Groweth anew the world in spring,
And with its showers lovers joys bring,
Save for the one who lacks his mate:
To him the cruel month yield no thing.
While others live, this heart doth end,
Who hath no aid that could him tend
And hope to prosper in his ache.
To lost love his thoughts ever bend.
Those others may with kisses prove
The worth and favor of their love,
But this one can only recall
The strong cord they together wove.
The flowers have not so rich a hew,
As when she bathèd in their dew
And smiled brighter than the sun;
No other being such beauty shew.
Without that sight fair to define,
What call we beauty or divine?
As good is dimmed, so too is ill:
For what Heaven can Hell then pine?
This blessed soul doth suffer wrong,
That from God’s light she reside long.
What sin hath she, born but of man?
In no other is love this strong.
Virtuous love the world rare know,
But chanced in her the seed to sow;
Though death will come, let it delay,
And true love may all the world grow.
The theme for this song is a more obvious version of Surrey’s “The soote season,” (in which he declares that the spring, which is otherwise a happy time, is for him a cause of sadness) with a rhyme scheme of aaba based in part on “Song 1” from Astrophil and Stella. The primary difference is that Sidney maintains the a rhyme throughout the song with the –eth third person verb ending, and uses the b line as a repeated refrain.
2. “its showers”: April, which is noted for its showers most famously in the Canterbury Tales’ first line.
4. “cruel month”: April again. I confess that this was a ridiculously anachronistic nod to Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” which played on the opening of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the idea of April as a time of rebirth. But, since I can hide it mostly behind the reference to Surrey, I’m not that worried. Literature fans may enjoy or hate it.
8. “strong cord”: I seem to recall this something being a reference to Theseus and Ariadne, the latter of whom made a cord for the former to use to trace his steps in the famous classical Minotaur-containing labyrinth. I believe I referred to it (however obliquely) because it was a tale about separated lovers and the hardship that separated them – definitely a sentiment that surrounds the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.
9. hew: hue.
12. shew: showed.
19. “What sin hath she, born but of man?” The irony of this statement is that according to Christian theology, all humans possess sin by default by the very reason that they are born “of man,” thanks to the Fall.