Published in 1597 in a setting by the composer John Dowland, these anonymous lyrics have been attributed to the Earl of Essex. The theme and images of the lyrics are those of the stereotypical w:Petrarchan lover, although it has been suggested that there is a political subtext.
1493520Can she excuse my wrongsattributed to the Earl of Essex1597
Can she excuse my wrongs with Virtue's cloak?
Shall I call her good when she proves unkind?
Are those clear fires which vanish into smoke?
Must I praise the leaves where no fruit I find?
No no: where shadows do for bodies stand,
Thou may'st be abus'd if thy sight be dim.
Cold love is like to words written on sand,
Or to bubbles which on the water swim.
Wilt thou be thus abused still,
Seeing that she will right thee never?
If thou canst not o'ercome her will
The love will be thus fruitless ever.
Was I so base, that I might not aspire
Unto those high joys which she holds from me?
As they are high , so high is my desire:
If she this deny, what can granted be?
If she will yeld to that which reason is,
It is Reason's will that Love should be just.
Dear make me happy still be granting this,
Or cut off delays if that die I must.
Better a thousand times to die,
Than for to live thus still tormented:
Dear, but remember it was I
Who for thy sake did die contended.