5.2.3. Poems 80 - 101 (1576-1591)


POEMS 80-101. MISCELLANEOUS  (1576-1591)


80. My mind to me a kingdom is

My mind to me a kingdom is;
 such perfect joy therein I find
That it excels all other bliss
 that world affords or grows by kind.
Though much I want which most would have,
yet still my mind forbids to crave.

No princely pomp, nor wealthy store,
 no force to win the victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
 no shape to feed each gazing eye;
To none of these I yield as thrall,
 for why? my mind doth serve for all.

I see how plenty surfeits oft,
 how hasty climbers soon do fall;
I see that those that are aloft,
 mishap doth threaten most of all.
These get with toil, they keep with fear;
 such cares my mind can never bear.

Content I live this is my stay
 I seek no more than may suffice,
I press to bear no haughty sway,
 for what I lack my mind supplies.
Lo thus I triumph like a king,
 Content with that my mind doth bring.

Some have too much and still do crave,
 I little have and seek no more;
They are but poor though much they have
 and I am rich with little store.
They poor I rich, they beg I give,
 They lack I leave, they pine I live.

I laugh not at another’s loss,
 I grudge not at another’s gain;
No worldly waves my mind can toss,
 my state at one doth still remain.
I fear no foe, I fawn no friend,
I loathe not life and dread no end.

Some weigh their pleasure by their lust,
 their wisdom by their rage of will,
their treasure is their only trust
 and cloaked craft their store of skill.
But all the pleasure that I find
 is to maintain a quiet mind.

My wealth is health and perfect ease,
 my conscience clear my chief defence;
I neither seek by bribes to please,
 nor by deserts to breed offence.
Thus do I live, thus will I die,
 Would all did so as well as I!

Ball / L. Ver.

Sources: Coningsby, fol. 73v-74 [Ball] ; Finet, fol. 19  [E. Dier]; Harvard Library f MS. 1015, fol. 14v (1581), [L. Ver]; William Byrd’s Psalmes, Sonets, & Songs (1588)

This poem became famous when William Byrd set it to music. It owes a lot to Surrey’s “The Means to attain happy Life” (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and Sonettes, 1557, 1.27.)

My friend, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find.
The richesse left, not got with pain:
The fruitful ground, the quiet mind:
The equal friend; no grudge, no strife:
No charge of rule, nor governance:
Without disease, the healthful life:
The household of continuance:
The mean diet, no delicate fare:
True wisdom join'd with simpleness:
The night dischargèd of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress:
The faithful wife, without debate:
Such sleeps as may beguile the night:
Contented with thine own estate,
Ne wish for death, ne fear his might.

Due to an error made by John Finet (Bodleian Library, MS Rawl. Poet. 85) the authorship of  “My mind to me a kingdom is” was attributed to Sir Edward Dyer (1543-1607) for a long time. Nobody seemed to notice that the poem was completely out of keeping with Dryer’s usual style. Dryer was a sullen sort of chap who only ever wrote melancholy, whining poems. Finally Steven W. May drew our attention to the ascription “A sonet, said to bee fyrst written by the L[ord] Ver” in Harvard, f MS. Eng 1015 f.14v., thereby affirming the supposition of Oxford’s authorship. (In The Review of English Studies, New Series, Vol. 26, Nov. 1975). Steven May did overlook the fact that Humphry Coningsby (BL, MS. Harleian 7392) had ascribed the poem to “Ball”, a synonym for Oxford. (See, comments on No. 67)

I would like to thank Robert Detobel for pointing out that as early as 1853, Clement Mansfield Ingleby wrote the following brief yet informative words in Notes & Queries (Issue No. 186): “My mind to me a kingdom is”  — The idea is Shakespeare’s ! (3Henry VI, III/1) :

SECOND KEEPER. Ay, but thou talk'st as if thou wert a king.
KING HENRY. Why, so I am- in mind; and that's enough.
SECOND KEEPER. But, if thou be a king, where is thy crown?
KING HENRY. My crown is in my heart, not on my head;
Not deck'd with diamonds and Indian stones,
Not to be seen. My crown is call'd content;
A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.

The lyric collector Humphrey Coningsby (1567-1610) was a scholar and traveller. His handwritten anthology of verse was probably written between 1583 and 1588.

The collector (Sir) John Finet (1571-1641) a follower of Cecil, became King James’ master of ceremonies. His lyric collection was compiled in the period between 1586 and 1589.


81. Were I a king

Were I a king, I might command content;
Were I obscure, unknown would be my cares,
And were I dead, no thoughts should me torment,
Nor words, nor wrongs, nor love, nor hate, nor fears;
  A doubtful choice, of these things which to crave,
  A kingdom, or a cottage, or a grave.

The answer[1]

Wert thou a king, yet not command content,
Since empire none thy mind could yet suffice,
Wert thou obscure, still cares would thee torment;
But wert thou dead, all care and sorrow dies;
  An easy choice, of these things which to crave,
  No kingdom nor a cottage but a grave.


Source: Cornwallis, fol. 7 [Vere]

See, William Shakespeare, 2Henry VI, IV/9: 

Was ever king that joy'd an earthly throne
And could command no more content than I?

And, King Richard II, III/3:

What must the King do now? Must he submit?
The King shall do it. Must he be depos'd?
The King shall be contented. Must he lose
The name of king? A God's name, let it go.
I'll give my jewels for a set of beads,
My gorgeous palace for a hermitage, (...)
My subjects for a pair of carved saints
And my large kingdom for a little grave,
A little little grave, an obscure grave.

‘Anne Cornwaleyes Her Booke’ (= Cornwallis, Folger Library, MS. V.a.89) was in all likelihood compiled in the period of time between 1584 and 1586. The small handwritten collection of lyrics contains six poems from Oxford (Nos. 81, 88, 89, 90, 96, 97), four from Edward Dyer, two from Sir Walter Raleigh and one from Philip Sidney. - Anne Conwallis (* approx 1570) was the great granddaughter of Dorothy de Vere, Baronesse Latimer (†  1527), sister of John de Vere, 14th Earl of Oxford (1499-1526).


82. Fain would I sing, but fury makes me fret
Fain would I sing, but fury makes me fret,
And rage hath sworn to seek revenge of wrong:
My mazed mind in malice so is set,
As death shall daunt my deadly dolours long;
  Patience perforce is such a pinching pain,
  As die I will, or suffer wrong again.

