Scottish Poetry Selection
- My Dear and Only Love

It is surprising that someone remembered most for his military genius should also have written a tender and popular love poem. But James Graham, Marquis of Montrose (1612-1650) was a remarkable man. His poem below recently won through to the BBC short list for "The Nation's Favourite Scottish Poem", rubbing shoulders with Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Different texts for this poem have been found in 17th-century manuscripts. But the subtle change from "I'll never love thee more" to the last line's "And love thee evermore" is constant.

My Dear and Only Love

My dear and only Love, I pray
    This noble world of thee
Be govern'd by no other sway
    But purest monarchy;
For if confusion have a part,
    Which virtuous souls abhor,
And hold a synod in thy heart,
    I'll never love thee more.

Like Alexander I will reign,
    And I will reign alone,
My thoughts shall evermore disdain
    A rival on my throne.
He either fears his fate too much,
    Or his deserts are small,
That puts it not unto the touch
    To win or lose it all.

But I must rule and govern still,
    And always give the law,
And have each subject at my will,
    And all to stand in awe.
But 'gainst my battery, if I find
    Thou shunn'st the prize so sore
As that thou sett'st me up a blind,
    I'll never love thee more.

Or in the empire of thy heart,
    Where I should solely be,
Another do pretend a part
    And dares to vie with me;
Or if committees thou erect,
    And go on such a score,
I'll sing and laugh at thy neglect,
    And never love thee more.

But if thou wilt be constant then,
    And faithful of thy word,
I'll make thee glorious by my pen
    And famous by my sword:
I'll serve thee in such noble ways
    Was never heard before;
I'll crown and deck thee all with bays,
    And love thee evermore.

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