The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

We present this work in honor of Valentine’s Day.

02-14 Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe
English
1564 – 1593

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That Valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the Rocks,
Seeing the Shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow Rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing Madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of Roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of Myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty Lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and Ivy buds,
With Coral clasps and Amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The Shepherds’ Swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.

Spiritual Verses

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 480th birthday.

01-24 De La Cruz
Juan de la Cruz
Spanish
1542 – 1591

 

I

So I might seize the prey
in this divine venture
I flew ever higher
from sight was forced to stray,
yet love so far did fly
that though in my flight
I faltered in the height
I caught the prey on high.

II

As higher I ascended
so the hardest conquest
came about in darkness,
all my sight was dazzled:
yet since love was my prey
from blind dark a leaper
I flew on ever higher
till I overtook the prey.

III

In this highest game,
the further I ascended
the humbler, more subdued
more abased I became.
‘None attains it’, I did say.
I sank down lower, lower,
yet I rose higher, higher
and so I took the prey.

IV

My one flight in strange manner
surpassed a hundred thousand
for the hope of highest heaven
attains the end it hopes for:
there hope alone did fly
unfaltering in the height:
hope, seeking in its flight,
I caught the prey on high.

 

Translation by A.S. Kline

The Good-Morrow

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 450th birthday.

01-22 Donne
John Donne
English
1572 – 1631

 

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
‘Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ‘twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

from The Virsimhdevcarit

We present this work in honor of Pongal.

01-14 Keshavdas
Keshavdas
Indian
1555 – 1617

 

When Generosity and Greed set out to see Jahangirpur
They saw a huge array of forts, towns and villages –
How could I possibly recount all their names?
They saw lakes and rivers that made them glad.
Then they approached the ‘Bir lake.’ Seeing the magnificent Bir lake
They sought the appropriate terms for describing it.
It gives such pleasure on earth, this body of water!
It is marvelous, clear, vast, and profound in its depths.
It is home to blossoming flowers, bright like a star-lit sky.
It is a place of great coolness, where the heat of summer is forbidden entry:
Abode of scents, a place of beauty, effacer of the world’s cares
Like the goddess Candika in its dark hue.
The tall waves are a cluster of clouds releasing their spray in the wind
At sunset the water takes on a red quality,
Waves shimmering like lightning, removing the sorrow of men’s hearts.
Night and day peacocks dance in all directions to the spray of the lake
The lotuses bloom, their white luster like moonlight…

 

Translation by Allison Busch

Extinguished Smoldering

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 465th birthday.

12-17 Khan-I-Khana
Abdul Rahim Kahn-I-Khana
Indian
1556 – 1627

 

What good is this petty love of exchanging little gifts?
Wager your life on love, and see if you lose or win.

When the fish is cut up, it’s washed in water; eat it and you thirst for water.
How great is the fish’s love for its mate, that even when dead it yearns for water.

Some burn and then go out, and some never burn at all.
But those who burn with love go out and then flare again.

A sugarcane is full of juice all over.
Except where there’s a knot, and that’s how love is.

The path of love is arduous, not everyone makes it to the end.
You mount a horse made of wax and ride through a blazing fire.

Song of the Soul that Delights in Reaching the Supreme State of Perfection, that is, the Union with God, by the Path of Spiritual Negation

We present this work in honor of All Saints’ Day.

11-01 De La Cruz
Juan de la Cruz
Spanish
1542 – 1591

 

Upon a darkened night
on fire with all love’s longing
– O joyful flight! –
I left, none noticing,
my house, in silence, resting.

Secure, devoid of light,
by secret stairway, stealing
– O joyful flight! –
in darkness self-concealing,
my house, in silence, resting.

In the joy of night,
in secret so none saw me,
no object in my sight
no other light to guide me,
but what burned here inside me.

Which solely was my guide,
more surely than noon-glow,
to where he does abide,
one whom I deeply know,
a place where none did show.

O night, my guide!
O night, far kinder than the dawn!
O night that tied
the lover to the loved,
the loved in the lover there transformed!

On my flowering breast,
that breast I kept for him alone,
there he took his rest
while I regaled my own,
in lulling breezes from the cedars blown.

The breeze, from off the tower,
as I sieved through its windings
with calm hands, that hour,
my neck, in wounding,
left all my senses hanging.

Self abandoned, self forgot,
my face inclined to the beloved one:
all ceased, and I was not,
my cares now left behind, and gone:
there among the lilies all forgotten.

 

Translation by A.S. Kline

The Doleful Lay of Clorinda

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 460th birthday.

