A Lover's Complaint

From off a hill whose concave womb reworded
concave (adj.) 1 hollow, empty
reword, re-word (v.) 2 re-echo, resound, reverberate
A plaintful story from a sist'ring vale
plaintful (adj.) mournful, full of complaining
sistering (adj.) acting like a sister; matching, corresponding
My spirits t' attend this double voice accorded,
accord (v.) agree, assent, consent
attend (v.) 7 listen [to], pay attention [to]
And down I laid to list the sad-tuned tale;
list (v.) 3 listen to, pay attention to
Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale
espy (v.) catch sight of, discern, see
Tearing of papers, breaking rings a twain,
atwain, a twain (adv.) in two, into two parts
Storming her world with sorrows, wind and rain.
Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
hive (n.) beehive-shaped head-covering
Which fortified her visage from the Sun,
visage (n.) 1 face, countenance
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcase of a beauty spent and done,
Time had not scythed all that youth begun,
Nor youth all quit, but spite of heaven's fell rage,
fell (adj.) 1 cruel, fierce, savage
Some beauty peeped, through lattice of seared age.
seared (adj.) 1 withered, wilting, declining
Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne,
eyne (n.) [archaism] eyes
napkin (n.) 1 handkerchief
oft (adv.) often
Which on it had conceited characters:
character (n.) 6 shape, emblem
conceited (adj.) 1 ingenious, clever, well-devised
Laund'ring the silken figures in the brine,
brine (n.) 1 salt water [i.e. tears]
launder (v.) wash, bathe
That seasoned woe had pelleted in tears,
pellet (v.) hit [as if with pellets], pelt
seasoned (adj.) established, settled, mature
And often reading what contents it bears:
As often shrieking undistinguished woe,
undistinguished (adj.) 1 indistinct, confused, inarticulate
In clamours of all size both high and low.
Sometimes her levelled eyes their carriage ride,
levelled (adj.) targetted, directed, aimed
As they did batt'ry to the spheres intend:
sphere (n.) 4 star, planet
Sometimes diverted their poor balls are tied
To th' orbed earth; sometimes they do extend
orbed (adj.) rounded, orb-like, spherical
Their view right on; anon their gazes lend
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently
right on straight out, without art
To every place at once and no where fixed,
The mind and sight distractedly commixed.
commix (v.) mix together, mingle, combine
distractedly (adv.) disjointedly, erratically, with agitation
Her hair nor loose nor tied in formal plait,
Proclaimed in her a careless hand of pride;
For some untucked descended her sheaved hat,
sheaved (adj.) made of straw; gathered up like a sheaf
Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside,
pined (adj.) made thin with grief, wasted away with sorrow
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide,
bide (v.) 3 remain, persist, continue in being
fillet (n.) head-band
threaden (adj.) made of linen thread
And true to bondage would not break from thence,
Though slackly braided in loose negligence.
A thousand favours from a maund she drew,
favour (n.) 5 mark of favour, gift, token [often a love-token]
maund (n.) wicker basket
Of amber crystal and of bedded jet,
bedded (adj.) 2 smoothed, dressed; or: fixed in a setting
Which one by one she in a river threw,
Upon whose weeping margent she was set,
margent (n.) 2 margin, edge, border
set (adj.) 4 seated, sitting down
Like usury applying wet to wet,
Or monarch's hands that lets not bounty fall
bounty (n.) 1 great generosity, gracious liberality, munificence
Where want cries some, but where excess begs all.
cry (v.) 4 beg, entreat, implore
Of folded schedules had she many a one,
schedule (n.) 2 document, paper, scroll
Which she perused, sighed, tore and gave the flood,
flood (n.) 2 river, stream, rushing water
Cracked many a ring of posied gold and bone,
posied (adj.) inscribed with a motto
Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud,
Found yet mo letters sadly penned in blood,
mo, moe (adj.) more [in number]
With sleided silk, feat and affectedly
affectedly (adv.) fancifully, artificially, intricately
feat (adv.) neatly, prettily, elegantly
sleded, sleided (adj.) finely divided, filamented
Enswathed and sealed to curious secrecy.
curious (adj.) 1 finely made, skilfully wrought, elaborate
enswathe (v.) tie up, bind together
These often bathed she in her fluxive eyes,
fluxive (adj.) flowing, streaming, tearful
And often kissed, and often gave to tear,
Cried ‘ O false blood thou register of lies,
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious
register (n.) 1 record, catalogue, inventory
What unapproved witness dost thou bear!
