Thursday, March 25, 2010

Affection is Not Love

Affection is Not Love

Conceit, begotten by the eyes,

Is quickly born and quickly dies;

For while it seeks our hearts to have,

Meanwhile, there reason makes his grave;

For many things the eyes approve,

Which yet the heart doth seldom love.

For as the seeds in spring time sown

Die in the ground ere they be grown,

Such is conceit, whose rooting fails,

As child that in the cradle quails;

Or else within the mother's womb

Hath his beginning and his tomb.

Affection follows Fortune's wheels,

And soon is shaken from her heels;

For, following beauty or estate,

Her liking still is turned to hate;

For all affections have their change,

And fancy only loves to range.

Desire himself runs out of breath,

And, getting, doth but gain his death:

Desire nor reason hath nor rest,

And, blind, doth seldom choose the best:

Desire attained is not desire,

But as the cinders of the fire.

As ships in ports desired are drowned,

As fruit, once ripe, then falls to ground,

As flies that seek for flames are brought

To cinders by the flames they sought;

So fond desire when it attains,

The life expires, the woe remains.

And yet some poets fain would prove

Affection to be perfect love;

And that desire is of that kind,

No less a passion of the mind;

As if wild beasts and men did seek

To like, to love, to choose alike.

* Sir Walter Raleigh*

My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is

My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is

My mind to me a kingdom is,

Such present joys therein I find,

That it excels all other bliss

That earth affords or grows by kind:

Though much I want which most would have,

Yet still my mind forbids to crave.

No princely pomp, no wealthy store,

No force to win the victory,

No wily wit to salve a sore,

No shape to feed a loving eye;

To none of these I yield as thrall:

For why? My mind doth serve for all.

I see how plenty surfeits oft,

And hasty climbers soon do fall;

I see that those which are aloft

Mishap doth threaten most of all;

They get with toil, they keep with fear;

Such cares my mind could never bear.

Content I live, this is my stay,

I seek no more than may suffice,

I press to bear no haughty sway;

Look, what I lack my mind supplies.

Lo, thus I triumph like a king,

Content with that my mind doth bring.

Some have too much, yet still do crave,

I little have, and seek no more:

They are but poor, though much they have,

And I am rich with little store:

They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;

They lack, I leave; they pine, I live.

I laugh not at another's loss,

I grudge not at another's gain;

No worldly waves my mind can toss,

My state at one doth still remain.

I fear no foe, I fawn no friend;

I loathe not life, nor dread my end.

Some weigh their pleasure by their lust,

Their wisdom by their rage of will;

Their treasure is their only trust,

A cloaked craft their store of skill:

But all the pleasure that I find

Is to maintain a quiet mind.

My wealth is health and perfect ease:

My conscience clear my chief defense;

I neither seek by bribes to please,

Nor by deceit to breed offence.

Thus do I live, thus will I die;

Would all did so, as well as I.

*** Sir Edward Dyer

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Lover's Complaint

FROM off a hill whose concave womb reworded
A plaintful story from a sistering vale,
My spirits to attend this double voice accorded,
And down I laid to list the sad-tuned tale;
Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale,
Tearing of papers, breaking rings a-twain,
Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain.

Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
Which fortified her visage from the sun,
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcass of beauty spent and done:
Time had not scythed all that youth begun,
Nor youth all quit; but, spite of heaven's fell rage,
Some beauty peep'd through lattice of sear'd age.

Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne,
Which on it had conceited characters,
Laundering the silken figures in the brine
That season'd woe had pelleted in tears,
And often reading what contents it bears;
As often shrieking undistinguish'd woe,
In clamours of all size, both high and low.

Sometimes her levell'd eyes their carriage ride,
As they did battery to the spheres intend;
Sometime diverted their poor balls are tied
To the orbed earth; sometimes they do extend
Their view right on; anon their gazes lend
To every place at once, and, nowhere fix'd,
The mind and sight distractedly commix'd.

Her hair, nor loose nor tied in formal plat,
Proclaim'd in her a careless hand of pride
For some, untuck'd, descended her sheaved hat,
Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside;
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide,
And true to bondage would not break from thence,
Though slackly braided in loose negligence.

