(Poem #1466) My Sweetest Lesbia
(in imitation of Catallus) My sweetest Lesbia, let us live and love, And though the sager sort our deeds reprove, Let us not weigh them. Heaven's great lamps do dive Into their west, and straight again revive, But soon as once set is our little light, Then must we sleep one ever-during night. If all would lead their lives in love like me, Then bloody swords and armour should not be; No drum nor trumpet peaceful sleeps should move, Unless alarm came from the camp of love. But fools do live, and waste their little light, And seek with pain their ever-during night. When timely death my life and fortune ends, Let not my hearse be vexed with mourning friends, But let all lovers, rich in triumph, come And with sweet pastimes grace my happy tomb; And Lesbia, close up thou my little light, And crown with love my ever-during night.
An unabashedly hedonistic poem. Life is short, Campion says, so let us devote it to love, not to the vain pursuit of honour and glory. And when death comes, a life thus lived will seem more worthwhile, and more worthy of celebration, than one lived according to the precepts of 'sager sorts'. Notice how the 'never-ending night' of Catullus becomes a refrain with which Campion ends his stanzas: this gives each verse a sense of finality. Form cleaves to content, as indeed it should. Notice also how melodic and rhythmic the lines are: this is more song than poem. thomas. [Minstrels Links] Four poems in imitation of Catullus: Poem #1463, Song Five -- Catullus / Richard Crashaw Poem #1464, From Catullus 5 -- Sir Walter Raleigh Poem #1465, Come, My Celia -- Ben Jonson Poem #1466, My Sweetest Lesbia -- Thomas Campion Other poems by poets named Thomas: Poem #96, During Wind and Rain -- Thomas Hardy Poem #199, Lord Ullin's Daughter -- Thomas Campbell Poem #236, Memory -- Thomas Bailey Aldrich Poem #251, No! -- Thomas Hood Poem #359, The Angler -- Thomas Buchanan Read Poem #461, Couplets -- Thomas Lynch Poem #489, Horatius -- Thomas Babbington Macaulay Poem #499, Lay of Ancient Rome -- Thomas Ybarra Poem #527, I Bended Unto Me a Bough of May -- Tom Brown Poem #565, Now Winter Nights Enlarge -- Thomas Campion Poem #595, The Last Man -- Thomas Lovell Beddoes Poem #957, Whoso list to hunt -- Thomas Wyatt Poem #1091, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard -- Thomas Grey Poem #1274, The Time I've Lost in Wooing -- Thomas Moore Poem #1305, Poem in Thanks -- Thomas Lux Poem #1390, The Salutation -- Thomas Traherne