I. W. To her Unconstant Lover

written by

« Reload image

As close as you your wedding kept, yet now the truth I hear,Which you (ere now) might me have told -- what need you nay to swear?

You know I always wisht you well, so will I during life:But sith you shall a husband be, God send you a good wife.

And this (where so you shall become) full boldly may you boast:That once you had as true a love, as dwelt in any coast.

Whose constantness had never quailed if you had not begon:And yet it is not so far past but might again be won.

If you so would, yea, and not change so long as life would last,But if that needs you marry must? then farewell -- hope is past.

And if you cannot be content to lead a single life?(Although the same right quiet be) then take me to your wife.

So shall the promises be kept that you so firmly made:Now choose whether ye will be true, or be of Sinon's trade.

Whose trade if that you long shall use, it shall your kindred stain:Example take by many a one whose falsehood now is plain.

As by Aeneas first of all, who did poor Dido leave,Causing the Queen by his untruth with sword her heart to cleave.

Also I find that Theseus did his faithful love forsake,Stealing away within the night, before she did awake.

Jason that came of noble race, two ladies did begile.I muse how he durst shew his face, to them that knew his wile.

For when he by Medea's art had got the Fleece of GoldAnd also had of her that time, all kind of things he wold.

He took his ship and fled away regarding not the vowsThat he did make so faithfully unto his loving spouse.

How durst he trust the surging seas knowing himself forsworn?Why did he scape safe to the land before the ship was torn?

I think king Aeolus stayed the winds and Neptune ruled the sea:Then might he boldly pass the waves no perils could him slee.

But if his falsehed had to them been manifest before,They would have rent the ship as soon as he had gone from shore.

Now may you hear how falseness is made manifest in time:Although they that commit the same think it a venial crime.

For they, for their unfaithfulness, did get perpetual fame:Fame? wherefore did I term it so? I should have called it shame.

Let Theseus be, let Jason pass, let Paris also scapeThat brought destruction unto Troy all through the Grecian rape,

And unto me a Troylus be, if not you may compareWith any of these persons that aboue expressed are.

But if I can not please your mind for wants that rest in me,Wed whom you list, I am content, your refuse for to be.

It shall suffice me, simple soul, of thee to be forsaken:And it may chance, although not yet, you wish you had me taken.

But rather than you should have cause to wish this through your wife,I wish to her, ere you her have, no more but love of life.

For she that shall so happy be, of thee to be elect,I wish her virtues to be such, she need not be suspect.

I rather wish her Helen's face than one of Helen's trade:With chasteness of Penelope the which did never fade.

A Lucres for her constancy, and Thisbie for her truth:If such thou have, then Peto be, not Paris, that were ruth.

Perchance ye will think this thing rare in one woman to find:Save Helen's beauty, all the rest the Gods have me assigned.

These words I do not speak, thinking from thy new love to turn thee:Thou know'st by proof what I deserve -- I need not to inform thee.

But let that pass: would God I had Cassandra's gift me lent:Then either thy ill chance or mine my foresight might prevent.

But all in vain for this I seek; wishes may not attain it.Therefore may hap to me what shall, and I cannot refrain it.

Wherefore I pray God be my guide and also thee defend,No worser than I wish my self, until thy life shall end.

Which life, I pray God, may again King Nestor's life renew:And after that your soul may rest amongst the heavenly crew.

Thereto I wish King Xerxes' wealth or else King Cressus' gold,With as much rest and quietness as man may have on mould.

And when you shall this letter have, let it be kept in store,For she that sent the same hath sworn as yet to send no more.

And now farewell, for why at large my mind is here exprest,The which you may perceive if that you do peruse the rest.


© Isabella Whitney