A thousand favours from a maund she drew
Of amber, crystal, and of beaded jet,
Which one by one she in a river threw,
Upon whose weeping margent she was set;
Like usury, applying wet to wet,
Or monarch's hands that let not bounty fall
Where want cries some, but where excess begs all.

Of folded schedules had she many a one,
Which she perused, sigh'd, tore, and gave the flood;
Crack'd many a ring of posied gold and bone
Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud;
Found yet moe letters sadly penn'd in blood,
With sleided silk feat and affectedly
Enswathed, and seal'd to curious secrecy.

These often bathed she in her fluxive eyes,
And often kiss'd, and often 'gan to tear:
Cried 'O false blood, thou register of lies,
What unapproved witness dost thou bear!
Ink would have seem'd more black and damned here!'
This said, in top of rage the lines she rents,
Big discontent so breaking their contents.

A reverend man that grazed his cattle nigh--
Sometime a blusterer, that the ruffle knew
Of court, of city, and had let go by
The swiftest hours, observed as they flew--
Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew,
And, privileged by age, desires to know
In brief the grounds and motives of her woe.

So slides he down upon his grained bat,
And comely-distant sits he by her side;
When he again desires her, being sat,
Her grievance with his hearing to divide:
If that from him there may be aught applied
Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage,
'Tis promised in the charity of age.

'Father,' she says, 'though in me you behold
The injury of many a blasting hour,
Let it not tell your judgment I am old;
Not age, but sorrow, over me hath power:
I might as yet have been a spreading flower,
Fresh to myself, If I had self-applied
Love to myself and to no love beside.

'But, woe is me! too early I attended
A youthful suit--it was to gain my grace--
Of one by nature's outwards so commended,
That maidens' eyes stuck over all his face:
Love lack'd a dwelling, and made him her place;
And when in his fair parts she did abide,
She was new lodged and newly deified.

'His browny locks did hang in crooked curls;
And every light occasion of the wind
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls.
What's sweet to do, to do will aptly find:
Each eye that saw him did enchant the mind,
For on his visage was in little drawn
What largeness thinks in Paradise was sawn.

'Small show of man was yet upon his chin;
His phoenix down began but to appear
Like unshorn velvet on that termless skin
Whose bare out-bragg'd the web it seem'd to wear:
Yet show'd his visage by that cost more dear;
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt
If best were as it was, or best without.

'His qualities were beauteous as his form,
For maiden-tongued he was, and thereof free;
Yet, if men moved him, was he such a storm
As oft 'twixt May and April is to see,
When winds breathe sweet, untidy though they be.
His rudeness so with his authorized youth
Did livery falseness in a pride of truth.

'Well could he ride, and often men would say
'That horse his mettle from his rider takes:
Proud of subjection, noble by the sway,
What rounds, what bounds, what course, what stop
he makes!'
And controversy hence a question takes,
Whether the horse by him became his deed,
Or he his manage by the well-doing steed.

'But quickly on this side the verdict went:
His real habitude gave life and grace
To appertainings and to ornament,
Accomplish'd in himself, not in his case:
All aids, themselves made fairer by their place,
Came for additions; yet their purposed trim
Pieced not his grace, but were all graced by him.

'So on the tip of his subduing tongue
All kinds of arguments and question deep,
All replication prompt, and reason strong,
For his advantage still did wake and sleep:
To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep,
He had the dialect and different skill,
Catching all passions in his craft of will:

'That he did in the general bosom reign
Of young, of old; and sexes both enchanted,
To dwell with him in thoughts, or to remain
In personal duty, following where he haunted:
Consents bewitch'd, ere he desire, have granted;
And dialogued for him what he would say,
Ask'd their own wills, and made their wills obey.

'Many there were that did his picture get,
To serve their eyes, and in it put their mind;
Like fools that in th' imagination set
The goodly objects which abroad they find
Of lands and mansions, theirs in thought assign'd;
And labouring in moe pleasures to bestow them
Than the true gouty landlord which doth owe them:

'So many have, that never touch'd his hand,
Sweetly supposed them mistress of his heart.
My woeful self, that did in freedom stand,
And was my own fee-simple, not in part,
What with his art in youth, and youth in art,
Threw my affections in his charmed power,
Reserved the stalk and gave him all my flower.

