Thursday, March 12, 2015

from The Contesse of Montgomery's Urania: "Love peruse me, seeke, and finde" - Lady Mary Wroth

Love peruse me, seeke, and finde
How each corner of my minde
          Is a twine
          Woven to shine.
Not a Webb ill made, foule fram'd,
Bastard not by Father nam'd,
          Such in me
          Cannot bee.
Deare behold me, you shall see
Faith the Hive, and love the Bee,
          Which doe bring.
          Gaine and sting.
Pray desect me, sinewes, vaines,
Hold, and loves life in those gaines;
          Lying bare
          To despaire,
When you thus anotamise
All my body, my heart prise;
          Being true
          Just to you.
Close the Truncke, enbalme the Chest,
Where your power still shall rest,
          Joy entombe,
          Loves just doome.

Once you get past the very non-standard spelling (standardized orthography was not really a thing in the 17th century) I think you'll find this poem, an except from Lady Mary Wroth's romance to be remarkably contemporary and understandable.  The narrator (having not read the source material, only this excerpt, I cannot say man or woman) asks a lover to inspect, to read deeply (peruse) and find how in every single nook and cranny of their body lives their love.  The lover holds absolute power, and the narrator is inviting that lover to see that for themselves, essentially handing them the key to their heart.  Indeed, the body here is the trunk and chest, so a key analogy fits quite well.

My favorite single line must be "behold me, you shall see Faith the Hive, and love the Bee."  Faith is nourished by love, but like a bee, love can bring both gain and sting, pleasure and pain.  It's an elegant metaphor.  I think I owe it to myself, and to you, readers, to read the full romance at some point and further my understanding of it.

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