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

The Lover’s Theme

Thomas Lodge (1558–1625)

FAIN to content, I bend myself to write,

But what to write my mind can scarce conceive:

Your radiant eyes crave objects of delight

My heart no glad impressions can receive:

To write of grief is but a tedious thing,

And woeful men of woe must needly sing.

To write the truce, the wars, the strife, the peace,

That Love once wrought in my distempered heart,

Were but to cause my wonted woes increase,

And yield new life to my concealèd smart:

Who tempts the ear with tedious lines of grief,

That waits for joy, complains without relief.

To write what pains supplanteth others’ joy,

Therefore is folly in the greatest wit:

Who feels may best decipher the annoy:

Who knows the grief but he that tasteth it?

Who writes of woe must needs be woe-begone,

And writing feel, and feeling write of moan.

To write the temper of my last desire,

That likes me best, and appertains you most:

You are the Pharos whereto now retire

My thoughts, long wand’ring in a foreign coast:

In you they live, to other joys they die,

And, living, draw their food from your fair eye.

Enforced by Love, and that effectual fire

That springs from you to quicken loyal hearts,

I write in part the prime of my desire,

My faith, my fear, that springs from your desarts:

My faith, whose firmness never shunneth trial;

My fear, the dread and danger of denial.

To write in brief a legend in a line,

My heart hath vowed to draw his life from yours;

My looks have made a sun of your sweet eyne,

My soul doth draw his essence from your powers:

And what I am, in fortune or in love,

All those have sworn to serve for your behove.

My senses seek their comforts from your sweet:

My inward mind your outward fair admires;

My hope lies prostrate at your pity’s feet;

My heart, looks, soul, sense, mind, and hope desires

Belief and favour in your lovely sight:

Else all will cease to live and pen to write.