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The aim of this work is to provide students and lovers of good poetry with a comprehensive Selection of the best original Sonnets known to the Editor, written by native English poets not living; and to illustrate it from English poetical and prose literature.

In pursuance of the plan adopted, the volume falls into two equal portions,—Text and Notes. The first is devoted to Sonnets by those writers who have attained the highest, or nearly the highest, excellence in this species of composition ; and the second, which is specially intended for students, to a liberal system of illustration, furnishing a complete critical apparatus for the study of the Sonnets in the Text, and containing numerous supplementary Sonnets by the same writers and others of the past suggested by them. Throughout this portion also have been interspersed, as occasion offered, examples from some of our best living sonnet-writers; but it will be obvious that these, which come in simply by the way, and form no essential part of the work, are not submitted as affording any adequate representation of our contemporary Sonnet-literature.

Definitions of the Sonnet have been so frequent since the present work was first taken in hand, now some years ago, as to determine the Editor not to encumber his volume with the analytical Essay on the Sonnet out of which it originally grew. It may be mentioned, however, that the Selection, generally, has been made in accordance with principles enforced in that Essay, whichwith all deference to such rigid disciplinarians as Mr. Tomlinson-favoured a relaxation, so far as English practice is concerned, of nearly every law in the Italian code except the two cardinal ones which demand that the Sonnet shall consist of fourteen rimed decasyllabic verses, and be a development of one idea, mood, feeling, or sentiment, and one only.

By reducing the contents of the Text to the orthography of the present daya wholesome test of poetic vitality-and adhering, in all quotations in the Notes, to the successive contemporary modes of spelling and (when admissible) punctuation, the Editor trusts that he has avoided offence to the advocates either of the archaic method on the one hand, or of the modern on the other.

To the respective owners by whose liberality so large a number of copyright Sonnets are inserted; and to the many good friends who by word or deed have aided him in his labour of love, the Editor takes this opportunity of repeating his grateful acknowledgments.

D. M. M.


27th November, 1879.







ET me whereas the sun doth parch the green,

Or where his beams do not dissolve the ice;
In temperate heat, where he is felt and seen;
In presence prest of people mad or wise ;
Set me in high, or yet in low degree;
In longest night, or in the shortest day;
In clearest sky, or where clouds thickest be;
In lusty youth, or when my hairs are gray :
Set me in heaven, in earth, or else in hell,
In hill, or dale, or in the foaming flood;
Thrall, or at large, alive whereso I dwell,
Sick, or in health, in evil fame, or good,
Hers will I be ; and only with this thought
Content myself, although my chance be nought.




THE great Macedon that out of Persia chased

Darius, of whose huge power all Asia rung,
In the rich ark Dan Homer's rimes he placed,
Who feigned gests of heathen princes sung.
What holy grave, what worthy sepulture,
To Wyat's Psalms should Christians then purchase ?
Where he doth paint the lively faith and pure,
The steadfast hope, the sweet return to grace
Of just David, by perfect penitence;
Where rulers may see in a mirror clear
The bitter fruit of false concupiscence;
How Jewry bought Uriah's death full dear.
In princes' hearts God's scourge imprinted deep,
Ought them awake out of their sinful sleep.





NORFOLK sprung thee, Lambeth holds thee dead;


Clere, of the Count of Cleremont, thou hight;
Within the womb of Ormond's race thou bred,
And saw'st thy cousin crowned in thy sight.
Shelton for love, Surrey for lord thou chase,
(Ay me! whilst life did last that league was tender)
Tracing whose steps thou sawest Kelsal blaze,
Landrecy burnt, and battered Boulogne render.
At Montreuil gates, hopeless of all recure,
Thine earl, half dead, gave in thy hand his will ;
Which cause did thee this pining death procure,
Ere summers four times seven thou couldst fulfil.
Ah, Clere ! if love had booted care or cost,
Heaven had not won, nor earth so timely lost.




H’ Assyrian king, in peace, with foul desire

And filthy lusts that stained his regal heart;
In war, that should set princely hearts on fire,
Did yield, vanquished for want of martial art.
The dint of swords from kisses seemed strange,
And harder than his lady's side his targe;
From glutton feasts to soldier's fare a change;
His helmet far above a garland's charge :
Who scarce the name of manhood did retain,
Drenched in sloth and womanish delight,
Feeble of spirit, impatient of pain,
When he had lost his honour and his right,
(Proud time of wealth, in storms appalled with dread,)
Murthered himself, to show some manful deed.




HAPPY, ye leaves ! Whenas those lily hands,

Which hold my life in their dead-doing might,
Shall handle you, and hold in love's soft bands,
Like captives trembling at the victor's sight;
And happy lines ! on which, with starry light,
Those lamping eyes will deign sometimes to look,
And read the sorrows of my dying spright,
Written with tears in heart's close-bleeding book ;
And happy rimes ! bathed in the sacred brook
Of Helicon, whence she derived is ;-
When ye behold that Angel's blessed look,
My soul's long-lacked food, my heaven's bliss,
Leaves, lines, and rimes, seek her to please alone,
Whom if ye please, I care for other none.



RUDELY thou wrongest my dear heart's desire,

In finding fault with her too portly pride :
The thing which I do most in her admire,
Is of the world unworthy most envied ;
For in those lofty looks is close implied
Scorn of base things, and sdeign of foul dishonour,
Threatening rash eyes which gaze on her so wide,
That loosely they ne dare to look upon her.
Such pride is praise, such portliness is honour,
That boldened innocence bears in her eyes;
And her fair countenance, like a goodly banner,
Spreads in defiance of all enemies.
Was never in this world ought worthy tried,
Without some spark of such self-pleasing pride.

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