Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO HIS MISTRESS, by WALTER RALEIGH



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TO HIS MISTRESS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Our passions are most like to floods and streams
Last Line: And sues for no compassion.
Alternate Author Name(s): Ralegh, Walter
Variant Title(s): Sir Walter Ralegh To The Queen;to The Queen;to Queen Elizabeth;the Silent Lover
Subject(s): Elizabeth I, Queen Of England (1533-1603


Our passions are most like to floods and streams,
The shallow murmur, but the deep are dumb;
So, when affections yield discourse, it seems
The bottom is but shallow whence they come.
They that are rich in words must needs discover
That they are poor in that which makes a lover.

Wrong not, dear empress of the heart,
The merit of true passion
With thinking that he feels no smart
That sues for no compassion;
Since, if my plaints serve not to prove
The conquest of your beauty,
They come not from defect of love
But from excess of duty.

For knowing that I sue to serve
A saint of such perfection
As all desire, yet none deserve,
A place in her affection,
I rather choose to want relief
Than venture the revealing;
When glory recommends the grief,
Despair distrusts the healing.

Thus those desires that aim too high
For any mortal lover,
When reason cannot make them die
Discretion doth them cover.
Yet, when discretion doth bereave
The plaints that they should utter,
Then your discretion mat perceive
That silence is a suitor.

Silence in love bewrays more woe
Than words, though ne'er so witty;
A beggar that is dumb, you know,
Deserveth double pity.
Then misconceive not, dearest heart,
My true though secret passion;
He smarteth most that hides his smart
And sues for no compassion.





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