5.2.2. Poems 64 - 79 (1576)




64. Why doth each state apply itself to worldly praise?

The translation of the blessed Saint Barnard’s verses [1], containing the unstable felicity
of this wayfaring world.

Cur mundus militat, sub vana gloria, cuius prosperitas est transitoria?
Tam cito labitur, eius potentia, quam vasa figuli, quae sunt fragilia.

Why doth each state apply itself to worldly praise?
And undertake such toil to heap up honour’s gain:
Whose seat, though seeming sure, on fickle fortune stays,
Whose gifts were never proved perpetual to remain.
But even as earthen pot with every fillip fails,
So fortune’s favour flits, and fame with honour quails.

Plus crede litteris, scriptis in glacie  quam mundi fragilis, vanae fallaciae.
Fallax in praemiis, virtutis specie  qui nunquam habuit, tempus fiduciae.

Think rather firm to find a figure graven in ice,
Whose substance subject is to heat of shining sun,
Then hope for steadfast stay in wanton world’s device,
Whose feigned fond delights from falsehood’s forge do come
And under virtues veil are largely dealt about,
Deceiving those, who think their date will never out.

Magis credendum est auris fallacibus, quam mundi miseris prosperitatibus,
Falsis insaniis et voluptatibus, falsisque studiis et vanitatibus.

The trifling truthless tongue of rumour’s lying lips
Deserves more trust than doth the highest happy hap:
That world to worldlings gives, for see how honour slips,
To foolish fond conceits, to pleasure’s poisened sap:
To studies false in proof, to arts applied to gain,
To fickle fancy’s toys which wisdom deemeth vain.

Dic ubi Salomon, olim tam nobilis? vel ubi Samson est, dux invincibilis?
Vel dulcis Jonathas, multum amabilis? vel pulcher Absolon, vultu mirabilis?

Where is the sacred King, that Salomon the wise?
Whose wisdom, former time, of duty did commend:
Where is that Samson strong, that monstrous man in size?
Whose forced arm did cause the mighty pillars bend.
Where is the peerless Prince, the friendly Jonathas?
Or Absolon, whose shape and favour did surpass.

Quo Caesar abiit, celsus imperio, vel dives splendidus, totus in prandio,
Dic ubi Tullius, clarus eloquio, vel Aristoteles, summus ingenio.

Where is that Caesar now, whose high renowned fame,
Of sundry conquests won, throughout the world did sound?
Or Dives rich in store and rich in richly name,
Whose chest with gold and dish, with dainties did abound?
Where is the passsing grace of Tully’s pleading skill?
Or Aristotle’s vein, whose pen had wit at will?

O esca vermium, o massa pulveris, o nox, o vanitas, cur sic extolleris?
Ignoras penitus utrum cras vixeris. Fac bonum omnibus, quam diu poteris.

O food of filthy worm, O lump of loathsome clay,
O life full like the dew which morning sun doth waste:
O shadow vain, whose shape with sun doth shrink away,
Why gloryest thou so much in honour to be placed?
Sith that no certain hour of life thou dost enjoy,
Most fit it were thy time in goodness to employ.

Quam breve festum est, haec mundi gloria, ut umbra hominis, sic eius gaudia,
Quae semper subtrahit aeterna praemia, et ducunt hominem, ad dura devia.

How short a banquet seems the pomp of high renown?
How like the senseless shape of shivering shadow thin?
Are wanton worldly toys, whose pleasure plucketh down
Our hearts from hope, and hands from works which heaven should win.
And takes us from the tread which guides to endless gain,
And sets us in the way that leads to lasting pain.

Haec mundi gloria, quae magni penditur, sacris in litteris, flos foeni dicitur.
Vel leve folium, quod vento rapitur, sic vita hominis tempore tollitur.[2]

The pomp of worldly praise which worldlings hold so dear,
In holy sacred book is likened to a flower:
Whose date doth no contain a week, a month, or year,
But springing now, doth fade again within an hour.
And as the lightest leaf with wind about is thrown,
So light is life of man, and lightly hence is blown.

                                                                                      My lucke is losse.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 1, 1576.

“My Lucke is losse” is a variation of the nom de plume “Fortunatus Infoelix”. See, William Shakespeare, 3 Henry VI, II/3: (Queen Margaret) „Our hap is loss.“ (See, notes on No. 67.)

In the year 1576, Oxford feels that he has lost both his honour and the fidelity of his wife. At this point in his life he translates the famous hymn about the inconsistencies of the world, from Saint Bernhard de Clairvaux. Although the English translation, presented in alexandrines (poetic metre comprising of 12 syllables) is accurate in every way, it makes a statement of its own, over and above that of the original.- We find echoes of Oxford's memento mori in Hamlet's sinister observation: “Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay, / Might stop a hole to keep the wind away: / O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe, / Should patch a wall t’expel the winter flaw!” (See, Harry Morris: Hamlet as a Memento Mori Poem, in: PMLA, Vol. 85, No. 5, 1970.) – And we find an echo of the eighth stanza in Shake-speare’s Sonnet 65:

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?


65. Beware of had I wist, whose fine brings care and smart

Beware of had I wist [3], whose fine brings care and smart,
Esteem of all as they deserve, and deem as deem’d thou art:
So shall thy perfect friend enjoy his hoped hire,
And faithless feigning foe shall miss th’effect of his desire.
Good will shall have this gain, and hate shall heap despite,
A faithless friend shall find distrust, and love shall reap delight.
Thy self shall rest in peace, thy friend shall joy thy fate,
Thy foe shall fret at thy good hap, and I shall joy thy state.
But this my fond advice may seem perchance but vain,
As rather teaching how to loose then how a friend to gain.
But this not my intent to teach to find a friend,
But safely how to love und leave, is all that I intend.
And if you prove in part, and find my counsel true,
Then wish me well for my good will, ’tis all I crave. Adieu!

                                                                                                  My lucke is losse

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 2, 1576.

Just like “Si fortunatus infoelix” in Nos. 18 and 19, the author is addressing a young friend.


