P. J. Croft (ed.), The Poems of Robert Sidney
pg 220 Sonnet. 23.
- Absence what floods of plaints gainst thee would ryse
- wch euen the hellish wants doest make mee tast
- If perisht barck on shore by tempest cast
- wch late praide for the land, now on it dyes
- Did not paint out my lyfe, wch fetterd lyes
- and famisht, darck, in prison, cold doth wast
- till when my lifes Queen present shines at last
- a medcin worse then greef it self it tries.
- For as the condemnd man from dungeon ledd
- whoe wthfirst light hee sees, ends his last breath
- when I see her, I see scorns banner spredd
- each word refuses, each refuse giues death
- Thē thee sad absence I no longer curse
- as present paine, then absent ioy is wurse.
pg 221Editor’s Note Sonnet 23
- 1Absence, what floods of plaints 'gainst thee would rise—
- 2Which even the hellish wants dost make me taste—
- Editor’s Note3If perished bark on shore by tempest cast,
- 4Which late prayed for the land, now on it dies,
- Editor’s Note5Did not paint out my life, which fettered lies
- 6And famished, dark, in prison, cold doth waste;
- Editor’s Note7Till, when my life's queen present shines at last,
- Editor’s Note8A medicine worse than grief itself it tries.
- 9For—as the condemned man from dungeon led
- 10Who with first light he sees, ends his last breath—
- 11When I see her, I see scorn's banner spread,
- 12Each word refuses, each refuse gives death.
- 13Then thee sad absence I no longer curse,
- Editor’s Note14As present pain, than absent joy, is worse.
5 fettered cf. Robert to Essex from Flushing (6 June 1597) 'For neuer yet since I was a Captein vnder yow … haue I bin so happy to see yow in the feeld, which I onely attribute to the fetters which this place doth ty me in.' The same association of fetters with Absence occurs at Song 24: 33.
7–8 evokes the proverb 'The remedy is worse than the disease'.