Edmund Spenser

Here you will find the Long Poem An Hymn In Honour Of Beauty of poet Edmund Spenser

An Hymn In Honour Of Beauty

AH whither, Love, wilt thou now carry me?
 What wontless fury dost thou now inspire
 Into my feeble breast, too full of thee?
 Whilst seeking to aslake thy raging fire,
 Thou in me kindlest much more great desire,
 And up aloft above my strength dost raise
 The wondrous matter of my fire to praise.

 That as I erst in praise of thine own name,
 So now in honour of thy mother dear,
 An honourable hymn I eke should frame,
 And with the brightness of her beauty clear,
 The ravish'd hearts of gazeful men might rear
 To admiration of that heavenly light,
 From whence proceeds such soul-enchanting might.

 Thereto do thou, great goddess, queen of beauty,
 Mother of love, and of all world's delight,
 Without whose sovereign grace and kindly duty
 Nothing on earth seems fair to fleshly sight,
 Do thou vouchsafe with thy love-kindling light
 T' illuminate my dim and dulled eyne,
 And beautify this sacred hymn of thine:

 That both to thee, to whom I mean it most,
 And eke to her, whose fair immortal beam
 Hath darted fire into my feeble ghost,
 That now it wasted is with woes extreme,
 It may so please, that she at length will stream
 Some dew of grace into my withered heart,
 After long sorrow and consuming smart.

 WHAT time this world's great Workmaster did cast
 To make all things such as we now behold,
 It seems that he before his eyes had plac'd
 A goodly pattern, to whose perfect mould
 He fashion'd them as comely as he could;
 That now so fair and seemly they appear,
 As nought may be amended anywhere.

 That wondrous pattern, wheresoe'er it be,
 Whether in earth laid up in secret store,
 Or else in heaven, that no man may it see
 With sinful eyes, for fear it to deflore,
 Is perfect Beauty, which all men adore;
 Whose face and feature doth so much excel
 All mortal sense, that none the same may tell.

 Thereof as every earthly thing partakes
 Or more or less, by influence divine,
 So it more fair accordingly it makes,
 And the gross matter of this earthly mine,
 Which clotheth it, thereafter doth refine,
 Doing away the dross which dims the light
 Of that fair beam which therein is empight.

 For, through infusion of celestial power,
 The duller earth it quick'neth with delight,
 And lifeful spirits privily doth pour
 Through all the parts, that to the looker's sight
 They seem to please. That is thy sovereign might,
 O Cyprian queen, which flowing from the beam
 Of thy bright star, thou into them dost stream.

 That is the thing which giveth pleasant grace
 To all things fair, that kindleth lively fire,
 Light of thy lamp, which, shining in the face,
 Thence to the soul darts amorous desire,
 And robs the hearts of those which it admire;
 Therewith thou pointest thy son's poison'd arrow,
 That wounds the life, and wastes the inmost marrow.

 How vainly then do idle wits invent,
 That beauty is nought else but mixture made
 Of colours fair, and goodly temp'rament
 Of pure complexions, that shall quickly fade
 And pass away, like to a summer's shade;
 Or that it is but comely composition
 Of parts well measur'd, with meet disposition.

 Hath white and red in it such wondrous power,
 That it can pierce through th' eyes unto the heart,
 And therein stir such rage and restless stour,
 As nought but death can stint his dolour's smart?
 Or can proportion of the outward part
 Move such affection in the inward mind,
 That it can rob both sense and reason blind?

 Why do not then the blossoms of the field,
 Which are array'd with much more orient hue,
 And to the sense most dainty odours yield,
 Work like impression in the looker's view?
 Or why do not fair pictures like power shew,
 In which oft-times we nature see of art
 Excell'd, in perfect limning every part?

 But ah, believe me, there is more than so,
 That works such wonders in the minds of men;
 I, that have often prov'd, too well it know,
 And whoso list the like assays to ken,
 Shall find by trial, and confess it then,
 That beauty is not, as fond men misdeem,
 An outward shew of things, that only seem.

 For that same goodly hue of white and red,
 With which the cheeks are sprinkled, shall decay,
 And those sweet rosy leaves, so fairly spread
 Upon the lips, shall fade and fall away
 To that they were, even to corrupted clay;
 That golden wire, those sparkling stars so bright,
 Shall turn to dust; and lose their goodly light.

 But that fair lamp, from whose celestial ray
 That light proceeds, which kindleth lovers' fire,
 Shall never be extinguish'd nor decay;
 But when the vital spirits do expire,
 Unto her native planet shall retire;
 For it is heavenly born and cannot die,
 Being a parcel of the purest