66. Fram'd in the front of forlorn hope

His good name being blemished, he bewaileth.

Fram'd in the front of forlorn hope past all recovery,
I stayless stand, t’abide the shock of shame and infamy[4].
My life, through ling'ring long, is lodg'd in lair of loathsome ways;
My death delay'd to keep from life the harm of hapless days.
My sprites, my heart, my wit and force, in deep distress are drown'd;
The only loss of my good name is of these griefs the ground.

And since my mind, my wit, my head, my voice and tongue are weak,
To utter, move, devise, conceive, sound forth, declare and speak[5],
Such piercing plaints as answer might, or would my woeful case,
Help crave I must, and crave I will, with tears upon my face,
Of all that may in heaven or hell, in earth or air be found,
To wail with me this loss of mine, as of these griefs the ground.

Help Gods, help saints, help sprites and powers that in the heaven do dwell,
Help ye that are aye wont to wail, ye howling hounds of hell;
Help man, help beasts, help birds and worms, that on the earth do toil;
Help fish, help fowl, that flock and feed upon the salt sea soil,
Help echo that in air doth flee, shrill voices to resound,
To wail this loss of my good name, as of these griefs the ground.

                                                                                                             E. O.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 30, 1576.

The first poem in the anthology The Paradyse of Daynty Devises (1576) to be signed with the initials: “E. O.”  There is only one thing that could have caused Oxford to feel so angry and helpless: The alleged infidelity of his young wife which had come to his ears just after his return from Italy in 1576. The variety of literary devices that the young author uses to give voice to his pain is truly amazing. Obviously, he wishes to share his rage and frustration with a wide public. For this task, the metre of Oxford’s choice is the heptameter (4-3) - as seen in No. 89. 


 67. If fortune may enforce the careful heart to cry

Oppressed with sorrow he wishes death.

If fortune may enforce the careful heart to cry
And griping grief constrain the wounded wight lament:
Who then, alas, to mourn hath greater cause then I,
Against whose hard mishap, both heaven and earth is bent.
For whom no help remains, for whom no hope is left,
From whom all happy hap is fled, and pleasure quite bereft.
Whose life nought can prolong, whose health nought can assure:
Whose death, oh pleasant port of peace, no creature can procure.
Whose passed proof of pleasant joy,
Mischance hath changed to griefs annoy:
And lo, whose hope of better day,
Is overwhelmd with long delay.

Oh hard mishap.

Each thing I plainly see, whose virtues may avail,
To ease the pinching pain which gripes the groaning wight:
By physics sacred skill, whose rule doth seldom fail,
Through labours long inspect, is plainly brought to light.
I know, there is no fruit, no leaf, no root, no rind,
No herb, no plant, no juice, no gum, no metal deeply mind:
No pearl, no precious stone, ne gem of rare effect,
Whose virtues learned Galen’s books at large do not detect[6].
Yet all their force can not appease,
The furious fits of my disease:
Nor any drug of physics art,
Can ease the grief that gripes my heart.

Oh strange disease.

I hear the wise affirm, that Nature hath in store
A thousand secret salves which wisdom hath out found:
To cool the scorching heat of every smarting sore,
And healeth deepest scarce, though grievous be the wound.
The ancient proverb says, that none so festred grief
Doth grow, for which the gods themselves have not ordained relief.
But I by proof do know, such proverbs to be vain,
And think that Nature never knew the plague that I sustain.
And so not knowing my distress,
Hath left my grief remediless:
For why the heavens for me prepare
To hue in thought, and die in care.

Oh lasting pain.

By change of air, I see, by hint of healthful soil,
By diet duly kept, gross humours are expelled:
I know that griefs of mind and inwards hearts turmoil
By faithful friends’ advice in time may be repelled.
Yet all this nought avails to kill that me annoys,
I mean to stop these floods of care that overflow my joys.
No, none exchange of place can change my luckless lot,
Like one I live, and so must die, whom Fortune hath forgot.
No counsel can prevail with me,
Nor sage advice with grief agree:
For he that feels the pangs of hell,
Can never hope in heaven to dwell.

Oh deep despair.

What lives on earth but I, whose travail reaps no gain,
The wearied horse and ox, in stall and stable rest:
The ant with sommer’s toil bears out the winter’s pain,
The fowl that flys all day, at night returns to rest.
The ploughman’s weary work amid the winters mire
Rewarded is with sommers gain which yields him double hire:
The silly labouring soul which drudges from day to day,
At night his wages truly paid, contented goes his way.
And coming home, his drowsy head,
He coucheth close in homely bed:
Wherein no sooner down he lies,
But sleep hath straight possest his eyes,


Oh happy man.

The soldier biding long the brunt of mortal wars,
Where life is never free from dint of deadly foil:
At last comes joyful home, though mangled all with scars,
Where frankly, void of fear, he spends the gotten spoil.
The pirate lying long amid the foaming floods,
With every flaw in hazard is to lose both life and goods:
At length finds view of land, where wished port he spys,
Which once obtained, among his mates, he parts the gotten prize.
Thus every man, for travail past,
Doth reap a just reward at last:
But I alone, whose troubled mind,
In seeking rest, unrest doth find.

Oh luckless lot.

Oh cursed caitiff wretch, whose heavy hard mishap
Doth wish ten thousand times that thou hadst not been born:
Since fate hath thee condemned, to live in sorrows lap,
Where wailings waste thy life, of all redress forlorn.
What shall thy grief appease? who shall thy torment stay?
Wilt thou thyself, with murthering hands, enforce thy own decay?
No, far be that from me, myself to stop my breath,
The gods forbid, whom I beseech, to work my joys by death.
For lingering length of loathsome life,
Doth stir in me such mortal strife:
That whiles for life and death I cry,
In death I live, and living die.

Oh froward fate.

Lo here my hard mishap, lo here my strange disease,
Lo here my deep despair, lo here my lasting pain[7]:
Lo here my froward fate which nothing can appease,
Lo here how others toil rewarded is with gain.
While luckless, lo, I live, in loss of labours due,
Compelled by proof of torment strong, my endless grief to rue:
In which, since needs, I must consume both youth and age,
If old I live, and that my care no comfort can assuage.
Henceforth I banish from my breast,
All frustrate hope of future rest,
And truthless trust to time’s reward,
With all respects of joy’s regard.

