Alas, whence came this change of looks? If I
Have changed desert, let mine own conscience be
A still-felt plague, to self-condemning me:
Let woe gripe on my heart, shame load mine eye.
But if all faith, like spotless ermine, lie
Safe in my soul, which only doth to thee
(As his sole object of felicity)
With wings of love in air of wonder fly,
O ease your hand, treat not so hard your slave;
In justice pains come not till faults do call;
Or if I needs, sweet judge, must torments have,
Use something else to chasten me withal
Than those blessed eyes, where all my hopes do dwell.
No doom should make one’s heaven become his hell.
Alas, whence came this change of looks? If I
While favour fed my hope, delight with hope
Thought waited on delight, and speech did follow thought;
Then drew my tongue and pen records unto thy glory;
I thought all words were lost, that were not spent of thee;
I thought each place was dark but where thy lights would be,
And all ears worse than deaf, that heard not out thy story.
I said thou wert most fair, and so indeed thou art;
I said thou wert most sweet, sweet poison to my heart;
I said my soul was thine—O that I then had lied!
I said thine eyes were stars, thy breasts the milken way,
Thy fingers Cupid’s shafts, thy voice the angels’ lay,
And all I said so well, as no man it denied.
But now that hope is lost, unkindness kills delight,
Yet thought and speech do live, though metamorphosed quite;
For rage now rules the reins, which guided were by pleasure.
I think now of thy faults, who late thought of thy praise;
That speech falls now to blame, which did thy honour raise;
The same key open can, which can lock up a treasure.
Thou then, whom partial heavens conspired in one to frame,
The proof of beauty’s worth, th’inheritrix of fame,
The mansion seat of bliss, and just excuse of lovers;
See now those feathers plucked, wherewith thou flew’st most high;
See what clouds of reproach shall dark thy honour’s sky;
Whose own fault casts him down, hardly high seat recovers.
And O my Muse, though oft you lulled her in your lap,
And then, a heavenly child, gave her ambrosian pap,
And to that brain of hers your hiddenest gifts infused;
Since she, disdaining me, doth you in me disdain,
Suffer not her to laugh, while we both suffer pain;
Princes in subjects wronged, must deem themselves abused.
Your client poor myself, shall Stella handle so?
Revenge, revenge, my muse; defiance’ trumpet blow;
Threaten what may be done, yet do more than you threaten.
Ah, my suit granted is; I feel my breast to swell;
Now child, a lesson new you shall begin to spell:
Sweet babes must babies have, but shrewd girls must be beaten.
Think now no more to hear of warm fine-odored snow,
Nor blushing lilies, nor pearls’ ruby-hidden row,
Nor of that golden sea, whose waves in curls are broken:
But of thy soul, so fraught with such ungratefulness,
As where thou soon might’st help, most faith dost most oppress;
Ungrateful who is called, the worst of evils is spoken.
Yet worse than worst, I say thou art a thief. A thief?
No God forbid. A thief, and of worst thieves the chief;
Thieves steal for need, and steal but goods, which pain recovers,
But thou, rich in all joys, dost rob my joys from me,
Which cannot be restored by time nor industry.
Of foes the spoil is evil, far worse of constant lovers.
Yet gentle English thieves do rob, but will not slay;
Thou English murdering thief, wilt have hearts for thy prey;
The name of murderer now on thy fair forehead sitteth;
And even while I do speak, my death wounds bleeding be,
Which, I protest, proceed from only cruel thee.
Who may, and will not, save, murder in truth committeth.
But murder, private fault, seems but a toy to thee;
I lay then to thy charge, unjustest tyranny,
If rule by force without all claim a tyrant showeth.
For thou dost lord my heart, who am not born thy slave;
And which is worse, makes me, most guiltless, torments have;
A rightful prince by unright deeds a tyrant groweth.
Lo, you grow proud with this, for tyrants make folk bow.
Of foul rebellion then I do appeach thee now;
Rebel by nature’s law, rebel by law of reason.
Thou, sweetest subject, wert born in the realm of love,
And yet against thy prince thy force dost daily prove;
No virtue merits praise, once touched with blot of treason.