I am no sot, to suffer such abuse
As doth bereave my heart of his delight:
Nor will I frame myself to such as use
With calm consent, to suffer such despite.
  No quiet sleep shall once possess mine eye
  Till wit have wrought his will on injury.

My heart shall fail, and hand shall lose his force,
But some device shall pay despite his due:
And fury shall consume my careful course,
Or raze the ground whereon my sorrow grew.
  Lo, thus in rage, of ruthful mind refus'd,
  I rest reveng'd on whom I am abus'd.

Earle of Oxenforde.

Source: Tanner MS, 306

Abuse, wrong, despite, injury on the one side,  fury, rage, deadly dolours, revenge on the other clearly describe the chain of events that led to a duel of honour, avenging an insult. My careful course, upon which the author looks back with disdain, is a reference to the “tennis court quarrel” of August 1579 between Oxford and the young poet and courtier Philip Sidney. Oxford may well have written the poem and sent it to his rival as a stylish way of challenging him to the duel.


83. Short is my rest, whose toil is overlong

Short is my rest, whose toil is overlong,
my joys are dark, but clear I see my woe,
My safety small: great wracks I bide by wrong,
Whose time is swift, and yet my hap but slow,
Each grief and wound in my poor heart appears,
That laugheth hours and weepeth many years.

Deeds of the day are fables for the night,
sighs of desire are smokes of thoughtful tears,
My steps are false, although my paths be right,
Disgrace is bold, and favour full of fears,
Disquiet sleep keeps audit of my life,
Where rare content doth make displeasure rife.

The doleful bell, that is the voice of time,
Calls on my end, before my haps be seen,
Thus fall my hopes, whose harms have power to climb,
Not come to have that long in wish hath been.
I seek your love and fear not others hate,
Be you with me and I have Caesar’s fate.


Sources: Coningsby, fol. 73 [Ball]; John Finet, fol. 50v [A. H.]; The Phoenix Nest, 74 (1593)

“Deeds of the day are fables for the night” : A magnificent sentence which, like the poem from which it is taken, has remained in obscurity. The lyric collector Humphrey Coningsby solidified the attribution of this poem Oxford when he entered “Ball” as the author. (This is perhaps a reference to the ball of favour in No. 85, “Whereas the heart at tennis plays” or the bitter ball of love in No. 108, “What is desire which doth approve.”

When the object of his desire heeds his words then he will be like Caesar, i.e. he will die as Caesar died.


84. If women could be fair and yet not fond

If women could be fair and yet not fond,
Or that their love were firm, not fickle still,
I would not marvel that they made men bond,
By service long to purchase their good will;
But when I see how frail these creatures are,
I laugh that men forget themselves so far.

To mark the choice they make, and how they change,
How oft from Phoebus they do flee to Pan,
Unsettled still like haggards wild they range,
These gentle birds that fly from man to man;
Who would not scorn and shake them from the fist
And let them fly fair fools which way they list.

Yet for disport we fawn and flatter both,
To pass the time when nothing else can please,
And train them to our lure with subtle oath,
Till, weary of their wiles, ourselves we ease;
And then we say when we their fancy try,
To play with fools, O what a fool was I.

Earlle of Oxenforde

Sources: Coningsby, fol. 33v; Finet, fol. 16  [Earlle of Oxenforde]; Ms. Rawl. poet. 172, fol. 6v; William Byrd’s Psalmes, Sonets, & Songs (1588)

The comparison to birds (“These gentle birds that fly from man to man”) is reminiscent of the first verse of Sir Thomas Wyatts “They flee from me” (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and Sonettes, 1557, 2.16)

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.

We find a similar tone in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night II/4 :

We men may say more, swear more, but indeed
Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
Much in our vows, but little in our love.

William Byrd, the man who set to music the poems “If women could be fair” and “My Mind to me a Kingdom is” also had business dealings with the Earl. In 1574, Oxford leased Battles Hall (Essex) to him for an intended 21 years. Due to unforeseeable circumstances Oxford sold the property to the composer’s brother, John Byrd, in 1580.


85. Wheras the heart at tennis plays

Wheras the heart at tennis plays,
  and men to gaming fall,
Love is the court, hope is the house,
  and favour serves the ball.

The ball itself is true desert;
  the line which measure shows,
Is reason, whereon judgement looks
  how players win or lose.

The jetty is deceitful guile;
  the stopper jealousy [2],
Which hath Sir Argus' hundred eyes
  wherewith to watch and pry.

The fault, wherewith fifteen is lost[3],
  is want of wit and sense,
And he that brings the racket in[4]
  is double diligence.

And lo, the racket is free will,
  which makes the ball rebound;
And noble beauty is the chase,
  of every game the ground.

But rashness strikes the ball awry,
  and where is oversight?
A bandy ho, the people cry[5],
  and so the ball takes flight.

Now, in the end, good liking proves
  content the game and gain.
Thus, in a tennis knit I love,
  a pleasure mixed with pain.

Therle of Ox.

Sources: Coningsby, fol. 35 [Therle of Ox.]; Finet, fol. 106

At the end of the first book of Gargantua et Pantagruel (1534) François Rabelais (1483-1553) quotes a poem in the form of a “prophetic riddle” that caused a minor sensation in the world of literature. The author was Mellin de Saint-Gelais (1491-1558), whom Rabelais jokingly called “Merlin”. The poem describes the religious wars in France, in the allegorical form of a game of tennis.

Henry Howard picks up on this allegory with the poem “So cruel prison” (Songes and Sonettes, 1557, 1.15) when, writing in prison, he compared the “palm play” (or ‘jeu de paume’) with a love affair. He reminisces:

The palm play where, despoiled for the game,
With dazed eyes, oft we by gleams of love
Have missed the ball, and got sight of our dame.

Now, in the poem “Whereas the heart at tennis plays”, his nephew, the Earl of Oxford compares the game of Real tennis (also known as Royal tennis) with the drama of love. The game is dominated by hope, favour, nobility, tactics, jealousy, will, power and beauty. A love affair, like a tennis match will always bring crushing defeat to the faint of heart.

Later, in the early fifteennineties Shakespeare will lament the loss of his beloved friend, the youth W. H. in Sonett 88. The poet also uses the allegory of the tennis match. (See, Fred Blick, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 88 and ‘duble vantage’: a neglected Tennis metaphor, 2008.)