'Yet did I not, as some my equals did,
Demand of him, nor being desired yielded;
Finding myself in honour so forbid,
With safest distance I mine honour shielded:
Experience for me many bulwarks builded
Of proofs new-bleeding, which remain'd the foil
Of this false jewel, and his amorous spoil.

'But, ah, who ever shunn'd by precedent
The destined ill she must herself assay?
Or forced examples, 'gainst her own content,
To put the by-past perils in her way?
Counsel may stop awhile what will not stay;
For when we rage, advice is often seen
By blunting us to make our wits more keen.

'Nor gives it satisfaction to our blood,
That we must curb it upon others' proof;
To be forbod the sweets that seem so good,
For fear of harms that preach in our behoof.
O appetite, from judgment stand aloof!
The one a palate hath that needs will taste,
Though Reason weep, and cry, 'It is thy last.'

'For further I could say 'This man's untrue,'
And knew the patterns of his foul beguiling;
Heard where his plants in others' orchards grew,
Saw how deceits were gilded in his smiling;
Knew vows were ever brokers to defiling;
Thought characters and words merely but art,
And bastards of his foul adulterate heart.

'And long upon these terms I held my city,
Till thus he gan besiege me: 'Gentle maid,
Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity,
And be not of my holy vows afraid:
That's to ye sworn to none was ever said;
For feasts of love I have been call'd unto,
Till now did ne'er invite, nor never woo.

''All my offences that abroad you see
Are errors of the blood, none of the mind;
Love made them not: with acture they may be,
Where neither party is nor true nor kind:
They sought their shame that so their shame did find;
And so much less of shame in me remains,
By how much of me their reproach contains.

''Among the many that mine eyes have seen,
Not one whose flame my heart so much as warm'd,
Or my affection put to the smallest teen,
Or any of my leisures ever charm'd:
Harm have I done to them, but ne'er was harm'd;
Kept hearts in liveries, but mine own was free,
And reign'd, commanding in his monarchy.

''Look here, what tributes wounded fancies sent me,
Of paled pearls and rubies red as blood;
Figuring that they their passions likewise lent me
Of grief and blushes, aptly understood
In bloodless white and the encrimson'd mood;
Effects of terror and dear modesty,
Encamp'd in hearts, but fighting outwardly.

''And, lo, behold these talents of their hair,
With twisted metal amorously impleach'd,
I have received from many a several fair,
Their kind acceptance weepingly beseech'd,
With the annexions of fair gems enrich'd,
And deep-brain'd sonnets that did amplify
Each stone's dear nature, worth, and quality.

''The diamond,--why, 'twas beautiful and hard,
Whereto his invised properties did tend;
The deep-green emerald, in whose fresh regard
Weak sights their sickly radiance do amend;
The heaven-hued sapphire and the opal blend
With objects manifold: each several stone,
With wit well blazon'd, smiled or made some moan.

''Lo, all these trophies of affections hot,
Of pensived and subdued desires the tender,
Nature hath charged me that I hoard them not,
But yield them up where I myself must render,
That is, to you, my origin and ender;
For these, of force, must your oblations be,
Since I their altar, you enpatron me.

''O, then, advance of yours that phraseless hand,
Whose white weighs down the airy scale of praise;
Take all these similes to your own command,
Hallow'd with sighs that burning lungs did raise;
What me your minister, for you obeys,
Works under you; and to your audit comes
Their distract parcels in combined sums.

''Lo, this device was sent me from a nun,
Or sister sanctified, of holiest note;
Which late her noble suit in court did shun,
Whose rarest havings made the blossoms dote;
For she was sought by spirits of richest coat,
But kept cold distance, and did thence remove,
To spend her living in eternal love.

''But, O my sweet, what labour is't to leave
The thing we have not, mastering what not strives,
Playing the place which did no form receive,
Playing patient sports in unconstrained gyves?
She that her fame so to herself contrives,
The scars of battle 'scapeth by the flight,
And makes her absence valiant, not her might.