Here I forswear.

LOO / Balle

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 42, 1576. Coningsby, fol. 19-20v [RO,LOO. / Balle]

The author of this poem – “My luck(e) is loss(e)” - reveals his identity with the words: “While luckless, lo, I live, in loss of labours due”. The poem is included in Humphrey Coningsby's handwritten anthology of poems (BL, MS. Harl. 7392) with “RO [Robert?], LOO” (not "POO") and later included , in a different handwriting, the name “Balle”, meaning the Earl of Oxford in the case of six poems (Nos. 67, 79, 80, 83, 87, 88). Finet and Cornwallis confirmed in four cases that “Ball” or “Balle” was in fact Oxford. A. Ringler felt that “Ball” might have been a literary term or something else, other than a person's name. On account of Coningby's only allocating six poems to “Ball” we have to dismiss A. Ringler's reservations. (See, W. A. Ringler, Poems attributed to Sir Philip Sidney. In: Studies in Philology, 47.)

Humphrey Coningsby (1567-1610) was a scholar and traveller. His handwritten anthology of verse was probably written between 1583 and 1588. A publication of these poems along with explanations, and analysis is being planned under the auspices of Steven W. May (Sheffield).

Eight verses depicting a weariness of life and of love. In a mixture of calculated outbursts and controlled fury culminating in a scream of anguish whereby the traveller is dashed against the cliffs of despair only to be dragged out again by the cruel currents into a sea of poesy. Eight perfect verses, written in a metre that doesn't exist, starting with six -beat iambics, changing to the “poulter’s measure” (See, Oxford’s Poems, No. 3), going through a bottle neck and narrowing down to the density of a four-beat iambic where there is another scream. The pattern is as follows: 3-3 / 3-3 / 3-3 / 3-3 / 3-3 / 4-3 / 3-3 / 4-3 / 4 / 4 / 4 / 4 / 2.

Oxford may well have been inspired by the following poem, written by his uncle, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and Sonettes, 1557, 5.4.)

If care do cause men cry, why do not I complain?
If each man do bewail his woe, why shew not I my pain?
Since that amongst them all, I dare well say is none
So far from weal, so full of woe, or hath more cause to moan.
For all things having life, sometime hath quiet rest,
The bearing ass, the drawing ox, and every other beast;
The peasant, and the post, that serves at all assays;
The ship-boy, and the galley-slave, have time to take their ease;
Save I, alas! whom care, of force doth so constrain,
To wail the day, and wake the night, continually in pain.


68. I sigh? why so? for sorrow of her smart

Where reason makes request, there wisdom ought supply
With friendly answer prest, to grant or else deny.

I sigh? why so? for sorrow of her smart.
I mourn? wherefore? for grief that she complains.
I pity? what? her overpressed heart.
I dread? what harm? the danger she sustains,
I grieve? whereat? at her oppressing pains.
I feel? what force? the fits of her disease,
Whose harm doth me and her, alike displease.

I hope, what hap? her hap healthes retire,
I wish, what wealth? no wealth, nor wordly store:
But crave, what craft? by cunning to aspire.
Some skill, whereto? to salve her sickly sore.
What then? why then would I her health restore,
Whose harm me hurts, how so? so works my will
To wish myself and her, like good and ill.

What moves the mind, whereto? to such desire,
Ne force, ne favour, what then? free fancies choice.
Art thou to choose? my charter to require.
Each Lady’s love is fret by customs voice,
Yet are there grants, the evidence of their choice.
What then, our freedom is as large in choosing,
As women’s wills are froward in refusing.

Votes she thy will? she knows what I protest,
Daind she thy suit? she dangered not my talk:
Gave she consent? she granted my request,
What didst thou crave? the root, the fruit, or stalk?
I asked them all, what gave she, cheese or chalk?
That taste must try, what taste? I mean the proof
of friends, whose wills withhold her bow aloof.

Meanst thou good faith? what else, hopest thou to speed?
Why not, O fool untaught in carpet trade,
Knowst not what proofs from such delays proceed,
Will thou like headless cock be caught in glade?
Art thou like ass, too apt for burden made?
Fy, fy, wilt thou for saint adore the shrine?
And woe her friend, ere she be wholy thine?

Who draws this drift? moved she, or thou this match?
Twas I: oh fool, unware of women’s wills,
Long mayst thou wait, like hungry hounds at hatch,
She crafty fox, the seely goose beguiles.
Thy suit is shaped to fit for long delay,
That she at will may check, from yea to nay.

But in good sooth, tell me her friend’s intent:
Best learn it first, their pupose I not know,
Why then thy will to worse and and worse is bent,
Dost thou delight, th’ unkindled coal to blow?
Or childlike lovest, in anchored boat to row,
What mean these terms? who sith thy suit is such,
Know of or on, or thou affect too much.

No haste but good, why no, the mean is best,
Admit she love, mislike in lingering grows:
Suppose she is caught, then Woodcock on thy crest[8],
Till end approves, what scornful seeds she sows.
In loitering love, such dangers ebbs and flows,
What help herein? why wake in dangerous watch,
That too, nor fro, may make thee mar the match:

Is that the way to end my weary work?
By quick dispatch, to lesson long turmoil,
Well well, though loss in lingering wonts to lurk,
And I a fool, most fit to take the foil:
Yet proof from promise, never shall recoil.
My words with deeds, and deeds with words shall wend,
Till she, or hers, gainsay that I intend.

Art thou so fond? not fond, but firmly fast,
Why fool, her friends vote how thy will is bent:
Yet thou like doubt, whose wit and sense is past,
Sest not what frumps, do follow thy intent.
Ne know, how love in lew of scorn is lent,
Adieu, foresights such folly should prevent.
Well well, their scoffs with scorns might be repaid,
If my requests were fully yead or nayd.
Well, well, let these with wisdom’s poise be waid,
And in your chest of cheefest secrets laid.

