Week 43: Shall I come, sweet Love, to thee

I find a lot of Elizabethan love poetry too formulaic for my taste, but this poem by Thomas Campion (1567-1620) does seem to carry a note of plaintive sincerity as the poor chap desperately tries to get his foot in the beloved’s door, if only so he can stop shivering…

Shall I come, sweet love, to thee?

Shall I come, sweet love, to thee,
When the ev’ning beams are set?
Shall I not excluded be?
Will you find no feignèd let?
Let me not, for pity, more
Tell the long hours at your door.

Who can tell what thief or foe
In the covert of the night,
For his prey, will work my woe,
Or through wicked foul despite?
So may I die unredress’d,
Ere my long love be possess’d.

But, to let such dangers pass,
Which a lover’s thoughts disdain,
’Tis enough in such a place
To attend love’s joys in vain:
Do not mock me in thy bed,
While these cold nights freeze me dead.

Thomas Campion

7 thoughts on “Week 43: Shall I come, sweet Love, to thee

    • Thanks for commenting. Yes, there’s another one of Campion’s, ‘When thou must home to shades of underground’, that has a wonderfully recriminatory tone that speaks to me of bitter personal experience.

      • No, you’re thinking of Edmund Campion, 1540-1591, the Jesuit priest and educationalist, executed for treason. This is Thomas Campion, 1567-1620, poet and composer – not so much of a university high-flyer; he did spend four years at Peterhouse, Cambridge but left without getting a degree.

    • ‘Let’ in line 4: yes, obstruction, hindrance – in other words, ‘will you not (for once) think up some excuse not to see me’. ‘To let such dangers pass’ in line 13 – yes, I think you’re probably right: ‘to let such dangers happen’ or more simply ‘to run such risks’, though I suppose it could mean ‘to put such dangers out of mind’.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s