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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 fix’d 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 o’er,
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 moment’s 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 I’ll try;
And, to revenge my slighted love,
   Will still love on and die.
When kill’d 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 Sun’s enlivening eye?
Without thy light what light remains in me?
Thou art my life; my way, my light’s in thee;
I live, I move, and by thy beams I see.
Thou art my life—if thou but turn away
My life’s a thousand deaths. Thou art my way—
Without thee, Love, I travel not but stray.
My light thou art—without thy glorious sight
My eyes are darken’d 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 withdraw’st, I die.
My eyes are dark and blind, I cannot see:
To whom or whither should my darkness flee,
But to that light?—and who’s 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 Israel’s 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 turn’st thy face away and fly’st me!
And yet I sue for grace and thou deny’st me!
Speak, art thou angry, Love, or only try’st me?
Thou art the pilgrim’s path, the blind man’s eye,
The dead man’s 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
Stretch’d out no farther than from me to thee!

1 Pilfered from Francis Quarles, and improved.


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