Pitiful gods! Have pity on my passion.
Teach me the road how I a certain proving
Shall make to him I love of my great loving,
My faith unchanged, nor plead it in fool's fashion.
Ah, is he weary of too full possession,
Of this poor body's zeal which naught denied him,
Of a Queen's pride enthroned too near beside him,
Her parliament of joy in too long session?
Nay, but she held as naught for him her honour,
Naught her friends' loyalty, their wrath her foemen.
Less than as naught the proud eyes of her women,
The load of a realm's anger laid upon her.
If it might vantage him! Behold me dying,
To prove my constancy, bequeathing all,
Fame, fortune, faith, my life's memorial,
The one son born to me, nor ought denying.
Queen am I with no subjects. Subject I
To my sole king. My country? 'Tis his pleasure.
There would I reign, who find in it my treasure,
For treasure--house his arms, and there would lie.
Without those frontiers would I wander never.
I am no vagrant to take ship and go.
This is my haven. Whatso winds shall blow,
They shall not tempt me to a new endeavour.
And yet he doubteth! Lo, the proof I offer:
Not tears, not prayers; a manlier test is mine.
Let others plead in weakness; my soul's wine
Has a strong logic which shall find no scoffer.
She, thy right lady for her own pride's sake,
Vowed thee obedience. 'Twas her debt of duty.
I for my shame made free gift of my beauty,
Holding it royaller to give than take.
She to her profit bindeth thee her lover,
Being thus mistress of thy wealth and name;
I to my hurt, in peril of my fame,
And dreading all men should my shame discover.
She dreadeth nothing; I have lost my daring.
She of her parents took thee proud to give;
I in despite of mine, who still must live
Fearing worse fortune through my too much caring.
And thou believest her! Although she reapeth
All her delight of thee, her place, her glory,
Her noble name who had no name in story,
(And I a queen!) Half of thy love she keepeth,
Love which was mine! And in exchange for what?
A girl's fool fancy for a boy aspirant.
How should she love thee not, thou master tyrant,
Her wedded lord, in room of that sad sot?
Mad were she else, since thou of all art master,
Supreme in valour, beauty and men's praise,
Thee in whose light I live out all my days.
How should I pity her her soul's disaster?
When first you wooed her, it was she the colder,
You the more fierce; your flame raged as a furnace,
She shrank from you abashed at love's sweet harness,
Raised a maid's finger as your zeal grew bolder.
No pleasure took she in your strength. She doubted
Naught of your constancy who least could care.
Small joy she made for you of braided hair
Or happy raiment, going meanly clouted.
Why should she deck herself? Her heart no faster
Beat, nor when even at death's door you lay.
Calmly she watched you in that disarray,
Nor trembled for you till Fate's fear had passed her.
And she lamenteth now, and moan she maketh,
Noting the petulance of her first folly,
Waileth aloud in wifely melancholy,
And blindeth thee with feint of that she lacketh.
What tales are hers! What flatteries now she weaveth,
In her false letters, as one more than I
Vowed to thy worship in long constancy
To a loved paramour! And he believeth!
Lies all! tales taken from some alien rhymer
Richer than she in words to cozen you.
Her woes are painted every week anew
On her green cheeks, each than the last sublimer.
And you give faith to her, to me light credence,
Though all my joy, my constancy is yours,
A flame which needs no kindling and endures,
Claiming its place by right of long precedence.
Too plain, alas, it is you hold me lightly,
Deem me with heart of wax, with words of wind,
A woman indiscreet and all too kind
To all the world, with a new lover nightly.
This is your ill thought which the more inflames me,
Humbling my pride, till I no longer crave
More than a share to--day of that you gave
So wholly yesterday. Your doubting shames me.
To--day I ask but this, to do you reverence,
To heap you worship and make full your fame,
To work for you the building of your name
Joined to my own. For this I bar our severance.
It is for you I supplicate my fortune,
My health restored, my strength, that you may learn
The fullness of my love and sweet concern
So dear to serve you. Thus do I importune;
Since that no wish have I but still to merit
Your life's companionship, who first of men
Possessed my body though less wholly then
My joy of heart which I of you inherit.
How many tears for you have I not wasted,
How much of anguish suffered and disgrace!
That day I saw the blood flow on your face
I knew you mine; 'twas my own death I tasted.
A day that was the last of my high queenship,
Of my life's honour held to--day in scorn,
Of my friends' faith even here where I was born
With those that nursed me or were near in kinship.
To--day I put aside their tried alliance.
Yours only do I seek, which shall sustain
My woman's weakness and make strong my reign,
And give meet answer to my foes' defiance.
This my presumption is, my reckoning this is,
The one desire of her who is your friend,
Who would your mistress be to her life's end
And serve you with her tenderest tendernesses,
You who to her are as her soul's sole brother,
A woman in subjection to your will,
To live and die for you your servant still,
You only of all men and not another.
Take it, my heart, my life, my blood, my all,
The pleasure of my days, my nights of anguish,
The lovelessness of hours where lone I languish,
And build them with me to a festival.
For now my heart is palsied with long fearings
Of this, of that, the fear lest you forget,
Lest tales be told of me, lest snares be set
To lure you from my arms to new endearings,
Some pitiful sad accident of sorrow,
Which may God shield us from with his good grace.
My fears I write who cannot see your face
Yet know my love as yesterday to--morrow.
And so farewell. Nay answer not in censure.
Be bountiful of praise nor count the cost.
Learn that that man is king who dareth most,
And his the victory who most shall venture.
Pitiful gods! Have pity on my passion.