Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LOVE SONGS: 9. A SIGH FROM OXFORD, by WILLIAM BROWNE (1591-1643)

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

LOVE SONGS: 9. A SIGH FROM OXFORD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Go, and if thou chance to find
Last Line: His sighs did waft him over.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Love

GO, and if thou chance to find
That is southwards bent a wind,
Take it upon any hire,
But be sure it do not tire:
If with love-sighs mix'd it be
Be secure 'twill carry thee;
Spur it on, and make more haste,
Than the fleet that went out last;
Do not stay to curl a rill,
Cleanse a corn, or drive a mill;
Nor to crisp a lock, or turn it:
Thou hast fire, and so may'st burn it.
For thy lodging do not come
In a bagpipe or a drum:
In the belly of some lute
That hath struck Apollo mute;
Or a gentle lady's ear,
That might dream, whilst thou art there,
Of such vows as thou dost carry,
There for one night thou may'st tarry;
Whisper there thy message to her;
And if she have any wooer,
In her sleep perhaps she may
Speak what she denies the day,
And instruct thee to reply
To my Cælia more than I.
For thy lodging, the next day,
Do not thankless go away;
Give the lute a test of air,
That a poet's sigh lay there;
And inform it with a soul
Of so high divine control,
That whoever hears it next
Shall be with a Muse perplex'd;
And a lawyer shall rehearse
His demurs and pleas in verse.
In the Lady's Lab'rinth leave
Not a sound that may deceive;
Drive it thence; and after see
Thou there leave some part of thee,
By which she may well descry
Any lover's forgery:
For it never will admit
Ought that is not true as it.
When that office thou hast done,
And the lady lastly won,
Let the air thou left'st the girl,
Turn a drop, and then a pearl;
Which I wish that she should wear
For a pendant in her ear;
And its virtue still shall be,
To detect all flattery.
Could I give each monarch such,
None would say I sigh'd too much.
When thy largess thou hast given,
(My best sigh next that for heaven)
Make not any longer stay;
Kiss thine hostess, and away.
If thou meet, as thou dost stir,
Any Sigh a passenger,
Stand upon thy guard, and be
Jealous of a robbery;
For the Sighs that travel now
Bear not so much truth as thou;
Those may rob thee to supply
That defect of constancy
Which their masters left to be
Fill'd by what was stol'n from thee:
Yet adventure, for in sooth
Few dare meddle now with truth;
'Tis a coin that will not pay
For their meat or horses' hay;
'Tis cried down, and such a coin
As no great thief will purloin.
Petty foot-Sighs thou may'st meet,
From the Counter or the Fleet
To a wife or mistress sent,
That her lover's means hath spent,
Of such ones beware, for those,
Much spent on their masters' woes,
May want of that store which thou
Carriest to my Cælia now:
And so rob thee, and then spend thee,
So as I did ne'er intend thee;
With dishonour thou shalt move
To beg an alms, not get a love.
Shun them, for they have no ruth,
And know that few are hang'd for truth:
Nay, the laws have been more brief
To jail that theft, more than a thief;
The Hue and Cry will not go post
For the worth which thou hast lost.
Yet for Faith and Truth betray'd
Countries heretofore have paid.
Wary be, and fearing loss,
Like those of the Rosy-Cross,
Be not seen, but hie thee on
Like an inspiration;
And as air, ascending higher,
Turns to drops, or else to fire:
So when thou art nearer come
To my star, and to thy home,
If thou meet a Sigh, which she
Hath but coldly sent to me,
Kiss it, for thy warmer air
Will dissolve into a tear;
As the steam of roses will
At the cold top of a still:
Nor shalt thou be lost; her eyes
Have Apollo's faculties;
Their fair rays will work amain,
And turn thee to a Sigh again.
What thou art yet closely shroud,
Rise up like a fleecy cloud;
And as thou dost so aspire
To her element of fire,
(Which afar its forces dart,
And exhal'd thee from my heart,)
Make thine own shape, just as we
Fashion clouds by phantasy;
Be a Cupid, be a Heart
Wounded, and her rays the dart;
Have a chasma too, and there
Only let our vows appear:
Lastly, I would wish thee be
Such a cloud resembling me,
That Ixion-like she might
Clasp thee with his appetite;
Yet more temperate and chaste,
And whilst thou art so embrac'd,
And afforded some sweet sips,
From her Muse-inspiring lips,
Vanish! and then slip by art
Through those rubies to her heart.
Wind it round, and let it be
Thoughtless of all earth but me;
Grow acquainted with that air,
Which doth to her heart repair;
And so temper and so blisse it,
And so fan it, and so kiss it,
That the new-born rose may be
Not so truly chaste as she.
With that Regent, from that hour,
Leiger lie Ambassador:
Keep our truce unbroke, prefer
All the suits I send to her:
Get dispatches, that may stand
With the good of either hand;
So that thou be bold and true,
Never fear what may ensue;
For there is no policy
Like to that of honesty.
Get into her minion thought,
Howsoever dearly bought;
And procure that she dispense
To transport some kisses thence:
These are rarities and dear,
For like hers I meet none here.
This thy charge is; then begone
With thy full commission:
Make her mine, and clear all doubts;
Kill each jealousy that sprouts;
Keep the honour of thy place;
Let no other Sigh disgrace
Thy just worth, and never sit
To her, though [s]he bribe for it.
And when I shall call thee home,
To send another in thy room;
Leave these thoughts for agents there:
First, I think her pure and chaste,
As the ice congealed last;
Next, as iron (though it glows)
Never melts but once, and flows;
So her love will only be
Fluent once, and that to me:
Lastly, as the glowworm's might
Never kindled other light,
I believe that fire which sheHaply shows in loving me,
Never will encourage man,
(Though her love's meridian
Heat him to it) once to dare
To mention love, though unaware;
Much less fire a Sigh that may
Incorporate with my fair ray.
I have read of two erewhile,
Enemies burnt in one pile;
That their flames would never kiss,
But made a several pyramis.
Let all Sighs that come to thee,
By thy love enlighten'd be;
If they join and make one flame,
Be secure from me they came.
If they separate, beware,
There is craft that would ensnare;
Mine are rarefied and just;
Truth and love: the others lust.
With this charge, farewell, and try
What must be my destiny:
Woo, secure her; plead thy due;
This Sigh is not so long as true:
And whoever shall incline
To send another after mine,
Though he have more cunning far
Than the Juggler Gondomar,
All his sleights, and all his faults,
Hollowness of heart, and halts;
By thy chaster fire will all
Be so wrought diaphanal;
She shall look through them, and see
How much he comes short of me:
Then my Sigh shall be approv'd,
And kiss that heart whom I have lov'd.


A HAPLESS shepherd on a day
Yode to St. Michael's Mount,
And spent more tears upon the way
Than all the sands could count.
Full was the sea, so were the eyes
Of this unhappy lover,
Yet without oar or wind in skies,
His sighs did waft him over.

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