In February.


Upon the vigil of Saint Valentine1
I dreamed, but not in sleep, that Thou and I2
Had drifted backward o’er the gulf of days3
That part us from three hundred years ago.4
Wherefore and how I cared not : for I knew5
That Thou wast still unchangèd, yet for all6
That now Thou worest ruff and farthingale,7
While I, in velvet pile and plumèd cap,8
Proclaimed Thee first with sword as well as pen—9
Such were our parts in Fancy’s Masquerade.10
And then I thought, what homage shall I pay11
My Lady when she wakes to-morrow morn12
More than all other mornings of the year ?13
I would not give her, as was then the wont,14
Aubade or serenade, for shame it were15
To wake her from the summer of her dreams,16
That needs must be of all things bright and fair,17
And to recall her to this frosty world :18
Nor was there trafficking in common forms,19
Three hundred years ago, of flowery rhyme,20
Garnished with Cupids and with suchlike things,21
That all who list may purchase by the score22
For any Kate or Bess or Jill or Joan :23
For, in those days the ritual of the saint24
Was no mere carnival of compliments—25
Things that should never pass ’twixt me and Thee.26
And so I thought and thought until the dream27
Grew clear : until I saw that I should speak28
Unto your eyes words that were only mine,29
Made in the fashion of those olden days30
For you, dear Lady, and for you alone :31
Until just simply from my heart I spake32
And dreamed that Thou didst listen and believe33
The words I spake : and then I woke, and found34
The song I send Thee. Take it : and believe35
Albeit my Strengthe to praise Thee be not fitte,36
And eke to singe I have but shalowe Witte,37
Yette that the olden Guise in whiche ’tis writte38
Is Mirrour of the Truthe that is enshrined in Itte.39


To my moste dere Ladye :

A Valentine.

When triumphing midde Froste and Raine40
The Birdes are faine to singe,41
And faire Sainte Valentine againe42
Makes Winter dreme of Springe :43
Then as the Yere doth laughe with Love44
To thinke on Summer Dayes,45
Eche Hearte that loves it doth behove46
To singe His Ladye’s Praise.47
For pooreste Love hath then the Power,48
When biddes Sainte Valentine,49
Thoughe lowlie be His chosen Flower,50
To make it seme divine :51
To glorifie His Mistresse’ Face,52
Her Haire, Her Lippes, Her Eyes,53
In Sorte to sette Her Beautie’s Grace54
Amidde the starrie Skies.55
And for there holdes noe other Hearte56
A Love soe depe as mine,57
Nor anie Swetenesse hath Deserte58
Of Praise soé highe as Thine :59
Thy Grace doth aske, that is above60
Alle Gemmes in Heaven that are,61
A Songe more highe than depeste Love62
Mote raise to higheste Starre.63
But, Ladye, an Thou aske for Praise,64
Yet doe not aske of mee :65
My Tongue were alle too poore to raise66
Thy Songe of Sovrantie !67
If I the Crafte of Orpheus hadde,68
And mine His Magicke were,69
Then wolde I with Thy Name make gladde70
Alle Erthe and Sea and Aire :71
And I wolde alle Thy Glorie telle72
More mightilie than Hee73
When by His Harpinge Hee from Helle74
Did drawe Euridice :75
Until eche famous Dame of Yore76
Thy Fame sholde soare beyonde,77
And their Renowne be hearde noe more78
In that of Rosamonde.79
But Love in verie Soothe is weke80
When moste Hee sholde be strong ;81
And to exalte Thee sholde I seke82
I sholde but wreke Thee Wronge.83
Ben colde I Musicke’s Glorie blende84
With alle the Welthe of Wordes,85
Thy Mede of Praise wolde farre transcende86
My vainlie striving Chordes :87
Since alle soe faire is growne my Nighte,88
And alle soe fulle my Derthe,89
That Praise were loste amidde Thy Lighte,90
Thou Rose of alle the Erthe !91
For on my Nighte soe brightlie come92
Thy Sunshine’s orient Rayes,93
I mote not be Aughte else but dumbe94
If Thou shold’st aske for Praise :95
And on my Droughte soe softe doth raine96
Thy Swetenesse from above,97
That Aughte to speke were alle in vaine98
Save but the Wordes “ I love !”99
Yea, Love is Love, nor more nor lesse :100
Nor doe thou deme Him smalle,101
In that Hee onlie can confesse102
Himselfe, nor praise at alle :103
For higheste Praise in Him doth dwelle,104
As Glorie Dwelles in Daye :105
And Hee may more by Silence telle106
Than loudeste tongue can saye.107
Yea, Love is Love, nor lesse nor more,108
Nor doe Thou holde Him vaine,109
Albeit Hee can but o’er and o’er110
Repete Himselfe againe :111
Wherefore in mee noe Dutie is112
But onlie to adore,113
And leve to those who love Thee lesse114
To magnifie Thee more.115
Then aske not mee Thy Fame to raise116
Unto Thy native Skie117
There are ten thousande thus to praise118
Thee better farre than I ;119
But if the Praise Thou’dst have is Love120
Then proudlie doe I telle,121
That there is none ’neath Heaven above122
Can praise Thee halfe soe welle !123


Tarrie, my Songe, with mee,124
Prithee, a little space,125
Till I have fashioned Thee126
More worthie of Her Grace !127
Thou wilt not ?  Thou dost longe128
Soe to beholde Her face ?129
Spede to Her, then, my Songe130
Wolde I were in Thy Place !131