Ink would have seemed more black and damned here!’
This said, in top of rage the lines she rents,
top / tops of, in (prep.) at the highest level of, at the peak of, in the forefront of
Big discontent, so breaking their contents.
A reverend man that grazed his cattle nigh,
reverend (adj.) revered, worthy, respected
Sometime a blusterer that the ruffle knew
blusterer (n.) braggart, boaster, swaggerer
ruffle (n.) hustle-and-bustle, flurry, excitement
sometime (adv.) 1 formerly, at one time, once
Of Court, of City, and had let go by
The swiftest hours observed as they flew,
Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew:
fancy (n.) 2 sweetheart, love, lover
fastly (adv.) readily, quickly
And privileged by age desires to know
In brief the grounds and motives of her woe.
So slides he down upon his grained bat;
bat (n.) cudgel, staff, stick
grained (adj.) 1 straight-grained, tough, strong
And comely distant sits he by her side,
comely (adv.) gracefully, fittingly, decorously
When he again desires her, being sat,
Her grievance with his hearing to divide:
divide (v.) 1 share out, distribute, apportion
grievance (n.) 1 distress, suffering, pain
If that from him there may be ought applied
Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage
ecstasy (n.) 3 emotion, state of mind, feeling
'Tis promised in the charity of age.
‘ Father,’ she says, ‘ though in me you behold
father (n.) 1 old man, venerable sir
The injury of many a blasting hour,
blasting (adj.) 1 blighting, withering, destructive
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
attend (v.) 7 listen [to], pay attention [to]
A youthful suit it was to gain my grace;
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship
O one by nature's outwards so commended,
commend (v.) 5 show well, set off to advantage
outward (n.) outward show, external appearance, demeanor
That maidens' eyes stuck over all his face,
Love lacked a dwelling and made him her place,
And when in his fair parts she did abide,
part (n.) 1 quality, attribute, gift, accomplishment [of mind or body]
She was new lodged and newly deified.
‘ His browny locks did hang in crooked curls,
browny (adj.) brownish
crooked (adj.) 3 curling, twisting
And every light occasion of the wind
occasion (n.) 6 occurrence, action, manifestation
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls,
parcel (n.) 1 part, piece, portion, bit
What's sweet to do, to do will aptly find,
aptly (adv.) easily, readily
Each eye that saw him did enchant the mind:
enchant (v.) charm, bewitch, win over
For on his visage was in little drawn
little, in on a small scale, in miniature
visage (n.) 1 face, countenance
What largeness thinks in paradise was sawn.
‘ Small show of man was yet upon his chin,
show (n.) 1 appearance, exhibition, display
His phoenix down began but to appear
phoenix (adj.) [unclear meaning] rare, matchless, beautiful
Like unshorn velvet, on that termless skin
termless (adj.) indescribable, beyond words
Whose bare out-bragged the web it seemed to wear.
bare (n.) bareness, unadorned state
out-brag (v.) surpass in beauty, excel in pride
Yet showed his visage by that cost more dear,
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt
affection (n.) 6 disposition, character, state of mind
nice (adj.) 2 fine, precise, particular, subtle
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
move (v.) 1 arouse, affect, stir [by emotion]
As oft twixt May and April is to see,
When winds breathe sweet, untidy though they be.
