Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Rosamond to King Henry

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


Rosamond to King Henry

By Michael Drayton (1563–1631)

(From England’s Heroical Epistles)

SOMETIMES, to pass the tedious irksome hours,

I climb the top of Woodstock’s mounting tow’rs,

Where in a turret secretly I lie,

To view from far such as do travel by:

Whither, methinks, all cast their eyes at me,

As through the stones my shame did make them see;

And with such hate the harmless walls do view,

As ev’n to death their eyes would me pursue.

The married women curse my hateful life,

Wronging a fair queen and a virtuous wife:

The maidens wish I buried quick may die,

And from each place near my abode to flie.

Well knew’st thou what a monster I would be,

When thou didst build this labyrinth for me,

Whose strange meanders turning ev’ry way,

Be like the course wherein my youth did stray:

Only a clue doth guide me out and in,

But yet still walk I circular in sin.

As in the gallery this other day,

I and my woman past the time away,

’Mongst many pictures which were hanging by,

The silly girl at length hapt to espy

Chaste Lucrece’ image, and desires to know

What she should be, herself that murder’d so?

Why, girl (quoth I), this is that Roman dame—

Not able then to tell the rest for shame,

My tongue doth mine own guiltiness betray;

With that I sent the prattling wench away,

Lest when my lisping guilty tongue should halt,

My lips might prove the index to my fault.

As that life-blood which from the heart is sent,

In beauty’s field pitching his crimson tent,

In lovely sanguine sutes the lily cheek,

Whilst it but for a resting place doth seek;

And changing oftentimes with sweet delight,

Converts the white to red, the red to white:

The blush with paleness for the place doth strive,

The paleness thence the blush would gladly drive:

Thus in my breast a thousand thoughts I carry,

Which in my passion diversly do vary.