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

Song: ‘O dear life, when shall it be’

Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586)

O DEAR life, when shall it be

That mine eyes thine eyes shall see,

And in them thy mind discover,

Whether absence have had force

Thy remembrance to divorce

From the image of the lover?

Or if I myself find not,

After parting, aught forgot,

Nor debarred from Beauty’s treasure,

Let no tongue aspire to tell

In what high joys I shall dwell:

Only Thought aims at the pleasure.

Thought, therefore, I will send thee

To take up the place for me;

Long I will not after tarry;

There, unseen, thou may’st be bold,

Those fair wonders to behold,

Which in them my hopes do carry.

Thought, see thou no place forbear,

Enter bravely everywhere,

Seize on all to her belonging;

But if thou wouldst guarded be,

Fearing her beams, take with thee

Strength of liking, rage of longing.

Think of that most grateful time

When my leaping heart will climb

In thy lips to have his biding,

There those roses for to kiss,

Which do breathe a sugared bliss

Opening rubies, pearls dividing.

Think of my most princely power

When I blessèd shall devour

With my greedy lickorous senses

Beauty, music, sweetness, love,

While she doth against me prove

Her strong darts but weak defences.

Think, think of those dallyings,

When with dovelike murmurings,

With glad moaning, passèd anguish,

We change eyes, and heart for heart

Each to other do depart,

Joying till joy makes us languish.

O my Thought, my thoughts surcease,

Thy delights my woes increase,

My life melts with too much thinking;

Think no more, but die in me,

Till thou shalt revivèd be,

At her lips my nectar drinking.