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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



Sir Philip Sidney

Hendrick Goltzius. Venus and Adonis, 1614
Hendrick Goltzius. Venus and Adonis, 1614.

Astrophel and Stella

Eighth Song.

In a grove most rich of shade, 
Where birds wanton music made, 
May, then young, his pied weeds showing, 
New perfumed with flowers 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 had, alas the while,
But now tears themselves did smile,
While their eyes, by love directed,
Interchangeably reflected.

Sigh they did, but now betwixt 
Sighs of woe were glad sighs mixt ; 
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, 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. 

“ Astrophel,” 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 doth thus 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.

A Sixteenth Century Anthology. Arthur Symons, Ed.
London: Blackie & Son, Ltd., 1905. 163-167.

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