When thou shalt be disposed to set me light,
And place my merit in the eye of scorn,
Upon thy side, against my self I'll fight,
And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn:
With mine own weakness being best acquainted,
Upon thy part I can set down a story
Of faults concealed, wherein I am attainted:
That thou in losing me, shalt win much glory: 
And I by this will be a gainer too,
For bending all my loving thoughts on thee,
The injuries that to my self I do,
Doing thee vantage, double-vantage me.


86. Winged with desire, I seek to mount on high

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,
Sith comfort ebbs and cares do daily flow.
But sad despair would have me to retire,
When smiling hope sets forward my desire.

I still do toil, and never am at rest,
Enjoying least when I do fancy most:
With weary thoughts are my green years oppressed,
To danger drawn from my desired coast.
Now crazed with care, then hauled up by hope,
With world at will, yet want I wished scope.

I like in heart, yet dare not say I love,
And looks alone do lend me chief relief:
I dwelt sometimes at rest, yet must remove,
With feigned joy to hide my secret grief.
I would possess, yet needs must flee the place
Where I do seek to win my chiefest grace.

Lo, thus I live twixt fear and comfort tossed,
With least abode where best I feel content:
I seld resort where I should settle most,
My sliding days that all too soon are spent.
I hover high, and soar where hope doth tower,
Yet froward fate defers my happy hour.

I live abroad, yet secret is my life,
Then least alone when most I seem to lurk:
I speak of peace, and live in endless strife,
When I do play, then are my thoughts at work.
In person far, that am in mind full near,
I make light show where I should be most dear.

A malcontent, yet seem I pleased still,
That brag of of heavens, and feel the pains of hell,
But time shall frame a time unto my will,
Whenas in sport this earnest will I tell.
Till then, sweet friend, abide this storm with me
Which in comfort of either’s fortunes be.

Lo. Ox.

Sources: Coningsby, fol. 52v [Lo. ox.]; Finet, fol. 48v

In the summer of 1579, Oxford fell in love with Anne Vavasour, one of the Queen’s young ladies in waiting. Anne was a beautiful, black haired girl of 18 or 19. The lovers were playing with fire. It was as if Edward de Vere were desecrating the heavenly court of the goddess Diana. Anne was conducting an affair with a married man. It was imperative that their love remain a secret, a single gesture , a single glance or an affectionate word could have given the game away. - All the more surprising that this and other poems (See, Nos. 87-88) circulated among the courtiers.


87. Though I seem strange, sweet friend, be thou not so

Though I seem strange, sweet friend, be thou not so,
Do not annoy thyself with sullen will:
Mine heart hath vowed, although my tongue say no,
To be thine own, in friendly liking still.

Thou seest me live amongst the lynx’s eyes,
That pries into each privy thought of mind:
Thou knowst right well what sorrows may arise,
If once they chance my settled looks to find.

Content thyself that once I made an oath
To shield myself in shrowd of honest shame,
And when thou list, make trial of my troth,
So that thou save the honour of my name.

And let me seem, although I be not coy,
To cloak my sad conceits with smiling cheer:
Let not my gestures show wherein I joy,
Nor by my looks let not my love appear.

We silly dames, that false suspect do fear,
And live within the mouth of Envy’s lake,
Must in our heart a secret meaning bear,
Far from the show which outwardly we make.

So where I like, I list not vaunt my love,
Where I desire, there I most feign debate:
One hath my hand, another hath my glove,
But he my heart whom I seem most to hate.

Then farewell friend, I will continue strange,
Thou shalt not hear by word or writing ought,
Let it suffice, my vow shall never change,
As for the rest, I leave it to thy thought.

Balle / Vavaser.

Sources: Coningsby, fol. 40 [Balle]; Finet, fol. 17; Cornwallis, fol. 8 [Vavaser]; Ms. Rawl. poet. 172, fol. 5v

One of the most important skills in the strategies of love is that of deception. In Shakespeare’s  The Comedy of Errors (III/2) Luciana takes the part of her sister Adriana by delivering this aristocratic, yet melodramatic speech:

Alas, poor women! make us but believe,
Being compact of credit, that you love us;
Though others have the arm, show us the sleeve;
We in your motion turn, and you may move us.

In other words: Others may own your arm, but please let us your sleeve. On the other hand, should a young woman not be capable of deception, she apologises for this failing skill. See, Romeo and Juliet (II/2):

JULIET. In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond,
And therefore thou mayst think my haviour light;
But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more true
Than those that have more cunning to be strange.

Oxford may well have needed female inspiration for his dramatic verse, but he certainly didn’t need a co-author. No later poems from Anne Vavasour exist, so we can safely assume that with the name “Vavaser” Anne Cornwallis is referring to Oxford (as in 89 and 90). The attribution to Oxford (important in connection with the word “Ball”) is confirmed by the attributions of  “Sitting alone upon my thought” (See, No. 89). 


88. Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my heart

Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my heart ?
Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint ?
Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart ?
Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint ?

Who first did paint with colours pale thy face ?
Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest ?
Above the rest in court who gave thee grace ?
Who made thee strive in honour to be best ?

In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,
To scorn the world regarding but thy friends ?
With patient mind each passion to endure,
In one desire to settle to the end ?

Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind,
As nought but death may ever change thy mind.

Earlle of Oxenforde / Ball.

Sources: Coningsby, fol. 70v [Ball]; Finet, fol. 16v [Earlle of Oxenforde]; Thomas Watson, The Tears of Fancie (1593)

A classical sonnet with an anaphorical string of questions in contradiction to Petrarch‘s Canzoniere, 299 : “Ov’è la fronte, che con picciol cenno” 

Where is that face, whose slightest air could move
My trembling heart, and strike the springs of love?
That heaven, where two fair stars, with genial ray
Shed their kind influence on life's dim way?                   (Transl. by Langhorne)

Coningsby sets the same answer behind each of the three verses; LOVE.

Thomas Watson (1555-1592) included Oxford’s poem (along with parts of No. 33) in his collection The Tears of Fancie or Love Disdained (1593).


