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Short poem

Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

Eleventh Song

              1"Who is it that this dark night
              2Underneath my window plaineth?"
              3It is one who from thy sight
              4Being, ah, exil'd, disdaineth
              5Every other vulgar light.

              6"Why, alas, and are you he?
              7Be not yet those fancies changed?"
              8Dear, when you find change in me,
              9Though from me you be estranged,
            10Let my change to ruin be.

            11"Well, in absence this will die;
            12Leave to see, and leave to wonder."
            13Absence sure will help, if I
            14Can learn how myself to sunder
            15From what in my heart doth lie.

            16"But time will these thoughts remove;
            17Time doth work what no man knoweth."
            18Time doth as the subject prove;
            19With time still the affection groweth
            20In the faithful turtle-dove.

            21"What if you new beauties see?
            22Will not they stir new affection?"
            23I will think they pictures be,
            24Image-like, of saints' perfection,
            25Poorly counterfeiting thee.

            26"But your reason's purest light
            27Bids you leave such minds to nourish."
            28Dear, do reason no such spite;
            29Never doth thy beauty flourish
            30More than in my reason's sight.

            31"But the wrongs love bears will make
            32Love at length leave undertaking."
            33No, the more fools it do shake,
            34In a ground of so firm making
            35Deeper still they drive the stake.

            36"Peace, I think that some give ear!
            37Come no more, lest I get anger!"
            38Bliss, I will my bliss forbear;
            39Fearing, sweet, you to endanger;
            40But my soul shall harbour there.

            41"Well, begone; begone, I say,
            42Lest that Argus' eyes perceive you!"
            43Oh, unjust Fortune's sway,
            44Which can make me thus to leave you;
            45And from louts to run away.


1] First printed in the 1598 folio. Following sonnet CIV, this song represents a last meeting of the lovers, after they had resolved to see each other no more.

18] I.e., time does not affect all persons alike; in some it deepens affection.

27] minds: thoughts.

42] Argus: a myriad-eyed guardian in classical mythology.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Sir Philip Sidney, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, 3rd edn. (R. Field for W. Ponsonbie, 1598). STC 22541. Facs. edn. Delma: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1983. PR 2342 A5 1983.
First publication date: 1598
RPO poem editor: F. D. Hoeniger
RP edition: 3RP 1:122.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/11

Composition date: 1580 - 1582
Rhyme: ababa

Other poems by Sir Philip Sidney