Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
The Green-Sickness Beauty
By Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583–1648)
 
THOUGH the pale white within your cheeks compos’d,
And doubtful light unto your eye confin’d,
Though your short breath not from itself unloos’d,
And careless motions of your equal mind,
Argue your beauties are not all disclos’d,        5
 
Yet as a rising beam, when first ’tis shown,
Points fairer, than when it ascends more red,
Or as a budding rose, when first ’tis blown,
Smells sweeter far, than when it is more spread,
As all things best by principles are known,        10
 
So in your green and flourishing estate
A beauty is discern’d more worthy love
Than that which further doth itself dilate,
And those degrees of variation prove,
Our vulgar wits so much do celebrate.        15
 
Thus though your eyes dart not that piercing blaze,
Which doth in busy Lovers’ looks appear,
It is because you do not need to gaze
On other objects than your proper sphere,
Nor wander further than to run that maze.        20
 
So, if you want that blood which must succeed,
And give at last a tincture to your skin,
It is, because neither in outward deed,
Nor inward thought, you yet admit that sin,
For which your cheeks a guilty blush should need.        25
 
So if your breath do not so freely flow,
It is because you love not to consume
That vital treasure, which you do bestow
As well to vegetate as to perfume
Your Virgin leaves, as fast as they do grow.        30
 
Yet stay not here. Love for his right will call:
You were not born to serve your only will,
Nor can your beauty be perpetual.
’Tis your perfection for to ripen still,
And to be gathered, rather than to fall.        35
 
 
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