Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LILY IN CRYSTAL, by ROBERT HERRICK



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THE LILY IN CRYSTAL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: You have beheld a smiling rose
Last Line: Raise greater fires in men.
Subject(s): Beauty


You have beheld a smiling Rose
When Virgins hands have drawn
O'r it a Cobweb-Lawne:
And here, you see, this Lilly shows,
Tomb'd in a Christal stone,
More faire in this transparent case,
Than when it grew alone;
And had but single grace.
You see how Creame but naked is;
Nor daunces in the eye
Without a Strawberrie:
Or some fine tincture, like to this,
Which draws the sight thereto,
More by that wantoning with it;
Than when the paler hieu
No mixture did admit.
You see how Amber through the streams
More gently stroaks the sight,
With some conceal'd delight;
Than when he darts his radiant beams
Into the boundlesse aire:
Where either too much light his worth
Doth all at once impaire,
Or set it little forth.
Put Purple Grapes, or Cherries in
To Glasse, and they will send
More beauty to commend
Them, from that cleane and subtile skin,
Than if they naked stood,
And had no other pride at all,
But their own flesh and blood,
And tinctures naturall.
Thus Lillie, Rose, Grape, Cherry, Creame,
And Straw-berry do stir
More love, when they transfer
A weak, a soft, a broken beame;
Than if they sho'd discover
At full their proper excellence;
Without some Scean cast over,
To juggle with the sense.
Thus let this Christal'd Lillie be
A Rule, how far to teach,
Your nakednesse must reach:
And that, no further, than we see
Those glaring colours laid
By Arts wise hand, but to this end
They sho'd obey a shade;
Lest they too far extend.
So though y'are white as Swan, or Snow,
And have the power to move
A world of men to love:
Yet, when your Lawns and Silks shal flow,
And that white cloud divide
Into a doubtful Twi-light; then,
Then will your hidden Pride
Raise greater fires in men.





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