Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: A Lover's Complaint (Quarto, 1609)
  • Editor: Hardy M. Cook
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-411-0

    Copyright Hardy M. Cook. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Hardy M. Cook
    Not Peer Reviewed

    A Lover's Complaint (Quarto, 1609)

    So many haue that neuer toucht his hand
    Sweetly suppos'd them mistresse of his heart:
    My wofull selfe that did in freedome stand,
    And was my owne fee simple (not in part)
    145What with his art in youth and youth in art
    Threw my affections in his charmed power,
    Reseru'd the stalke and gaue him al my flower.
    Yet did I not as some my equals did
    Demaund of him, nor being desired yeelded,
    150Finding my selfe in honour so forbidde,
    With safest distance I mine honour sheelded,
    Experience for me many bulwarkes builded
    Of proofs new bleeding which remaind the foile
    Of this false Iewell, and his amorous spoile.
    155But ah who euer shun'd by precedent,
    The destin'd ill she must her selfe assay,
    Or forc'd examples gainst her owne content
    To put the by-past perrils in her way?
    Counsaile may stop a while what will not stay:
    160For when we rage, aduise is often seene
    By blunting vs to make our wits more keene.
    Nor giues it satisfaction to our blood,
    That wee must curbe it vppon others proofe,
    To be forbod the sweets that seemes so good,
    165For feare of harmes that preach in our behoofe;
    O appetite from iudgement stand aloofe!
    The one a pallate hath that needs will taste,
    Though reason weepe and cry it is thy last.
    For further I could say this mans vntrue,
    170And knew the patternes of his foule beguiling,
    Heard where his plants in others Orchards grew,
    Saw how deceits were guilded in his smiling,
    Knew vowes, were euer brokers to defiling,
    Thought Characters and words meerly but art,
    175And bastards of his foule adulterat heart.