Her Love for Him

My true love laughs, and angel choirs sing;
The mountains echo back his tuneful mirth
While Nature dances, heav’n in step with earth.
‘Tis music to mine ear; mine heart takes wing!
Into my love’s embrace I fly secure,
And tenderly he holds me in his arms
As if to shelter me from sin’s alarms.
Like rooted rock his faithfulness is sure.
If I could sing, my song would rise on high
As counterpoint to laughter’s melody.
My thanks and praise emblazoned in the sky
To God, who gave mine own true love to me.
And so, with heart and mind and strength and soul
I sing of thee, whose love has made me whole.



His Love for Her

As dew from fair Aurora’s tears didst drip
Upon the broad-winged flight of earth’s embrace,
So doth my pleasure-dampened eye let slip
A tear of joy when I behold thy face.
Thy nose, how like a peak in Darien,
Thy two-some cheeks, like rosy-fingered Dawn,
Thy lips, as sweet as red valerian,
Thy neck as lithe and graceful as a swan.
Mine heart belongs to thee and thee alone,
Mine eyes none but thyself wouldst see,
My love desireth nothing but thine own,
My life I proffer, forfeit, unto thee,
All that I am, all that I have are thine,
If only thou wouldst make thine own heart, mine.



A Pledge of Troth

A rock in Sinai’s withered wilderness
Was struck by prophet’s staff; from which, by grace
Of God, burst forth a watered stream apace.
Thus Providence did parchéd Jacob bless.
My true love, like this rock, o’erflows with life.
A living stone to which I cling amain,
From whom bursts forth sweet laughter. It is vain
For me to deign to be less than his wife.
My rock! My love! My anchor in the storm!
I cling to thee and wilt not let thee go!
My summer shade. My winter hearthen warm.
Thou art all things to me; God made thee so.
To thee, I pledge my troth alone to thee.
Whom God has joined together, thee and me.



James A. Tweedie is a recently retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He likes to walk on the beach with his wife. He has written and self-published four novels and a collection of short stories. He has several hundred unpublished poems tucked away in drawers.

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11 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley

    Normally hackles rise when I see words like ’tis and thine and thee and wilt but these quaint pieces are advertised right from the start as being in an antiquated style, which I find instantly disarming, and that for me makes all the difference. Reading these I am very easily transported back to an early nineteenth century drawing room to hear an elegant lady in an empire-line dress reading them aloud. And what can be wrong with archaisms in a proper context? It’s not like watching a performance of Coriolanus in Victorian garb (which I’m sorry to say I have done) and it only helps us to suspend our disbelief. I’ve read a few of these Petrarchan /Shakespearean sonnet amalgams by SCP contributors now. They often work very well for me and avoid the pitfalls of forced rhymes so often found in the normal Petrarchan sonnet with only two end-rhymes allowed in its octet. The division of the three stanzas reminds me of The Passionate Shepherd to his Love by Christopher Marlowe and The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd, Walter Raleigh’s response. Very fine little poems, and worth reading aloud with eyes half shut.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Thank you, Peter. You seem to have caught the spirit in which these poems were written.

  2. Sally Cook

    Dear James Tweedie —
    I find these works light and translucent as a moon moth’s wings. Sometimes it is good to escape to another time.
    Thank you.

    • James A. Tweedie

      They are somewhat escapist, aren’t they! And thank you for the phrase, “translucent as moon moth’s wings.” Lovely.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    Three very fine sonnets in an antique style. Today this kind of resurrection of past forms and language is condemned by our modernist tyrants, but it was perfectly normal and acceptable for writers in past centuries. Homer’s epics are written in an archaic Greek that was not spoken in his own time; Cicero’s orations are in a markedly older and different Latin that that of his private letters to friends; the King James 1611 version of the Bible was written in the earlier English of Tyndale; Swinburne used language unheard in Victorian drawing-rooms. Even the arch-modernist Ezra Pound used thee-thou-thy-thine pronouns on occasion, along with the earlier verbal hath-hast-doth-dost formations.

    I have only four suggestions. In poem 1, there needs to be a comma after “melody” in the tenth line, not a period. If a period is used, then lines 11 and 12 are a sentence fragment. With a comma after “melody,” they become a proper dependent structure.

    In poem 2, there should NOT be a comma after “heart” in the last line. It is awkward and unnecessary. The major mark of a good concluding line is that it flows smoothly in both rhythm and diction. The comma after “heart” wrecks that, totally.

    In line 10 of the same poem, the meter is off. “Mine eyes none but thyself wouldst see” can’t be scanned as iambic pentameter. Try this:

    “Mine eyes none but thy pure self would see”

    I’ve substituted “would” for “wouldst,” because the latter form is for a singular subject. It can’t be used for a plural subject like “Mine eyes.” If we’re going to be archaic, we need to follow the archaic rules.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Dr. Salemi, As always, thank you for taking the time to read, digest and parse my poetry. I am always the better and wiser for your insights.

      1. As I recall, this may have been a comma before the final edit. I was thinking that a semi-colon might be best but, as you point out, what follows is not an independent clause. So, although it seems awkward to me, the best solution seems to be the comma.

      2. Agreed. In fact, I noticed the comma after I submitted the poem and rued it, but chose not to bother Evan for a correction.

      3. How did I miss this! Unfortunately, your good suggestion also fails to scan as iambic pentameter. (I could insert the word “own” but that would diminish the effect of the same word being used as a rhyme in the following line). I will rewrite the line, “Mine eyes none but thyself alone would see.”

      4. I never realized that “wouldst” is always and only 2nd person singular. “I would” “thou wouldst” “he/she/it would” “we would” “you would” “they would.” Thanks for catching the slip, and for the affirming comments as well.

  4. Christina

    In the beauty and richness of their language these poems are simply stunning! How good and refreshing it is to find oneself transported back into an age of courtly love, where the ‘antiquated style’ is wholly appropriate and pleasing.

    Using archaic verb forms consistently is quite a challenge, so I hope, James, that you will not mind my pointing out a blip or two. In 2 line 1, it should be ‘did drip’, ‘didst’ being 2nd person singular. In 3 line 10, ‘will’ not ‘wilt’. And then in places, e.g. the last lìnes of 1 and 3 you have a ‘has’ instead of a ‘hath’! I think it might be cheating to go hybrid!

    • James A. Tweedie

      I am humbled by being in the presence of those who actually know this sort of thing! What a wonderful world we live in! Thank you, Christina, for the kind words and the helpful corrections.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    Here’s part of a helpful paradigm that I use with my classes when teaching Shakespeare’s Sonnets:

    I do I did
    Thou dost Thou didst
    He doth He did

    I have I had
    Thou hast Thou hadst
    He hath He had

    I am I was
    Thou art Thou wast (or wert)
    He is He was

    Thou — always used as subject (“Thou art my friend”)
    Thee — always used as an object (“I love thee”)

    In Shakespeare’s day these forms were in flux, and could be employed interchangeably with the modern ones. But the older forms remained in poetic use long after they had ceased to be used in common speech.

    • James A. Tweedie

      That is very helpful. Thank you for allowing me to audit this relevant part of your class! No tuition. No final exam. Perfect!


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