89. Sitting alone upon my thought

Sitting alone upon my thought in melancholy mood,
In sight of sea, and at my back an ancient hoary wood,
I saw a fair young lady come, her secret fears to wail,
Clad all in colour of a nun, and covered with a veil;
Yet (for the day was calm and clear) I might discern her face,
As one might see a damask rose hid under crystal glass.
Three times, with her soft hand, full hard on her left side she knocks,
And sigh'd so sore as might have mov'd some pity in the rocks;
From sighs and shedding amber tears into sweet song she brake,
When thus the echo answered her to every word she spake:

Oh heavens, quod She, who was the first that bred in me this fever ? Vere.
Who was the first that gave the wound[6] whose fear I wear for ever ? Vere.
What tyrant, Cupid, to my harm usurps thy golden quiver ? Vere.
What sight first caught this heart and can from bondage it deliver ? Vere.
Yet who doth most adore this sight, oh hollow caves tell true ? You.
What nymph deserves his liking best, yet doth in sorrow rue ? You.
What makes him not regard good will with some remorse or ruth ? Youth.
What makes him show besides his birth, such pride and such untruth ? Youth.
May I his favour match with love, if he my love will try? Ay.
May I requite his birth with faith ? Then faithful will I die ? Ay.

And I, that knew this lady well,
Said, Lord how great a miracle,
To her how Echo told the truth,
As true as Phoebus' oracle.

E. Veer. count d’oxford /Vavaser.

Sources: Coningsby, fol. 63: [A. Vavasoure]; Finet, fol. 11: [Verses made by the earle of Oxforde and Mrs Ann Vavesor]; Cornwallis, fol. 13 [Vavaser]; The Arundel Harington Manuscript [E. Veer. count d’oxford]

As in “This tenth of March when Aries receiv’d” (No. 40) we become aquainted with a lover whose appearance causes a certain unrest. This ardent young lover goes by the name of VERE. And we listen (together with him) to the laments of his Mistress. Master ‘Vere’ writes what is probably the best echo poem in the history of English literature. - The call of desire is followed by cold scrutiny.


90. When I was fair and young then favour graced me

Verses made by the Queen, when she was supposed to be in love with Monsieur.

When I was fair and young then favour graced me;
Of many was I sought their mistress for to be.
But I did scorn them all, and answered them therefore,
Go, go, go, seek some otherwhere,
Importune me no more.

How many weeping eyes I made to pine in woe;
How many sighing hearts I have no skill to show;
Yet I the prouder grew, and answered them therefore,
Go, go, go, seek some otherwhere,
Importune me no more.

Then spake fair Venus' son, that proud victorious boy,
And said, you dainty Dame, since that you be so coy,
I will so pluck your plumes that you shall say no more
Go, go, go, seek some otherwhere,
Importune me no more.

When he had spake these words such change grew in my breast,
That neither night nor day I could take any rest.
Then, lo! I did repent, that I had said before
Go, go, go, seek some otherwhere,
Importune me no more.

L. of oxforde / Ely.


Sources: Coningsby, fol. 21v: [Ely]; Finet, fol. 1 [Elizabethe regina]; Cornwallis, fol. 13 [L. of oxforde]

John Finet, the collector of lyrics, first allocated this poem to Queen Elizabeth, titling it: “Verses made by the queen, when she was supposed to be in love with montsyre [= Monsieur = Duc d’Alencon]”. Later he cancelled this line.

It is out of question that the Virgin Queen would have ridiculed herself in this manner. The allocation of authorship made by Anne Corwallis is the only reasonable one.


91. When wert thou born, Desire? 

Of the birth and bringing up desire.

When wert thou born, Desire? In pomp and prime of May.
By whom, sweet boy, wert thou begot? By good conceit, men say.
Tell me, who was thy nurse? Fresh youth in sugared joy.
What was thy meat and daily food? Sore sighs with great annoy.

What had you then to drink? Unfeigned lovers' tears.
What cradle were you rocked in? In hope devoid of fears.
What brought you then asleep? Sweet speach that liked men best.
And where is now your dwelling place? In gentle hearts I rest.

Doth company displease? It doth in many one.
Where would Desire then choose to be? He likes to muse alone.
What feedeth most your sight? To gaze on favour still.
Who find you most to be your foe? Disdain of my good will.

Will ever age or death bring you unto decay?
No, no, Desire both lives and dies ten thousand times a day.

Earle of Oxenforde.

Sources: Coningsby, fol. 18v [Lo.Ox.]; Finet, fol. 15v [Earle of Oxenforde]; William Byrd’s Psalmes, Sonets, & Songs (1588); Brittons Bowre of Delights (1591)

“When wert you born, Desire?” is the single English translation of an Italian ‘Sonetto in dialogo’. (It is the pattern for No 68: “I sigh? why so? for sorrow of her smart”.) “Quandi nascesti, Amor?”, written by Panfilo Sasso (1455-1527), was also translated into French by Philippe Desportes (1546-1606). Oxford probably knew the French version.

Quando nascesti, Amor? Quando la terra

Si rinveste di verde e bel colore.

Di che fosti creato? D'un ardore

Che ciò lascivo in sè rinchiude e serra.


Chi ti produss a farmi tanta guerra?

Calda speranza, e gelido timore.

Ove prima abitasti? In gentil core,

Che sotto al mio valor presto s'atterra.


Chi fu la tua nutrice? Giovinezza,

E le sue serve accolte a lei d'intorno,

Leggiadria, Vanitá, Pompa, e Bellezza.


Di che ti pasci? D'un guardar adorno.

Non può contro di te morte o vecchiezza?

No: ch'io rinasco mille volte il giorno.


Amour, quand fus-tu né ? Ce fut lors que la terre

S’émaille de couleurs et les bois de verdeur.

De qui fus-tu conceu? D’une pussante ardeur

Qu’oisiveté lascive en soy-mesmes enserre. 


Qui te donne pouvoir de nous faire la guerre?

Les divers mouvemens d'espérance et île peur.

Où te retires-tu? Dedans un jeune cœur

Que de cent mille traits cruelement j'enferre.


De qui fus-tu nourry? D'une douce beauté,

Cui eut pour la servir jeuness et vanité.

De quoy te repais-tu? D'une belle lumière.


Crains-tu point le pouvoir des ans et de la mort?

Non; car, si quelque-fois je meurs par leur effort, Aussi-tost je retourne en ma forme première.

Opere de preclarissimo poeta Miser Pamphilo Sasso. Venezia 1519; Adrian Willaert, Musica nova. Venezia 1559

Philippe Desportes, Amours de Diane I.37 (1573)

William Shakesperae replies in The Merchant of Venice, III/2:

Tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart, or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
 Reply, reply.
It is engend'red in the eyes,
With gazing fed, and Fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies :
 Let us all ring Fancy's knell.
I'll begin it. Ding, dong, bell.
 Ding, dong, bell.


