Gateway to the Classics: Oxford Book of English Verse, Part 1 by Arthur Quiller-Couch
Oxford Book of English Verse, Part 1 by  Arthur Quiller-Couch

A Praise of His Lady

From Tottel's Miscellany  (1557)

Give place, you ladies, and begone!

Boast not yourselves at all!

For here at hand approacheth one

Whose face will stain you all.

The virtue of her lively looks

Excels the precious stone;

I wish to have none other books

To read or look upon.

In each of her two crystal eyes

Smileth a naked boy;

It would you all in heart suffice

To see that lamp of joy.

I think Nature hath lost the mould

Where she her shape did take;

Or else I doubt if Nature could

So fair a creature make.

She may be well compared

Unto the Phœnix kind,

Whose like was never seen or heard,

That any man can find.

In life she is Diana chaste,

In troth Penelopey;

In word and eke in deed steadfast.

—What will you more we say?

If all the world were sought so far,

Who could find such a wight?

Her beauty twinkleth like a star

Within the frosty night.

Her rosial colour comes and goes

With such a comely grace,

More ruddier, too, than doth the rose,

Within her lively face.

At Bacchus' feast none shall her meet,

Ne at no wanton play,

Nor gazing in an open street,

Nor gadding as a stray.

The modest mirth that she doth use

Is mix'd with shamefastness;

All vice she doth wholly refuse,

And hateth idleness.

O Lord! it is a world to see

How virtue can repair,

And deck in her such honesty,

Whom Nature made so fair.

Truly she doth so far exceed

Our women nowadays,

As doth the jeliflower a weed;

And more a thousand ways.

How might I do to get a graff

Of this unspotted tree?

—For all the rest are plain but chaff,

Which seem good corn to be.

This gift alone I shall her give;

When death doth what he can,

Her honest fame shall ever live

Within the mouth of man.

— John Heywood (?)

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