My lucke is losse.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 43, 1576.

The strategy of courtship, practiced by “two hearts beating within one breast”: dramatic, humorous and sarcastic. - The radical mannerisms in this poem are reminiscent of the Italian “Sonetto in dialogo” (See, No. 91), and are unique in the history of English literature. English literature academia has collectively overlooked the author who called himself: “My lucke is losse”. His works are addressed briefly in Harold H. Child’s chapter ‘New English Poetry’ in the third volume of The Cambridge History of English Literature (1909), albeit in a rather off-hand, derogatory manner: “The author who signs himself My lucke is losse is an ingenious contriver of metrical patterns and repetitions, though a monotonous poet.” - However William Shakespeare and this poet must have known each other very well. With the construction of the poetic dialogue between Romeo and Juliet  (“If I profane with my unworthiest hand“, Romeo and Juliet I/5”) the author demonstrates his mastery of the dialogue sonnet.

 We find a similar courtship strategy to: “I sigh? why so? for sorrow of her smart” in No. 90: “When that thine eye hath chose the dame.”   


69. Even as the raven, the crow, and greedy kite

Donec eris felix multos numerabis amicos.[9]
Nullus ad amissas ibit amicus opes.

Even as the raven, the crow, and greedy kite[10],
do swarming flock where carrion corpse doeth fall:
And tiring tear with beak and talons might,
Both skin and flesh to gorge their guts withall.
And never cease, but gather mo to mo,
Do all to pull the carcass to and fro,
Till bared bones at last they leave behind,
And seek elsewhere some fatter food to find.

Even so I see, where wealth doth wear at will,
And gold doth grow to heaps of great increase:
There friends resort and proffering friendship still
Full thick they throng, with never ceasing prease[11].
And slyly make a show of true intent,
When nought but guile and inward hate is meant:
For when mischance shall change such wealth to want,
They pack them thence to place of richer haunt.

My lucke is losse.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 44, 1576.

Even as the Raven, one of Oxford’s best poems, shows a striking resemblance to Shakespeare’s drama Timon of Athens, in which the career of a misanthrope is described. Timon’s good fortune, his money and his fair-weather friends all left him at the same time.


70. The faith that fails, must needs be thought untrue

What joy to a contented mind.[12]

The faith that fails, must needs be thought untrue,
The friend that feigns, who holdeth not unjust,
Who likes that love, that changeth still for new:
Who hopes for truth, where troth is void of trust,
No faith, no friend, no love, no troth so sure,
But rather fails then steadfastly endure.

What head so staied? that alters not intend,
What thought so sure? that steadfast doth remain,
What wit so wise? that never needs repent,
What tongue so true? but sometime wonts to feign,
What foot so firm? that never treads awry,
What sooner dimmed? then sight of clearest eye?

What heart so fixed? but soon inclines to change,
What mood so mild? that never moved debate:
What faith so strong? but lightly likes to range,
What love so true? that never learned to hate.
What live so pure? that lasts, without offence,
What worldly mind? but moves with ill pretence.

What knot so fast? that may not be untied,
What seal so sure? but fraud or force shall break:
What prop of stay? but one time shrinks aside,
What ship so stanch, that never had a leak.
What grant so large? that no exception makes,
What hoped help? but friend at need forsakes.

What seat so high? but low to ground may fall,
What hap so good? that never found mislike:
What state so sure? but subject is to thrall.
What force prevails? where Fortune list to strike.
What wealth so much? but time may turn to want,
What store so great? but wasting makes scant.

What profits hope in depth of dangers thrall,
What rust in time, but waxeth worse and worse:
What helps good heart, if Fortune frown withall,
What blessing thrives gainst heavenly helpless curse?
What wins desire, to get and can not gain,
What bodes to wish and never to obtain?

My lucke is losse.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 45, 1576.

“My lucke is losse” closes his cycle of complaints with a poem that combines the sad lamentations of the troubadour with justified rage, pessimism and despair. In an epigrammatic style he delivers a litany of the unbearable. He utilizes a literary device that was developed in the Provençal (Occitan) poetry, the “enueg”. (Petrarch’s sonnet No. 312, “Né per sereno ciel ir vaghe stelle”, also belongs to this tradition.) - It is impossible to overlook the thematic and formal connectivity to Shakespeare’s famous sonnet No. 66. 



71. The lively lark did stretch her wing

The judgement of desire.

The lively lark did stretch her wing
The messenger of morning bright:
And with her cheerful voice did sing
The day's approach, discharging night;
When that Aurora blushing red,
Descried the guilt of Thetis' bed [13]:
Laradon tan tan, Tedriton tight[14].

I went abroad to take the air,
And in the meads I met a knight,
Clad in carnation colour fair;
I did salute this youthful wight.
Of him I did his name inquire,
He sighed and said, I am Desire.
Laradon tan tan, Tedriton tight.

Desire I did desire to stay;
And while with him I craved talk:
The courteous wight said me no nay,
But hand in hand with me did walk.
Then of Desire I ask'd again,
What thing did please, and what did pain.
Laradon tan tan, Tedriton tight.

He smiled and thus he answered then:
Desire can have no greater pain:
Than for to see another man,
The thing desired to attain;
Nor greater joy can be than this,
Than to enjoy what others miss.
Laradon tan tan, Tedriton tight.

E. O.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 76, 1576.

After the poet, under the name of “My lucke is losse” has celebrated his passion for pain to the point that it was hardly bearable any more, he writes under his own name “E. O.” (= Earl of Oxford) and delivers a poetical allegory about the age old story of love, jealousy and pain, but this time in a less serious vein. Amor appears under the name Desire.


72. A crown of bays shall that man wear

The Complaint of a Lover Wearing Black and Tawny.

A crown of bays shall that man wear,
  That triumphs over me;
For black and tawny will I wear,
  Which mourning colours be.

The more I follow'd one,
  The more she fled away,
As Daphne did full long agone
  Apollo's wishful prey[15].
The more my plaints I do resound
  The less she pities me;
The more I sought the less I found,
  Yet mine she meant to be.