''O, pardon me, in that my boast is true:
The accident which brought me to her eye
Upon the moment did her force subdue,
And now she would the caged cloister fly:
Religious love put out Religion's eye:
Not to be tempted, would she be immured,
And now, to tempt, all liberty procured.

''How mighty then you are, O, hear me tell!
The broken bosoms that to me belong
Have emptied all their fountains in my well,
And mine I pour your ocean all among:
I strong o'er them, and you o'er me being strong,
Must for your victory us all congest,
As compound love to physic your cold breast.

''My parts had power to charm a sacred nun,
Who, disciplined, ay, dieted in grace,
Believed her eyes when they to assail begun,
All vows and consecrations giving place:
O most potential love! vow, bond, nor space,
In thee hath neither sting, knot, nor confine,
For thou art all, and all things else are thine.

''When thou impressest, what are precepts worth
Of stale example? When thou wilt inflame,
How coldly those impediments stand forth
Of wealth, of filial fear, law, kindred, fame!
Love's arms are peace, 'gainst rule, 'gainst sense,
'gainst shame,
And sweetens, in the suffering pangs it bears,
The aloes of all forces, shocks, and fears.

''Now all these hearts that do on mine depend,
Feeling it break, with bleeding groans they pine;
And supplicant their sighs to you extend,
To leave the battery that you make 'gainst mine,
Lending soft audience to my sweet design,
And credent soul to that strong-bonded oath
That shall prefer and undertake my troth.'

'This said, his watery eyes he did dismount,
Whose sights till then were levell'd on my face;
Each cheek a river running from a fount
With brinish current downward flow'd apace:
O, how the channel to the stream gave grace!
Who glazed with crystal gate the glowing roses
That flame through water which their hue encloses.

'O father, what a hell of witchcraft lies
In the small orb of one particular tear!
But with the inundation of the eyes
What rocky heart to water will not wear?
What breast so cold that is not warmed here?
O cleft effect! cold modesty, hot wrath,
Both fire from hence and chill extincture hath.

'For, lo, his passion, but an art of craft,
Even there resolved my reason into tears;
There my white stole of chastity I daff'd,
Shook off my sober guards and civil fears;
Appear to him, as he to me appears,
All melting; though our drops this difference bore,
His poison'd me, and mine did him restore.

'In him a plenitude of subtle matter,
Applied to cautels, all strange forms receives,
Of burning blushes, or of weeping water,
Or swooning paleness; and he takes and leaves,
In either's aptness, as it best deceives,
To blush at speeches rank to weep at woes,
Or to turn white and swoon at tragic shows.

'That not a heart which in his level came
Could 'scape the hail of his all-hurting aim,
Showing fair nature is both kind and tame;
And, veil'd in them, did win whom he would maim:
Against the thing he sought he would exclaim;
When he most burn'd in heart-wish'd luxury,
He preach'd pure maid, and praised cold chastity.

'Thus merely with the garment of a Grace
The naked and concealed fiend he cover'd;
That th' unexperient gave the tempter place,
Which like a cherubin above them hover'd.
Who, young and simple, would not be so lover'd?
Ay me! I fell; and yet do question make
What I should do again for such a sake.

'O, that infected moisture of his eye,
O, that false fire which in his cheek so glow'd,
O, that forced thunder from his heart did fly,
O, that sad breath his spongy lungs bestow'd,
O, all that borrow'd motion seeming owed,
Would yet again betray the fore-betray'd,
And new pervert a reconciled maid!'
William Shakespeare

