Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Gaze Not on Swans

April is National Poetry Month, so here's a poem. But why limit your enjoyment of poetry to any particular month, or day, or hour? Find a poem to enjoy any time it pleaseth thou so to do.

Gaze Not on Swans
Henry Noel (English, d. 1597)
Mute Swan
© Quodlibet 2015 All rights reserved


Gaze not on swans in whose soft breast
A full hatcht beauty seems to rest,
Nor snow which falling from the sky
Hovers in its virginity

Gaze not on roses though new blown
Grac'd with a fresh complexion,
Nor lilly which no subtle bee
Hath rob'd by kissing chemistry.

Gaze not on that pure milky way
Where night vies splendour with the day,
Nor pearls whose silver walls confine
The riches of an Indian mine:

For if my emperesse appears
Swans moultring dy, snow melts to tears,
Roses do blush and hang their heads
Pale lillyes shrink into their beds;

The milky way rides past to shrowd
Its baffled glory in a clowd,
And pearls do climb unto her eare
To hang themselves for envy there.

So have I seene stars big with light,
Proud lanthorns to the moone-ey'd night,
Which when Sol's rays were once display'd
Sunk in their sockets and decay'd.


More on Henry Noel, courtier to Elizabeth I, may be found here and here


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