To His Mistress

Original Text: 
John Wilmot, earl of Rochester, Poems on Several Occasions. 1680, facs. edn. (Menston: Scolar Press, 1971). PR 3669 R2 1680AB ROBA.
1Why dost thou shade thy lovely face? O why
2Does that eclipsing hand of thine deny
3The sunshine of the Sun's enlivening eye?
4Without thy light what light remains in me?
5Thou art my life; my way, my light's in thee;
6I live, I move, and by thy beams I see.
7Thou art my life-if thou but turn away
8My life's a thousand deaths. Thou art my way-
9Without.thee, Love, I travel not but stray.
10My light thou art-without thy glorious sight
11My eyes are darken'd with eternal night.
12My Love, thou art my way, my life, my light.
13Thou art my way; I wander if thou fly.
14Thou art my light; if hid, how blind am I!
15Thou art my life; if thou withdraw'st, I die.
16My eyes are dark and blind, I cannot see:
17To whom or whither should my darkness flee,
18But to that light?-and who's that light but thee?
19If I have lost my path, dear lover, say,
20Shall I still wander in a doubtful way?
21Love, shall a lamb of Israel's sheepfold stray?
22My path is lost, my wandering steps do stray;
23I cannot go, nor can I safely stay;
24Whom should I seek but thee, my path, my way?
25And yet thou turn'st thy face away and fly'st me!
26And yet I sue for grace and thou deny'st me!
27Speak, art thou angry, Love, or only try'st me?
28Thou art the pilgrim's path, the blind man's eye,
29The dead man's life. On thee my hopes rely:
30If I but them remove, I surely die.
31Dissolve thy sunbeams, close thy wings and stay!
32See, see how I am blind, and dead, and stray!
33-O thou art my life, my light, my way!
34Then work thy will! If passion bid me flee,
35My reason shall obey, my wings shall be
36Stretch'd out no farther than from me to thee!
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
W. J. Alexander; William Hall Clawson
RPO Edition: 
RP (1916), p. 121; RPO 1997.