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Ballade of Tristram's Last Harping

The end that Love doth seek, what bard can say,
   In that fair season when the tender green
Of opening leaves doth roof the woods of May,
   And sweet wild buds from out their places lean
To touch the dainty feet that heedless stray
   Among them, with a youth in knight's attire?
His lady's will capricious to obey,
   This is the end of dawning Love's desire.

And when amid the summer's bright array
   Of blossoms, are the crimson roses seen,
And one young maid, fairer than any spray
   In perfect bloom, wanders their lines between,
What blessëd solace can the lover pray
   Of her compassion, for his heart of fire?
With kisses on her mouth all words to stay--
   This is the end of eager Love's desire.

With driven clouds the hovering sky is grey;
   The winds above the frozen hills are keen,
And all fair buds have fallen in decay;
   What joy hath now the true knight of his Queen?
No rapture less exultant can allay
   His need, than softly craves this faulty lyre:
To answer all his pleading with sweet 'Yea'--
   This is the end of yearning Love's desire.


Beloved, now is done our life's brief day;
   Not with the day howe'er doth Love expire.
Within thine arms the night to dream away--
   This is the end of Love's supreme desire.