Francis Beaumont

(1584 – 6 March 1616 / Leicestershire)

The Examination of His Mistress's Perfections


Stand still my happiness, and swelling heart
No more, till I consider what thou art.
Desire of knowledge was man's fatal vice,
For when our parents were in paradise,
Though they themselves, and all they saw was good,
They thought it nothing if not understood;
And I (part of their seed struck with their sin)
Though by their bounteous favour I be in
A paradise where I may freely taste
Of all the virtuous pleasures which thou hast,
Wanting that knowledge, must in all my bliss
Err with my parents, and ask what it is.
My faith saith 'tis not Heaven, and I dare swear
If it be Hell no sense of pain is there;
Sure 'tis some pleasant place where I may stay,
As I to Heaven go in the middle way.
Wert thou but fair and no whit virtuous,
Thou wert no more to me but a fair house
Haunted with spirits, from which men do them bless,
And no man will half furnish to possess:
Or hadst thou worth wrapt in a rivell'd skin,
'Twere inaccessible; who durst go in
To find it out? far sooner would I go
To find a pearl covered witli hills of snow;
'Twere buried virtue, and thou mightst me move
To reverence the tomb, but not to love,
No more than dotingly to cast mine eye
Upon the urn where Luerece' ashes lie.
But thou art fair and sweet, and every good
That ever yet durst mix with flesh and blood:
The devil ne'er saw in his fallen state
An object whereupon to ground his hate
So fit as thee: all living things but he
Love thee; how happy then must that man be
Whom from amongst all creatures thou dost take?
Is there a hope beyond it? Can he make
A wish to change thee for ? This is my bliss,
Let it run on now, I know what it is.

Submitted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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