When my love swears that she is made of truth,

I do believe her, though I know she lies,

That she might think me some untutored youth,

Unskilful in the world's false forgeries.

Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,

Although I know my years be past the best,

I smiling credit her false-speaking tongue,

Outfacing faults in love with love's ill rest.

But wherefore says my love that she is young?

And wherefore say not I that I am old?

O, love's best habit's in a soothing tongue,

And age in love loves not to have years told.

Therefore I'll lie with love, and love with me,

Since that our faults in love thus smothered be.


Two loves I have, of comfort and despair,

That like two spirits do suggest me still;

My better angle is a man right fair,

My worser spirit a woman coloured ill.

To win me soon to hell, my female evil

Tempteth my better angel from my side,

And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,

Wooing his purity with her fair pride.

And whether that my angle be turned fiend,

Suspect I may, yet not directly tell;

For being both to me, both to each friend,

I guess one angel in another's hell.

The truth I shall not know, but live in doubt,

Till my bad angel fire my good one out.


Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,

'Gainst whom the world could not hold argument,

Persuade my heart to this false perjury?

Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment.

A woman I forswore; but I will prove,

Thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee:

My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love;

Thy grace being gained cures all disgrace in me.

My vow was breath, and breath a vapour is;

Then, thou fair sun, that on this earth doth shine,

Exhal'st this vapour vow; in thee it is:

If broken, then it is no fault of mine.

If by me broke, what fool is not so wise

To break an oath, to win a paradise?


Sweet Cytherea, sitting by a brook

With young Adonis, lovely, fresh and green,

Did court the lad with many a lovely look,

Such looks as none could look but beauty's queen.

She told him stories to delight his car;

She showed him favours to allure his eye;

To win his heart, she touched him here and there;

Touches so soft still conquer chastity.

But whether unripe years did want conceit,

Or he refused to take her figured proffer,

The tender nibbler would not touch the bait,

But smile and jest at every gentle offer:

Then fell she on her back, fair queen, and toward:

He rose and ran away; ah, fool too froward.


If love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?

O never faith could hold, if not to beauty vowed:

Though to myself forsworn, to thee I'll constant prove;

Those thoughts, to me like oaks, to thee like osiers bowed.

Study his bias leaves, and makes his book thine eyes,

Where all those pleasures live that art can comprehend.

If knowledge be the mark, to know thee shall suffice;

Well learned is that tongue that well can thee commend:

All ignorant that soul that sees thee without wonder;

Which is to me some praise, that I thy parts admire.

Thine eye Jove's lightning seems, thy voice his dreadful thunder,

Which, not to anger bent, is music and sweet fire.

Celestial as thou art, O do not love that wrong,

To sing heaven's praise with such an earthly tongue.


Scarce had the sun dried up the dewy morn

And scarce the herd gone to the hedge for shade,

When Cytherea, all in love forlorn,

A longing tarriance for Adonis made

Under an osier growing by a brook,

A brook where Adon used to cool his spleen.

Hot was the day; she hotter that did look

For his approach, that often there had been.

Anon he comes, and throws his mantle by,

And stood stark naked on the brook's green brim:

The sun looked on the world with glorious eye,

Yet not so wistly as this queen on him.

He, spying her, bounced in whereas he stood;

'O Jove,' quoth she, 'why was not I a flood!'


Fair is my love, but not so fair as fickle;

Mild as a dove, but neither true nor trusty;

Brighter than glass, and yet, as glass is, brittle;

Softer than wax, and yet as iron rusty;

A lily pale, with damask dye to grace her;

None fairer, nor none falser to deface her.

Her lips to mine how often hath she joined,

Between each kiss her oaths of true love swearing!

How many tales to please me hath she coined,

Dreading my love, the loss thereof still fearing!

Yet in the midst of all her pure protestings

Her faith, her oaths, her tears, and all were jestings.

She burned with love, as straw with fire flameth;

She burned out love, as soon as straw out-burneth;

She framed the love, and yet she foiled the framing;

She bade love last, and yet she fell a-turning.

Was this a lover, or a lecher whether?

Bad in the best, though excellent in neither.

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