Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Then Love Be Judge
Anonymous
 
THOSE 1 eyes that set my fancy on a fire,
Those crispèd hairs that hold my heart in chains,
Those dainty hands which conquered my desire,
That wit which of my thoughts doth hold the reins:
Then Love be judge, what heart may there withstand 2        5
Such eyes, such head, such wit, and such a hand?
Those eyes for clearness doth the stars surpass,
Those hairs obscure the brightness of the sun,
Those hands more white than ever ivory was,
That wit even to the skies hath glory won.        10
O eyes that pierce the skies without remorse!
O hairs of light that wear a royal crown! 3
O hands that conquer more than Cæsar’s force!
O wit that turns huge kingdoms upside down!
 
Note 1. From William Barley’s New Book of Tabliture, 1596. Prof. Schelling’s note on this sonnet is so very interesting and instructive that I quote it entire: “It will be noticed that the construction of this sonnet is quite a piece of artifice. The four words, eyes, hairs, hands, and wit, are spread out, as it were, successively, each briefly characterized, and then gathered back into one in the question: Then Love by judge, etc. These words are again spread forth in the same order, with a characterization, and lastly each is apostrophized.” (A Book of Elizabethan Lyrics.) Mr. Bullen, in the Introduction to his Lyrics from the Elizabethan Song Books, says: “One sonnet (Those eyes, etc.) is from William Barley’s very rare New Book of Tabliture, 1596: it had previously appeared in The Phœnix’ Nest, 1593. The concluding lines are in the great Elizabethan style—‘O eyes that pierce,’ etc. This sonnet is freely translated from Philippe’ Desportes; but the anonymous translator has surpassed the French poet.” [back]
Note 2. What heart may there withstand: May therewith stand. (Bullen.) [back]
Note 3. That wear a royal crown: The suggestion in the Percy Society Publications, xiii., 37, is that this sonnet was originally addressed to Queen Elizabeth. Prof. Schelling’s “but assuredly the Queen’s auburn locks could not be designated ‘hairs of night,’” leads to doubtful conclusions. [back]
 
 
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