92. What thing is love? a vain conceit of mind?

What thing is love? a vain conceit of mind?
How now fond head? so lusty with a god?
A god? alas of such a cruel kind.
Cruel? ah no, he is a gentle rod.
A rod? for whom? For beauty’s truants breeches.
Fy fancy fy, what mean these foolish speeches?

A foolish speech to tell, what thing is love?
What thing is love? why? that was never shown,
Yet patient hearts that such a patient prove
Know well the flower that hath of fancy grown.
Of fancy? yet but that is far from love.
Yet fancy first doth firm affection prove.

Affection shows the height of heart’s desire,
Desire doth show what fancy doth affect,
And such affect doth often times aspire
Unto the height of heart’s desire’s affect.
And such affect doth fancy prove
And such a proof doth tell what thing is love.


Source: Coningsby, fol. 69; John Finet, fol. 13v [Anon.]

The repetitive word chains deliberately lead the reader in a maze. The form of the dialogue between heart and eyes reveals a familiarity with Petrarch’s dialogue sonnet 84  (Occhi piangete: accompagnate il core) when the heart scolds the eye for letting Amor gain access. (See, Oxford’s Poems, No. 68: “I sigh? why so? for sorrow of her smart”.)

Although “What thing is Love” is not allocated to any author of the period, a study of its stylistic characteristics along with the fact that it is positioned between (or along with) two poems of Oxford, gives us a strong indication that it was written by Oxford. The same can be said for the poems 93, 94 , 95 and 96. In Coningby’s collection “What thing is love” follows “My waning joys” (No. 93); whereas in Finet’s edition we find it directly between “Sitting alone upon my thought” (No. 89) and “The lively lark” (No. 71). 


93. My waning joys, my still increasing griefs

My waning joys, my still increasing grief,
My valiant rage, my coward reason faint,
My busy care, my slack and slow relief
To praise my wrong and to condemn my plaint,
The dark renown, the slander bright and clear
To please the eye and to betray the heart,
For moments mirth, to mourn the month and year,
To shun the shield and to embrace the dart,
Fond for my weal, but wise to work my harm,
To choose despair, for not to leave my troth,
Deaf to advice, but open ears to charm,
Thraldom to like but liberty to loath,
Which cruel fate and fatal love conjured,
Brings doubtful hope but dolour most assured.


Source: Coningsby, fol. 67v; John Finet, fol. 18v  [Anon.]

Notable the dialectic of disappointment, or spiral of despair, inspired by Pietro Bembo, Rime XXXV (Amor è, donne care, un vano e fello, 1530), Mellin de Saint-Gelais (Description D’Amour, 1547) and Pierre Ronsard (Qui veut savoir Amour et sa nature, 1560). - In Coningsby’s collection we find “My waning joys” directly between “The lively lark” (No. 71) and “What thing is love” (No. 92); in Finet’s anthology it follows after “The dreary day” (No. 94).


94. The dreary day when I must take my leave

The dreary day when I must take my leave
(parting from whence depart I never may)
Methinks I see and do fullwell perceive
That cruel care of me will make his prey.
And thou my heart which couldst with hope conspire
For thy delight to lead my life in woe,
Lo here the end of thy false joys desire
From thee bereft thy home thou must forgoe.
But go thy way and thy sweet harms endure
And of my woe though absence make my plaint,
Thou mayst thereby at length perhaps procure
By just remorse her hardend heart to faint.
Yet love her still although she love not thee,
For none of mine nor others thou shalt be.


Source: Finet, fol. 18v   [Anon.]

The author attempts to make a case for his illogical hope.

In Finet’s collection “The dreary day” is placed just before “My waning joys” (No. 92). 


95. How can the feeble fort but yield at last

How can the feeble fort but yield at last,
Whom daily force of sharp assault assays?
How can the weakened body choose but waste,
Whose state of health the long disease decays?
  How should the ox his present death withstand
  That feels the axe to strike him down at hand?

Weak are the walls the battery to abide
Of such as seek the spoil of our renown:
They lye in wait, they practise and provide
To stop our straights and beat our bulwarks down,
  To sack our walls and in most cruel sort
  With cannon shot to root our feeble fort.

They seek by slights and work by wills to win
Our tender hearts and counsel to disclose:
Our privy case discovered we begin
To faint and fall in danger of our foes.
  They then pursue with might and main the prey
  And enter in perforce the open way.

What should we do? We pass the pikes with pain,
We catch the clap and bear away the blows:
With valour yet we turn and rush again
The charged staves of our encountered foes.
  Wounded we part and yet we never die,
  And stricken down we fall and never fly.

Thus seely souls we stumble at the close,
Not having but the naked to defend:
Laid all along before our cruel foes,
We never yield but fight it to the end
  We strive, we thrust and nothing yet the neer,
  Women, poor souls, I see, are born to bear[7].


Sources: Coningsby, fol. 71  [Anon.]; Finet, fol. 114v [Mrs M. R.]

The allegorical presentation of affairs of the heart as were they a war, seems to be made from a woman’s point of view. However this is not the case. It is a typically male point of view, objectifying women in a rather facetious manner. We find a similar metaphor of love in Oxford’s The Adventures of Master F. I. and in his poems  “If women could be fair and yet not fond” (No. 84), and “Whereas the heart at tennis plays” (No. 85) and “When that thine eye hath chose the dame” (No. 97).

William A. Ringler speaks out against Sir Philip Sidney’s authorship in Poems attributed to Sir Philip Sidney (1950), saying that the content and style is too risqué for Sidney.

In Coningsby’s anthology, the poem “How can the feeble fort” is placed between “Who taught thee first” (No. 88) and “Short is my rest” (No. 83).


96. I said and swore that I would never love

I said and swore that I would never love,
I say and swear that I am half forsworn,
And yet no shame, for let the wisest prove,
And they shall find it cannot be forborn.
  Though wretched will would take an oath in pain,
  Comes careful wit and calls it back again.

For shall the eye which sees the heart’s offence
Halt up his sight and swear to see no more? [8]
Or shall ye heart that has a heavy fence,
Become so weak to keep no strength on store?
  No (god forbid) that will should govern so
  That want of fence should fences overthrow.

Then let me look although I may not gaze,
And let me like although I may not love,
And let me think, what motions do amaze
These troubled thoughts that do these torments prove.
  O sacred god that doest each secret know,
  Say for my soul, if I say true or no.

