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Nor that he made the flower-de-luce so 'fraid,
Not this, not that, nor any such small cause;
To lose his crown rather than fail his love."
A sonnet on the open road, in a vein of conceits worthy of Philostratus, closes the group inspired by Stella's kiss:
"High way, since you my chief Parnassus be,
And that my Muse, to some ears not unsweet,
Now blessed you bear onward blessed me
To her, where I my heart, safe-left shall meet,
By no encroachment wronged, nor time forgot;
Of highest wish, I wish you so much bliss-
(No. 84.) And now a change comes over the spirit of Sidney's dream. It is introduced, as the episode of the stolen kiss was, by a song. We do not know on what occasion he may have found himself alone with Stella at night, when her husband's jealousy was sleeping, the house closed, and her mother in bed. But the lyric refers, I think, clearly to some real incident-perhaps at Leicester House:
"Night hath closed all in her cloak, Twinkling stars love-thoughts provoke ; Danger hence, good care doth keep; Jealousy himself doth sleep: Take me to thee and thee to me:'No, no, no, no, my dear, let be!'
"Better place no wit can find
Cupid's knot to loose or bind;
"This small light the moon bestows, Serves thy beams but to disclose; So to raise my hap more high, Fear not else; none can us spy: Take me to thee and thee to me:'No, no, no, no, my dear, let be!'
"That you heard was but a mouse; Dumb sleep holdeth all the house; Yet asleep, methinks they say, Young fools, take time while you may: Take me to thee and thee to me :'No, no, no, no, my dear, let be!'
"Niggard time threats, if we miss This large offer of our bliss, Long stay ere he grant the same: Sweet then, while each thing doth frame, Take me to thee and thee to me:'No, no, no, no, my dear, let be!'
"Your fair mother is a-bed,
Take me to thee and thee to me:-
"Sweet, alas! why strive you thus?
"Woe to me! and do you swear
Me to hate? but I forbear:
That brought me so high to fall!
Soon with my death I'll please thee:-
It will be noticed that to all his pleadings, passionate or playful, and (it must be admitted) of very questionable morality, she returns a steadfast No! This accounts for the altered tone of the next sonnet. In the 85th he had indulged golden, triumphant visions, and had bade his heart be moderate in the fruition of its bliss. Now he exclaims:
"Alas! whence came this change of looks? If I
He has pressed his suit too far, and Stella begins to draw back from their common danger. Five songs follow in quick succession, one of which prepares us for the denouement of the love-drama:
"In a grove most rich of shade,
May, then young, his pied weeds showing,
"Astrophel with Stella sweet
Did for mutual comfort meet;
"Him great harms had taught much care,
"Wept they had, alas, the while;
But now tears themselves did smile,
For a time the lovers sat thus in silence, sighing and gazing, until Love himself broke out into a passionate apostrophe from the lips of Astrophel:
"Grant, O grant! but speech, alas,
"Grant, O dear, on knees I pray
(Knees on ground he then did stay)
"Never season was more fit;
Never room more apt for it;
"This small wind, which so sweet is,
Each tree in his best attiring,
"Love makes earth the water drink,
To this and to yet more urgent wooing Stella replies in stanzas which are sweetly dignified, breathing the love she felt, but dutifully repressed.
"Astrophel, said she, my love,
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,
"If those eyes you praised be
Half so dear as you to me,
"If to secret of my heart
I do any wish impart
Where thou art not foremost placed,
"If more may be said, I say
If thou love, my love, content thee,
"Trust me, while I thee deny,