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Sonnets on Sundry Notes of Music   By: (1564-1616)

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SONNETS TO SUNDRY NOTES OF MUSIC

by William Shakespeare

I.

It was a lording's daughter, the fairest one of three, That liked of her master as well as well might be. Till looking on an Englishman, the fair'st that eye could see, Her fancy fell a turning. Long was the combat doubtful, that love with love did fight, To leave the master loveless, or kill the gallant knight; To put in practice either, alas, it was a spite Unto the silly damsel! But one must be refused, more mickle was the pain, That nothing could be used, to turn them both to gain, For of the two the trusty knight was wounded with disdain: Alas, she could not help it! Thus art, with arms contending, was victor of the day, Which by a gift of learnlng did bear the maid away; Then, lullaby, the learned man hath got the lady gay; For now my song is ended.

II.

On a day (alack the day!) Love, whose month was ever May, Spied a blossom passing fair, Playing in the wanton air: Through the velvet leaves the wind, All unseen, 'gan passage find; That the lover, sick to death, Wish'd himself the heaven's breath. Air, quoth he, thy cheeks may blow; Air, would I might triumph so! But, alas! my hand hath sworn Ne'er to pluck thee from thy thorn: Vow, alack, for youth unmeet, Youth, so apt to pluck a sweet, Thou for whom Jove would swear Juno but an Ethiope were; And deny himself for Jove, Turning mortal for thy love.

III.

My flocks feed not, My ewes breed not, My rams speed not, All is amiss: Love is dying, Faith's defying, Heart's denying, Causer of this. All my merry jigs are quite forgot, All my lady's love is lost, God wot: Where her faith was firmly fix'd in love, There a nay is plac'd without remove. One silly cross Wrought all my loss; O frowning Fortune, cursed, fickle dame! For now I see, Inconstancy More in women than in men remain.

In black mourn I, All fears scorn I, Love bath forlorn me, Living in thrall: Heart is bleeding, All help needing, (O cruel speeding!) Fraughted with gall. My shepherd's pipe can sound no deal, My wether's bell rings doleful knell; My curtail dog, that wont to have play'd, Plays not at all, but seems afraid; With sighs so deep, Procures to weep, In howling wise, to see my doleful plight. How sighs resound Through heartless ground, Like a thousand vanquish'd men in bloody fight!

Clear wells spring not, Sweet birds sing not, Green plants bring not Forth; they die; Herds stand weeping, Flocks all sleeping, Nymphs back peeping Fearfully. All our pleasure known to us poor swains, All our merry meetings on the plains, All our evening sport from us is fled, All our love is lost, for Love is dead. Farewell, sweet lass, Thy like ne'er was For a sweet content, the cause of all my moan: Poor Coridon Must live alone, Other help for him I see that there is none.

IV.

When as thine eye hath chose the dame, And stall'd the deer that thou shouldst strike, Let reason rule things worthy blame, As well as fancy partial might: Take counsel of some wiser head, Neither too young, nor yet unwed.

And when thou com'st thy tale to tell, Smooth not thy tongue with filed talk, Lest she some subtle practice smell, (A cripple soon can find a halt:) But plainly say thou lov'st her well, And set thy person forth to sell.

What though her frowning brows be bent, Her cloudy looks will calm ere night; And then too late she will repent, That thus dissembled her delight; And twice desire, ere it be day, That which with scorn she put away.

What though she strive to try her strength, And ban and brawl, and say thee nay, Her feeble force will yield at length, When craft hath taught her thus to say: 'Had women been so strong as men, In faith, you had not had it then.'

And to her will frame all thy ways; Spare not to spend, and chiefly there Where thy desert may merit praise, By ringing in thy lady's ear: The strongest castle, tower, and town, The golden bullet beats it down... Continue reading book >>




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