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Riddle

A Riddle
You say I am a riddle – it may be
For all of us are riddles unexplained.
Begun in pain, in deeper torture ended,
This breathing clay what business has it here?
Some petty wants to chain us to the Earth,
Some lofty thoughts to lift us to the spheres,
And cheat us with that semblance of a soul
To dream of Immortality, till Time
O’er empty visions draws the closing veil,
And a new life begins – the life of worms,
Those hungry plunderers of the human breast.
For this Hope dwindles as we fathom Truth:
Forgotten to forget – and is that all?
To-day a man, with power to act and feel,
A mirror of the Universe, wherein
Creation’s centred rays combine to form
The focus of Intelligence; to-day
A heart so deeply loving that it seems
As if that band uniting soul to soul,
Were but Religion in a brighter form;
To-day all this – to-morrow a cold corpse,
A something worse than clay which stinks and rots.
Kind hands may strew their flowers, kind eyes may drop
A tear of pity o’er the buried dust;
But worms will feed long after friends are gone,
And, after all, what matters love of theirs
When all of us, that was, is at an end.
Thus far we all are riddles, but not so
In friendly intercourse of polished men.
There never did I shun to show myself
In open light – at least the faults I have.
If mask I wear it is the mask of Pride
Which scorns to show the miseries of the heart
And never stoops to beg Compassion’s tear.
But since that closeness of the guarded breast
Is deemed a failing, since you wish to read
The bitter annals of a wasted life,
Lest you should deem me worse than truth can show,
Here will I sketch the likeness of my soul.
The time is fitting for the storm without,
Seems as an echo to the storm within,
And lightnings breaking through the dark of night
Match in their fury those that rend the heart.
Most men look back upon their childhood’s days
With deep regret that they cannot return,
For in that age, if Love denies its roses,
It breeds no thorns to poison Beauty’s touch,
The heart as yet beats with an even pulse,
Free from the throbs alike of bliss and woe;
A mother’s kiss can set the face a-beaming
With smiles that breathe of innocence and joy;
A toy denied can cloud it o’er again
Till the fair cheek o’erflows with trickling tears;
Yet has that joy no deep, voluptuous swell,
Nor are those tears with bitterness imbued.
Man’s halcyon days! weaned from a mother’s breast,
But not yet weaned from her endearing care,
We hail the future as a fairy-land
And light its prospect with the rays of Hope,
That inward sunshine of the budding soul.
It shines on all, yet shone not then on me,
For torture, in the shape of illness, threw
A gloom around me from the dawn of life.
My cradle looked a death-bed, and for years
A mother watched with ever anxious care,
Though little chance, to save the flickering light.
I scarce could gather strength to drain the breast
And then convulsions followed, till I gasped
Upon the brink of Nothingness – my frame
A school for Agony, with Death for goal.
Thus passed some years, while Life with Death contending,
Hung o’ver Chaos on a single thread,But spun by Destiny, such threads will hold
Till man is brought to tear them with a curse.
Not that to me life seems an idle burden:
I look upon it as a noble gift,
A gem from Nature’s hand for man to polish
Till sparkling beams repay him for his toil.
A wretch is he who, for some petty cause,
Of grief, or disappointment, or distress,
Would barter light for darkness, thought for dust;
But when the rays of that same gem of ours
Prove but the finery of deluding paste,
When light is wasted on a desert soil,
When the soul glimmers through a tottering frame,
May we not woo the stillness of that night
Which has no morrow? Sometimes when the mind
Reviews the past, and from its miseries draws
A future parallel, that fatal thought
Intrudes, but ‘tis ignoble, for to be

Is something still, and were we doubly mean.
What if that Sun which lights us from above
Should set for ever, would not each of us
Count the last ray that still kept off the night?
What if that Sun which lights us from within
Be slow to set, should we shut out its rays?
And can we not, from the wide scene around,
From earth, from skies, from the Creator’s store
Of beauteous moulds draw matter for the mind
To fill its void and chase the clouds of sorrow?
Is there no face, that, looking into ours,
Feeds on its joy or smiles its pain away?
Is there no maid to tend the sick of soul?
No heart with sweet responsive love?
Is there no link between us and the world
Wherewith to join Affection’s broken chain?
Alas! For those that cannot claim a share
In the sweet ties of human brotherhood,
Who never knew the bliss of charity,
That charity which gold cannot supply.
Life unto them is but a demi-death
And terrors hunt them to an early grave.
But I perceive, my thoughts are gone a-wondering
They needs must follow where their magnet leads.
Now to my theme.
I left the infant whining,
A paltry thing conscious of nought but woe.
We find him now a boy. His weakness still
Makes him a stranger in the little world
Wherein he moves: when fellow-boys are playing
He joins them not, a pensive looker-on;
And thus debarred the pleasures of his age
His mind keeps brooding over those to come.
With an Imagination made to scale

