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Sir Walter Ralegh
 

FROM J. HANNAH's Courtly Poets from Raleigh to Montrose, 1870

The Ocean to Cynthia          

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .        

But stay, my thoughts, make end, give fortune way ;
    Harsh is the voice of woe and sorrow's sound ;
Complaints cure not, and tears do but allay
    Griefs for a time, which after more abound.

To seek for moisture in the Arabian sand
    Is but a loss of labor and of rest ;
The links which time did break of hearty bands

Words cannot knit, or wailings make anew.
    Seek not the sun in clouds when it is set.
On highest mountains, where those cedars grew,
    Against whose banks the troubled ocean beat,

And were the marks to find thy hopëd port,
    Into a soil far off themselves remove ;
On Sestos' shore, Leander's late resort,
    Hero hath left no lamp to guide her love.

Thou lookest for light in vain, and storms arise;
    She sleeps thy death that erst thy danger sighed;
Strive then no more, bow down thy weary eyes,
    Eyes which to all these woes thy heart have guided.

She is gone, she is lost, she is found, she is ever fair;
    Sorrow draws weakly where love draws not too;
Woe's cries sound nothing, but only in love's ear.
    Do then by dying what life cannot do.

Unfold thy flocks and leave them to the fields,
    To feed on hills or dales, where likes them best,
Of what the summer or the springtime yields,
    For love and time hath given thee leave to rest.

Thy heart which was their fold, now in decay
    By often storms and winter's many blasts,
All torn and rent becomes misfortune's prey;
    False hope, my shepherd's staff, now age hath brast.

My pipe, which love's own hand gave my desire
    To sing her praises and my woe upon,
Despair hath often threatened to the fire,
    As vain to keep now all the rest are gone.

Thus home I draw, as death's long night draws on;
    Yet every foot, old thoughts turn back mine eyes;
Constraint me guides, as old age draws a stone
    Against the hill, which over-weighty lies

For feeble arms or wasted strength to move:
    My steps are backward, gazing on my loss,
My mind's affection and my soul's sole love,
    Not mixed with fancy's chaff or fortune's dross.

To God I leave it, who first gave it me,
    And I her gave, and she returned again,
As it was hers; so let His mercies be
    Of my last comforts the essential mean.

But be it so or not, the effects are past;
Her love hath end; my woe must ever last.





Source:
Poetry of the English Renaissance 1509-1660.
J. William Hebel and Hoyt H. Hudson, eds.
New York: F. S. Crofts & Co., 1941. 140-141.




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