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A LOVER'S COMPLAINT


FROM off a hill whose concave womb reworded
A plaintful story from a sistering vale
My spirits to attend this double voice accorded
And down I laid to list the sad-tuned tale;
Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale
Tearing of papersbreaking rings a-twain
Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain.


Upon her head a platted hive of straw
Which fortified her visage from the sun
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcass of beauty spent and done:
Time had not scythed all that youth begun
Nor youth all quit; butspite of heaven's fell rage
Some beauty peep'd through lattice of sear'd age.


Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne
Which on it had conceited characters
Laundering the silken figures in the brine
That season'd woe had pelleted in tears
And often reading what contents it bears;
As often shrieking undistinguish'd woe
In clamours of all sizeboth high and low.


Sometimes her levell'd eyes their carriage ride
As they did battery to the spheres intend;
Sometime diverted their poor balls are tied
To the orbed earth; sometimes they do extend
Their view right on; anon their gazes lend
To every place at onceandnowhere fix'd
The mind and sight distractedly commix'd.


Her hairnor loose nor tied in formal plat
Proclaim'd in her a careless hand of pride
For someuntuck'ddescended her sheaved hat
Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside;
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide
And true to bondage would not break from thence
Though slackly braided in loose negligence.


A thousand favours from a maund she drew
Of ambercrystaland of beaded jet
Which one by one she in a river threw
Upon whose weeping margent she was set;
Like usuryapplying wet to wet
Or monarch's hands that let not bounty fall
Where want cries somebut where excess begs all.


Of folded schedules had she many a one
Which she perusedsigh'dtoreand gave the flood;
Crack'd many a ring of posied gold and bone
Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud;
Found yet moe letters sadly penn'd in blood
With sleided silk feat and affectedly
Enswathedand seal'd to curious secrecy.



These often bathed she in her fluxive eyes
And often kiss'dand often 'gan to tear:
Cried 'O false bloodthou register of lies
What unapproved witness dost thou bear!
Ink would have seem'd more black and damned here!'
This saidin top of rage the lines she rents
Big discontent so breaking their contents.


A reverend man that grazed his cattle nigh--
Sometime a blustererthat the ruffle knew
Of courtof cityand had let go by
The swiftest hoursobserved as they flew--
Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew
Andprivileged by agedesires to know
In brief the grounds and motives of her woe.


So slides he down upon his grained bat
And comely-distant sits he by her side;
When he again desires herbeing sat
Her grievance with his hearing to divide:
If that from him there may be aught applied
Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage
'Tis promised in the charity of age.


'Father' she says'though in me you behold
The injury of many a blasting hour
Let it not tell your judgment I am old;
Not agebut sorrowover me hath power:
I might as yet have been a spreading flower
Fresh to myselfIf I had self-applied
Love to myself and to no love beside.


'Butwoe is me! too early I attended
A youthful suit--it was to gain my grace--
Of one by nature's outwards so commended
That maidens' eyes stuck over all his face:
Love lack'd a dwellingand made him her place;
And when in his fair parts she did abide
She was new lodged and newly deified.


'His browny locks did hang in crooked curls;
And every light occasion of the wind
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls.
What's sweet to doto do will aptly find:
Each eye that saw him did enchant the mind
For on his visage was in little drawn
What largeness thinks in Paradise was sawn.


'Small show of man was yet upon his chin;
His phoenix down began but to appear
Like unshorn velvet on that termless skin
Whose bare out-bragg'd the web it seem'd to wear:
Yet show'd his visage by that cost more dear;
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt
If best were as it wasor best without.


'His qualities were beauteous as his form
For maiden-tongued he wasand thereof free;
Yetif men moved himwas he such a storm
As oft 'twixt May and April is to see
When winds breathe sweetuntidy though they be.
His rudeness so with his authorized youth
Did livery falseness in a pride of truth.



'Well could he rideand often men would say
'That horse his mettle from his rider takes:
Proud of subjectionnoble by the sway
What roundswhat boundswhat coursewhat stop
he makes!'
And controversy hence a question takes
Whether the horse by him became his deed
Or he his manage by the well-doing steed.


