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JOHN WILMOT, EARL OF ROCHESTER

1647-1680

424                                                    Return

ABSENT from thee, I languish still;
   Then ask me not, When I return?
The straying fool twill plainly kill
   To wish all day, all night to mourn.
Dear, from thine arms then let me fly,
   That my fantastic mind may prove
The torments it deserves to try,
   That tears my fixd heart from my love.
When, wearied with a world of woe,
   To thy safe bosom I retire,
Where love, and peace, and truth does flow,
   May I contented there expire!
Lest, once more wandering from that heaven,
   I fall on some base heart unblest;
Faithless to thee, false, unforgiven
   And lose my everlasting rest.

425                                          Love and Life

ALL my past life is mine no more;
   The flying hours are gone,
Like transitory dreams given oer,
Whose images are kept in store
   By memory alone.
The time that is to come is not;
   How can it then be mine?
The present moments all my lot;
And that, as fast as it is got,
   Phillis, is only thine.
Then talk not of inconstancy,
   False hearts, and broken vows;
If I by miracle can be
This live-long minute true to thee,
   Tis all that Heaven allows.

426                                             Constancy

I CANNOT change as others do,
   Though you unjustly scorn;
Since that poor swain that sighs for you
   For you alone was born.
No, Phillis, no; your heart to move
   A surer way Ill try;
And, to revenge my slighted love,
   Will still love on and die.
When killd with grief Amyntas lies,
   And you to mind shall call
The sighs that now unpitied rise,
   The tears that vainly fall
That welcome hour, that ends this smart,
   Will then begin your pain;
For such a faithful tender heart
   Can never break in vain.

427                                           To His Mistress1

WHY dost thou shade thy lovely face? O why
Does that eclipsing hand of thine deny
The sunshine of the Suns enlivening eye?
Without thy light what light remains in me?
Thou art my life; my way, my lights in thee;
I live, I move, and by thy beams I see.
Thou art my lifeif thou but turn away
My lifes a thousand deaths. Thou art my way
Without thee, Love, I travel not but stray.
My light thou artwithout thy glorious sight
My eyes are darkend with eternal night.
My Love, thou art my way, my life, my light.
Thou art my way; I wander if thou fly.
Thou art my light; if hid, how blind am I!
Thou art my life; if thou withdrawst, I die.
My eyes are dark and blind, I cannot see:
To whom or whither should my darkness flee,
But to that light?and whos that light but thee?
If I have lost my path, dear lover, say,
Shall I still wander in a doubtful way?
Love, shall a lamb of Israels sheepfold stray?
My path is lost, my wandering steps do stray;
I cannot go, nor can I safely stay;
Whom should I seek but thee, my path, my way?
And yet thou turnst thy face away and flyst me!
And yet I sue for grace and thou denyst me!
Speak, art thou angry, Love, or only tryst me?
Thou art the pilgrims path, the blind mans eye,
The dead mans life. On thee my hopes rely:
If I but them remove, I surely die.
Dissolve thy sunbeams, close thy wings and stay!
See, see how I am blind, and dead, and stray!
O thou that art my life, my light, my way!
Then work thy will! If passion bid me flee,
My reason shall obey, my wings shall be
Stretchd out no farther than from me to thee!

1 Pilfered from Francis Quarles, and improved.

 

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