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

The Excuse

Sir Walter Raleigh (1554?–1618)

CALLING to mind, my eyes went long about

To cause my heart for to forsake my breast;

All in a rage I sought to pull them out

As who had been such traitors to my rest:

What could they say to win again my grace?—

Forsooth, that they had seen my Mistress’ face.

Another time, my heart I called to mind,—

Thinking that he this woe on me had brought,

For he my breast the fort of love, resigned,

When of such wars my fancy never thought:

What could he say when I would have him slain?

That he was hers, and had forgone my chain.

At last, when I perceived both eyes and heart

Excuse themselves as guiltless of my ill,

I found myself the cause of all my smart,

And told myself that I myself would kill:

Yet when I saw myself to you was true,

I loved myself, because myself loved you.