Lord John Wilmot

(1647 - 1680 / Oxfordshire / England)

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To His Mistress


Why dost thou shade thy lovely face? O why
Does that eclipsing hand of thine deny
The sunshine of the Sun's enlivening eye?

Without thy light what light remains in me?
Thou art my life; my way, my light's in thee;
I live, I move, and by thy beams I see.

Thou art my life-if thou but turn away
My life's a thousand deaths. Thou art my way-
Without.thee, Love, I travel not but stray.

My light thou art-without thy glorious sight
My eyes are darken'd with eternal night.
My Love, thou art my way, my life, my light.

Thou art my way; I wander if thou fly.
Thou art my light; if hid, how blind am I!
Thou art my life; if thou withdraw'st, I die.

My eyes are dark and blind, I cannot see:
To whom or whither should my darkness flee,
But to that light?-and who's that light but thee?

If I have lost my path, dear lover, say,
Shall I still wander in a doubtful way?
Love, shall a lamb of Israel's sheepfold stray?

My path is lost, my wandering steps do stray;
I cannot go, nor can I safely stay;
Whom should I seek but thee, my path, my way?

And yet thou turn'st thy face away and fly'st me!
And yet I sue for grace and thou deny'st me!
Speak, art thou angry, Love, or only try'st me?

Thou art the pilgrim's path, the blind man's eye,
The dead man's life. On thee my hopes rely:
If I but them remove, I surely die.

Dissolve thy sunbeams, close thy wings and stay!
See, see how I am blind, and dead, and stray!
-O thou art my life, my light, my way!

Then work thy will! If passion bid me flee,
My reason shall obey, my wings shall be
Stretch'd out no farther than from me to thee!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: light, travel, sunshine, lost, passion, life, work, dark, sun, love, hope

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Comments about this poem (To His Mistress by Lord John Wilmot )

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  • Liliana ~el (2/6/2014 8:54:00 PM)

    Definite Classic. Like Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Bronte's tragic Wuthering Heights. Mystical, fable-like feel. (Report) Reply

  • Lauren Rosina (2/6/2014 6:59:00 AM)

    A beautiful poem that can people can still relate to today, centuries later. This poem help's to prove that love is, and alway's will be, true and strong and will survive anything. (Report) Reply

  • Edgar Sinoff (2/6/2013 11:00:00 AM)

    my buddy's ex-wife makes $88 hourly on the laptop. She has been out of work for 8 months but last month her income was $21134 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this site jump80.com (Report) Reply

  • Lenore Lee (2/6/2012 5:24:00 PM)

    Beautiful poem about his mistress shying away from him and his fear that she'll leave him. He says many times that she is his life. It is a love poem through and through, with a good rhyming pattern and simple yet effective language. (Report) Reply

  • Carlos Echeverria (2/6/2012 2:41:00 PM)

    A poet in love from centuries ago, may sound corny in our times; but reading aloud
    Lord Wilmot's verse taps our transcendent humanity. (Report) Reply

Read all 9 comments »

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