His rudeness so with his authorized youth
rudeness (n.) 2 violent action, forceful strength
Did livery falseness in a pride of truth.
livery (v.) array in a livery, dress up
‘ Well could he ride, and often men would say
That horse his mettle from his rider takes,
Proud of subjection, noble by the sway,
sway (n.) 2 controlling influence, guiding power, direction
What rounds, what bounds, what course, what stop he makes;
And controversy hence a question takes,
Whether the horse by him became his deed,
become (v.) 2 grace, honour, dignify
Or he his manage, by th' well doing steed.
manage (n.) 1 management, handling, control [especially of a horse, as a result of training]
‘ But quickly on this side the verdict went,
His real habitude gave life and grace
habitude (n.) character, disposition, temperament
To appertainings and to ornament,
appertainings (n.) trappings, belongings, appurtenances
Accomplished in himself not in his case:
All aids themselves made fairer by their place,
Can for additions, yet their purposed trim
purposed (adj.) 1 proposed, intended, contemplated
trim (n.) 1 display, array, show
Pieced not his grace but were all graced by him.
piece (v.) 1 add to, join to, augment
‘ So on the tip of his subduing tongue
All kinds of arguments and question deep,
All replication prompt, and reason strong
replication (n.) 1 reply, answer, response
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
bosom (n.) 3 warm-heartedness, tender affection
Of young, of old, and sexes both enchanted,
To dwell with him in thoughts, or to remain
In personal duty, following where he haunted,
Consent's bewitched, ere he desire have granted,
And dialogued for him what he would say,
dialogue (v.) 2 express as a dialogue, provide a conversation
Asked 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
abroad (adv.) 1 in the outside world, freely at large, elsewhere, everywhere
goodly (adj.) 1 splendid, excellent, fine
Of lands and mansions, theirs in thought assigned,
And labouring in mo pleasures to bestow them
mo, moe (adj.) more [in number]
Than the true gouty landlord which doth owe them.
owe (v.) 1 own, possess, have
‘ So many have that never touched 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)
fee-simple, fee simple (n.) private estate [belonging to the owner and his heirs for ever]; permanent lease, full possession
What with his art in youth and youth in art
art (n.) 2 accomplishment, achievement, skill
Threw my affections in his charmed power,
charmed (adj.) 2 bewitching, spellbinding, enchanting
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 remained the foil
foil (n.) 3 setting, background which sets something off to advantage [as dull metal sets off a gem]
Of this false jewel, and his amorous spoil.
false (adj.) 3 sham, spurious, not genuine, artificial
spoil (n.) 2 plunder, booty
‘ But, ah, who ever shunned by precedent
The destined ill she must herself assay,
assay (v.) 2 try, test the mettle of, put to the proof
ill (n.) 1 wrong, injury, harm, evil
Or forced examples 'gainst her own content
To put the by-past perils in her way?
by-past (adj.) former, elapsed, previous
Counsel may stop a while what will not stay:
For when we rage, advice is often seen
By blunting us to make our wits more keen.
wits, also five wits faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)
‘ Nor gives it satisfaction to our blood,
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]
That we must curb it upon others' proof,
proof (n.) 3 test, trial
To be forbid the sweets that seems so good,
For fear of harms that preach in our behoof;
behoof (n.) benefit, advantage
O appetite from judgment stand aloof!
appetite (n.) 2 sexual desire, passion
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,
beguiling (n.) deception, deceit, trickery
untrue (adj.) false, deceptive, deceiving
Heard where his plants in others' orchards grew,
Saw how deceits were gilded in his smiling,
Knew vows were ever brokers to defiling,
broker, broker-between (n.) go-between, intermediary, agent
Thought characters and words merely but art,
art (n.) 7 artifice, artificial conduct; or: wile, trick
character (n.) 4 letter, letter-shape, graphic symbol
merely (adv.) 3 only, nothing more than
And bastards of his foul adulterate heart.
‘ And long upon these terms I held my City,
Till thus he gan besiege me: “ Gentle maid,
'gan, can (v.) began
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind
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 called unto,
Till now did ne'er invite nor never woo.
‘ “ All my offences that abroad you see
abroad (adv.) 1 in the outside world, freely at large, elsewhere, everywhere
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]
Are errors of the blood, none of the mind:
Love made them not, with acture they may be,
acture (n.) action, performance, process of acting
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 warmed,
Or my affection put to th' smallest teen,
affection (n.) 1 fancy, inclination, desire
teen (n.) trouble, grief, suffering
Or any of my leisures ever charmed,
Harm have I done to them but ne'er was harmed,
Kept hearts in liveries, but mine own was free,
livery (n.) 3 service, following, entourage
And reigned commanding in his monarchy.