'But quickly on this side the verdict went:
His real habitude gave life and grace
To appertainings and to ornament
Accomplish'd in himselfnot in his case:
All aidsthemselves made fairer by their place
Came for additions; yet their purposed trim
Pieced not his gracebut were all graced by him.


'So on the tip of his subduing tongue
All kinds of arguments and question deep
All replication promptand reason strong
For his advantage still did wake and sleep:
To make the weeper laughthe laugher weep
He had the dialect and different skill
Catching all passions in his craft of will:


'That he did in the general bosom reign
Of youngof old; and sexes both enchanted
To dwell with him in thoughtsor to remain
In personal dutyfollowing where he haunted:
Consents bewitch'dere he desirehave granted;
And dialogued for him what he would say
Ask'd their own willsand made their wills obey.


'Many there were that did his picture get
To serve their eyesand in it put their mind;
Like fools that in th' imagination set
The goodly objects which abroad they find
Of lands and mansionstheirs in thought assign'd;
And labouring in moe pleasures to bestow them
Than the true gouty landlord which doth owe them:


'So many havethat never touch'd his hand
Sweetly supposed them mistress of his heart.
My woeful selfthat did in freedom stand
And was my own fee-simplenot in part
What with his art in youthand youth in art
Threw my affections in his charmed power
Reserved the stalk and gave him all my flower.


'Yet did I notas some my equals did
Demand of himnor being desired yielded;
Finding myself in honour so forbid
With safest distance I mine honour shielded:
Experience for me many bulwarks builded
Of proofs new-bleedingwhich remain'd the foil
Of this false jeweland his amorous spoil.


'Butahwho ever shunn'd by precedent
The destined ill she must herself assay?
Or forced examples'gainst her own content
To put the by-past perils in her way?
Counsel may stop awhile what will not stay;
For when we rageadvice is often seen



By blunting us to make our wits more keen.


'Nor gives it satisfaction to our blood
That we must curb it upon others' proof;
To be forbod the sweets that seem so good
For fear of harms that preach in our behoof.
O appetitefrom judgment stand aloof!
The one a palate hath that needs will taste
Though Reason weepand cry'It is thy last.'


'For further I could say 'This man's untrue'
And knew the patterns of his foul beguiling;
Heard where his plants in others' orchards grew
Saw how deceits were gilded in his smiling;
Knew vows were ever brokers to defiling;
Thought characters and words merely but art
And bastards of his foul adulterate heart.


'And long upon these terms I held my city
Till thus he gan besiege me: 'Gentle maid
Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity
And be not of my holy vows afraid:
That's to ye sworn to none was ever said;
For feasts of love I have been call'd unto
Till now did ne'er invitenor never woo.


''All my offences that abroad you see
Are errors of the bloodnone of the mind;
Love made them not: with acture they may be
Where neither party is nor true nor kind:
They sought their shame that so their shame did find;
And so much less of shame in me remains
By how much of me their reproach contains.


''Among the many that mine eyes have seen
Not one whose flame my heart so much as warm'd
Or my affection put to the smallest teen
Or any of my leisures ever charm'd:
Harm have I done to thembut ne'er was harm'd;
Kept hearts in liveriesbut mine own was free
And reign'dcommanding in his monarchy.


''Look herewhat tributes wounded fancies sent me
Of paled pearls and rubies red as blood;
Figuring that they their passions likewise lent me
Of grief and blushesaptly understood
In bloodless white and the encrimson'd mood;
Effects of terror and dear modesty
Encamp'd in heartsbut fighting outwardly.


''Andlobehold these talents of their hair
With twisted metal amorously impleach'd
I have received from many a several fair
Their kind acceptance weepingly beseech'd
With the annexions of fair gems enrich'd
And deep-brain'd sonnets that did amplify
Each stone's dear natureworthand quality.


''The diamond--why'twas beautiful and hard
Whereto his invised properties did tend;
The deep-green emeraldin whose fresh regard
Weak sights their sickly radiance do amend;
The heaven-hued sapphire and the opal blend
With objects manifold: each several stone



With wit well blazon'dsmiled or made some moan.


''Loall these trophies of affections hot
Of pensived and subdued desires the tender
Nature hath charged me that I hoard them not
But yield them up where I myself must render
That isto youmy origin and ender;
For theseof forcemust your oblations be
Since I their altaryou enpatron me.


