Wishes to his (Supposed) Mistress

By Richard Crashaw 1612–1649 Richard Crashaw
Who e’er she be
That not impossible she
That shall command my heart and me;

Wher e’er she lie,
Lock’d up from mortal eye
In shady leaves of destiny;

Till that ripe birth
Of studied fate stand forth
And teach her fair steps to our earth;

Till that divine
Idea take a shrine
Of crystal flesh, through which to shine;

Meet you her, my wishes,
Bespeak her to my blisses,
And be ye call’d my absent kisses.

I wish her beauty
That owes not all his duty
To gaudy tire, or glist’ring shoe-ty.

Something more than
Taffeta or tissue can,
Or rampant feather, or rich fan.

More than the spoil
Of shop, or silkworm’s toil,
Or a bought blush, or a set smile.

A face that’s best
By its own beauty drest,
And can alone command the rest.

A face made up
Out of no other shop
Than what nature’s white hand sets ope.

A cheek where youth,
And blood, with pen of truth
Write, what the reader sweetly ru’th.

A cheek where grows
More than a morning rose,
Which to no box his being owes.

Lips, where all day
A lover’s kiss may play,
Yet carry nothing thence away.

Looks that oppress
Their richest tires, but dress
And clothe their simplest nakedness.

Eyes, that displaces
The neighbour diamond, and outfaces
That sunshine, by their own sweet graces.

Tresses, that wear
Jewels but to declare
How much themselves more precious are.

Whose native ray
Can tame the wanton day
Of gems, that in their bright shades play.

Each ruby there,
Or pearl that dare appear,
Be its own blush, be its own tear.

A well-tam’d heart,
For whose more noble smart
Love may be long choosing a dart.

Eyes, that bestow
Full quivers on Love’s bow,
Yet pay less arrows than they owe.

Smiles, that can warm
The blood, yet teach a charm,
That chastity shall take no harm.

Blushes, that bin
The burnish of no sin,
Nor flames of aught too hot within.

Joys, that confess
Virtue their mistress,
And have no other head to dress.

Fears, fond and flight
As the coy bride’s when night
First does the longing lover right.

Tears, quickly fled,
And vain, as those are shed
For a dying maidenhead.

Days, that need borrow
No part of their good morrow
From a forespent night of sorrow.

Days, that in spite
Of darkness, by the light
Of a clear mind are day all night.

Nights, sweet as they,
Made short by lovers’ play,
Yet long by th’ absence of the day.

Life, that dares send
A challenge to his end,
And when it comes say, “Welcome friend.”

Sidneian showers
Of sweet discourse, whose powers
Can crown old Winter’s head with flowers.

Soft silken hours,
Open suns, shady bowers,
’Bove all, nothing within that lours.

Whate’er delight
Can make Day’s forehead bright,
Or give down to the wings of Night.

In her whole frame
Have nature all the name,
Art and ornament the shame.

Her flattery,
Picture and poesy,
Her counsel her own virtue be.

I wish, her store
Of worth may leave her poor
Of wishes, and I wish—no more.

Now if time knows
That her whose radiant brows
Weave them a garland of my vows,

Her whose just bays
My future hopes can raise,
A trophy to her present praise;

Her that dares be
What these lines wish to see:
I seek no further, it is she.

’Tis she, and here,
Lo, I unclothe and clear
My wishes’ cloudy character.

May she enjoy it,
Whose merit dare apply it,
But modesty dares still deny it.

Such worth as this is
Shall fix my flying wishes,
And determine them to kisses.

Let her full glory,
My fancies, fly before ye;
Be ye my fictions; but her story.

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Poet Richard Crashaw 1612–1649

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Relationships, Love, Romantic Love, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Holidays Valentine's Day

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Biography

The intense and intimate depiction of Richard Crashaw that prefaces his English volumes of poetry (Steps to the Temple, 1646, enlarged 1648) is also a candlelit window that opens on his soul. To look through this window is to discover Crashaw in the state of unruffled devotion which is presented as the hub of his poetic genius.

Reader, we stile his Sacred Poems, Stepps to the Temple, and aptly, for in the Temple of God, under . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Romantic Love, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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