‘ “ Look here what tributes wounded fancies sent me,
fancy (n.) 2 sweetheart, love, lover
Of paled pearls and rubies red as blood:;
paled (adj.) pale, white, colourless
Figuring that they their passions likewise lent me
figure (v.) 1 symbolize, represent, portray
passion (n.) 1 powerful feeling, overpowering emotion [often opposed to ‘reason’]
Of grief and blushes, aptly understood
In bloodless white, and the encrimsoned mood,
encrimsoned (adj.) dyed crimson, made bright red
Effects of terror and dear modesty,
Encamped in hearts but fighting outwardly.
‘ “ And lo, behold these talents of their hair,
talent (n.) 1 [unclear meaning] wealth, treasure, riches
With twisted metal amorously empleached
empleached, impleached (adj.) entwined, intertwined, interwoven
I have received from many a several fair,
fair (n.) 1 fair face, beauty
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct
Their kind acceptance, weepingly beseeched,
weepingly (adv.) tearfully, with many tears
With th' annexions of fair gems enriched,
annexion (n.) addition, attachment, supplement
And deep brained 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,
invised (adj.) hidden, unseen, invisible
The deep green em'rald, in whose fresh regard
Weak sights their sickly radiance do amend,
amend (v.) 1 cure, heal, improve
The heaven hued sapphire and the opal blend
blend (adj.) blended, mingled, intermixed
With objects manifold; each several stone,
several (adj.) 2 various, sundry, respective, individual
With wit well blazoned, smiled or made some moan.
blazoned (adj.) painted, adorned, depicted
moan (n.) 1 grief, lamentation, sorrow, complaint
wit (n.) 2 mental sharpness, acumen, quickness, ingenuity
‘ “ Lo, all these trophies of affections hot,
affection (n.) 3 desire, passion, lustful feeling
hot (adj.) 2 enthusiastic, ardent, eager, keen
trophy (n.) 1 token of victory, evidence of valour
Of pensived and subdued desires the tender,
pensived (adj.) [unclear meaning] pensive, reflective; melancholic; apprehensive
tender (n.) 1 offer, offering
Nature hath charged me that I hoard them not,
charge (v.) 1 order, command, enjoin
But yield them up where I myself must render:
render (v.) 1 give up, surrender, yield
That is to you my origin and ender:
For these of force must your oblations be,
oblation (n.) offering, gift
Since I their altar, you enpatron me.
enpatron (v.) make a patron of, have under one's patronage
‘ “ Oh then advance (of yours) that phraseless hand,
phraseless (adj.) lacking language to describe
Whose white weighs down the airy scale of praise,
Take all these similes to your own command,
Hallowed with sighs that burning lungs did raise;
What me your minister for you obeys
Works under you, and to your audit comes
audit (n.) account, reckoning [especially: in the face of God]
Their distract parcels, in combined sums.
distract (adj.) 3 divided, separated, scattered
parcel (n.) 1 part, piece, portion, bit
‘ “ Lo, this device was sent me from a Nun,
device (n.) 5 skilful piece of work
Or Sister sanctified of holiest note,
note (n.) 7 reputation, distinction, standing
sanctified (adj.) 1 consecrated, holy
Which late her noble suit in court did shun,
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship
suit (n.) 3 court attendance, personal retinue
Whose rarest havings made the blossoms dote,
having (n.) 2 accomplishment, quality, gift
rare (adj.) 1 marvellous, splendid, excellent
For she was sought by spirits of richest coat,
coat (n.) 1 coat-of-arms
But kept cold distance, and did thence remove,
To spend her living in eternal love.
‘ “ But oh my sweet, what labour is't to leave
The thing we have not, mast'ring what not strives,
Playing the place which did no form receive,
Playing patient sports in unconstrained gyves,
gyve (n.) 1 (plural) fetters, shackles
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment
She that her fame so to herself contrives,
The scars of battle 'scapeth by the flight,
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid
And makes her absence valiant, not her might.
‘ “ Oh 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 enured,
enure, inure (v.) accustom, habituate, adapt
And now to tempt all liberty procured.
