The Parting Verse Or Charge To His Supposed Wife When He Travelled.

A poem by Robert Herrick

Go hence, and with this parting kiss,
Which joins two souls, remember this:
Though thou be'st young, kind, soft, and fair
And may'st draw thousands with a hair;
Yet let these glib temptations be
Furies to others, friends to me.
Look upon all, and though on fire
Thou set their hearts, let chaste desire
Steer thee to me, and think, me gone,
In having all, that thou hast none.
Nor so immured would I have
Thee live, as dead and in thy grave;
But walk abroad, yet wisely well
Stand for my coming, sentinel.
And think, as thou do'st walk the street,
Me or my shadow thou do'st meet.
I know a thousand greedy eyes
Will on thy feature tyrannise
In my short absence, yet behold
Them like some picture, or some mould
Fashion'd like thee, which, though 't have ears
And eyes, it neither sees or hears.
Gifts will be sent, and letters, which
Are the expressions of that itch,
And salt, which frets thy suitors; fly
Both, lest thou lose thy liberty;
For, that once lost, thou't fall to one,
Then prostrate to a million.
But if they woo thee, do thou say,
As that chaste Queen of Ithaca
Did to her suitors, this web done,
(Undone as oft as done), I'm won;
I will not urge thee, for I know,
Though thou art young, thou canst say no,
And no again, and so deny
Those thy lust-burning incubi.
Let them enstyle thee fairest fair,
The pearl of princes, yet despair
That so thou art, because thou must
Believe love speaks it not, but lust;
And this their flattery does commend
Thee chiefly for their pleasure's end.
I am not jealous of thy faith,
Or will be, for the axiom saith:
He that doth suspect does haste
A gentle mind to be unchaste.
No, live thee to thy self, and keep
Thy thoughts as cold as is thy sleep,
And let thy dreams be only fed
With this, that I am in thy bed;
And thou, then turning in that sphere,
Waking shalt find me sleeping there.
But yet if boundless lust must scale
Thy fortress, and will needs prevail,
And wildly force a passage in,
Banish consent, and 'tis no sin
Of thine; so Lucrece fell and the
Chaste Syracusian Cyane.
So Medullina fell; yet none
Of these had imputation
For the least trespass, 'cause the mind
Here was not with the act combin'd.
The body sins not, 'tis the will
That makes the action, good or ill.
And if thy fall should this way come,
Triumph in such a martyrdom.
I will not over-long enlarge
To thee this my religious charge.
Take this compression, so by this
Means I shall know what other kiss
Is mixed with mine, and truly know,
Returning, if't be mine or no:
Keep it till then; and now, my spouse,
For my wished safety pay thy vows
And prayers to Venus; if it please
The great blue ruler of the seas,
Not many full-faced moons shall wane,
Lean-horn'd, before I come again
As one triumphant, when I find
In thee all faith of womankind.
Nor would I have thee think that thou
Had'st power thyself to keep this vow,
But, having 'scaped temptation's shelf,
Know virtue taught thee, not thyself.

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