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.
 
Song: ‘O dear life, when shall it be’
By Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586)
 
O DEAR 1 life, when shall it be
That mine eyes thine eyes shall see,
And in them thy mind discover,
Whether absence have had force
Thy remembrance to divorce        5
From the image of the lover?
 
Or if I myself find not,
After parting, aught forgot, 2
Nor debarred from Beauty’s treasure,
Let no tongue aspire to tell        10
In what high joys I shall dwell:
Only Thought aims at the pleasure.
 
Thought, therefore, I will send thee
To take up the place for me;
Long I will not after tarry;        15
There, unseen, thou may’st be bold,
Those fair wonders to behold,
Which in them my hopes do carry.
 
Thought, see thou no place forbear,
Enter bravely everywhere,        20
Seize on all to her belonging;
But if thou wouldst guarded be,
Fearing her beams, take with thee
Strength of liking, rage of longing.
 
Think of that most grateful time        25
When my leaping heart will climb
In thy lips to have his biding,
There those roses for to kiss,
Which do breathe a sugared bliss
Opening rubies, pearls dividing.        30
 
Think of my most princely power
When I blessèd shall devour
With my greedy lickorous senses
Beauty, music, sweetness, love,
While she doth against me prove        35
Her strong darts but weak defences.
 
Think, think of those dallyings,
When with dovelike murmurings,
With glad moaning, passèd anguish,
We change eyes, and heart for heart        40
Each to other do depart,
Joying till joy makes us languish.
 
O my Thought, my thoughts surcease,
Thy delights my woes increase,
My life melts 3 with too much thinking;        45
Think no more, but die in me,
Till thou shalt revivèd 4 be,
At her lips my nectar drinking.
 
Note 1. The Tenth Song in Astrophel and Stella. Stanzas vi., vii., viii., do not appear in the Quarto Ed., 1591. [back]
Note 2. After parting, aught forgot: Quarto of 1591 reads: By thine absence oft forgot. [back]
Note 3. Melts: Quarto reads, fleets. [back]
Note 4. Revived: Quarto reads, received. [back]
 
 
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