O fairest fair that ever nature framed,
O perfect’st shape that ever eye perceived,
O heav’nliest fire that ever heart inflamed,
O sweetest sweet that ever heart conceived:
  Where nature's gifts are graft in virtue’s tree[9],
  Who would not die to live in love with thee?


Sources: Coningsby, fol. 26; Finet, fol. 97;Cornwallis, fol. 31; Ms. Rawl.poet 172, fol. 7r  [Anon.]

A skillfully composed poem in which the beloved woman is represented only by words such as motion, shape, gift graft and in the end; thee. It would appear that the author is prepared to die for love, though not necessarily for his loved one - and that in a carefully controlled manner.

The theme; the renouncement of love is strongly reminiscent of the noblemen’s poems in Love’s Labours Lost (IV/2-3).

In the manuscript Rawl.poet 172 the poem “I said and swore” follows to “If women could be fair” (No. 84).


97. When that thine eye hath chose the dame

When that thine eye hath chose the dame
And stalled the deer that thou wouldst strike,
Let reason rule things worthy blame,
As well as fancy, partial like;
  Take counsel of some other head,
  Neither unwise nor yet unwed.

And when thou com’st thy tale to tell,
Wet not thy tongue with filed talk,
Least she some subtle practice smell;
A cripple soon can find one halt
  But plainly say thou lov'st her well,
  And set thy person forth to sell.

And to her will frame all thy ways;
Spare not to spend, and chiefly there
Where thy expense may sound thy praise,
By ringing always in her ear:
  The strongest castle, tower or town
  The golden bullet hath beat down.

Serve always with assured trust,
And in thy suit be humble true;
Unless thy lady prove unjust,
Seek never thou to change anew:
  When time doth serve, then be not slack
  To proffer though she put it back.

What though her frowning brows be bent,
Her cloudy looks will clear ere night,
And she perhaps will soon repent
That she dissembled her delight;
  And twice desire, ere it be day,
  That with such scorn she put away.

What though she strive to try her strength,
And chide and brawl, and say thee nay,
Her feeble force will yield at length,
And craft hath taught her thus to say:
  Had women been so strong as men,
  In faith, you had not got it then.

Think women love to match with men,
And not to live so like a saint:
Here is no heaven; be holy then
When time with age shall thee attaint.
  Were kissing all the joys in bed,
  One woman would another wed.

The wiles and guiles that in them lurk,
Dissembled with an outward show,
The tricks and toys and means to work,
The cock that treads them shall not know.
  Have you not heard that said full oft,
  A woman's nay doth stand for nought?

Now ho, enough, too much I fear;
For if my lady hear this song,
She will not stick to wring my ear,
To teach my tongue to be so long;
  Yet would she blush, here be it said,
  To hear her secrets thus bewrayed.

W. Shakespeare.

Sources: Coningsby, fol. 43; Cornwallis, fol. 25 f.; (Str. 5-9) Ms. Rawl. poet. 172, fol. 2v  [Anon.];  The Passionate Pilgrim, 18 (1599) [W. Shakespeare]

This poem contains several characteristics that enable us to identify it as the work of the Earl of Oxford: The cripple's astute ability to detect a false limp. The comparison of the object of a man's desire to a hunter's prey. The depiction of a love affair as being a “match” [=competition]. The switching of roles within the poem. The subtle yet effective use of humour.

In Willobie his AVISA Or The True Picture of a modest Maid, 1594 (a satire about Queen Elizabeth's suitors), the writer “Henry Wilobie” imitates the ironic style that we find in “When that thine eye”. He gives the courtier W. S.[= William Shake-speare] the following lines (from CANT. XLVII ):

Apply her still with divers things,
(For gifts the wisest will deceave)
Sometimes with gold, sometimes with rings,
No time nor fit occasion leave,
Though coy at first she seem and wield,
These toys in time will make her yield.

Henry Willobie puts Master W. S. into the role of the advisor to the Earl of Essex in matters of the heart: “She is no Saint, She is no Nonne, / I think in time she may be wonne“. See, W. Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, II/1: „She is a woman, therefore may be woo'd, / She is a woman, therefore may be won.“ (See, 3.2.2 Willobie.)

In 1599 William Jaggard published The Passionate Pilgrim. By W. Shakespeare. As the last poem in a collection of works by Shakespeare and Shakespeare imitators (Richard Barnfield, Thomas Deloney, Bartholomew Griffin) he prints “When that thine eye”. Why would he do that? Jaggard can't possibly have thought that the author of the twenty year old poem “ When that thine eye hath chose the dame” was a Shakespeare epigone. (Therefore it's logical that he assumed that Oxford was ---???)


98. To look upon a work of rare devise

Verses to the Author of The Faerie Queene.

To look upon a work of rare devise
The which a workman setteth out to view,
And not to yield it the deserved praise
That unto such a workmanship is due,
Doth either prove the judgement to be naught,
Or else doth show a mind with envy fraught.

To labour to commend a piece of work
Which no man goes about to discommend,
Would raise a jealous doubt that there did lurk,
Some secret doubt, whereto the praise did tend.
For when men know the goodness of the wine,
'Tis needless for the host to have a sign.[10]

Thus then to show my judgement to be such
As can discern of colours black and white,
As all’s to free my mind from envy’s touch,
That never gives to any man his right,
I here pronounce this workmanship is such,
As that no pen can set it forth too much.[11]

And thus I hang a garland at the door,
Not for to show the goodness of the ware:
But such hath been the custom heretofore,
And customs very hardly broken are.
And when your taste shall tell you this is true,
Then look you give your host his utmost due.


Source: Edmund Spenser, Faerie Queene (1590). Verses to the Author of  The Faerie Queene.

The manner in which “Ignoto” circumvents his duty to praise is reminiscent of the commendation poem for Gascoigne’s Steele Glas (No. 104). Here: “I here pronounce this workmanship is such, / As that no pen can set it forth too much.” There: “Like sort my pen shall Gascoigne’s praise descry, / Which wanting grace, his graces to rehearse, / Doth shroud and cloud them thus in silent verse.”- The lines: “Thus then to show my judgement to be such / As can discern of colours black and white” also remind us of Oxford’s “But those gain that, who on the work shall look, / And from the sour the sweet by skill doth choose” from the commendation poem for Girolamo Cardano (No. 1).

With “To look upon a work of rare devise” Oxford reacts to Spenser’s poem (that was addressed to Oxford) “Receive, most noble Lord, in gentle gree, / The unripe fruit of an unready Wit” in which Spenser admits that he has included Oxford “under a shady veil” in his Faerie Queene. – To be precise, as Sir Scudamore, the author of “L'Escü d'amour, the shield of perfect love” (No. 63).


99. Sweet friend, whose name agrees

Phaeton to his Friend Florio.

Sweet friend, whose name agrees with thy increase
How fit a rival art thou of the spring!
For when each branch hath left his flourishing,
And green-locked summer's shady pleasures cease,
She makes the winter's storms repose in peace
And spends her franchise on each living thing:[12]
The daisies spout, the little birds do sing[13],
Herbs, gums, and plants do vaunt of their release[14].
So when that all our English wits lay dead[15]
(Except the laurel that is evergreen)
Thou with thy fruits our barrenness o'erspread
And set thy flowery pleasance to be seen.
Such fruits, such flowerets of morality
Were ne'er before brought out of Italy.


Source: John Florios Second Frutes, to be gathered of Twelve Trees (1591) [Phaeton to his Friend Florio]

The scholar, translator and language teacher John Florio (1553-1625) brought out his Second Frutes in 1591, an Anglo-Italian collection of phrases and sayings, witticisms and aphorisms. Florio was aquainted with Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Fulke Greville and Giordano Bruno. He was a frequent visitor in the houses of Lord Burghley and the Earl of Oxford. In the preface to A Worlde of Words (1598) Florio lambasts “those notable Pirates in this our paper-sea, those sea-dogs, or land-Critikes, monsters of men … these barking and biting dogs”, never neclecting the chance to an attack. “There is another sort of leering curs,” says Florio, “that rather snarl than bite, whereof I could instance in one, who lighting upon a good sonnet of a gentleman, a friend of mine, that loved better to be a poet than to be counted so, called the author a rymer, notwithstanding he had more skill in good poetry than my sly gentleman seemed to have in good manners or humanity.” - The sharp tongued Thomas Nashe (who once called himself a barking ‘Cerberus’[3.1.9 LLL, note 105]) did indeed call the Earl of Oxford (alias ‘Master William’, or ‘Will. Monox’) a “verser” in his pamphlet Strange Newes (1593) : “A Setter I am sure you are not … but the Verser I cannot acquite you of, for … a breakfast you won at an unlawful game cald riming.” With this joke Nashe referred to the tricks of connycatching; as practiced by Falstaff and his companions. The satirist didn’t meant to be malevolent in saying this, but he was certainly very cheeky. - Florio’s apercu “a friend of mine, that loved better to be a Poet than to be counted so” was most definitely aimed at Oxford.

Phaeton’s sonnet (Phaeton was the son of Phoebus who crashed his father’s sun chariot) shows remarkable similarity to Oxford’s earlier commendatory poem to Gascoigne’s Posies (No. 103). In both cases the joyously welcomed book transforms the frosty literature scene into a pastoral idyll in spring time. (Incidentally the Italian word ‘florio’ means spring.)  - “Phaeton” whose name is associated with challenge and risk, accidentally fires a full broadside at his contemporaries, yet, freed from the laws of gravity, he finishes singing his ethereal song with a Mozart like ease.

It is no coincidence that William Minto (1885), T. S. Baynes (1894) and Sidney Lee (1931) all attribute this song to William Shakespeare. William Minto says, “In all poets we may encounter passages of special difficulty; but on the whole, each poet keeps us at a particular intellectual strain. This is determined chiefly by the degree of abstractness or abstruseness in the language, and by the degree of clearness and power in the ideas… Phaeton’s sonnet is not a large field to experiment on; but, as nearly as I can judge, it very much the same strain as one of Shakespeare’s sonnets.” (Characteristics of English Poets, from Chaucer to Shirley, 1885, p. 380.)


100. Faction that ever dwells

Megliora spero.

Faction that ever dwells,
In court, where wit excels
     Hath set defiance.
Fortune and Love have sworn,
That they were never born
     Of one alliance.

Cupid which doth aspire,
To be God of Desire,
     Swears he gives laws;
That where his arrows hit,
Some joy, some sorrow it,
     Fortune no cause.

Fortune swears weakest hearts
(The books of Cupid's arts)
     Turn’d with her wheel,
Senses themselves shall prove,
Venture her place in Love,
     Ask them that feel.[16]

This discord it begot
Atheists that honour not.
     Nature thought good,
Fortune should ever dwell
In court, where wits excel,
     Love keep the wood.

So to the wood went I,
With Love to live and lie,
     Fortune's forlorn:
Experience of my youth,
Made me think humble Truth
     In deserts born.

My saint I keep to me,
And Joane herself is she,
     Joane fair and true:
She that doth only move
Passions of love with Love
     Fortune adieu !

E. O.

Sources: Syr P. S. His Astrophel and Stella... To the end of which are added, sundry other rare Sonnets of divers Noble men and Gentlemen. (1591) [E. O.];  The Second Booke of Songs or Ayres... Composed by John Dowland (1600)

Encouraged by the “wit” of court; the conflict between Amor and Fortuna escalates to the point where Amor takes to the woods leaving the Goddess of fortune to rule at court. Those who believed in true love joined Amor in his pastoral exile; far away from court they find the female angel who rewards love with love.

In As you like it William Shakespeare explores this very theme of the conflict between Amor and Fortuna. This play also has a happy end with love and peace of mind for all concerned. - We find a rehashed version of the song in the sonnet cycle Caelica from Fulke Greville.


101. What cunning can express

The Shepheard’s Commendation of his Nymph.

What cunning can express
The favour of her face ?
To whom in this distress,
I do appeal for grace.
A thousand Cupids fly
About her gentle eye.

From whence each throws a dart[17],
That kindleth soft sweet fire:
Within my sighing heart,
Possessed by Desire.
No sweeter life I try,
Than in her love to die.

The lily in the field,
That glories in his white,
For pureness now must yield,
And render up his right;
Heaven pictured in her face,
Doth promise joy and grace.

Fair Cynthia's silver light[18],
That beats on running streams,
Compares not with her white,
Whose hairs are all sun-beams;
Her virtues so do shine,
As day unto mine eyne.

With this there is a red,
Exceeds the Damask-Rose;
Which in her cheeks is spread,
Whence every favour grows.
In sky there is no star,
That she surmounts not far.

