Your joyful understanding, lady mine

Your joyful understanding, lady mine,
Those honours of fair life
Which all in you agree to pleasantness,
Long since to service did my heart assign;
That never it has strife,
Nor once remembers other means of grace;
But this desire alone gives light to it.
Behold, my pleasure, by your favour, drew
Me, lady, unto you,
All beauty's and all joy's reflection here:
From whom good women also have thought fit
To take their life's example every day;
Whom also to obey
My wish and will have wrought, with love and fear.

With love and fear to yield obedience, I
Might never half deserve:
Yet you must know, merely to look on me,
How my heart holds its love and lives thereby;
Though, well intent to serve,
It can accept Love's arrow silently.
'Twere late to wait, ere I would render plain
My heart, (thus much I tell you, as I should,)
Which, to be understood,
Craves therefore the fine quickness of your glance.
So shall you know my love of such high strain
As never yet was shown by its own will;
Whose proffer is so still,
That love in heart hates love in countenance.

In countenance oft the heart is evident
Full clad in mirth's attire,
Wherein at times it overweens to waste:
Which yet of selfish joy or foul intent
Doth hide the deep desire,
And is, of heavy surety, double-faced;
Upon things double therefore look ye twice.
O ye that love! not what is fair alone
Desire to make your own,
But a wise woman, fair in purity;
Nor think that any, without sacrifice
Of his own nature, suffers service still;
But out of high free-will;
In honour propped, though bowed in dignity.

In dignity as best I may, must I
The guerdon very grand,
The whole of it, secured in purpose, sing?
Lady, whom all my heart doth magnify,
You took me in your hand,
Ah! not ungraced with other guerdoning:
For you of your sweet reason gave me rest
From yearning, from desire, from potent pain,
Till, now, if Death should gain
Me to his kingdom, it would pleasure me,
Having obeyed the whole of your behest.
Since you have drawn, and I am yours by lot,
I pray you doubt me not
Lest my faith swerve, for this could never be.

Could never be; because the natural heart
Will absolutely build
Her dwelling-place within the gates of truth;
And, if it be no grief to bear her part,
Why, then by change were fill'd
The measure of her shame beyond all truth,
And therefore no delay shall once disturb
My bounden service, nor bring grief to it:
Nor unto you deceit.
True virtue her provision first affords,
Ere she yield grace, lest afterward some curb
Or check should come, and evil enter in:
For alway shame and sin
Stand cover'd, ready, full of faithful words.
Author of original: 
Meo Abbracciavacca
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