Verse > Anthologies > Elizabethan Sonnets > Parthenophil and Parthenophe
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Seccombe and Arber, comps.  Elizabethan Sonnets.  1904.
 
Parthenophil and Parthenophe
Canzon 3. Sweet is the golden Cowslip bright and fair!
Barnabe Barnes (1569?–1609)
 
SWEET is the golden Cowslip bright and fair!
    Ten times more sweet, more golden, fair, and bright,
    Thy Tresses! in rich trammelled knots, resembling.
    VENUS’ swan’s back is lovely, smooth, and white!
    More lovely, smooth, and white his feathers are,        5
    The silver lustre of thy Brows dissembling!
    Bright are the Sunbeams, on the water trembling!
    Much brighter, shining like love’s holy fire,
    On well watered diamonds of those eyes,
    Whose heat’s reflection, Love’s Affection tries!        10
    Sweet is the Censer, whose fume doth aspire
    Appeasing LOVE, when for revenge he flies!
    More sweet the Censer, like thy seemly Nose!
    Whose beauty (than Invention’s wonder higher!)
    Nine times nine Muses never could disclose.        15
 
Sweet Eglantine, I cannot but commend
    Thy modest rosy blush! pure, white, and red!
    Yet I thy white and red praise more and more
    In my sweet Lady’s Cheeks since they be shed.
    When Grapes to full maturity do tend,        20
    So round, so red, so sweet, all joy before
    Continually I long for them therefore
    To suck their sweet, and with my lips to touch!
    Not so much for the Muses’ nectar sake,
    But that they from thy Lips their purpose take.        25
    Sweet! pardon, though I thee compare to such.
    Proud Nature, which so white LOVE’s doves did make,
    And framed their lovely heads, so white and round.
    How white and round! It doth exceed so much,
    That nature nothing like thy Chin hath found!        30
 
Fair Pearls, which garnish my sweet Lady’s neck:
    Fair orient pearls! O, how much I admire you!
    Not for your orient gloss, or virtue’s rareness,
    But that you touch her Neck, I much desire you!
    Whose whiteness so much doth your lustre check,        35
    As whitest lilies the Primrose in fairness;
    A neck most gorgeous, even in Nature’s bareness.
    Divine Rosebuds, which, when Spring doth surrender
    His crown to Summer, he last trophy reareth;
    By which he, from all seasons, the palm beareth!        40
    Fair purple crispèd folds sweet-dewed and tender;
    Whose sweetness never wears, though moisture weareth,
    Sweet ripe red Strawberries, whose heavenly sap
    I would desire to suck; but Loves ingender
    A nectar more divine in thy sweet Pap!        45
 
O lovely tender paps! but who shall press them?
    Whose heavenly nectar, and ambrosial juice
    Proceed from Violets sweet, and asier-like,
    And from the matchless purple Fleur de luce.
    Round rising hills, white hills (sweet VENUS bless them!)        50
    Nature’s rich trophies, not those hills unlike,
    Which that great monarch, CHARLES, whose power did strike
    From th’ Arctic to the Antarctic, dignified
    With proud Plus ultra: which Cerography
    In unknown Characters of Victory,        55
    Nature hath set; by which she signified
    Her conquests’ miracle reared up on high!
    Soft ivory balls! with which, whom she lets play,
    Above all mortal men is magnified,
    And wagers ’bove all price shall bear away!        60
 
O Love’s soft hills! how much I wonder you!
    Between whose lovely valleys, smooth and straight,
    That glassy moisture lies, that slippery dew!
    Whose courage touched, could dead men animate!
    Old NESTOR (if between, or under you!        65
    He should but touch) his young years might renew!
    And with all youthful joys himself indue!
    O smooth white satin, matchless, soft, and bright!
    More smooth than oil! more white than lily is!
    As hard to match, as Love’s Mount hilly is!        70
    As soft as down! clear, as on glass sunlight!
    To praise your white, my tongue too much silly is!
    How much, at your smooth soft, my sense amazed is!
    Which charms the feeling, and enchants the sight:
    But yet her bright, smooth, white, soft Skin more praisèd is!        75
 
How oft have I, the silver Swan commended
    For that even chesse of feather in her wing!
    So white! and in such decent order placed!
    When she, the doly Dirge of Death did sing,
    With her young mournful cygnets’ train attended!        80
    Yet, not because the milk-white wings her graced,
    But when I think on my Lady’s Waist,
    Whose ivory sides, a snowy shadow gives
    Of her well-ordered ribs, which rise in falling!
    How oft, the swan I pitied, her death calling,        85
    With dreary notes! Not that she so short lives,
    And ’mongst the Muses sings for her installing;
    But that so clear a white should be disdained
    With one that for Love’s sugared torment lives!
    And makes that white a plague to lovers pained.        90
 
O, how oft! how oft did I chide and curse
    The brethren Winds, in their power disagreeing!
    East, for unwholesome vapour! South, for rain!
    North, for, by snows and whirlwinds, bitter being!
    I loved the West, because it was the Nurse        95
    Of FLORA’s gardens, and to CERES’ grain!
    Yet, ten times more than these, I did curse again!
    Because they are inconstant and unstable
    In drought! in moisture! frosty cold! and heat!
    Here, with a sunny smile! there, stormy threat!        100
    Much like my Lady’s fancies variable!
    How oft with feet, did I the marble beat;
    Harming my feet, yet never hurt the stone!
    Because, like her, it was inpenetrable,
    And her heart’s nature with it, was all one?        105
 
O that my ceaseless sighs and tears were able
    To counter charm her heart! to stone converted.
    I might work miracles to change again
    The hard to soft! that it might rue my pain.
    But of herself she is so straitly skirted        110
    (Falsely reputing True Love, Honour’s Stain)
    That I shall never move, and never die,
    So many ways her mind I have exported!
    Yet shall I live, through virtue of her eye!
 
 
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