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

A Fancy

Sir Edward Dyer (1543–1607)

HE that his mirth hath lost,

Whose comfort is dismayed,

Whose hope is vain, whose faith is scorned,

Whose trust is all betrayed,

If he have held them dear,

And cannot cease to moan,

Come, let him take his place by me;

He shall not rue alone.

But if the smallest sweet

Be mixed with all his sour;

If in the day, the month, the year,

He feel one lightening hour,

Then rest he by himself;

He is no mate for me,

Whose hope is fallen, whose succour void,

Whose hap his death must be.

Yet not the wishèd death,

Which hath no plaint nor lack,

Which, making free the better part,

Is only nature’s wrack.

O no! that were too well;

My death is of the mind,

Which always yields extremest pains,

And leaves the worst behind.

As one that lives in show,

But inwardly doth die,

Whose knowledge is a bloody field

Where all hope slain doth lie;

Whose heart the altar is;

Whose spirit, the sacrifice

Unto the powers, whom to appease

No sorrow can suffice.

My fancies are like thorns,

On which I go by night;

Mine arguments are like an host

Which force hath put to flight.

My sense is passion’s spy;

My thoughts like ruins old

Of famous Carthage, or the town

Which Sinon bought and sold;

Which still before mine eyes

My mortal fall do lay,

Whom love and fortune once advanced,

And now hath cast away.

O thoughts, no thoughts, but wounds,

Sometime the seat of joy,

Sometime the seat of quiet rest,

But now of all annoy.

I sowed the soil of peace;

My bliss was in the spring;

And day by day I ate the fruit

Which my life’s tree did bring.

To nettles now my corn,

My field is turned to flint,

Where, sitting in the cypress shade,

I read the hyacint.

The peace, the rest, the life,

That I enjoyed before

Came to my lot, that by the loss

My smart might sting the more.

So to unhappy men

The best frames to the worst;

O time, O place, O words, O looks,

Dear then; but now accurst:

In was stands my delight;

In is and shall, my woe;

My horror fastens on the yea,

My hope hangs on the no.

I look for no relief;

Relief would come too late;

Too late I find, I find too well,

Too well stood my estate.

Behold such is the end;

What thing may there be sure?

O, nothing else but plaints and moans

Do to the end endure.

Forsaken first was I,

Then utterly forgotten;

And he that came not to my faith,

Lo, my reward hath gotten.

Then, Love, where is the sauce

That makes thy torment sweet?

Where is the cause that some have thought

Their death through thee but meet?

The stately chaste disdain,

The secret shamefastness,

The grace reserved, the common light

Which shines in worthiness.

O would it were not so,

Or I it might excuse!

O would the wrath of jealousy

My judgment might abuse!

O frail inconstant kind,

O safe in trust to no man!

No women angels be, and lo!

My mistress is a woman!

Yet hate I but the fault,

And not the faulty one,

Nor can I rid me of the bands

Wherein I lie alone.

Alone I lie, whose like

Was never seen as yet;

The prince, the poor, the old, the young,

The fond, the full of wit.

Hers still remain must I,

By wrong, by death, by shame;

I cannot blot out of my mind

The love wrought in her name.

I cannot set at nought

That once I held so dear;

I cannot make it seem so far

That is indeed so near.

Not that I mean henceforth

This strange will to profess,

As one that would betray such troth,

And build on fickleness.

But it shall never fail

That my faith bare in hand;

I gave my word, my word gave me;

Both word and gift must stand.

Sith then it must be thus,

And thus is all-to ill,

I yield me captive to my curse,

My hard fate to fulfil.

The solitary woods

My city shall become;

The darkest den shall be my lodge,

Wherein I’ll rest or roam.

Of heben black my board;

The worms my feast shall be,

On which my carcass shall be fed

Till they do feed on me;

My wine of Niobe,

My bed of craggy rock,

The serpent’s hiss my harmony,

The shrieking owl my clock.

My exercise nought else

But raging agonies;

My books of spiteful Fortune’s foils

And dreary tragedies.

My walk the paths of plaint,

My prospect into hell,

Where wretched Sisyphe and his pheres

In endless pains do dwell.

And though I seem to use

The poet’s feignèd style,

To figure forth my rueful plight,

My fall or my exile,

Yet is my grief not feigned,

In which I starve and pine;

Who feels it most shall find it least

If his compare with mine.

My Muse if any ask,

Whose grievous case was such?

DY ERE thou let his name be known;

His folly shows so much.

But best ’twere thee to hide,

And never come to light,

For on the earth may none but I

This action sound aright.

Miserum est fuisse.