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

To an Inconstant One

Sir Robert Ayton (1570–1638)

I LOVED thee once; I’ll love no more—

Thine be the grief as is the blame;

Thou art not what thou wast before,

What reason I should be the same?

He that can love unloved again,

Hath better store of love than brain:

God send me love my debts to pay,

While unthrifts fool their love away!

Nothing could have my love o’erthrown

If thou hadst still continued mine;

Yea, if thou hadst remain’d thy own,

I might perchance have yet been thine.

But thou thy freedom didst recall

That it thou might elsewhere enthral:

And then how could I but disdain

A captive’s captive to remain?

When new desires had conquer’d thee

And changed the object of thy will,

It had been lethargy in me,

Not constancy, to love thee still.

Yea, it had been a sin to go

And prostitute affection so:

Since we are taught no prayers to say

To such as must to others pray.

Yet do thou glory in thy choice—

Thy choice of his good fortune boast;

I’ll neither grieve nor yet rejoice

To see him gain what I have lost:

The height of my disdain shall be

To laugh at him, to blush for thee;

To love thee still, but go no more

A-begging at a beggar’s door.