Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
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SO every spirit, as it is most pure,
And hath in it the more of heavenly light,
So it the fairer body doth procure
To habit in, and it more fairly dight
With cheerful grace and amiable sight;        5
For of the soul the body form doth take;
For soul is form, and doth the body make.
Therefore wherever that thou dost behold
A comely corpse, with beauty fair endued,
Know this for certain, that the same doth hold        10
A beauteous soul, with fair conditions thewed,
Fit to receive the seed of virtue strewed;
For all that fair is, is by nature good;
That is a sign to know the gentle blood.
Yet oft it falls that many a gentle mind        15
Dwells in deformèd tabernacle drowned,
Either by chance, against the course of kind,
Or through unaptnesse in the substance found,
Which it assumèd of some stubborne ground,
That will not yield unto her form’s direction,        20
But is perform’d with some foul imperfection.
And oft it falls (aye me, the more to rue!)
That goodly beauty, albeit heavenly born,
Is foul abus’d, and that celestial hue,
Which doth the world with her delight adorn,        25
Made but the bait of sin, and sinners’ scorn,
Whilst every one doth seek and sue to have it,
But every one doth seek but to deprave it.
Yet nathëmore is that faire beauty’s blame,
But theirs that do abuse it unto ill:        30
Nothing so good, but that through guilty shame
May be corrupt, and wrested unto will:
Nathelesse the soule is fair and beauteous still,
However fleshe’s fault it filthy make;
For things immortal no corruption take.        35

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