Elizabethan Sonnet Cycles eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 123 pages of information about Elizabethan Sonnet Cycles.


    Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part,
    Nay I have done, you get no more of me;
    And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart,
    That thus so cleanly I myself can free;
      Shakes hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
    And when we meet at any time again,
    Be it not seen in either of our brows
    That we one jot of former love retain. 
      Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath,
    When his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
    When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
    And Innocence is closing up his eyes: 
      Now if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
      From death to life thou might’st him yet recover!


    When first I ended, then I first began;
    Then more I travelled further from my rest. 
    Where most I lost, there most of all I won;
    Pined with hunger, rising from a feast. 
      Methinks I fly, yet want I legs to go,
    Wise in conceit, in act a very sot,
    Ravished with joy amidst a hell of woe,
    What most I seem that surest am I not. 
      I build my hopes a world above the sky,
    Yet with the mole I creep into the earth;
    In plenty I am starved with penury,
    And yet I surfeit in the greatest dearth. 
      I have, I want, despair, and yet desire,
      Burned in a sea of ice, and drowned amidst a fire.


    Truce, gentle Love, a parley now I crave,
    Methinks ’tis long since first these wars begun;
    Nor thou, nor I, the better yet can have;
    Bad is the match where neither party won. 
      I offer free conditions of fair peace,
    My heart for hostage that it shall remain. 
    Discharge our forces, here let malice cease,
    So for my pledge thou give me pledge again. 
      Or if no thing but death will serve thy turn,
    Still thirsting for subversion of my state,
    Do what thou canst, raze, massacre, and burn;
    Let the world see the utmost of thy hate;
      I send defiance, since if overthrown,
      Thou vanquishing, the conquest is mine own.

more chaste than kind
B. Griffin, Gent.


The author of Fidessa has gained undeserved notice from the fact that the piratical printer W. Jaggard, included a transcript of one of his sonnets in a volume that he put forth in 1599, under the name of Shakespeare.  It would be easy to believe, in spite of the doubtful rimes characteristic of Fidessa, that sonnet three was not Griffin’s, for no singer in the Elizabethan choir was more skilful in turning his voice to other people’s melodies than was he.  He has been called “a gross plagiary;” yet it must be realised that the sonneteers of that time felt they had a right, almost a duty, to take up the poetic themes used by their models.  Griffin shows great ingenuity in the manipulation of the stock-themes, and the lover of Petrarch and all the young Abraham-Slenders of the day must have been delighted with the familiar “designs” as they re-appeared in Fidessa.

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Elizabethan Sonnet Cycles from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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