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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.

A Renunciation

Henry King (1592–1669)

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 Heaven could 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 into 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 envỳ

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:

Fold back our arms; take home our fruitless loves,

That must new fortunes try, like turtle-doves

Dislodgèd 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 thyself.—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.