‘ “ How mighty then you are, Oh, hear me tell,
The broken bosoms that to me belong
bosom (n.) 1 heart, inner person
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,
congest (v.) collect, gather, bring together
As compound love to physic your cold breast.
physic (v.) 1 cure, correct, dose with medicine
‘ “ My parts had power to charm a sacred Sun,
part (n.) 1 quality, attribute, gift, accomplishment [of mind or body]
Who disciplined I dieted in grace,
discipline (v.) 2 teach, train, instruct
Believed her eyes, when they t' assail begun,
All vows and consecrations giving place:
place (n.) 6 way, room
O most potential love, vow, bond, nor space
In thee hath neither sting, knot, nor confine
confine (n.) 3 confinement, restraint, limitation
For thou art all and all things else are thine.
‘ “ When thou impressest, what are precepts worth
Of stale example? when thou wilt inflame,
example (n.) precedent, parallel case
stale (adj.) 1 ancient, long-standing, antiquated
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 suff'ring pangs it bears,
The aloes of all forces, shocks and fears.
aloe (n.) bitterness, painful experience
‘ “ 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 batt'ry that you make 'gainst mine,
Lending soft audience, to my sweet design,
audience (n.) 1 hearing, attention, reception
And credent soul, to that strong bonded oath,
credent (adj.) 1 trustful, believing, credulous
That shall prefer and undertake my troth.”
prefer (v.) 1 promote, advance, recommend
troth (n.) 1 truth, good faith
‘ This said, his wat'ry eyes he did dismount,
dismount (v.) 1 lower, cast down
Whose sights till then were levelle'd on my face,
level (v.) aim, direct, target
Each cheek a river running from a fount,
With brinish current downward flowe'd a pace:
brinish (adj.) salt, bitter
Oh 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 witch-craft lies
In the small orb of one particular tear?
But with the inundation of the eyes,
What rocky heart to water will not wear?
water (n.) 1 tears
What breast so cold that is not warmed here,
wear (v.) 3 fashion, adapt, conform
Or cleft effect, cold modesty, hot wrath:
Both fire from hence, and chill extincture hath.
‘ For lo, his passion but an art of craft,
extincture (n.) extinction, quenching
Even there resolved my reason into tears,
passion (n.) 1 powerful feeling, overpowering emotion [often opposed to ‘reason’]
There my white stole of chastity I daft,
resolve (v.) 8 melt, dissolve, transform
Shook off my sober guards, and civil fears,
daff (v.), past form daft 1 take off, throw off
Appear to him as he to me appears:
All melting, though our drops this diff'rence bore,
His poisoned 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,
cautel (n.) deceit, trickery, cunning
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 sound at tragic shows.
rank (adj.) 4 gross, outlandish, coarse
‘ That not a heart which in his level came
show (n.) 2 spectacle, display, ceremony
sound (v.) 7 swoon, faint, pass out
Could 'scape the hail of his all hurting aim,
level (n.) 1 [archery] direct aim, target, range
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid
Showing fair Nature is both kind and tame:
And veiled in them did win whom he would maim,
Against the thing he sought, he would exclaim,
When he most burnt in heart-wished luxury,
He preached pure maid, and praised cold chastity.
luxury (n.) lust, lechery, lasciviousness
‘ Thus merely with the garment of a grace,
The naked and concealed fiend he covered,
merely (adv.) 1 completely, totally, entirely
That th' unexperient gave the tempter place,
place (n.) 6 way, room
Which like a cherubin above them hovered,
unexperient (n.) inexperienced person, innocent
Who young and simple would not be so lovered.
cherubin (n.) 2 celestial being, heavenly beauty
Ay me, I fell, and yet do question make,
lovered (adj.) provided with a lover
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 glowed:
infected (adj.) affected, artificial, put on
O that forced thunder from his heart did fly,
false (adj.) 3 sham, spurious, not genuine, artificial
O that sad breath his spongy lungs bestowed,
sad (adj.) 1 serious, grave, solemn
O all that borrowed motion seeming owed,
owe (v.) 1 own, possess, have
Would yet again betray the sore-betrayed,
seeming (adv.) 1 seemingly, becomingly
And new pervert a reconciled maid!’
reconciled (adj.) absolved, confessed, penitent
sore-betrayed (n.) grievously deceived person