The utmost heights to which the mind can soar
I had no judgement then to check its flight
Or trace the drawbacks on its golden dreams.
The past, the present, with their conscious woe,
Seemed but a stepping-stone to future bliss;
And where is he, who in his early days
Has not blown hopes, those bubbles of the mind,
Whose tints grow richer as the substance thins,
Then burst, leaving their mockery behind.
But blown in youth they mostly burst much later,
And colour life, the charming cheats they are.
Facing the world I saw there was but little
Which had not been embellished in my dreams;
I viewed the scenery which spread around
My early home with an observing eye,
Yet did not much exult, for Fancy drew
Within a landscape brighter far and wider,
Pregnant with beauties of ideal growth:
There was no spot but the rich loom of Nature
Had woven a carpet for the treading foot;
The forests were of more majestic height,
And on the leaf there was a richer hue;
The mountains stretched their huge, fantastic shapes
On high, but on their tops there was no snow;
An ocean bordered on Eternity,
But it was calm and gentle as a child,
Its surface clear, and clear its conscience too,
If such it had, for it had made no wrecks;
Eternal sunshine made eternal summer,
And when the night spread shadows over Earth
There rose a moon – the hallowed lamp of Love.
And men were not what we do find them here:
No petty misers trembling for their hoards;

No lechers gloating o’er forbidden charms;
No sale of honour for the gain of bread;
No Vanity to feed the mind on glare
That great allurement of the reckless crowd;
No treacherous Envy, with its bilious face
That leaves in poison what it finds in joy;
No Calumny, with social wit endowed,
To rob the absent of their honest fame;
No, nothing of the kind; and woman too
Was far from what a real world can show;
No skilled coquettes to mock at deeper feelings
Because their own are of the shallow kind;
Who deem it conquest if they charm a fool
Devoid of sense to look their falsehood through;
No matrons either, careless of their duty,
And all that honour, all that sense commands,
Who feed the cravings of their rotten hearts;
And sap the Altar of Domestic Peace.No;
Modesty was there all women’s dower,
A sacred gift to keep Contagion off:
That gift, could we put woman’s heart to test,
Would prove its purest essence: with that guard
What husband would not lay his head secure
On such a bosom, trustful of its truth.
Yea, all was perfect in that brain-born world
Of which I was the soul; and round me flocked
The beauteous, and the gifted, and the great,
And deeply drank my boyish vanity
The incense of its own Idolatry!
Such my ideal life.
‘Twas foolish sure
To view the future through that rosy glass,
But Youth must pass its school, and one by one
Its air-build castles crumble into dust.