Mary Sidney,
Countess of Pembroke
English
1561 – 1621

 

Ay me, to whom shall I my case complaine,
That may compassion my impatient griefe!
Or where shall I unfold my inward paine,
That my enriven heart may find reliefe!
Shall I unto the heavenly powres it show?
Or unto earthly men that dwell below?

To heavens? ah they alas the authors were,
And workers of my unremedied wo:
For they foresee what to us happens here,
And they foresaw, yet suffred this be so.
From them comes good, from them comes also il
That which they made, who can them warne to spill.

To men? ah, they alas like wretched bee,
And subject to the heavens ordinance:
Bound to abide what ever they decree,
Their best redresse, is their best sufferance.
How then can they like wretched comfort mee,
The which no lesse, need comforted to bee?

Then to my selfe will I my sorrow mourne,
Sith none alive like sorrowfull remaines:
And to my selfe my plaints shall back retourne,
To pay their usury with doubled paines.
The woods, the hills, the rivers shall resound
The mournfull accent of my sorrowes ground.

Woods, hills and rivers, now are desolate,
Sith he is gone the which them all did grace:
And all the fields do waile their widow state,
Sith death their fairest flowre did late deface.
The fairest flowre in field that ever grew,
Was Astrophel: that was, we all may rew.

What cruell hand of cursed foe unknowne,
Hath cropt the stalke which bore so faire a flowre?
Untimely cropt, before it well were growne,
And cleane defaced in untimely howre.
Great losse to all that ever him did see,
Great losse to all, but greatest losse to mee.

Breake now your gyrlonds, O ye shepheards lasses,
Sith the faire flowre, which them adornd, is gon:
The flowre, which them adornd, is gone to ashes,
Never againe let lasse put gyrlond on:
In stead of gyrlond, weare sad Cypres nowe,
And bitter Elder, broken from the bowe.

Ne ever sing the love-layes which he made,
Who ever made such layes of love as hee?
Ne ever read the riddles, which he sayd
Unto your selves, to make you mery glee.
Your mery glee is now laid all abed,
Your mery maker now alasse is dead.

Death, the devourer of all worlds delight,
Hath robbed you and reft from me my joy:
Both you and me, and all the world he quight
Hath robd of joyance, and left sad annoy.
Joy of the world, and shepheards pride was hee,
Shepheards hope never like againe to see.

Oh death that hast us of such riches reft,
Tell us at least, what hast thou with it done?
What is become of him whose flowre here left
Is but the shadow of his likenesse gone.
Scarse like the shadow of that which he was,
Nought like, but that he like a shade did pas.

But that immortall spirit, which was deckt
With all the dowries of celestiall grace:
By soveraine choyce from th’ hevenly quires select,
And lineally deriv’d from Angels race,
O what is now of it become aread,
Ay me, can so divine a thing be dead?

Ah no: it is not dead, ne can it die,
But lives for aie, in blisfull Paradisse:
Where like a new-borne babe it soft doth lie,
In beds of lillies wrapt in tender wise.
And compast all about with roses sweet,
And daintie violets from head to feet.

There thousand birds all of celestiall brood,
To him do sweetly caroll day and night:
And with straunge notes, of him well understood,
Lull him asleepe in Angel-like delight:
Whilest in sweet dreame to him presented bee
Immortall beauties, which no eye may see.

But he them sees and takes exceeding pleasure
Of their divine aspects, appearing plaine,
And kindling love in him above all measure,
Sweet love still joyous, never feeling paine.
For what so goodly forme he there doth see,
He may enjoy from jealous rancor free.

There liveth he in everlasting blis,
Sweet spirit never fearing more to die:
Ne dreading harme from any foes of his,
Ne fearing salvage beasts more crueltie.
Whilest we here wretches waile his private lack,
And with vain vowes do often call him back.

But live thou there still happie, happie spirit,
And give us leave thee here thus to lament:
Not thee that doest thy heavens joy inherit,
But our owne selves that here in dole are drent.
Thus do we weep and waile, and wear our eies,
Mourning in others, our owne miseries.

Which when she ended had, another swaine
Of gentle wit and daintie sweet device,
Whom Astrophel full deare did entertaine,
Whilest here he liv’d, and held in passing price,
Hight Thestylis, began his mournfull tourne;
And made the Muses in his song to mourne.

And after him full many other moe,
As everie one in order lov’d him best,
Gan dight themselves t’ expresse their inward woe,
With dolefull layes unto the time addrest:
The which I here in order will rehearse,
As fittest flowres to deck his mournfull hearse.

Sonnet

10-23 Brembati
Isotta Brembati
Italian
1530 – 1586

 

Sublime thought always
unburdens my heart of other thought
like the brilliant sun lightens dark clouds
shows me the true path to heaven.

