The Aged Lover Renounceth Love

Original Text: 
Songes and Sonettes (London: Henry Tottel, 1557); facs. edn. (Leeds: Scolar, 1966). PR 1205 T6 1966 Victoria College Library
2In youth that I thought sweet;
3As time requires for my behove,
4Me thinks they are not meet.
5My lusts they do me leave,
6My fancies all be fled,
7And tract of time begins to weave
8Gray hairs upon my head.
9For age, with stealing steps,
11And lusty life away she leaps
12As there had been none such.
13My muse doth not delight
14Me as she did before,
15My hand and pen are not in plight
16As they have been of yore.
17For reason me denies
18This youthly idle rhyme,
19And day by day to me she cries,
20Leave off these toys in time.
21The wrinkles in my brow,
22The furrows in my face,
23Say limping age will hedge him now
24Where youth must give him place.
25The harbinger of death,
26To me I see him ride;
27The cough, the cold, the gasping breath,
28Doth bid me to provide
29A pickaxe and a spade,
30And eke a shrouding sheet;
31A house of clay for to be made
32For such a guest most meet.
33Me thinks I hear the clerk
34That knolls the careful knell,
35And bids me leave my woeful work
36Ere nature me compel.
37My keepers knit the knot
38That youth did laugh to scorn,
39Of me that clean shall be forgot
40As I had not been born.
41Thus must I youth give up,
42Whose badge I long did wear;
43To them I yield the wanton cup
44That better may it bear.
45Lo, here the bared skull
46By whose bald sign I know
47That stooping age away shall pull
48Which youthful years did sow.
49For beauty, with her band,
50These crooked cares hath wrought,
51And shipped me into the land
52From whence I first was brought.
53And ye that bide behind,
54Have ye none other trust;
55As ye of clay were cast by kind,
56So shall ye waste to dust.


1] One of the most popular poems printed in Tottel's miscellany, Vaux's "I loathe that I did love" appeared as a broadside ballad, and was set to music. Shakespeare, with intentional inaccuracy, used three stanzas in the first grave-digger's song in Hamlet, V.i.69 ff., and Goethe introduced two stanzas in II Faust, Back to Line
10] crutch: Shakespeare has "clutch". Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.94; RPO 1996-2000.