gentleman accidentally happening into a room where a Company of Ladies are well known to him.

Your pardon, Ladies; let not my coming interrupt your Discourse, but rather give me the freedom that I may participate in the satisfaction.

Our discourse is of no great concernment; we can take some other time to continue it, that we may now give way to yours, which we doubt not will prove every whit if not more agreeable.

My invention, Ladies, cannot want a subject for Discourse, where the company so overflows with wit and ingenuity; but my tongue will want expressions to answer your Critical expectations.

Sir, we acknowledge no such thing in our selves, and therefore let not that, we pray, be the subject of your eloquence lest we suspect you intend to laugh at us.

Ladies, you must suffer me, not withstanding all this, that though modesty interdicts you the acknowledging a truth, yet the respect I bear to Ladies, commands me not only to acknowledge it, but also to divulge and maintain it.

We confess, Sir, the frailty and weakness of our Sex requires some support; and for my own part I cannot look upon any person so worthy as your self to be our Champion.

What power I have to vindicate your person, is derivative from your virtues; and were I so feeble that the supporters of my body were no longer able to support that burthen; yet one propitious glance of any of your eyes would dart heat and vigor through my whole body, and so my feet would be enabled to run in your service.

Have a care, Sir, you do not strain your invention above the reach of an Hyperbole; but lower your fancy to the meanness of our capacity; if you cannot perform it at present we will give you time.

Ladies, I am fearful my company may be troublesome, or interrupt you from more agreeable conversation, wherefore your Servant, Ladies. [Exits, presumably].


© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Custom Love Marriage

It is the charming power of your virtues

This delightful fragment comes from a 17th century book for ladies. Crammed with useful hints and tips on everything from making jelly to how best a prudent widow might conduct herself, the author provides the following as a guide to the ideal exchange between a newly-courting couple.

A method of Courtship on fair and honourable terms

I shall ever account this, Madam, the happiest day I ever had in all the course of my life, which hath given me the honour and satisfaction of your acquaintance.

Sir, if I knew ought in me worthy of your merit, I should readily employ it in your service; but being fully sensible of my imperfections and weakness, I believe the knowledge of me will yield you less happiness than you imagine.

Madam, I wonder you should wrong so much perfection.

I wrong not any thing in my possession; but it is your courtesie and rhetorick that would willingly excuse my defects, to make your own sufficiency to appear so much the more.

Pardon me, Madam, it is the charming power of your virtues and merits, which oblige me not only to honour and serve you, but also to desire some part and interest in your affections.

Sir, whatsoever a Maid with honour may do, you may request of me; I should be as void of judgment as defective in beauty, did I not respect your quality, admire your virtues, and wish you a happiness equal to your merit.

Madam, I assure you, my affections are real, and I hope sincerity doth wait on your good wishes; but if you will extend your favour, I cannot but be the happiest of all men.

Sir, as I cannot perswade my self you will fix your affection on a person so little deserving; so I wish with all my heart your happy Stars may guide you to a Match that may become your worth.

Do not entertain so palpable a mistake: I have proposed to my self an unfeigned resolution to honour and serve you to my uttermost endeavour; and your refusal cannot lessen my affection; suffer me then to bear the honourable title of your servant.

Sir, I have absolutely render’d my self up to the disposal of my dear Parents, consult them; if you prevail on their consent, you shall not doubt the conquest of my affection.

You oblige me infinitely, and I must thank you as heartily; I will not rest a minute till I know my sentence of life or death, which consists in the refusal of my love, or its acceptance.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Love Poetry

Where my extended soul is fixed

(Detail from The Venetian Lovers by Paris Bordone)

This fragment is from Andrew Marvell (1621 -1678), metaphysical poet and friend of John Milton.

The Definition of Love

My Love is of a birth as rare
As ’tis for object strange and high:
It was begotten by Despair,
Upon Impossibility.

Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble Hope could ne’r have flown,
But vainly flapped its Tinsel Wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended Soul is fixed,
But Fate does Iron wedges drive,
And always crowds itself betwixt.

For Fate with jealous Eye does see
Two perfect Loves, nor lets them close:
Their union would her ruin be,
And her Tyrannick pow’r depose.

And therefore her Decrees of Steel
Us as the distant Poles have placed,
(Though Love’s whole world on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embrac’d,

Unless the giddy Heaven fall,
And Earth some new convulsion tear;
And, us to join, the World should all
Be cramp’d into a Planisphere.

As Lines so Love’s oblique may well
Themselves in every angle greet:
But ours so truly Parallel,
Though infinite can never meet.

Therefore the Love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debarrs,
Is the conjunction of the Mind,
And Opposition of the Stars.

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