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.
 
O Crudelis Amor
By Thomas Campion (1567–1620)
 
WHEN 1 thou must home to shades of underground,
And there arrived, a new admirèd guest,
The beauteous spirits do engirt thee round,
White Iope, 2 blithe Helen, and the rest,
To hear the stories of thy finish’d love        5
From that smooth tongue whose music hell can move;
Then wilt thou speak of banqueting delights,
Of masques and revels which sweet youth did make,
Of tourneys and great challenges of knights,
And all these triumphs for thy beauty’s sake:        10
When thou hast told these honours done to thee,
Then tell, O tell, how thou didst murder me!
 
Note 1. From Campion and Rosseter’s Book of Airs, 1601. In the whole range of English poetry there is not a more impressive lyric than this. I say impressive because after fascinating with that mysterious and infinite depth of Mona Lisa’s smile,—like the enigma of La Giaconda’s mouth,—its final emotion is an irresistible fatality which seems unescapable. Mr. Bullen says of it: “For romantic beauty (it) could hardly be matched outside of the sonnets of Shakespeare.” (Introduction, Lyrics from Elizabethan Song-Books.) [back]
Note 2. White Iope: The mention of white Iope must have been suggested by a passage of Propertius, ii. 28:
  Sunt apud infernos tot millia formosarum;
  Pulchra sit in superis, si licet, una locis.
Vobiscum est Iope, vobiscum candida Tyro,
  Vobiscum Europe, nec proba Pasiphae.
(Bullen.)    
 
 
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