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Wishes To His (Supposed) Mistress

Richard Crashaw 1612 (London) – 1649 (Loreto, Marche)



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;

More than the spoil
Of shop, or silkworm's toil,
Or a bought blush, or a set smile.

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 lovers kiss may play,
Yet carry nothing thence away.

Looks that oppress
Their richest tires, but dress
And clothe their simplest nakedness.

Eyes, that displaces
The neighbour diamond, and outfaces
That sunshine by their own sweet graces.

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.

Joyes, that confess
Virtue their mistress,
And have no other head to dress.

Fears, fond and flight
As the coy bride's when night
First does the longing lover right.

Tears, quickly fled
And vain as those are shed
For a dying maidenhead.

Days, that need borrow
No part of their good morrow
From a forspent 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 th' absence of the day.

Life, that dares send
A challenge to its 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 lours.

Whate'er delight
Can make day's forehead bright,
Or give down to the wings of night.

In her whole frame
Have nature all the name,
Art and ornament the shame.

Her flattery
Picture and poesy,
Her counsel her own virtue be.

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.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:13 min read
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Richard Crashaw

Richard Crashaw, was an English poet, styled "the divine," and known as one of the central figures associated with the Metaphysical poets in 17th Century English literature. The son of a prominent Puritan minister, Crashaw was educated at Charterhouse School and Pembroke College, Cambridge. After taking a degree, Crashaw began to publish religious poetry and to teach at Cambridge. During the English Civil War he was ejected from his college position and went into exile in Italy. While in exile he converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism. Crashaw's poetry is firmly within the Metaphysical tradition. Though his oeuvre is considered of uneven quality and among the weakest examples of the genre, his work is said to be marked by a focus toward "love with the smaller graces of life and the profounder truths of religion, while he seems forever preoccupied with the secret architecture of things." more…

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