Category Archives: Poetry

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.

Love Poetry

The Surrender

Today’s fragment comes from Henry King (1592-1669), poet, bishop of Chichester, and close friend of John Donne.

The Surrender

My once dear love, hapless that I no more
Must call thee so: the rich affection’s store
That fed our hopes, lies now exhaust and spent,
Like summes of treasure unto Bankrupts lent.

We that did nothing study but the way
To love each other, with which thoughts the day
Rose with delight to us and with them set,
Must learn the hateful Art how to forget.

We that did nothing wish that Heav’n would give
Beyond ourselves, nor did desire to live
Beyond that wish, all these now cancel must
As if not writ in faith, but words and dust.

Yet witness those clear vows which lovers make,
Witness the chaste desires that never brake
Into unruly heats; witness that breast
Which in thy bosom anchor’d his whole rest;
‘Tis no default in us: I dare acquite
Thy maiden faith, thy purpose fair and white
As thy pure self. Cross planets did envy
Us to each other, and Heaven did untie
Faster than vows could bind. Oh, that the stars,
When lovers meet, should stand opposed in wars!

Since then some higher destinies command,
Let us not strive, nor labour to withstand
What is past help. The longest date of grief
Can never yield a hope of our relief;
And though we waste ourselves in moist laments,
Tears may drown us, but not our discontents.

Fold back our arms, take home our fruitless loves,
That must new fortunes try, like turtle doves
Dislodged from their haunts. We must in tears
Unwind a love knit up in many years.
In this last kiss I here surrender thee
Back to thy self, so thou again art free;
Thou in another, sad as that, resend
The truest heart that lover e’er did lend.

Now turn from each. So fare our severed hearts
As the divorced soul from her body parts.

Henry King

Poetry Shakespeare

The Phoenix and the Turtle

    
This poem by Shakespeare was first published in Robert Chester’s Loves Martyr or, Rosalins Complaint. Allegorically shadowing the truth of Loue, in the constant Fate of the Phoenix and Turtle (1601). Originally untitled, scholars later named it The Phoenix and the Turtle.

     

The Phoenix and the Turtle

Let the bird of loudest lay,
On the sole Arabian tree,
Herald sad and trumpet be,
To whose sound chaste wings obey.

But thou shrieking harbinger,
Foul precurrer of the fiend,
Augur of the fever’s end,
To this troop come thou not near.

From this session interdict
Every fowl of tyrant wing,
Save the eagle, feather’d king:
Keep the obsequy so strict.

Let the priest in surplice white
That defunctive music can,
Be the death-divining swan,
Lest the requiem lack his right.

And thou treble-dated crow,
That thy sable gender mak’st
With the breath thou giv’st and tak’st,
‘Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.

Here the anthem doth commence:
Love and constancy is dead;
Phœnix and the turtle fled
In a mutual flame from hence.

So they lov’d, as love in twain
Had the essence but in one;
Two distincts, division none:
Number there in love was slain.

Hearts remote, yet not asunder;
Distance, and no space was seen
‘Twixt the turtle and his queen:
But in them it were a wonder.

So between them love did shine,
That the turtle saw his right
Flaming in the phœnix’ sight;
Either was the other’s mine.

Property was thus appall’d,
That the self was not the same;
Single nature’s double name
Neither two nor one was call’d.

Reason, in itself confounded,
Saw division grow together;
To themselves yet either neither,
Simple were so well compounded,

That it cried, ‘How true a twain
Seemeth this concordant one!
Love hath reason, reason none,
If what parts can so remain.’

Whereupon it made this threne
To the phœnix and the dove,
Co-sapremes’ and stars of love,
As chorus to their tragic scene.

THRENOS.

Beauty, truth, and rarity,
Grace in all simplicity,
Here enclos’d in cinders lie.

Death is now the phœnix’ nest;
And the turtle’s loyal breast
To eternity doth rest,

Leaving no posterity:
‘Twas not their infirmity,
It was married chastity.

