Verse > Anthologies > Elizabethan Sonnets > Amoretti and Epithalamion
Seccombe and Arber, comps.  Elizabethan Sonnets.  1904.
Amoretti and Epithalamion
Sonnet XLIX. Fair cruel! why are ye so fierce and cruel?
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
FAIR cruel! why are ye so fierce and cruel?
Is it because your eyes have power to kill?
Then know that mercy is the Mighty’s jewel:
And greater glory think, to save than spill.
But if it be your pleasure, and proud will,        5
To shew the power of your imperious eyes;
Then not on him that never thought you ill,
But bend your force against your enemies:
Let them feel th’ utmost of your cruelties;
And kill with looks, as cockatrices do:        10
But him, that at your footstool humbled lies,
With merciful regard give mercy to.
  Such mercy shall you make admir’d to be;
  So shall you live, by giving life to me.

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