Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
A Renunciation
By Henry King (1592–1669)
 
WE, that did nothing study but the way
To love each other, with which thoughts the day
Rose with delight to us and with them set,
Must learn the hateful art, how to forget….
We, that did nothing wish that Heaven could give        5
Beyond ourselves, nor did desire to live
Beyond that wish, all these now cancel must,
As if not writ in faith, but words and dust.
Yet witness those clear vows which lovers make,
Witness the chaste desires that never brake        10
Into unruly heats; witness that breast
Which into thy bosom anchor’d his whole rest—
’Tis no default in us: I dare acquite
Thy maiden faith, thy purpose fair and white
As thy pure self. Cross planets did envỳ        15
Us to each other, and Heaven did untie
Faster than vows could bind. Oh, that the stars,
When lovers meet, should stand opposed in wars!
Since then, some higher Destinies command,
Let us not strive, nor labour to withstand        20
What is past help. The longest date of grief
Can never yield a hope of our relief:
Fold back our arms; take home our fruitless loves,
That must new fortunes try, like turtle-doves
Dislodgèd from their haunts. We must in tears        25
Unwind a love knit up in many years.
In this last kiss I here surrender thee
Back to thyself.—So, thou again art free:
Thou in another, sad as that, resend
The truest heart that lover e’er did lend.        30
Now turn from each: so fare our severed hearts
As the divorced soul from her body parts.
 
 
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