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Sir Walter Raleigh (1554?–1618). Poems. 1892.


The Silent Lover

PASSIONS are likened best to floods and streams:

The shallow murmur, but the deep are dumb;

So, when affections yield discourse, it seems

The bottom is but shallow whence they come.

They that are rich in words, in words discover

That they are poor in that which makes a lover.

Wrong not, sweet empress of my heart,

The merit of true passion,

With thinking that he feels no smart,

That sues for no compassion;

Since, if my plaints serve not to approve

The conquest of thy beauty,

It comes not from defect of love,

But from excess of duty.

For, knowing that I sue to serve

A saint of such perfection,

As all desire, but none deserve,

A place in her affection,

I rather choose to want relief

Than venture the revealing;

Where glory recommends the grief,

Despair distrusts the healing.

Thus those desires that aim too high

For any mortal lover,

When reason cannot make them die,

Discretion doth them cover.

Yet, when discretion doth bereave

The plaints that they should utter,

Then thy discretion may perceive

That silence is a suitor.

Silence in love bewrays more woe

Than words, though ne’er so witty:

A beggar that is dumb, you know,

May challenge double pity.

Then wrong not, dearest to my heart,

My true, though secret, passion:

He smarteth most that hides his smart,

And sues for no compassion.

Sr W. R.