Melpomene alas[16],
  with doleful tunes help then
And sing, woe worth on me
  woe worth on me, forsaken man!
Then Daphne's bays shall that man wear,
  That triumphs over me;
For black and tawny will I wear,
  Which mourning colours be.

Drown me, you trickling tears,
  You wailful wights of woe;
Come help these hands to rend my hairs,
  My rueful haps to show.
On whom the scorching flame
  Of love doth feed you see;
Ah a lalalantida, my dear dame
  Hath thus tormented me.

Wherefore you muses nine,
  with doleful tunes help then,
And sing, woe worth on me
  woe worth on me, forsaken man!
Then Daphne's bays shall that man wear,
  That triumphs over me;
For black and tawny will I wear,
  Which mourning colours be.

An anchor's life to lead,
  With nails to scratch my grave,
Where earthly worms on me shall feed,
  Is all the joy I crave[17];
And hide myself from shame,
  Sith that mine eyes do see,
Ah a lalalantida, my dear dame
Hath thus tormented me.

And all that present be,
  with doleful tunes help then[18],
And sing, woe worth on me
  woe worth on me, forsaken man!
Then Daphne's bays shall that man wear,
  That triumphs over me;
For black and tawny will I wear,
  Which mourning colours be.

E. O.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 77, 1576.

The victorious suitor shall adorn himself with Daphne‘s laurel leaves. The looser wishes for nothing more than to live out his days as a hermit, hiding his defeat and shame from the world, his only activity to hollow out his own grave with his bare hands, a grave that will one day serve as a monument to his own misery.

The colour tawny (yellow ochre) plays an important part in this imagery. Just as people wear black to funerals, in earlier times men would wear tawny to indicate that they were suffering from the chagrin d’amour. (George Whetstone wrote in The Rock of Regard (1576):  “Even I myself do wear this tawny hue, / To show I serv’d a Cressid most untrue”. - Tawny was also the colour of the de Vere family; their followers and servants wore tawny livery.

In his burlesque of 1592 Summer’s Last Will and Testament Thomas Nashe makes an allusion to Oxford’s “Complaint of a Lover wearing Black and Tawny”  - and speaks of the poet Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, alias Ver (=spring):

VER: No, faith, nor care not whether I do or no.
If you will dance a Galliard, so it is; if not,
Falangtado, Falangtado, to wear the black and yellow:
Falangtado, Falangtado, my mates are gone, I'll follow.


73. If care or skill could conquer vain desire

Being in love, he complaineth.

If care or skill could conquer vain desire,
Or reason's reins my strong affection stay,
Then should my sighs to quiet breast retire,
And shun such signs as secret thoughts bewray;
  Uncomely love which now lurks in my breast,
  Should cease my grief, through wisdom's power oppressed.

But who can leave to look on Venus' face,
Or yieldeth not to Juno's high estate?
What wit so wise as gives not Pallas place?
These virtues rare each god did yield amate,
  Save her alone who yet on earth doth reign,
  Whose beauty's string no gods can well distrain.

What worldly wight can hope for heavenly hire
When only sighs must make his secret moan?
A silent suit doth seld to grace aspire;
My hapless hap doth roll the restless stone[19];
  Yet Phoebe fair disdained the heavens above,
  To joy on earth her poor Endymion's love.

Rare is reward where none can justly crave[20],
For chance is choice where reason makes no claim;
Yet luck sometimes despairing souls doth save:
A happy star made Gyges joy attain[21];
  A slavish smith of rude and rascal race[22]
  Found means in time to gain a goddess' grace.

Then lofty love thy sacred sails advance;
My seething seas shall flow with streams of tears.
Amidst disdain drive forth my doleful chance;
A valiant mind no deadly danger fears.
  Who loves aloft, and sets his heart on high,
  Deserves no pain though he doth pine and die.

E. O.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 82, 1576.

The addressee of this poem is compared to the goddesses Venus, Juno and Pallas (the participants in the famous beauty contest known as “The Judgment of Paris”); she has celestial qualities, yet she rules on Earth and does not allow any of the gods to take possession of her. Yet still, just like the moon goddess Phoibe (Selene), she is able to take the sleeping Endymion in her arms and bestow love upon him. Surly we are justified in assuming that Queen Elizabeth is meant. (John Lyly used this very theme for his drama (c. 1583), in which Oxford (in the role of Endymion) is set in a magic sleep and awoken by a kiss from Elizabeth (= Cynthia = Phoibe).


74. The trickling tears that fall along my cheeks

A lover rejected, complaineth. 

The trickling tears that fall along my cheeks,
The secret sighs that show my inward grief:
The present pains perforce that love aye seeks,
Bid me renew my cares without relief
  In woeful song, in dole display,
  My pensive heart for to betray.

Bewray thy grief, thy woeful heart with speed,
Resign thy voice to her that caused thee woe:
With irksome cries bewail thy late done deed,
For she, thou lov'st, is sure thy mortal foe,
  And help for thee there is none sure,
  But still in pain thou must endure.

The stricken deer hath help to heal his wound,
The haggard hawk with toil is made full tame:
The strongest tower the cannon lays on ground,
The wisest wit that ever had the fame,
  Was thrall to love by Cupid's sleights,
  Then weigh my cause with equal weights.

She is my joy, she is my care and woe,
She is my pain, she is my ease therefore:
She is my death, she is my life also,
She is my salve, she is my wounded sore.
  In fine, she hath the hand and knife
  That may both save and end my life[23].

And shall I live on earth to be her thrall?
And shall I live and serve her all in vain?
And shall I kiss the steps that she lets fall,
And shall I pray the Gods to keep the pain
  From her that is so cruel still?
  No, no, on her work all your will.

And let her feel the power of all your might,
And let her have her most desire with speed:
And let her pine away both day and night,
And let her moan, and none lament her need.
  And let all those that shall her see,
  Despise her state and pity me.

E. O.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 83, 1576. 


75. I am not as I seem to be

Not attaining to his desire, he complaineth. 

