3 The Drayton Sonnet

Sonnet 61 by Michael Drayton

Simon Currie’s choice number 3

Sonnet 61 (by Michael Drayton 1563-1631)


Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part;
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart
That thus so cleanly I myself can free;
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of love’s latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies, 
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death, 
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
  Now if thou woudst, when all have given him over,
  From death to life thou mightst him yet recover.

The Drayton Sonnet 61 has the marvellous “turn” with second thoughts. I thought of it in 1967 when a girlfriend (daughter of a well-known novelist) turned me down rather brutally. It has a similar sentiment to the Livingstone sonnet. Drayton also wrote the Agincourt poem “Fair stood the wind for France” the first line, which H.E. Bates used as title for his WW2 novel. Bates lived at Little Chart, Kent at the property where my son and family lived for 18 months two years ago. All the village seemed to remember was one son of Bates who went round exposing himself but there is a fine yellow-leafed liquidambar and a walnut tree Bates had planted. Bates’ country tales are a bit formulaic but Tunnicliffe’s etchings illustrate the book well.

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