Monday, February 20, 2012

Astrophil & Stella

I had initially gone to my bookcase to pick up my old copy of "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" to reread it for a book club I've reluctantly agreed to join, but when I saw my copy of Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophil & Stella, I had to pick it up instead. Oh how I love, love, love this series of sonnets and songs. Sometimes you just have to sit down and read about unrequited and downright heartbreaking love. Or lust -- that's there too.

My favorites are :

 Not at first sight, nor with a dibbed shot,
   Love gave the wound, which, while I breathe will bleed;
   But known worth did in mine of time proceed,
Till by degrees it had full conquest got.
I saw, and liked; I liked, but loved not;
   I loved, but straight did not what Love decreed:
   At length to Love's decrees I forced agreed,
Yet with repining at so partial lot.
   Now even that footstep of lost liberty
Is gone; and now, like salve-born Muscovite,
I call it praise to suffer tyranny;
And now employ the remnant of my wit
   To make myself believe that all is well,
   While with a feeling skill I paint my hell.

Alas, have I not pain enough, my friend,
   Upon whose breast a fiercer gripe doth tire,
   Than did on him who first stale down the fire,
While Love on me doth all his quiver spend,
But with your rhubarb words you must contend
   To grieve me worse, in saying that desire
   Doth plunge my well-formed soul even in the mire
Of sinful thoughts, which do in ruin end?
   If that be sin, which doth the manners frame,
Well stayed with truth in word, and faith of deed,
Ready of wit, and fearing nought but shame:
If that be sin, which in fixed hearts doth breed
   A loathing of all loose unchastity:
   Then love is sin, and let me sinful be.

Because I breathe not love to every one,
   Nor do not use set colours for to wear,
   Nor nourish special locks of vowed hair,
Nor give each speech a full point of groan,
The courtly nymphs, acquainted with the moan,
   Of them, who in their lips love's standard bear:
   'What, he?' say they of me, 'now I dare swear,
He cannot love; no no, let him alone.'
   And think so still, so Stella know my mind.
Profess indeed I do not Cupid's art;
But you fair maids, at length this true shall find,
That his right badge is but worn in the heart;
   Dumb swans, not chattering pies, do lovers prove;
   They love indeed, who quake to say they love.

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