My Mistress Commanding Me To Return Her Letters.

A poem by Thomas Carew

So grieves th' adventurous merchant, when he throws
All the long toil'd-for treasure his ship stows
Into the angry main, to save from wrack
Himself and men, as I grieve to give back
These letters: yet so powerful is your sway
As if you bid me die, I must obey.
Go then, blest papers, you shall kiss those hands
That gave you freedom, but hold me in bands;
Which with a touch did give you life, but I,
Because I may not touch those hands, must die.
Methinks, as if they knew they should be sent
Home to their native soil from banishment;
I see them smile, like dying saints that know
They are to leave the earth and toward heaven go.
When you return, pray tell your sovereign
And mine, I gave you courteous entertain;
Each line received a tear, and then a kiss;
First bathed in that, it 'scaped unscorch'd from this:
I kiss'd it because your hand had been there;
But, 'cause it was not now, I shed a tear.
Tell her, no length of time, nor change of air,
No cruelty, disdain, absence, despair,
No, nor her steadfast constancy, can deter
My vassal heart from ever honouring her.
Though these be powerful arguments to prove
I love in vain, yet I must ever love.
Say, if she frown, when you that word rehearse,
Service in prose is oft called love in verse:
Then pray her, since I send back on my part
Her papers, she will send me back my heart.
If she refuse, warn her to come before
The god of love, whom thus I will implore:
“ Trav'lling thy country's road, great god, I spied
By chance this lady, and walk'd by her side
From place to place, fearing no violence,
For I was well arm'd, and had made defence
In former fights 'gainst fiercer foes than she
Did at our first encounter seem to be.
But, going farther, every step reveal'd
Some hidden weapon till that time conceal'd;
Seeing those outward arms, I did begin
To fear some greater strength was lodged within;
Looking into her mind, I might survey
An host of beauties, that in ambush lay,
And won the day before they fought the field,
For I, unable to resist, did yield.
But the insulting tyrant so destroys
My conquer'd mind, my ease, my peace, my joys,
Breaks my sweet sleeps, invades my harmless rest,
Robs me of all the treasure of my breast,
Spares not my heart, nor yet a greater wrong,
For, having stol'n my heart, she binds my tongue.
But at the last her melting eyes unseal'd
My lips, enlarged my tongue: then I reveal'd
To her own ears the story of my harms,
Wrought by her virtues and her beauty's charms.
Now hear, just judge, an act of savageness;
When I complain, in hope to find redress,
She bends her andry brow, and from her eye
Shoots thousand darts; I then well hoped to die
But in such sovereign balm Love dips his shot,
That, though they wound a heart, they kill it not.
She saw the blood gush forth from many a wound,
Yet fled, and left me bleeding on the ground,
Nor sought my cure, nor saw me since: 'tis true,
Absence and Time, two cunning leaches, drew
The flesh together, yet, sure, though the skin
Be closed without, the wound festers within.
Thus hath this cruel lady used a true
Servant and subject to herself and you;
Nor know I, great Love, if my life be lent
To show thy mercy or my punishment:
Since by the only magic of thy art
A lover still may live that wants his heart.
If this indictment fright her, so as she
Seem willing to return my heart to me,
But cannot find it (for perhaps it may,
'Mongst other trifling hearts, be out o' th' way);
If she repent and would make me amends,
Bid her but send me hers, and we are friends.”

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