This alone rules my breast
and creates desire, forms rose and violet words,
as changing as April
under the majestic sun

Now, if Heaven and Nature
wish that the sun be within me
who is powerful enough then to take it away?

However much cruel Fortune might oppose this
she can never challenge
the mindful care of heaven.

Against Love

10-22 Philips
Katherine Philips
English
1631 – 1664

 

Hence Cupid! with your cheating toys,
Your real griefs, and painted joys,
Your pleasure which itself destroys.
Lovers like men in fevers burn and rave,
And only what will injure them do crave.
Men’s weakness makes love so severe,
They give him power by their fear,

And make the shackles which they wear.
Who to another does his heart submit,
Makes his own idol, and then worships it.
Him whose heart is all his own,
Peace and liberty does crown,
He apprehends no killing frown.
He feels no raptures which are joys diseased,
And is not much transported, but still pleased.

To the Flower of Gnido

We present this work in honor of the 485th anniversary of the poet’s death.

10-14 De La Vega
Garcilaso de la Vega
Spanish
1501 – 1536

 

I
Had I the sweet resounding lyre
Whose voice could in a moment chain
The howling wind’s ungoverned ire,
And movement of the raging main;
On savage hills the leopard rein,

II
The lion’s fiery soul entrance,
And lead along with golden tones
The fascinated trees and stones
In voluntary dance,
Think not, think not, fair Flower of Gnide,

III
It e’er should celebrate the scars,
Dust raised, bloodshed, or laurels dyed
Beneath the gonfalon of Mars;
Or borne sublime on festal cars,
The chiefs who to submission sank

IV
The rebel German’s soul of soul,
And forged the chains that now control
The frenzy of the Frank.
No, no! its harmonies should ring
In vaunt of glories all thine own,

V
A discord sometimes from the string
Struck forth to make thy harshness known;
The fingered chords should speak alone
Of Beauty’s triumphs, Love’s alarms,
And one who, made by thy disdain

VI
Pale as a lily dipt in twain,
Bewails thy fatal charms.
Of that poor captive, too, contemned,
I speak, his doom you might deploreIn
Venus’ galliot-shell condemned

VII
To strain for life the heavy oar.
Through thee no longer as of yore
He tames the unmanageable steed,
With curb of gold his pride restrains,
Or with pressed spurs and shaken reins

VIII
Torments him into speed.
Not now he wields for thy sweet sake
The sword in his accomplished hand,
Nor grapples like a poisonous snake,
The wrestler on the yellow sand;

IX
The old heroic harp his hand
Consults not now, it can but kiss
The amorous lute’s dissolving strings,
Which murmur forth a thousand things
Of banishment from bliss.

X
Through thee, my dearest friend and best
Grows harsh, importunate, and grave;
Myself have been his port of rest
From shipwreck and the yawning wave;
Yet now so high his passions rave

XI
Above lost reason ‘s conquered laws,
That not the traveller ere he slays
The asp, its sting, as he my face
So dreads, or so abhors.
In snows on rocks, sweet Flower of Gnide,

XII
Thou wert not cradled, wert not born,
She who has no fault beside
Should ne’er be signalized for scorn;
Else, tremble at the fate forlorn
Of Anaxarete, who spurned

XIII
The weeping Iphis from her gate,
Who, scoffing long, relenting late,
Was to a statue turned.
Whilst yet soft pity she repelled,
Whilst yet she steeled her heart in pride,

XIV
From her friezed window she beheld
Aghast, the lifeless suicide;
Around his lily neck was tied
What freed his spirit from her chains,
And purchased with a few short sighs

XV
For her immortal agonies,
Imperishable pains.
Then first she felt her bosom bleed
With love and pity; vain distress!
Oh what deep rigors must succeed

XVI
This first sole touch of tenderness!
Her eyes grow glazed and motionless,
Nailed on his wavering corse, each bone
Hardening in growth, invades her flesh,
Which, late so rosy, warm, and fresh,

XVII
Now stagnates into stone.
From limb to limb the frost aspire,
Her vitals curdle with the cold;
The blood forgets its crimson fire,
The veins that e’er its motion rolled;

XVIII
Till now the virgin’s glorious mould
Was wholly into marble changed,
On which the Salaminians gazed,
Less at the prodigy amazed,
Than of the crime avenged.

XIX
Then tempt not thou Fate’s angry arms,
By cruel frown or icy taunt;
But let thy perfect deeds and charms
To poets’ harps, Divinest, grant
Themes worthy their immortal vaunt;

XX
Else must our weeping strings presume
To celebrate in strains of woe,
The justice of some signal blow
That strikes thee to the tomb.

 

Translation by Jeremiah Holmes Wiffen