''Othenadvance of yours that phraseless hand
Whose white weighs down the airy scale of praise;
Take all these similes to your own command
Hallow'd with sighs that burning lungs did raise;
What me your ministerfor you obeys
Works under you; and to your audit comes
Their distract parcels in combined sums.


''Lothis device was sent me from a nun
Or sister sanctifiedof holiest note;
Which late her noble suit in court did shun
Whose rarest havings made the blossoms dote;
For she was sought by spirits of richest coat
But kept cold distanceand did thence remove
To spend her living in eternal love.


''ButO my sweetwhat labour is't to leave
The thing we have notmastering what not strives
Playing the place which did no form receive
Playing patient sports in unconstrained gyves?
She that her fame so to herself contrives
The scars of battle 'scapeth by the flight
And makes her absence valiantnot her might.


''Opardon mein that my boast is true:
The accident which brought me to her eye
Upon the moment did her force subdue
And now she would the caged cloister fly:
Religious love put out Religion's eye:
Not to be temptedwould she be immured
And nowto temptall liberty procured.


''How mighty then you areOhear me tell!
The broken bosoms that to me belong
Have emptied all their fountains in my well
And mine I pour your ocean all among:
I strong o'er themand you o'er me being strong
Must for your victory us all congest
As compound love to physic your cold breast.


''My parts had power to charm a sacred nun
Whodisciplinedaydieted in grace
Believed her eyes when they to assail begun
All vows and consecrations giving place:
O most potential love! vowbondnor space
In thee hath neither stingknotnor confine
For thou art alland all things else are thine.


''When thou impressestwhat are precepts worth
Of stale example? When thou wilt inflame
How coldly those impediments stand forth
Of wealthof filial fearlawkindredfame!
Love's arms are peace'gainst rule'gainst sense
'gainst shame



And sweetensin the suffering pangs it bears
The aloes of all forcesshocksand fears.


''Now all these hearts that do on mine depend
Feeling it breakwith bleeding groans they pine;
And supplicant their sighs to you extend
To leave the battery that you make 'gainst mine
Lending soft audience to my sweet design
And credent soul to that strong-bonded oath
That shall prefer and undertake my troth.'


'This saidhis watery eyes he did dismount
Whose sights till then were levell'd on my face;
Each cheek a river running from a fount
With brinish current downward flow'd apace:
Ohow the channel to the stream gave grace!
Who glazed with crystal gate the glowing roses
That flame through water which their hue encloses.


'O fatherwhat a hell of witchcraft lies
In the small orb of one particular tear!
But with the inundation of the eyes
What rocky heart to water will not wear?
What breast so cold that is not warmed here?
O cleft effect! cold modestyhot wrath
Both fire from hence and chill extincture hath.


'Forlohis passionbut an art of craft
Even there resolved my reason into tears;
There my white stole of chastity I daff'd
Shook off my sober guards and civil fears;
Appear to himas he to me appears
All melting; though our drops this difference bore
His poison'd meand mine did him restore.


'In him a plenitude of subtle matter
Applied to cautelsall strange forms receives
Of burning blushesor of weeping water
Or swooning paleness; and he takes and leaves
In either's aptnessas it best deceives
To blush at speeches rank to weep at woes
Or to turn white and swoon at tragic shows.


'That not a heart which in his level came
Could 'scape the hail of his all-hurting aim
Showing fair nature is both kind and tame;
Andveil'd in themdid win whom he would maim:
Against the thing he sought he would exclaim;
When he most burn'd in heart-wish'd luxury
He preach'd pure maidand praised cold chastity.


'Thus merely with the garment of a Grace
The naked and concealed fiend he cover'd;
That th' unexperient gave the tempter place
Which like a cherubin above them hover'd.
Whoyoung and simplewould not be so lover'd?
Ay me! I fell; and yet do question make
What I should do again for such a sake.


'Othat infected moisture of his eye
Othat false fire which in his cheek so glow'd
Othat forced thunder from his heart did fly
Othat sad breath his spongy lungs bestow'd
Oall that borrow'd motion seeming owed



Would yet again betray the fore-betray'd
And new pervert a reconciled maid!'