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Though from me you be estrangèd,
Let my change to ruin be.

"Well, in absence this will die;
Leave to see, and leave to wonder.'
Absence sure will help, if I
Can learn how myself to sunder
From what in my heart doth lie.

"But time will these thoughts remove;

Time doth work what no man knoweth.'
Time doth as the subject prove;
With time still the affection groweth
In the faithful turtle-dove.

What if ye new beauties see;
Will not they stir new affection?'
I will think they pictures be;
Image-like of saints' perfection,
Poorly counterfeiting thee.

"But your reason's purest light

Bids you leave such minds to nourish.'

Dear, do reason no such spite!
Never doth thy beauty flourish
More than in my reason's sight.

"But the wrongs Love bears will make
Love at length leave undertaking.'
No! the more fools it doth shake,
In a ground of so firm making
Deeper still they drive the stake.

"Peace, I think that some give ear;
Come no more lest I get anger!'
Bliss, I will my bliss forbear,
Fearing, sweet, you to endanger;
But my soul shall harbour there.

"Well, begone; begone, I say;

Lest that Argus' eyes perceive you !'
O unjust is fortune's sway,

Which can make me thus to leave you;
And from louts to run away!"

A characteristic but rather enigmatical sonnet follows this lyric. It is another night scene. Sidney, watching from his window, just misses the sight of Stella as her carriage hurries by:

"Cursed be the page from whom the bad torch fell;
Cursed be the night which did your strife resist;
Cursed be the coachman that did drive so fast."

(No. 105.)

99

Then Astrophel and Stella closes abruptly, with those disconnected sonnets, in one of which the word "despair' occurring justifies Nash's definition of "the epilogue, Despair":

"But soon as thought of thee breeds my delight,

And my young soul flutters to thee his nest,

Most rude Despair, my daily unbidden guest,
Clips straight my wings, straight wraps me in his night."

(No. 108.)

Stella's prudent withdrawal of herself from Sidney's company begins to work with salutary effect upon his passion. As that cools or fades for want of nourishment, so the impulse to write declines; and the poet's sincerity is nowhere better shown than in the sudden and ragged ending of his work. I doubt whether the two sonnets on Desire and Love, which Dr. Grosart has transferred from the Miscellaneous Poems and printed here as Nos. 109 and 110, were really meant to form part of Astrophel and Stella. They strike me as retrospective, composed in a mood of stern and somewhat bitter meditation on the past, and prob

ably after some considerable interval; yet the Latin epigraph attached to the second has the force of an envoy. Moreover, they undoubtedly represent the attitude of mind. in which Sidney bade farewell to unhallowed love, and which enabled him loyally to plight his troth to Frances Walsingham. Therefore it will not be inappropriate to close the analysis of his love poetry upon this note. No one, reading them, will fail to be struck with their resemblance to Shakespeare's superb sonnets upon Lust and Death ("The expense of spirit" and "Poor soul, thou centre"), which are perhaps the two most completely powerful sonnets in our literature:

"Thou blind man's mark, thou fool's self-chosen snare,
Fond fancy's scum, and dregs of scattered thought;
Band of all evils; cradle of causeless care;

Thou web of will whose end is never wrought!
Desire, desire! I have too dearly bought

With price of mangled mind thy worthless ware;
Too long, too long, asleep thou hast me brought,

Who shouldst my mind to higher things prepare.
But yet in vain thou hast my ruin sought;

In vain thou mad'st me to vain things aspire;
In vain thou kindlest all thy smoky fire:
For virtue hath this better lesson taught-

Within myself to seek my only hire,
Desiring naught but how to kill desire.

"Leave me, O Love, which reachest but to dust;

And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things;
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust;

Whatever fades, but fading pleasure brings.
Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might

To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be,
Which breaks the clouds and opens forth the light,
That doth but shine and give us sight to see.

O take fast hold; let that light be thy guide

In this small course which birth draws out to death; And think how evil becometh him to slide,

Who seeketh heaven and comes of heavenly breath. Then farewell, world! thy uttermost I see: Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me!"

"SPLENDIDIS LONGUM VALEDICO NUGIS."

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FULKE GREVILLE, touching upon the Arcadia, says that Sidney "purposed no monuments of books to the world." "If his purpose had been to leave his memory in books, I am confident, in the right use of logic, philosophy, history, and poesy, nay even in the most ingenious of mechanical arts he would have showed such tracts of a searching and judicious spirit as the professors of every faculty would have striven no less for him than the seven cities did to have Homer of their sept. But the truth is: his end was not writing, even while he wrote; nor his knowledge moulded for tables or schools; but both his wit and understanding bent upon his heart, to make himself and others, not in words or opinion, but in life and action, good and great."

"His end was not writing, even while he wrote." This is certain; the whole tenor of Sidney's career proves his determination to subordinate self-culture of every kind to the ruling purpose of useful public action. It will also be remembered that none of his compositions were printed during his lifetime or with his sanction. Yet he had received gifts from nature which placed him, as a critic, high above the average of his contemporaries. He was no mean poet when he sang as love dictated. He had acquired and assimilated various stores of knowledge. He possessed an

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