Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
On the Excellence of His Mistress
By Nicholas Breton (1545–1626)
THOSE 1 eyes that hold the hand of every heart,
  That hand that holds the heart of every eye,
That wit that goes beyond all nature’s art,
  The sense too deep for wisdom to descry:
That eye, that hand, that wit, that heavenly sense        5
Doth shew my only mistress’ excellence.
O eyes that pierce into the purest heart!
  O hands that hold the highest thoughts in thrall!
O wit that weighs the depth of all desart!
  O sense that shew the secret sweet of all!        10
The heaven of heavens with heavenly power preserve thee,
Love but thyself, and give me leave to serve thee.
To serve, to live to look upon those eyes,
  To look, to live to kiss that heavenly hand,
To sound that wit that doth amaze the mind,        15
  To know that sense, no sense can understand,
To understand that all the world may know,
Such wit, such sense, eyes, hands, there are no moe.
Note 1. First printed in The Arbor of Amorous Devises. In Dr. Grosart’s edition of Breton he gives the date, 1597. Lines 1–2, Those eyes, etc.: Prof. Schelling marks the similarity of these lines to Hood’s:
  We thought her dying when she slept,
  And sleeping when she died.
and adds, “It seems to me the perfection of the light, fantastic rapture of an Elizabethan lover.” (A Book of Elizabethan Lyrics.) [back]

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