Aemilia Lanyer

(1569-1645 / England)

To All Vertuous Ladies In Generall


Each blessed Lady that in Virtue spends
Your pretious time to beautifie your soules;
Come wait on hir whom winged Fame attends
And in hir hand the Booke where she inroules
Those high deserts that Maiestie commends:
Let this faire Queene not unattended bee
When in my Glasse she daines her selfe to see.

Put on your wedding garments euery one,
The Bridegroome stayes to entertaine you all;
Let Virtue be your guide, for she alone

Can leade you right that you can neuer fall;
And make no stay for feare he should be gone:
But fill your Lamps with oyle of burning zeale,
That to your Faith he may his Truth reueale.

The roabes
that Christ
wore before
his death.

Let all your roabes be purple scarlet white,
Those perfit colours purest Virtue wore,
Come deckt with Lillies that did so delight
To be preferr'd in Beauty, farre before
Wise Salomon in all his glory dight:
Whose royall roabes did no such pleasure yield,
As did the beauteous Lilly of the field.

In token of
Constancie.

Adorne your temples with faire Daphnes crowne,
The neuer changing Laurel, alwaies greene;
Let constant hope all worldly pleasures drowne,
In wise Mineruaes paths be alwaies seene;
Or with bright Cynthia, thogh faire Venus frown:
With Esop crosse the posts of euery doore,
Where Sinne would riot, making Virtue poore.

And let the Muses your companions be,
Those sacred sisters that on Pallas wait;
Whose Virtues with the purest minds agree,
Whose godly labours doe auoyd the baite
Of worldly pleasures, liuing alwaies free
From sword, from violence, and from ill report,
To those nine Worthies all faire mindes resort.

Annoynt your haire with Aarons pretious oyle,
And bring your palmes of vict'ry in your hands,
To ouercome all thoughts that would defile
The earthly circuit of your soules faire lands;
Let no dimme shadowes your cleare eyes beguile:
Sweet odours, mirrhe, gum, aloes, frankincense,
Present that King who di'd for your offence.

Behold, bright Titans shining chariot staies,
All deckt with flowers of the freshest hew,
Attended on by Age, Houres, Nights, and Daies,
Which alters not your beauty, but giues you
Much more, and crownes you with eternall praise:
This golden chariot wherein you must ride,
Let simple Doues, and subtill serpents guide.

Come swifter than the motions of the Sunne,
To be transfigur'd with our louing Lord,
Lest Glory end what Grace in you begun,
Of heau'nly riches make your greatest hoord,
In Christ all honour, wealth, and beautie's wonne:
By whose perfections you appeare more faire
Than Phoebus, if he seau'n times brighter were.

Gods holy Angels will direct your Doues,
And bring your Serpents to the fields of rest,
Where he doth stay that purchast all your loues
In bloody torments, when he di'd opprest,
There shall you find him in those pleasant groues
Of sweet Elizium, by the Well of Life,
Whose cristal springs do purge from worldly strife

Thus may you flie from dull and sensuall earth,
Whereof at first your bodies formed were,
That new regen'rate in a second berth,
Your blessed soules may liue without all feare,
Beeing immortall, subject to no death:
But in the eie of heauen so highly placed,
That others by your virtues may be graced.

Where worthy Ladies I will leaue you all,
Desiring you to grace this little Booke;
Yet some of you me thinkes I heare to call
Me by my name, and bid me better looke,
Lest unawares I in an error fall:
In generall tearmes, to place you with the rest,
Whom Fame commends to be the very best.

Tis true, I must confesse (O noble Fame)
There are a number honoured by thee,
Of which, some few thou didst recite by name,
And willd my Muse they should remembred bee;
Wishing some would their glorious Trophies frame:
Which if I should presume to undertake,
My tired Hand for very feare would quake.

Onely by name I will bid some of those,
That in true Honors seate haue long bin placed,
Yea euen such as thou hast chiefly chose,
By whom my Muse may be the better graced;
Therefore, unwilling longer time to lose,
I will inuite some Ladies that I know,
But chiefly those as thou hast graced so.

Submitted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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