But valiant rebels oft in fools’ mouths purchase fame;
I now then stain thy white with vagabonding shame,
Both rebel to the son, and vagrant from the mother:
For wearing Venus’ badge in every part of thee
Unto Diana’s train thou, runaway, didst flee:
Who faileth one, is false, though trusty to another.
What, is not this enough? Nay, far worse cometh here:
A witch I say thou art, though thou so fair appear;
For I protest, my sight never thy face enjoyeth,
But I in me am changed; I am alive and dead;
My feet are turned to roots; my heart becometh lead;
No witchcraft is so evil, as which man’s mind destroyeth.
Yet witches may repent; thou art far worse than they;
Alas, that I am forced such evil of thee to say!
I say thou art a devil, though clothed in angel’s shining;
For thy face tempts my soul to leave the heaven for thee,
And thy words of refuse, do pour even hell on me.
Who tempt, and tempted plague, are devils in true defining.
You then, ungrateful thief, you murdering tyrant, you;
You rebel runaway, to lord and lady untrue;
You witch, you devil, alas—you still of me beloved,
You see what I can say; mend yet your froward mind,
And such skill in my muse you, reconciled, shall find,
That all these cruel words your praises shall be proved.
O you that hear this voice,
O you that see this face,
Say whether of the choice
Deserves the former place:
Fear not to judge this ’bate,
For it is void of hate.
This side doth Beauty take,
For that doth Music speak,
Fit orators to make
The strongest judgments weak:
The bar to plead their right
Is only true delight.
Thus doth the voice and face
These gentle lawyers wage
Like loving brothers’ case
For father’s heritage:
That each, while each contends,
Itself to other lends.
For Beauty beautifies
With heavenly hue and grace
The heavenly harmonies;
And in this faultless face
The perfect beauties be
A perfect harmony.
Music more lofty swells
In speeches nobly placed;
Beauty as far excels
In action aptly graced;
A friend each party draws
To countenance his cause.
Love more affected seems
To Beauty’s lovely light,
And Wonder more esteems
Of Music’s wondrous might;
But both to both so bent,
As both in both are spent.
Music doth witness call
The ear, his truth to try;
Beauty brings to the hall
The judgment of the eye:
Both in their objects such,
As no exceptions touch.
The Common Sense, which might
Be arbiter of this,
To be forsooth upright,
To both sides partial is:
He lays on this chief praise,
Chief praise on that he lays.
The Reason, princess high,
Whose throne is in the mind,
Which Music can in sky
And hidden beauties find:
Say whether thou wilt crown
With limitless renown.
Whose senses in so ill consort, their stepdame Nature lays,
That ravishing delight in them most sweet tunes do not raise;
Or if they do delight therein, yet are so cloyed with wit,
As with sententious lips to set a title vain on it;
O let them hear these sacred tunes, and learn in wonder’s schools
To be, in things past bounds of wit, fools, if they be not fools.
Who have so leaden eyes, as not to see sweet beauty’s show,
Or seeing, have so wooden wits, as not that worth to know;
Or knowing, have so muddy minds, as not to be in love;
Or loving, have so frothy thoughts, as eas’ly thence to move:
O let them see these heavenly beams, and in fair letters read
A lesson fit, both sight and skill, love and firm love to breed.
Hear then, but then with wonder hear; see, but adoring see;
No mortal gifts, no earthly fruits, now here descended be;
See, do you see this face? A face? Nay, image of the skies,
Of which the two life-giving lights are figured in her eyes.
Hear you this soul-invading voice, and count it but a voice?
The very essence of their tunes, when angels do rejoice.
In a grove most rich of shade,
Where birds wanton music made,
May, then young, his pied weeds showing,
New perfumed with flowers fresh growing,
Astrophil with Stella sweet
Did for mutual comfort meet,
Both within themselves oppressed,
But each in the other blessed.
Him great harms had taught much care:
Her fair neck a foul yoke bare:
But her sight his cares did banish,
In his sight her yoke did vanish.
Wept they did, but now betwixt
Sighs of woe were glad sighs mixed,
With arms crossed, yet testifying
Restless rest, and living dying.
Their ears hungry of each word,
Which the dear tongue would afford,
But their tongues restrained from walking,
Till their hearts had ended talking.
But when their tongues could not speak,
Love itself did silence break;
Love did set his lips asunder,
Thus to speak in love and wonder:
‘Stella, sovereign of my joy,
Fair triumpher of annoy,
Stella, star of heavenly fire,
Stella, lodestar of desire;
‘Stella, in whose shining eyes
Are the lights of Cupid’s skies;
Whose beams, where they once are darted,
Love therewith is straight imparted;
‘Stella, whose voice when it speaks,
Senses all asunder breaks;
Stella, whose voice when it singeth
Angels to acquaintance bringeth;
‘Stella, in whose body is
Writ each character of bliss;
Whose face all, all beauty passeth,
Save thy mind, which yet surpasseth:
‘Grant, O grant—but speech, alas,
Fails me, fearing on to pass;
Grant—O me, what am I saying?
But no fault there is in praying:
‘Grant, O dear, on knees I pray’—
(Knees on ground he then did stay)
‘That not I, but since I love you,
Time and place for me may move you.
‘Never season was more fit,
Never room more apt for it;
Smiling air allows my reason;
These birds sing, “Now use the season”;
‘This small wind, which so sweet is,
See how it the leaves doth kiss,
Each tree in his best attiring,
Sense of love to love inspiring.
‘Love makes earth the water drink,
Love to earth makes water sink;
And if dumb things be so witty,
Shall a heavenly grace want pity?’
There his hands in their speech fain
Would have made tongue’s language plain;
But her hands his hands repelling,
Gave repulse, all grace excelling.
Then she spake; her speech was such
As not ears, but heart did touch;
While such wise she love denied,
As yet love she signified.
‘Astrophil,’ said she, ‘my love,
Cease in these effects to prove:
Now be still, yet still believe me,
Thy grief more than death would grieve me.
‘If that any thought in me
Can taste comfort but of thee,
Let me, fed with hellish anguish,
Joyless, hopeless, endless languish.
‘If those eyes you praised be
Half so dear as you to me,
Let me home return, stark blinded
Of those eyes, and blinder minded.
‘If to secret of my heart
I do any wish impart
Where thou art not foremost placed,
Be both wish and I defaced.
‘If more may be said, I say,
All my bliss in thee I lay;
If thou love, my love content thee,
For all love, all faith is meant thee.
‘Trust me, while I thee deny,
In myself the smart I try;
Tyrant honour thus doth use thee;
Stella’s self might not refuse thee.
‘Therefore, dear, this no more move,
Lest, though I leave not thy love,
Which too deep in me is framed,
I should blush when thou art named.’
Therewithal away she went,
Leaving him so passion-rent
With what she had done and spoken,
That therewith my song is broken.
Go, my flock, go get you hence,
Seek a better place of feeding,
Where you may have some defence
From the storms in my breast breeding,
And showers from my eyes proceeding.
Leave a wretch, in whom all woe
Can abide to keep no measure;
Merry flock, such one forego,
Unto whom mirth is displeasure,
Only rich in mischief’s treasure.
Yet, alas, before you go,
Hear your woeful master’s story,
Which to stones I else would show:
Sorrow only then hath glory,
When ‘tis excellently sorry.
Stella, fiercest shepherdess,
Fiercest, but yet fairest ever;
Stella, whom, O heavens, do bless,
Though against me she persever,
Though I bliss inherit never;
Stella hath refused me,
Stella, who more love hath proved
In this caitiff heart to be
Than can in good ewes be moved
Toward lambkins best beloved.
Stella hath refused me;
Astrophil, that so well served,
In this pleasant spring must see,
While in pride flowers be preserved,
Himself only winter-starved.
Why, alas, doth she then swear
That she loveth me so dearly,
Seeing me so long to bear
Coals of love, that burn so clearly,
And yet leave me helpless merely?
Is that love? Forsooth, I trow,
If I saw my good dog grieved,
And a help for him did know,
My love should not be believed
But he were by me relieved.
No, she hates me, wellaway,
Feigning love somewhat, to please me;
For she knows, if she display
All her hate, death soon would seize me,
And of hideous torments ease me.
Then adieu, dear flock, adieu:
But alas, if in your straying
Heavenly Stella meet with you,
Tell her, in your piteous blaying,
Her poor slave’s unjust decaying.