Truth may seem, but cannot be;
Beauty brag, but ’tis not she;
Truth and beauty buried be.

To this urn let those repair
That are either true or fair;
For these dead birds sigh a prayer.

Ben Jonson Playwrights Poetry Shakespeare Stage

That Shakespeare wanted Arte, and sometimes Sense

In 1618 the playwright Ben Jonson undertook to make an exhausting journey from London to Edinburgh on foot. While in Scotland he spent some time at the home of the poet William Drummond, who made notes of his conversations with Jonson which were eventually published in 1711. Drummond’s notes serve as a most revealing source for Jonson’s own life, however the following fragments are some of the more gossipy
information Jonson shared with Drummond. They make for compelling reading, shedding light on Jonson’s personal opinion of his fellow poets and playwrights.

Spencer’s stanzas pleased him not, nor his matter, the meaning of which Allegorie he had delivered in papers to Sir Walter Raughlie.

Donne, for not keeping of accent, deserved hanging. But he esteemeth John Donne the first poet in the World, in some things: his verses of the Lost Chaine he hath by heart; and that passage of the Calme, That dust and feathers doe not stirr, all was so quiet. [He] affirmeth Donne to have written all his best pieces ere he was 25 years old.

That next to himself only Fletcher and Chapman could make a Masque.

That Shakespeare wanted Arte, and sometimes Sense.

His acquaintance and behaviour with poets living with him: Daniel was at jealousies with him. Drayton feared him, and he esteemed not of him. That Francis Beaumont loved too much himself and his own verses. He beat Marston, and took his pistoll from him.  That Markham was not of the number of the Faithfull Poets, and but a base fellow.  That such were Day and Middleton. That Chapman and Fletcher were loved of him.  Overbury was his first friend, then turn’d his mortall enemie.  That the Irish having robd Spenser’s goods, and burnt his house and a little child new born, he and his wyfe escaped, and after, he died for lack of bread in King Street, and refused 20 pieces sent to him by my Lord of Essex, and said, ‘He was sorrie he had no time to spend them.’

Sharpham, Day, Dekker, were all rogues.

Francis Beaumoment died ere he was 30 years of age.

Donne’s grandfather, on the mother side, was Heywood the Epigrammatist.

Walter Raughlye esteemed more of fame than conscience

Marston wrote his Father-in-laws preachings, and his Father-in-law his comedies

Sir Philip Sydney was no pleasant man in countenance, his face being spoiled with pimples.

He said to Prince Charles of Inigo Jones, that when he wanted words to express the greatest villaine in the world, he would call him an Inigo.

His Epitaph, by a companion written, is

Here lyes Benjamin Johnson dead,
And hath no more wit than goose in his head,
That as he was wont, so doth he still
Live by his wit, and evermore will.

An other:

Here lyes honest Ben
That had not a beard on his chen.

And this which is (as he said) a picture of him-selfe.

I doubt that love is rather deafe than blinde,
For else it could not bee,
That shee,
Whom I adore so much should so slight mee,
And cast my sute behinde.

I am sure my language to her is as sweet,
And all my closes meet
In numbers of as subtile feete
As makes the youngest hee
That sits in shadow of Apollos tree.
O! but my conscious feares,

That flye my thoughts betweene,
Prompt mee, that shee hath seene
My hundred of gray haires,
Told six and forty yeares,
Read so much waste, as she cannot embrace
My mountaine belly, and my rockye face,
And all these, through her eies, have stopd her eares.

January 19, 1619

Sources:
Ruddiman, Thomas, Ed., The Works of William Drummond of Hawthornden, Consisting of Those which were formerly Printed and Those which were design’d for the Press. Now published from the Author’s Original Copies, Printed by James Watson, Edinburgh (1711)
Patterson, R.H.F., Ben Jonsons’s Conversations with William Drummond of Hawthornden, Blackie & Sons, London, Glasgow, Bombay (1923)

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

All original content on these pages is fingerprinted and certified by Digiprove
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

© Shakespeare's England 2009-2014