I am not as I seem to be,
For when I smile I am not glad:
A thrall, although you count me free,
I, most in mirth, most pensive sad.
I smile to shade my bitter spite
As Hannibal that saw in sight:
His country soil with Carthage town,
By Roman force defaced down.

And Caesar that presented was,
With noble Pompey's princely head:
As 'twere some judge to rule the case,
A flood of tears he seemed to shed[24].
Although indeed it sprung of joy,
Yet others thought it was annoy:
Thus contraries be used I find,
Of wise to cloak the covert mind.

I, Hannibal that smile for grief,
And let you Caesar's tears suffice:
The one that laughs at his mischief;
The other all for joy that cries[25].
I smile to see me scorned so,
You weep for joy to see me woe:
And I a heart by love slain dead,
Present in place of Pompeyes head.

O cruel hap and hard estate,
That forceth me to love my foe:
Accursed be so foul a fate,
My choice for to prefix it so.
So long to fight with secret sore
And find no secret salve therefore:
Some purge their pain by plaint I find,
But I in vain do breathe my wind.

E. O.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 84, 1576.

Sir Thomas Wyatt translated Petrarch’s Sonett, Canzoniere 102, “Cesare, poi che ’l traditor d’Egitto.” (In Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and Sonettes, 1557, 2.11.)

Caesar, when that the traitor of Egypt                    
With th' honourable head did him present,
Covering his heart's gladness, did represent
Plaint with his tears outward, as it is writ.
Eke Hannibal, when fortune him outshyt [outshot]
Clean from his reign and from all his intent,
Laugh'd to his folk, whom sorrow did torment ;
His cruel despite for to disgorge and quit.
So chanced me, that every passion
The mind hideth by colour contrary,
With feigned visage, now sad, now merry ;
Whereby if that I laugh at any season,
   It is because I have none other way
   To cloak my care, but under sport and play.


76. Ev'n as the wax doth melt, or dew consume away

His mind not quietly settled, he writheth this. 

Ev'n as the wax doth melt, or dew consume away
Before the sun, so I, behold, through careful thoughts decay;
For my best luck leads me to such sinister state,
That I do waste with others' love, that hath myself in hate.
And he that beats the bush the wished bird not gets[26],
But such, I see, as sitteth still and holds the fowling nets.

The drone more honey sucks, that laboureth not at all,
Than doth the bee, to whose most pain least pleasure doth befall:
The gard'ner sows the seeds, whereof the flowers do grow,
And others yet do gather them, that took less pain I trow.
So I the pleasant grape have pulled from the vine,
And yet I languish in great thirst, while others drink the wine.

Thus like a woeful wight I wove the web of woe,
The more I would weed out my cares, the more they seemed to grow:
The which betokeneth hope, forsaken is of me,
That with the careful culver climbs the worn and withered tree,
To entertain my thoughts, and there my hap to moan,
That never am less idle, lo, than when I am alone[27].

E. O.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 85, 1576. 


77. My meaning is to work what wonders love hath wrought

Of the mighty power of love.

My meaning is to work what wonders love hath wrought,
Wherewith I muse, why men of wit have love so dearly bought:
For love is worse than hate, and eke more harm hath done,
Record I take of those that read of Paris, Priam's son.

It seemed the god of sleep had mazed so much his wits,
When he refused wit for love which cometh but by fits:
But why accuse I him, whom th' earth hath covered long?
There be of his posterity alive, I do him wrong.

Whom I might well condemn, to be a cruel judge:
Unto myself, who hath the crime in others that I grudge.

E. O.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 86, 1576.

In the last of the poems in the The Paradyse of Daynty Devises that he signed with the name “E. O.” Oxford complains of the foolish actions that love causes men to do. He considers himself to be every bit as guilty of foolish actions as was Paris when he kidnapped Helena and brought about the Trojan war. - The poem was only included in the first edition of the anthology (1576); it was omitted from the following eight editions.


78. When griping griefs the heart would wound

In commendation of Music.

When griping griefs the heart would wound
And doleful dumps the mind oppress,
There music with her silver sound
Is wont with speed to give redress.
Of troubled mind for every sore
Sweet music hath a salve therefore.

In joy it makes our mirth abound,
In grief it cheers our heavy sprites,
The careful head release hath found
By music's pleasant sweet delights.
Our senses, what should I say more,
Are subject unto music's lore.

The gods by music have their praise,
The foul therein doth never joy,
For as the Roman poet says,
In seas whom pirates would destroy,
A dolphin saved from death most sharp
Arion playing on his harp[28].

A heavenly gift, that turns the mind,
Like as the stern doth rule the ship,
O Music whom the gods assigned
To comfort man, whom cares would nip.
Sith thou both man and beast dost move,
What wise man then will thee reprove?


Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 57, 1576; Coningsby, fol. 50v [Balle]

Richard Edwards (1523-1566), the composer and choir leader, was one of the young Earl of Oxford's tutors in the years between 1562 and 1566. His name was given as the author of this song in the first edition of The Paradyse of Daynty Devises (1576). We must assume that he was not really the author of the work from the clarity of the style and the high standard of craftsmanship.Furthermore, in the following eight editions of The Paradyse of Daynty Devises the same poem was published anonymously. -Humphrey Coningsby (BL, MS. Harl. 7392) attributes the poem to “Balle”, i.e. the Earl of Oxford. (See, notes to No. 67.)

In Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet (IV/5) the musician Peter sings the first three lines of this song, only to stop abruptly: “Why silver sound'? Why 'music with her silver sound'? What say you, Simon Catling?”


79. Who seeks the way to win renown

A young Gentleman willing to travel into foreign parts being intreated to stay in England: Wrote as followeth.

Who seeks the way to win renown,
Or flies with wings of his desire,[29]
Who seeks to wear the Laurel crown,
Or hath the mind that would aspire:
Let him his native soil eschew,
Let him go range and seek anew.

Each haughty heart is well content
With every chance that shall betide;
No hap can hinder his intent:
He steadfast stands, though Fortune slide.
The Sun, saith he, doth shine aswell
Abroad as erst where I did dwell.

