Wishes to his (Supposed) Mistress

Original Text: 
Richard Crashaw, The Delights of the Muses (1646).
2That not impossible she
3That shall command my heart and me;
4Wher e'er she lie,
5Lock'd up from mortal eye
6In shady leaves of destiny;
7Till that ripe birth
8Of studied fate stand forth
9And teach her fair steps to our earth;
10Till that divine
12Of crystal flesh, through which to shine;
13Meet you her, my wishes,
14Bespeak her to my blisses,
15And be ye call'd my absent kisses.
16I wish her beauty
17That owes not all his duty
19Something more than
20Taffeta or tissue can,
21Or rampant feather, or rich fan.
22More than the spoil
23Of shop, or silkworm's toil,
24Or a bought blush, or a set smile.
25A face that's best
26By its own beauty drest,
27And can alone command the rest.
28A face made up
29Out of no other shop
30Than what nature's white hand sets ope.
31A cheek where youth,
32And blood, with pen of truth
33Write, what the reader sweetly ru'th.
34A cheek where grows
35More than a morning rose,
36Which to no box his being owes.
37Lips, where all day
38A lover's kiss may play,
39Yet carry nothing thence away.
40Looks that oppress
41Their richest tires, but dress
42And clothe their simplest nakedness.
43Eyes, that displaces
44The neighbour diamond, and outfaces
45That sunshine, by their own sweet graces.
46Tresses, that wear
47Jewels but to declare
48How much themselves more precious are.
49Whose native ray
50Can tame the wanton day
51Of gems, that in their bright shades play.
52Each ruby there,
53Or pearl that dare appear,
54Be its own blush, be its own tear.
55A well-tam'd heart,
56For whose more noble smart
57Love may be long choosing a dart.
58Eyes, that bestow
59Full quivers on Love's bow,
60Yet pay less arrows than they owe.
61Smiles, that can warm
62The blood, yet teach a charm,
63That chastity shall take no harm.
64Blushes, that bin
65The burnish of no sin,
66Nor flames of aught too hot within.
67Joys, that confess
68Virtue their mistress,
69And have no other head to dress.
71As the coy bride's when night
72First does the longing lover right.
73Tears, quickly fled,
74And vain, as those are shed
75For a dying maidenhead.
76Days, that need borrow
77No part of their good morrow
78From a forespent night of sorrow.
79Days, that in spite
80Of darkness, by the light
81Of a clear mind are day all night.
82Nights, sweet as they,
83Made short by lovers' play,
84Yet long by th' absence of the day.
85Life, that dares send
86A challenge to his end,
87And when it comes say, "Welcome friend."
89Of sweet discourse, whose powers
90Can crown old Winter's head with flowers.
91Soft silken hours,
92Open suns, shady bowers,
93'Bove all, nothing within that lours.
94Whate'er delight
95Can make Day's forehead bright,
96Or give down to the wings of Night.
97In her whole frame
98Have nature all the name,
99Art and ornament the shame.
100Her flattery,
101Picture and poesy,
102Her counsel her own virtue be.
103I wish, her store
104Of worth may leave her poor
105Of wishes, and I wish--no more.
106Now if time knows
107That her whose radiant brows
108Weave them a garland of my vows,
109Her whose just bays
110My future hopes can raise,
111A trophy to her present praise;
112Her that dares be
113What these lines wish to see:
114I seek no further, it is she.
115'Tis she, and here,
116Lo, I unclothe and clear
117My wishes' cloudy character.
118May she enjoy it,
119Whose merit dare apply it,
120But modesty dares still deny it.
121Such worth as this is
122Shall fix my flying wishes,
123And determine them to kisses.
124Let her full glory,
125My fancies, fly before ye;
126Be ye my fictions; but her story.


1] A much shorter version of this poem appeared earlier in Wit's Recreations, 1641. Back to Line
11] Idea: soul, form. Back to Line
18] tire: attire. Back to Line
70] flight: fleeting. Back to Line
88] Sidneian: as elegant as those of Sir Philip Sidney (in the still popular Arcadia). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.333-36.