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If all the pens that ever poets held
Had fed the feeling of their masters' thoughts,
And every sweetness that inspired their hearts
Their minds and muses on admired themes;
If all the heavenly quintessence they 'still
From their immortal flowers of poesy,
Wherein as in a mirror we perceive
The highest reaches of a human wit;
If these had made one poem's period,
And all combined in beauty's worthiness,

Yet should there hover in their restless heads
One thought, one grace, one wonder at the least
Which into words no virtue can digest.



From Tottel's Songs and Sonnets, 1557
Complaint for true love unrequited

What 'vaileth truth, or by it to take pain?
To strive by steadfastness for to attain
How to be just, and flee from doubleness?
Since all alike, where ruleth craftiness,
Rewarded is, both crafty, false, and plain.

Soonest he speeds that most can lie and feign;
True meaning heart is had in high disdain.
Against deceit, and cloaked doubleness,
What 'vaileth truth, or perfect steadfastness?

Deceived is he, by false and crafty train,
That means no guile, and faithful doth remain
Within the trap, without help or redress;
But for to love, lo, such a stern mistress,
Where cruelty dwells, alas, it were in vain.


From Tottel's Songs and Sonnets, 1557

The lover complaineth the unkindness of his love

My lute, awake! perform the last
Labour, that thou and I shall waste,

And end that I have now begun ;
And when this song is sung and past,
My lute be still! for I have done.

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As to be heard where ear is none,
As lead to grave in marble stone,

My song may pierce her heart as soon.
Should we then sigh, or sing, or moan?
No, no, my lute! for I have done.

The rocks do not so cruelly
Repulse the waves continually,

As she my suit and affection;
So that I am past remedy,

Whereby my lute and I have done.
Proud of the spoil that thou hast got
Of simple hearts through love's shot,

By whom unkind thou hast them won;
Think not he hath his bow forgot,

Although my lute and I have done.
Vengeance shall fall on thy disdain,
That makest but game on earnest pain.

Think not alone under the sun
Unquit to cause thy lover's plain;

Although my lute and I have done.
May chance thee lie withered and old
In winter nights, that are so cold,

Plaining in vain unto the moon;
Thy wishes then dare not be told;

Ćare then who list, for I have done.
And then may chance thee to repent
The time that thou hast lost and spent

To cause thy lovers sigh and swoon;
Then shalt thou know beauty but lent,

And wish and want as I have done.

Now cease, my lute! this is the last
Labour that thou and I shall waste,

And ended is that we begun :
Now is this song both sung and past;
My lute be still! for I have done.


From Tottel's Songs and Sonnets, 1557

The lover sheweth how he is forsaken of such as
he sometime enjoyed

They flee from me, that sometime did me seek,
With naked foot stalking within my chamber.
Once have I seen them gentle, tame, and meek,

That now are wild, and do not once remember,
That sometime they have put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking in continual change.

Thanked be fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once especial,
In thin array, after a pleasant guise,

When her loose gown did from her shoulders fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small,
And therewithal so sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, Dear heart, how like you this?

It was no dream, for I lay broad awaking;

But all is turn'd now, through my gentleness,
Into a bitter fashion of forsaking;

And I have leave to go of her goodness;
And she also to use newfangleness.
But, since that I unkindly so am served,
How like you this, what hath she now deserved?


From Tottel's Songs and Sonnets, 1557

He ruleth not, though he reign over realms,
that is subject to his own lusts

If thou wilt mighty be, flee from the rage

Of cruel will; and see thou keep thee free
From the foul yoke of sensual bondage.

For though thy empire stretch to Indian sea,
And for thy fear trembleth the farthest Thule,
If thy desire have over thee the power,
Subject then art thou, and no governor.

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