In change of streams each fish can live,
Each fowl content with every air[30];
The noble mind each where can thrive,
And not be drowned in deep despair:
Wherefore I judge all lands alike
To haughty hearts that Fortune seek.

To toss the Seas some thinks a toil,
Some think it strange abroad to roam;
Some think it a grief to leave their soil,
Their parents, kinsfolks, and their home.
Think so who list, I like it not:
I must abroad to try my Lot.

Who lust at home at cart to drudge
And cark and care for worldly trash:
With buckled shoes let him go trudge,
Instead of launce a whip to swash.
A mind thats base himself will show,
A carrion sweet to feed a Crow[31].

If Iason of that mind had been,
Or wandring Prince that came from Greece,
The golden fleece had been to win,
And Priamʼs Troy had been in bliss:
Though dead in deeds and clad in clay,
Their worthy Fame will neʼre decay.

The worthies nine that wear of mights,
By travail wan immortal praise:
If they had lived like Carpet knights[32],
(Consuming idly) all their days:
Their praises had with them been dead,
Where now abroad their Fame is spread.

Source: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, 123, 1585. [Anon.]

(Not to find in Coningsby, Finet und Cornwallis) 

From a stylistic point of view “Who  seeks the way to win renown” corresponds to the two Oxford poems “When griping griefs the heart would wound” (No. 78) and “My mind to me a kingdom is” (No. 80). In the same way it is youthfully vivacious, optimistic and has an air of cheerfulness as a philosophy of life. Jauntily drawing from the repertoire of his previous poems the author lightheartedly gives a resume. Thus, he speaks of “wings of desire” (cf. No. 86) and  “haughty hearts” (cf. No. 20), he conjures up “fish” und “fowls” (cf. No. 66), the formulation “drowned in deep despair“ echoes “drowned in disdain” (No. 15) und “drown in deep desires” (No. 61).  The alliterations in “To toss the Seas some thinks a toil” remind us of „Till tides of turning time may toss” (No. 16) and “So look, so lack, for in these toys thus tossed” (No. 28). A “base mind” - as in No.69 – is compared to“A carrion sweet to feed a Crow“. „Priamʼs Troy” recurs (cf. No. 22) und „the worthies nine“ are a refrain to „you muses nine“ in No. 72. Likewise “Carpet knights“ are to be found in No. 68  and (would you believe it!) in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (III/4): „He is knight … on carpet consideration”.

Possibly this appeal to being on one’s way, which is bound to lead to satisfaction, was written in 1574, when Oxford was pressing for going abroad. The Oxford sympathiser Gervase Markham had a blemished version with the title Sir R. Grenville's Farewell printed in: The most honorable tragedie of Sir Richard Grinvile, 1595. It is Richard Waugaman’s credit to have drawn attention to this well concealed poem. [33]


[1]the blessed Saint Barnard’s verses”: The famous hymn “ Cur mundus militat” will have been written by a member of the “Loire school”, in the 12th century.

[2]Vel leve folium, quod vento rapitur, sic vita hominis tempore tollitur”: The Paradyse of Daynty Devises quotes these lines albeit in an estranged form with: “Ut leve folium, quod vento rapitur, sic vita hominem, hac vita tollitur“.

[3]had I wist ” : An old English expression , meaning: “If only I’d know that earlier.” (See, John Skelton, Magnyfycence, 1516: “Hem, syr, yet beware of had I wyste.”)

[4] “Fram'd in the front of forlorn hope past all recovery, / I stayless stand, t’ abide the shock of shame and infamy”: We find similarities in both the content and the literary skills demonstrated in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29.: “When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes, / I all alone beweep my outcast state”.

[5] “And since my mind, my wit, my head, my voice and tongue are weak,  / To utter, move, devise, conceive, sound forth, declare and speak”:  See, William Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors II/2:

The time was once when thou unurg'd wouldst vow
That never words were music to thine ear,
That never object pleasing in thine eye,
That never touch well welcome to thy hand,
That never meat sweet-savour'd in thy taste,
Unless I spake, or look'd, or touch'd, or carv'd to thee.

[6] “Whose virtues learned Galen’s books”: George Baker, the translator of  Galen's medical treaty on the treatment of wounds (The Third Book of Galen of Curing of Pricks and Wounds, 1574), dedicated his translation to the Earl of Oxford.

[7] “Lo here my hard mishap, lo here my strange disease” etc: In the form of a repetitio, the author gathers the exclamations together that he used to connect the verses.

[8] “then Woodcock on thy crest”: May well be a reference to a lesser known saying.

[9]Donec eris felix multos numerabis amicos”: Ovid, Tristia 1,IX,5/9-10

[10] “Even as the raven, the crow, and greedy kite”: See, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar V/I:

Coming from Sardis, on our former ensign
Two mighty eagles fell, and there they perch'd,
Gorging and feeding from our soldiers' hands,
Who to Philippi here consorted us.
This morning are they fled away and gone,
And in their steads do ravens, crows, and kites
Fly o'er our heads and downward look on us,
As we were sickly prey.

[11] “with never ceasing prease”: prease = press

[12]What joy to a contented mind”: A more or less paradoxical title.

[13] “When that Aurora blushing red, / Descried the guilt of Thetis’ bed”: According to Greek mythology, the Goddess Tethys was married to her own brother Oceanos. In the Odyssey, Homer describes how the sun ascends from the arms of Thetys. The nymph Thetis was Tethys’ granddaughter. As in most Latin literature, in Oxford’s poem Thetis is a symbol for the sea or the sea goddess. Aurora, the goddess of dawn blushes for shame when she sees how Phoebus, the sun god rises from Thetis’ bed. (See No. 93: “What cunning can express”.)

[14] “Laradon tan tan, Tedriton tight”: This is an onomatopoetic expression with a reference to “tight” =sea worthy, and to the sea god Triton, Neptune’s son, and his sea-shell horn. (See, W. Shakespeares: “Hear you this triton of the minnows?”, Coriolanus III/1.)

