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Leave me, O Love - a Sir Philip Sidney sonnet to mark National Poetry Day

To mark National Poetry Day, a sonnet by Sir Philip Sidney, Elizabethan poet, courtier and solider, buried at St Paul's.

In this poem, Sidney yearns for the higher love of God to lift him above the passing nature of earth’s charms. He desires a release from the lowliness of the temporal world so that he may seek the eternal realm and a sacred love that will last forever.

Leave me, O Love
from Certain Sonnets (pub.1598)

Leave me, O Love, which reachest but to dust;
And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things;
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust;
Whatever fades, but fading pleasure brings.
Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might
To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be,
Which breaks the clouds and opens forth the light,
That doth both shine and give us light to see.
O take fast hold; let that light be thy guide
In this small course which birth draws out to death,
And think how evil becometh him to slide
Who seeketh heaven, and comes of heavenly breath.
Then farewell, world; thy uttermost I see:
Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me.

Splendidis longum valedico Nugis

Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) was one of the leading figures of the Elizabethan age. Famous for works including Arcadia and Astrophel and Stella, he did much to popularise the English language sonnet and was almost certainly an influence on William Shakespeare, who was ten years his junior.

A Protestant supporter of Queen Elizabeth I, Sidney was to die fighting for this religious cause against the Spanish at the Battle of Zutphen in 1586, aged just 31.

His body was interred in St Paul's Cathedral a year later but his tomb was lost in the Great Fire of 1666.

Today, Sidney is remembered with a slate and marble monument in the crypt.