To Science Science! True daughter of Old Time thou art! Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes. Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart, Vulture, whose wings are dull realities? How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise, Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies, Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing? Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car? And driven the Hamadryad from the wood To seek a shelter in some happier star? Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood, The Elfin from the green grass, and from me The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
Night-Gaunts Out of what crypt they crawl, I cannot tell, But every night I see the rubbery things, Black, horned, and slender, with membraneous wings, And tails that bear the bifid barb of hell. They come in legions on the north wind’s swell, With obscene clutch that titillates and stings, Snatching me off on monstrous voyagings To grey worlds hidden deep in nightmare’s well. Over the jagged peaks of Thok they sweep, Heedless of all the cries I try to make, And down the nether pits to that foul lake Where the puffed shoggoths splash in doubtful sleep. But oh! If only they would make some sound, Or wear a face where faces should be found!
The Singer in the Mist At birth a witch laid on me monstrous spells, And I have trod strange highroads all my days, Turning my feet to gray, unholy ways. I grope for stems of broken asphodels; HIgh on the rims of bare, fiend-haunted fells, I follow cloven tracks that lie ablaze; And ghosts have led me through the moonlight's haze To talk with demons in the granite hells. Seas crash upon dragon-guarded shores, Bursting in crimson moons of burning spray, And iron castles ope to me their doors, And serpent-women lure with harp and lay. The misty waves shake now to phantom oars— Seek not for me; I sail to meet the day.
The Wingless Archangels Beyond the bourn of dreams, their fortunate sphere, Golden and large in some rich galaxy, Rolls upon ways prolonged of harmony; And they, with wingless toil of many a year, Unto the calm of heavens have clomb anear— Wise with the secrets of eternity, And forcing truce with time. . . . They deem them free From change, and from the old, unchanging fear. But on their immortality is blight— Whose dream betraying deserts have undone: They turn, where winds make chill the ashen light, Blown as from space and bleak oblivion; And mark the dim, portentous breath of Night, A mist penumbral on the noontide sun.
Sonnets from the Portuguese: Sonnet XVIII I never gave a lock of hair away To a man, Dearest, except this to thee, Which now upon my fingers thoughtfully I ring out to the full brown length and say 'Take it.' My day of youth went yesterday; My hair no longer bounds to my foot's glee, Nor plant I it from rose- or myrtle-tree, As girls do, any more: it only may Now shade on two pale cheeks the mark of tears, Taught drooping from the head that hangs aside Through sorrow's trick. I thought the funeral-shears Would take this first, but Love is justified,— Take it thou,—finding pure, from all those years, The kiss my mother left here when she died.
Helen's Tower Who hears of Helen's Tower, may dream perchance How the Greek Beauty from the Scaean Gate Gazed on old friends unanimous in hate, Death-doom'd because of her fair countenance. Hearts would leap otherwise, at thy advance, Lady, to whom this Tower is consecrate! Like hers, thy face once made all eyes elate, Yet, unlike hers, was bless'd by every glance. The Tower of Hate is outworn, far and strange: A transitory shame of long ago, It dies into the sand from which it sprang; But thine, Love's rock-built Tower, shall fear no change: God's self laid stable earth's foundations so, When all the morning-stars together sang.
Sonnet XVIII Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimm'd, And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature's changing course untrimm'd: But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st, Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st, So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Amoretti: Sonnet XXX My love is like to ice, and I to fire: how comes it then that this her cold so great is not dissolv'd through my so hot desire, but harder grows, the more I her entreat? Or how comes it that my exceeding heat is not delayed by her heart frozen cold, but that I burn much more in boiling sweat, and feel my flames augmented manifold? What more miraculous thing may be told that fire, which all thing melts, should harden ice: and ice which is congealed with senseless cold, should kindle fire by wonderful device? Such is the pow'r of love in gentle mind that it can alter all the course of kind.
Sonnet CXXXIV I find no peace, and all my war is done; I fear and hope; I burn and freeze like ice; I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise; And nought I have, and all the world I seize on; That looseth nor locketh holdeth me in prison And holdeth me not, yet can I 'scape nowise; Nor letteth me live nor die at my device, And yet of death it giveth none occasion. Withouten eyen, I see; and without tongue I plain; I desire to perish, and yet I ask health; I love another, and thus I hate myself; I feed me in sorrow, and laugh in all my pain; Likewise displeaseth me both death and life; And my delight is causer of this strife.
Whoso list to hunt Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind! But as for me, alas, I may no more; The vain travail hath wearied me so sore, I am of them that furthest come behind. Yet may I by no means my wearied mind Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore Fainting I follow; I leave off therefore, Since in a net I seek to hold the wind. Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt, As well as I, may spend his time in vain. And graven with diamonds in letters plain, There is written her fair neck round about, 'Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am, And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.'
Astrophel and Stella: Sonnet XXI Your words, my friend, (right healthful caustics) blame My young mind marr'd, whom Love doth windlass so, That mine own writings like bad servants show My wits, quick in vain thoughts, in virtue lame; That Plato I read for nought, but if he tame Such doltish gyres; that to my birth I owe Nobler desires, lest else that friendly foe, Great Expectation, were a train of shame. For since mad March great promise made of me, If now the May of my years much decline, What can be hoped my harvest time will be? Sure you say well, 'Your wisdom's golden mine, Dig deep with learning's spade.' Now tell me this, Hath this world aught so fair as Stella is?
Sonnet on Chillon Eternal Spirit of the chainless Mind! Brightest in dungeons, Liberty, thou art;— For there thy habitation is the heart,— The heart which love of thee alone can bind; And when thy sons to fetters are consigned, To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom, Their country conquers with their martyrdom, And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind. Chillon! thy prison is a holy place, And thy sad floor an altar, for 'twas trod, Until his very steps have left a trace, Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod, By Bonnivard! May none those marks efface! For they appeal from tyranny to God.
100 Love Sonnets: Sonnet XVII I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz, or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off. I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance, risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this: where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
The Soote Season The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings, With green hath clad the hill and eke the vale; The nightingale with feathers new she sings; The turtle to her make hath told her tale. Summer is come, for every spray now springs, The hart hath hung his old head on the pale; The buck in brake his winter coat he flings; The fishes flete with new repaired scale; The adder all her slough away she slings; The swift swallow pursueth the flyes smale; The busy bee her honey now she mings, Winter is worn that was the flowers' bale. And thus I see among these pleasant things Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs.