Archive for May 12th, 2015

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A Sonnet of Love by Alexander Hume (with copious notes by flusteredduck)

Not lawfull love, bot lecherie I lacke:
Not women wise, but witlesse I disdaine:
Not constant trueth, but tromperie I detract:
Not innocence, but insolence prophaine:
Not blessed bands, but secreite working vaine:
As Pyramus and Thisbe1 tuike2 on hand,
As Jason and Medea made their traine3,
As Dæmophon and foolish Phillis4 fand5,
As Hercules at lolëes command6,
Which like a wife for love sat downe to spin.
And finally all follie I gainstand7,
Which may allure the heart to shame or sin:
Beware with vice, be not the cause of ill,
Sine8 speak, & sport, look, laugh, & love your fill.

1 Pyramus and Thisbe fell in love through a crack in the wall between their two homes Thisbe was married at the time. Both lovers ended up killing themselves after a misunderstanding. They are associated with mulberries which are said to have gained their colour in tribute to their deaths.
tuike – touch, stroke, hit (as in drum).
traine – deceit, treachery, betrayal – as in Jason betraying Medea by leaving her and their children to further his ambitions and Medea betraying him in turn by murdering their children.
Dæmophon and foolish Phillis were another pair of doomed lovers. Dæmophon married Phyllis then left her promising to return. As he left, Phyllis gave him a casket and told him to only open it if he never meant to return. He never returned and Phyllis either died of grief or killed herself. When Dæmophon opened the casket, its contents so horrified him that he fled and ended up falling on his sword and killing himself. In another version of the myth, Phyllis was turned into an almond tree as she waited for him. The almond tree blossomed only when he returned and put his arms around it.
fand – found.
Hercules at lolëes command – Hercules fell in love with Iole and, at the time of this poem, it was believed that he had dressed as one of her serving women and sat down amongst them to spin. This was a popular symbol during the Renaissance for the emasculating power of love and women’s sexuality. The story of Hercules’ spinning is thought to have been conflated with the story of another of Hercules’ lovers, Omphale. Iole, however, is considered to be the indirect cause of Hercules’ death.
gainstand – oppose.
8 sine – then.

From: Hume, Alexander and Lawson, Alexander (ed.), The Poems of Alexander Hume (?1557-1609), Edited from the Text of Waldegrave (1599) with Notes, Appendices, and Glossary, 1902, Scottish Society (Blackwood and Sons): Edinburgh, p. 9.

Date: 1599

By: Alexander Hume (?1557-1609)