Thomas Vaux – The Aged Lover Renounceth Love


Thomas, Lord Vaux (2nd Baron Vaux of Harrowden) (1509-1556) – by Hans Holbein, the Younger  (1497-1543)

Well, ok, so we’ve had Tichborne, and then there’s another similar poem that’s not in this book by Lord Vaux. (Baron Vaux) “In the Sixteenth (Century)…  In this Oxford book, it has a little note about how people published in those days:  – “In the Sixteenth Century Courtly poets didn’t usually publish their work as soon as it was written. Copies of their verses circulated among their friends and often manuscript collections made up by their admirers got in the hands of enterprising printers. These miscellanies were then issued with such fanciful names as A Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions, The Forest of Fancies, The Phoenix Nest and A Poetical Rhapsody.”  

So a lot of great great poems by great poets were first read in these little miscellaneous collections, and one, similar to  “The Lie” and Tichborne’s Elegy is The Aged Lover Renounceth Love” –  (and in Hamlet, apparently, the First Gravedigger sings a little bit.. this was a popular song of its day. And in Hamlet, I think, the First Gravedigger quotes it, when they’re digging the grave.

So: “I loathe that I did love” (“I loathe that which I did love”, “that which I loved” “that I loathed I loved”) “I loathed that I did love/In youth that I thought sweet, As time requires for my behove,/Methinks they are not meet./ My lusts they do me leave,/My fancies all be fled/And tract of time begins to weave/Grey hairs upon my head/ For age with stealing steps/Hath clawed me with his crutch..” –  (that’s really good – “age has clawed me with his crutch”)

–  “And lusty life away she leaps/As there had been none such/My Muse does not delight/Me as she did before;/My hand and pen are  not in plight,/As they have been of yore./ For reason me denies/This youthly idle rhyme;/And day by day to me she cries/”Leave off these toys in time” / The wrinkles in my brow/the furrows in my face/Say, limping age will lodge him now/Where youth must give him place./The harbinger of death/To me I see him ride/The cough, the cold, the gasping breath/Doth bid me provide/ A pickaxe and a spade, / And eke a shrouding sheet,/ A house of clay for to be made/For such a guest most meet..” – (that’s what they quote in Hamlet)

– “A pickaxe and a spade/And eke a shrouding sheet”..” – how’s that for a popular song?) – “Methinks I hear the clark/That knolls the careful knell” – [“careful” – full of care] –  “Methinks I hear the clark/That knolls the careful knell/And bids me leave my woeful warm,/Ere nature me compel./My keepers knit the knot/That youth did laugh to scorn..” – [He’s making fun of his perplexity – the knot of age when he was a kid and that  “My keepers knit the knot/That youth did laugh to scorn/Of me that clean shall be forgot/As I had not been born”]

– [same thing as the Tichborne – the Tichborne, let’s see – “My youth is spent and yet I am not old, I saw the world and yet I am not seen”  and “My tale was heard and yet it was not told”] – Of me that clean shall be forgot/As I had not been born” – “Thus must I youth give up/Whose badge I long did wear/ To them I yield the wanton cup./That better may it bear. / Lo here the bared skull/By whose bald sign I know/That stooping age away shall pull/Which youthful years did sow/ For beauty with her hand/ These crooked years hath wrought,/And shipped me into the land/From whence I first was brought./ And ye that bide behind/Have ye none other trust?/As ye of clay were cast by kind/  So shall ye waste to dust”.

So, like really direct. So, like, all these poems are really messages, messages from the grave, sent out to us, warning, you know, “Watch out!” or.. (the famous one is “Be careful of the day”, or “Woe the day”, you know). Be thinking about where you are, what you’ve got, right now because it isn’t going to last .

So this is like the extraordinary bubble-like miracle but it’s not going to be not at all glued and permanent, and (is) subject to instant disillusion. But also, it’s kind of..  I think that the glory and majesty and romance of Frankenstein and Bela Lugosi and the vampires and all that lies some(how),  like there’s a hint of the living dead,  in a way.  So they’re just telling you what the real score is anyway. And that’s why everybody’s really scared, because it’s just a walking skeleton, you know, talking skeletons, telling you where the action’s leading – in any case.  So these are like little talking skeleton poems, the skulls mouthing mysteries.

Student: You mentioned that in “Blues Gossip” something in your First Blues, book, something about that,  choosing death in order to..

AG: Well, I was talking about (Bob) Dylan there.  I didn’t quite mean quite death there,  I meant instead of fame, or further glory, or giant stadiums, you know, like giving it up, in order to be free of the hang-up of it. Being free of the hang-up of fame. Death of fame as a way out of some of the mental prison that he got into. As I remember. I think tht was what I was..   It wasn’t a literal death, like this, it was psychological I was referring to

 [Audio for the above may be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-five minutes in and concluding at approximately seventy-two-and-a-quarter minutes in]

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