Ambition in its dawn is apt to build
On a grand scale, but cannot measure then
The dizzy heights which we must climb for fame.
I still remember, when I read of men
Whose deeds are treasured up in History’s page,
Or dwelt upon the thoughts of those long dead
That yet have might to kindle living souls,
A strange emotion gathered in my breast.
‘Twas but a thrill which I cannot describe,
Yet scarcely Love, when heart ‘gainst heart is beating,
When it unfolds its sweet delusive store;
Can match that bliss – I never felt the like.
And now ‘tis gone: experience soon will show
That lofty thoughts must come from lofty power,
That eagles soar but as their wings can bear,
And then Ambition’s impotence doth fret
A cancer on the soul, corroding youth.
Men talk of hells – the deepest is within
When jar the springs of Nature’s harmony.
But hope is blind. The sailor trusts his skill
Nor dreams of wrecks when he puts off from shore,
And the young sailor o’er that chartless sea
Which we call Time ne’er asks if shoals be nigh.
Thus confident I left in early youth
My home for distant lands beyond the sea,
But, strange to say, even when the Ocean spread
Its grandeur round, it struck me not as new –
My Mind had pictured Oceans far more wide.
I came to Paris – – that’s an Ocean too
Where Passion blows its storms, and makes more wrecks
Than the salt brine e’er made. Whoe’er explores
The vast, unfathomed gulf of Vice and Folly
Must pay his tribute to its idol Pleasure
Till he perceives he took her painted face
For the rich charms of Nature’s healthy glow;
Then turns disgusted from degrading scenes
And looks for quiet to refresh the heart.
Alas! when youth has lost its faith in love,
When we have known the soul and heart to rot
In woman long before her charms are gone,
We pay for that experience a price
Which Fortune’s brightest gift cannot refund.
We learn to scoff at Purity itself
And search for rouge on modest Virgin’s cheek.I found it so.
When Passion first expands‘Tis not too nice to feed on common fruits,
And Vice has charms which blind us for a while.
Thus I drank deeply from its cup, but soon
I found its nectar poisoned with its dregs,
I sought for higher feeling and I found
That there are treasures in the tender breast
Which Dissipation never can destroy.
The sunken wretch who traffics with her charms
To earn her daily bread with daily shame,
May stir our senses into Passion’s fire
Till slaked the thirst of brutal appetite;
But when the tide of feeling ebbs away
What man but feels a gnawing at his heart,
A gnawing of remorse for self-disgrace
.It is because there is a nobler nature
In polished men which cannot all be checked;
They too may stoop at times to worship Vice.
But know the value of her venal charms,
Nor can the sweetness of her kiss efface
The after-taste which its pollution leaves.
I’ve tried all kinds of love, from love ideal,

9To the most abject hungry Vice bestows,
And know too well for me what weight they carry
When each is balanced in Enjoyment’s scales.
Pure love ennobles while it charms the soul,
Yet is such love not much in fashion now
Since hopes and dreams are sacrificed to facts;
And hence it is that the same incense burns
On Virtue’s altar and Corruption’s shrine.
Not so with me. I have my darker hours
When gloomy bodings weigh upon the soul,
When the heart pants for something to adore
As if an angel could be born a maid,
As if Perfection were no brain-born dream.
I am a Dotard – let the wiser sneer!
I am a suckling still at Fancy’s breast,
And if no living soul will cling to mine
I lull my heart with day-dreams bright and sweet
Or with the shadows of my former joys;
For once a being beautiful and good
Looked up to me, to me alone, for love.
No selfish motive drew the link between us,
No parents whispered of a proper match;
Why then loved she? because it was her nature
As fragrance is the nature of the rose,
And what is love but a still purer essence,
The sweeter fragrance of the breathing rose!
Remembrance fondly linger o’er those days
Of bygone bliss, but ere we pass to them
Glance we a moment o’er another scene.
There was a time when life had lost its zest
And disappointment gnawed me to the heart.
‘Twas not indulgence had brought on surfeit
But something worse – that dread, corroding doubt,

The bitter sediment of baffled hopes,
Which makes the world appear a juggling mask
And Beauty’s self raise nothing but a sneer,
Till, brooding o’er the mysteries of death,
We almost woo its close to such a scene.
I entered on that scene my heart o’erflowing
With sympathy – I sought for a return:
I looked to man for friendship, and to woman
For what should be a closer friendship – love.
In both I was deceived for I had chosen
Not with discernment as becomes a man,
But upon trust, the foolish boy I was.
Th’advances of my heart were met with jeers
Till, schooled in vice, I could return the jest;
Or else pretended friendship proved a show
To mask a selfish purpose. In disgust
I turned from such, and sought at woman’s hands,
Beneath the softness of a gentler breast,
For more congenial feelings: there I learned
To look on Love as Prostitution’s bawd,
On Youth and Beauty as a dress for Vice.
He who has soared not upon Fancy’s wing,
Whose fiction never lent its glowing colours
To an ideal world, he cannot share
The deep depression which the dreamer feels
When all the beauties of his mind’s creation
Are brought to stumble o’er Reality,
When upon test he finds the empty dreams,
Yet sweeter thus than all that life bestows.
Despondent shuns he then the wanton world,
And trains his soul to sickly solitude;
And thus his noble gifts are idly wasted
In mental palsy – uncreative thought.

Such was my state of self-wrought misery
When love came to my rescue.
At a ballIt chanced.
I stood there gazing at the throng,
And it may be the splendour of the scene,
Contrasting with my inward wretchedness,
Wrought on my face a more than usual sadness
For one there was who marked that gloom of mine,
And as our eyes occasionally met
Her’s seemed to struggle with a rebel tear.
Such are the starting points of those affections
Which fill a life: a tear, a smile, a word,
May form a link which only Death can tear.
On went the dance, and joining it with her
I felt a load fast sinking from my heart.
“Erewhile I traced deep sadness on your brow:
“Is it the loss of any dear to you
“Affects you so?” –
“No, Lady, not for friends,
“But friendship’s loss I mourn: the faith I had
“In better feelings has been shaken long;
“For wheresoe’er I look there’s Egotism“
And vanity, the main-spring of this world.”
“Perhaps ‘tis so, yet should you not despond,
“For man is made to hold his head aloft
“And struggle ‘gainst an adverse fate; if life
“Strews not your path with roses, still there’s left
“One great resource, the culture of your mind.
“You men can act: it is a noble lot“
To be endowed with a creative power
“For others’ good – a sin to waste that power.
“We of the weaker sex, we cannot share“
Such aspirations: ‘tis our humbler lot
“To sweeten yours and share your joys and sorrows.”
I deeply felt the truth her words avouched,

But deeper still I felt the love I bore.
I came a scoffer with a settled sneer:
I went an altered and a better man;
My life, till then a dreary desert like,
Revived to bliss and hope. I had an aim,
A heavenly aim – to win that lovely girl
And to be worthy her. The smile of old
Revisited my lips, and with it came
New vigour to my mind: I felt it soar
On Inspiration’s wing to other spheres,
The spheres of Love and Poesy; I felt
Supremely happy; and we met again,
And oft again, till we had grown to be
A Heaven to one another; and I heard
The sweet confession of her Love; and sealed
It with a kiss, the chaste and hollowed kiss
Of pure affection though no eye was there,
Save the Almighty’s to keep watch o’er us.

This might have ended in the usual manner,
And brought the joys and griefs of wedded life;
But ‘twas not so ordained: another bridegroom
Had stronger claims – she’s wedded to her grave.
Those flashing eyes where is their tempered fire?
Those wooing lips where is their ruby hue?
The thoughtful sadness of that beauteous brow,
Th’angelic softness of that lovely face,
The grace that decked, the soul that lit her charms,
Who can detect them where her dust is laid?
Think you that rubbish which we leave behind,
Those ashes of the frame and mind can earn,
Religion’s promise of celestial life?
They need no dung in Heaven so we may make
Us easy on that score and rot in peace.

Yet when such bands are torn, when man is left
A lonely hermit in a busy world,
To brood o’er griefs for which there is no cure,
‘Tis sweet to dream that we may meet again
With those we mourn for: ‘tis a lie at best,
But pleasant lies may mask an ugly truth,
At least to weaker minds: the strong require
A solid ground whereon to build their hopes.
Mine are but few.
My love is with the dead;
Nor was I there to soothe her latest hour,
But came to gaze upon a putrid corpse
Such as but fools can cherish.
At the sigh
tA shudder seized me, and I turned away
In frenzied anguish unrelieved by tears.
They came at length, and as they freely flowed,
A calm came o’er my spirits: kneeling down
I raised my eyes towards Heaven and prayed
To the great Father there who gives and takes.
The day went down and through the dead of night
The stars shone lovely, and their rays to me
Seemed as a mystic answer from above.
And so they were: what are those rays which fill
His universe but messages from God
Could we but read their meaning.
As I gazed My soul, elated with the grandeur round,
Felt deeply humbled at my petty grief,
And I resolved to shake it off as much
As man has strength to do, and to devote
My life to nobler duties. From that hour
I have not shared the pleasure of the crowd,
Nor moved in Beauty’s eye Compassion’s tear,
But I have learned to study Nature’s book
And comprehend its pages, and extract
From their deep love a solace for my grief.
Alfred Nobel

Monday, March 1, 2010


When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

William SHakespeare