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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.

Wishes to His Supposed Mistress

Richard Crashaw (c. 1613–1649)

WHOE’ER she be—

That not impossible She

That shall command my heart and me:

Where’er she lie,

Locked up from mortal eye

In shady leaves of destiny:

Till that ripe birth

Of studied Fate stand forth,

And teach her fair steps to our earth:

Till that divine

Idea take a shrine

Of crystal flesh, through which to shine:

Meet you her, my Wishes,

Bespeak her to my blisses,

And be ye called my absent kisses.

I wish her Beauty,

That owes not all its duty

To gaudy tire, or glist’ring shoe-tie:

Something more than

Taffata or tissue can,

Or rampant feather, or rich fan.

A Face, that’s best

By its own beauty drest,

And can alone commend the rest:

A Face, made up

Out of no other shop

Than what Nature’s white hand sets ope.

A Cheek, where youth

And blood, with pen of truth,

Write what the reader sweetly ru’th.

A Cheek, where grows

More than a morning rose,

Which to no box his being owes.

Lips, where all day

A lover’s kiss may play,

Yet carry nothing thence away.

Looks, that oppress

Their richest tires, but dress

And clothe their simplest nakedness.

Eyes, that displace

The neighbour diamond, and outface

That sunshine by their own sweet grace.

Tresses, that wear

Jewels but to declare

How much themselves more precious are:

Whose native ray

Can tame the wanton day

Of gems that in their bright shades play.

Each ruby there,

Or pearl that dare appear,

Be its own blush, be its own tear.

A well-tamed Heart,

For whose more noble smart

Love may be long choosing a dart.

Eyes, that bestow

Full quivers on love’s bow,

Yet pay less arrows than they owe.

Smiles, that can warm

The blood, yet teach a charm,

That chastity shall take no harm.

Blushes, that bin

The burnish of no sin,

Nor flames of aught too hot within.

Joys, that confess

Virtue their mistress,

And have no other head to dress.

Fears, fond and slight

As the coy bride’s, when night

First does the longing lover right.

Days that need borrow

No part of their good morrow,

From a fore-spent night of sorrow:

Days that in spite

Of darkness, by the light

Of a clear mind are day all night.

Nights, sweet as they,

Made short by lovers’ play,

Yet long by the absence of the day.

Life that dares send

A challenge to his end,

And when it comes, say, “Welcome, friend!”

Sydneian showers

Of sweet discourse, whose powers

Can crown old Winter’s head with flowers.

Soft silken hours,

Open suns, shady bowers;

’Bove all, nothing within that lowers.

Whate’er delight

Can make Day’s forehead bright,

Or give down to the wings of Night.

I wish her store

Of worth may leave her poor

Of wishes; and I wish—no more.

Now, if Time knows

That Her, whose radiant brows

Weave them a garland of my vows;

Her, whose just bays

My future hopes can raise,

A trophy to her present praise;

Her, that dares be

What these lines wish to see;

I seek no further, it is She.

’Tis She, and here,

Lo! I unclothe and clear

My Wishes’ cloudy character.

May she enjoy it

Whose merit dare apply it,

But modesty dares still deny it!

Such worth as this is

Shall fix my flying Wishes,

And determine them to kisses.

Let her full glory,

My fancies, fly before ye;

Be ye my fictions—but her story.