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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.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
The first in a series of three widely spaced poems addressed to Absence: see p. 110. For the reflections of all three in Greville's Caelica xlv, see Appendix B.
Editor’s Note
3–4 This imagery of shore and tempest-tossed bark is echoed at Song 24: 1–6.
Editor’s Note
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.
Editor’s Note
7–8 evokes the proverb 'The remedy is worse than the disease'.
Editor’s Note
8 grief is likewise associated with Absence at Song 24: 27.
Editor’s Note
14 pain is likewise associated with Presence at Song 24: 22.
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