Wherein he excuseth himself for the M anner
of the Portrait.
ALAS ! now wilt thou chide, and say (I deem)
My figured descant hides the simple thème:
Or, in another wise reproving, say
I m observe thine own high réticent way.
Oh, pardon, that I testif y of thee
What thou couldst never speak, nor others be !
Yet (for the book is not more innocent
Of what the gazer's eyes makes so intent),
She will but smile, perhaps, that I find my fair1
Sufficing scope in such strait thème as her.
"Bird of the sun ! the stars' wild honey bee !
Is your gold browsing done so thoroughly?
Or sinks a singèd wing to narrow nest in me?"
(Thus she might say: for not this lowly vein
Out-deprecates her deprecating strain.)
Oh, you mistake, dear lady, quite; nor know
Ether was strict as you, its lof tiness as low !
The heavens do not advance their majesty
Over their marge; beyond his empery
The ensigns of the wind are not unfurled,
His reign is hooped in by the pale o* the world.
'Tis not the continent, but the contained,
That pleasaunce makes or prison, loóse or chained.
Too much alike or little captives me,
For all oppression is captivity.
What groweth to its height demands no higher;
The limit limits not, but the desire.
We, therefore, with a sure instinctive mind,
An equal spaciousness of bondage find
In confines far or near, of air or our own kind.
Our looks and longings, which affront the stars,
Most richly bruised against their golden bars,
Delighted captives of their flaming spears,
Find a restraint restrainless which appears
As that is, and so simply naturai, »
In jrou;-the fair détention freedom cali,
And overscroll with fancies the loved prison-wall.
Such sweet captivity, and only such,
In you, as in those golden bars, we touch !
Our gazes for suffi cing limits know
The firmament above, your face below;
Our longings are contented with the skies,
Content ed with the heaven, and your eyes.
My restless wings, that beat the whole world through,
Flag on the confines of the sun and you ;
And find the human pale remoter of the two.