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<--Fulke Greville

Pietro Paolini. Portrait of a Man Writing by Candlelight, 1630s.
Man Writing by Candlelight.
Pietro Paolini, 1630s.



by Fulke Greville


Absence, the noble truce
Of Cupid's war:
Where though desires want use,
They honour'd are.
Thou art the just protection,
Of prodigal affection,
Have thou the praise;
When bankrupt Cupid braveth,*
Thy mines his credit saveth,
With sweet delays.

Of wounds which presence makes
With beauty's shot,
Absence the anguish slakes,
But healeth not:
Absence records the stories,
Wherein Desire glories,
Although she burn;
She cherisheth the spirits
Where Constancy inherits
And passions mourn.

Absence, like dainty clouds,
On glorious bright,
Nature weak senses shrouds,
From harming light.
Absence maintains the treasure
Of pleasure unto pleasure,
Sparing with praise;
Absence doth nurse the fire,
Which starves and feeds desire
With sweet delays.

Presence to every part
Of beauty ties,
Where wonder rules the heart
There pleasure dies:
Presence plagues mind and senses
With modesty's defenses,
Absence is free:
Thoughts do in absence venter
On Cupid's shadowed centre,
They wink and see.

But thoughts be not so brave,
With absent joy;
For you with that you have
Yourself destroy:
The absence which you glory,
Is that which makes you sorry,
And burn in vain:
For thought is not the weapon,
Wherewith thoughts' ease men cheapen,
Absence is pain.

* braveth: dresses splendidly; boasts.

Gunn, Thom, ed. Selected Poems of Fulke Greville.
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.  75-77.

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