I was going to do a bookblog, and I probably still will, but in the spirit of Valentine's Day...
This is from one of Shakespeare's contemporaries, Michael Drayton.
Click here to listen to my reading (my first podcast!)
THREE SORTS OF SERPENTS DO RESEMBLE THEE
Three sorts of serpents do resemble thee:
That dangerous eye-killing cockatrice,
The enchanting siren, which doth so entice,
The weeping crocodile—these vile pernicious three.
The basilisk his nature takes from thee,
Who for my life in secret wait dost lie,
And to my heart sendst poison from thine eye:
Thus do I feel the pain, the cause, yet cannot see.
Fair-maid no more, but Mer-maid be thy name,
Who with thy sweet alluring harmony
Hast played the thief, and stolen my heart from me,
And like a tyrant makst my grief thy game:
Thou crocodile, who when thou hast me slain,
Lamentst my death, with tears of thy disdain.
Not that the traditional sonnet is merely sugary. In Shakespeare, as in film comedy, conflict and even insult can be forms of courtship. Here is Shakespeare's contemporary Michael Drayton, with one of the most engaging, meditative first lines in all literature: