Too high, too high to pluck
My heart shall swing.
A fruit no bee shall suck,
No wasp shall sting.
If on some night of cold
It falls to the ground
In apple-leaves of gold
I’ll wrap it around.
And I shall seal it up
With spice and salt,
In a carven silver cup,
In a deep vault.
Before my eyes are blind
And my lips mute,
I must eat core and rind
Of that same fruit.
Before my heart is dust
By the end of all,
Eat it I must, I must
Were it bitter gall.
But I shall keep it sweet
By some strange art;
Wild honey, I shall eat
When I eat my heart.
O honey cool and chaste
As clover’s breath!
Sweet Heaven I shall taste
Before my death.
YE elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
When he comes back, you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe, not bites; and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring water; to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire, and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made a shake, and by the spurs, pluck’d up
The pine and cedar; graves at my command
Have wak’d their sleepers, op’d, and let ’em forth
By my so potent art.
Lovers all are soldiers, and Cupid has his campaigns:
I tell you, Atticus, lovers all are soldiers.
Youth is fit for war and also fit for Venus.
Imagine an aged soldier, an elderly lover!
A general looks for the spirit in his brave soldiery;
a pretty girl wants spirit in her companions.
Both stay up all night long, and each sleeps on the ground;
one guards his mistress’s doorway, one his general’s.
The soldier’s lot requires far journeys; send his girl,
the zealous lover will follow her anywhere.
He’ll cross the glowering mountains, the rivers are swollen with a storm;
he’ll tread a pathway through the heaped-up snows;
and never whine of raging Eurus when he sets sail
or wait for stars propitious for his voyage.
Who but lovers and soldiers endure the chill of night,
and blizzards interspersed with driving rain?
The soldier reconnoiters among the dangerous foe;
the lover spies to learn his rival’s plans.
Soldiers besiege strong cities; lovers, a harsh girl’s home;
one storms town gates, the other storms house doors.
It’s a clever strategy to raid a sleeping foe
and slay an unarmed host by force of arms.
(That’s how the troops of Thracian Rhesus met their doom,
and you, O captive steeds, forsook your master.)
Well, lovers take advantage of husbands when they sleep,
launching surprise attacks while the enemy snores.
To slip through bands of guards and watchful sentinels
is always the soldier’s mission – and the lover’s.
Mars wavers; Venus flutters the conquered rise again,
and those you’d think could never fall, lie low.
So those who like to say that love is indolent
should stop: Love is the soul of the enterprise.
Sad Achilles burns for Briseis, his lost darling:
Trojans, smash the Greeks’ power while you may!
From Andromache’s embrace Hector went to war;
his own wife set the helmet on his head;
and High King Agamemnon, looking on Priam’s child,
was stunned (they say) by the Maenad’s flowing hair.
And Mars himself was trapped in The Artificer’s bonds:
no tale was more notorious in heaven.
I too was once an idler, born for careless ease;
my shady couch had made my spirit soft.
But care for a lovely girl aroused me from my sloth
and bid me enlist in her campaign.
So now you see me forceful, in combat all night long.
If you want a life of action, fall in love.