[15] “As Daphne did full long agone / Apollo's wishful prey”: Ovid tells the story of how Daphne turns into a laurel tree. The imagery actually goes back to Greek mythology.

After a petty squabble, Amor (also known as Cupid), the God of love, shoots a golden arrow into Apollo’s heart causing him to fall passionately in love with Daphne, the daughter of the river God Peneus. Instead of firing another golden arrow in to Daphne’s heart, he substitutes lead for the gold. The result is abject misery for Apollo. The object of his love finds him repugnant, she is prepared to undertake anything to distance herself from Apollo. She even asks her father to make the earth open and swallow her up. When all hope of escape is gone, Peneus turns his daughter into a laurel tree. When Apollo catches up with her, he is still in love, even though their very branches shy away from him. He decrees that her leaves shall never wither and fall and that they will be used to adorn kings and heroes. - The story was adapted by Ovid (43 BC - AD 17/18) in Metamorphoses, Book 1, 452-567.)

In the early 14th century the Italian poet Petrarch (1304-1374) fell in love with a married woman who did not return his affections. Comparing his plight to that of Apollo, he wrote the poetical fiction “Laura”. Perhaps the lady in question was really called Laura, or perhaps this name was an invention, inspired by Daphne’s laurel tree.

[16]Melpomene”: Initially the Muse of Singing, she then became the Muse of Tragedy.

[17] “An anchor's life to lead, / With nails to scratch my grave, / Where earthly worms on me shall feed, / Is all the joy I crave “: See, Feste’s Song (W. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, II/4):

Not a friend, not a friend greet
My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown:
A thousand thousand sighs to save,
Lay me, o, where
Sad true lover never find my grave,
To weep there!

[18] “And all that present be, / with doleful tunes help then, / And sing”: An indication that sundry people should sing the chorus in harmony.

[19] “My hapless hap doth roll the restless stone”: My luckless fortune rolls the stone of Sisyphus.

[20] “Rare is reward where none can justly crave”: A play on the emblem “Meritum petere grave” (It is difficult to receive that which one has earned.)

[21] “A happy star made Gyges joy attain”: With the help of a magic ring that makes him invisible, Gyges rises from a lowly shepherd to the Lydian King.

[22] “A slavish smith of rude and rascal race”: Vulcan, the god of fire including the fire of volcanoes, also god of metalworking and the forge.

[23] “She is my death, she is my life also, / She is my salve, she is my wounded sore. / In fine, she hath the hand and knife / That may both save and end my life”: Compare Shakespeare’s Sonett 147,

My love is as a fever longing still,
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th' uncertain sickly appetite to please:

And W. S., Sonnet 150,

Who taught thee how to make me love thee more,
The more I hear and see just cause of hate?
O though I love what others do abhor,
With others thou shouldst not abhor my state.

[24] “A flood of tears he seemed to shed”: Compare Surrey’s poem in memory of Sir Thomas Wyatt. (Songes and Sonettes, 1557, 2nd edition.)

Divers thy death do diversely bemoan:
Some, that in presence of thy livelihed
Lurked, whose breasts envy with hate had swoln,
Yield Cæsar's tears upon Pompeius' head.

[25] “The other all for joy that cries”: Compare to W. Shakespeare, King Lear I/4: “Then they for sudden joy did weep, / And I for sorrow sung” – and: Hamlet III/2: “Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament, / Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.”    

[26] “And he that beats the bush the wished bird not gets” : See, No. 1: “For he that beats the bush the bird not gets”. – In The Shepheardes Calender (1580), Edmund Spenser (1552-1599) gives the comedy author “Cuddie” (= Oxford) the words: “I beat the bush, the birds to them do fly / What good thereof to Cuddie can arise?”

[27] “That never am less idle, lo, than when I am alone”: Compare to Cicero, De Officiis, III.1: “Nunquam se minus otiosum esse quam cum otiosus; nec minus solum quam cum solus esset” (That he was never less at leisure than when at leisure; nor that he was ever less alone than when alone.)

[28] “A dolphin saved from death most sharp / Arion playing on his harp”: Acording to Herodot, Arion was a musician and poet from Lesbos who's life was saved by a dolphin. The dolphin was a constant companion of the ship on which Arion played and sang. When pirates attacked the ship and threw Arion in the sea, the dolphin carried him to safety on his back. - See, William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, I/2:

CAPTAIN. Where, like Arion on the dolphin's back,
I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves
So long as I could see.

And, Midsummer Night's Dream, II/1:

OBERON. My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememb'rest
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
That the rude sea grew civil at her song
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid's music.

[29] Who seeks the way to win renown, / Or flies with wings of his desire: See Oxford, Poems No. 86:

Winged with desire, I seek to mount on high,
Clap with mishap, yet am I kept full low:
Who seeks to live and finds the way to die -

[30] In change of streams each fish can live, / Each fowl content with every air: See No. 66:

Help fish, help fowl, that flock and feed upon the salt sea soil -

[31] A mind thats base himself will show, / A carrion sweet to feed a Crow: See No. 69:

Even as the raven, the crow, and greedy kite,
do swarming flock where carrion corpse doeth fall:

[32] If they had lived like Carpet knights: See No. 68. I sigh? why so?

Meanst thou good faith? what else, hopest thou to speed?
Why not, O fool untaught in carpet trade.

And: Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, III/4:

       SIR TOBY. He is knight, dubb’d with unhatch’d rapier and on carpet consideration -

[33] Richard Waugaman: See:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331313035_A_Wanderlust_Poem_Newly_Attributed_to_Edward_de_Vere

An objection must be made to Waugaman’s further attributions. „The deep turmoiled wight“ (The Paradise of daynty Devises, ed. 1585) for certain is not a poem by Oxford. First of all slowness was never Oxford’s business and secondly he never wrote a similarly boring and formally inadequate poem. - The anthology Gorgeous Gallery (1578), in which Waugaman asserts to have discovered Oxford’s poems as well (for example „Imagine when these blurred lines“), is a simple imitation of A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres from 1572. Possible contributors to the Gorgeous Gallery are Owen Roydon, Thomas Proctor and Anthony Munday.