Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
A Praise of His Lady
By John Heywood (c. 1497–c. 1580)
 
GIVE 1 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        5
  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;        10
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        15
  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.        20
 
In life she is Diana chaste,
  In truth Penelope;
In word and eke in deed steadfast.
  —What will you more we say?
 
If all the world were sought so far,        25
  Who could find such a wight?
Her beauty twinketh like a star
  Within the frosty night.
 
Her roseal colour comes and goes
  With such a comely grace,        30
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,        35
  Nor gadding as a stray.
 
The modest mirth that she doth use
  Is mixed with shamefastness;
All vice she wholly doth refuse,
  And hateth idleness.        40
 
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        45
  Our women nowadays,
As doth the gillyflower a weed;
  And more a thousand ways.
 
How might I do to get a graff
  Of this unspotted tree?        50
—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        55
  Within the mouth of man.
 
Note 1. Give place, you ladies and begone, appeared originally in the first English anthology, Tottel’s Miscellany, 1557. There it is given place among the poems by “Uncertaine Authors;” but in the Harleian MSS. it is ascribed to John Heywood, with two additional and dreadful stanzas to adapt it to Queen Mary. [back]
 
 
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