Unstable Dream

Original Text: 
British Library Egerton MS. 2711, fol. 54; cf. Richard Harrier, Canon (1975): 180.
3By tasted sweetness make me not to rue
9The body dead, the sprite had his desire,
10Painless was th'one, th'other in delight.
12Returning, to leap into the fire?
13     And where it was at wish, it could not remain,
14     Such mocks of dreams they turn to deadly pain.


1] according to: suitable to, consonant with (the "tossing mew"). Back to Line
2] tasted sweetness: the spirit's "delight"(10) in enjoying the lady's love in the dream. Back to Line
4] feignèd: "feigned" in the MS. Back to Line
5] dangerous case: circumstances in which a lady might lose her chaste reputation. The dream did not transport the lady herself into the bed or "mew" (6). Back to Line
6] mew: literally a cage for hawks, here used in the sense of place of retirement, such asa bed or the poet's dreaming imagination. Back to Line
7] sprite: spirit.
care: trouble, pain. Back to Line
8] My body in tempest her succour to embrace: the dream put his body in a storm (of desire) to embrace her help (parallel to line 7, in which the dream caused his spirit to come alive). Back to Line
11] did it not keep it right: did the spirit not maintain the delight. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott; Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RP 1935: I.78 (N. J. Endicott); RPO 1996 (IL).