53. A Praise of His Lady
Tottel's Miscellany
? by John Heywood

Numbers from Elizabethan Miscellanies & Song-books by Unnamed or Uncertain Authors. 1557

GIVE place, you ladies, and begone!
  Boast not yourselves at all!
For here at hand approacheth one
  Whose face will stain you all.

The virtue of her lively looks
  Excels the precious stone;
I wish to have none other books
  To read or look upon.

In each of her two crystal eyes
  Smileth a naked boy;
It would you all in heart suffice
  To see that lamp of joy.

I think Nature hath lost the mould
  Where she her shape did take;
Or else I doubt if Nature could
  So fair a creature make.

She may be well compared
  Unto the Phoenix kind,
Whose like was never seen or heard,
  That any man can find.

In life she is Diana chaste,
  In troth Penelopey;
In word and eke in deed steadfast.
  --What will you more we say?

If all the world were sought so far,
  Who could find such a wight?
Her beauty twinkleth like a star
  Within the frosty night.

Her rosial colour comes and goes
  With such a comely grace,
More ruddier, too, than doth the rose,
  Within her lively face.

At Bacchus' feast none shall her meet,
  Ne at no wanton play,
Nor gazing in an open street,
  Nor gadding as a stray.

The modest mirth that she doth use
  Is mix'd with shamefastness;
All vice she doth wholly refuse,
  And hateth idleness.

O Lord! it is a world to see
  How virtue can repair,
And deck in her such honesty,
  Whom Nature made so fair.

Truly she doth so far exceed
  Our women nowadays,
As doth the jeliflower a weed;
  And more a thousand ways.

How might I do to get a graff
  Of this unspotted tree?
--For all the rest are plain but chaff,
  Which seem good corn to be.

This gift alone I shall her give;
  When death doth what he can,
Her honest fame shall ever live
  Within the mouth of man.

The Oxford Book of English Verse, HTML edition