Pico Della Mirandola - Pico's Twelve Properties or Conditions of a Lover

Pico's Twelve Properties or Conditions of a Lover


To love one alone and contemn all other for that one.
To think him unhappy that is not with his love.
To adorn himself for the pleasure of his love.
To suffer all thing, though it were death, to be with his love.
To desire also to suffer shame harm for his love, and to think that hurt sweet.
To be with his love ever as he may, if not in deed yet in thought.
To love all thing that pertaineth unto his love.
To covet the praise of his love, and not to suffer any dispraise.
To believe of his love all things excellent, & to desire that all folk should think the same.
To weep often with his love: in presence for joy, in absence for sorrow.
To languish ever and ever to burn in the desire of his love.
To serve his love, nothing thinking of any reward or profit.




The first point is to love but one alone,
And for that one all other to forsake:
For whoso loveth many loveth none:
The flood that is in many channels take
In each of them shall feeble streams make:
The love that is divided among many
Unneth sufficeth that any part have any.


So thou that hast thy love set unto God
In thy remembrance this enprint & grave:
As he in sovereign dignity is odd,
So will he in love no parting fellows have:
Love him therefore with all that he thee gave:
For body, soul, wit, cunning, mind & thought,
Part will he none, but either all or nought.




Of his love lo the sight and company
To the lover so glad and pleasant is,
That whoso hath the grace to come thereby
He judgeth him in perfect joy and bliss:
And whoso of that company doth miss,
Live he in never so prosperous estate,
He thinketh him wretched and infortunate.


So should the lover of God esteem that he
Which all the pleasure hath, mirth and disport
That in this world is possible to be,
Yet till the time that he may once resort
Unto that blessed joyful heavenly port
Where he of God may have the glorious sight,
Is void of perfect joy and delight.




The third point of a perfect lover is
To make him fresh, to see that all thing been
Appointed well and nothing set amiss,
But all well fashioned, proper, goodly & clean:
That in his person there be nothing seen
In speech, apparel, gesture, look or pace
That may offend or minish any grace.


So thou that wilt with God get into favour
Garnish thyself up in as goodly wise,
As comely be, as honest in behaviour
As it is possible for thee to devise:
I mean not hereby that thou shouldst arise,
And in the glass upon thy body prowl,[49]
But with fair virtue to adorn thy soul.




If love be strong, hot, mighty, and fervent,
There may no trouble, grief or sorrow fall,
But that the lover would be well content
All to endure and think it eke too small,
Though it were death: so he might therewithal
The joyful presence of that person get
On whom he hath his heart and love i-set.


Thus should of God the lover be content
Any distress or sorrow to endure,
Rather than to be from God absent,
And glad to die, so that he may be sure
By his departing hence for to procure
After this valley dark the heavenly light,
And of his love the glorious fight.




Not only a lover content is in his heart,
But coveteth eke and longeth to sustain
Some labour, incommodity or smart,
Loss, adversity, trouble, grief or pain:
And of his sorrow joyful is and fain,
And happy thinketh himself that he may take
Some misadventure for his lover's sake.


Thus shouldst thou that lovest God also
In thine heart wish, covet and be glad
For him to suffer trouble, pain and woe:
For whom if thou be never so woe bestead,
Yet thou ne shalt sustain (be not adread)
Half the dolour, grief and adversity
That he already suffered hath for thee.




The perfect lover longeth for to be
In presence of his love both night & day:
And if it haply so befall that he
May not as he would: he will yet as he may
Ever be with his love, that is to say,
Where his heavy body nill be brought[50]
He will be conversant in mind and thought.


Lo in like manner the lover of God should
At the least in such wise as he may,
If he may not in such wise as he would,
Be present with God and conversant alway:
For certes whoso list he may purvey,
Though all the world would him therefro bereaven,
To bear his body in earth, his mind in heaven.




There is no page or servant most or least
That doth upon his love attend & wait,
There is no little worm, no simple beast,
Ne none so small a trifle or conceit,
Lace, girdle, point, or proper glove strait:
But that if to his love it have been near,
The lover hath it precious, lief, & dear.


So every relic, image or picture,
That doth pertain to God's magnificence,
The lover of God should with all busy cure
Have it in love, honour and reverence:
And specially give them pre-eminence
Which daily done his blessed body nyrche,[51]
The quick relics, the ministers of his church.




A very lover above all earthly thing
Coveteth and longeth evermore to hear
T'honour, laud, commendation and praising,
And every thing that may the fame clear
Of his love: he may in no manner
Endure to hear that therefro mighten vary,
Or any thing found into the contrary.


The lover of God should covet in like wise
To hear his honour, worship, laud and praise,
Whose sovereign goodness none heart may comprise,
Whom hell, earth, and all the heaven obeys:
Whose perfect lover ought by no manner ways
To suffer the cursed words of blasphemy,
Or any thing spoken of God unreverently.



A very lover believeth in his mind,
On whom so ever he hath his heart i-bent,
That in that person men may nothing find
But honourable, worthy and excellent,
And eke surmounting far in his intent
All other that he hath known by sight or name:
And would that every man should think the same.


Of God likewise so wonderful and high
All thing esteem & judge his lover ought,
So reverence, worship, honour & magnify,
That all the creatures in this world i-wrought
In comparison should he set at nought:
And glad be if he might the mean devise
That all the world would thinken in like wise.




The lover is of colour dead and pale:
There will no sleep into his eyen stalk:
He favoreth neither meat, wine, nor ale:
He mindeth not what men about him talk:
But eat he, drink he, sit, lie down or walk,
He burneth ever as it were with a fire
In the fervent heat of his desire.


Here should the lover of God ensample take
To have him continually in remembrance,
With him in prayer and meditation wake,
While other play, revel, sing, and dance:
None earthly joy, disport or vain pleasance
Should him delight, or any thing remove
His ardent mind from God his heavenly love.




Diversely passioned is the lovers heart:
Now pleasant hope, now dread and grievous fear,
Now perfect bliss, now bitter sorrow smart:
And whether his love be with him or elsewhere,
Oft from his eyes there falleth many a tear:
For very joy when they together be:
When they be sundered for adversity.


Like affections filleth eke the breast
Of God's lover in prayer and meditation:
When that his love liketh in him rest
With inward gladness of pleasant contemplation,
Out break the tears for joy and delectation:
And when his love list eft to part him fro,
Out break the tears again for pain & woe.




A very lover will his love obey:
His joy it is and all his appetite
To pain himself in all that ever he may,
That person in whom he set hath his delight
Diligent to serve both day and night
For very love without any regard
To any profit, guerdon or reward.


So thou likewise that hast thine heart i-set
Upward to God: so well thyself endeavour,
So studiously that nothing may thee let
Nor fro his service any wise dissever:
Freely look eke thou serve that thereto never
Trust of reward or profit do thee bind,
But only faithful heart & loving mind.


Wageless to serve .iii. things may us move:
First if the service self be desirable:
Second if they whom that we serve & love
Be very good and very amiable:
Thirdly of reason be we serviceable
Without the gaping after any more
To such as have done much for us before.


Serve God for love then, not for hope of meed.
What service may so desirable be
As where all turneth to thine own speed.
Who is so good, so lovely eke as he,
Who hath already done so much for thee,
As he that first thee made, and on the rood
Eft thee redeemed with his precious blood.


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