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Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–42). The Poetical Works. 1880.


Complaint of the Absence of his Love

SO feeble is the thread, that doth the burden stay

Of my poor life; in heavy plight, that falleth in decay;

That, but it have elsewhere some aid or some succours,

The running spindle of my fate anon shall end his course.

For since the unhappy hour, that did me to depart,

From my sweet weal, one only hope hath stayed my life apart:

Which doth persuade such words unto my sored mind,

‘Maintain thyself, O woful wight, some better luck to find:

For though thou be deprived from thy desired sight,

Who can thee tell, if thy return be for thy more delight?

Or, who can tell, thy loss if thou mayst once recover,

Some pleasant hour thy woe may wrap, and thee defend and cover.’

Thus in distrust as yet it hath my life sustained;

But now, alas, I see it faint, and I by trust am trained.

The time doth fleet, and I see how the hours do bend

So fast, that I have scant the space to mark my coming end.

Westward the sun from out the east scant shews his light,

When in the west he hides him straight, within the dark of night;

And comes as fast, where he began his path awry,

From east to west, from west to east, so doth his journey lie.

The life so short, so frail, that mortal men live here;

So great a weight, so heavy charge the bodies that we bear;

That when I think upon the distance and the space,

That doth so far divide me from my dear desired face,

I know not how t’ attain the wings that I require,

To lift me up, that I might fly, to follow my desire.

Thus of that hope, that doth my life something sustain,

Alas, I fear, and partly feel, full little doth remain.

Each place doth bring me grief, where I do not behold

Those lively eyes, which of my thoughts were wont the keys to hold.

Those thoughts were pleasant sweet, whilst I enjoy’d that grace;

My pleasure past, my present pain when I might well embrace.

And for because my want should more my woe increase;

In watch, in sleep, both day and night, my will doth never cease.

That thing to wish, whereof since I did lose the sight,

Was never thing that might in ought my woful heart delight.

Th’ uneasy life I lead doth teach me for to mete

The floods, the seas, the lands, the hills, that doth them intermete

’Tween me, and those shene lights that wonted for to clear

My darked pangs of cloudy thoughts, as bright as Phœbus’ sphere.

It teacheth me also what was my pleasant state,

The more to feel, by such record, how that my wealth doth bate.

If such record, alas, provoke the inflamed mind,

Which sprang that day that I did leave the best of me behind:

If love forget himself by length of absence let,

Who doth me guide, O woful wretch, unto this baited net

Where doth increase my care, much better were for me,

As dumb as stone, all things forgot, still absent for to be.

Alas, the clear crystal, the bright transplendent glass

Doth not bewray the colours hid, which underneath it has;

As doth th’ accumbred sprite the thoughtful throes discover,

Of fierce delight, of fervent love, that in our hearts we cover:

Out by these eyes it sheweth that evermore delight,

In plaint and tears to seek redress; and eke both day and night,

Those kinds of pleasures most wherein men so rejoice,

To me they do redouble still of stormy sighs the voice.

For I am one of them whom plaint doth well content,

It fits me well mine absent wealth me seems for to lament;

And with my tears to assay to charge mine eyes twain,

Like as my heart above the brink is fraughted full of pain:

And for because thereto, that those fair eyes to treat

Do me provoke; I will return, my plaint thus to repeat:

For, there is nothing else so toucheth me within;

Where they rule all, and I alone nought but the case, or skin:

Wherefore I shall return to them, as well, or spring

From whom descends my mortal woe, above all other thing.

So shall mine eyes in pain accompany my heart,

That were the guides, that did it lead of love to feel the smart.

The crisped gold that doth surmount Apollo’s pride;

The lively streams of pleasant stars that under it doth glide;

Wherein the beams of love do still increase their heat,

Which yet so far touch me so near, in cold to make me sweat:

The wise and pleasant talk, so rare, or else alone,

That gave to me the courteous gift, that erst had never none;

Be far from me, alas, and every other thing

I might forbear with better will, than this that did me bring

With pleasant word and cheer, redress of linger’d pain,

And wonted oft in kindled will to virtue me to train.

Thus am I forced to hear, and hearken after news:

My comfort scant, my large desire in doubtful trust renews.

And yet with more delight to moan my woful case,

I must complain those hands, these arms that firmly do embrace

Me from myself, and rule the stern of my poor life;

The sweet disdains the pleasant wraths and eke the lovely strife,

That wonted well to tune in temper just, and meet,

The rage, that oft did make me err, by furor undiscreet.

All this is hid fro me, with sharp and ragged hills,

At others’ will my long abode my deep despair fulfils;

And if my hope sometime rise up by some redress,

It stumbleth straight, for feeble faint, my fear hath such excess.

Such is the sort of hope, the less for more desire,

And yet I trust ere that I die to see that I require:

The resting-place of love, where virtue dwells and grows,

There I desire my weary life sometime may take repose.

My Song, thou shalt attain to find that pleasant place,

Where she doth live, by whom I live: may chance to have this grace,

When she hath read, and seen the grief wherein I serve,

Between her breasts she shall thee put, there shall she thee reserve:

Then tell her that I come, she shall me shortly see,

And if for weight the body fail, the soul shall to her flee.