When Phoebus from the bed
Of Thetis doth arise[19],
The morning blushing red,
In fair carnation wise;
He shows it in her face,
As Queen of every grace.

This pleasant lily white,
This taint of roseate red;
This Cynthia's silver light,
This sweet fair Dea spread[20];
These sunbeams in mine eye,
These beauties make me die.

E. O.

Source: The Phoenix Nest, 31 (1593) [E. O.]

Oxford doesn’t seem to have been overly concerned about loveliness. All the same, this is one of his most “lovely” poems. The lines are directed to a high born lady who’s beauty and charm seem to shine like a warm and preacious light that not even Cynthia’s silver light can compare to it. (See 48 and 73). The most likely addressee is Queen Elizabeth. Just  like “Short is my rest” (No. 83) the poem “What cunning can express” was probably written in the 1580s.


[1]The Answer”: ‘Anne Cornwaleyes Her Booke’ (fol. 7) writes “Vere finis” after the second stanza. In the Farmer Chetham Manuscript 8012 (Manchester) the ‘Answer’ is ascribed to Sir Philip Sidney. - Sidney’s editor, William A. Ringler quite rightly disputes this statement.

[2] “The jetty is deceitful guil; / the stopper jealousy”: Jetty = barrier. Stopper, a player who is not good enough to win a tournament, but good enough to obstruct others in their advancement.

[3] “The fault, wherewith fifteen is lost”: Fifteen is the first score reached in tennis. In the interests of distinctiveness and as a matter of tradition, the score in tennis does not follow the pattern: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 – rather 0, 15, 30, 40, 60. Should a player win two points, and his opponent one point, the score is then 30-15.

[4] “And he that brings the racket in”: This is probably a reference to the side bets that were placed on the tennis games.

[5]A bandy ho, the people cry”: A bandy, the return of a ball. - See, W.Shakesperae, King Lear (I/IV): “Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?” - Love’s Labour”s Lost, V/2: “well bandied both, a set of wit well played.” -  Of further importance: The famous tennis allegory from Henry the Fifth, I/II:

When we have march'd our rackets to these balls,
We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set
Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.

[6] “Who was the first who gave the wound”: We are reminded of the famous epithalamium by Giovanni Giovano Pontano (1429-1503) that emphasises the erotic conotation of No. 89. “Telum cominus, hinc et inde vibrans, / Dum vulnus ferus interferas amatum”. “When the bride yields to your embraces and resolves herself to desire and passion, that is the time, my friend, to brandish your spear, and inflict the beloved wound upon her.” (Pontani Carmina, Epithalamium hend. 1,18.)

[7] “women, poor souls, I see, are borne to bear”: A play on words; bear as in ‘bearing loads’ and bear as in ‘bearing children’.

[8] “For shall the eye which sees the heart’s offence / halt up his sight and swear to see no more?”: Refers to Petrarch, Canzoniere 84 (Occhi piangete: accompagnate il core)


Weep, eyes: accompany the heart

that is about to die for your failings!


‘So we are, always weeping: we must mourn

for another’s fault rather than our own.’


Yet it was through you that Love first entered,

where he still lives as though it were his home.


‘We opened the way because of that hope

that came from within that heart that is to die.’

See, William Shakespeare, Sonnet 46:

Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war,
How to divide the conquest of thy sight,
Mine eye, my heart thy picture's sight would bar,
My heart, mine eye the freedom of that right.

[9] “Where nature's gifts are graft in virtue’s tree”: See, William Shakespeare, Sonnet 37:

For whether beauty, birth, or wealth, or wit,
Or any of these all, or all, or more
Entitled in thy parts, do crowned sit,
I make my love engrafted to this store.

[10] “For when men know the goodness of the wine, / 'Tis needless for the host to have a sign”: Ignoto is referring to the saying “Good wine needs no bush” that comes from a time when taverns used to hang ivy vines outside their doors to show passers-by that wine was on sale. Although the saying is obscure, William Shakespeare was familiar with it, including it in the epilogue to As you like it:

ROSALIND. If it be true that good wine needs no bush, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue. Yet to good wine they do use good bushes; and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues.

[11] “I here pronounce this workmanship is such, / As that no pen can set it forth too much”: Ben Jonson commences his commendatory poem to the First Folio of 1623 with a reference to these lines (thereby revealing his interpretation of the identity of Ignoto):

To draw no envy (Shakespeare) on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy Booke, and Fame;
While I confesse thy writings to be such,
As neither Man, nor Muse, can praise too much.

[12] “[Spring] makes the winter's storms repose in peace / And spends her franchise on each living thing”:  See, Oxford’s Poems No. 103 – “In gladsome spring when sweet and pleasant showers / Have well renewd what winters wrath hath torn.”

[13] “The daisies spout, the little birds do sing”: See, “In spring-time, the only pretty ring-time, / When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding” (As You Like It, V/3: It was a lover and his lass); along with many other correlations to Shakespeare.

[14] “Herbs, gums, and plants do vaunt of their release”: A play on Chaucer’s floral dreams in the prologue to The Legend of Good Women [Prol. 109]. – “As for to speke of gomme or erbe or tre.”

[15] “So when that all our English wits lay dead”: This remark corresponds with Edmund Spenser’s accusation in The Teares of the Muses (1591 !) whereby he compares the English literature scene with a barren winter landscape.

For far more bitter storm than winter’s stour
The beauty of the world hath lately wasted;
And those fresh buds, which wont so fair to flower,
Hath marred quite, and all their blossoms blasted.

[16]Fortune swears weakest hearts / (The books of Cupid's arts) / Turn’d with her wheel, / Senses themselves shall prove, / Venture her place in Love, / Ask them that feel”: In other words, Fortune promises the weak of heart (already favoured by Armor) to put their faith in the turn of her wheel and to try love by the senses.

[17] “From whence each throws a dart”: Each of the thousand Cupids throws a dart from the eye of the author’s beloved.

[18] “Fair Cynthia's silver light”: The moon goddess Cynthia. The name Cynthia was given affectionately to Queen Elizabeth by her contemporaries. See, Nos. 8 and 48.

[19] “When Phoebus from the bed / Of Thetis doth arise”: See, No. 71, “the guilt of Thetis' bed.”

[20] “This sweet fair Dea spread”: Bona Dea was the name given to the “good goddess” of fertility, healing and virginity (whose true name was so closely guarded by her priestesses that it is now no longer known). Refers obviously to Queen Elizabeth.